Its an excellent choice!! We did the X-Stream Cave tubing trip when we were there and we really had a great time. The caves are phenominal. The stalagtites and stalagmites and the caves themselves are a natural wonder.
We had Richard for a guide, I recommend him, he's an expert with the caves. Great guy, very personable and knowledgable.
Just be careful when booking with Reggie. He is a great guide from what I've heard and has an excellent excursion, however if the ship doesn't port because the seas are too rough(which happens alot) you loose all your money. In belize you take tenders to the port and they do cancel often because the sea is too rough. I've heard from lots of disappointed passengers who didn't get to stop in Belize! Huge difference between porting and having to take tenders!
According to the email I received from them when we booked if the ship can't come into port we get a 100% refund. They only charge 20% to confirm your reservation and then you pay the balance in cash or travelers checks to your guide when you get there.
If that is the case then I would say you have nothing to worry about. I know we had friends that took the excursion through X-Stream and had a great time. We actually booked the RiverCave Tubing through the ship and it was also a great time, when you book through the ship they actually stop at Cheer's Restaurant and serve you a Belize style meal which was wonderful! Our friends who did X-Stream didn't get fed, but bought lunch on their own. It's a long excursions, so you probably will need to buy your own food. That is probably why there is the price differnence of X-Stream at $65 and Carnival at $80, because of the meal served through Carnival. We compared the experience with our friends and we both though it was very enjoyable. We both did the exact same caves! (By the way Carnival does 2 caves not 1) We actually met up with them on the float trip. X-stream does a 3rd cave, but all you do is walk inside the guide explains a few things and then you proceed to the other 2 caves where you actually start the float trip! All in all I think either one you take will be enjoyable. I just don't like giving even 20% down to someone I don't know in a different country and hope they will be there to pick me up and get me back to the ship on time. I will warn you this excursion is a very long one and we only made it back in time for the very last tender to the Carnival Boat. For my peace of mind about making to the ship on time I was willing to pay an extra $15 and I got a meal with that also! I wouldn't want to carry that much cash with me on vacation to pay outside booking agents! With Carnival it is easily charged to your credit card and you don't have to worry about cash! Just some things to think about!
Oh by the way Darcy we just got off the Inspiration February the 8th 2004! It is a great ship with wonderful ports of call. We loved Costa Maya! If your looking for an excursion there I would suggest the Uvero Boat Blast (Booked through Carnival). It was wonderful! I don't think you can book that on your own. You take a 2 person little jet boat out in the Ocean and drive it yourself! Your drive your boat to a floating dock and get out and snorkel at the reef. The coral was beautiful with lots of colorful fish. Then you get back in your boat and drive back to Uvero Beach where you can spend the rest of the day! The beach is beautiful and it is an open bar. They have nice lounge chairs, umbrellas, and lots of water things you can rent (Waverunners, Kayaks, etc.) Costa Maya and Belize where our 2 favorite stops! If you haven't been to Grand Cayman before you need to do Stingray Sandbar! Cozumel has many wonderful excursions!
The embarkation experience in Tampa was very smooth! Make sure and fill out your FunPass ahead of time on the computer! We were let on board the ship early about noon!
Thanks for all the info. We're traveling with our children so the Uvero boat is probably out for us, unless they let the kids drive! We planned to do the Mayan ruins in Costa Maya. All the kids seemed interested in seeing them. We are doing the Stingray/Snorkel trip in Grand Caymen and are just going to hang out on the beach in Cozumel (although I have to admit I'm looking into the sea lion swim. We did the dolphins last year in the Bahamas and the kids and I loved it). Already filled out the FunPass so we're good to go. I found that by putting the deposit on my credit card if I have any problems the cc company will credit me. This has only happened once in 20+ years of travel.
Hey Kim-I'm reading your post that you totally enjoyed your cruise on the Inspiration? We are leaving the 21st and can't wait. I have already filled out my funpass online-hope that makes a difference. We have not planned any excursions as of yet as nobody really knows what they want to do. How much was the excursion at costa maya? that sounds like fun and who did you book it through? Thanks. Pam
We're not going to do any type of excursion in Costa Maya...just going to head over to the little village there (Majahual) and are bringing school supplies to the kindergarton there....2 backpacks filled up. I heard they need them badly there.
We'll be sailing the March 14th Inspiration and are so excited! Our 10 yr old daughter is going on her 1st cruise this time with us! What fun!
The Nuevo Boat Blast was around $85 and it was well worth the money! We booked through the ship! They only have about 10-12 boats though so book early as they always get filled up fast. Costa Maya is a wonderful port! In Grand Cayman I would highly recommend the Stingray City or Sandbar excursion! We've done it twice and it still ranks as one of my favorites. In Belize I would do the RiverCave Tubing excursion. It was a lot of fun and the caves were beautiful! I also heard that snorkeling or Scuba Diving is great there. Since we had been snorkeling in Costa Maya we decided to do the RiverCave Tubing in Belize. In Cozumel there are so many great excursions to pick from. We've been there twice, the first time we snorkeled, this last trip we took the ferry to the mainland and did Xcaret! I enjoyed it, but it is something probably more interesting if you have young children. Its a large oudoor eco-logical Park . You can also swim with the dolphins there if you wish. Our teenagers(18 and 20) did the Beginner Scuba Diving and they loved it! I heard the swim with dolphins and sea-lions experience was also wonderful! Hope that helps you! I always book my excursions through the Ship (I think it is so much simplier and no worrys about getting back to the ship ontime) I think the peace of mind and knowing the ship's excursions are reputable and safe are well worth the extra $10-$15 dollars.
