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  #1  
Old April 15th, 2004, 08:16 PM
Golfbag Golfbag is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Elkhorn, WI
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Default Inspiration 04/04/04

After planning this cruise for seven months, with a lot of help from this site, I felt I should 'give something back'. This was a fabulous cruise for us. My prior two cruises were on much smaller ships so the Inspiration was a real treat for me. I'll try to be as organized in my review and if anyone has any questions, please feel free to ask.
Pre-cruise stay:
Flew direct from Milwaukee to Tampa on Saturday and stayed at Days Inn Rocky Point. The rooms we were in were pretty dated and on the second floor with no elevator. If you are planning to stay there, request a room on the ground floor. We chose this spot for the free shuttle from the airport and to the port. We had dinner at Bahama Breeze which was a short walk down the street. There was a very small market right down the street where I was able to buy a couple of bottles of wine and some beer for the cruise. They can not sell liquor on Sundays until 11 A.M. so plan accordingly. The shuttle would not/did not make its first run to the port until noon. It was perfect timing as the ship was late getting into port anyway.
Embarkation:
The port seemed really hectic when we first got there but once in line things went like clockwork. We were in the skippers club and were able to get sail & sign cards and check in without any wait. We were in the first group to board and got on the ship about 1:30. Dropped our carryons in our cabins and headed to the Lido Deck for our first (of many) buckets of beer.
The ship and our cabins:
I was somewhat worried after reading several posts about the 'older' condition of the ship. I thought she was beautiful. It only took us a couple of hours to get the lay of the land. If you really want to get out your magnifying glass and LOOK for flaws, you will find them but for an eight year old ship I was very impressed. We had four adults and four kids. We were on the Verandah deck and had two balcony suites for the adults and two inside cabins across the hall for our kids. We were just steps away from the large viewing area on Verandah deck. I must say that I am very spoiled with the luxury of having a balcony and will find it very hard to go back to portholes. It was GREAT being able to wake up and walk outside to check the weather and our surroundings. I did have light breakfasts there many a morning rather than going to the dining room. I did not fee much motion or vibration throughout the whole trip. As a precaution, we all took one bonine each morning but I really don't think we would have needed it. Plan well for your days at sea. We had one of our adults get up real early and snooze by the pool with a couple of chairs. You will not find a chair after 8 A.M., especially right near the pool where the band and deck games are.
Activities on board:
We are really not show type people so we didn't actually attend a full one. I did peak my head in on the talent show and the 60's/70's review night and wished I had taken the time to watch a little longer. Three of our four kids are awesome basketball players and I wish they would have scheduled games earlier on in the cruise as when they finally organized something my kids met other basketball friends. The ages were 12, 13, 14 and 15. We had them go to the meet and greet the first night but found that there were not many kids that age that showed up. The other couple with us spent some time in the casino and said it was fun. We loved the sushi bar and even got the kids to try it. Watch out for the wasabe sauce though! Cleared my sinuses up real quick!!
Ports:
We booked Stingray City with Captain Bryan on our own. It was awesome! This was the most favorite tour for all eight in our group. We were on the trimaran with about eleven other people. Our captain found a ray and we all took turns holding it. I'm not a real big fan of underwater creatures but this was incredible. If you are even considering this tour, book independently as the ship sponsored tours are WAY too crowded. Our second snorkel stop was Coral Gardens. It felt like we were swimming inside an aquaruim. Our captain again got in the water with us and coaxed three eels out of hiding for us to see and take pictures of. We returned back to port in time for a little shopping and tendered back to the ship.
Costa Maya:
