racegrrl Posted January 29, 2005 #1 Share Posted January 29, 2005 This is what will be posted in the member reviews from our recent trip on the Carnival Inspiration: A little background: I have been surfing these boards since the day I booked our cruise, a little backwards I know. I had vacation time I had to schedule quickly and the price, dates and destinations were right. So we booked on the Inspiration out of Tampa to try our first ever cruise adventure. Then I did research on how to make our trip perfect. Luckily, my method worked! Trip to Tampa was painless, trip to port from airport was painless, though our cabby tried to run the meter on us (from tips on Cruise Critic, I knew it was supposed to be a flat rate). Got to port at 11:15 am, but were quickly through security, check-in, and on board before 12:15. We explored a bit and ate till we could get into our cabin. Food was terrific, and DH and I were pleasantly surprised by the quality, flavor, variety and service on the buffet line at a time of somewhat mass chaos. Our cabin was the perfect size for us with plenty of storage space. Plenty of hot water (careful not to burn yourself) in the showers. And it was SUPER clean! Very impressed! We had a terrific steward (Irina) who was friendly and efficient. Had towel animals every night. :) Our particular cruise had a fair number of what I would call "older" people. Not old, I wouldn't say that, but I would say the average age of cruisers on this particular trip was low to mid 50's. From what I understand, this is not typical for Carnival. And I want to stress this. It wasn't a negative except in the bars and for the nightlife. I am 32 years old and we like to have fun, so it was a bit dissapointing to see the dance floor pretty empty and most bars with only a few people at them late nights. But we still made our own fun! There were some people our age and younger who were out, just not as many as I would have liked to see. Shows were good. And the adult Midnight comedy shows were hilarious. And DON'T MISS the Newly and Not So Newlywed game. What a hoot! Our stomachs hurt so bad from laughing! The only negative entertainment wise was the singer in the piano bar. He was a terrific piano player, but a horrible singer - there were many singing kareoke that could kick his butt. Oh yeah, there was Kareoke every night and though we don't go to it at home, it was fun to watch on board - we checked in to watch a bit every night. The pool area was busy and fun. There were kids there, but not too many and most were very well behaved. Drinks were offered frequently, but not offensively often. I never felt pressure to buy or annoyed by constant stops by waiters. Prices were reasonable for "Foo Foo" drinks - no more than what you would pay at a Bennigans or an Applebees and were plenty strong. Music both live and piped in were lively and enjoyable and not too loud. The foursome who played Calypso/Reggea music on and off poolside were terrific! Really set the mood to relax and enjoy the Carribbean sun! I have read complaints about the decor. We were "prepared" for the assault on the eyes when we boarded, but after spending five days there, we didn't think it was so bad. It was busy, yes, but it is a FUN ship and the decor was fun. If you don't like it, turn around and look at the beautiful ocean!! Ok, now for the best part, the food! I work for a major food service distributor and spend many hours a day in some of the best restaurants around, so my standards are high. I was prepared to be dissappointed. What a waste of energy!! We loved every single meal! We ate in the dining room every night and a couple of times for breakfast. We had lunch from the buffet on the Lido. Not once were we dissappointed. Variety, flavors, temperature, service was top notch. Only one problem, towards the end of the cruise, many of the beverage dispensing machines broke down and they weren't fixed. A bit of a hassle, having to wait in line, but no biggie. The dining dinner menu was well thought out nightly, with much variety and items for any taste. And the presentations rivaled 5 star restaurants! I ofen ordered two starters and an entree and skipped the salad. One time, my DH orderd an entree he wasn't 100% happy with, and it was quickly replaced by our attentive and efficient server. Chalong and Sue were our team and they both recieved and envelope with extra cash the last night in addition to our S&S gratuities for a job extra well done! Sue never came out onto the floor without a huge smile on her face - very infectious! The ship was always super clean, and was constantly being cleaned by staff, 24 hours a day. We were very impressed by their attention to detail. And they were constantly smiling all the time. Considering everyone who works on a ship signs on for a 6-9 month tour away from their families, they all receive my respect for their hard work and great attititudes. Ports: We were not able to go to Grand Caymen as the Harbourmaster closed the harbor due to bad weather. It is a tender port. We were dissappointed, but made the best of our day at sea playing at the casino, browsing pictures in the photo gallery, and enjoying all the ship had to offer. It was no one's fault we couldn't go, so why be upset? Beside, Carnival credited everyone's account $25 per person for missing the port! Didn't have to do that, they never said they were going to, it just showed up on our statement. Yeah Carnival on the good will gesture! Cozumel: We didn't book an excursion, thought we would relax and debark after the crowds dispersed some, then found our way to a cab to Paradise Beach (again based on recommendations from Cruise Critic). It was a lovely day spent relaxing, swimming, kayaking, etc. Very good value for the price of some drinks and some lunch (things we would have had anyway, but enjoyed them more on the beach). I would highly recommend this place for a relaxing day, or if you have children, there are lots for them to do. Read the Cozumel boards more lots of info. A note on excursions - they are VERY pricy through the ship. More than twice the rate than if you book privately in many cases. The only positive I could see the built in insurance policy that comes with it - the ship won't leave you if you are late returning from an excursion booked through them. But if you have a watch and you know how to use it, I would recommend booking privately if you can. You will be on the same tours and pay half as much. Debarkation was fairly painless, though it seems they only had one person "dinging" people off the ship at first. We were the second group called. Initially, it went quite slow, but seemed to speed up as I believe they added another person checking people off. We were off, had our luggage and through customs by 9:30 am. Thought we would kill some time before our flight at the Tampa Aquarium, but we walked up to buy our tickets and about died when we saw $17.95 per person for base admission tickets. That was a bit steep - and that is saying alot since we are from Chicago! Seems they figure since people will spend $60 to get into Disney, they should be able to get almost $20 a person. Not from us though. So we decided to wait at the Airport and people watch for a while instead. Back to the cruise, overall on a scale of 1-10, we would give our trip on the Inspiration a 10. We are recommending it highly for a fun time in a beautiful part of the world. We are seriously considering booking this same ship again very soon with my parents. They are also young at heart and would enjoy the liveliness and activities offered on board. We hope you enjoy the Inspiration as much as we did! Beth and Alex Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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