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Steve

Age: 25

Occupation:Analyst

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Inspiration

Sailing Date: May 27th, 2006

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was my first cruise and probably my last, definitely last with Carnival. I went on this cruise with my girlfriend. We are both 25 and live in Chicago.

We decided to fly in on Friday so that we would not have to worry about being delayed. We flew Southwest from Chicago-Midway into Tampa. There were no problems with the flight. We stayed at the Wyndham Westshore. It was very close to the airport and they have free transfers. I got a room on the internet for $95. We went out that night in Ybor city. I heard it was a good time and wanted to check it out, definitely worth the time.

Embarkation:

We were told that you could not start boarding the ship until 1:30 pm. This is incorrect; they actually allow people to start being processed at 10:30am. Nonetheless we arrived around 12:30 pm to the terminal. Everything moved along pretty smooth and we were on the ship by 1 pm. You are not allowed to visit your staterooms until 1:30 pm. They had lunch up on the Lido deck, so we went up there and had lunch. We then went to our stateroom at 1:30 pm to change and to drop off some stuff we were carrying. We relaxed on the decks and ventured around the ship for the next couple hours until it was time for Munster. This is a mandatory drill for safety. It only lasts about a half hour and then you are on your way!

At this point I was already starting to get bored. There really is not much to do unless you plan on stuffing your face the whole time with food and/or alcohol. We basically just hung out waiting around for something to happen. We decided against going to formal dinner that night because both of us were pretty tired. We had dinner in the Brassiere. This is probably the best place to eat on the ship. We ate all of our meals but 3 of them in the Brassiere. It has a WONDERFUL deli, which serves hot and cold sandwiches, turkey, reuben, ham, veggie, you name it they will make it for you. There is also a pizzeria in the back which has 6 different types of pizza 24 hours a day.

The rest of the first night was spent at the Casino. If you are a seasoned Blackjack player like me, you will not enjoy the casino. First off they use an 8-deck shoe, this is unheard of anywhere besides Carnival. The norm is for a 6 deck shoe. Also you should “scout” the players before you take a seat or you are in for one heck of a ride. I was lucky enough to sit at a higher minimum bet table and play with a few individuals who knew what they were doing. I managed to win 600 dollars the first night. We decided to go to bed around midnight, since we planned to get up early and be out in the sun.

Day 2: Fun Day at Sea

We woke around 7:30am and got ready to go out and enjoy the sun. We went the Brassiere and grabbed yogurt and coffee then headed up the 11th deck Aft pool area. This is ADULTS only, which is not really enforced but the only time you see the kids is when they run to the hot tubs, not a big deal. We had no problem getting lounge chairs to lay out on any day we were up there. They were always plentiful in this area. We stayed out in the sun until around noon and then headed down to the brassiere for lunch at the salad bar.

After lunch we walked around the ship some more and went back to the room and changed for the day. I went to the Casino for an hour while my girlfriend read her book outside. We then meet up for the art auction at 2 pm. This I definitely recommend to anyone who goes on this cruise. They have some VERY expensive pieces of art that you may never see again. Also you receive free champagne during the preview and auction. I purchased a Scott Jacobs painting for $765 framed and shipped. This painting retails for $1,850 on land, a great deal that you will not find anywhere else.

The rest of the afternoon was spent lounging around relaxing up until the cocktail party and formal dinner. Our cocktail party time was slated for 7 pm, since we were late seating. The cocktail party was a decent time, free drinks and good music. Since we were seated in the Mardi Gras dining room and late seating we did not eat until 8:30 pm. We arrived at our table a couple minutes late and 3 other couples were already there. We did not have anything in common with the people who we sat with, which in turn led to very little conversation with the others. My girlfriend shared a bottle of wine, which was ok. The wine selection is minimal at best and the prices are just absurd for the quality of wines. Dinner was repulsive, due to the food and what we witnessed around our table. You are able to order as much and whatever you want. My girlfriend had a cup of minestrone soup and a side salad to start. I had a Caesar side salad. She had the veggie dish for her entrée which actually was not too bad and much better than my Salmon. The salmon was very dry and fishy; anyone who knows good seafood knows it should not smell fishy. I only had a couple of bites of my entrée and shared the rest of hers. The other six at our table must have loved their dinners. Each one of them had at least two meals; one had three before we left. Is this typical cruise custom? We were not impressed. We did not stay around for dessert so I can not comment on if it was any good. It was around 9:30 pm and we decided to head to the Casino, this was not a good idea. I managed to lose around 500 dollars during the course of the rest of the night. We were there until a little after midnight when we decided it best to go to bed and wake up early for Grand Cayman.