Docked right at the pier - this is the best way to go. We immediately caught a cab to the fishing village. The three girls had their hair braided and my son learned the fine art of haggling. We got a table and beach chairs at Tapas and proceeded to have a few Coronas. Took the cab back and hung aroung the port shops and pool for about an hour before heading back to the ship. My son did get stung by something while snorkeling at the village but we put some cortozone creme on it and it went away immediately.
Cozumel:
We were supposed to dock here as well but were informed the night before that we would be tendering. I really don't mind tenders but I feel they eat into your short time in port. We tendered to Punta Lagosta and were able to walk downtown to do our shopping. Around noon we grabbed a cab to Paradise Beach. This was my favorite destination! I met Paradise Beach Tom, had more buckets of beer and the kids loved the iceburg and trampoline. A few went snorkeling and saw quite a few fish. The nachos and guac are out of this world. The beach was somewhat crowded but with ten ships in port that day we expected worse. In fact, a 'cruise passenger helper' that we ran into soon after getting off the ship said that Paradise would be too crowded and suggested we go to a resort property and use their facilities. We did not take her advise and had excellent service at Paradise. We left about 3:30 and found a glitch in the tender situation at the pier. Seems that one of the tenders servicing our ship had broken down. That left a lot of people waiting in the very hot sun for about an hour. I heard that a couple of people passed out and a lot of people were VERY irate. We just got in line, sat down and when we saw it was going to be awhile, one in our group went back and bought water and beer for our wait. Everyone on the ship received a $25 credit on their cards. I take the attitude that when life hands you lemons, you make lemonade. I thought that for our group of eight, a $200 credit was pretty cool. This stuff happens, maybe Carnival could have done more or handled it differenly but we all just took it in stride.
Belize:
We were an hour lat getting into this port due to the confusion in Cozumel. I was a bit worried about our cave tubing tour with X Stream but it all worked out. They are very aware of when you MUST be back to the port. They wouldn't be in business very long if they brought people back late. We enjoyed this tour and really needed a day out of the sun but if I ever get back to Belize I'd like to do some snorkeling here. I heard it was fantastic and we would have liked to do more snorkeling on the cruise.
Debarkation:
The ship was in Tampa on time. Again, I think they really made this a priority after Cozumel so that no one would miss their flights home. Our flight to Milwaukee didn't leave until 7 P.M. wo we had made arrangements to go back to the Days Inn and hang there until airport time. This time we had a newer room on the first floor poolside and it was great. We heard that they will be demolishing the resort and building a five star in its place. It's a great location and has jet ski and boat rentals. We had an Easter brunch at Landrys Seafood House across the highway that was fantastic. Got to the airport and back home with no problems at all.
Overall:
This was a first cruise for all but my husband and I and everyone had a great time. The week flew by. My only regret about the entire cruise was the lack of activities for our kid's age group. They spent a lot of their time in their cabins playing cards and watching TV. At their age I guess this was how they wanted to vacation but I really wanted them to enjoy the ship more and I think they would have if offered. I will also look for an itinerary that affords more time in ports as I love to explore different locales and I didn't feel we had enough time on this cruise. I would not hesitate to recommend this cruise though, and I think Carnival does a fabulous job of pampering you!!
Sorry this got so long - if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.
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  #2  
Old April 16th, 2004, 04:11 AM
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kapcruiser kapcruiser is offline
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I also have boys that play basketball,will they be able to shoot hoops anytime they want to or only in organized games? I just found out two days ago that there was a hoop on board, so the boys were happy about that.

