Carnival Reviews - Cruise Ship reviews by Cruisemates Readers

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Inspiration
by Ashley Abbott
Western Caribbean
February 7, 2008

Day Before
Flew into Tampa the day before the cruise to explore the city. My friend Sarah, who was joining me on the cruise, had lived in Tampa until she was 10 years old. We rented a car so she could see all of the changes and the house she grew up in. We headed to Clearwater to walk on the beach and enjoy the Sunset. Very pretty! Over all I really enjoyed my time in Tampa. We stayed at the LaQuinta Inn near the airport. It actually ended up being a great choice in that it was clean and perfectly located to the airport and the Port. A good price (thru Hotwire) and served its purpose for 1 night accommodations.

Embarkation Day
We drove around the Tampa Bay area and found ourselves at the Cruise Terminal around 11am. Before we returned our rental car we decided to drop off our luggage with the porters. It took 2 mins for them to take our luggage and for us to tip them. We then headed to the Marriott a mile away from the Terminal to drop off the car. Hertz had a Shuttle that took us back. This whole process took less than 15mins. We were back at 11:30. The check-in process was smooth and amazing. We had checked in by 11:45 and were on the ship no later than 12:15, though we couldn't get into our room until 1:30. Everyone that we encountered was very friendly. One thing I thought was a good change was that you took the picture for your S&S card before you left the terminal, not when you entered the boat like the other 2 cruises I have done. Helps with gridlock entering onto the ship.

We walked into the Atrium and it was BRIGHT! It looked very similar to the Elation which was my 1st ship. You can tell the ship has had a face lift and everything looked so shiny and new. We walked around for a few mins and then headed up to the Lido Deck to grab lunch. We found the typical offerings and enjoyed our lunch at the aft window in the restaurant. Yummy as always.

When we finished lunch we walked up to the renovated "Evolutions of Fun" area. It LOOKS amazing. Granted I am not a waterslide fan but it looked great and I can see why everyone has been raving about this upgrade. It's worth raving about. We also ventured to the Serenity area which is great as well. Though good luck on EVER getting a seat as EVERY last one of them everyday was either being saved or occupied.

The main pool area has been improved as well and the renovation is nice. It looked a bit more like the Conquest ship with the tiled area around the pool. And it had nice benches and stools with umbrellas around it.

We finally were allowed to head to the room. We were in room R66 which is a 1A and was right beside the Mid-ship elevator bank. It's in the very middle of the Rivera deck. This was the 1st inside Cabin that we have booked and I admit I was a bit nervous about it. This nervousness was unfounded though. Our room ended up being great and much more spacious than I ever would have expected. The layout worked really well too. It had 1 bed and 1 bunk that were perpendicular to each other. I slept on the bunk and I loved it! I would not hesitate to book this category room for a shorter cruise (for our 7 day cruises I can't give up my OV). My only complaint was that the bunk was folded up when we arrived and was that way until we returned from Dinner. I felt bad for lounging on part of Sarah's bed while we were relaxing before getting ready for dinner.

Our room steward, Jamor, stopped by to introduce himself. Jamor, BY FAR, has been the best room steward that we have EVER had. Very polite, responsive, and did a great job. I asked him in our initial meeting if he would leave the bunk down instead of folding it away. This was not a problem at all. In addition to all of that we were treated to 4 amazing towel animals, which Sarah and I had not seen before (cat, turtle, crab, frog). This was the 1st cruise that we ever left anything extra for our steward and he deserved it too.

One cool thing about sailing out of Tampa is going under the Sunshine Bridge. The ship's funnel clears it by about 9 feet. Huge groups were outside watching. It was quite the sight. Also it was VERY windy, and people on the front of the ship were having a hard time walking against the wind. I will try to post some video of it soon.

Food wise, dinner was great, however Sarah and I were the only 2 people who showed up at a 10-person table. We are best friends and all, but meeting people at dinner has been one of the highlights of every cruise. We talked with the Matire'd and he said that if no one showed up the next night we could move to the table behind us (which we ended up doing).

