Two new (and confused) cruisers on the Inspiration
So, I went ahead and registered to this site as my girlfriend and I have run across some confusion with our cruise.
First, some background info:
She and I booked our cruise through a travel agent who specializes in cruises. We will be sailing on the Carnival Inspiration which will depart Tampa on October 3 and return on October 8. We will be making a stop at Grand Cayman and another at Cozumel.
1. My biggest concern is the variance in the reviews that I've seen. Some reviews claim that the Inspiration provided one of the worst experiences they've ever had in their lives. You'd think these people visited the seventh circle of cruise hell to read what was written. Others claim that it was one of the best vacations they've ever had. Are some of these folks just plain cranky and others just too easy to please (or cruise line representatives posing as customers)? Is there really that much inconsistency between cruise experiences? Is there any way to tell the reliable reviews from the unreliable ones?
2. I have similar experiences in looking up the excursions. There were no reviews whatsoever of the 7-Mile Beach or Rum Point on the Carnival website. Does anybody have any thoughts on these places?
3. Is it better to use the excursions recommended through the cruise line or would we be better off striking out on our own to see what's out there?
4. About how much spending money would you folks recommend that we set aside for the cruise? I plan on doing some drinking, but not too much as I kinda want to watch my food consumption (I'm doing the Primal Blueprint thing if anyone's wondering). Also, are there any sort of hidden costs that I should be aware of?
5. Last one. Promise. I do photography as a hobby. I've got a fairly decent Olympus e500 with a tripod and a couple of lenses. Would that camera be reasonably safe coming with me on the trip or would I be better off leaving it at home? By safe I mean I wouldn't have to worry about it being jacked out of my cabin at night, snagged by some pickpocket.
Thanks for all of your help!