Just getting my land legs back and sitting down to write my review. We had a wonderful time!
This was very quick and smooth. We arrived at the Port at 11:05 and were on the ship by 12:00. We went through the lines so fast that we actually waited for about 25 minutes until they allowed passengers to board the ship. Upon entering the ship, we did the customary “gaze in awe in the atrium” and then proceeded to the Lido deck for burgers, fries, hot dogs, and salads. The servers were ready with the drink of the day, which was yummy. At 3:45 we all settled into the Paris Lounge with our life jackets for the muster drill. Yes, some crazy (and not so bright) people were blowing on the whistles….YUCK! During the muster drill, while lining up for the lifeboats, the ship left port at 4:00. It was perfect timing, because we were all outside and able to witness this. We received our luggage at 4:30 was able to unpack before heading up to the Sun Deck to witness the sunset and the boat crossing under this expansive bridge while leaving Tampa Bay. *THIS IS A DO NOT MISS* Have your camera ready for the bridge. We also met our room steward, Apolonio, while unpacking and promptly gave him an extra tip and asked that our ice be kept full and for some wine glasses. We received the glasses almost immediately. First dinner was in the Carnivale for 8:00 seating. Our waiter, Kohmand, and busboy, Yasa, were exceptional. They were great at getting the guests to mingle with each other and have a good time.
Day 1: Day at Sea
We woke up to 8-10 foot waves and immediately popped our ginger root pills. We had also brought scopolamine patches, but never had the need to use them as long as we took the ginger pills 2-3 times a day. By the end of this day we were forced to develop our sea legs. Unfortunately, it was a rainy day, so most of the day was spent indoors. Because we were exploring the ship, it didn’t seem too bad to have to stay inside most of the time. At lunch, we ate outside on the Lido deck and were startled by a loud horn…. a pause…horn again…pause…Etc. Finally the captain announced that due to the fog, he would have to blow the horn. We promptly made our way back inside, where the horn was not noticeable. This day was also the day that my husband was introduced to the casino. *Warning* Unless you have incredible luck or lots of money to throw away…. avoid the casino. It’s quite convenient for the cruise lines that it’s placed on the Promenade deck and you’re forced to walk by it often. Those with a weak spot for gambling are easily drawn in. It is fun, though!
We tried the sushi on board this evening. It was good, although there are only 4 rolls to chose from and only one of them was actually raw. We eat sushi back home frequently, and seemed to enjoy it also on the ship.
At dinner this night it was our formal night and our wait staff entertained us to them singing “Hot Hot Hot”. Although these nightly routines were a good laugh, it sort of changed the atmosphere from a fine dining experience to one at your neighborhood Applebee’s or Chili’s. The midnight buffet gala was this evening and was amazing!
We watched the show “Shout” this evening, which was good. We caught the R rated comedian later, which was just ok. He seemed to be fishing for things to say. Later on in the week there was another comedian who seemed much better.
Day 2: Grand Cayman
We opted to not purchase shore excursions for both ports of call and just “wing it”. Looking back now, we should have had some planning for our stop in Grand Cayman, notably the Sting Ray City tour. Instead, we walked to 7-mile beach, walked, and walked, and then found a spot to relax for about 1 hour. We took a taxi back, which cost $4 per person. Near the port, we used the phones set up outside some shops to call back to the USA and check on our daughter. *Another Warning* These phones ended up costing us $39 for a 3 minute phone call. There was no rate posted on them to know that we were being gouged to that extreme, so caution to everyone else. At some point I dropped my sail and sign card and panicked when I realized it was gone. We were so relieved when we were boarding the tender that someone had returned it to the guy checking everyone in. We ate lunch on the ship because it was free. We found Grand Cayman to be very expensive, commercialized, and dirty. It wasn’t my idea of a paradise Island. We probably won’t choose it as a port of call next time.
Back on board, we observed the Belly Flop contest (ouch!), did some sunbathing, and took a nap. At dinner this evening, the waiters sang a “love song”. They also sang “Hatty An-a-bur-sary” to our tablemates. It was comical.