We went to the Welcome Aboard show, which is the same as the other cruises. Our Cruise Director Felipe and the social staff were introduced. Felipe chatted for a few mins and then comedian Kenny Miller did his "clean" act. He was pretty funny.

After the show we just walked around and then headed back to the room to go to bed.

Day 1 -- At Sea
The weather was BEAUTIFUL though a bit windy. It actually was nice because you never got hot. Heck I don't even think I broke a sweat. While on deck we watched the Ice Sculpture demo. During this time I learned that Samantha Brown from the Travel Channel and her crew were onboard taping a show. She did some of the sculpture and talked with the man doing the sculpting (and Felipe was the one emceeing the event). They had a woman carrying around the Waiver board, which basically said that by being on deck we agreed to be filmed.

Then came the hairy chest contest which is always funny. Sarah and I went inside to do one of our favorite activities -- BINGO. Wouldn't you know it? We FINALLY WON! It would have been $250 dollars if someone else hadn't called it as well! Blah! We were on cloud nine and we walked our butts up to the spa deck and booked a Port day Massage special and then went down to the purser's desk and put the money on our S&S cards. It paid for half of it.

We played some trivia, grabbed some sushi, and headed to dinner. After dinner was the production show SHOUT. The show itself was good though I must say I wasn't too impressed with the execution. The male dancers were NEVER in sync and were to the point of being distracting at times. This aside, the women were pretty good, the singers ok, however they had a couple featured in the shows and they were AMAZING!

After Shout, Kenny Miller did his R-rated comedy show. He was funny, but he was no Happy Cole!

Day 2 -- Cozumel
Sarah and I had decided to do the Jeep 4x4 Cavern/Snorkel beach combo excursion thru Carnival. We really enjoyed this and would recommend it. We took a ferry over to the mainland. Afterwards we met up with our guides Kekay and Ruben who were great. We snorkeled in this amazing cavern about 20 mins drive from the ferry and then we drove 25 mins to a remote beach. At the beach we had an amazing lunch and had some time to just chill and relax in this oasis. My only negative comments about this excursion were that though the caverns were amazing, I would have liked to have had more time at the Beach. On the Jeep ride back to catch the ferry, Ruben halted the line of Jeeps and we had to pull the tops on. This was a good thing because about 2 mins later the sky opened up and dumped tons of rain on us.

After we returned to Cozumel we went shopping, for about an hour, rolled our eyes at those at Carlos and Charlie's and headed back to the ship to clean up before our massages.

As for the massage, it was wonderful. I upgraded and added hot stones. It was worth the price. Glennda did a wonderful job and did the required sales pitch afterwards. I however was not swayed. From what I was told, Sarah enjoyed her massage as well! 4 thumbs up for the newly renovated Spa Carnival! Our only complaint was that in the new Relaxation room they had this wonderful serene music playing and then the flat screen TV was showing CNN and all of the election drama. Not very relaxing.

Now for the funniest part of our cruise. Sarah and I decided that we wanted to do the Battle of the Sexes Trivia. It started around 7:30pm. We got there and only about 10 people were there. Sarah was picked to be the women's captain. She did a great job and at the end of the questions the women were up. Then Phil and Morganna (our 2 favorite social hosts) said it was time for the Physical part of the challenge. Sarah was told to pick 4 people who could run and jump and not have a heart attack. Sarah picked me, and 2 other women, and she competed as well. We were told to blow up a Balloon the size of our head and tie it off, place it between our knees, put a T-shirt over our clothes, and a straw hat our on heads. We then had to hop down the stage stairs, down the middle aisle, around the back of the bench seats and up the sides back to the stage, hop back up and pop the balloon which then signaled the next person to go. I was the 1st for the ladies. Blew up the balloon, had the shirt and hat on and hopped my little heart out. I popped the balloon and before I knew it the other girls were helping to remove the t-shirt. However they didn't realize that they had lifted MY shirt up in the process. I started screaming, MY SHIRT!!!! The audience (that had grown to about 400 people since trivia ran late and bingo was next) did a collective GASP and Phil the Social Host just doubled over laughing and screaming. I just fell on the stage laughing all while pulling my shirt down. Everyone in the place was red from laughing so hard. It was hysterical and I of course was mortified. Anyway, the girls came from behind and pulled out the defeat. My flashing of 500 people was not in vain. I bared my chest and all I got was a lousy Carnival medal! I should have at least won a 24-carat ship on a stick!

