We just got back from our cruise on the Inspiration (08-25-05 to 8-29-05). This was our second cruise on the Inspiration and I have to say we loved it just as much as the first. I traveled with my two children (12 & 14) and my daughter's friend (13). We had one inside cabin with bunk beds and found it to be very comfortable. We flew down early the day before the cruise and spent the day at Busch Gardens. Was this the time of year to go! There was hardly anyone there. The longest line we waited in was about 10 minutes.
AIR: I booked the air on my own. While we live in NH and the Manchester, NH airport is close to our house I ended up booking a flight out of Logan in Boston. JetBlue and Song were bother offering airfare at $59 each way (and both were non-stop flights). We flew down on JetBlue and back on Song as neither had the airfare at that price for both legs of the trip. I would encourage anyone who has several airports within driving distance to them tocheck flight information and price at each airport. The cheapest price I found in Manchester was $260.00 roundtrip for the same days. As we booked our own air we did fly into Tampa a day early to avoid any potential problems with airline delays, especially since we were traveling during hurricane season.
ACCOMDATIONS: I booked the Wyndham Westshore for $78 per night through Hotwire. While it was fine for one night, I wasn't overly impressed. When I booked it was rated as a 4 star. About a month after booking I got an email from Hotwire saying they downgraded it to a 3.5 star based on member comments and I was given the option of keeping the reservation and getting $50 Hotwire dollars toward a future reservation or canceling and getting my money back. I decided to keep the reservation. While the lobby area was nice, the hallways and rooms had peeling wallpaper, worn carpets, and banged up furniture. Our beds were comfortable and they offered your choice of pillows. We were on the 11th floor and the views were great. The air-conditioning didn't work all that well. While it was better then outside, the room never got really cool. The pool was nice, but small. The views from the pool deck (9th floor) were also great. I would rate this hotel as more of a 2.5 star.
BOARDING/DISEMBARKING: We arrived at the port at about 11:30 a.m.. We checked in and were on board and eating lunch by 12:00 p.m. Disembarking was a breeze, although we were rerouted to Fort Lauderdale due to Hurricane Katrina.
DINING ROOMS: We had the early seating (5:45 p.m) in the Carnivale dining room. I took the early seating as I was traveling with children. As usual the food and service were fantastic! It was well prepared, and there was a large selection. We ate in the dining room every night. Our waitstaff was very attentive and made sure that we liked everything we ordered and if we wanted an extra plate of anything they were happy to provide it. We ate breakfast and lunch in Brassiere Dining room which was a buffet. Again the food was plentiful and good. Both the pizza and sandwich stations were also very good. ACCOMODATIONS: As I mentioned earlier in this review I booked a 4A guaranty cabin. Well the upgrade fairy visited us and we were upgraded to a 4D. We were on the Empress Deck which I found was very convenient to everything. I never saw our room steward, but can say whoever it was he or she did an excellent job. Our room was cleaned twice a day, we had a towel animal every night, along with a mint on the pillow. ENTERTAINMENT: We all enjoyed the entertainment on the ship. The song and dance shows were excellent, the comedian very funny, and the Mexican Folklore Show was wonderful. We all enjoyed the band at the pool and in the Avant Garde Lounge. The kids had a great time watching "Fear Factor" poolside. The Men's Hairy Chest Contest was also very entertaining.
CAMP CARNIVAL: As my kids are older we didn't use the camp program. They did go the first night for the meet and greet for the 13-15 year olds. They went to one activity and found the group to be very immature and opted not to go to the rest of activities. The organized activities ended for this age group ended between 10-11 p.m.. After that if you wanted you kids to participate in any of the late night activities there was a charge of $26/per child.
SHIPS CONDITION: This is an older ship and I found it to be in good repair, clean and comfortable. Everyone I went there was someone cleaning something. I didn't see any stained carpet or disrepair. I know some people have commented that they felt the ship wasn't at its best but I have to disagree.
EXCURSIONS: IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER - We stayed on ship's time the whole time. Cozumel was one hour behind us! If you don't book through the ship make sure your tour operator knows what time you need to be back to the ship. You need to be on board 30 minutes before departure. We left Cozumel at 12:00 a.m.. At around 11:30 p.m. they kept calling three people's names over the speaker system asking them to call the Purser's Desk. At midnight the ship cast off and we pulled away from the dock. We were about 50 yard away from the pier and three people came running down the pier waving and yelling. Well, the ship did not go back! My guess is these were the three they were paging earlier and they missed the ship.
I booked a snorkel trip through cozumelinisder.com during the day and a night snorkel through Carnival. Both trips were cancelled as the water was too rough (Saturday, August 27, 2005 - Hurricane Katrina was in the Gulf). Carnival credited my Sign and Sail and cozumelinsider processed the credit to my credit card before I even made it home. I would definitely book through them again. Instead we went to Chankanaab Park which is absolutely beautiful (we've been before). We were able to book the sea lion swim there and the kids had a great time. Our sea lion was Charlie and we all enjoyed our time in the water with her. We hung out at the beach for a while and then went back to the port to do some shopping.
SEAS: As I mentioned earlier we were in the Gulf when Hurricane Katrina hit. The ship's Captain and Cruise Director kept us well updated at to what was going on. When we left on Thursday it was smooth sailing. Friday was a beautiful day at sea and it wasn't until late Friday that they started making announcements about Katrina. By late Friday/early Saturday we were told that there was a chance we wouldn't get back to Tampa on Monday, but no firm decision had been made. By late Saturday we were told we definitely would not be going back to Tampa on Monday and we may spend an extra day at sea (which would have been fine with me!!), but nothing was sure yet. Saturday night late (after 1:00 a.m.) it did get a little "bumpy" but I didn't think it was that bad. No one in our cabin was the slightest bit seasick. The next morning the captain announced we went through 40 foot waves! The Inspiration must have a heck of a stabilizing system because it really didn't feel like the waves were that big. By Sunday morning we were told we would be disembarking in Fort Lauderdale and bused back to Tampa by motorcoach. Carnival allowed us all free calls all day Sunday to make travel arrangements. I called Song and changed our flight back from Tampa to Fort Lauderdale. Song was great and made the change with no charge. From speaking with others JetBlue, Southwest and Delta did the same for other passengers. I thought Carnival did a great job keeping us updated and safe. Surprisingly, our final day at sea was very nice. It started out overcast and then cleared about 11:00 a.m. and we had smooth sailing all the way back to Fort Lauderdale.
If there are any other questions or other information you would like to get about the ship or my experience, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put in the subject line Carnival Inspiration so that I don't accidentally delete it.
