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Laura

Age: 46

Occupation:Education

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Inspiration

Sailing Date: October 10th, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

The Carnival ship Inspiration is a great ship. I had to get that out of the way first. We (my sister in law and myself) just returned from the Inspiration last week from a 5-day cruising experience. I will try to cover everything you ever thought to ask about and some stuff that you didn’t think of. Warning…this is LONG!

First arriving in Tampa at the port. It is easy to find. It is Pier 2 and you can see it from far off. We dropped off our luggage first, and then drove around to the parking garage. It is $12.00 a day to park, they take cash or charge, and you pay up front. Our luggage porter said it was $10.00 it isn’t. We dropped off our luggage at 10 a.m. We were early.
We parked the car and got some good pictures of us heading to the ship from the parking deck.

We stood around with other early bird arrivals. We didn’t have to wait for long to be let in. At 10:30 we were let in with the message, “Please have your documents ready…your ticket and ID ready.” We got our stuff ready (like it wasn’t already) and walked in. You go up an escalator and through the metal detectors. You are then told to go to a particular person behind the desk take in area. There are about 25 helpers, 2 to a team. We were directed to #25. She was great (I didn’t get her name); she took our fun pass, ticket and gave us our sign in sail cards all in one stop! She looked at our documents and decided we were terrorist just happy cruisers, she told us to go and wait we were in Group 1 to board! Easy. 15 minutes and it was done! We sat and waited in the waiting area…at 11:30 the call came for Group 1. We were ready! Picture was taken. Boarded the ship!

By 11:35 we were up on the Lido deck eating lunch! It was great. It wasn’t crowded yet and we looked around the ship a bit. At 12:30 when the shore reservation desk opened we went down to make reservations for the Cayman Islands tour (Turtle Farm, Hell, and Sting Ray City) for $59.00. We then walked to see our room.

First off, I want to say we had an inside upper/lower guaranteed room. We found out several weeks ago when we got our tickets we were upgraded to a stateroom with a porthole window (Riviera 3). We were in heaven! Our luggage was waiting outside our room. We moved them inside and unpacked, we were fast…we wanted to see the rest of the ship. The cabin itself was bigger than my cabin last year on the Fascination. The bathroom was adequate for what you needed to do with a goody basket. There were 2 closets and a safe (we didn’t use it). We had 2 twin beds. One was under the porthole windows (mine) the other was on the other wall. We had a vanity with drinks and water (we asked to have them taken away…it wasn’t a problem). We needed the room for all our girly stuff. Our only outlet was right there. I did bring a power strip incase we would need it. The pothole window was like a window seat with a curtain. We had fun with the porthole window everyday, each morning we would sit in the window and take our picture with a self-timer digital camera; our cabin steward must have thought we had lost our minds. We had made our own tripod using 2 stools and the garbage can (turned upside down). Every day the steward took it apart and we put it together, finally he left it alone when he cleaned the room, he would just put it against the wall. Roberto was our cabin steward…we saw him only once on the first afternoon. He asked when our dinner seating was and if we were late sleepers. He was a delight. He left us towel animals every night and he alternated which bed he left them on so we wouldn’t be slighted that one bed got all the animals. He even lined up our shoes that we kicked off during the day. He worked hard on our room 2 times a day. We weren’t messy but he kept us straight.

Off we went to see the ship. We started at the top and worked our way down…so we went to the Sports Deck first. The spa was giving free tours and free hot stone massages for the neck. Yes, we did those! It was fantastic! Had the spa tour. It was nice. Some stuff there was a fee for and some stuff was free. We also went to the Sun deck, which was above the Sports deck, yes we walked it once, and we knew we were coming up here again! Too much exercising was in the air!

The Veranda deck was just below the Sports Deck. They have a very nice deck for walking around. It was windy up there! There were the staterooms there also. We did peek into one of the cabins. The door was open, but our cabin was bigger!

Lido Deck…This is where the food lives! There are other things on this deck, but the food is most important. There is the pool with a real neat slide (yes, I rode on it 2 times); it is filled with salt water. There are 2 hot tubs. They were relaxing! There are bars and music and where some of the games were played. We saw the hairy chest and the survivor games being played there on the deck. The ice carving was also done there. There are also ample lounge chairs available. This deck was also the host of most of the mid-night buffets. We saw a lot of this deck. Pizza, sandwiches and dessert were in unlimited supply. The wait staff was always working on keeping it clean and had time to take our pictures when we asked. They were hard workers who seemed never to run out of energy and made it seem easy (I worked in the restaurant industry, it is not easy!).

Promenade Deck…here is most of the lounges and casino. We went to an Art Auction (got a free print for attending) that was held up there, walked into the casino (played the slot machines…came out only $5.50 ahead…I’m not a gambler so $10.00 was my limit), the upper Paris Lounge was also accessible from this deck also. We didn’t spend a great deal of time on this deck, but what we saw of it, it was kept clean from the staff that was always busy.

Atlantic Deck…we spent a lot of time on this deck. Our dining room was the Mardi Gras was here along with the Shakespeare Library and the Paris Lounge with all the on board shops (duty free). The Carnivale dining room was also here. Our waiter Catalin (known as Bobby) from Romania was a great hit with our table! We were seated with a pair of best friends, a mother and daughter, a married couple and us. We were early seating table 199. Lets just say this was the highlight of my day. If my husband had minded I would have brought him home with me. Our Madre D’ was George the Greek… OOMPA!!