Dinner was great and this was the 1st night at our new table, which was the table right behind the original one. We had a new waiter who wasn't half as good as our first one and he really wasn't all that nice. It was sweet because our 1st waiter and his assistant kept coming by and asking if we were doing ok. We told him numerous times that we missed him!

After dinner there was a Magic show and the comedian Brad Tassel. Both were pretty good. Then came the Pirate Invasion Deck party, which was a BLAST! Phil and Morganna were AWESOME! There was lots of dancing and people just having a blast. Shortly after the official party was over it started storming pretty hard and most people cleared off the Lido deck. This was our sign to head to bed after a VERY full and exhausting day.

Day 3 -- At Sea
After an exhausting day Sarah and I slept in a little. We were up and ready to go around 10am. We ate breakfast and then headed to the lido to grab a chair for the daily festivities. The sun was shining and it was beautiful, however the wind was blowing very, very hard. I honestly never took off my cover-up pants. It was a little too much wind to be comfortable for me. Granted there were others in their bikinis that seemed to be fine, but I was freezing. We watched Survivor at Sea, which was funny as always, and about the time it was over my ears were hurting from the wind.

Sarah decided to try out the Water Slides (I am personally not a fan). She raved about them and went down a few times. She said it would be hard to go on a ship that doesn't have them. Also while she was back there Samantha Brown was going down as well, however unlike Sarah, she was holding a camera and had to go down multiple times with said camera. Samantha said she enjoyed them very much.

After we went inside we tried to our hand at the Win a Cruise Raffle and to win again at Bingo. Our efforts were not successful though. We wandered around a little more and then decided to get ready for dinner and pack.

The late seating had the early show, which was Fiesta Latina. Most people raved about it. I wasn't overly impressed except for the featured couple (Dmitri and ____). Dinner again was wonderful and the waiter FINALLY cracked a smile. I guess my North Carolina charm finally wore him down!

We went to Brad Tassel's R-rated comedy show, which actually was MUCH better than the clean one. And all in all it wasn't really that scandalous.

We headed back to the room to finish packing and to put our bags out for the next day.

Day 4 -- Disembarkation
Sarah and I were in group 22 since we had later flights. We went to eat a leisurely breakfast and just walked around 1 last time to say good by to the Inspiration. We headed back to the room to grab our stuff and head to the Promenade deck until our number was called. We were off the ship by 10 and headed to our prearranged post cruise transfer to the airport. We waited on the bus for about 30 mins before we left for the airport. We were there no later than 10:45.

All in all, it was a very smooth disembarkation. There is nothing I can really complain about.

Final Thoughts
I had a wonderful time on this cruise! The social staff was AMAZING and we had a blast getting to know them. Felipe our CD was awesome and the most visible CD that we have ever had. (I think he is actually an assistant CD, but since Risa Barnes was at the CD conference on the Victory, he was filling in.) He was great and Sarah and I enjoyed chatting with him quite a few times. There were over 290 Red Hatters on our sailing. This was the only down side. I am sorry if I offend anyone, but every single one that I encountered on the ship was unpleasant. Quite a few other non-Hatter passengers that we talked with ran into the same issue. They were especially nasty when it came to seats and seat saving in the lounge even though Felipe and Phil mentioned quite a few times that it wasn't allowed. Anyway, I know that not EVERY Red Hatter is the same and I am sure there are nice ones around. I just never experienced them first-hand on this cruise.

The renovations were noticeable and were amazing! I can't wait for everyone to experience it themselves! After sailing on the Glory, a Conquest class Ship, I must say that I prefer the smaller ships. Honestly, with the renovations I wouldn't hesitate to pick a Fantasy class over a Conquest class any day!

Sorry this ended up being longer than I originally planned. Hope it was helpful and enjoyable!