Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Inspiration by Melvin Reese Western Caribbean November 19, 2007
Good and bad points about this cruise.
As expected, the folks at Camp Carnival were outstanding. All of the shows were great. The room steward that we had for this trip was the best one of all of our Carnival cruises, nine in all. Thank you, Didy! You did a great job.
Did not get to eat in the main dining room. Seating was for 8:00 P.M. and that was just too late for us. Tried to get the seating changed, but no luck. Lido deck food was good except for the last night. Choices were extremely limited.
For a ship that just got redone it looks like it needs to go back. Several doors had broken door glass, elevator glass was broken and laminating on the stateroom doors was coming off. This is something that I am not used to seeing on Carnival ships.
Smoking policy was not enforced at all. You could smoke anywhere you wanted to on the Lido deck and folks did. Complaining did no good.
Don't get me wrong, I will still continue to sailCarnival. I just will not go back on this ship again.
(1) We opted for the valet parking at the dock which was only $15 more than parking it yourself. This proved to be very helpful in us "old folks" not having to lug all of our belongings to the car.
(2) The cabin was small for the three of us -- but we knew that it would be that way. I had a problem with my bed. It broke! I called the room steward and he was very helpful -- although I had to sleep on a roll-away bed for one night, the next night, he had my bed back fixed. However, when I laid down, it broke again and I didn't have the heart to complain about it. They did send me a bottle of champagne, chocolate covered strawberries and a letter of apology for the first time the bed broke, which I thought was very considerate.
(3) The food and all of the meals were exceptional. We fell in love with your waiter and his assistant -- Omar & Luis. They treated us like kings.
(4) The entertainment was exceptional and we thoroughly enjoyed the musicals, comedy, magic. The seatswere especially comfortable and spacious.
(5) We had one problem with the bingo game, about which I plan to register a complaint with Carnival. Donna Gannaway, on the first night of the cruise, won bingo. She is a very shy person, and it took all she could muster to stand up and shout bingo -- but she did. The prize was to be $500. At that point, one of the assistants came over and looked at her card and said she was disqualified because the card was torn. Donna showed him the numbers that were punched, but he said because she punched them out that this disqualified her. We were all very upset. The hostess gave a very brief explanation of the game -- and I never did hear her say how to mark your cards for bingo -- but when we went to the Darcy, the cruise director, she said that the rules were explained and that Donna was disqualified -- and somewhat rudely dismissed her. They were more concerned about trying to get someone to guess the hostess' father's name -- he was supposed to be a football player.
(6) The embarkation and debarkation went very smoothly. No complaints.
(7) We wish they had given us more time on the ports of all -- especially Grand Cayman -- it seemed very rushed.
Embarkation I had never cruised out of Tampa before, and didn't know how long it would take me to find it from Orlando, so I left at 9:00am. I easily found the port and was there by 10:20. As I pulled up to drop off my luggage, I noticed that I could have my car Valet parked for $75 – only $15 more than self-park – so I valet parked.
I looked for the Platinum line to get in the building (because it was 40 degrees and I was in shorts and sandals) like they have in Port Canaveral – but didn't find one. This was the only thing I didn't like about the process. I stood in a not too long line to get in, then was given a card showing VIP check-in so the staff would direct me to the correct location.
I got checked –in and went to a special place for VIP to wait to board. We were waiting on two wedding parties to board then we would be next. I was on the Lido deck with drink in hand by 11:30am.
The Ship The ship isin pretty bad shape, but this never detracts from my fun. I saw a lot of masking tape holding things together, the Lido deck tables and chairs were wobbly, and the shinny parts had lost all of their luster. Carpets were stained and dirty and walls were drab. The drawers and doors in my cabin were hard to close and didn't close flush. There was also a slight sewer smell coming from the floor drain in my bathroom. It was not so bad that it was unbearable, so I just kept the bathroom door shut so that it would not permeate that cabin. I confirmed with the crew that she is going into dry dock for three weeks in September.
