Well we did it. We went on our first cruise. Here is my review.
I will start with the day we left:
6/4/05 Dropped off at the airport and through security and discovered I forgot my cell phone at home. ok...I can live. Arrived in Tampa to find out there was a problem with the rental cars we booked for the weekend and the return home car. We thought we would sight see on the way back to Ohio at the end of our cruise. The new prices were hundreds more so we booked flights for our return. Headed to the 3 star hotel we found online in a cab. After a $35.00 cab ride we pulled in to a dive that was being sprayed for bugs. ugh!!!!! Called a friend who lives south of Tampa and they saved us on day 2. Went by the pier on the way to their home and saw the Miracle as she was docked. WOW she was HUGE!!!!
6/5/06 Spent the day in the sun at the pool.
6/6/05 Dropped off at the Tampa Port. Everything went very smooth. We were dropped off at 11:00 and on the ship by 12:30 eating lunch. I felt the port authority was very pleasant!!! 1:30 we were able to go to our rooms. We were on the Riviera deck with 4 people ocean view room. The rooms were small but bigger then I had expected for 4 people. We met Ricky our room steward. GREAT guy!!!! Changed into our suits and headed for the Lido deck to get a few rays before the muster drill. 3:30 we put on our bright orange jackets and headed to our stations. This only took about 20 minutes. We then headed to the front of the ship so we could watch as we left the bay area. This was beautiful. We saw dolphins racing beside us as we pulled out to sea. At this point it was time to get ready for our 6:15 seating for dinner. We sat at a table for 10. we had 3 families at this table and we were very happy with our tablemates. Our dining room staff was the BEST!!! Great job Lenford and Gusti. After dinner we headed to the shopping area to taste some of the liquor. YUMMY!!! My friend and her son went to the show and my daughter and I went to our room, her ear was hurting from swimmers ear. (So we thought). Oh and by the way our luggage was in our room by 2:00pm
6/7/05 First day at sea. Well it basically rained all day. Lots of dark clouds when it wasn't raining. Very smooth sailing. Never even knew we were moving. This is the day I got a bruise on my leg the size of a saucer, as I played Carnival Fear Factor. After looking like a beached whale trying to make my way through the pool in round 1 I was eliminated...lol I went to several talks they had that day. The welcome aboard/ excursion talk and the super shopper meeting. All day was very cloudy so we spent the day getting to know the ship. Stopped in at the infirmary for ear drops for my daughter. $12.00 on board. We started getting ready for the Formal night and Meet the Captain cocktail party they had before dinner. Everyone looked very nice. Anywhere from tux and gowns to suits and nice dresses. We also posed for several formal pictures. This night we all went to the show. It was a singing and dancing show, that was very good. After the show we changed and ordered cookies and milk from room service then off to la la land as we were meeting at 7am for our Stingray Sandbar excursion.
6/8/05 We met at 7am and headed to Grand Cayman via tender. We were the first boat out to the stingray sandbar. We booked with Carnival online and had about 50 people on our boat. This was AWESOME!!! Stingrays by the hundreds following our boat as we got close to the sandbar. My daughter was scared to death until we ran out of squid and the numbers went down to about 100. She then braved standing there on her own touching them. The waves there were pretty rough since we had so much rain earlier. On our way back to the ship it poured down rain. As we were leaving the sandbar there were 5 boats pulling in, and we counted about 10 more headed out in the rain. We didn't shop here since it was raining we headed back to the ship. We were back onboard to eat lunch by 11:30. My daughter and her sore ear went to the cabin to take a nap and we layed out on the deck in the hit and miss showers. At 4pm I took her to the ship doctor when they opened to find out she had an ear infection. Poor thing. $100.00 later and about 5 minutes we were back in our cabin getting ready for dinner. They do have several things free in the infirmary. Tylenol, dramamine, advil cold and sinus etc. After dinner we went back to our room so she could lay down and let her meds kick in.
6/9/05 Cozumel ans sun!!!! Ha Ha not for long. We went to Paradise Beach around 11:00. The sun went in around 11:15 and a huge storm took its place. We ate lunch there at the restaurant. VERY good food!!! When we were done eating we sat there for a while watching the rain. After a few hours it stopped raining. We went back out onto the beach and sat there with only approx. 10 other people/ The sun cam back out and it was like having a private beach. We decided around 5pm to go back and do some shopping. We were there about 45 minutes until the sky opened up again and little did we know this was the beginning of Tropical Storm Arlene. We set sail around 10:15pm. As we were getting ready for bed the ship started to sway......and sway.....and waves started to crash...we went to sleep.
6/10/05 Welcome to hurricaine season!!! We woke up around 7am to crashing and rocking!!! It sounded like explosions hitting the ship. The waves we being thrown up over our window. Massive amounts of water. Security came by to drill metal plates up at our window. This was not a good day for sailing. Our Captain thought it might get better around 3pm but the as we were moving NE and the storm was moving NW, it changed directions and went North. We couldn't miss it. It was VERY quiet that day. Most people stayed in their rooms. Winds were being reported at 70mph. They had vomit bags by the 100's laying out everywhere. 2 of our people couldn't even get out of bed until dinner. At dinner there were only 5 of us. Ous assistant waiter was not there either. There were many empty tables that night. Most of the daily activities were canceled that day due to the rocking of the ship. They made substitutions but I dont think for most it mattered. After dinner we went back to the room (everyone feeling better) and started to pack. We sat our bags out by 10:00pm and watched CNN for weather updates. By this time we were not rocking as bad but still swaying!!.
6/11/05 DEBARKATION...We had to be out of the rooms by 8:45 so we headed for breakfast on the lido deck around 8:00. Sat there until about 8:45 and headed to the Empress deck for debarkation. This went very smooth. Despite the people pushing their way through the lines that weren't moving. I guess they thought out of over 2000 people they needed to be off the ship first....lol We were headed to the airport by 9:30. After a VERY long day of delayed planes etc we got home around 12:30am.
Would I cruise again? ABOSLUTELY!!! Just next time. we are going in March. To avoid tropical storms....lol
Would I cruise Carnival again? Sure. We only had a few bad experiences with the purser desk staff, they were ALL rude!! It is an area they should look at for improvement.
Did I like the INSPIRATION?? For a first time cruiser it was very nice. Next time however I would like to be on a bigger ship staying our longer then 5 days.
Sorry it was so long, but if you have questions let me know!!!
ps. Thank you ALL for your tips prior to my trip. Many of them came in handy!!!