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Lady_Jag

Inpiration Review - Easter Break, Western Caribbean 4/5/10

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I can still feel the ship moving, but wanted to start a review of our experience while it was still fresh in my head. Please keep in mind that I am documenting my own personal views of our experiences on board.

 

Feel free to ask questions, and I will do my best to answer them. I will provide pictures as well, but since I am a photo junkie, it might take me a while to sort through all 500 photos I took over the last 5 days.

 

Overall, we had a fabulous time! My hubby, daughter, and I booked the cruise several months ago, along with 13 other friends, family, and acquaintances. Youngest person in our group was 4, oldest was 50-something. ;) Ports of call included Grand Cayman and Cozumel.

 

I've sailed Carnival 4 other times. It's been nearly a decade since I sailed a Fantasy class ship (Fantasy, 2001), but less than a year since my last Carnival cruise (Glory, 2009).

 

I have to say that the Inspiration is NOT my favorite ship. I thought the food and ports were good, and the service for the most part was excellent. However, the ship itself could use some TLC, which was surprising, considering it hasn't been that long since it received its "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades. I was also confused by the layout. Even though the Glory is larger, I found it much easier to navigate than the Inspiration. (It might have helped if Carnival had updated the deck plans in the elevator bays to reflect the ship upgrades. LOL!)

 

Anyway, it was a wonderful cruise, despite a few hiccups. Yes, the ship was packed with kids, especially high school kids, and there were some really crowded areas on board, but everyone was pleasant and we never encountered or witnessed any problems with any other passengers.

 

So here we go...

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We planned to drive to Tampa the night before the cruise and stay at the Hyatt Place - Westshore/Airport, which I booked through price-line months before at better than 1/2 the price of their regular rate.

 

Since I sing in my church choir, the Easter Bunny still visits my 4-year-old, and my mom wanted to host Easter dinner, Easter Sunday was very busy. In preparation, I made sure our bags were packed and the house clean the day before.

 

Our friend, Joel, met us at my mom's so that he could ride with us. I had booked 2 rooms at the Hyatt, one for me, hubby, and Alyssa, and a second for Joel. Well, a couple of months after I booked the rooms, Joel's friend, Mark, decided to book the same cruise and was going to fly in from Chicago the day before and share Joel's room.

 

Uh-oh! Both rooms were in my name, and we weren't going to be checking in until later that night. So when Mark arrived at the hotel around 3:00 or so that afternoon, he couldn't check in. He called Joel, who then put me on the phone with the hotel's front desk. The clerk asked me what were the last 4 digits of the credit card I used to book, and it didn't match the reservation. That's when I discovered that Priceline usually charges the customer's card, then books the room(s) through its own credit card account.

 

So we had several minutes of trying to figure out a way to verify Mark's and my identities over the phone. It went something like this:

"What are the last 4 digits of the credit card you booked with, Ms. W__?"

"Well, it's a Visa, and it's..."

"I show a MasterCard."

"Um, no, I don't think I would have used my MasterCard."

"Well a MasterCard is listed."

"But my Priceline email has my Visa."

[Pause...background chat about Priceline on the hotel end.]

"OK, Ms. W___, what's the last name of the gentleman checking in?"

[Pause...I had never met Mark, so I whispered, "psst! Joel! What's Mark's last name?!?"]

"It's D____." (I felt like I had just answered the Final Jeopardy question correctly.

"Alright, Ms. W___. We'll go ahead and check him in. What time do you expect to arrive?"

"Thank you. We'll be arriving around 9:00 tonight. See you then."

 

We had a bit of a laugh over dessert, visited with my mom for a little longer, changed into some comfy driving clothes, then hit the road around 4:30pm. Placing all of our luggage in my SUV was a little like Tetris, but we fit it all in:

carloadfullcu.jpg

 

Now, I had never travelled during Easter Break, so had no idea the interstate traffic would be so bad. We were making great time that evening until about 1/2 way down I-4, when we were in stop-and-go traffic because someone had pulled off the road and was changing a tire. :eek:

 

Alright, just a 20 minute delay due to rubber-neckers. Oh well! We were still on track to arrive to the hotel before 8:00 until we hit an even worse "parking lot" on I-4. All three lanes were stopped for about 5 miles. We inched forward...slowly...very slowly...until we finally reached the source of the hold-up. A car had skidded off the road and into the median on the far left. Nothing was in the road, and the police were on the scene, but again rubber-neckers in all lanes in BOTH directions were clogging the highway. :rolleyes:

 

Anyway, we arrived at the Hyatt just before 9:00. I thought I was being smart, dressing my daughter, Alyssa (age 4), in her PJ's before we hit the road, but she was still wide awake and wired from cruise excitement and Easter candy. We ordered sandwiches from a local place that delivered to our rooms, then we all finally crawled into the bed around 11:00. I hoped that Alyssa would not wake us up too early, and that my hubby, Alex's, gout flare-up would be gone by morning.

 

The Hyatt Place:

hyattfront.jpg

 

Our room:

hyattroom-1.jpg

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Looking forward to your continued review with lots of pictures!!

 

A few questions for you, you booked on Priceline, did you bid for your room?

We have 4 of us traveling in December and would like to share a room, just wondering if you can book for 4 in one room on priceline.

Did your hotel have a view of the Port???

 

thanks

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I have to say that the Inspiration is NOT my favorite ship. I thought the food and ports were good, and the service for the most part was excellent. However, the ship itself could use some TLC, which was surprising, considering it hasn't been that long since it received its "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades. I was also confused by the layout. Even though the Glory is larger, I found it much easier to navigate than the Inspiration. (It might have helped if Carnival had updated the deck plans in the elevator bays to reflect the ship upgrades. LOL!)

 

 

We sailed her in Oct '08 and noted the same exact things as well as the Lido deck restaurant would only have half of it's food service stations in use so there were very long lines for food. :cool:

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DH and I were on the Inspiration at Thanksgiving and sailing on her again in less than 4 weeks. We did not find the ship to be in need of TLC at all. We also sailed on the Glory several years ago and found that ship to have a very confusing layout, especially trying to get to the aft dining room. :)

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Looking forward to your continued review with lots of pictures!!

 

A few questions for you, you booked on Priceline, did you bid for your room?

We have 4 of us traveling in December and would like to share a room, just wondering if you can book for 4 in one room on priceline.

Did your hotel have a view of the Port???

 

thanks

 

I did bid for 2 rooms on Priceline. I think I bid $49 for each of the 2 rooms. I'm pretty sure you can book for 4 in one room - there were 3 in ours - but you will be further limiting your available hotels to those that have rooms with 2 double beds (instead of 1 king) available. I know two doubles are usually in a "standard" room, but you never know.