Cabin Steward and Assistant Fernando and Jenny were wonderful! When they came by to introduce themselves, Fernando told Jenny that I was Platinum and to give me whatever I needed. At that point I asked for more diet coke, two more pillows and an ashtray. All items were in my cabin by the time the Muster Drill was over. For the rest of the cruise, there wasn't anything they couldn't have done better. I explained to them that I am up and out of cabin by 7am and that I was not going to eat dinner in the dining room (8:30 seating), so they knew they could get to my cabin fairly early – and they always did.
Entertainment Casino was not too bad to me. I did, one day, sit down at the penny machines, put in $20 and walked away with $88. I played Blackjack the second night, but then some drunk lady sat down and began playing stupid. After three of her worst calls, I left with even money (I was up $40 when she sat down). I tried to play BJ a couple of more nights, but she kept showing up, so as soon as she sat down, I got up. So the last day (sea day), I sat down at the table with about 5 other people, one more joined to fill the table. We were all playing so well, and winning, that none of us wanted to get up. There we sat until about midnight not letting anyone else in as not to disrupt the dynamic. We had all at some point encountered the drunk stupid lady, so we didn't want to risk her coming back. All said and done, I tripled my money.
The shows were on par with other Carnival ships. The comedian was a riot – Tony Esposito – his clean show was funny, but his adult show – which really was only adult due to language, not sex references – was one of the funniest I have seen. There was a juggler that was OK at juggling; I think he would have been better at comedy.
The piano bar player, Doug, was one of the worst I have ever seen. He did not know how to entertain. Very little, if any, audience participation and forget trying to request a song – he probably didn't know it – and the requests were normal, reasonable piano bar songs. Doug also had a chip on his shoulder that didn't really need to be there. He thought he was the best, but he will find out that at least one person, thought he stank after they read my comment card.
Art Auction I attended both sessions. I had not planned on buying anything this cruise, but I did. At the first auction, I got another Neil J Farkas (have one already) and at the second one, I bought another Farkas. I also won one of the raffles, so I came home with a Bellet also. I'm running out of wall space for all this. I just love the art auctions. They had a mystery auction this time that was a Peter Max – for $5200 – man, I wish I could have afforded that – what a steal! The art auction staff was fun and enjoyable. Would have had a blast even without buying anything!
Crew One of the best I have encountered. Everyone very friendly and always with a smile on their face. Purser's desk staff the nicest I have dealt with. The only problem I encountered was when a guest who was in the regular line got a little huffy when they called me up to the Platinum line ahead of her. She not so nicely said to me and the purser that she was next in line. The purser explained that I was Platinum. She then said “I don't care if you are Platinum” and before the purser could say anything I turned around and said “Well, apparently Carnival does”. She didn't say another word and the purser mouthed “Thank you” to me.
Food I didn't eat in the dining room at all, so I cannot comment on that. However the Lido deck food was wonderful as always. I love the pizza and Caesar salads. I forgot just how good it was. The food was fresh and hot/cold as required. The one thing they changed that I was happy to see is that those little round hash brown things on the breakfast buffet are gone and replaced with real home fries. All the coffee, tea, and juice machines were functional 100% of the time, so no walking around looking for what I needed. Room service was always quick and good.
Ports/Shore Excursions When traveling solo, I always book excursions - it is much safer to do so than roaming around on my own.
Our first stop was Grand Cayman. I woke up that morning and watched us pass right by Georgetown and wondered what was going on. Well, with as bad as the seas were on Sunday on into Monday morning, it was not safe for us to dock in Georgetown. There were 6 ships scheduled in Georgetown that day. How it played out is that the GC port authority gave clearance to dock in Spot's Bay – a ways up from Georgetown. However, only three ships would be allowed. We were one of them, thank goodness. The other two were the Imagination and an RCCL ship. The other three ships were turned away.
I booked my two shore excursions online prior to sailing. Once on board I found that was a good move because one of the excursions I booked for $39 was selling for $47 on the ship. Not sure if this is par for the course, but it made me happy.