Paris Lounge is where the lifeboat drill was held for Muster Station A. The Paris Lounge was where all the shows were done. The ship talks and some of the games played like Bingo, Trivia games, horse “racing” and the reverse Scavenger hunt were also here (I probably missed a few things too). We managed to sit in front for all the shows and whatever else that we came here for. We were visible…WHOO-WHOO! I did manage to “win” a 24-caret ship on a stick I the trivia contest. My kids and husband don’t see how…come to think about it I have to thank some folks from Alabama for giving me clues. I had a blast being up there. I did manage to come out of my shell! I love to cruise!

Empress deck was where the photo gallery lived! We bought a lot of pictures (I should say my sister in law did!!) Formal night we went to every station to get our picture taken. The next day we went to see them…we found over 60! I never realized how many we had taken. We did buy 4 at $19.99 each. We were going to buy several more, but we found you had to buy the 8 x 10 to get the 5 x 7. Bummer. If they let us just buy the 5 x 7, they would have made much more money…we had several we would have bought. We did buy an every day photo taken at the dinner table or when we left the ship for Cayman Islands and Cozumel. Between the Lido deck and this deck I am not sure which deck we visited more often.

Upper, Main and Riviera Decks were all cabins.

I have covered all the decks. Now, I will fill you in on the Captain reception, Previous cruisers reception and our tours. I will try to be brief (I said I would try!).

The Captain’s Reception and Previous Cruisers Reception were held in the Paris lounge with free drinks and some munchies. This is where I found their red wine to taste lovely; I had several of them each night. I did manage a picture with the Captain Donato and also Fun ship Freddie.

Our Tours…We did the Cayman Island tour (Turtle farm, Hell, and Sting Ray City). The reason we decided to take a tour here is because the ship is only here for about 5 hours. The tour was 4 ½ hours long. We had a wonderful tour director…Lindo Parsons. He gave us a wonderful introduction to the island history. He answered our questions about everything. The Turtle Farm was great, we did get to hold the turtles…we did have to catch them from the tank. They must have known we were coming…they swim fast. Hell was a quick stop, I did have time to mail 2 postcards and my sister in law took pictures of everything. Stingray City wasn’t a “city” at all. It is were you seeing stingrays in their natural environment! They were wonderful; they came right up to you. If you have squid in your hand they are you best friend! They are soft and silky (like foam) on the bottom. The tops of them feel like a low-grade sand paper. We got our picture taken with them, the tour operator takes the pictures and if you buy them he mails you a disc. We bought all of our pictures ($60.00) for about 15 pictures…9 of them with the stingrays together (both of us in the picture) and separate and then pictures of the stingrays they have taken.

Cozumel, Mexico…we researched it very well. We decided to do Chankanaab Park on our own. We were going to be here almost 12 hours. We took a taxi there and they haven’t even opened yet. We were told to go see Barbara at a shop where we could get a package deal. I looked on the Internet before I went so I knew what was offered and about how much. She told me about package 1 which was the Sea Lion Show, Sea Lion swim and entrance into the park was $59.00. Package 2 was Sea Lion show, Sea Lion swim and the Dolphin Encounter for $119.00. We didn’t think long…we took package #2. Put it on the charge card. The Inspiration doesn’t offer anything but the Dolphin Encounter (Touch and kiss) for $99.00. They would make a fortune if they offered what we got! So when we paid we had to decide on the times for all of what we were going to do. All times were Central time zone you need to take that into account when planning your day. We had the early (first) Sea Lion show only about 30 people came for this and the early (first) Sea Lion swim only 6 (including us) we there. We got to hold a sloth (picture was taken). We were in the water for the swim when we got our sea lion kiss (picture was taken) sea lion hold (picture was taken) also a DVD was made. They were $29.00 each and 3 pictures for $30.00. But they were an hour apart. We did explore the ruins that they have, the botanical gardens, and the beach of course. They have a restaurant there also we had lunch there. We had time to do some swimming before the dolphin encounter. When we went back to the dolphin encounter we were expecting a crowd as we saw earlier in the day crowds upwards to 15 in the water with the dolphins. We were pleased when the guy told us it was just us! We were led out to our dolphin trainer and dolphin Tatich. We were given instructions on how to touch the dolphin. We had about 45 minutes in the water with him and the trainer. We had our picture made with him kissing us and us kissing him and also shaking hands. We got to touch his tongue (soft) and feel his heart beat. Also to rub his tummy! We learned about him and how he was trained. His trainers told us about his tail and dorsal fin how they are unique like our fingerprints. Before we knew it time was up and we were saying good-bye. We went to see the DVD and the pictures. In the end we had purchased (between the 2 of us) 3 DVD’s (1 sea lion swim and 2 dolphin encounters) and 9 pictures. We were there for 7 hours! 10-5. We left there in a taxi and then went to downtown Cozumel. We walked and walked. He had our hair braided by a lady in the square. We were exhausted and took a taxi back to the ship.

All in all, we had a superb time and I am ready to go again. We never felt the movement of the ship while we were in our cabin. We seemed to feel it more when we were on the upper deck (Lido Deck). I would recommend this cruise to all, friends, whole families, senior and newly married couples. We had a blast and if you go with the same mind set we did you will too.

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