Carnival Reviews - Cruise Ship reviews by Cruisemates Readers

Carnival Cruise Lines
Carnival Inspiration
by Dave the Wave
Western Caribbean
October 2, 2008

Being a diehard Royal Caribbean fan I decided to give Carnival another try after my ill-fated Sensation cruise exactly 4 years prior. I was pleasantly surprised. A friend asked me to go on this cruise as it was a gift and paid for. How could I say no? Please reference my photo galleries to get the real picture. The Captain was Giulio Basso.


The Port of Tampa is 25 miles from home and very easy to get in and out of. Parking in the garage is up to $14 a day now!!! Ouch! We arrived around noon and were onboard having our first beer before 1PM. The large TV's by the pool were nice as the Rays game was on this Thursday October 2nd, 2008. Quite an assortment of fellow cruisers many of whom were from the Bay area and around Florida were gathering on the pool deck for the sail away. This is a great long 4 night weekend! We cruised under a cloudless sky under the Skyway bridge at about 6:30 PM and into the Gulf of Mexico. Dinner was at 8:15 and we were seated with 3 other couples that were very nice and fun and about our age -- 40's or so. Service was excellent and over the course of the cruise I had a nice steak, lobster, salmon and something else I can't remember. Never tried any desserts as I prefer to save room for drinking.

Fun Day at Sea -- Day 1

I really wanted to see the changes made to the pool decks of this Fantasy class ship. Moving the slides aft and opening up the main pool area was a great idea. Also eliminating the ugly colored tiles and putting the umbrellas and palm trees around the pool was a nice touch. I also checked out the slides and the Serenity deck. Did not use it though as I like to be where the action is. No BS! I committed to following my at home workout routine so I went into the fitness center on the two sea days. Friday morning for my normal chest, shoulders and triceps routine followed by a two mile run. 22 laps around the rubberized (great to run on) track on the top deck. This was immediately followed by a nice cold orange juice and vodka to start the day! We had sunny skies and temps in the 80's. This was the day for the "Hairy Chest Contest" I did not participate in this one but it was fun to watch. The guy that won was also wearing a bad toupee!

Cozumel -- Day 2

This day dawned overcast and rainy which was fine with me. We caught the sunrise from the bow as we approached Cozumel. We had reserved a VW thing for the day and when we arrived at Less Pay Rentals, they did not have it. The guy told me it wasn't running well. Surprise! So we took a Jeep instead that wasn't much better. It was an 80's model with a manual transmission, grinding gears and only worked after a siesta like the Mexicans. I have never circled the island so we thought it would be fun to cruise around to the east or wild side and check out some bars and restaurants along the way. This was a great time. Again reference the photo galleries. We stopped at Margaritaville and then headed back to the ship to enjoy the pool for a couple hours before dinner. In the evening, they had a deck pool party (pool closed!) with the Phillipino rock and roll band. I had my picture taken with Funship Freddie and ended up buying one of the hats.

Fun Day at Sea -- Day 3

Did my back, biceps and abs routine in the well equipped fitness center followed by another 22 laps around the track listening to the Theme from Rocky on my IPOD. Ran into a chum with a bottle of rum and wound up drinking all night. No, actually ran into a friend with a bottle of tequila who made me drink 6 ounces of it right after I finished running and then handed me a beer, so I was well on my way to a good buzz on the last day at sea. We had a good spot near the pool and made a day of fun in the sun with all of our new friends. Sometime in the afternoon I decided to go down the slides in my Speedo and then figured I may as well wear it the rest of the day. It was a big hit around the pool. My Funship Freddie hat and blue Speedo made a great ensemble.

Cruise Director

Risa Barnes was not bad but did not see much of her. The Inspiration Singers and Dancers were very good. We saw the Shout show the Friday evening and Fiesta Latina on Sunday. Diana Ford was the featured comedienne and really very funny even though I had never heard of her. The late night comedy the last night she proved to be quite raunchy which I enjoyed. The other entertainment options included the rock and roll bar, a dance club, Rhapsody in Blue piano bar (very fun) and the Candlelight Lounge that was used for the comedy shows and Karaoke. I sang "Why Don't We Get Drunk" the first night and a great rendition of "Paradise by the Dashboard Light" the last night.

Overall this was a great cruise for a 4 nighter. As a big RCI fan I always found myself making comparisons. You would have to compare this vintage ship to RCI's Vision or Sovereign class which I have sailed extensively. Overall, the food and service were about equal -- to my surprise. The actual ship was not as elegant and nice as any of RCI's but it was clean and well kept. The cabin was not much bigger and did not have the nice little storage around the dressing table. I much prefer the big mirrors on the wall in RCI inside cabins to the fake window of Carnival. I still like the bigger and nice pool areas on RCI. But I hate to admit, the lounges and entertainment options were better on this Carnival cruise.

I would recommend this cruise to anyone. If you have any questions PM or email me.