Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Inspiration
Sailing Date: May 23rd, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
We arrived in Tampa the night before and stayed at the Marriott Bayside the night before which was only about half a mile away from he cruise ship - only costs about $5 for a cab ride to the terminal. We had ordered a town car to and from the airport which was about half an hour – only about $45.00. This guy was great in taking care of us: http://www.toursride.com
We arrived about 12:00 on the nose which was a little bit early, but it only took 5 minutes to check-in and wait to board. We waited in the lobby until about 1:30 upon which we promptly boarded and checked into our room. I found the ship to be a little bit older, but the crew was always cleaning to keep it in tip-top shape. Everyone was friendly, helpful. I guess I would be neutral on the bar staff. They were a little bit pushy and not so friendly – warning, the drinks are expensive and add up fast. Bring your own soda and liquor if you don’t want a $bar tab. Technically this is not allowed, but it seems that everyone does it since the drink and soda prices are outrageous. $2.50 for a plastic bottle of sprite and $5.95 plus mandatory tip for a margarita.
The food was five star. I would not miss a single meal in the main dining room. Lobster night – needless to say we had more than one lobster. The all night pizza was great too – I think we gained a lot of weight on this cruise. There seemed to be always some place to eat on the ship no matter what time of day it was. The bar scene was pretty limited and the nightclubs did not start until after midnight, but that was OK – we had big port plans. The crew works hard to make sure there is always something to do and have fun at sea, and we were pleased to see a mixed age crown on the boat so that everyone, no matter their age was comfortable.
Getting on and off the ship required a little bit of patience, but if you book a tour through the ship, don’t worry you are guaranteed to get on and off the ship on time. The ship tours *are* more expensive than the tours on shore. But they are convenient. In general, they charge about a $30 premium for every tour. We went with the certified scuba diving tours with the ship in both Grand Cayman and Cozumel - $90 for a 2 tank dive. Overall, the prices for scuba was not bad and we really enjoyed the tours. Still had time to get back to the ship, changed and meet our early dinner seating time. Costa Maya is just a tourist trap, but we took the dune buggy ride which was a lot of fun, although a little overpriced. IN Belize we went cave tubing which we had booked on the Internet before we left – I highly recommend these guys:
Disembarkation is long and drawn out – it takes a while – if you are on a lower deck, don’t plan on getting off the ship until about 11:00. It does take a while. It took a little extra longg as I saw US Customs arrest a guy for having drugs in his bag that the dogs found … just plain dumb, enough said.
We had a great time and would cruise with Carnival again. I thought Carnival was a lot more fun than Norwegian which seemed to be full of older people. My one complaint was that the room was always a little warm and humid, but that is me – I like a nice cool air conditioned room. The ship in general was pretty warm, but not unbearable or overall uncomfortable.