In Grand Cayman, I did the city tour that took us to Hell (I had not seen it in about 9 years so wanted to go back), the Turtle farm (somewhat interesting)- more turtles than I have ever seen at once, and the Rum Factory (waste of time). I then just did some shopping in Georgetown and took a taxi bus back to the ship. Next time in GC, I am going to go back to Seven Mile Beach and just relax. One of the people I had met on the first day was also on this excursion, so we just hung out together.
In Calica/Playa De Carmen I did a tour called Playa De Carmen Shopping and Beach Break. What a waste of time. They take you to what they call a jewelry factory - it is just the Lapis jewelry store. Then they tell you they are taking you to the Plaza de Festival to do some shopping - this is just one store. Then, they finally take you to the beach. By the time you got there, it was time to leave. I suggest if all you want to do is shop and beach in Playa - do it on your own.
Calica is not a town, but rather a cement company that allows us to dock at their pier since Ivan messed up the Playa port so badly. They have allowed about 10 vendors to set up shop, so there is nothing to do unless you taxi in to Playa or book an excursion.
While driving through Mexico, I saw a big roadside sign in Spanish, and didn't need to know what it said because right in front of it was a smashed up car, with a mangled dummy holding a beer….My guess is that it was a don't drink and drive sign. Shortly after that, I saw a convertible Mercedes with a beer in it's cup holder – guess he had not seen that sign yet.
Disembarkation What a breeze. At 7:15, they began to let self assist people off. This probably cleared off 60% of the passengers – it went on until 8:30. Platinum members who did self assist were off first, then the rest of them. Platinum members who checked bags (like me) were asked to meet in the Library at 8:30. At 8:35 we were escorted down an empty stairwell (other ships it was trying to get through a big crowd) and off the ship. I was in my car by 9am and had an easy drive home.
Overall Experience What a great 5 day getaway! I would do this one again in a heartbeat. Just the right amount of time to get away from the daily grind and much less stressful than a land based getaway.
Overall cruise was good, weather was cold and rainy. Excursion on Christmas day to Cozumel was rainy. We took tender to Playa Del Carmen and did the jeep and cavern tour. It was not really worth the money, you see the whole cavern on the little blurb about the excursion on the cruise web site. The lunch served on the beach with the tour was the best food of our trip and the beach was beautiful but we only got 45 minutes there, it was rainy so that was OK.
Next excursion day was for Grand Caymen and we could not tender into the island because of high seas. Disappointing but beyond anyone's control. Ship was very rocky, and we had about a total of 6 hours of sunshine (whole trip) and they were very windy, so windy that we could not even lay in the sun.
Food was less than I expected in terms of "quality", and desserts were WAY below par. Same selections every night at dinner and basically non existent on ship otherwise. Also we had dirty dishes; dried milky substance in a champagne glass, and dried ketchup(?) ona plate. Room service was prompt and correct. Dining room staff very efficient.
Our cabins were immaculate and were maintained that way the whole time. The window in our room was larger than I expected and nice to have.
I was among a party of nine who took the Thanksgiving-week cruise to Cozumel and Grand Cayman, and I should state up front that this was my first cruise. As such, I did not know quite what to expect.
The staterooms (Main Level) were pretty roomy, and the beds were tremendously comfortable. The bathroom had a bit of an aroma, but nothing that we could not live with. Unlike some of the other reviewers, we were assigned as requested to four consecutive rooms.
The seas were rough, and several of the crew made mention that we were experiencing the worst weather of the season. For that reason, our stop in Grand Cayman was changed to Progreso (Mex). Though this was obviously not the fault of anyone, I must say that there is really not much to do or see in Progreso. I was more interested in seeing a foreign city than I was in any of the excursions. As such, I spent a few hours walking around Cozumel, which was an interesting way to pass the time.
Back on board, the food was pretty good, though most members of my party and Ihave been telling others that it was hit & miss depending on what you ordered. The "fast" food options were plentiful and there was rarely a wait.