We again had a great time on the Inspiration and would sail her again. My daughter's friend told me this was the best vacation she's ever had, which was great to hear. My kids are already planning next year's trip.
My wife, two sons (ages 19 and 15), and I recently arrived home after our first cruise. Since we had never cruised before and weren't sure we would enjoy it, we decided to try a 5 day cruise on the Carnival Inspiration departing from Tampa. We all agree it was one of our best vacations ever.
We booked our own airfare and flew into Orlando from Pittsburgh, because the flights to Orlando were cheaper than flying to Tampa, were non-stop, and at more convenient times. We flew in two days earlier, stayed at the Hampton Inn in Orlando and went to Universal Studios which we enjoyed. On the day of our cruise, we drove to Tampa and returned our rental car (which we had rented at the Orlando airport) to the Tampa airport. We then took the Avis courtesy shuttle to the cruise port in Tampa.
Embarkation: This was very organized. We arrived at the cruise port at 12:30 p.m. The whole process only took about 30 minutes. We received a handout, which stated that our room would not be ready yet, but in the meantime, lunch would be served. Oncewe boarded the ship, we were not sure where to go or what to do. We felt someone should have been directing you once you got on board especially to benefit first time cruisers.
The Ship: When we first saw our ship docked at the cruise port we were amazed at how large it seemed. However, once other larger ships were docked next to us in Cozumel, our ship didn't seem as large. The ship is beginning to show some wear (it is nine years old), but was kept clean and you always saw crew workers cleaning, painting, or doing maintenance. The casino was good and so was the gym. The gift shops, although they were well stocked with souvenirs and alcohol, they seemed a bit too small for the crowds. The same can be said for the photo gallery. The deck plan of the ship seemed a bit confusing to us, perhaps because we were first time cruisers. I always had a deck plan with me in my pocket. The kids however, had no trouble finding their way around the ship.
Our Cabin: We had booked an interior guaranteed stateroom and were assigned to the upper deck aft. The room was smaller than we expected. It would have been ok for two persons, but for four, was a little tight especially in the evening when the upper beds had been pulled down. In the morning when we got up, we had to be careful not to hit our heads on the pull down bed that was above our bed. When we first went into our room, we noticed that there was mildew on the shower curtain, but when brought to the attention of our cabin steward it was promptly replaced. Otherwise, the room was clean and we always had plenty of extra towels when we requested them.
The Staff: Our room steward Jorge, waiter Michael, and assistant waiter Daniel were all pleasant and helpful. The cruise director's staff and the rest of the personnel were all fine.
The Food: Overall we felt the food was very good. Perhaps not top gourmet, but fairly decent and portions were average. We preferred the dining room rather than the buffet in the Brassiere Lounge. Breakfast and lunch in the dining room gave us the opportunity to sit with and meet different people. We had requested the 6:15 p.m. dinnertime but were given a 5:45 p.m. seating and did not bother to request a change. Next time however, we will request an even later seating, so as not to be rushed for dinner. We had not planned on purchasing the optional soft drink cards for $27.50 per person. However, when we found out that only coffee or ice tea would be included in our dining meals, we decided to purchase three cards for convenience. My younger son only drinks water, but bottled water was not included in the drink cards. It would have been a lot simpler if all non-alcoholic beverages were included in the price of the cruise.
Ship Activities: They don't call Carnival Ships Fun Ships for nothing. We thought we may be bored, but there were so many activities and things to do that we could not even do everything we wanted to do. Our 15 year old son at first was hesitant about going to the info session for the Club O2, which has activities for 15 to 17 year olds. However, he was glad that he did go. Although he did not participate in every single activity, he made friends with a group of kids and hung out with them a lot. There were no planned activities for my 19 year old other than a singles meet that was not well attended. Although he did meet a few girls, there weren't many his age. However, he did enjoy going into the casino. We all enjoyed the evening shows especially "Shout" (singing and dancing show), the guest talent show and the final show "El Nuevo Caribe".
Ports of Call: We did not do any shore excursions and decided to relax at the beaches and do some shopping. At Grand Cayman, we enjoyed the calm, beautiful blue water, although our youngest would have preferred ocean waves. Our only regret is that we had a limited time at this port since we had to be back on the ship at 1:30 p.m. We had more time in Cozumel and did some shopping first. My older son enjoyed bargaining with the sellers. We then took a taxi to Mr. Sancho's beach area. The water here was clear and had a few minor waves that my younger son liked. We had beautiful weather and smooth sailing except on Thursday evening when we had mild rocking.
Debarkation: Since we had a late flight we decided to take our time and not rush off the ship. We left the ship at 9:45 a.m. and it took a mere 15 minutes to disembark and go through customs.
Overall Impression: There were quite a few first time cruisers on the Carnival Inspiration and we would recommend this cruise since we really had a great time. In the future, we plan on cruising on a larger Carnival ship for seven days.
Well we did it. We went on our first cruise. Here is my review.
I will start with the day we left: 6/4/05 Dropped off at the airport and through security and discovered I forgot my cell phone at home. ok...I can live. Arrived in Tampa to find out there was a problem with the rental cars we booked for the weekend and the return home car. We thought we would sight see on the way back to Ohio at the end of our cruise. The new prices were hundreds more so we booked flights for our return. Headed to the 3 star hotel we found online in a cab. After a $35.00 cab ride we pulled in to a dive that was being sprayed for bugs. ugh!!!!! Called a friend who lives south of Tampa and they saved us on day 2. Went by the pier on the way to their home and saw the Miracle as she was docked. WOW she was HUGE!!!!
6/5/06 Spent the day in the sun at the pool.
