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INSPIRATION Western Caribbean Trip Report Disney vs Carnival


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As background information this was our 5th cruise. 4 were on Disney and this last one (sailing 5/28/05) was our first Carnival. We started the trip by making a pack that we would NOT spend our entire days onboard comparing Disney to Carnival, because we were afraid we would be setting ourselves up for disappointment.


To our PLEASANT surprise, we had a GREAT time. We had DH, and myself (mid 40s) and our DD (18) and our DD (7). We all had fun doing our own things and we had fun doing things together too!


Our DD7 LOVED Camp Carnival. They don't have the space like Disney does, but they utilize the ship to its fullest! The kids really enjoy doing events all throughout the ship. She begged to go! She was exactly 1" too short for the pool slide, and she was able to sneak on about 5 times, but she got tired of being rejected by the lifeguards and finally gave up. It was really disappointing for her because she is a good swimmer and she did fine - but Carnival was really strict on their rules.


Our DD18 had a BLAST! She was able to drink legally in Mexico and she had fun meeting everyone on board. There were lots of kids her age- and they never got out of hand. Carnival is a fun ship - but there is lots of security around making sure things don't get out of hand.


MY DH and me enjoyed the adult things to do. We tried to stay up past midnight but were only able to do so one night out of the 5.


The "Fun Days at Sea" are our FAVORITE....we love looking out over the ship and seeing nothing but SEA! Some adult beverage in our right hand - and just watching the clouds go by- I can feel the stress going away already!


Grand Cayman was nice, but we spent WAY TOO LITTLE time there. It was really stressful ...trying to fit everything in before 1pm. We were late getting back to the ship and our bus driver was driving down the WRONG WAY IN THE MIDDLE LANE - BEEPING HIS HORN...ALL THE WAY. It was like a scary movie.

We booked our own excursion thru MOBY DICK tours for only $30. www.mobydicktours.com. He is really nice and is fun. We petted the sting rays and even held some. It was a fun day - until we got back late. We still had to wait in line at the port to get back on the boat- but we were the last tender to return before sailing.


Cozumel was better - in terms of how long you are there. Some people probably spent TOO MUCH TIME IN COZUMEL because they got drunk - some were REALLY DRUNK. But it was very much in control.

We rented a dune buggy from a guy on the street $55 for the day- and drove it around the island. We stopped San Francisco (a stop on Cozumel) and had a few drinks and got our DD7 hair braided and our DD18 got to go swimming. It was a nice stop. We were surprised how EXPENSIVE everything was in Cozumel. Carlos and Charley's for lunch for 4 was over $60! We only had a couple of beers and the cheapest food we could get . .. . we were pretty disappointed.


Getting on and off the ship was a breeze. We got to the terminal early on the day we sailed and we were one of the first groups on...remember your vacation STARTS once you get on board - so get on board EARLY! We chose to self-assist at disembarkation - which means we could carry all our luggage with us without ANY help. It was hard getting all our luggage up the 3 flights of stairs - and there were LOTS of people using this option. If you don't use this option, you have to wait hours later to get off the ship. It was worth the work to get on the road early.


Our table mates were EXCELLENT - we had a lot in common and we enjoyed meeting each night to talk about what we had done that day. Our DD18 even hooked up with them and hung out for the shows etc.


The talent show was WONDERFUL. They take 8 acts and you can sing with a live band, etc. Our DD18 sung - and it was an opportunity of a lifetime. They even professionally taped it ($29.95). We will have that memory for the rest of our life. If you sing, PLEASE take the time to read the capers and find out when practice is.


Our DD7 also sung in the children's talent show....much less intimidating for her, but it was really fun!!!


We couldn't help but compare Disney with Carnival so here's the scoop.


Disney - free child care until 1am

Carnival -free child care until 10pm then $6 per hour until 3am.


Disney - most everything closes around midnight

Carnival - things are REALLY going all night long


Disney & Carnival - same approx cabin size.


Disney bed - just ok

Carnival bed - FANTASTIC white down comforter - really cold rooms - GREAT sleeping!!!!


Disney shower - has bathtub too - great for small kids

Carnival - just a shower - but it was fine for us ....


Disney - Mickey shampoo, etc.

Carnival- great basket FULL of goodies for sampling & taking home. Razors, shampoo, tooth flosser, etc., Great wall mounted body wash and shampoo - would have LOVED to have some conditioner - as you hair gets really blown and feels like straw after being on the ocean for 5 days.


