Have a good time on the Inspiration. Unfortunately I will not be on that cruise next month with you. But, I did take a cruise on the Inspiration last year, and I had a really good time. Let me see if I can remember what I liked the most....
Make sure to atttend the Midnight Chocolate Buffet. Make sure to bring along a camera. They had beautiful works of art in the form of sculptures of Ice, Chocolate, Marizipan, and Watermelon. Let's not forget the best works of art: the desserts!
During dinner, everything was really good. But what I liked best were these chilled sweet soups. One night they had Sweetened-Chilled Mango soup, the other night Sweetened-Chilled Lychee soup. They served them as appetizers before the entré. They were absolutely delicious. They were like the best milkshake I ever had, only flavored with mango or lychee(a tropical asian fruit), and melted but not warm.
The Brassiere cafeteria was the buffet alternative to the main dinning room. It is located all the way at the aft end of the ship up on the pool deck. I ate in my assigned dinning room all 5 nights, but I checked out the Brassiere a few nights. The food looked really good. It may have been well worth it if you don't mind the long lines. They had a 24 hour pizzeria in the back of the Brassiere. I had a few slices and they were really good. Especially if you get a slice hot from the oven. They also had soft serve ice cream in self service "Carvel-style" hydrolic-lever type machines, which you could choose between vanilla, chocolate, or a twist of the two. I had a few cones, with all three flavor combinations and really liked them. Not too far from the Pizzeria, in an island bar, was a Deli-sandwich station. Some of the other passengers said the deli-sandwiches they made for you, at this station, were outstanding. Unfortunately I was full of pizza and ice cream, so I missed out.
As for the entertainment, well.. it was pretty good. I suppose the Cruise Director is in charge of the talent you will see. And onboard the Inspiration, the CD was an interesting guy. If I remember correctly, his name was Chris Roberts. He was a big burly man with a southren drawl. He would go up on stage sporting a knee length leather jacket. He looked more like a cast member of the Sopranos, rather than a CD. During one of the evenings shows, he did a performance as John Belushi's character in the Blues Brothers with all the singing and dancing. I was impressed. Another great talent on board was a Russian dance couple named Demitri and Svetlana. They were amazing. He would pick her up and spin her around in ways that seemed to defy gravity.
In terms of things you need bring and need to avoid during the cruise:
First of all, check out the advice for 1st timers from the Milano's Click here to go to "Booking Your First Cruise" by The Milanos
In addition, bring various sizes of ziploc bags. I am not sure if it was the Milanos, but someone on this website suggested you pack your belongings in different ziploc bags by catagory (i.e. Medicines, reading matierials,snacks, toiletries, etc.). I did that and found out it really works well. I could get to what I wanted really fast, and if there was ever a spill, it would be contained to one bag, making clean-up a snap.
If you like to gamble in the casino. I found bringing a few rolls of your coins, to use in the slots, helped. That would be a few rolls of Quarters and Nickels. I did not see any slots that ran on dimes or pennies. I did see a few that ran on dollar coins, too. So, if you are a high rolling slot player, bring a roll of dollar coins, too. And, of course, the casino cashier behind the cage, will have plenty of rolls of coins you can trade your dollar bills for. Just remember to keep your gambling in check: the odds of winning are stacked against you.
Remember to bring an multiple outlet electrical adapter. In my cabin on the Inspiration, there was only ONE electrical outlet. And I mean ONE place to plug in ONE 120volt AC (American) electrical device, and ONE place to plug in ONE 220volt(European)electrical device.
They have a coin operated laundry-mat onboard the Inspiration. If you plan to use it, bring some of your own detergent,fabric softener and extra rolls of Quarters(in addition to the ones for the casino slots) . I use it during my cruise. But it was on a different deck and other side of the ship from where my cabin was. So I spent allot of time walking to get there. And I spent allot of time waiting there, sitting vigil as I watched my clothes go round and round in the washer and dryer. They also had a iron and ironing board. Anyway, next time, I will spend more money and have them do my laundry for me. I probably wasted allot of time on the Inspiration, inside the laundry-mat. Time I could have better spent having fun somewhere else.
Make sure you bring some spray disinfectant (like a small can of Lysol). You may have opporitunities where you would need to use it. In my case, I wish I had some when I put on my lifevest. On the first day, just before the Inspiration leaves Tampa, everyone is required, by law, to participate in a life boat. Basically, you put on your lifevest inside your cabin and go to your "Abandon Ship Station" (which in my case was the main auditorium: The Paris Lounge). When I put on my lifevest, I could feel moisture. I hope it was from a crew member cleaning it, and NOT THE SWEAT FROM THE PREVIOUS PERSON(S) THAT WORE IT! So on my next cruise, I will spray down my lifevest with Lysol before I put it on!
.....And yes, you will be required to participate in the lifeboat drill. On the Inspiration, and every other ship you will cruise on. It's the law.
Things I would avoid.....
When you enter your cabin you will discover they will leave you an ice bucket and various bottles of drining water and sodas. You will be charged for each bottle you drink. And the bottles are really overpriced. So, I did not drink any, I just kept them out of the way inside the desk cabinet during the cruise.
There is a phone in your cabin. You can use it to call the Information Desk, to order room service, as an alarm clock in the morning AND TO CALL HOME. Unless it is a dire emergency, DON"T CALL HOME. THey will charge you around $8 PER MINUTE!
to call home. The same is true if someone at home calls you.
In terms of shore excursions offered to Inspiration passengers:
While in Grand Cayman, I chose the Sea and See Tour. Which was good. I heard that the shore excursions to the Stingray City sandbar were great. I heard you can pet and feed the stingrays there. And don't worry, the stingrays are very gentile creatures. What happened to Steve Irwin was a freak accident that was extremely rare. Just make sure not to step on one that might be burried in the sand. Kick up some sand and stomp your feet as you walk along (do the "Stingray Shuffle").
As for Cozumel, I went on Mexican Folklore and Shopping shore excursion. It was good if you want to see really talented Mexican dancers and hear really talented Mexican musicians. But I heard the best shorexcursions in Cozumel, involved going to the beaches and/or going underwater. Couzumel has been a popular destination for scuba divers for many years. Shopping in Cozumel is also really good. While there, you will find good deals on liqour, silverware, Mexican crafts, and vanilla extract. The vanilla they sell there is the real thing, and allot better than the stuff they sell in the supermarkets here.
When I went to Tampa, to board the Inspiration, I drove there. I parked my car in the long term parking garage accross the street from the Inspiration;s pier (#2) for the five days. It was expensive $12 per day x 5 = $60. But it was very easy and convienient.
So, that is all I can think of with regard to my cruise aboard the Inspiration. She was a fine ship. I am sure you will have a great time on her. Enjoy your cruise.