HI....We just got back last week from our cruise on the Inspiration...Here's my review...and a few helpful tips...
We arrived in Tampa around 11:30 Am....Carnival representative met us at the baggage claim area and showed us where to board the bus to the port....Bus was waiting and within minutes we were on our way to the port. Porters at the port quickly grabbed our baggage and we headed to the check in area. No matter which cruise line you choose this process always takes a little time...we waiting about 35 to 45 minutes but the line was always moving so it really didn't feel that long of a wait.
For those of you that are thinking of taking your own alcoholic beverages...put it in your luggage...not your carry on. I had a bottle of cherry juice that was packaged in a bottle that looked like a small bottle of wine....the xray machine picked up the wine bottle shape and my carry on was searched. They were nice about it and since it wasn't wine they allowed me to take the cherry juice on board....little did they know that the Crown Royal was in the luggage....Manhattens that night really hit the spot!!!
We were on board by 1:30 PM...by 3:00 we had our luggage outside the room. Rooms were large (outside cabin) compared to Royal Caribbean and the shower was large also... Unfortunately, Carnival must do the life jacket muster at the time of departure, so we never got to see the ship pull away from the dock By the time we reported to our designated muster area and then got to our life boat area we were almost out to sea.
The ship is very nice...a little gaudy for my taste...but nice. Staff was wonderful...as was the food....the Captains dinner wasn't that great...but we found the same thing on Royal Caribbean... Comparing the two cruise line...we think we like Carnival better... rooms are bigger and its more relaxed.
Now on to the islands.....Grand Caymans was great....We booked with Native Way...Great people to book with...A++++. They took us to 3 sites to snorkle...the second site was with the sting rays....our guide was great...we got to feed the sting rays and hold them too...Great Pictures!!! After the getting back to dock they drove us to Hell...we got our T-shirt stating we'd been to Hell and caught a Omni bus back to the dock....We were the only ones on the ship that got to see Hell....and we paid less than anyone on the ship...$25.00 per person! If you can...book with Native Way...you won't be sorry.
Next stop was Costa Maya.....stay on the ship.....its a tourist trap....High pressure sales...everytime we came out of one shop...the store keeper of the next shop would tell us..."my turn...my turn"...and they would hound you until you walked through their store...This is a place where you must bargin for everything...they start at really high prices and you have to bargin to get any item at a reasonable price. Beach was not that great....$3 per chair, $5 for a table...not bad prices...but the beach was dirty and rocky....not what I was expecting. We didn't do any tours here, but heard some of the tours weren't that great....There is no town close by so Costa Maya looks like a tourist trap that was carved out of the jungle.
On to Cozumel.....get place to visit....we found great shopping....great bars....even had some local entertainment in the main square....Main shopping area is about 3 miles from the dock....the ride is $6 per car....we thought it was $6 per person at first. Cars are available for rent...around $50 per day...includes a tank of gas. Again, we didn't book any tours here...
Our last stop was Belize...poor country....high prices..Ship is moored about 5 miles from shore so speed boats are used to ferry you to shore. Take bug spray with you if you plan on doing any tours...the bugs bite! We took the tour to the Mayan ruins and river boat trip...We climbed the mayan ruins....which as great...and took the boat ride...which was okay....the tour is booked as being 4-1/2 hours....our tour lasted almost 7 hours! we left the ship at 8 and didn't return to the dock until after 2....by the time we got back to the dock...we were exhausted...and only had about 1/2 hour to grab a beer and scan the shops. Prices were highest we had seen....where T shirts on Cozumel were $5....on Belize they wanted $17 to 25. We heard from others on the ship that the tubing tour was wonderful...
All in all we had a great cruise.....yes, they take pictures everytime you turn around...but we found that some of the picture were really good and if you don't like them you don't have to buy them...but its fun to look for your pictures after dinner... Teen program was great...my daughter met some great kids which she is still keeping in touch with.
Drinks...they offer a "drink of the day"....for $6.25 you get the drink of the day in a carnival plastic glass which you can keep...frankly, this is no deal....the regular size drink of the day is $2.95 and fills the plastic glass up 3/4 of the way to the top....I know, we tested it...so save some money and just get the regular size glass....besides who needs bright pink plastic glasses?
Hope you all have a wonderful cruise.....this ship is great and you'll have a wonderful time...Say Hi to Petra and Laos for us...they were our waitstaff in the Carnival dining room.....Great people!