6/6/05 Dropped off at the Tampa Port. Everything went very smooth. We were dropped off at11:00 and on the ship by 12:30 eating lunch. I felt the port authority was very pleasant!!! 1:30 we were able to go to our rooms. We were on the Riviera deck with 4 people ocean view room. The rooms were small but bigger then I had expected for 4 people. We met Ricky our room steward. GREAT guy!!!! Changed into our suits and headed for the Lido deck to get a few rays before the muster drill. 3:30 we put on our bright orange jackets and headed to our stations. This only took about 20 minutes. We then headed to the front of the ship so we could watch as we left the bay area. This was beautiful. We saw dolphins racing beside us as we pulled out to sea. At this point it was time to get ready for our 6:15 seating for dinner. We sat at a table for 10. we had 3 families at this table and we were very happy with our tablemates. Our dining room staff was the BEST!!! Great job Lenford and Gusti. After dinner we headed to the shopping area to taste some of the liquor. YUMMY!!! My friend and her son went to the show and my daughter and I went to our room, her ear was hurting from swimmers ear. (So we thought). Oh and by the way our luggage was in our room by 2:00pm
6/7/05 First day at sea. Well it basically rained all day. Lots of dark clouds when it wasn't raining. Very smooth sailing. Never even knew we were moving. This is the day I got a bruise on my leg the size of a saucer, as I played Carnival Fear Factor. After looking like a beached whale trying to make my way through the pool in round 1 I was eliminated...lol I went to several talks they had that day. The welcome aboard/ excursion talk and the super shopper meeting. All day was very cloudy so we spent the day getting to know the ship. Stopped in at the infirmary for ear drops for my daughter. $12.00 on board. We started getting ready for the Formal night and Meet the Captain cocktail party they had before dinner. Everyone looked very nice. Anywhere from tux and gowns to suits and nice dresses. We also posed for several formal pictures. This night we all went to the show. It was a singing and dancing show, that was very good. After the show we changed and ordered cookies and milk from room service then off to la la land as we were meeting at 7am for our Stingray Sandbar excursion.
6/8/05 We met at 7am and headed to Grand Cayman via tender. We were the first boat out to the stingray sandbar. We booked with Carnival online and had about 50 people on our boat. This was AWESOME!!! Stingrays by the hundreds following our boat as we got close to the sandbar. My daughter was scared to death until we ran out of squid and the numbers went down to about 100. She then braved standing there on her own touching them. The waves there were pretty rough since we had so much rain earlier. On our way back to the ship it poured down rain. As we were leaving the sandbar there were 5 boats pulling in, and we counted about 10 more headed out in the rain. We didn't shop here since it was raining we headed back to the ship. We were back onboard to eat lunch by 11:30. My daughter and her sore ear went to the cabin to take a nap and we layed out on the deck in the hit and miss showers. At 4pm I took her to the ship doctor when they opened to find out she had an ear infection. Poor thing. $100.00 later and about 5 minutes we were back in our cabin getting ready for dinner. They do have several things free in the infirmary. Tylenol, dramamine, advil cold and sinus etc. After dinner we went back to our room so she could lay down and let her meds kick in.
6/9/05 Cozumel ans sun!!!! Ha Ha not for long. We went to Paradise Beach around 11:00. The sun went in around 11:15 and a huge storm took its place. We ate lunch there at the restaurant. VERY good food!!! When we were done eating we sat there for a while watching the rain. After a few hours it stopped raining. We went back out onto the beach and sat there with only approx. 10 other people/ The sun cam back out and it was like having a private beach. We decided around 5pm to go back and do some shopping. We were there about 45 minutes until the sky opened up again and little did we know this was the beginning of Tropical Storm Arlene. We set sail around 10:15pm. As we were getting ready for bed the ship started to sway......and sway.....and waves started to crash...we went to sleep.
6/10/05 Welcome to hurricaine season!!! We woke up around 7am to crashing and rocking!!! It sounded like explosions hitting the ship. The waves we being thrown up over our window. Massive amounts of water. Security came by to drill metal plates up at our window. This was not a good day for sailing. Our Captain thought it might get better around 3pm but the as we were moving NE and the storm was moving NW, it changed directions and went North. We couldn't miss it. It was VERY quiet that day. Most people stayed in their rooms. Winds were being reported at 70mph. They had vomit bags by the 100's laying out everywhere. 2 of our people couldn't even get out of bed until dinner. At dinner there were only 5 of us. Ous assistant waiter was not there either. There were many empty tables that night. Most of the daily activities were canceled that day due to the rocking of the ship. They made substitutions but I dont think for most it mattered. After dinner we went back to the room (everyone feeling better) and started to pack. We sat our bags out by 10:00pm and watched CNN for weather updates. By this time we were not rocking as bad but still swaying!!.
6/11/05 DEBARKATION...We had to be out of the rooms by 8:45 so we headed for breakfast on the lido deck around 8:00. Sat there until about 8:45 and headed to the Empress deck for debarkation. This went very smooth. Despite the people pushing their way through the lines that weren't moving. I guess they thought out of over 2000 people they needed to be off the ship first....lol We were headed to the airport by 9:30. After a VERY long day of delayed planes etc we got home around 12:30am.
Would I cruise again? ABOSLUTELY!!! Just next time. we are going in March. To avoid tropical storms....lol Would I cruise Carnival again? Sure. We only had a few bad experiences with the purser desk staff, they were ALL rude!! It is an area they should look at for improvement. Did I like the INSPIRATION?? For a first time cruiser it was very nice. Next time however I would like to be on a bigger ship staying out longer then 5 days.
Wonderful time had by first time cruisers on immaculate ship, Inspiration. Embarkation and debarkation were like clockwork, particularly if you waited til last call to get off(around 10). Entertainment was first rate, from cocktail pianists, to rock and roll band, Classical string trio, and all the "Vegas style" acts. Food was well prepared, plentiful, diverse and tasty-but not gourmet. Service, from incredible cabin attendants, to food and drink servers, in fact everyone we had contact with, was friendly and helpful. Saw every type of cruiser from "Spring Breakers", young couples with infants, older groups of scrapbookers, handicapped and wheelchair bound, middle agers, second honeymooners, families with teens, and more.
Were surprised by the diversity, in fact. Everyone seemed to have their thing to do-lazing by the pool drinking, gambling and drinking, eating and drinking, taking in shows and drinking, etc. Ship must make at least as much on bar tabs as price of the cruise-beware. Some even brought coolers of their own stuff. If booking shore excursions-ours in Cozumel- do it online to save $$ and avoid crowded groups from the ships. The dune buggy tour was awesome. If you have a late flightout of Tampa, there is a place right in the terminal which will secure your bags for a nominal fee-very handy. Visit the Aquarium and Ybor City for a nice 1/2 day visit.
I'll try and talk about a couple of things that people might not have already written about. The cruise was splendid- had a ball as did the other 33 people in my group I believe.
Liquor: sold on board in duty-free shop and they will match any price you find off ship in Cozumel so it's worth it to buy it on the boat. You can't take it with you to your room or drink it while on board however. They told us only 1 liter per person without paying custom duty. On the last day, at 6:30am, if you have liquor to declare, you must go to a spot and meet w/ customs officer. I had 3 bottles, 2 over the limit and he waived me with no extra charge. The couple in front of me had 7 bottles, 5 over and he waived them also. He made a point of saying that this might not happen in every port but it was nice as we weren't charged anything extra. The boat runs a lot of specials, such as 2 bottles of Absolut for $21, etc. so youcan find some bargains. Warning- you have to carry it off the ship yourself and even though they put it in a nice box with carry handle-it's very heavy! The de-barking of ship went really nice also. We were off by 9:15. Basically, once they start calling a group, you can get in line as no one checks to see if you're in the right group, and walk off.