 

The hotel did not have a view of the port, but was only a short drive away and had a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport. I *think* it also had a parking package and shuttle to the port, but I never investigated it, because I like to be in control of when we get there. LOL!

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Loved our cruise on the Inspiration last year, looking forward to our next one, had no trouble finding our way around, but thats all we sailed, Fantasy class, could find my away around blindfolded...LOL...looking forward to the rest of your review, thanks for sharing.

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The much anticipated Embarkation day! My eyes popped open at 5:00am (until then, I had no idea that there was a 5 in the MORNING!) I was too excited to sleep, and lay in the bed for about an hour trying to force my eyes shut. It was not happening.

 

I remembered that when I checked in, the desk clerk told me that the complimentary continental breakfast started at 6:00am, so I dressed quietly and walked downstairs. Our friend, Joel, was already there, watching TV and sipping a cup of coffee. I helped myself to some toast, cereal, and hot tea, and Joel and I chatted for a little while. Joel and Mark were meeting a friend of Joel's who lived in the area. She would be shuttling them both to the port in a little while, despite the rumors that no one would be allowed in until at least 10:30. I don't blame them - I was anxious to see the ship too!

 

Nevertheless, I went back to my room to steal a little morning nap until Alex and Alyssa finally decided to wake up around 8:30. Ah! Just what I needed! Alex's gout was still pretty bad, so while he limped around the room getting ready, I helped a very excited Alyssa get dressed and fed. Finally, we were ready to roll...well, almost! Alex wanted some cash to carry into the ports, and I had forgotten to pack a sweater for Alyssa for the always cold dining room and show lounge. No problem. We reloaded the SUV, then stopped at the nearby Target for both.

hyattluggage.jpg

 

We finally arrived at the Port of Tampa around 11:00, and opted for valet parking, instead of trying to find a spot in the garage across the street. There were quite a few people there, but nowhere near the crowd that would show up an hour later when my sister-in-law and her family and friends arrived! We were assigned lucky zone 13, and directed to a group of chairs where we could wait for our zone to be called, which was about 11:30 or so.

terminalzone13smile.jpg

 

We took our S&S photos, then a quick embarkation photo, and were on our way to the main atrium. The minute the atrium came into view, Alyssa shouted "Oh wow!" and broke into a run. We were welcomed aboard by 3 laughing crew members, who thought Alyssa was "too cute."

 

We went straight to the Lido deck to grab a bite, and text Joel to let him know we were on board. (He was in zone 2 or 3, because they arrived so early.) I grabbed a "wedge" of cheese pizza for Alyssa from the pizza station, and a turkey wrap from the deli for me. I swear, the hot and fresh slice of pizza I received was at least 1/4 the entire pie, and Alyssa surprised me by eating almost the entire thing! (At first, she was too excited to eat, but I cut it with a knife and fork and fed it to her as I told her again and again, per request, about how the pizza chef made it extra cheesy just for her because she was so special, and he wanted me to tell her that he hoped she enjoyed it.)

 

We toured the ship a bit, and Alyssa immediately wanted to jump in the pool. So we headed to the main deck to drop our bags off in our cabin, M195, which we were assigned by Carnival. The cabin is a category 6c oceanview room on the starboard side with 1 bunk and a California king bed.

 

There was plenty of of closet space and space to move around, once we stored our luggage under the bed and Alyssa's stroller in the closet. I set up my collapsible cooler on the desk next to the ice bucket, and planned to ask the room steward for extra ice when we met him or her. Problem was, we never DID meet him. I thought that was really weird, considering that our cabin was across the hall from the crew access area, where all the room stewards and room service staff come and go. In fact, when we first arrived to our stateroom, our door was open, and there were 4-5 blue bags of laundry piled up in the doorway. We climbed over without a second thought, but one of the crew (she might have been the assistant steward, or someone else's steward) saw us and immediately started to apologize and clear the bags out of the way. I just smiled, told her not to worry and that it was all perfectly alright, as we understood that there is a lot of work and laundry involved in getting the cabins ready for a new sailing.

 

Anyway, that first day, I think I caught a brief glimpse of our steward as a blur who whirled in and out of the cabin, dropping off our first Capers...I mean, Fun Times...before I could say so much as "hello." Oh well. There were bags to unpack, and cabin doors to decorate. I was sure I would meet him soon enough. (Sorry to say I was wrong about that.)

 

Alex and Alyssa changed into bathing suits, and I inflated Alyssa's floaties/water wings so that they could go to the pool and hot tubs. I told Alex I'd meet up with them just before the muster drill, which was scheduled for 3:15. I decorated our door, then added our traditional MagnaDoodle:

roomdoordecor2.jpg

 

Then I walked around the corner to my in-laws' cabin (M218) to decorate their door with a poster I made. My niece, Katie, busted me though, just as I was sticking the last corner of the poster down with poster putty. Ooops! I walked in and chatted a bit with Mark (a different Mark), my brother-in-law, Tia, my sister-in-law, and their daughters, Kelsey and Katie. (It was Mark and the girls' first cruise, and Tia's first Carnival cruise, having sailed RCL once years prior.)

 

Tia's room was also an oceanview set up with a bunk and California king. It was a category 6B, and had a roll-away for Katie under the bunk. With the roll-away taking up the floor space at the foot of the big bed, the space seemed tight, but they managed just fine. Their biggest concern was the vibrations they felt in the room. Every so often, the ship's engines would let out a sort of shudder, and the vibration would pulse through the cabin. Each time, Mark would ask, "Did you FEEL that?!?"

 

I excused myself to take some ship photos before the muster drill, and also to drop off Alyssa's Camp Carnival registration, which I was glad I completed online. I thought it strange that the Camp Carnival orientation was scheduled for 7:00pm, smack dab in the middle of main seating dinner time, when most families who utilize Camp Carnival dine. ???

 

Anyway, I wandered around and around before giving in and asking a nice Carnival lady wearing a "Just ask me" shirt for directions. (Take the elevator to deck 10, Lido, then get on the other elevator or take the stairs up to deck 11. Then go outside, and immediately to the left is a door on the outer deck that leads into Camp Carnival.) The place was open for viewing, so I took a quick look around. It was very neat and clean, with a craft table, plenty to do and play with, and security cameras and mounted video monitors everywhere.

 

I went back to the cabin, and was just in time to see all of our checked luggage being delivered. Yay! I could unpack everything before the muster drill! How nice. Soon enough, an announcement was made that passengers did NOT have to take life jackets with them, but to check that there were enough jackets for everyone in the cabin. Our muster station was on the Lido deck, so I walked down to that area, and herded Alyssa and Alex over to where our "official" meeting place, the front of the stage, was.

