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Overall Rating
Family Friendliness
Shore Excursions

Age: 50ish


Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Inspiration

Sailing Date: 2009-12-28

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Between Carnival and NCL, this was our 6th cruise, and I would rank it in 6th place. There were several areas on the ship that were less than clean, people were smoking in non-smoking sections, and while our room steward was exceptional, we noted many of the staff seemed pretty burned out and less than patient. It was the holidays, so it could be they were just worn out from waiting on hordes of maybe not so polite ( or not so sober) 'guests'. I can easily see how this can happen, as we noticed several guests who were difficult, pushy, loud, entitled and ungracious. I can see how the staff might get tired and worn.

Embarkation was very easy, except for 'Edwin' at the top of the terminal escalator, who we noticed was very rude to, and impatient with several people, who were either slow because of disability or because they were herding children.

Leaving the ship was fairly easy as well, however our travel agent had told us we wouldn't need transfers for the bus, because our names were on the manifest. The bus folks almost refused to let us ride without printed off transfers. I noticed other folks also had the same issue.

The food was acceptable, but presentation, selection and taste were down several notches from past experience. I could be wrong, but it seems the quality of cruise food and service has dropped considerably in the last decade. I'm sure the industry is doing what they can to cut corners. Staff morale probably suffers from it as well. We also missed the old style dining entertainment, when the waiters, one night of the cruise, would sing and dance with the diners. I do, however, imagine they have plenty enough to do without having to perform too. We all found the Maitre D to be somewhat annoying and way too loud. All the waiters we had were delightful. ( We had the freestyle dining option)

We had three staterooms in our group, two interior, one exterior. We booked several months in advance. We had hoped for two adjoining rooms, plus another - but adjoining room options were sold out. We had hoped for at least one balcony room, but they were also sold out ( not many available on this cruise ship, so book well in advance if you want a balcony), We did cruise the week after Christmas, so it was prime time, and staterooms probably book up quickly for this time frame. With that in mind, we were grateful to have gotten three rooms close to each other. One of the three rooms needed to accommodate three people. Instead of three comfortable beds, there were two comfortable beds and a cot, with a very poor mattress. Our room steward, 'Nyoman' was very gracious, handled all three of our rooms, and did an incredible job. The window ( exterior portion) in our one exterior room was very dirty. We noticed many of the windows on the ship were the same. My understanding was there would be hair dryers, but there were none in our staterooms. Also, while there is liquid soap in a dispenser in the showers, there was no shampoo, lotion, cream rinse, or shower cap.

Usual cruise activities, fine for families. There were some very talented folks in the shows in the main theater.

The lounge chairs at the pool book up early in the day. Apparently most folks feel it's fine to put a T-shirt over the back of a chair and claim it for the entire day, whether they are sitting in the chair or not. I finally asked a pool attendant about this, and he said if a chair is vacant for more than 30 minutes, you can rightfully take it, whether there is someone's book, t-shirt, flip flops ( or whatever) on it or not. (You still have to somehow negotiate with the person when they come back, however. )

The dolphin trainer excursion on Cozumel - very expensive - interesting, but not sure I'd recommend it unless you're gaga over dolphins, because it's not a good value for the price. If you still decide to go anyway, take your own snorkel gear if you have it, as what is provided is poor quality and very leaky.

Stingray city, in Grand Cayman was total chaos. We'd done this 15 years ago, and it was much more enjoyable then - probably because they limited the number of people there at a time. This time there were literally hundreds of people in the water with the waves ( high that day) battering us all about. It was like being in a washing machine with hundreds of people ...and stingrays. The snorkeling included with our shore excursions was poor to fair.

One word of advice for the shore careful on the stairs as you exit the ship to the tenders or the is literally shoulder to shoulder pushing and shoving. One person in our party uses a cane...and it was unnerving helping him down the stairs amid that kind of a crowd.

I haven't cruised in a few years, so it may just be that the entire cruising industry has been scaled down to cut costs. We took this cruise because we had seven people to pay for, and it was the most affordable cruise we could find the week after Christmas. For seven people, ( one disabled adult, four teens and two adults ) with air and excursions, tips and cruise, it came to about $14,000 for 5 days. I'm fairly certain we could have done better to book our own air, rent a house on a beach, cook some meals, eaten out some, and planned our own excursions.

All this said, I think this cruise would be fine for first time cruisers, who don't have anything else to compare it to.

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