Thought we'd share our Inspiration 4 night experience. I'm 40, DH is 51 and we have a 5 year old son. We've sailed many times with Carnival and this cruise was to celebrate hubby's birthday in early May.
We booked an outside cabin, but received a call a few weeks before the cruise offering an upgrade to a Grand Suite. I researched the price Carnival offered, and it was about 60% less than the normal cabin cost, so we jumped on it, mainly because of the balcony and bathtub.
As always, we purchased Faster to the Fun, and were glad we did. We are the types that love to arrive to the port early and unpack immediately so we can enjoy every moment of the ship on the first day, so it's worth it to us. Plus, with a tender port in Catalina, we thought it would be worthwhile. We probably didn't need it since we'd upgraded to a suite, and we knew that, but we kept the FTTF since we'd purchased it prior.
I'll start with a few overall pros and cons, then break down our experience a little more.
American Table- fun to try something new!
Service in dining room
Waterworks- all of us (yep, even the grown ups) loved the waterslides. The water was chilly, but so was the air. It's just the time of year we traveled.
Lack of suite perks
Had to miss first night in dining room to wait for a private table for our family â€“ so tired of this Carnival- please honor the request for table size made on your website! Some of us just want to dine with our families.
Cigarette smoke coming through vents and doors. No clue where it was coming from, but it permeated our bathroom a few nights on the trip.
Noisy neighbors at times, hosting late night parties in the room.
Overall, we were very impressed with the cleanliness of the ship, particularly due to its age. The staff works so hard to keep everything sparkling and it was clean and bright.
We really enjoyed the balcony and extra space in the Grand Suite. It's odd that Carnival offers no suite perks, aside from priority embarkation, but hey, we save a lot of money sailing with Carnival so I get it. I did have a hard time with the fact that there wasn't even free bottled water with the suite, but again, no biggie.
Our son slept on the full size pull out couch - it was a huge bed for a couch arrangement, and still left plenty of room to walk around the suite when the bed was fully extended and made.
The Jacuzzi tub in the room was really nice, but rather narrow. I'm petite and when I was showering, the tub felt super narrow (like my feet were pressed up against the edges), but it was SO nice to be able to bathe our son, and relax in the tub rather than the standard small shower routine.
Here's a little video tour of the room:
Yes, the ship features the American Table menu. The menu is a little visually confusing at first, but you get used to it. I did find that we tended to order fewer dishes, perhaps because we were SO in love with the "for the table"size calamari every night that we filled up on that. The food quality seemed the same or better to me than it normally did with the old menus and we had no trouble finding entrees we liked. The only thing I didn't care for was the Veal parmesan. Too gamey. We're putting a little food video together too, and will try to post it when its done.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by R. Wals Other (Specified in Review) September 10, 2012
Cruise: Catalina, Ensenada Mexico
A very pleasant cruise and an overall excellent service, this is our 4th cruise with Carnival.
The one terrible flaw: the "live shows" the performers were not really singing but "screaming", I do not believe it is necessary to scream their heads off. Not everyone is deaf or semi-deaf you must realize that there are many people with very sensitive sense of hearing, perhaps you can offer at the entrance of the theater a set of ear plugs in order to attenuate the awful sound or maybe to lower the volume of the amplifiers. Needless to say, we had to leave the show after only 3 minutes.
Thank you very much indeed: Ramon Wals
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Manish Shukla Mexico February 17, 2012
Worst company ever encountered. not at all empathetic to customer's situations. i should have booked from Disney or princess or any other which i will do for my next cruise.
Cons - - guest admin doesn't acknowledge genuine problems faced by the customers. - delayed and rude responses to emails.
i know you guys wont refund my money. enjoy with my $1000. i should have spend it on a new laptop or on Hawaii trip rather than this shitty company.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Cruznut2 Western Caribbean November 14, 2011
Carnival Inspiration, November 14th - 19th 2011
Parking - We used the valet service parking at the Port of Tampa. A nice feature that I rather liked. Cost $95.00
Boarding: We arrived around 12:00 PM which is later than I like but I had others with me. I think if we had arrived earlier we would have had a swifter process. We stood in line for endless amounts of time. The terminal was very hot and our carry on bags seemed to be gaining weight. We finally crossed the gangway and entered the atrium around 1:20 PM. We went to our room which was just a few doors down from the atrium. We rested a short while then took off to find lunch and explore Inspiration.