Day 3: Costa Maya
After much research on Port Reviews and Cruise Critic, I had this day planned. I noticed the ship not once mentioned the town of Mahahual as something for the passengers to do. Probably due to the fact that they kept emphasizing shopping in Puerto Costa Maya, which is shops built by the Cruise ships (and therefore much more expensive than what we found in Mahahual).
We got off the ship, immediately walked through the shopping area and to the taxi stand. It was a small journey to even find the taxi stand, but once you reach the pool, there is a doorway to the right. Outside is the taxi stand. For $5 per person roundtrip, the taxi (a bus to and car back) took us to Mahahaul. We walked from where it dropped us off about ¼ mile to a beach bar called Buluche. There we had 2 for $3 Dos Equis beer, wonderful chips, salsa, and guacamole. We also had a table under a palapa and lawn chairs under coconut palms right on the beach. The beach was incredible. The waves broke about 150 yards out, and the water was calm. We were able to walk 100 feet out and the water was only waist high. Leaving, we stopped at some shops in Mahahual and got amazing deals. We spent only $20 total for both a silver bracelet for our daughter and a leather belt for my husband. Back at the port, the same silver bracelet was listed at $44 and the belt $50. Mahahual was our definition of Paradise. Beautiful!!!
This evening there was a comedian who was very good and tasteful. Also at midnight there was a Mexican Buffet on the Lido deck and lots of dancing. The buffet was very good.
Day 4: Day at Sea
The weather was beautiful this day, which made up for the first day at sea. We took part in Bingo, Battle of the ***es, and some sunning ourselves on the Sun Deck. After dinner we returned to our room to pack and then went to the late night comedy show. This show was very funny and he had us laughing so hard we were in tears. Even though it was R rated, I don’t think I hear one 4 letter word the whole time.
We woke up early and watched us pull into port. We enjoyed breakfast in the Mardi Gras dining room and then went up to the Promenade deck to wait to debark. At 9 a.m., B-rad (the social host) announced that EVERYONE can leave the ship. They didn’t go by colors as other reviews of cruises have said and it was crazy! Imagine 1500+ people all heading for the forward stairs at the same time. We heard lots of complaints about this. We were concerned at first, but by 9:30 we were off the ship, through customs, and on a taxi to the airport.
We were located in Upper 54, which was an ocean view room. Our cabin had plenty of space and the bathroom seemed large enough. I had heard stories of some people on cruises having to shower while sitting on the toilet…no we didn’t. Our bathroom was just about the same size as some motel bathrooms, but minus the tub. We had pump dispensers for shampoo and body wash. The bed was very comfortable with a down comforter that kept us warm. The a/c work almost too good at times, and the warm comforter was much appreciated. We never heard our neighbors, which was also a plus. There was not a vast amount of counter top space in the cabin, and were very glad to have brought and over-the-door shoe holder to hold our items.
$20 from the Pier to the Airport. We stayed at the Doubletree Westshore the night before the cruise and they had both free shuttle from the Airport to the hotel and the hotel to the Pier. We could have also used them for free from the Pier to the Airport when we returned, but we were trying to catch an earlier flight and didn’t want to wait.
Yes, there is an adults only topless deck for those who don’t like tan lines. It was on the Sun Deck in the aft of the ship. The railing is covered so people can’t see from the other decks, but it seemed to be a busy place for groups of men to “accidentally” find there way to.
The cruise ship cameras were everywhere and were sometimes too much. We couldn’t go to the promenade deck, off the ship, eat in the dining room, or even board the ship without them stopping us for a picture. The photos were pricey with an 8x10 being $19.99 and no other size would be made unless the 8x10 was purchased. The embarkation photo was a bit more reasonable, a 5x7 for $7.95.
As a whole, we absolutely loved the trip. My husband was a bit apprehensive about cruising initially but now can’t wait for our next trip. I definitely would recommend the Inspiration for couples and families less than 50. The more elder crowd complained about the lack of dancing (except rap music). I agree this was a negative for Carnival. The one night we were looking for dancing all we could find was hip-hop. Being that we’re younger we could tolerate it, but it would have been impossible for most grandparent-types to accept.