We ate dinner in the Marti Gras Dining room each night and it was good, not excellent, but good, and certainly more than plentiful. The only real complaint I heard was from 2 vegeatarians as their offerings each night were not that good at all. Captain's night was prime rib and lobster tails. The last night aboard they also had chautebriand which was very good. I gave extra tips to my stateroom attendant and Head and Ass't Waiter as they did an excellent job. A couple of people at another table were very disatisfied with their head waiter for the first two nights and put in a complaint. The next day, they received a letter saying that the problem had been attended to, and they noticed immediate change, for the better, at the next dinner so they obviously take things to heart if you make a complaint. If you don't have a good time on this ship, it's your own fault as there is plenty to do and they seem to work themselves silly to make it nice for you. I absolutely would go back.
We decided several months ago to go on the Inspiration with some friends. Our background is 12 cruises on several lines, 5 previous on Carnival (this is the newest Carnival ship we have been on). Our friends were first time cruisers. Due to financial reasons we booked a category 1A with the anticipation of being upgraded and our friends booked with a friend's part. They were give a 3 category upgrade and we weren't, so much for the past passenger mystique.
Our cabin had upper and lower berths but the room steward brought in a roll away which worked. The category 1A was larger than some of the other rooms we have had on other cruise lines. Our dinner reservations were messed up and the staff QUICKLY resolved them. Overall the ship's staff rates an A+ for service.
This is similar to the Fantasy but seems to be outfitted in darker colors. We needed a flashlight on the elevators to see what buttons to push. Overall the public areas seemed to darker than other ships we have been on.
The restaurant food was good and there were ample selections at dinner.The lunch selections were limited and the entrees on the buffet were also limited. Pizza, made to order sandwiches, salad bar, hot dogs, and hamburgers made p for the lack of selections at the buffet.
Cozumel - our 5th time there and we shopped. Costa Maya where else can you go to a Mexican Mall? There was entertainment but we elected to go into the little town and it was interesting. Dirt road and like stepping back into time. Our port call in Calise was changed at the last moment and we went back to Cozumel. We wanted to go to Xcaret bur it would cost about $30 extra and 3hours to go from Cozumel. I am writing a letter to Carnival on this.
Embarkation was easy and on the ship in about an hour. Debarkation was a 2 hour affair and was not well planned.
Overall a good cruise and we would do it again except for Cozumel.
Despite many e-mails and letters to Carnival Cruise Lines since our cruise aboard the Inspiration in October, I have received no satisfactory response to the following inquiry. "What is your policy regarding the horse racing game aboard ship?" The situation prompting the inquiry was the "pretend" horse race where passengers hop around the show room on wooden horses according to the roll of the dice. At $3 per bet, I'm estimating that well over $150 in wagers were placed, and in return the only single one ticket winner received $12. No explanation given to the general crowd mumbling response of "what the hell . . . ?" At this point, to the staff at least, this "game" became gambling and a way for Carnival to make money.
No one had any explanation for how the money was to be distributed, including the Cruise director, the Purser, or the ships accountant, further stating that "if they did they wouldn't tell me because it wasn't any of my business." I have received one generic response of no value and one general outline of how pari-mutual betting governs the game. No definition of pari-mutual gambling Iam aware of allows the fleecing of participants as was done by Carnival. Gamblers beware of all ship board "games" aboard Carnival ships and take note of the sign at the casino entrance that allows them to reset all jackpots between each cruise.
The week is over, all too soon - but I did want to report that our first cruise was a REAL success and we'll do it again - for sure !! My husband and I, and my sister and brother-in-law made this trip together and had a great time. I do advise going the day before your cruise - far less stress and a nice way to start out. We stayed at the Sailport in Tampa - and found it to be very nice.
Embarkation - less than one hour from the time we arrived at the port until we were having lunch on the lido deck. (Arrived at 11:30 - lunch at 12:30). Into our rooms by 1:30 and our luggage was not long after that.
We enjoyed the Inspiration - great service from both our Room Steward, Rupert, and our Waiter, Agnel. We found all of the employees of Carnival to be very friendly and willing to go out of their way to do anything for us. It of course took us a little while to find our way around - not sure if we were going UPor DOWN those first couple of days !!
The ship itself was in very good condition. The only place we noticed a little wear and tear, was some of the carpet, and a few scratches on some of the elevator doors. Other than that, we found the crew to be constantly vacuuming, polishing, cleaning, and even painting.
The food overall, was very good. There were a few things that needed a little spicing up, but I certainly understand why they can't do that in general - too many people would have problems with it. But there was certainly never a shortage of food and everybody should be able to find plenty that they liked. Service in the dining room was super. We only missed one night in the dining room - and that was the evening we were in Cozumel, when we decided to enjoy Pancho's Backyard for dinner. And I'm very happy to report that at least during our sitting (the 6:15 in the Mardi Gras Room), just about everybody was dressed for the formality of the evening. I honestly can't recall seeing anyone in shorts or jeans on those nights. Even most of the children were dressed for the evening.
As for children - there were plenty of them onboard -but overall, other than just a couple of times when a few would run down a hall or across the decks very loudly - most of them seemed pretty well behaved. The loudest that we saw, seemed to be the last night - perhaps they were just very wound up after a week of excitement and traveling.
The ports - Grand Cayman - here we did the Stingray City and Snorkeling, with Nativeways. We had never snorkled before so it was quite an experience - and the stingrays were very cool. Unfortunately, we didn't have much time to explore the port since this was a short day - so I guess we'll just have to visit again at some time.
Costa Maya - a new port - but the port itself was very nicely done. Bright colors, music, a pool. We had chosen to rent a golf cart and drove down to Marajahal (not sure about the spelling on that). We found a nice litte place on the beach and enjoyed about 3 hours there. Water was beautiful and clear, just what I've always dreamed of.
Belize - here we had decided to do the cave tubing with X-treme. X-treme was on time and took good care of us. We only had 13 of us in our group. The hike through the tropical rain forest was not terrible - but I must say - August is a pretty hot and humid month. We had no problem with mosquitos, which surprised us. But I must say, we were VERY happy to finally arrive at the cave to begin our tubing. Unfortunately, the water level was pretty low - so it required a good deal of paddling and many places were very shallow and it was a bit difficult to get through some of them. I"m glad we did it, but I must say, we were extremely tired at the end of the tour. Belize itself, is a very, very poor country. We had been told this ahead of time, but even so, were not quite prepared for the conditions under which many of these people live. And I must say, it's also a bit stressful, to be met in so many areas by the military - with the guns in the hands. Makes us very happy to live in a free country. Would we go back there - probably not. But if nothing else, it will make you very greatful for all that you have.