 

Again, this is just my opinion, but I think Carnival could still improve on the muster drill process. It was great not to have to don life jackets and get packed like sardines in the hot sun on one of the outer decks, but this drill seemed fruitless to me. The passengers on the Lido deck chatted, played, and barely even glanced at the two people on stage demonstrating how to put on the life jacket. Then, the people in the other muster stations (including the rest of our group) were directed to come up to the Lido deck and gather on the outer decks by the lifeboats. (We got to stay where we were and watch people get packed like sardines onto the outer decks.) Then, before everyone could even make it all the way up the stairs to the Lido, the drill was over. Ummmm...ok.

 

Back to the cabin to change into dinner attire, then off to the promenade to sample some pre-dinner sushi. (Yum!) First, though, I wanted to make a stop at the purser's desk...I mean guest services. I had written a letter to Paul Santley, the cruise director, asking him to give a shout out to my niece, Katie, who would be turning sweet 16 in a few days. I also wrote about how much our group was looking forward to the fun times on the ship, and even gave a little of our cruising backgrounds.

 

The line at the GS desk was really long, so after several minutes of debating, I simply walked up to an unoccupied part of the desk and started to set the letter (with "Attn: Paul Santley, CD" on the front) on the desk. One of the GSA's saw me, and took the letter with a questioning look. I blushed, and said, "Sorry, didn't mean to interrupt. I just wanted to leave this letter for the cruise director." The GSA looked at me like I had handed her a flaming bag of poo. She stared at the front of the letter and asked me again and again who it was for. I finally convinced her that it was just a letter for the CD, and that my intentions were very innocent.

 

Later, I figured out why the GSA was so confused. On my last cruise, and I guess on most of the bigger ships, the CD has a "morning show" on the TV, in which he reads letters and answers questions from guests. Well, an inspection of the Fun Times proved that the Inspiration has no such show! I was mortified.

 

Anyway, there were 3 kinds of sushi rolls tonight, one which had shrimp (Alex and I are both allergic to shellfish). The other was a spicy tuna, and the third a California roll, which I *thought* had crab stick, avocado, and cream cheese. I am soooo glad Alex asked if it was crab stick or real crab, because it turned out to be REAL crab! Yikes! (Nothing like getting a cruise cut short the first night by puffing up like a blowfish!) I snapped some more pictures of Alyssa, and of Alex pretending to eat the shrimp sushi roll:

sushi2.jpg

 

We strolled to dinner in the Mardi Gras dining room mid ship. Outside each dining room is a model of the Carnival ship it's named after (Mardi Gras and Carnivale.) Here's the Mardi Gras:

mardigras.jpg

 

Remember I said we were a party of 16? Well, I thought for sure we would be broken up into 2 tables of 8. But I was wrong... again. We were seated at one 10-top, and one 6-top. Alex, Alyssa, Joel, Mark and I were assigned to the 6-top. Everyone else, with the exception of Logan, Roy and Donna's son, were assigned to the 10-top. Crazy! They actually split up a family of 3, staying in one single cabin, across two tables! Donna was not happy about that, and I can't say I blame her. However, we worked it out so that she and Roy could dine with us and Logan at the 6-top that night, and Joel and Mark (who wound up never eating in the MDR) could sit at the 10-top.

 

Our wait team was head waiter, Nadel, and assistant waiter, Marichu. They were both outstanding and super nice! I really enjoyed chatting with them and getting to know them each night. Our maitre d' was Ramesh, and around 6:15, he announced that we were passing under the Skyline bridge and drew our attention to the windows. It was pretty cool.

 

The first night's menu is always my favorite, because I look forward to the fork tender baby back ribs. Mmmmmm! However, I discovered that the baby backs were replaced by spare ribs, so I was a little wary. No worries! They were absolutely delish! I let Roy try some, and he was hooked. He asked Nadel to promise him the ribs would be on the menu another night, but Nadel told him sorry, but the menu changes each night. Nadel offered to bring Roy an order of ribs, though, which Roy reluctantly turned down, since he wanted to save room for dessert. I think Alex and I were the only ones who didn't order the warm chocolate melting cake that night. I can't remember what I ordered, but Alex got the cheesecake, which he enjoyed so much he ordered a second piece! LOL! As a side note, I was surprised that there was no "showtime" in the MDR tonight. I could have sworn that we had one the first night on the Glory last year, but I could very well be wrong...yet again.

 

After dinner, Alex's toe was really starting to cause him pain from his gout attack, so I offered to take Alyssa to the Camp Carnival dance party in the Rock n' Roll lounge, while he went back to the cabin for some meds and some rest. Alyssa LOVES the Welcome Aboard dance party Camp Carnival hosts the first night. I took a couple pictures, then tried to accompany her on the dance floor, but Alyssa would have none of it. She did NOT want me dancing with her! :-( Instead, she preferred that I leave the dance floor so she could hook up with other kids and other families. Seriously! The girl actually imposed herself onto another mom and daughter who were dancing out there! Oh well! Guess I'll just take pictures of my little girl having fun with everyone else's families.

 

The party ended around 9:00, and Alyssa was wired. We went back to the cabin in search of Alex, but I guess his toe was feeling better, because he wasn't there. I got Alyssa ready for bed, then, in a sad attempt to win my daughter's love, I suggested we order room service and have a little picnic on the "big" bed. It worked. I ordered chocolate cake and chocolate milk (in hindsight, it probably wasn't a good idea before bed), then handed Alyssa a couple of bucks to give as a tip when room service arrived. Being across the hall from the crew access has its advantages, I guess, as room service was delivered in no time! Alyssa couldn't wait to tip our server, then share the chocolate cake, which was fabulous and came with a small scoop of rich chocolate mousse topped with thin dark chocolate squares. (By the way, there were no chocolates on our pillows this cruise.)

 

Alyssa insisted that I save the last bite of mousse for Alex. So I recovered the plate and brought Alyssa into the bathroom to brush her teeth. Alyssa was excited about her bunk bed, but I was a little nervous about the very small bed rail. I made Alyssa promise two things: first, that when she wanted to get into or out of the bed, she would wait for me or her daddy to help her, and secondly, that the small ladder was an "up" ladder only, and she wouldn't try to climb down it while we slept. Then I cleared the tray from room service and wedged it between the mattress and the metal edge of the bunk as a sort of "extension" to the bedrail. It worked out fine. The only little problem the bunk posed was that it extended over the walking area at the foot of the big bed, so whenever I got up, I would have to bend over and duck my head below the bunk to get to the other side of the cabin.

