My entire family was on the Inspiration cruise that left Tampa on Sept. 7 (our cruise was shortened from 7 to 5 days due to Hurricane Frances). We had a great time! We only got to visit two ports - Grand Cayman and Cozumel.
We had done some research on these boards and decided to use Soto Cruises for a snorkeling and stingray tour. We made reservations with Kerry before we left home in NC. She was GREAT! We originally wanted to go to Hell too so we could mail postcards to friends, but the added cost for the side trip was too much for us since we had a group of 15 people! So, Kerry offered to go to Hell and buy as many postcards as we needed so we could write and address them on board during our tour. She then offered to mail them for us from Hell later! We told her to watch for information about the Inspiration arrival in Grand Cayman since we weren't sure when Carnival would schedule the stop.
Since the cruise delayed a couple of times, we were on the road in GA when Carnival delayed the cruise leaving (and ports of call) twice. We couldn't contact Kerry to tell her about the changes in the cruises. We worried a little about them meeting us since we were two days later than our original arrival date. We got to the arranged meeting spot about 30 minutes early and waited. We were so excited when Soto Cruises pulled up right on time!!! The tour included my family of 15 and about 8 additional folks.
Soto Cruises took us to two different snorkeling spots (one was at the barrier reef) and the guide made sure he found us a shark and other creatures to see! Then we went to Stingray City where we could swim with the stingrays. Our guide gave us some background on these beautiful animals and how to stay safe. They made sure everyone had time to hold and pet the rays. Our group got so much time and attention compared to the tours that had booked with Carnival. Their boats had 60-100 people on them! The price was great, too! $24 per person included snorkeling equipment (adult and children's sizes available), transportation to and from boat, the tour, water & lemonade, and sting ray food (squid!). A great deal!
Due to the hurricane, our time in Grand Cayman was short and we were worried about
getting back to the ship on time. The last tender was supposed to be at 1:00 ship time (Grand Cayman is one hour behind). We arrived back to the pier for tender at 1:01 and there was a ton of folks still there waiting to tender.
Because we were cut short in Grand Cayman, we didn't get a chance to see anything else. I really want to go back!
I've written another message about our Cozumel adventure in case anyone is interested.