Cozumel - our favorite stop. We were fortunate, in that our port day there had been extended to 10:00 PM so we had plenty of time and never felt rushed as we did in some of the other ports. WE had been told that Chankanaab National Park was a great place to visit - so we gave it a try. We went by taxi - and it cost us $10 for the 4 of us. The park itself was very nice - and we had a great time snorkeling there. We had lunch in a nice little outdoor restaurant, right there at the park. We had dinner at Pancho's Backyard, back at the port and wandered around the shops before going back to the ship. It's a beautiful area - and we feel that we could easily go there and spend some time someday in the future.
Our sea days (Monday and Saturday) were relaxing days. We thoroughly enjoyed taking our chairs and sitting on the deck on the lido deck (on the outside, away from the pools and main activity). It was fantastic, sitting and watching the ocean and enjoyed the breezes. We did some of the shows, an art auction, the galley tour, and watched some karaoke - but a lot of the time, we just relaxed.
We had great weather (only 10 minutes of rain in Cozumel) - and very calm seas. Our room was a port-hole room in the front of the ship on the Empress deck - and we had no problem with excessive motion. Maybe had the ocean been a little rougher, we may have noticed it more - but none of us had any problem at all with motion sickness.
Debarkation was simple. We were to report to the lido deck by 9:00 - and we were fortunate to be the first group off the ship and we were off and through customs by 10:00. Of course, you do have a bit of a line going from the lido deck to the empress to get off - but just be patient and relax. And after such a wonderful week, standing in a line for a few minutes was nothing to complain about.
Would we do it again? - yes we will. Would I recommend the Inspiration ?- I certainly will. I heard a few people complain now and then - but listening to them, I think they would complain no matter what ship they were on.
We met some great people and we met up with CanadynGrl (Tracey) and her family and it was great meeting them. They were even on our Cave Tubing excursion with us. and I must say - our dinner tablemates were super people. We had a wonderful cruise. I hope all of you are as fortunate as we feel we were. Happy cruising to you all.
We flew in to Tampa (myself and my 14 year old son Matt) the day before we sailed . Stayed at the Courtyard Marriott downtown. It was a very clean hotel and the staff very friendly.
Sunday 8/15- I woke up so early, I was too excited to go back to sleep. Took a taxi to the pier at 11:00 and by 12:00 they were starting to let people on the ship. I'm telling you, I know we looked like 'country bumpkins' when we first walked on to that vessel. We just could not get over all the space there was, all there was to do and how many people there were. We spent Sunday wandering around the ship.
Dinner - We had late seating in the Mardi Gras room. At first I wasn't sure about our table because as I said, I was traveling with my 14 year old son. I noticed right away there were no kids at our table. But once the conversation started, my worries faded fast. There was a Cuban family from Florida (a couple traveling with their young college aged daughter and her husband)who were so interesting. The father came over from Cuba on a raft he built himself! And the younger man from Cuba held my son spellbound with his stories of growing up in Cuba. There was a couple from Indiana who had such a sense of humor . The woman treated my son as though he were her own grandson. She told him 'I bet you can tell I'm a grandma huh"? Anyway, we exchanged information with the Indiana couple and I hope to keep in contact with them via email. I thought it was interesting that my son did not want to eat in the main dining room. He did not want to get dressed up, but after that first night, while we were walking back to our cabin, he commented "boy, that was nice wasn't it? are we going to get to eat with them again tomorrow night"? He was glad to learn that they were our tablemates for the entire cruise.
Monday - A day at sea. We learned our cruise schedule was all changed due to a tropical storm. I had already booked shore tours outside the cruiseline so I had to scramble to re-book something through the ship . This was also formal night, which was a lot of fun. And another enjoyable night at dinner.
Tuesday - Cozumel was so beautiful. My son and I did the Atlantis submarine, which we both thoroughly enjoyed. We also did the Sea Trekking through Sandollar Sports. They were on the pier and I explained to them that I had booked with them for this cruise, but since our cruise schedule changed, I was here on a different day than what I had booked. I asked could they possibly squeeze us in as this was something we really wanted to do. They were super and we got to Sea Trek. Now I'm telling you, if I live to be 100 years old, this will still be one of the coolest things I have ever done. My son and I enjoyed this the most out of all our excursions. After that , we shopped a little and went back to the ship.
Wednesday - Belize was different from the other ports. Very poor and unorganized. We originally planned to do the Biking In Belize, but the tour was canceled due to not enough people signing up for it. We booked the Belize City and Zoo tour. The tour itself was very interesting and I learned a lot. My only complaint was there was this little girl throwing TEMPER TANTRUMS on the bus the entire time, which made it really hard to hear the tour guide. I could hear people around me making comments. I know kids will cry, but this was not cying. The girl was literally screaming. Throwing temper tantrums. She wanted ice cream, then she wanted to go to the gift shop, then was screaming because she wanted to go back to the 'hotel'. Her irresponsible father had the nerve to throw his own little 'temper tantrum' at my son and I after we got off the bus. I dont know if he overheard us talking or what, but it was extremely rude of him to put that spoiled kid on a tour bus full of people and ruin it for the rest of us. There were other kids on that bus and we didnt hear a 'peep' out of them. YOU KNOW if you have a kid that you can't control, and you should not put a kid like this on this type of excursion.
Thursday - Costa Maya, I could now belive how beautiful it was. We did the Chachoben (spelling?) ruins. Other than the tarantula was saw on the path, I enjoyed this excursion.
Friday - Grand Cayman, the water was so blue, it was unbelieveable. We did the Stingray City Sandbar/Turtle Farm and Hell Tour. I enjoyed the Turtle Farm and visiting Hell, but swimming with the Stingrays was awesome. My son and I got a picture of us holding a stingray.
Saturday - Day at sea and packing up.
Sunday - I have read a lot of complaints about the debark process. We were off the ship by 11:00 and it was really a lot smoother than I expected.
Erroll was our room steward. He was awesome! We rarely saw him, but we knew he had always been there because our cabin was always neat and clean. We started making jokes about him being a super-hero moving through our cabin a lightening speed. He left many cute little towel animals.
