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Age: 36


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Inspiration

Sailing Date: November 21st, 2005

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

I wanted to post a review as soon as I got home from this cruise because I was a first time cruiser and this site was so helpful to me prior to leaving on our cruise. I just got back today from my very first cruise and my husband and I are already talking about when we will go again. We loved this cruise in every way and had the most wonderful experience from start to end. We chose the Inspiration because it leaves out of Tampa which is only 30 minutes away from where we live. I started reading reviews and asking around and 95% of what I heard were positive comments. Now I can add my positive comments. The embarkation process was flawless. We arrived around 10:30 am and we were on the ship enjoying lunch on the Lido Deck by noon. We had to wait until 1:30 to get into our room, but the time went by fast because we were having so much fun already. Don't worry about a thing with the embarkation process. No matter what time you arrive, it's a smooth process. Carnival runs this process with complete efficiency. Tip the porters a dollar per bag when they take your bags from you at the terminal. They do not work for Carnival and they rely on these tips. They take your bags and get them to where they need to go. When we got to our cabin on the Main Deck, it exceeded our expectations. We chose an interior cabin (windowless) but the cabin was quite spacious with a king size bed (two twins put together) and the most comfortable mattress and pillows we ever slept on. We slept like babies all week and we plan on buying these pillows and duvet as soon as we can (Carnival sells these). The shower pressure was awesome, the water nice and hot, and I loved taking long showers before dinner each night. You will find a basket full of goodies in your bathroom, so you would not need to take a razor, soaps or shampoos, toothpaste, mouthwash or lotions. They provide these in every room. In fact, each shower has two big dispensers with shampoo and body soap (name brands) and I never used the stuff I brought from home.

Our steward kept our room tidy at all times and YES, we got our towel animal every single night. That was fun to look forward to each night. I also loved the nightly delivery of "Carnival Capers" which is the daily newsletter that lets you know everything that is going on the next day. It makes for wonderful bedtime reading material and keeps you totally informed about what's going on everywhere on the ship. There are tons of activities. Don't be afraid to do some of the things that may seem "corny" like Bingo or Trivia Games. We took this cruise with my parents who were celebrating their 30th wedding anniversary and I went along to these things and had a blast playing. We loved the casino. We're not big gamblers, but I enjoyed playing some slots. Won some, lost some....came out even actually. Dad won a couple hundred dollars playing Blackjack. Someone at our dining table won over a thousand dollars playing you can win on this ship. The shows were awesome, but especially the late night comedy. A bit naughty, but so funny. I had to force myself to go to the late shows, but was glad I did. The drinks "overfloweth" and you've got to be careful to not feel rich with your Sail and Sign card. Everyone in your party is issued one, including the children. This is your room key, onboard currency and identification for coming and going off the ship. Don't lose these cards. We found a couple and found who they belonged to and both times it was little kids who lost them. Anyway, back to the drinks. When you come on board, there are servers "everywhere" offering you the drink special of the day. Here's my big tip. Unless you want to collect their little plastic drink cups that say Carnival on them, don't pay the $6.50 or $6.75 per drink. The same drink is available for $2.00 less in a cup that you don't keep. Just tell the server that you want the drink without the special cup (unless you want it that way). It took us two days to catch on to this whole thing. They tell you that if you order it this way, you can use the same cup each day for their daily drink special and get $2.00 off that drink, but who wants to carry that plastic cup around everywhere you go? Just order your drinks without the special cup and get $2.00 off every time. If you don't specify, they will automatically bring you this expensive little plastic souvenir cup with your drink. They do make awesome drinks. We loved their Miami Vice which is half strawberry daiquiri and half pina colada....YUMMY. Don't forget Captain's Night, the drinks are free. If you don't like what's on the tray, you can order anything you like.

As for the food. I heard good and bad comments prior to going, so I didn't get my hopes up too much. Bottom line, I give the food a 7 out of 10. They do an awesome job preparing food all day and practically all night. There is something for everyone. If you don't like something, get something else. The hamburgers on Lido Deck are wonderful and the Deli Corner sandwiches were out of this world. You might have to stand in line for your sandwich to be made to order, but you will be so glad you did. Remember, you pay for soda's and water in bottles. We got used to the free juice, coffee and iced tea, so we purchased very few sodas which are almost as much as a cocktail. I heard you can buy a special card for purchasing sodas cheaper, but we found we didn't have to have the soda. Our motto was "why pay for something when there is so much else to choose from that doesn't cost extra?" The coffee on the Lido Deck each morning is the best I ever had, but don't expect it to taste so good mid-day or late afternoon after it's been sitting around all day. There were over 2,000 people on board, but it never seemed too crowded (except by the pool some days). It's a big ship with lots of places to go. We never felt like there were too many people and we could always find a table or place to sit. One word of caution if you don't have children, don't want to be around a lot of children, or just want them to be somewhere else....don'g choose Thanksgiving week to go.

