Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Inspiration
Sailing Date: October 23rd, 2006
Itinerary: Grand Cayman - Cozumel
We arrived around 11:30, and from the time we left our bags at the curb with the porters it was less than an hour until we were sitting on the Lido Deck relaxing. I was surprised, as we had a party of six. Myself, my husband, my stepmother, and my three kids, ages 15, 14, and 9. The process went amazingly fast.
We hung out on the Lido, the kids went off to check out the ship, and before we knew it, it was time to head to our staterooms. They were as expected, this being my husband and my 3rd Carnival Cruise. It was the first time for the kids, and for my stepmother. It did get a little cramped in the cabin with four.
The kids, and my stepmother, were greatly impressed with the size, appearance, and cleanliness of the ship as they boarded. It’s lots of fun to watch first time cruisers faces!
The food was exactly what we were accustomed to. The buffet is always plentiful, the food is what I would consider to be ‘okay’ and the lines were reasonable. The kids *loved* the pizza bar, and hubby discovered a sandwich station that he became a big fan of. The formal dining room was always enjoyable. Our server, Carol, was amazing. We were fortunate to have a table for six, without being seated with any other cruisers. Quite frankly, being seated with strangers is just not my thing. Certainly not with three children. We enjoyed mealtimes as time to catch up on each others day and activities, and it was nice having that time alone, as a family. We never wanted for anything in the main dining room, and enjoyed the meals there a great deal. Hubby adored the sushi bar. I found the coffee place, which I’d enjoyed on a past cruise on the Imagination. I don’t go there for the coffee, I go for the chocolate covered strawberries and fruit cups. These are not free, but are insanely reasonably priced for a cruise ship. 3 Dollars for 5 chocolate covered strawberries, and 2 for a fruit cup. When you see these items, you will realize how cheap they are.
I do love to wander the ship, relax on the Lido deck, and take in the shows. I spent much of my time, as did my stepmother, doing just that. We relaxed on the deck while my 9 year old enjoyed the water slide and pool (this was a HUGE hit with him). Hubby enjoys the casino, and we’ve always enjoyed the casino staff. This cruise was no exception. There was always plenty to do!
This was the most surprising part of our trip. My nine year old son is still in that ‘I am a superhero’ phase of his life. I truly had fears that he would dive off the ship. If you met him, you would understand. Therefore, I really put no attention to information about Camp Carnival prior to this sailing, as I was certain I would not be able to let him leave my sight. He requested that we go to the meeting about it, and so, we did. The staff impressed me enough to convince me to allow him to attend for some afternoon activities. I’m so thankful I did. I got the impression, from EVERY Camp Carnival staff member that I encountered, that they loved children, and adored their jobs. My son NEVER felt as if he was ‘being babysat’. The activities were exactly what kids that age would want to be doing.
Youth Camp Carnival (under 14, I think) is free all day, till 10 PM. After 10 PM, it becomes more a babysitting service, and there is a fee. I did not go on this trip with my kids to leave them with sitters, I went to experience it with them. However, my son BEGGED to go to ‘Freaky Fright Night’ which ran from 10PM to 3:30AM one evening. The cost was $26, which isn’t unreasonable. We allowed him to go, and as I roamed the ship in the evening, I popped in to check on him and see what he was doing. I caught him once playing a ‘Survivor/Fear Factor’ type game, lying on the floor in the middle of the pizza area with all the other boys, ice on his forehead and belly button. Then, I caught him near the ice cream bar, with his face (and all the other kids faces) buried in a bowl of ice cream, unable to use his hands, slurping as if his life depended on it. He promptly licked the bowl clean, put it upside down on his head, and recited ‘Iggy Wiggy, I’m a Piggy’. He then received a medal for winning! They were constantly in motion, and the kids were ALL having a great time. At 3:30AM (We’d left his room key with the counselors) they dropped him at the room, and he crawled into bed.
My older two went into the 15-17 year old group, and they too had a BLAST. Scavenger hunts with hilarious items (a man wearing lipstick, which another cruiser kindly obliged), karaoke, parties, dancing, eating, shows, movies, and just plain ole hanging. The activities were not deemed ‘dumb’, and I saw very little of the older two. I cannot, cannot say enough about Camp Carnival. They impressed me a great deal.
Really, the only negative part of this cruise for us, was our room steward (highly unusual from our past experiences). We had wet towels in a pile for a day and a half, and actually ran out of towels. This sounds minor, but four people trying to shower, and unable to contact the room steward can do very little about it. I asked him on the first day to remove the soda and water, as they took up space we needed, and they never did get removed.
We did laundry on board the last sea day ($2 per washer and dryer, expect the dryers to take longer. Feed them extra quarters while they are still running for an extra five minutes). It was not horribly priced, and it was fabulous not to go home with boatloads of laundry.
Grand Cayman – We were supposed to go here on our last cruise (Imagination from New Orleans) but due to a medical emergency that ended with a Coast Guard chopper landing on the deck, we missed that port. We enjoyed this a great deal. It’s a very short port, and you must take a tender, which adds time. We booked the Stingray City Tour & Snorkel with Captain Bryans, saved LOTS of money versus booking with Carnival, and had a fabulous time. This is a must do in Grand Cayman. Carnival scares you a little by telling you if you don’t book through them, and you are late, the boat will leave, etc etc. However, almost the entire rest of the people on our excursion (roughly 30) had booked through Carnival, so, we were safe. We did the excursion and headed back to the tender site. The line was insanely long.
Cozumel – Hubby and I went here on our first cruise, so we knew what to expect. We actually enjoy this city. Lots of shopping. We walk out to the open air market, after stopping in various stores for free earrings, bracelets, shots of tequila, and margaritas. I highly recommend a restaurant on the main street called ‘Pepe’s’. We wound up there because it was air conditioned, and everyone was hot and tired. It’s a little pricier than the standard in Cozumel (a whopping $59 for a part of six) but it is WELL worth it. White tablecloths, impeccable service, and truly amazing, authentic food. Tons of food.
Easy as pie! We wandered down after breakfast, and waited a whopping ten minutes in line. We began the process at 9:15 AM and were in our car at 10 AM. Very easy. Customs checked nothing, took our declaration slips, and waved as we walked away.
This is my husband and my third cruise with Carnival, the rest of our party’s first. We enjoy Carnival, and feel that it’s a GREAT value for the price. If you are looking for swanky, super luxury, this cruise is not for you. If you enjoy cruising, enjoy people, and just want to relax and have a good time, then do it.
Oh, final word. Carnivals beds are heavenly. You will sleep like a baby, and you WILL want to take the bed with you.