Jean was our waiter. He was funny, interesting and worked his butt off. He was from Haiti and sometimes it was really hard to understand what he was saying, but he was friendly and did an excellent job. I have no complaints about the food in the dining room. It was all delicious, hot (or cold if it was supposed to be) and there was always a variety to choose from.
My Best Tip - Bring the over the door shoe holder. I dont know what we would have done without it.
Money - I took $1000.00 in travelers checks and $60.00 in $1.00 bills for tipping. I came home with $500 in travelers checks and about $90 in cash.
My son and I thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise and would absolutely positively sail Carnival and Inspiration again.
Who: Me, My hubby, Greg, and our two teens - Samantha (19 y/o) and Kyle (16 y/o). From: Southern California To: Western Caribbean When: August 1 - 8, 2004 What: Carnival's Inspiration
We arrived in Tampa on the night before our first cruise ever with such anticipated excitement. We stayed at Marriott Springhill suites near Westshore and took a cab/van to the port the next morning for about 15 bucks (for the whole cab, not per person). We were a little worried because it was really rainy and we thought...well we did book this thing during rainy season, so we will just have to make the most of it. However, we were assured by a few of the crew (once we boarded), that we were headed for a sunny Caribbean. But I am getting ahead of myself....
Embarkation: This was a breeze. We arrived around noon and were whisked through different check points and security checks. We did some waiting but nothing bad at all. We were in group 5 to board and before we knew it, our number was called. We walked through the gangway and you would have thoughtwe all entered Oz. We looked up at the atrium and staircase and all we could do was smile. We immediately took a self guided tour around what would be our "home" for the next 7 days. We then headed to our cabin and settled in and met Joaquim, our room steward. He was awesome. Three of our bags had arrived already and our son's came shortly thereafter. We decorated our cabin door with a dry erase board and a fun little picture of "The Grisafes of the Caribbean" and went out on deck to watch the ship leave port.
The rest of the day was spent getting to know the ship and her crew and guests. We had a great dinner and loved our table mates. We were seated at a table for six. It was the 4 of us and then a young couple celebrating their 1st anniversary. They were a lot of fun. Our waiter, Edi, would prove to be fantastic. Always remembering our likes and dislikes and little details throughout the week. He was terrific. Later that night, my DH and DD and I went and had fun doing Karaoke while my son went to a Teen meet. We met a lot of people and, from that moment on, we didn't go anywhere on the ship where someone didn't say "hi" to us. At midnight, my daughter went to the singles meet at the Rock n Roll Disco and my son ended up there too. They had a blast and met sooo many people.
First Fun Day at Sea: The sun was in and out all day, but that didn't stop the pool from being used. We opted to just walk around and visit the casino. The kids hung out with their new found friends. This night was a formal night and Greg and Kyle went and rented tuxes for the occasion. We knew it wasn't mandatory, but we wanted to really dress up on these nights. We all chose to wear black and white and we had some great pictures taken. We attended the Captain's welcome dinner in the Paris Lounge and enjoyed the complimentary Manhattens and Whiskey Sours. It was great to meet all the officers too. Captain Garribbo (sp?) was one of the most handsome and youngest captains I have ever seen. I didn't expect that (the fact he was young, not the fact he was handsome..hehe). Greg and Sami danced, so did Greg and I and then Sami and Kyle danced together too. We then went to dinner and enjoyed Filet Mignon and Lobster Tails. Afterwards, the kids went to do some dancing and we joined them after Karaoke.
Grand Cayman: We had a late night, so we caught a late tender to shore. We were just going to be on our own and we were looking for a taxi when Kyle spotted a girl he had met. She was with her Mom and her friend. Her Mom had been to Grand Cayman before and said they were headed to a beach and we were welcome to go along. So, we all took a taxi to "The Sea Grape" beach. We had a nice day just out by the ocean. They had chair rentals and umbrella rentals, but we just used our towels. Greg rented some snorkel equipment (just the mask and snorkel) and he and the kids went out for a little while. I enjoyed just wading in the water. We had to be back to the ship by 2:00 PM (short day in port) so we left the sea grape at 1:00, which left us some time to spare. We did no shopping here as I was told it was expensive. We got back on the ship and left port. Then, about 5 minutes out, the ship stopped and waited. Greg and Sami were up on deck, about to play in a Volleyball tournament, and they said that the ship had to stop because a couple was left behind and they were on a tender coming out to meet us to get back on board. I would say that was close!!!! I heard the couple being paged over and over after we got onboard and wondered what was going on. When you go ashore, your card is swiped, so they know who came back onboard and who is missing. That couple has a story to tell...albeit, a bit embarrassing. Our impression of Grand Cayman was that it was a nice little city with beautiful beaches.
Costa Maya: I loved the ports where the ship would just pull right up to a dock and we didn't have to tender in. It was nice just getting on and off the boat whenever you wanted. Costa Maya is the most "untouched" of all the ports. There is port shopping, restaurants, native dancing and swimming built right at the pier just for the cruiselines, but we opted to rent a Golf Cart and head to Mahahual, a small village about a 10 minute golf cart ride away. This was my son's favorite port because it was a bit primative (in comparison to the other ports). Having the golf cart was great because we could explore on our own. There were little bars and restaurants along the sandy road. There were vendors selling their wares and they were happy to haggle. My son got sunglasses and a puka necklace for 10 bucks. The beers were 2 bucks at many of the walk-up bars along the beach. We were told by some crew members that this is what Cozumel was like about 15 years ago. If that is the case, it will be interesting to see Costa Maya in 15 years...to see the results of the tourist's dollar....good and bad. After our golf cart adventure, we went back to the port and had a late lunch at "Mamacita's". It was very enjoyable, although it wasn't a bargain. The food and beverages (alcohol and non-alcoholic) are about the same amount as they are at a Mexican Restaurant in the states. My daughter did get a cute little drink that was a hollowed out coconut Monkey with "Costa Maya" written on his belly. Nice little souvenir.