The entertainment was also hit & miss, as we enjoyed some of the "game shows", yet the comedians were pretty awful. I did not mind the profanity, but if they are going to be profane, they ought to at least be funny.
The crew seemed disinterested, and often was the time that I had to get out of their way. Though I've heard that Carnival is something of discount line, it would nonetheless be nice if the employees would see fit to move out of the customer's way instead of the other way around. There were, of course, a few exceptions. Our head-waiter (Sergio) was always doing his best, and the maitre'd (George) was a riot and entirely personable. I got to know a few of the crew, as I was interested in hearing about life on a ship. Though I would not want to do that for a living, I was surprised that I heard few complaints from those with whom I spoke.
Though I was on the ship for five days, I still hadn't mastered the layout by the time I disembarked.
I would certainly do this again, but may want to try a different line or at least a more expensive trip. That might sound perverse, but I am thinking that we get what we pay for.
We sailed almost a year ago, but I am finally getting around to writing this review. Not sure of the exact sail date, but it was near the end of September 2006.
My wife booked this cruise without my knowledge for our tenth anniversary. I had low expectations of Carnival and would not have booked this cruise if it were left to me. I was wrong.
Embarkation: Smooth and no problems, no long lines.
Cabin: I expected very spartan accommodations, but was surprised. Comfortable and spacious for two. Bathroom was larger than expected. Not luxurious, but very adequate.
Crew: Friendly and efficient.
Ship: I expected Las Vegas. Some hint of that in the lobby, but the rest of the ship was fine.
Food: Prepared well. No bad meals.
Other Passengers: Great mix; not a bunch of twenty-something partiers I expected.
Complaints: 1. Our server and hostess had a personal conversation right behind us at dinner that distracted all the people at our table. I had to discretely get our servers attention to let him know this was aggravating to all of us. Once he was aware, the conversation stopped.
2. Main pool bathroom was very small.For that reason, it got more use than was designed for. It wasn't pleasant at all. Used it once, but never again.
Conclusion: The crew of the Inspiration did a good job and I would sail with them again.
The ship was near to being full. The most time we had to stand in line was 5 minutes to wait for a burger to finish cooking. Embarkation took 2 minutes.Debarkation, we waited in a lounge and walked right off. We were home (Clearwter) by 10:00 the morning we arrived back in Tampa.
We had a great time, only issues were the voice of the cruise director which grated on my nerves, and the fact that we could not get our inside cabin to warm up. One night I ran the hair dryer for about 15 mins to try to drive out the chill. People in the outside cabins complained about sweating in the cabin. We went to the Disco every night, and saw two shows, the comedian (very funny) and a father and son fire show, which was excellent. Service in the dining room excellent as always, food good to excellent, depending on what and where we ate. Room service every morning for coffee, prompt and courteous. We like the back deck for sun and swimming, as adults only. We had perfect weather, even during hurricane season and the Gulfwas like glass. Oftentimes we were moving and did not know it, being inside. Ports: Grand Cayman, too short a time, also have to tender, not enough time to do anything but shop in our book. Calica: Went to Xcaret, wonderful place, we are going back there either land vacation or another cruise.
We arrived in Tampa the day before and rented a car to take up to the beach in St. Petersburg. This was terrific and since we arrived before 1 pm the day before, it worked out perfect for us.
The next day we found the Carnival representatives in the airport (we booked transfers to the pier) and waited a bit. It was very smooth going through to get on the ship and we were on by 2 pm. We found our room- we had booked the inside guarantee and got room U17, with 2 portholes. It's small but worked fine for the two of us. I could see it being really uncomfortable if we had 3 people though!
We ate on the Lido deck. It was okay. This was the only meal we ate here. We ate in the dining room for every dinner (which I highly recommend!). We finally had some company for dinner on our 3rd night- our booth held 6 but we were alone until then. Our waiter was Leroy and his assistant was Wini. Both gentlemen were terrific and made sure we had everything we needed orwanted. The food was great too- we always had plenty and did 2 desserts, 2 appetizers, etc. Not a problem at all! We did wear nice clothes every night too though our tablemates wore jeans each night. We did see people in shorts and a lady in a bikini top at night as well.