Unexpected things do happen! On our cruise for example Feb. 1st 2004 our first day at sea 2 people died of heart attacks! Really sad deal. One was on the Lido Deck at the Pool area. Anyway the first stop is in Grand Cayman which you take tenders to shore. Well needless to say they wouldn't let anyone off the ship until the Cayman Police and Coroner came aboard and carried the deceased off the boat! So we were delayed getting off the boat for 2 hours. That delayed all the tours and the people who had booked privately missed meeting their guides. There are usually 4-6 ships in port of Grand Cayman at the same time. When you book private tours so do others from the other ships and they aren't going to hold up those guests because your ship is delayed. So the people who had booked privately had to just walk around and shop, because the ship's excursions where already full. We still got to do our excursion, because we had booked through the ship and only Carnival people were taking them, so they waited on us. That is an example where booking privately was a nightmare and people weren't refunded their money because the boat did port, just very late!
Thanks Kim-not thinking about what could happen to delay the ship, it does make sense to book through the ship. I also wanted to do the cave tubing in Belize, but not sure I want to do all the "work" involved in getting there. I'm into more of a relaxing vacation as opposed to adventurous.
What was your favorite part about the ship? Was it easy to navigate?
I personally have done both excursions offered by the ship and then others on our own.
A great example was stingray city in Grand Cayman. I did the ship cattle boat one year...exactly what it was. More expensive and packed to the brim. We were on some Emerald eye boat, double decker and they'd blow a whistle and we'd basically be pushed around while everyone tried to get into the water and we were all squished together. Then the whistle would blow again and everyone rushed back on the boat and scrambled for seats. Must have been somewhere between 100-200 people. So many we couldn't get a fix on the number of people.
The next time we booked on our own with Captain Bryans Catamaran. We had about 20 people on a 50ft catamaran. The crew actually talked to us:-) Helped us with equipment and it was a wonderful relaxing trip. Not only was it cheaper but we were on a catamaran that was so spacious and a great trip. The difference was like night and day!!
I didn't do the cave tubing through the ship, we when with X-Stream Cave Tubing as I mentioned above but Richard did point out the Ship organized group. The day we went they definitely did not go into the extra caving system that we did. We were already tubing for over 20 before we saw them lined up getting into the water. Again, our group was only about 11 people and there was close to 100 people lined up and waiting . Again, night and day.
I like personal trips where it feels like almost a private trip so I guess to each his own. To be able to speak directly to the guide and to hear what he has to say is a wonderful thing. You are correct about the lunch. We were offered bottled water and tropical fruit and lunch was available for $5 for a barecue belize lunch. We paid only $60 for X-Stream so an extra $5 for those who want lunch isn't bad at all. We just drank a few local beer and waited until we got back to the ship.
Wow, I've never been on a boat with 100-200 people at Stingray City and I've done the excursion twice booked through Carnival. Both times our boat carried about 25-30 people and they were very good and spoke and explained stuff to us throughout the entire trip. They even vidio-taped it for us holding and feeding stingrays. Our guides even took pictures for us! They were wonderful! Did you sail with Carnival?
As for the River Cave Tubing you may have gotten in the river about 15 minutes ahead of the rest, but you still did the same Caves! We had exactly 28 people on our River Cave Tubing through Carnival and 2 guides who were very nice and informative about everything along the way. I did ask our guide about the private tour operators and he said they allowed the tubing even when the river was too high, which Carnival does not for safety reasons. X-stream must not have told you how high the river can get during the rainy season. They don't want to loose out on money and they proceed even when
The ship is very easy to navigate. It is one of their Mid-Size Ships! Very clean and nice! Were not big ship people. I know that sounds funny, but I don't care the size of the ship or the newness. We pick our Cruise accordinging to destinations! I want to stop and see new places. I personally don't really like the days at sea. After 1 day on the ship you will know it entirely. Don't get me wrong, I do like the ship. We eat formal dining every night. We go to the shows, especially the comedians, always attend the Newly-Wed Oldy-Wed game, millionare show, sunbathe by the pool during the day. My husband likes the casino. But after a day of all of that I'm ready to get off the ship for excursions.
Hi! I am doing the cave tubing through X-stream. Our tour departs at 9:00. Our ship doesnt leave until 6:00 PM. Will we have time to shop for souviners afterwards? Also, what would you recommend that I wear for the tubing?
I went on this excusion and it was the time of my life. I definitly reccomend this! Bring bug spray and comfortable shoes that can get wet/dirty. There is lots of mud and you will be crossing a small stream. Bring a waterproff camera. Cute little monkeys in the jungle to photograph. Have a blast- Carla
Our friends went the last week in February and they didn't get to port. We went the first week in February and we did port! Sometimes you just never know. You do know that October is during Hurrican Season, so it probably just depends! Also October is the start of rainy season in Belize (at least that is what our guide told us on the river cave tubing) Sometimes the river is much higher at this time of year!