June 22, 2003
Embarkation in Tampa was pretty easy. We drove down from Virginia on Saturday to Orlando (picked up my daughter
at the Orlando airport - my son and his fiance flew from Baltimore on Sunday morning) and then drove over to the port on Sunday morning in a driving rainstorm. Parking is $70 for the week (they take credit cards as well as cash) in a
Our cabin was a Category 11 on the Verandah deck. We had the standard balcony and a couch. Our bed was already made up with the king-size sheets which was very nice.
Our cabin stewardess, who I never did get her name, was excellent! My son and his fiance are very neat as so are we old fogeys. The other 3 kids in the room were all pretty messy! Sure glad I was not cleaning their room. We did tip her extra for her great service.
Unlike the Pride's Category 11 cabin, the Inspiration cabin had plenty of power outlets, but I had my power strip just in case! The rest of our group were in two Category 4E cabins. They brought in a roll-away bed for the 3rd person in the one cabin.
We have been on many Fantasy class cruises (4 on the Ecstasy, 3 on the Fantasy and 1 on the Paradise), so we were quite familiar with the ship layout. I did notice that the ship is showing a little wear and tear, but considering that the ship has 2500 passengers a week it was not too bad.
Food & Service
Dinners were really good to excellent. Lunches were good. We ate all but one of our lunches on the Lido Deck. Our dining room waiters, Cirilo (I think that is the correct spelling) and Konstantin, were excellent. My wife is lactose
The Inspiration does not carry any non-dairy creamer that we could find, but having learned her lesson the Pride, my wife brought her own Coffeemate. We were at a very nice table by the window for 8 (for the 7 of us). We did get to
Saw very few shorts in the dining room after the first night. We rented tuxes for the four of us boys (my first time in a tux since my wedding day!). We got some great pictures of all of us. Now that we have done the tuxes, I probably will
Ports & Weather
Our ports were Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize City. As we were leaving the Port of Tampa, the rain/drizzle finally stopped. The weather on our first day at sea was great. The pool area was packed, but since I spent a lot of time in the casino, it was not a problem to me :)
And then the weather changed... We had booked the Snorkel, Sail and Beach excursion for 1:00 PM. Decided to go into port at about 10:30 AM to do some souvenier shopping. It started to sprinkle and then the skies opened up with a deluge! It was a good thing we were in the Tanzanite International Jewelry store, otherwise we would have gotten soaked. By the time we left the store at 11:30 (it was my wife's birthday), it had pretty much stopped raining. We thought this just perfect for our excursion. We finished up our souvenier shopping, got back on the boat and had lunch at the Brassiere.
Met on the pier for our excursion and it started to rain again. The tour operators (the boat crew) announced that if you decided to not take the tour, that Carnival would refund the price of the tour. Well, I spent about $300 on my
Once the snorkeling was over, the rain and wind made it very cold. There was some dry spots in the very center of the boat, but of course, we were not there. We then set sail for the beach (about 20-25 mins). Even colder and more wet.
The beer and mararitas were flowing. We stopped at the beach for about an hour. People seemed to have a good time in the water (said it was very warm). I stayed on the boat. My wife wanted to take a cab back to the ship (someone said it was $30 per person - being cheap, I said no :) ). We then sailed back to the dock (about 20-25 mins). The beer and margaritas were flowing even more. Finally was able to get warm as my wife sat on my lap and we huddled under our wet towels. Most everyone else was having a great time and we did just watching them.
The weather ranged from partly cloudy to overcast and back to partly sunny. Five of us (my son's fiance was a little bit under the weather from having too good a time on the Cozumel excursion) did the Carnival Cave Tubing excursion.
This was definitely the high point of the trip for me! We met in the Paris Lounge at 8:15 to leave. Even though there was a 7:45 Cave Tubing excursion, we did not see them leave (they may have left before us). We then moved to the
The 30 minute walk through the jungle was not really bad as we stopped several times to let the group ahead of us gain some distance. The bugs were not awful, but you definitely need insect repellant (a couple of my kids did get some
We did not get back to the ship until 4:30 (the last tender was supposed to leave at 3:30). The only negative is that we did not even have time to shop for souveniers at the dock.
It was overcast and rainy during the morning of our last day at sea (Tropical storm Bill?), but got a little better in the afternoon.
This was our lucky 13th cruise and this was the worst weather we have had.
Getting off the ship was pretty easy. We were told to wait in the Rhapsody in Blue lounge (next to the Mardi Gras dining room) at 9:00 (on the Inspiration, they ask you not to wait in your rooms). We were there for about 15 minutes
This was our 10th cruise on Carnival and we were definitely not disappointed. The staff on the ship was great. We saw a little of the cruise director, Paul Evers, and I thought he was pretty hilarious (his debarkation talk should not be missed :) ). The staff in the casino was first rate and went out of there way to be friendly to everyone. I am not sure I would want to sail on another Fantasy class ship (we booked this one prior to booking our trip last March on the Pride) as we really like the style of the newer ships. We are booked on the Miracle out of Baltimore next May 30 and I have already started my countdown for that. About the only real negative was that the public rooms seemed to be freezing all the time.