We flew in to Tampa (myself and my 14 year old son Matt) the day before we sailed . Stayed at the Courtyard Marriott downtown. It was a very clean hotel and the staff very friendly.
Sunday 8/15- I woke up so early, I was too excited to go back to sleep. Took a taxi to the pier at 11:00 and by 12:00 they were starting to let people on the ship. I'm telling you, I know we looked like 'country bumpkins' when we first walked on to that vessel. We just could not get over all the space there was, all there was to do and how many people there were. We spent Sunday wandering around the ship.
Dinner - We had late seating in the Mardi Gras room. At first I wasn't sure about our table because as I said, I was traveling with my 14 year old son. I noticed right away there were no kids at our table. But once the conversation started, my worries faded fast. There was a Cuban family from Florida (a couple traveling with their young college aged daughter and her husband) who were so interesting. The father came over from Cuba on a raft he built himself! And the younger man from Cuba held my son spellbound with his stories of growing up in Cuba. There was a couple from Indiana who had such a sense of humor . The woman treated my son as though he were her own grandson. She told him 'I bet you can tell I'm a grandma huh"? Anyway, we exchanged information with the Indiana couple and I hope to keep in contact with them via email. I thought it was interesting that my son did not want to eat in the main dining room. He did not want to get dressed up, but after that first night, while we were walking back to our cabin, he commented "boy, that was nice wasn't it? are we going to get to eat with them again tomorrow night"? He was glad to learn that they were our tablemates for the entire cruise.
Monday - A day at sea. We learned our cruise schedule was all changed due to a tropical storm. I had already booked shore tours outside the cruiseline so I had to scramble to re-book something through the ship . This was also formal night, which was a lot of fun. And another enjoyable night at dinner.
Tuesday - Cozumel was so beautiful. My son and I did the Atlantis submarine, which we both thoroughly enjoyed. We also did the Sea Trekking through Sandollar Sports. They were on the pier and I explained to them that I had booked with them for this cruise, but since our cruise schedule changed, I was here on a different day than what I had booked. I asked could they possibly squeeze us in as this was something we really wanted to do. They were super and we got to Sea Trek. Now I'm telling you, if I live to be 100 years old, this will still be one of the coolest things I have ever done. My son and I enjoyed this the most out of all our excursions. After that , we shopped a little and went back to the ship.
Wednesday - Belize was different from the other ports. Very poor and unorganized. We originally planned to do the Biking In Belize, but the tour was canceled due to not enough people signing up for it. We booked the Belize City and Zoo tour. The tour itself was very interesting and I learned a lot. My only complaint was there was this little girl throwing TEMPER TANTRUMS on the bus the entire time, which made it really hard to hear the tour guide. I could hear people around me making comments. I know kids will cry, but this was not cying. The girl was literally screaming. Throwing temper tantrums. She wanted ice cream, then she wanted to go to the gift shop, then was screaming because she wanted to go back to the 'hotel'. Her irresponsible father had the nerve to throw his own little 'temper tantrum' at my son and I after we got off the bus. I dont know if he overheard us talking or what, but it was extremely rude of him to put that spoiled kid on a tour bus full of people and ruin it for the rest of us. There were other kids on that bus and we didnt hear a 'peep' out of them. YOU KNOW if you have a kid that you can't control, and you should not put a kid like this on this type of excursion.
Thursday - Costa Maya, I could now belive how beautiful it was. We did the Chachoben (spelling?) ruins. Other than the tarantula was saw on the path, I enjoyed this excursion.
Friday - Grand Cayman, the water was so blue, it was unbelieveable. We did the Stingray City Sandbar/Turtle Farm and Hell Tour. I enjoyed the Turtle Farm and visiting Hell, but swimming with the Stingrays was awesome. My son and I got a picture of us holding a stingray.
Saturday - Day at sea and packing up.
Sunday - I have read a lot of complaints about the debark process. We were off the ship by 11:00 and it was really a lot smoother than I expected.
Erroll was our room steward. He was awesome! We rarely saw him, but we knew he had always been there because our cabin was always neat and clean. We started making jokes about him being a super-hero moving through our cabin a lightening speed. He left many cute little towel animals.
Jean was our waiter. He was funny, interesting and worked his butt off. He was from Haiti and sometimes it was really hard to understand what he was saying, but he was friendly and did an excellent job. I have no complaints about the food in the dining room. It was all delicious, hot (or cold if it was supposed to be) and there was always a variety to choose from.
My Best Tip - Bring the over the door shoe holder. I dont know what we would have done without it.
Money - I took $1000.00 in travelers checks and $60.00 in $1.00 bills for tipping. I came home with $500 in travelers checks and about $90 in cash.
My son and I thoroughly enjoyed our first cruise and would absolutely positively sail Carnival and Inspiration again.