There were over 800 children on board and they all hung out by the pool the entire time!! They loved the big slide and the constant supply of ice-cream and pizza. Can't blame them on that one, but at times it did seem like "TOO MANY KIDS." I would choose a week in the future when I know that most kids are in school. We had the late seating at dinner in the Mardi Gras Lounge and George the Greek was our Maitre De. He made the evening fun and he was so imformative. Our servers were so wonderful. We had Dana and Addie. If anyone gets them, tell them you heard about them. This will make them so happy. Dana is from Latvia and she's the best server I ever had. She talked a lot with us and she did entertained us with some magic tricks. Addie is her helper. He is from Bali, Indonesia. He was a hoot. They work so hard and you just want to take them home with you. You actually get a little attached to them after spending a week with them. Our table almost cried on the last night. Each couple gave Dana and Eddie anywhere from $10 to $20 extra on the last night. They do get tipped from the gratuity they automatically take off our Sail and Sign card each day, so don't feel like $10-$20 isn't enough. You'll be tempted to give them more, and by all means do so if you can. We each gave the Maitre De $5.00 the last night. We didn't give him more because he will get $5.00 or more handed to him by every guest on the last night because they encourage you to do so because he doesn't get a cut of the automatic gratuity. But think about how much he's getting in tips from hundreds of people at two dinner seatings!! I recommend getting a formal picture done on formal night. We got a good package deal on some beautiful pictures and I knew I'd regret it if we didn't get these taken. Remember, there is never an obligation to buy when they take your picture, so "go for it" and then go down to the photo gallery and laugh your head off at yourself and your family. If you see something you like, then you have the opportunity to buy. I advise waiting to the last day to buy from the gift shops on board. I got a bunch of stuff 50% off. My one and only complaint, which I did mention on the comment card they asked us to turn in is that "EVERYWHERE" they played back ground music which was 95% rap music. Not everyone likes rap music!!! It was loud and obnoxious and all of us complained the entire time about it. We would sit by the pool on the Lido Deck...rap music....waiting for a show in the Paris Lounge....rap the Rock n Roll Disco....rap music (by the way, why call it the Rock n Roll Disco if it's only going to be rap music?? Anyway, I do know this is a popular type of music today, but from what I saw, there were a lot of people 35 and older and I'm sure they felt the same way as we did. I suggested they play a variety of music to appeal to everyone. We would have liked some Jimmy Buffet to get us in the Island mood!!

We did not get to go to Grand Cayman because of the weather conditions for that day, so we had to go to Progresso Mexico. We LOVED this little town. We loved it better than Cozumel!! I would go back to Progresso. It's a sweet little town, working class people, distinct little shops and market, friendly-smiling people, interesting say the least. We took a tour on an open air bus around town for $2.00. It was well worth it. We got to see all over this little town and hear about it's history and it's people. We got some wonderful bargains on jewelry, pottery and clothing. We hated to barter with the people too much because they are so poor and you just want to help them out. We stopped at a little hole in the wall bar "LaFamilia Restorante" and had Corona's for $1.00 each. We got sung to by a couple of guys that waiting for us to tip them when they were done. We didn't mind giving them a dollar for the entertainment. This is a fishing village and we found that out quickly when we saw all the fishing boats and the fish being sold in the market area...and the fishy smell on the Corona bottles we got in the little cantina!

. I asked about it and found out that they keep their fish in the same fridge as the beer...thus.....fishy Corona!!! It made for a lot of laughs!!! We had one rough night at sea...which was the first night. We sailed into rough waters brought on by the cold front moving into the gulf. 'Lot's of people were sick...and I felt a little nautious, but I held it together and just went to bed early that night and tried to sleep it off. That doesn't work too good when you're in your cabin, lying in bed, rolling back and forth, back and forth....all night long. But I toughed it out and the next day I felt fine. There were no other rough nights after that. Debarkation went just as smooth as Embarkation. We were off the ship and at home by 11:30. Not bad at all!! So, that's my review. I loved the Inspiration. I loved the crew. I loved every aspect of my first cruise experience (besides the rap music) and we can't wait to sail again. We'll probably choose the Inspiration or another Carnival Cruise Ship again. We talked to a lot of people on the ship that cruise a lot. We even spoke to some wealthy people who have cruised some of the "better" cruise lines and everyone said that Carnival is the Best. I'm sticking with Carnival!!

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