 

Oh yeah! One last thing - tonight's towel animal (part of the proof that we had a room steward) was a seal:

sealtowel.jpg

Edited by Lady_Jag

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Here are pics of our cabin, M195. Please excuse the mess, as we were in the midst of unpacking:

roomdoor.jpg

roomunpack.jpg

 

Alyssa's bunk, decorated, and with bed rail:

bunk4.jpg

 

Bathroom:

roombath.jpg

 

Shower:

roombath3.jpg

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Here are some pictures I took around the ship the first day.

 

I will do my best to continue with Day 2 of this review tomorrow, after work. Please be patient, though, as I am composing and editing this as I go along while simultaneously sorting, labelling, uploading, and resizing the 500+ photos I took during the cruise.

 

The ship, as seen from the waiting area of the terminal:

terminalship.jpg

 

Main atrium:

atrium.jpg

 

Atrium stairs:

atriumstairs3.jpg

 

Funnel and slide:

slidefunnel2-1.jpg

 

Racing slides and Waterworks (I thought "WaterWORKS" was a misnomer, though, because the area was "closed for maintenance" the entire cruise.)

slideracers-1.jpg

 

Mardi Gras dining room:

mgdiningroom.jpg

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Lido deck stage and steel drum "band":

stage.jpg

 

Shakespeare Library (I thought this was a beautiful space with a phenominal view! Too bad it wasn't used much.)

library.jpg

library3.jpg

library5.jpg

 

Chopin lounge (Cigar bar):

Chopinlounge.jpg

 

Standard "Carnival Inspiration" name photo:

inspirationname3.jpg

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Alyssa's new "boyfriend," that she met at the Camp Carnival dance party:

DSC_0207.jpg

 

Hot tub. (This one was the only covered one.)

hottub2.jpg

 

View from one of the lounge seats on the promenade:

day1window3.jpg

 

Alyssa and her cousin in the MDR:

katiealyssadr.jpg

 

Say "Cheesecake!"

cheesecake.jpg

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We sailed her in Oct '08 and noted the same exact things as well as the Lido deck restaurant would only have half of it's food service stations in use so there were very long lines for food. :cool:

 

Yikes! Fortunately, it seemed that all the stations were operational this cruise. Even so, there were some lines during the "peak" food hours. We never had to wait more than 5-10 minutes, though.

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Please continue with your review we are going on the INspiration in June. thanks

 

I'm working on it. I hope your INspiration cruise in June is just as good.

(PS - I noticed the typo too, but by the time I did, it was too late to edit. Let's just chalk it up to a very late night after a very long drive. :o)

Edited by Lady_Jag

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DH and I were on the Inspiration at Thanksgiving and sailing on her again in less than 4 weeks. We did not find the ship to be in need of TLC at all. We also sailed on the Glory several years ago and found that ship to have a very confusing layout, especially trying to get to the aft dining room. :)

 

Hope you have a great time on your upcoming cruise! The reason why I said the ship needed some TLC was because:

1. The waterworks area was not operational the entire [spring Break] cruise.

2. One of the glass elevators got stuck, trapping a few people in it for 30 minutes the first day. It remained non-operational the rest of the cruise.

3. There was graffiti plastered on the inside of the doors of one of the aft elevators.

4. Several of the mosaic floor tiles in the public areas where noticeably broken/missing.

5. The deck plans in the elevator bays still showed a children's pool where the Serenity area is.

 

I'm really not sure why I could navigate the Glory so much better than the Inspiration. I guess it's just a case of "Different strokes for different folks," or maybe I did more research last year. I don't know, but I was so much more "navigationally challenged" on the Inspiration. :p

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Loved our cruise on the Inspiration last year, looking forward to our next one, had no trouble finding our way around, but thats all we sailed, Fantasy class, could find my away around blindfolded...LOL...looking forward to the rest of your review, thanks for sharing.

 

Aha! Well you might be onto something there...so far I've sailed the Fantasy class, Spirit class, and Conquest class, and will soon sail the new Dream class. Maybe consistency is the answer. ;)

 

I'm also willing to admit, though, that I could just be an odd-ball. Most people claim the Spirit class ships as their #1 favorite layout, but I thought it was just so-so. :o

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Did you notice if Future Cruise Certificates were sold on your cruise??

 

Thanks

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Did you notice if Future Cruise Certificates were sold on your cruise??

 

Thanks

 

You know, I read on John Heald's blog that the Future Cruise desk would be available on the Inspiration by the time we sailed, but darned if I could find it! LOL! I thought for sure that I would come across it at some point or another, but maybe the desk hours didn't coincide with my comings and goings and I missed it.

 

My guess is that it was on the same deck as Guest Services/the main atrium (deck 7), but none of the deck plans were current enough to reflect its location, and the new "Fun Times" didn't advertise it at all.

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You know, I read on John Heald's blog that the Future Cruise desk would be available on the Inspiration by the time we sailed, but darned if I could find it! LOL! I thought for sure that I would come across it at some point or another, but maybe the desk hours didn't coincide with my comings and goings and I missed it.

 

My guess is that it was on the same deck as Guest Services/the main atrium (deck 7), but none of the deck plans were current enough to reflect its location, and the new "Fun Times" didn't advertise it at all.

 

Laura you allways have the best reviews can't wait for the rest :)

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I sure hope the waterworks area is open when we cruise at the end of June. :confused: The kids will be sooo disappointed if it's not.

 

Great review so far... can't wait to hear the rest.:)

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Laura you allways have the best reviews can't wait for the rest :)

 

Aw, thanks Frank! Glad you're enjoying it! I admit I'm a nerd and keep a journal while I'm onboard so that I can remember all the details. :o

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I sure hope the waterworks area is open when we cruise at the end of June. :confused: The kids will be sooo disappointed if it's not.

 

Great review so far... can't wait to hear the rest.:)

 

Thank you.

I hope the waterworks is open for you, too. I had read other reviews prior to our cruise of the waterworks always being closed, so it wasn't all that unexpected.

 

The kids will have fun anyway, though. Alyssa and some of her new friends spent much time playing in the water at the very end of one of the slides by scooping it out with with sand buckets and filling up her little dollar store squirt toys.

 

On with the show...

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Alyssa let out a few whines in her sleep around 4:30 in the morning, which made my Mommy-sense tingle. I lay awake listening to see if she would wake or settle back down, and soon I heard nothing but Alex’s snores rumbling through the cabin. I continued to lay there, staring out the window at the still-dark sky and thinking, “What time is it? 5:00am? Really? Why can’t I go back to sleep? Ugh.”

I lay there, too wound up to sleep, but too tired to do anything. I thought maybe a hit shower would relax me, but the shower shared a wall with Alyssa’s bunk, and I didn’t want to risk waking her. Then I remembered how much nicer the gym showers usually are and rolled out of bed. I grabbed my Del Sol tote, crawled under Alyssa’s bunk, and stashed everything I would need, plus my camera into the bag. Then I pulled on my yoga pants and old Carnival “Fun Ship Winner” T-shirt, slid my flip-flops on, and carefully, quietly, left the cabin.

My watch read 5:30 when I stepped into the deserted hallway. I knew that the gym would be at the front of the ship with a spectacular view, so I took the nearby aft elevator as far up as possible, took a snapshot or two of a completely empty atrium (whoa!), and then started walking across the ship:

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It was still dark, and the upper decks were wet and slippery. A couple of times, my flip-flops were more like skis and I slid a few inches, so I slowed my pace and watched where I planted each step. The Lido deck was also empty and the pool area had a beautiful glow in the last few minutes before dawn:

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Speaking of dawn, it didn’t dawn on me that the gym opened at 6:00am until I made it to the spa area and found the big spa doors blocking my path. D’oh! Well, I was up now and wasn’t about to go to journey back to my cabin at the completely opposite end of the ship, so I reclined on one of the cushioned benches near the window and waited. Before long, a man in shorts, running shoes, and wearing headphones showed up, ready for his morning workout. He saw the closed spa door and stopped, then looked around, confused. A few minutes later, two other men showed up in workout clothes. I sat up and wandered over to where they were in front of the door. “It doesn’t open until 6.” I said.

All three looked at me like I was a vagrant begging for some spare change or a beer. How odd! Then I remembered what I was wearing – white T-shirt, black yoga pants, and cheap blue flip-flops, with a bulky canvas bag hanging on my shoulder. Add to it my bed head hairdo and lack of make-up, and yeah…I probably did look like a bag lady on vacation!

6:00 came and went, and the spa doors never opened. No sign of any Carnival employee either. Hmmmm. So the crazy bag lady suggested that maybe the gym had a separate entrance, and perhaps this was one of those weird layout things where you had to go up and over to get there. I must have been pretty convincing, because all 4 of us were wandering around the “City Park”/Waterworks area, looking for a stairwell down to the spa deck. No dice.

It was 6:10 and the doors were still closed. So we all went down a deck to look for a way in. Nope. The guys gave up and headed back to the spa a few minutes before I did. When I got back to the spa, it was 6:15 and the doors were finally open. Hooray! I walked in, and looked around for an employee would could give me a locker key. No one was there. Hellooooo? Helloooooooooo? Nothing. I snapped a couple of pictures of the ice cream cones amidst all the spa products in the display case, and decided that if no one was here anyway, there was probably no need for a locker, so I walked into the Ladies’ locker, showered, dressed, and took a couple of pictures of the sauna and steam room facilities:

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Someone was finally attending the desk when I left the spa and started walking back to my cabin. I crossed the Lido deck, where pool attendants were dragging out lounge chairs for the upcoming crowd. They were surprised to see me. I just smiled, said hello, and wished them a nice day. I helped myself to a cup of hot decaf tea. Ah! NOW I can sleep.

I crept into the cabin and waited for our 7:30 room service “wake-up call.” Right on time! I placed the tray on the desk, crawled under Alyssa’s bunk again, and climbed into the bed, where I immediately fell asleep until around 9:00.

To be continued...

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Alyssa scarfed down all the muffins delivered by room service while Alex got up and got ready to go. I asked if Alyssa would like to go to Camp Carnival, and she burst into tears. ??? I was surprised, because she LOVED Camp Carnival last year, so I told her we would just go to check out the schedule and if she didn’t want to stay, she didn’t have to. She reluctantly agreed, so for the third time that morning, I walked the length of the ship.

When we walked into the room, Alyssa immediately latched herself around my neck and started to cry, “Mama! Don’t leave me!” Aw! I grabbed the 2-5 year old group Capers and assured Alyssa that she didn’t have to stay if she didn’t want to. She calmed down and said “maybe later.” I smiled and told her “Oh, Alyssa, look! This afternoon they’re playing leap frog and painting a silly monster and playing candy Bingo!” That put a smile on her face! “OK, Mommy,” Alyssa said, “later I can go to Camp Carnival and play.”

We climbed the stairs to the mini golf area, and Alyssa was ready to play! Boy, was it windy, though! I held on tight to my little girl, because the wind was literally pushing her over! “Are you SURE you want to play?” I asked Alyssa. “YES!” she said, jumping up and down excitedly.

Alright. I handed Alex my camera bag while I went downstairs to the pool area so that I could check out 2 golf clubs and a couple of golf balls. Before I could hand over my S&S card, Joel popped up behind me. “Hey!” he said, “where’s Alex?”

I checked out the clubs and walked with Joel up to the golf course. On the way, Joel told me that his cabin (a category 1A, E181) was haunted. He laughed and said that at 4:30 that morning, he was awakened to the sound of some loud gurgling coming from his shower drain. He looked, and there was liquid bubbling out of the drain. Ew!

As it turned out, this happened the entire cruise, always at 4:30 in the morning! Joel would call guest services who would send someone to “fix” the problem, but then the very next morning at 4:30, he would hear “SLOSH! SLOSH! GURGLE! BURBLE!” Joel said he noticed a storage closet next to his room in which ran a bunch of pipes, so he thinks that some sort of drainage system would automatically kick on at 4:30 to flush out the plumbing or something. Still, by the end of the cruise and several calls to Guest Services, they finally told him that there was nothing that could be done about it. Bummer. He had asked Mark, who had the cabin next to his, if he heard any of the noise, and Mark said no. So for you solo cruisers – DON’T book room E181 on the Inspiration unless you are a very sound sleeper!

After a few holes of mini golf, Alyssa style (she cheats!), we all went downstairs to the Lido deck to get out of the wind and chat. There, we ran into Tia and Katie, who had just gotten up (11:15!), and then CJ. We chatted a bit more, and then I asked Alex to watch Alyssa for a little while so that I could go purchase a ship pin from the Fun Shops onboard. Notice that the new pins available for purchase are not exactly like previous past guest pins, but are of the same style:

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Anyway, I wanted to have lunch in the MDR today, so Alex agreed to meet me in front of the Mardi Gras dining room at noon. I waited our front at noon, but didn’t see him. 10 minutes passed without any sign of Alex or Alyssa, so I reluctantly decided to dine alone. The minute I sat down at a table, Alex and Alyssa came strolling across the room from the opposite doorway! Ha! They had been waiting for me to show up on the other side and finally decided to get a table too!

Lunch was just ok. I had brought a coloring book, crayons, and stickers to keep Alyssa occupied since she only picked at her sandwich. One of the servers fell in love with her when Alyssa offered one of her stickers to her, and Alyssa, sensing that she had a captive audience started sticking the stickers on her head! The server laughed and removed one of the stickers, then stuck it smack dab in the middle of Alyssa’s forehead!

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I took Alyssa back to Camp Carnival so we could do the Build-A-Bear activity together while Alex found a spot in the sun to relax. Build-A-Bear had been cancelled, and Camp Carnival wouldn’t be open for anyone over 2 until after 2:00. Bummer.

I took Alyssa to the Fun Shops to look around, and she picked out a new stuffed dog named “Murphy.” Then she dragged me into the Paris lounge (main lounge) nearby. I took a few pictures of the nearly empty lounge, and Alyssa asked if we could stay for the next show. “Well,” I said, looking at the show schedule, “the next show won’t start for over an hour. Let’s find something else to do.”

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So we walked towards the back of the ship and passed the Violins casino bar, where the Entertainment Host was beginning a game of “Sea Feud” with several people. Alyssa wanted to play and pulled me over to the small stage. I told her she wouldn’t like the game and would get bored, but she really wanted to join in. So the Host (sorry, I forgot his name) asked if we had a team, and when I said we didn’t, he asked another couple if we could join theirs. I sat down in the chair, and Alyssa immediately jumped up and said “Let’s go, mama!” Ummmm….yeah.

Alyssa spotted the slot machines across the tile floor and on the edge of the casino, and ran for the “game!” She sat down in front of the machine, and I told her no, she couldn’t play because that game was for grown-ups. Before I could finish my sentence, a security guard was next to me. “Hello,” he said, “she can’t be here.”

I was mortified…again. “Sorry! I’m getting her out right now.”

“But I AM bigger!” Alyssa protested, “I’m already FOUR!” she said, holding up 4 fingers as we walked away. Sigh!

I was too embarrassed and confused to know where I was or where I was going, and wound up taking my little girl out of one 21 and up area and into another! We climbed down some stairs to a lower deck, and I spotted Joel. “Hey, Laura!” Joel waved. He walked over to us and told me “This is the Serenity deck.” Double d’oh!!

We quickly made our escape before another member of security could escort us out. Joel and I walked Alyssa back to our cabin where we found Alex taking a little nap. I let “the boys” chat while I dropped off Alyssa’s new friend, Murphy the dog, and took Alyssa over to Camp Carnival. What’s one more trip across the length of the ship anyway? I’m just working off tonight’s baked Alaska, right?

Camp Carnival was open and Alyssa was ready to play. Except I had forgotten my S&S card back at the cabin! D’OH! I wouldn’t be able to check Alyssa in without my card, so we walked BACK to our cabin, grabbed the card off the desk (thank goodness Alex was still there and could let me in!), then walked BACK across the ship to Camp Carnival! Whew!

Now one of my favorite activities on sea days is having tea while listening to soothing piano music. Today’s tea would be in the piano bar…if only I knew where that was. I wandered around for at least 15 minutes, encountering dead-ends at the MDR and a few other places, before I FINALLY made it to the right lounge!

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I walked in, and the lounge was dead quiet and empty, save for the tables set nicely with teacups, plates, and napkins. Hmmmm…tea all alone? I chose a comfortable seat near a large window, and accidentally knocked a teaspoon sitting on the plate in front of me. CLANK! CLANK! CLANK!

At the sound of my clumsiness, a waiter came out, looked around, spotted me, then brought over a box of assorted teas for my choosing. He was followed by the pianist, who sat down at the piano and began to play soothing music….just for me. Another server came along with boiling water, then a cart full of yet-untouched goodies. Jackpot! “Just leave the cart!” I joked, picking up a fork. The waiter laughed, then gave me the “tour” of the cart. I chose a cucumber sandwich and the yet-uncut, multi-layered, chocolate “Devil’s cake.” YUM!

I sat listening to the music and enjoying my “private” tea for a while, then another woman walked in and sat down. She muttered something about her husband coming, and before she could pick out his tea for him, he appeared. The two chose a couple of the desserts from the cart, drank the tea, and were gone in about 5 minutes. Alone again with my thoughts. A server came by to offer me a second cup of tea and suggested the chamomile flavor. It was a great recommendation! I enjoyed it even more than the green tea I chose earlier.

I glanced at my watch, and figured I should give myself plenty of time to get back to Camp Carnival for their 3:45 pickup deadline. I took my last few sips, waited for the end of the current melody, then thanked the pianist and the server who stood near him for a wonderfully relaxing tea:

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At Camp Carnival, Alyssa was all smiles and holding a piece of candy in her hand. The little boy who was being picked up before Alyssa asked for a second piece of candy, and the counselor told him, “It’s ok. You can have more than one!”

Well, that was all Alyssa needed to hear! She immediately stooped down to the basket of candy and started piling up as many pieces as her little arms could carry! She saw me laugh at her and explained, “just ONE for now, and the rest for later, Mommy!” I apologized to the counselor and told Alyssa she didn’t need all that candy, but the counselor just smiled and said, “If it’s ok with you, it’s ok with me.” Alyssa clutched her “just one for now” piece in her hand, then shoved the rest in my bag. Well, at least she had fun!

Tonight was our one and only Elegant Evening. It was also the night of the Captain’s party, but since we’re not big drinkers and didn’t want to feel rushed, we missed it. Instead, we went to the sushi bar to snack on a bit of sushi and also pick up a few samples to bring to dinner for the rest of our group. Tonight, we agreed to change up the seating arrangements so that all the teenagers would sit at the 6-top, and us adults (plus Alyssa) would dine at the 10-top. This arrangement worked out so well, we kept it for the rest of the cruise.

Dinner was fabulous, but we didn’t get a dessert menu because Tia had ordered a birthday cake to celebrate Katie’s sweet 16. Oh well! The cake was really good and filling.

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(BTW - That's Nadel on the left. He's been with Carnival for 17 years and worked on all but the "newest" ships!)

 

After dinner, we took our group around to the various venues for photos. There was a bit of a line for the “Titanic staircase” backdrop, but it was the one Tia really wanted to do. So we waited. Apparently, whoever created that backdrop made it look EXTREMELY realistic, because when I told Alyssa “it’s our turn,” she ran over and tried to plop down on one of the steps! THUD! She nearly brought the entire backdrop down on her! The look of surprise on her face, though, cracked me up, and we both chuckled as I scooped her up and stepped aside so that the photographer could reset his backdrop.

By the end of all the portrait sessions, Alyssa and I were both zonked, so we went back to the cabin to call it an early night, while Alex and Joel went out to find some fun. I barely made it through an episode of “Lost” on the TV before the day caught up with me and I was fast asleep.

Edited by Lady_Jag

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parislounge2.jpg

Paris lounge stage

 

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Stairs to the Paris lounge balcony. (I have a minor obsession with photographing stairs and long corridors.)

 

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Strawberry bisque...MMmmmmm!

 

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The "kids"...this time on "REAL" stairs!

 

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Tonight's towel animal was a dog...or a pig...or a pig-dog...I mean, "pog!"

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wow about the slides not being open the whole time. did you ask anyone what the deal was? My kids will be so upset if they are not open. and I will be too. i want to slide too.

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I'm loving this review, especially all the pictures. I'm getting married on the Inspiration in October, so all of this is helping so much. Quick question: I want to have a thank you brunch style thing for all my bridesmaids somewhere on the ship. Any idea what dining area I can meet with about 10 people to hand out some gifts and order mimosas. I would like to make formal invites but don't know what area to tell them to meet since I've never been on the ship.

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We were on the Inspiration in 2004 for my daughters graduation .Back then it was a 7 day cruise Your pics are fantastic.:)

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wow about the slides not being open the whole time. did you ask anyone what the deal was? My kids will be so upset if they are not open. and I will be too. i want to slide too.

 

No worries! The SLIDES were open, but the waterworks part (water park/water sprayers) were not. I think there might have been mutiny among all the teenage spring breakers if they had closed the slides! LOL!

 

Alyssa did the racing slides once...she just barely made the 42" height limit, but didn't like landing in the water at the bottom so she never tried it again.

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I'm loving this review, especially all the pictures. I'm getting married on the Inspiration in October, so all of this is helping so much. Quick question: I want to have a thank you brunch style thing for all my bridesmaids somewhere on the ship. Any idea what dining area I can meet with about 10 people to hand out some gifts and order mimosas. I would like to make formal invites but don't know what area to tell them to meet since I've never been on the ship.

 

Congratulations! I believe if you contact Carnival, they can put you in touch with an event planner (if you don't already have one) to arrange a private venue. Or, if you just want to do an informal on-your-own thing, the MDR (Mardi Gras) is open for breakfast until around 10:00 each day, except for embarkation day.

 

Also, there is a separate coffee shop/cafe on board that's somewhat quiet near the Violins bar and promenade area. They sell chocolate dipped strawberries (they look like they're wearing tuxedos) and various cakes and goodies.

 

Alex got a slab...and I do mean a SLAB of cheesecake that could feed at least 3-4 people for only $2.25 at the coffee shop/cafe. The Violins bar is not far from there for ordering mimosas. And I believe that there was a special on mimosas and bloody marys until noon during our day at sea. (Could have been other days as well, but I didn't pay much attention.)

 

If you do wind up on the Promenade deck, after your brunch, you all can walk straight through the Candlelight lounge on that deck (aft) to get to the adult-only Serenity area and enjoy the hot tubs and plush lounge chairs (if there are enough available).

 

Good luck and congrats again!

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We were on the Inspiration in 2004 for my daughters graduation .Back then it was a 7 day cruise Your pics are fantastic.:)

 

Thank you! My hubby got me a really cool SRS camera for my birthday a couple of months ago, and I have been having fun experimenting with it.

 

I wish our cruise was 7 days like yours. 5 days is nice, but I almost feel incomplete without those 2 extra days. ;)

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Thank you so much for the suggestion. The coffee shop sounds perfect to get spoiled with some deserts. I just want a chance to thank everyone right after the wedding. You have been very helpful and I really appreciate your thread.

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I'm loving this review, especially all the pictures. I'm getting married on the Inspiration in October, so all of this is helping so much. Quick question: I want to have a thank you brunch style thing for all my bridesmaids somewhere on the ship. Any idea what dining area I can meet with about 10 people to hand out some gifts and order mimosas. I would like to make formal invites but don't know what area to tell them to meet since I've never been on the ship.

 

Sorry to butt in here, but have you thought about doing it during the afternoon tea time? Looks like it would be petty quiet, with relaxing music and desserts/snacks. Just an idea... Congrats on the wedding!!!

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Hope you have a great time on your upcoming cruise! The reason why I said the ship needed some TLC was because:

1. The waterworks area was not operational the entire [spring Break] cruise.

2. One of the glass elevators got stuck, trapping a few people in it for 30 minutes the first day. It remained non-operational the rest of the cruise.

3. There was graffiti plastered on the inside of the doors of one of the aft elevators.

4. Several of the mosaic floor tiles in the public areas where noticeably broken/missing.

5. The deck plans in the elevator bays still showed a children's pool where the Serenity area is.

 

I'm really not sure why I could navigate the Glory so much better than the Inspiration. I guess it's just a case of "Different strokes for different folks," or maybe I did more research last year. I don't know, but I was so much more "navigationally challenged" on the Inspiration. :p

 

You may have made the navigation comment due to the dining room layout which prevents you from going aft to stern on that level. I am not sure if it is the same on the Glory or not having never traveled on the Glory. My trip on the Inspiration was my third Fantasy class voyage so navigating was quite easy for me so I may be a little biased.

 

I was on the Inspiration last October and was very impressed overall being that the boat is 15 years old it was in very good condition, of course there is always going to be repairs needed, regardless of the ships age.

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Do you know what time is tea time and which days they offer? That would be a very cute girly thing to be able to do. Thanks for all the advice and well wishes. These boards are great.

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Do you know what time is tea time and which days they offer? That would be a very cute girly thing to be able to do. Thanks for all the advice and well wishes. These boards are great.

 

That is an excellent idea! Tea was at 3:00 both sea days, and in the piano bar, I think it's called "Rhapsody in Blue." Plenty of room and great music, desserts, and of course, tea. :D

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Sorry for the delay. I've been battling a vicious chest cold and some pretty tight deadlines at work. On with the show...

 

“OW! OW! OW! OW! MOMMMMYYYYYYY!!”

It was around 4:30 in the morning, and Alyssa was screaming from her bunk. Both Alex and I shot out of bed and lifted her out of the bunk bed. Her eyes were still closed, but she was crying.

“Alyssa. Alyssa. Alyssa! What’s wrong? What is it, baby?”

“Owie! Owie! Owie!”

“What hurts?”

“Nooooooo!! Ow! Ow! Ow!”

Alex thought he felt a charley horse in the back of one of Alyssa’s legs, and began to massage the area. I continued to talk to her, calmly, asking what hurt.

“My ear!!!” she wailed, grabbing at her left ear.

“Does it hurt on the inside or the outside?” I asked, trying to examine it.

“The OUTside!! Ow! Ow! Ow! My bum hurts! Owie!!” then she began grabbing at her backside.

Alex and I looked at each other, baffled. Before we could figure out our next move, Alyssa had settled down to a soft whimper.

“Do you want to sleep with us?” I asked.

“Uh-huh,” she whispered.

So we lay our little girl in the center of the bed and climbed in, one on either side.

About an hour after that, she had a little “accident.” Argh!

By the time room service knocked on our door, I was too exhausted to open even an eyelid. I muttered something about there being a tip in front of the safe in the cabinet for the server, and Alex rolled out of bed and answered the door…dressed only in his underwear.

The server, a young lady who didn’t speak much English, handed him the tray and started to back down the hall. Alex was encumbered with the tray and started chanting “hold on! Hold on,” while he tried to find a place to set the tray down. But it was too late. The blushing lady had already bolted. Guess I should have told Alex to retrieve the tip…or at least some pants… BEFORE he opened the door. LOL!

Today was Grand Cayman day. The ship arrived around 8:10am, and there were several announcements asking guests to please WAIT until the ship was cleared before making their way to deck 3. Around 9:15, the announcement was made that general debarkation had begun, and that anyone who wanted to go ashore could now meet the tenders at deck 3. I could almost hear the stampeding as I sipped my hot decaf tea and nibbled on my croissant with strawberry jelly.

“Mmmmm! Muffins!” I heard Alyssa call out from the bed. She was smiling and feeling a lot better now. I handed her the plate of muffins from room service, and she immediately scarfed down two of them.

I wrote a note to our still unmet room steward, explaining that our little one had a bedwetting accident (like he or she wouldn’t figure it out from the wadded up pile of sheets on the floor!) and asked that he/she please change the sheets. I attached a few bucks to the note with a clothespin, then placed the note and money on the pillow. I decided to wander up to the Lido deck for a few pictures while Alex and Alyssa dressed:

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The Lido deck was EMPTY! It was great! Broad daylight, and not a single body or Carnival towel on any of the lounge chairs! At the omelet station, I asked for scrambled eggs. The guy told me “scrambled eggs over there,” and pointed to a stiff pile of lukewarm powdered eggs. “Uh…how about a couple of egg whites, then, please?”

I sat down at my choice of tables and picked at my eggs while I took some photos. Ah! What a great day! I walked back to our cabin, and Alex and Alyssa were dressed and ready to go. “Look, Mommy!” Alyssa screamed as I walked through the door, “A pirate ship! Arrrrrr!” Sure enough, a pirate ship was sailing past our window, packed full of passengers on the Pirate Ship/Rum Punch excursion. How fun!

Anyway, we decided that since Grand Cayman was a tender port and we wouldn’t be ashore very long…just long enough to do a little shopping and look around…we would check Alyssa into Camp Carnival, then pick her up after lunch. (She would be having lunch with her Camp Carnival friends.) While we were there, we dropped off our assigned Camp Carnival phone for charging.

Down to deck 3 to board the tender boat around 10:45! There were about 4-5 people waiting for the next tender to arrive, and in less than 5 minutes, we were on board and waiting to head for shore. Another few minutes, and we were on our way. The water was beautiful! Such a rich Caribbean blue it was hypnotic:

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We wandered in and out of the stores in Georgetown, sampled various Rum cakes, then decided to take advantage of a 6/$30 + 1 large cake free deal from Blackbeard’s. We also visited the Del Sol store to purchase a T-shirt for my father-in-law who was babysitting out kitty cat at home. I also looked around for a little treat for Alyssa, but after wandering around a while, I didn’t find anything really that she would enjoy. Oh well. I knew the shopping in the port area wouldn’t be all that wonderful, and the prices were usually in Cayman dollars (~1.25 USD), which meant I would have to do math to figure the price. LOL!

Anyway, I really enjoyed just walking around with hubby and taking in the sights and snapping a few pictures. There were live chickens roaming EVERYWHERE, even in front of the Kentucky Fried Chicken, which even I thought was quite funny! I guess I should explain that the bird community hates me, and after being accosted by ducks, seagulls, chickens, storks, turkey vultures, peacocks, and various other fowl at some point or another in my life, I’ve developed an unhealthy fear of any animal with feathers. And they can sense my fear for sure! So you can imagine how uneasy I was when almost every corner I turned, a rooster or hen would pop-up, giving me that one-eyed, you-want-a-piece-of-me?, cockeyed look. Lucky for me, though, it never came to blows and I escaped without incident.

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(Hard to see, but the chicken is under the table on the left!)

Around noon, we were ready for a snack. The last tender to ship would leave at 2:00pm, but I wanted to get back to the ship before a big crowd gathered for the very last tender. So we decided that we would look around until around 12:30, then catch the tender back. We made our next mission locating the Dairy Queen we saw advertised when we first got to the pier that morning. I know, there’s plenty of ice cream on board, but that giant DQ sign made us crave a chocolate-dipped soft-serve ice cream cone. We walked several blocks until we reached another tender pier (at least I think that’s what is was) and never saw anything other than that same DQ sign! Argh! We turned around and headed in the opposite direction, past a Dunkin’ Donuts and Starbucks, and STILL never saw the stupid Dairy Queen! Argh! By 12:30, I decided to call DQ the “mirage” of Grand Cayman, and was willing to settle for ice cream on the ship later on. Back to the tender we went!

At the gate, we ran into Joel, who, judging from his bags, had a more productive shopping trip than we did. He talked about how he met up with a friend of his (I swear, the guy is like Kevin Bacon, he knows so many people!), who was sailing on the Carnival Freedom, which was anchored between the Inspiration and the Disney Magic that day.

When the boat arrived, we made our way to the upper deck and happened to spot Cristian, the ship’s photographer from the night before. We chatted with Cristian for a little while and learned that his contract with Carnival began in November, and that he had only 2 months left before he could return to Romania to be with his girlfriend, who was finishing school. He said he doesn’t make it off the ship all that often, and that even today’s trip was just a 30-minute visit so that he could check his email and book his plane ticket at one of the internet cafes. I asked if he planned on signing on with Carnival again, and he said he did after a 2-month vacation, but that the next contract, he and his girlfriend would both be signing up.

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(Cristian and Joel)

Back on board, we made our way through the normal x-ray/scanner procedure. Cristian was behind us, and when I glanced back, I saw that he had to remove his shoes for inspection. Wow.

To be continued...

Edited by Lady_Jag

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