Our room steward was Diego and we saw him in the hall often and he was very pleasant.
We booked our first excursion to Grand Cayman on our own, through Captain Marvin. We were supposed to be there by 9 with the ship arriving at 7 but we were still in the long line in the hallway at 9:20. This was probably the worst moment of our trip, waiting on the stairs with hundreds of others. There's got to be a better system for this. It's such a short time there as is and the tendering took forever. We ran to the tour and they saw the ship and waited for us. It was a great tour, but short, and I would recommend it. We went snorkeling and to see the stingrays.
We booked through Carnival for our Cozumel excursion. We did the clear kayak/snorkel trip. While the trip itself was very good the price was quite steep, I thought. I think I'd do this on my own next time. And this time, the ship was right at the pier and we got off quickly.
The ship was in good shape. We didn't gamble at all and had just a few drinks. The captain's party is a must- free drinks just flowed! We ate breakfast at the Brassiere most of the time and took it out on the deck. The pizza is good too! We didn't do the subs though it looked excellent.
I was disappointed in the pools. I would love to see a bigger, deeper pool. Also the two I did go in are salt water- I'm not sure if any of them are fresh water. The 3rd pool was never opened.
We did do 2 shows- the fire gauchos and the Inspiration dancers. Both were good. We also saw two comedians. Each of these comedians only were on stage for about 30 minutes. It seemed very short.
We had a late flight back and they said for people not to wait in the hallways to disembark. When we came back from breakfast about 7:45 obviously this was ignored as there were hundreds on the stairs again. Gosh, we thought we were going to Grand Cayman again! We pushed through them to go back to our stateroom and waited about 15 minutes until they called for self assist. Then we went and didn't have to wait very long at all.
Overall, we loved this trip. I was ready to come home though. (we left our small boys with grandparents) If you have any questions feel free to email me!
The Inspiration is a good "cruisers'" ship. This is as opposed to the superliners they're making now. That is not to say the superliners are bad, I am just a fan of being on a cruise ship that feels like a cruise ship. It has all of the amenities I look for, in fact I've been on it twice now, a five- and a seven-day cruise. Grand Cayman is always beautiful, albeit expensive. Playa Del Carmen has the most beautiful Carribean water I have ever seen. When we were in Calica we rented a car and drove to Cancun, and what a time we had! The scenery and the people were fabulous. Friends of ours told us that their 6-year-old daughter had the time of her life in the Camp Carnival activities for kids, so we intend to bring our children with us next time!
We sailed on the Inspiration out of Tampa, FL, on May 27, 2006. Everything on the ship was wonderful. The food, service, and entertainment were top notch. We have only one complaint and that is one of the tours.
We have only one complaint and that is one of the tours.
We took the Playa del Carmen Beach and Shopping Tour. We were on the #2 bus with Carlos. Carlos was very informative and helpful. However, if we had known then, what we know now, we would have taken a taxi. From Calica, we were only twenty minutes from the beach. The bus left at 10:15 a.m. It traveled in the opposite direction to a little rip off "Aztec" Lapis jewelry factory and showroom tourist trap about thirty-five minutes away. We stayed here for forty-five minutes. At 11:35 a.m., we left and drove back past Calica toward Playa del Carmen. Before we arrived in Playa del Carmen, he took us on a detour through Playacar resort community and golf course. Finally, at 12:45 p.m., two and one half hours after leaving the ship, we arrived at the Playa del Carmen shopping district.The bus picked us up at 4:00 p.m., and we were back at the boat at 4:20 p.m.
In my opinion, and quite a few other cruisemates, Carnival could skip the Lapis jewelry tourist trap and the Playacar tour and go straight to Playa del Carmen. This is what was advertised. I bought a letter opener that was priced at $30 in the tourist trap for $10 at Playa del Carmen. I wrote a complaint letter to Carnival about this, but they never bothered to reply.