Disney - GREAT character photo events EVERYWHERE -really get lots of time with each character - - they are everywhere...

Carnial- has some made up character - pretty lame ...but photographers are everywhere. Carnival's photo center charges less for their photos than Disney does.


The pools on Carnival were TOO SALTY.

Disney uses de-salinated water I believe.


Carnival has NO music on any of the decks (except for Calipso music during the afternoons, and only right around the main pool)

Disney has tunes playing around the ship 24/7. On the stairwells it's Disney tunes, but out on deck it's fun music. We missed having musin on the Carnival.


Drink prices are cheaper on Carnival than Disney's.


Disney food is OUTSTANDING.

Carnival food is Good, but just a notch under Disney. It was MUCH better than Golden Corral or Barnhills or something like that, but it wasn't "fine" dining. We had lots of variety - and everyone was pleased...but Disney REALLY does their food better.


The Inspriation and Magic (Disney) are the same age, yet, Carnival looked older. The decks weren't as pretty (had stains on them) the paint looked caked on, and there was rust showing thru on the deck handles, etc., I think Disney puts more $$ into keeping the ship looking like it is brand new......


Service in the restaurants was equal on both ships. Everyone was very pleasant - working very hard - and always smiling and saying hello. We were pleasantly surprised because we weren't expecting anyone to equal Disney's service levels.


Well that's about all I can think of for now. If I think of anything else, I will add more later.


All in all, we had a GREAT time and would recommend Carnival to anyone. We understand that the Inspiration has really high ratings, so all carnival ships might not be as good as the one we were on.

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Carnial- has some made up character - pretty lame


HEY!!! Funship Freddie rules ... just kidding.


It is refreshing to read a balanced point of view.


One thing you left out though (you probably weren't interested):


Carnival - Casino

Disney - no Casino (need you ask)

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Yes - Disney - no casino - so we "heard" that's why it costs more because they don't get all the revenue from all of the money "spent" on gambling.


Carnival - casino...took most everyone's money - but you have to look at it as entertainment value - right?


Just set a limit and stick to it - and you won't be disappointed....and plan to lose- (you have to go to Vegas with this attitude too!).

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Thanks for a very balanced review. We're sailing on the Inspiration in July and it's nice to hear that your cabin was comfortable. (We're tired of hearing about "sewer smells", bad water pressure, inadequet air conditioning etc.)If you don't mind my asking, which cabin were you in and what deck were you on?


Thanx in advance.

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I will agree that Disney seems to take much better care of their ships. My first cruise was on the Disney Wonder in July 2001 when it was about two years old. My second cruise was on the Carnival Pride in June 2002 when it was about 6 months old. I can just tell you that if I had to guess I would have guess them to be around the same age. One time we dropped ketchup in the hall way and the staff on Carnival did not put as much effor into trying to get it out as Disney would have. But if I can remember the carpeting in the Disney hallways seemed to be more plush, so perhaps that is why they tried to put more effort into keeping it clean because it was more expensive. Both ships were in excellent condition though and well taken care of, just thought that overall Disney seemed to put more effort into keeping the ship looking new.

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Having sailed Disney several times, and planning to spend 5 days on the Inspiration in September, I really appreciate the review. I'm actually looking forward to a ship that stays awake past 11PM. :D


One minor correction, the Inspiration is about 2 years older than the Magic. Still, its good to point that out since many people make her out to be so much older. Heck, the way some folks talk, you'd think she was 20 years old! :rolleyes:


I'm really looking forward to our trip and your review makes me even more impatient to get onboard!

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This is a post I have been waiting for. My friend who is going with me has been on one other cruise. A Disney cruise honeymoon. She was wondering about the differences. True she won't have as much fun with just us girls;) but it seems likes she will have fun.

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Your post brought me out of lurkdom!!!


I can't thank you enough for your comparison! We (DH & I) have cruise RCCL, and we've done Disney with our 3 kids. We are on the Inspiration in August, and on Disney again in December. We are travelling in August with my parents and my sister. My sister and her husband will be on their first cruise with us in August, and my parents cruise several times a year (they've been on every line EXCEPT Carnival).


We can't wait for the Carnival ship, but were curious about the differences, particularly in the kid's programming. Our kids will be barely 11, 9 & 7 in August. I very much appreciated your balanced and informative post. Thanks again!



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