Belize: The tender ride from the ship is about 5 miles. I am not sure if this is because of a reef or shallow waters or what. But we were anchored way off shore. We had booked cave tubing with Wet n Wild. We got to the port way too early. Belize is two hours behind ship's time and we had to wait for our excursion. We could have slept in....but better early than late. 14 of us packed into an air conditioned passenger van and off we were to the rain forest. First impression of Belize City is that it looks to be very poor and there are alot of safety bars on windows and inside stores (between the customers and merchandise and clerks). Our driver said crime is bad there. We were out of the city and onto country roads for about an hour's drive. The last 20 minutes of the drive was an adventure in and of itself. We were taken off the main road and through bumpy, rocky terrain. There was some good jostling and I wondered how much the upkeep was on their vans from making that trek just about every day. We arrived at this little clearing where there were stacks of tubes, life jackets, restrooms and a large thatched-roof covered verandah. We left anything we didn't want to get wet in the van and off we went on about an hour's walk. During the walk, Rudy, our guide, would point out plants and paths and tell us stories of what things were and the animals that once lived there (they are gone now since too many people walk through there). There were some points were it would get a little steep but there were little stairs in the hillside. As long as you watched your step, you were okay. I saw where the cruiseline cave tubing excursion group was entering the river and we walked up further. We got into the river where there was a little rocky cliff and you had the option of jumping off the cliff and into the water or just getting in. Greg, Sami and Kyle all jumped off the cliff and I opted for the mild mannered way of getting in. The water was great! Especially after an hour hike. It was about 70 degrees. So far, we had encountered no bugs. Just a few little flies. I have had worse "buggy" situations in Florida and Alabama. We were into a cave shortly after entering the river and it was spectacular. HUGE caves that looked like a ride that you would see at a Disney theme park...but this was ALL natural. My favorite cave was the one with a waterfall inside of it. At one point we got off our tubes inside of a cave and went up onto a "beach" area (still inside the cave). Rudy asked if anyone wanted to follow him to climb into this remote area. My two kids were the only ones that went. They climbed up into this crevice and my daughter said there were remnants of some artifacts there. They had to slide on some mud to get down and I was a bit worried, but they were okay. We continued on down the river and there were parts that they called "rapids". We would have to go feet first so you could push yourself away from rocks if you got near them. I almost always had to do this. You also had to be sure to lift your bottoms because alot of places were shallow and I hit my rear once on a rock. It didn't feel too great, but I was lucky and didn't get a lasting bruise from it. The ride down the river lasted about an hour. Afterwards, we headed to the verandah area where you could smell barbequed chicken on the grill. They served us a meal that was sooo good. 2 large pieces of barbequed chicken, rice, beans, fried plantain, bread, salad and a yummy chocolate almond cake for dessert. We enjoyed some "Belikin" beer (which we bought), it was very good. They served lemonade which came free with the meal. After our meal, it was time to board the van and head back to the port. On the way back we had another little adventure. Our van broke down twice. The first time it seemed the belt was slipping because of the air conditioner. He turned off the air and opened the windows. This actually was better than the air conditioning anyway...so it didn't bother me one bit. Then ...a little while further down the road...the van died completely. Our driver didn't seem worried at all. He came into the van, got a fuse, went back out and put it in and "voila"...we were back on the road again. Although it was a bit scary since we booked independently and knew the ship wouldn't wait for us, I couldn't help but be impressed as to how prepared they were for such unforeseen circumstances. Marvin of Wet n Wild has never had people miss a ship yet and he told me it would be very bad for his business if it ever happened. They want you to get back on time just as much as you want to be back on time. We got back to port in time to do a little shopping before we caught the last tender...it was our second formal night and we were thankful we had an 8:30 PM seating for dinner. Note: Wet n Wild cave tubing cost 60 dollars per person and that includes the wonderful lunch.
Cozumel: This was mine, my hubby's and my daughter's favorite port. My son liked it too, but he picked Costa Maya as his fave. This port is another port where you pull up to a dock (pier). Our ship was lucky and we got the pier closest to town and all the shopping. There is another port further down where we saw "The Conquest", a RCCL Ship, and another ship (can't remember which one) all docked. We were to be in Cozumel until 10:00 PM and were very excited that we had a close walk to Carlos and Charlies and Senor Frogs. For our daytime entertainment, we decided to take a taxi to Paradise Beach because I had heard soo many great things about it on the internet. Let me say...it lived up to it all. We arrived about 11:30 am and were able to get free chairs, umbrellas and a table right by the water. The kids went out to the "iceberg" and immediately conquered it. It was a beautiful day and we had a wonderful conversation with Paradise Beach Tom, who gave us a little history about the beach. The Kayaks were free to use, the snorkel gear (even with fins) were free to use, the rafts were free to use, the tables, chairs, umbrellas....all free!!! It was amazing. Even if they charged a little fee per person to get onto the beach it would still be worth it. The only thing you paid for was food and drink. We had 2 orders for buckets of beer (5 beers on ice in a bucket), 3 "foo foo" drinks, an order of supreme nachos and an order of chips and salsa throughout the course of the day for 56 bucks...maybe a little more because we tipped the servers. The taxi ride was 14 dollars. The day wasn't bad at all for four of us. Oh, and let me say, the salsa was magnifico! Around 4 o'clock we left Paradise Beach (we got changed in their dressing rooms) and headed back to the town to shop a little. It was 14 dollars back and we went into a few stores but got our best deals with the outside vendors. My daughter got 3 necklaces (the shell and macrame type) and 2 anklets for 10 bucks from a man selling them from his cart. He offered any 3 necklaces and one anklet for 10 dollars, but as she was paying for it, he said to me..."you pick an anklet too, mama". I am still wearing it and haven't taken it off since. We also bought some tequila here at a place that let you taste the tequila. I got a bottle of Cofradia for 22 dollars. After some shopping we headed back to the boat to drop off our purchases and freshen up and then head out for dinner at Carlos and Charlies. Some of the kids' friends from the ship were going to be there. We arrived at Carlos and Charlies and got a table by the road and overlooking the ship and pier. This place was a lot fun! We did the chicken dance on our chairs and had fun dancing and listening to the music. What a great place. The food was nice...comparable to mexican food we have had around Los Angeles, where we live, but it was nothing to rave about. This place is all about the party atmosphere. The kids found their friends and soon my hubby and I were on our own and we headed back to the ship...closely behind our kids. What a beautiful nighttime walk back to the pier. The Inspiration looked marvelous as her and her lights were reflecting in the water. What a great day.
Another Fun Day at Sea: It was a nice day, but alot of it is spent preparing for debarkation. We attended the debarkation talk. It was nice to be able to recognize and applaud some of the crew there. Afterward, we had to pack and get ready to put our bags out between 10 PM - 12 midnight. Greg, me and Sami wanted to do the talent show which was at 10:30 PM in the Paris Lounge, so we knew we had to get our packing done so we wouldn't be rushed after the show. We signed up for the talent show around 4:30 PM. They take the first 8 people in line. Then we had a rehearsal. All the performers were great. Greg and I did a duet and Sami had brought her guitar, so she sang an original song and played her guitar. It was sooo much fun being the entertainment in the main room for the last night. We all got our "24 carat gold plastic ships on a stick" and a certificate of particpation and the next day we bought the talent show video. What a great momento! The rest of that night, we couldn't go anywhere without being stopped and complimented...it was our little 15 minutes of fame.
