You will have a wonderful time. I can help with Grand Cayman, but have not been to Calica. Stingray City is a ball, seven mile beach is beautiful, and we went on a couple of snorkels on wrecks that were excellent. It's a very clean island, and the water is wonderful. We booked all of our excursions through the ships, but many have posted that Captain Marvin's is great. Take plenty of sunscreen, sunglasses and smiles. Enjoy your cruise!
The ship is a 70,000 Gross ton ship. It is in the Fantasy class which Carnival built eight ships that size. I like the Fantasy class ships. They aren't too big, nor too small. The Inspirations theme is music.
I went on a cruise aboard the Inspiration back in October. Just a week before Hurricane Wilma wiped-out Cozumel. The ports of call were Grand Cayman and Cozumel. I can't tell you much about the ports of call. We were in Grand Cayman just a few short hours. Just in time to do my shore-ex. and head back to the ship. My shore-ex. in Grand Cayman was the Atlantis Explorer (glass side/semi-submersible boat), Tour of Hell, and Cayman Turtle Farm. It was Ok. I probably would have had a better time on the Stingray City shore-ex. I wasn't impressed at all with Hell (in Grand Cayman). I grew up in Miami and saw coral limestone formations nearly everyday.
I haven't been to Calica. But if it is anything like Cozumel, you are in for a treat. While there, make sure to buy something made of silver. But make sure it is made of the .925% pure silver standard. Also, buy a bottle or two of Vanilla Extract. The Vanilla Extract they sell down there is so much better than the stuff you would find in the supermarkets here. They also had great deals on liquor (so I heard since I am a tea-toddler).
Here is a little advice while onboard the Inspiration:
- If the Russian dance couple "Demitri and Svetlana" are still onboard, don't miss one of their shows. They were amazing. He would lift her up and twirl her around and they would do other things that just seem to defy gravity. Even their fellow country man Barishnikov would be impressed with their dancing.
- During dinner, if they still are serving "Chilled Mango or Lychee Sweented Soups" as an appetizer, make sure to get it. They were absolutely delicious! Like the best vanilla milkshake you have ever had, only melted and flavored with mango or lychee (two delicious tropical fruits). I only wish I could have had a gallon or two of the stuff to take home after the cruise. I really loved it. Of course, make sure you are not Lactose Intolerant before you have it.
- The pizza they serve in the Brassiere Cafteria was really good. So was the ice cream. And I really heard rave reviews from the passengers about the Deli-Sandwiches they made there. I was too stuffed at the time to try a sandwich, so I had to take their word for it.
- Don't miss the Midnight Chocolate Buffet they will have one night in one of the dinning rooms. Make sure you bring your camera to take pictures of the beautifull desserts, ice sculptures, chocolate sculptures, sugar sculptures and other culinary artwork. Also, make sure to bring an empty stomach & big sweet-tooth appetite.
- They had good deals on liquor too. Or so I heard. This was in the Galleria Shops onboard. They also had rum cake. I don't drink alcohol, but I tried the rum cake samples and enjoyed them. So I purchased a few rum cakes.
- If your legs are still young, I would use the stairway instead of the elevators. It seemed everyone was lazy and wanted to use the elevators. So the elevators took forever to get to your floor. I got impatient waiting so ended up getting a good work-out going up and down the stairs.
- You will get lots and lots of sun exposure during your cruise (weather permitting). So bring hats, sunscreen lotion and other protection from the sun.
- Don't use the phone in your cabin to call home, unless it's an emergency. It is quite expensive.
- The same is true if you drink the bottles of soda pop or water they leave in your cabin.
- Bring any plastic card that has a magnetic strip in back (not neccesarly a credit card) to use in locking up valuables inside the small safe they will have in your cabin.
That is all I can think of at the moment. I hope you have as good of a time on the Inspiration as I did. Good luck.
- It may not be the biggest cruise ship, but it is still really big. So bring comfortable shoes and prepare to do allot of walking. Not just up and down stairs, but horizontal walking too.
- On the highest sunning deck (two decks above the pool) and around the smoke stack, there is a private sunning deck where European and other like-minded women can go to sunbathe topless. It is impossible to accidentally enter that deck; you would have to climb some stairs and push a couple of saloon doors out of the way to get up there. And on the saloon doors is a warning sign saying "Topless Area, no minors nor cameras allowed". I heard there is such a topless on all Carnival ships. So if female thoracic nudity offends you, then stay away from that deck.
- They also may have a Caribbean Midnight buffet one night up on the pool deck. I missed it but heard that it was good.
- If gambling appeals to you, bring some rolls of coins (Quarters and Nickels) to use in the slots. I did not see any slots than ran on dimes or pennies. They also had the traditional table games as well. Just be warned, the odds are stacked against you. Thats what I heard people say, since I do not gamble (except I did drop a few coins in the slots, but had no luck).
Here I go again, with more advice about the Inspiration:
- With regard to the second paragraph in my first reply: I assume Calica is another port of call in Mexico. I assume Carnival is sending the Inspiration there as an alternate destination to Cozumel. That is why I said to buy some vanilla extract and silver there.
- With regard to the plastic card with magnetic strip, for use on the safe. It could be any such card: old expired credit, library card, Kinkos card, etc. They tell you not to use your Carnival room card. I found that out after reading the sign on or near the safe, only after using my room card a few times on the safe. So I used my Florida Driver's License after that. Make sure you don't loose or forget what card you used to lock up your belongings.
Speaking of loosing or forgeting a card. Make sure you don't loose you Carnival room card. Not only is it the card you will use to unlock your door to your room (sliding it in a magnetic strip reader above the door knob), it is also the Sail-and-Sign card you will use to make all of your purchases on the ship. Also, don't do like I did when I forgot the card on the counter top in my room, then I stepped outside my room and closed the door (OOPS!). I ended up waiting a long time in the hallway for my cabin steward to come by and unlock my door.
- Speaking of waiting a long time. Don't use the self service laundry-mat onboard. If you want your clothes washed spend some extra money on the full-service laundry and have them do it for you. I used the laundry mat to wash my clothes and it took allot of time. Time I could have spent having a good time enjoying my cruise somewhere else on the ship; rather than sitting vigil infront of the washer and dryer watching my clothes tumbling round and round.
Was on the Inspiration in 2000 and is a great ship. I know I have posted this before about Grand Cayman but there is a great restuarant and snorkeling place just a few blocks up from the tender pier called Abanks just like in the book/movie "the firm" they have the best conch fritters I have ever had. Just in case one gets back from an excursion with time before boarding tender is a nice place to enjoy some island food and has a spectacular view of the ship anchored. Here is a link to some pics from there they have.
Also, I wanted to mention they have snorkel rentals, and locker rentals. Going down the steps is a little rough if there is much wave action, but the snorkeling isn't bad. There are some really nice fish right there. Agreeing with Frase, Grand Cayman is a really clean island..and to me is night vs. day to some other islands. It might have to do with this small island is home to many offshore banks. Seven mile beach is beautiful, you can literally walk out up to your neck and still look down and see your toes in crystal clear water. I have not been to Stingray City, but that is the next thing I am going to do when I get to go back.