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Ten Things I Wish I'd Known Before

Age: 53

Occupation:Healthcare Exec

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Inspiration

Sailing Date: 2009-12-14

Itinerary: Tampa - Coz - Gr Cayman - Tampa

For reference, I'm a 53 y/o health-care exec who had never cruised before, and wanted a medium length cruise for starters. The 5-day Tampa itinerary was perfect for us, and the sole reason we chose the Carnival Inspiration.


Now for the things I wish I'd known:
1) Carnival has absolutely no contingency plans for bad weather. The ship's arrival was delayed ~6 hours, and 2,000 people were sent to "find something to do" until the ship arrived. A generous $15 credit {sarcasm} was added to each person's bill to cover the $50 spent on two meals (if you could find an open restaurant) and entertainment during the 6+ hours in Tampa. Thankfully, the weather cooperated.


2) This ship is certainly not the one on which the brochure, and marketing video were made, and is also not a ship for discriminating cruisers. If you're offended by smokers, people of different races, disabilities, languages, sizes, cultures, this is not the cruise for you. It reminded me more of a tail-gate party outside a football stadium. Routinely, folks would light up in non-smoking areas, blow smoke any which way, and dump butts indiscriminately. Folks who'd eaten themselves into a disabled condition would blow their scooter horns to get to the front of the buffet line. Despite the crew's efforts, garbage was simply dropped every and anywhere, and those who don't hold their liquor well were always around to remind you that the drinking age should be around 50.


3) Carnival has no contingency plans made for itinerary changes. Due to the late start, the ports of call, and time off ship were altered. Most pre-booked excursions went off without a hitch, but when folks returned famished to the ship a couple of hours off schedule, the buffet was already closed!? Evidently no one told the dining staff.


4) Most of the employees are indentured servants who've signed a 6-10 month contract. They do one heck of a job, but you can't help feel badly when drunk, spoiled Americans (see #2) constantly berate and demand more from them with very little gratitude. But anything must be better than dumpster diving in Manila or selling one's self in Thailand {sarcasm}


5) The shows are entertaining, and if you're not amused, the cruise directors are there to constantly remind you that you indeed are "having a great time."


6) I'm a very light sleeper, so the rocking and rolling of the ship kept awakening me. If that didn't do the trick, the sound from the late shows at the Paris Lounge, or the drunks returning from where-ever would suffice to keep me awake.


7) Drinks are the real money-maker on this ship. The only freebies were tea and lemonade, and those machines were routinely empty or out of order. To amend, every 3 to 4 minutes, a wait staff would attempt to sell you some type of non-free drink, even if you'd told them "no" the first 30 times they asked. If you bought alcohol off-ship, they'd confiscate it on your return, promising to "safe keep" it for you until debarkation.


8) There is no way to adjust the temperature in the cabins. The only option was to adjust the opening of the A/C vent.


9) For a person who doesn't drink, gamble, sit in the sun or eat until I barf, the selection of activities was pretty meager. The only TV channels were from Denver!? so I became a fan of the map channel and became an expert at tracking the ship's position, speed and heading.


10) Again, (see #1) Carnival has no contingency plans for bad weather, and the debarkation process was a cluster-****. High winds kept us doing figure-eights in the Caribbean (compliments of the map channel) for 3 extra hours. We were promised that passengers with travel "issues" would be the first to disembark, but were not. I explained our flight dilemma to the 'guard' and was told you'll have no problem making your flight.


As soon as the ship touched the dock, and the 3 missing non-US citizens were found, delaying the process another hour (perhaps announcements in their native languages would have helped), VIP passengers were allowed to disembark. Mass mayhem then ensued on the levels surrounding the gangway; no one from Carnival did a thing or said a word. We (of course) missed our flight home, but did catch a later flight. The later connection flight was booked solid, so we ended up renting a car and driving 7.5 hours from Detroit to our home in Upstate NY through a snow storm. Good times!


Did I enjoy myself? Absolutely. Would I go again? Absolutely not.

The niceties. Food was good, not great, desserts {with the exception of the chocolate melting cake) were all pre-processed hospital-ish cafeteria fare and quite disappointing, but the service is outstanding.

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