Debarkation: This wasn't quite as smooth as embarkation. Just be prepared to wait. We had the pink group and we were called toward the end. We had to wait in the Paris lounge for our color to be called. It wasn't too bad...they had movies playing on the big screen. Once we were called, we got off the ship and were taken to this big area to find our luggage. Then, another wait in line. My hubby had got up early to go to the customs check at 7:30 am in the Shakespeare Library because we were over our alcohol limit. We had 5 liters of booze we bought on the ship plus the bottle of tequila from Cozumel. We thought that each adult could bring 2 liters off the ship tax and duty free, but found out it was 1 liter per person at the debarkation talk. This makes me wonder why they sell "2 fers" with a free bottle in the ship's shop. We got 2 bottles of Absolut for 19.99 and 2 bottles of Baileys for 34 bucks...with that purchase they gave you a free bottle of gin. Anyway, Greg sat down with the customs official and was asked questions and the guy was very nice and waived us through without having to pay the tax or duty on any of it. It pays off to be honest. Since our declaration had been approved already, when we got to the front of the line in port, we were put through quickly. That was it...we waved goodbye to the Inspiration and headed toward Tampa to stay a few more days....apparently we left just in time last night as Tampa is battoning down the hatches for a hurricane. Talk about timing.
Overall Impression of the Ship: I can't say enough good things about the crew. The service was outstanding. Edi, our waiter in the Mardi Gras room and Joaquim (he had us call him "Joe"), our room steward were fantastic. We had a great time with Marcus, one of the social hosts too! The ship itself is showing a bit of wear and tear but she is still beautiful....mostly in the elevators where unruly guests have not given the Inspiration the respect she deserves. That was sad to see. I was worried about sea sickness, but only felt a little "off" on the first day...and I think it was more psychological than anything. Our cabin was main aft and while pulling in and out of ports we did have some vibration and there was a very light "humming". I don't know if this happens in all the cabins aboard though..I have nothing to compare it to. We did feel some gentle rocking, but we actually liked that.
MVT (Most Valuable Tip) - It would have to be a toss up between the over the door compartment hanger and the power strip. Both were very handy and I don't know what we would have done without them. There is only one 110 outlet in the room, so if you want to plug in camera chargers, curling iron, blow dryer...etc. The Power strip is the way to go. We still tried to only have 2 things plugged in at once, so as not to overload the system. The over the door compartments were a much needed space saver...especially with 4 people in a cabin.
LVT (Least Valuable Tip) - The duct tape never came out of the wrapper. This is not to say if we would have had torn luggage or something that it wouldn't have been handy...but for this particular cruise, it was not needed.
Tips we would like reiterate or offer up - We had six hundred dollars in traveler's checks and cash. We had 2 bundles of 25 singles. This was very handy! Having the singles ready for room service tips, taxi tips, laundry, waiter tips for the beaches that served drinks...whatever...it was great and just the right amount of cash/traveler's checks. I brought a little fan for inside the room. I like to be a little chilly with moving air at night. The A/C worked great...don't get me wrong, but I like moving air. Zip lock bags are fantastic for EVERYTHING! I took a full box and used them to make sure things stay dried. I also brought a couple of large garbage bags to put dirty laundry in to keep seperate from clean clothes. This also worked great for transporting laundry to and from the laundry mat on board. The kids going to the meets the first nights to meet people their own age. I have a feeling they would have been alright anyway...but this was a great way to break the ice. The late seating for dinner was wonderful. We are night owls and this worked great for us. I was sooo thankful on those days of getting back to the ship at 5 PM from a port that I didn't have to immediately get ready for dinner. We could catch a nap if we wanted to and take our time. Hubby's only complaint about the late seating was that it interfered a little with the Karaoke times...haha!
MFT (most fun tip) - Putting a dry erase board on our cabin door. This was not only a handy way of communicating with our room steward (ie: "can we have some clean beach towels?..thanks"), but it became very fun. Joe (our steward) would write things like "Tonight is formal night..hahahaha" or "Have fun in Cozumel"...and we would write back to him .."Thanks for all you do, Joe" or "You are the best, Joe". He cleaned up so many of our messes and at the end of the cruise we were sure to put our money where our dry erase board words were and gave him more money over the suggested amount we paid on the S & S card. The board was also fun for the kids. The friends they would meet on the cruise would come by our room and leave messages like "Sami, come find me up at the Rock n Roll club"...or "Kyle, Meet us at Carlos and Charlies". The latter was waiting for us when we got back to the ship before going out to C & C's in Cozumel. Their friends would write nice little notes to them too. We got little fun comments on it from strangers just passing by too. Not one time did anyone write something negative. The doors of the cabins are metal which makes it easy. Just buy one of those magnetized dry erase boards and you are set.
Fun obscure little highlight: Coming back to the room every night to see turn down and our little towel animal (A different one every night). Having the chocolates on the bed with the next day's capers. It was so much fun getting into bed with the highlighter pen (another great tip) and marking down the things we wanted to do.
Note: I only mentioned names of crew members and excursion guides to help any future cruisers. I didn't mention names of fellow cruisers because I don't know if they would have wanted that. I do want them to know that I remember them and their names, but left them out because I didn't want to assume I had permission to use them. We had such a great time meeting you and spending time with you (and you know who you are..hehe). Thanks for making our cruise that much more special.
Final Thoughts and Conclusion: What a fantastic way to experience our first cruise. It was a great way to vacation. We loved the ship and Carnival. If you go with a positive attitude and to have fun...you will!!!! No doubt about it. The food was not fantastic, in our opinion. Some nights and some entrees were, but overall, it wasn't amazing...but it was good. I didn't enjoy the Brasserie (the buffet) as much as the sit down meals in the dining room. I loved room service and enjoyed the 24 hour pizza that was available. The drinks on board were yummy and the cost was about the same as any night club. Take advantage of the drinks of the day which are $2.95.
The service was great and we always saw crew members polishing, shining and cleaning the ship. They had pride in her. After all, it is their home and only ours briefly. They truly want you to admire her (the ship) and have a good time while traveling aboard.
All in all, it was a fantastic cruise and my family agrees it was one of the best family vacations we have ever had. It was truly memorable. The Inspiration has definitely inspired us...
...to become cruisers for life!
To see some of the photos I took on this cruise you can visit my photo gallery here: