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Terri Wells

Age: 51

Occupation:e-commerce training facilitator

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Inspiration

Sailing Date: October 1st, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Embarkation: We drove to the Port of Tampa and got a little lost. We could see the ship but couldn’t quite get to it for awhile. How do you get a little lost? Well, Map Quest wasn’t as accurate as it could have been. We parked in the parking garage for $60.00 which was just catty corner from the terminal. We wheeled our luggage about half a block and dropped it off with a Porter in front of the terminal. We gave him the recommend tip. We arrived at the terminal about 12:30PM and were on the ship about a half hour later. We found that going through all the security checkpoints to be quick and efficient. I think the “sail and sign” card is an excellent idea.

Heading Out: We ate lunch and wandered around the ship all afternoon. The ship left port at 4:00PM so we headed up to the Sun Deck on the very top floor to watch all the scenery. I had been told to be sure to be up there when going under the Sunshine Skyline Bridge as it is amazing. I guess I didn’t realize that it would take 2 hours to get to the bridge as the ship has to leave port, pass though Hillsboro Bay before entering Tampa Bay where the bridge lies at the very mouth of the bay. My husband decided to go to the room around 5PM to check on things and found that our luggage had been delivered. He came back to tell me so we decided to go unpack for a few minutes and returned to the Sun Deck to get incredible pictures of the bridge as we approached, passed under (with 15 feet to spare), and then looking back at the aft of the boat with the bridge in the background.

The Trip: Starting out was a little rough as we were heading into Hurricane Stan. Be sure to take motion sickness pills with you even if you don’t need them. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

By Sunday morning I was feeling the wrath of Stan! Then I figured I would be on dry land in 24 hours so I could do this. Come Monday morning I must have found my sea legs because I no longer was feeling queasy and did not have to take any more pills. The weather was cloudy to partly cloudy most of the time so it kept the heat down. We experience little rain except in Cozumel, Mexico where we had a small rain shower.

We really enjoyed the towel critters we would come back to each night. The entire staff always seemed glad to see us no matter where we went. There were plenty of activities to keep us busy. We had an early seating for dinner which we thought really worked out nicely. That way we could see the early show in the Paris Lounge. They were always taking pictures of you which you could purchase if you wanted. The International staffs from 50 different counties were very friendly and helpful. The food was incredible and presented in spectacular fashion.

Ports of Call:
Grand Cayman:
We took the Grand Cayman Island Tour which gave us an overall look at the island. Our tour guide told us of the history and current events of the Caymans. We got to see 7 Mile Beach, the Turtle Farm, Hell and the Tortugas Rum Factory. After the tour we did some shopping in Georgetown. Since there is no dock we had dropped anchor and had to get in tender boats to go back and forth to the Inspiration. It was beautiful. We really appreciated the extra security precautions the staff takes getting you on and off the boat. It’s just like airport security checkpoints when coming back on ship.

Cozumel, Mexico:
We were here on our wedding anniversary. We had chosen the Dolphin Swim Experience for this port’s shore excursion as it is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. My husband didn’t want to swim but got some fabulous pictures of the dolphins. The best part was that we did this in the Gulf of Mexico in the dolphin’s natural environment but within a penned area. After we finished, we walked to the shopping area which was probably a mile and a half. We didn’t buy anything but did look at a few shops.

Debarkation: On our last morning we had to get up very early to meet with Customs at 6:15AM as we had purchased 2 extra liters of rum than was allowed. The officer waived us so we headed to breakfast and then to pack. We had decided to do the self-assist program. If you choose this method be sure to leave your cabin door open to hear the call for departure. With the ship clearing all of Customs they announced the call about 7:20AM. By 7:40AM we were at the car.

Conclusion: After getting over the initial sea sickness (which may not happen if you are not heading into a hurricane) we had a really nice time. I wasn’t sure I ever wanted to do a cruise again on the first full day but after getting home we’re already looking at where we want to go next year.

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