Inspiration - August 2004
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  #3  
Old April 16th, 2004, 07:50 AM
ryan5 ryan5 is offline
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Join Date: Mar 2004
Location: mokena illinois u.s.
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Hi Golfbag,
Great review, we are sailing on 6/6/04 we also have 3 children going ages, 11,13,16. They also are worried about what to do at night time. We also are not show people. This is are first cruise also. We have two rooms, one outside and one inside. Will I need to bring the shoe hanger over the door for the bathroom? Also will I need a power strip? Any advice would be appreciated!!
Thanks
Kathy
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  #4  
Old April 16th, 2004, 08:31 AM
Golfbag Golfbag is offline
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Hi kapcruiser - if your boys really want to play basketball I might suggest bringing their own ball. We thought you could check them out at the pursers desk but we had no luck with that. There is no net on the hoop and on sea days they won't be able to play as the hoop is on the verandah deck aft where the second pool is. I guess I would just get as aggresive as they can to get games going.

Hi ryan5 - I would definately bring a shoe organizer, it really seemed to keep things more organized in our bathroom. We brought a power strip but never needed it. There were a couple of outlets in the room and I just used my hair dryer in there. If you have a balcony, remember to bring your bungee cords to keep the door open for fresh air. You're going to have SO much fun.
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  #5  
Old April 16th, 2004, 09:21 AM
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teedee teedee is offline
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Thanks for the great review. We're on the Inspiration in July. I would also like to know about basketball options. Our group includes a 16 and a 14 year old boy and I'm worried about things for them to do. I was also wondering if there is a game room onboard.

Thanks

Terri

Skyward - 1989
Carnivale - 1991
Holiday - 1994
Fantasy - 1998
Century - 2002
Century - 2003
Inspiration - 7/04
Century - 9/04
Coral Princess 3/05
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  #6  
Old April 16th, 2004, 09:32 AM
roni roni is offline
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golfbag, thanks for taking the time to give back to the boards and help me get ready for my trip on the Inpsiration in November

We have seven kids in our group, ranging from 6 to 18. Is there a "disco" or club for the teens? We're going during Thanksgiving week -- more expensive, but hopefully there will be lots of other young people on board during that week.
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  #7  
Old April 17th, 2004, 05:06 PM
Golfbag Golfbag is offline
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hi teedee,
yes there is a huge game room/arcade on board. Most of the games in the gameroom are like the virtual reality type and there are about five PS2. My son didn't play much in there, he had to use his own money and suddenly became very frugal.

hi roni,
they have a teen disco in the rock and roll bar that is for 12-15 year olds from about 9 to 10:30. Then it is only for 16 and older. My kids went one night during their 'time slot' and found that it was mostly young 12 year olds.
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  #8  
Old April 19th, 2004, 05:34 AM
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judyf judyf is offline
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Golfbag,

Great report on the cruise! I think we were at the table right in front of you in Costa Maya. We were wondering how the boy made out. I remember him coming out of the water and running to you and then you all left. I'm glad to hear he is okay.

Judy
CCL Inspiration 4/4-4/11/04
NCL Sea 4/14-4/27/03
Wonder 5/16-5/19/02
Wonder 5/3-5/8/01
Fantasy 2/15-2/18/01
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  #9  
Old April 19th, 2004, 06:09 AM
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teedee teedee is offline
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Golfbag - Thanks for the info on basketball and game room. I've told the boys that they need to save their money for things like the gameroom, that will be paid for by them and suddenly they aren't so sure they want to play games. It's amazing the difference when the money comes out of their pockets, isn't it?

Terri

Skyward - 1989
Carnivale - 1991
Holiday - 1994
Fantasy - 1998
Century - 2002
Century - 2003
Inspiration - 7/04
Century - 9/04
Coral Princess 3/05
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  #10  
Old April 19th, 2004, 09:12 PM
Golfbag Golfbag is offline
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Hi Judyf,
I believe we were the people to the left of you facing the sea. We had the three girls who had their haid braided. I remember the little boy who was crying etc, my son is 13, a little older. I remember saying to my sister that I thought that could be you and your mother but she said that this was a first cruise for you. Maybe she meant your mother. Boy I sure wish I was back on the ship!!! Have you planned your next cruise yet? I'm dreaming of a date with Destiny and the southern Caribbean.
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  #11  
Old April 20th, 2004, 06:14 PM
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judyf judyf is offline
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opps
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  #12  
Old April 20th, 2004, 06:14 PM
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judyf judyf is offline
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Hi Golfbag,

This was my 5th cruise and the 4th for my mother and we can't wait to go again. I think my next major cruise will be to Hawaii next spring. If I see something pop up that sails out of the NYC area real cheap I might grab it! LOL I've been looking.

Yeah, it was the little boy that we saw., we felt so sorry for him and his family. I hope he's okay too.

I keep wishing I was back on the ship too. Now I'm waiting for all the cruisers on the Inspiration this week to post their trip reports, there were a lot of them!!!

Judy
CCL Inspiration 4/4-4/11/04
NCL Sea 4/14-4/27/03
Wonder 5/16-5/19/02
Wonder 5/3-5/8/01
Fantasy 2/15-2/18/01
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