Inspiration The ship was well kept for an older ship. I thought that she was quite plain for a Carnival ship of that era. After being on Sensation with her loud and proud PURPLE and blue Inspiration was the plain sister. I really enjoyed the serenity area and used it quite a bit. Bothtimes I found myself falling asleep while I watched the wake slip away behind us. The public rooms were nice and I was happy to find that more of the casino was given over to non smoking. Not that it made much difference. A non smoking area in a room is as effective as a no pee area in a pool.
Dining The buffet lines in lido were never bad. The food was as usual for lido fare. Good but not special. I always enjoy the early morning coffee and was up before the others in my party having coffee while they slept. One of my favorite things is the croissant rolls and they had plenty.
Mardi Gras Dining Room:I loved the model of the Mardi Gras that stands in the entrance to this dining room. It brought back many fond memories of my cruise on her in 1984. We chose anytime seating and I really enjoyed this. We had an array of dining companions at dinner none were overly friendly beyond a hello. I was disappointed as I like to chat with my table mates. Maybe I am too friendly and outgoing. I found the food to be good and enjoyed the choices. Bev and I shared an order of the alligator fritters and they were good. I was trying to get the courage to order the frog legs. I asked my companions if they would try it if I ordered but they declined. Bev and Sandy both tried the meatloaf. Sandy sent it back and ordered another entree. Bev was less than enthusiastic about it. Bev was more adventurous about trying things which surprised me. I have known her 40 years and she is usually a fussy eater. Sandy had no sense of adventure when it came to food. She stuck mainly to the every day choices. Most days we went to the dining room for lunch and breakfast. We all found the choices and service to be more enjoyable than the buffet line.
Entertainment The production shows could be summed up in one word, Excellent. I always find that Carnival excels in this. One evening they did a line dancing class in the main show room. It was entertaining to watch and Sandy actually got up there and participated. I was in the promenade and heard the "Not So Newlywed Game" going on in the showroom. It made me smile as it brought back memories of watching Ray and Helen participate in this a few times. They were always delightful and always won. The ship had lots going on most of the time. I was disappointed that my friends were bored. I would leave them a copy of the day day schedule before I left the room but it seems they never used it. I would leave them a copy on the dresser every morning when I left. I also told them that they were available in most of the public rooms. They just never knew what was going on and when.
The Ports Grand Cayman Sandy was the only one that went ashore at this port. Bev was intimidated by the tender process. She has trouble with he legs and uses a cane to get around. She and I stayed aboard. Cozumel We all went ashore for this and walked around the shops there. So much has changed there since my last visit. There were more drinking places on the pier where once there was open walkway and great views of the ships. We took a few pictures and browsed the souvenir shops. We went into Diamonds International to dream a bit.
Disembarkation This process was as usual on Carnival. Too many people chose the self disembark in the hopes of getting off earlier. That always seems to end up a mess with too many people trying to manage too much luggage. Eventually they called the rest of us to leave. I was off by 9:00 and there were still self disembark people struggling along. This program needs to be revamped if not scrapped altogether. Leave the luggage handling to the crew and relax. Have another cup of coffee and leave when you are called.
All in all it was a good cruise for me. I always enjoy a cruise under any circumstances.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Brian R. Fey Sr. Western Caribbean November 8, 2008
My Wife and I set sail on the Inspiration for a second time this year, this one was to celebrate my wife's birthday.
For anyone who has read my review of my first cruise on the Carnival Inspiration, you may have noted that our next journey together was to Hawaii to celebrate our 25th Wedding Anniversary. Tragically, while in Honolulu my wife's mom passed away, bringing a sad and depressing ending to our trip. This set the tone for the remainder of the summer and into the fall. Although nothing can repair that somber trip and memories, I wanted to allow us an opportunity to rebound a bit and a birthday cruise just seemed to be in order.
We set sail on Saturday, November 8th on the 5-day cruise. The day started off perfectly, other than being stranded in our driveway that morning by Super Shuttle who called an hour after they were supposed to pick us up. They said that they could not find a way to get through a triathlon that was underway to getto our house so they CANCELLED our pick-up! Well with no one else at home and my keys locked inside I had to break into the house, get my keys, load the car, and drive at warp factor seven to get to the cruise port. Yes, I found a clear, and legal way to get through the triathlon too!
OK, now I can say that the day was back in the perfection mode. Embarkation was fairly smooth and easy. Once on board it was lunchtime on the Lido deck followed by the required muster drill and the deck party. We were able to get to our cabin around 1:30 and found that the "Happy Birthday" decorations that I ordered from the Carnival website were already up and filled the entire cabin. They were just incredible!
We shoved off around 4:10 and made our way out of Tampa Bay and under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge about 2-hours later. Our first day "fun day at sea" was just that -- Fun! Lot's of activities throughout the day, sunny skies, smooth seas, great food, followed by the formal night in the Mardi Gras dining room. The "new" Maitre d' -- Wilson -- set a very nice tone for each and every dinner, and both the food and service were superior.
Our first stop was Grand Cayman that had just barely escaped a direct impact from Hurricane Palamo just a few days earlier. We did however have to debark from Spots Bay on the south side of the Island. This meant that we had to take a 20-25 minute bus ride to Georgetown for our excursion. We did the "Reef and Rays" snorkel trip that took us out to the barrier reef for 45 minutes of snorkeling and then over to Stingray City to snorkel with some very large stingrays. Despite my own cautions about being stung, I did find the gumption to get close enough to touch and "pet" one. Because of the travel issues of getting both to and from the ship there was no time to stop and tour Georgetown, but it looked like a very clean and friendly town.
The next day we went to Cozumel and once again we took part in the Fury Catamaran Snorkel excursion. To me, this is by far the best value and action packed tour available. Lots of fish to see, including barracuda and plenty of free beer and margaritas too!
On the way back on our second "fun day at sea" it was a little overcast and breezy but nothing that kept anyone away from the pool or from having fun. There were also plenty more great activities throughout the day and night. The new onboard comic -- Percy Cruz 2 -- was hysterical and filled with great humor and energy.
Debarkation day too was smooth and fast-paced and we were back on shore around 8:30.
We had another great time on the Inspiration and in all probability will sail on her again as we only live around 20 minutes away from the cruise port. Nevertheless, our next cruise will undoubtedly be yet another "birthday" cruise -- next October on the Legend for my 50th "Halloween" birthday. Although no one actually likes getting older, I just can't wait to turn 50 on the Carnival Legend!!!!
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Dave the Wave Western Caribbean October 2, 2008
Being a diehard Royal Caribbean fan I decided to give Carnival another try after my ill-fated Sensation cruise exactly 4 years prior. I was pleasantly surprised. A friend asked me to go on this cruise as it was a gift and paid for. How could I say no? Please reference my photo galleries to get the real picture. The Captain was Giulio Basso.
Embarkation The Port of Tampa is 25 miles from home and very easy to get in and out of. Parking in the garage is up to $14 a day now!!! Ouch! We arrived around noon and were onboard having our first beer before 1PM. The large TV's by the pool were nice as the Rays game was on this Thursday October 2nd, 2008. Quite an assortment of fellow cruisers many of whom were from the Bay area and around Florida were gathering on the pool deck for the sail away. This is a great long 4 night weekend! We cruised under a cloudless sky under the Skyway bridge at about 6:30 PM and intothe Gulf of Mexico. Dinner was at 8:15 and we were seated with 3 other couples that were very nice and fun and about our age -- 40's or so. Service was excellent and over the course of the cruise I had a nice steak, lobster, salmon and something else I can't remember. Never tried any desserts as I prefer to save room for drinking.
Fun Day at Sea -- Day 1 I really wanted to see the changes made to the pool decks of this Fantasy class ship. Moving the slides aft and opening up the main pool area was a great idea. Also eliminating the ugly colored tiles and putting the umbrellas and palm trees around the pool was a nice touch. I also checked out the slides and the Serenity deck. Did not use it though as I like to be where the action is. No BS! I committed to following my at home workout routine so I went into the fitness center on the two sea days. Friday morning for my normal chest, shoulders and triceps routine followed by a two mile run. 22 laps around the rubberized (great to run on) track on the top deck. This was immediately followed by a nice cold orange juice and vodka to start the day! We had sunny skies and temps in the 80's. This was the day for the "Hairy Chest Contest" I did not participate in this one but it was fun to watch. The guy that won was also wearing a bad toupee!
Cozumel -- Day 2 This day dawned overcast and rainy which was fine with me. We caught the sunrise from the bow as we approached Cozumel. We had reserved a VW thing for the day and when we arrived at Less Pay Rentals, they did not have it. The guy told me it wasn't running well. Surprise! So we took a Jeep instead that wasn't much better. It was an 80's model with a manual transmission, grinding gears and only worked after a siesta like the Mexicans. I have never circled the island so we thought it would be fun to cruise around to the east or wild side and check out some bars and restaurants along the way. This was a great time. Again reference the photo galleries. We stopped at Margaritaville and then headed back to the ship to enjoy the pool for a couple hours before dinner. In the evening, they had a deck pool party (pool closed!) with the Phillipino rock and roll band. I had my picture taken with Funship Freddie and ended up buying one of the hats.
Fun Day at Sea -- Day 3 Did my back, biceps and abs routine in the well equipped fitness center followed by another 22 laps around the track listening to the Theme from Rocky on my IPOD. Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum and wound up drinking all night. No, actually ran into a friend with a bottle of tequila who made me drink 6 ounces of it right after I finished running and then handed me a beer, so I was well on my way to a good buzz on the last day at sea. We had a good spot near the pool and made a day of fun in the sun with all of our new friends. Sometime in the afternoon I decided to go down the slides in my Speedo and then figured I may as well wear it the rest of the day. It was a big hit around the pool. My Funship Freddie hat and blue Speedo made a great ensemble.
Cruise Director Risa Barnes was not bad but did not see much of her. The Inspiration Singers and Dancers were very good. We saw the Shout show the Friday evening and Fiesta Latina on Sunday. Diana Ford was the featured comedienne and really very funny even though I had never heard of her. The late night comedy the last night she proved to be quite raunchy which I enjoyed. The other entertainment options included the rock and roll bar, a dance club, Rhapsody in Blue piano bar (very fun) and the Candlelight Lounge that was used for the comedy shows and Karaoke. I sang "Why Don't We Get Drunk" the first night and a great rendition of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" the last night.
Overall this was a great cruise for a 4 nighter. As a big RCI fan I always found myself making comparisons. You would have to compare this vintage ship to RCI's Vision or Sovereign class which I have sailed extensively. Overall, the food and service were about equal -- to my surprise. The actual ship was not as elegant and nice as any of RCI's but it was clean and well kept. The cabin was not much bigger and did not have the nice little storage around the dressing table. I much prefer the big mirrors on the wall in RCI inside cabins to the fake window of Carnival. I still like the bigger and nice pool areas on RCI. But I hate to admit, the lounges and entertainment options were better on this Carnival cruise.
I would recommend this cruise to anyone. If you have any questions PM or email me.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by ShotoJuku Western Caribbean May 1, 2008
To begin, my wife and I celebrated our 25th Wedding Anniversary (in style) aboard the Carnival Inspiration that sailed out of Tampa to Cozumel on May 1st 2008 -- 25 years to the day that we both said "I DO" to one another. This was our first cruise.
As many others have stated in their reviews, each day of the 4-day cruise was packed with fun and excitement throughout each and every day; it just never seemed to stop.
In general, the ship is amazing and befitting her name -- "Inspiration." The ship had recently gone through a refit of sorts and everything seemed to sparkle and shine. The food was plentiful and incredible while the entertainment was exciting and professionally produced. Our accommodations (an oceanview room) were extremely spacious and exceptionally clean. It seemed that every time we turned around, the wait staff went out of their way to ensure that either our table was clean, glasses were full and that we never really had to ask for a thing.
The formal dining was top-notch with attentive waiters and dynamic cuisine.Here again we were overwhelmed with the high level of the professional staff and exquisite meals -- OPA!!!
When on Cozumel my wife and I experienced the "Fury Catamaran" excursion that consisted of a great day out on the water on a catamaran followed by snorkeling in the clear turquoise water, and kayaking off the beach. An overall great excursion!
Although this was our first cruise, it will not be our last as we are looking forward to, planning and saving for our next -- Carnival Legend anyone?
In the interim we are (flying) to Oahu, Hawaii in July 2008 for an extension of our 25th Wedding Anniversary celebration. So until our next cruise review all I can say is Aloha!
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Becky Western Caribbean March 10, 2008
Just back from the Carnival Inspiration, and we had a fabulous time. I had some concerns in advance of this trip about this ship, so I hope my comments are helpful to others reading here. I am a single mom, traveling with my 21 yr old daughter, celebrating her Spring Break from UNC (Go Heels!) and her legal adulthood. This is my fourth cruise, second on Carnival.
I bought this trip because it was cheap, we have good direct flights to Tampa, and we couldn't do 7 days, but I was concerned that this was a second-tier ship that had received some mediocre reviews. For others with similar concerns, you have nothing to worry about! The staff was excellent, the entertainment was great (better than my last RCCL cruise), the food was very good, and the fun factor was outstanding. Our mid-March trip was heavy with Spring Break college kids, and there were a few visible cases of drunkenness, but overall the kids were great. They add a lot of life to the cruise, participate in the activities, and were respectfuland well-behaved. The disco was open until the wee hours, and they packed it up. We spent a lot of late nights in the Karaoki lounge, and the college kids were enthusiastic, and often quite talented.
Embarkation was smooth. We were at the Port by 9:00AM due to an early flight, and it is safe and pleasant to walk around, but nothing much is open. We used a porter to take our luggage, and it arrived safely at our cabin around 2:30PM. Carnival let us into the terminal about 10:30AM, processing took less than 5 minutes with the online Fun Pass completed. We had to wait until about 11:30AM to board, but lunch was waiting and life was good. We ate breakfast and lunch at the Brasserie every day, and the selection is outstanding and the quality generally very good. They have a great salad bar every day. We had late dinner, so we often stopped in for some bread and cheese to tide us over until 8:30 dinner. The breads were great, especially the foccacia.
Carnival did a great job of seating us at a table for eight with other adults traveling with college-age kids. We made good friends immediately with another mother/daughter team from our dinner table. The service was excellent, and the food was generally excellent too. Stay away from ethnic food: the Italian and Mexican dishes were a bit off. But the beef is always an outstanding choice, the lobster was great, and I was told the chicken was good too. Fish can be good, but also risky -- I think it is harder to keep it warm for lengthy periods and it can dry out. The salads were very good, especially the Caesar and spinach w/ walnuts and blue cheese. Per the Carnival allowance, I brought two bottles of wine on board with me, brought them to the dining room opened (on formal night and the last night), and our waiters gladly poured without hassle or charge.
After dinner, we did the show every night. Do not miss the Shout show, or the Latin show, which are both terrific. The dance troupe is excellent, but the ballet/contortionists Dmitri and Maria are unbelievable. I was thrilled with the quality of the entertainment, great costumes, and great production values. The magician and comedians were also good, although the adult-comedy gets a bit raunchy for me.
The musicians on this cruise were outstanding. The Caribbean deck band, the Filipino bar band, the lobby piano player, and the ship's orchestra were all just terrific. There is good music to be found almost any time of the day or night, and my main complaint is that I could not find any single male swing dancers!
One complaint about this itinerary is the stop in Grand Cayman is too short. The ship leaves by 2PM, so it is a very limited day. We booked the sting ray trip with Native Way ahead of time, and could have bought it for $10 less at the dock. Sting Ray reef is like Grand Central Station, but I guess that is typical -- there were five ships in port that day. The sting rays were very cool, however, and I'm glad we did it. The snorkel site they took us to was not worth the stop. We hit Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville on the way back and gulped hard at the prices in Cayman dollars, $30 US for two margaritas and some chips! It was packed though.
I had planned to go to the national park in Cozumel, but my daughter wanted to go with her new friends to Playa Mia (?), where $49 each buys unlimited watered down drinks, a lunch buffet (mediocre), clean bathrooms, an OK beach, a small pool, use of non-motorized water toys, a formed-fiberglass beach chair that does not allow sunbathing on one's stomach, and a huge crowd. Umbrella is extra -- that irritated me. Add taxi for $14 each way. But T-shirts and other souvenirs are still cheap in Cozumel, and there are plenty to choose from in the gauntlet of shops you must transverse to get on and off the ship.
Some other notes: No hair dryers in the rooms, but available from the steward at no charge. I brought mine, but couldn't plug it in because the transformer plug was too big for the outlet (hard to explain). Shampoo and shower gel dispenser in the shower, but bring cream rinse. Bathrobes provided, very nice. Beds were great, again better than RCCL last year. My only complaint is that the Inspiration is UGLY -- worst decor I've ever seen, black glass and horrible neon, and weird sculptures that look like they were lost from a sci-fi movie set. I was appalled when we first walked on board, but you get used to it.
We had an early flight back, carried our luggage off, and were able to disembark by about 8:15AM. Cabs were waiting, standard $22 to the airport. Easy. I highly recommend the Inspiration, and feel free to contact me with any questions at email@example.com
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by SkyMaster Western Caribbean March 10, 2008
We sailed "Inspiration" on Monday, March 10th, 2008, and our first impression was very, very positive, as the port of Tampa was very easy to do, as far as parking, and getting aboard the ship. We literally "walked aboard" and were at the buffet by 11:45 A.M. Our cabin, M10 was outstanding, with excellent service, and plenty of room. We found all of the recent upgrades GREAT, and especially liked the serenity area, but also found that it was a bit too small, as it was difficult to find a lounger on sea days. The only thing that area lacks is a shower to cool off on hot days.
Entertainment was outstanding, with two big production shows, and various other acts, and activities. The only down side was comedian "Kenny Miller," who we had heard before, and who hasn't gotten any better over time. I'd recommend skipping his show and opting for something better, perhaps karaoke or the piano bar.
Food and service in the Mardi-Gras dining room was excellent. Our waiter and bus-boy went out of their way toserve us. Food was very, very good.
We've cruised so many times that we seldom leave the ship, and opt for long quiet days aboard ship by ourselves, while others go ashore to enjoy their excursions. We especially enjoyed the serenity area during those times.
We sailed during Spring Break, and I was a little bit concerned about rowdy youngsters, but I must say, that all the kids aboard, and yes there were a lot of them, were very well behaved. In fact, we really enjoyed talking to them, and found them to be very respectful, and very wonderful young people! I'd cruise with any of them again in a heartbeat!
The ship overall, looks outstanding, with new carpet, new upholstery in the lounges and dining room, and lots of new stuff in the cabins, including new flat screen t.v.'s both in the cabins, and throughout the ship. The new "water works" or whatever it's called is great as well. I didn't try the new slides, but they certainly looked like fun. Guess I'll have to do that on the next cruise.
Disembarkation was very easy at Tampa once again. We are Platinum, which got us off the ship right after the "self assist", so we were back on dry land by 9 a.m., and on our long trip back to Lakeland, Florida, some 40 miles away.
All in all, a GREAT cruise, one that I wouldn't hesitate to recommend to anyone.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Stacie Renee Western Caribbean February 25, 2008
We booked our first cruise for a 5-day trip from Tampa to Grand Cayman, Cozumel and then back to Tampa again. Since we live close to Tampa we drove and parked in the long-term parking which costs about 60 dollars total. The Port Authority was close by and not a long walk from the parking garage at all. I thought getting through Port Authority was going to be a nightmare, but once there porters will take your bags and it is customary to tip $1 per bag. It took about 40 minutes the get through the security checks; have your picture taken for your sign and sail card that is tied to your credit card and then on to the ship! We arrived around 1:30 and lounged around the lido deck. First thing you will notice is the offering of the drink special of the day. You get a tall souvenir glass for about 7 dollars and then discounted refills. The drinks were not bad and they did not skimp on the alcohol at all. After that wegot lunch in the Brasserie Grill. The food was great with a hot buffet, salad bar, sandwich station, pizza station and many types of desserts. After 2PM we were allowed to get into our room. Greg our steward was very courteous and introduced himself to us both. Even after, every time he sees you he will address you by name, which was really nice. In fact every single crewmember says hello with a genuine "hello." Every day our room was made with chocolates, fresh towels and towel animals and they put our personal sunglasses and hats on them. It was hilarious.
Before we set sail at 4PM we had to muster for an emergency drill. We read the information posted on our door about our muster station. Took the life vests from the top shelf of our closets, met at our muster station (the Paris Lounge), listened to the instructions, did the drill in front of the lifeboats and that's it. Painless. It took about 40 minutes in all.
The ship was in good condition and I was expecting worse because of the other reviews. This being my first cruise however, what do I know? But, I did not see any broken glass or laminate peeling off. Maybe I was just in areas where I did not see that. I also didn't see people smoking except where there were designated areas in some of the lounges and casinos. The ship has a very good ventilation system and it was contained nicely. My boyfriend liked to smoke his port-acquired cigars (stinky) and the air was contained and filtered nicely. I was also apprehensive because I've read some reviews that it was a drunken party ship or a college party ship. Maybe we went while college was in session but we had a good mix of families, seniors, young party kids and middle aged people. There were late night parties on the lido deck that were fun and rambunctious but every adult had a great time. The only complaint I have is that our room was a connecting room. We did not know that at the time but looking at the ship deck map online, I now know what the little triangle meant. Duh. If you get a connecting room, be prepared to hear every single uttered word from your neighbors. They weren't even trying to talk loud. They were just talking normally and you can hear every word, sigh, everything. Don't get a connecting door in your room because there is no sound proofing at all.
One of the neat things about the staff is that they are from all over the globe from Indonesia to Britton. Their name and country will be on their nametag and it was interesting to meet the crew, talk with them and learn about them.
Our mealtime was in the Mardi Grass dining room for 6:15. We were lucky because we got a two-person table and didn't have to sit with people that we don't know, plus, it was a romantic getaway so it was perfect for us. Our headwaiter and his assistant were excellent. I'm sorry, I do not remember the headwaiter's name but Ely, the assistant, was from the Philippians and told us he had been working for Carnival for 10 years for 8 month stretches at a time. It is all done to support his wife and three kids and he hopes to retire soon. He smiled the whole time, ran around with controlled urgency to serve everyone, and did so very happily. It was nice to see him entertain and play with the kids at the table next to us. They both were great. The food was very good and each meal had a vegetarian option for me and filet minion, T-bone etc. for my boyfriend. There was also a very nice choice of starters, salad, and desserts including wines and cheeses. It was probably some of the best dining experience I've ever had. All that and each night they danced, sang and even got everyone included in a conga line.
There was one formal night and it was great. Every one dressed up and it was like being able to go to prom all over again. Throughout the trip there will be photographers set up to capture your every moment. We had many pictures taken by about 5 photographers but by far all the pictures that we purchased were by a man named Dimitri from Belarus. As we were narrowing down our choices we noticed all the pictures we choose were all done by him. His pictures were very professional and made me look awesome and in the top of the best professional pictures I've ever had taken in my life as well. The pictures are 8x10 and they are posted in the Promenade deck. If you don't want to purchase them you don't have to, but they are $21.95 per photo so it can get expensive. Dimitri's photos were worth it.
We got to the Grand Cayman and I had booked the shore snorkel adventure. I would not recommend this one because the snorkeling site was not very spectacular as there were not many fish or coral to see. It was also very hard to get in and out of the water without someone pulling me out so I mostly sat on the tiny little beach. Getting back to the right ship was confusion and pandemonium. There are not piers in Grand Cayman so you have to take the right ferry back to the ship. That day, there were 4 other ships and the ship's ferries were not very well marked until you got right up to it. I passed it once, and there were so many people butt to butt all over the street I wasn't even sure I was going the right way. My boyfriend booked the "Off the Beaten Path" Jeep tour excursion. He drove but got stuck with a couple of women who did not like the bumps so he had to drive around them which missed the whole point of being "off the beaten path." If you book this one, be in a group of four.
Cozumel was awesome and my favorite photographer, Dimitri, was one of the crew showing us onto the Pier. You start to notice the same crew working different jobs and they do work their fanny off. We booked the Myan Ruins of Tulum. It took a 40-minute boat ride to mainland Mexico. Now, let me warn you that the waters are very choppy and you will get sick. At the beginning of the boat ride a nice woman passed out bags to everyone. I didn't make it as well as about 5 other people. The Boat is equipped with many restrooms though. If you purchase Dramamine from "la farmacia" it will cost you 12 US dollars or you can get the Mexican branded equivalent called Vomisin for 6 US dollars. Just be prepared. Then, we took an hour air-conditioned bus ride to the ruins and were entertained by our tour guide Carlos who was a descendent of the Myan people. He was very informative, entertaining and shared some Myan as well as Spanish language with us. He was very educational while explaining the purpose of the temples, how they were discovered, and the ancient people. We were then given an hour to explore on our own before we had to be on the bus. The walled Mayan city is built on a cliff that over-looks the most beautiful beach. I just wish we had more time to spend there.
For your expenses, everything is paid with your sign and sail card that you assign a credit card to. Extra expenses can add up like the $21.95 per photo but I also spent $99.00 on a "spa taster" which included a facial and back massage. The therapist I had was very knowledgeable and I was pleasantly surprised at her knowledge of sports massage, shiatsu and human physiology. I've had an on-going muscular problem and she took extra time with me, which was really nice and unexpected.
Additional charges will include 10 dollars per day per person so there will be another 50-dollar charge on your sign and sail account. This is for tipping all the waiters and stewards. It makes it very nice to not have to remember to tip everyone but they did such an excellent job and really go out of their way to make you happy that we gave them more.
If you get any drinks from the bar, alcohol or soda, (even in the main dining room) it will cost extra. For soda, you can buy a 20-dollar soda card for unlimited glasses. If you frequent the sushi bar, Café Des Artistes, or Internet café, spa, or special classes like kickboxing you will pay extra charges as well. Only your dining room and Brasserie Grill, coffee, tea and juice beverages are completely free.
Debarkation day went smooth. The day before, there was a debarkation briefing in the Paris lounge, which we didn't attend. There is, however, a channel on TV that runs Carnival information, which I called the "ship show." On that day they re-ran the taping of the briefing. It gave us all the information we needed to know from the breakdown of how to fill out your US customs forms and declaring what you are bringing in to the U.S., when and how to debark. It also informed me that I couldn't take my roses off the ship because of customs. So, Carnival does an excellent job informing you of the who, what, when, where and how's. In fact, people from other ships at the ports were complaining their cruise ship company didn't inform them of returning times, etc. We didn't have a problem with that with Carnival.
All in all it was an excellent time.