Day 3: Grand Cayman

We woke up around 8 am and got ready for the day off the ship, finally! We opted to have breakfast on the island instead of dealing with individuals on the ship. I was unsure as to how or where to get off the ship so I had to ask an employee and he told me I could with any tender I wanted. You are not docked in Cayman; you get to and from the dock by a smaller boat. We didn’t realize that Grand Cayman was an hour behind “ship time” and nothing opened early. As you can tell we didn’t book a shore excursion, and wished we had. We were able to find a nice juice bar/breakfast place in the shopping area by the dock. We enjoyed our breakfast outside waiting for the shops to open. We spend the next 3 hours shopping and walking around the island. We headed back to the ship around noon to have lunch, again in the Brassiere. After lunch we spent the next few hours on the adults only area sunning and in the pool. The sun is very intense down there, we both got a little red.

I think that this is a night that we went to a show, I really can not recall. It was a band playing like a tribute band to the blues brothers. It was alright kind of corny but what do you expect, you are on a cruise. After that they have bingo, which I recommend doing, it only takes 15 minutes and you could win 400 dollars. The sheets cost between 10-20 dollars.

The rest of the night we just relaxed and were in bed fairly early, around 11pm.

Day 4: Calica, Mexico

Yes, I said Calica, Mexico. We thought we were going to Cozumel, but they decided to change the itinerary.

We actually ate breakfast in the dining room this morning, and were pleasantly surprised. I don’t like how they force you to sit at a table with other people but the family we sat with was very pleasant. I had the eggs benedict which was not bad, a little runny, but surpassed my expectations. My girlfriend had a made to order veggie omelet which she said was very tasty.

After breakfast we decided to get off the ship and venture out into Mexico. When you get off the ship you will see a very large crane looking piece of machinery and some little sidewalk shops. We did not look at any of those and just went to get in the Taxi line. This line is very long since there is nothing to do in Calica. After waiting for about 10-15mins I noticed there were people renting Jeeps. I strongly suggest doing this to everyone! The cost was only 70 dollars with free miles. We were just going to drive to Playa del Carmen but once we arrived we decided we did not want to stay there, so we drove all the way to Cancun. It takes a little over an hour to get to Cancun, but it definitely worth the drive. We both had never been to Cancun and were very impressed. There were tons of things to do and see. We had lunch at Senor Frogs in the Hotel Zone. We then walked around and did some shopping before heading back to the ship. I did not feel comfortable filling the Jeep up with gas so I figured I would just pay the penalty when we returned the Jeep. We arrived back to the port around 4pm. The total charge for the Jeep including gas was only 100 dollars! Overall a great experience and day spent in Mexico.


That night was more of the same, eat in the Brassiere for dinner then go to the Casino or a bar and relax.

Day 5: Fun Day at Sea

We tried our best to sleep in this morning but were still up early enough for breakfast on the Lido deck. There was a massive line and luckily we were able to get in it right before they shut it down. The breakfast was alright, nothing great. The rest of the day was spent relaxing in the sun. The evening was a fun one and we figured we would try our best to enjoy ourselves on the last night. We went to the Chopin bar and watched the Detroit—Miami game then Karaoke started around 10 pm in the Candlelight lounge. This was very entertaining and fun. We spent the rest of the evening in there until around 11:30 when we decided to get some rest for the busy day tomorrow.

Debarkation:

This was the morning from Hell. This is where an ok experience turned into a horrible one.

We had a wake up call set for 6:30 am. I had been using the in room safe for all cash and certain valuables. I had placed 400 dollars and 500 pesos in the safe the night before not wanting to take the money out on the ship with me. When I went to retrieve the money out of the safe it was gone! All of it, including the envelope I had used. I was beyond pissed off. I immediately called for our Cabin Steward to question him about the missing money. He acted dumbfounded and promptly left, raising even more suspicion. I then called security, who then came to my room to do a report and search. I was hoping the security guard would then go and question all individuals who were in my room that evening, but he did not even talk to one person. I then was told to go to the purser’s station and they would let me know what to do next. I went down there and was told that they were unable to help me and that I would have to contact corporate.

We had decided to do self assist off the ship, which we missed due to Carnival stealing money from my stateroom. They told us that we had to wait in line like everyone else. Still pissed off we go wait in a line that snakes through the ships hallways. Mind you, we are carrying luggage. Not a very pleasant experience. Once they announce that people may leave the ship it is a mad dash towards the exit, no organization. I was so glad to get off the ship; it was a sigh of relief.

When I got home I called Carnival about the stolen money from the state room and they promptly told me that they are not liable for any items that become missing from the state room. Basically they are giving the ok for their employees to steal without any type of punishment. I was and am still very unsatisfied how the whole thing played out.

-Costs-

We spent a total of $1,400.00 on our sign and sail cards (4.50 a beer). This is including the $765 dollar painting. I also had $1,600.00 in cash with me for the Casino and ports. All of that ended up being used/stolen. Add up the cost of the plane tickets, hotel and cruise you pay just under $5,000.00.

-Rooms-
We were in stateroom U133, which had a big ocean view. I was very happy with my room and cabin steward until the last morning. I was even going to slip him an extra twenty dollar bill upon departure, but not after they stole from me.



I will never in my life use or refer Carnival. I urge all of you to stay away. You can do much better for a lot less somewhere else.




 

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