My DH and I are just off the Carnival Inspiration that departed in 9/17 and we would like to share our experiences. First a bit of background about ourselves. I am 25 and my DH is 29. We traveled with a dance troupe of 20 people. This was our 8th cruise... (1 previous carnival- several years ago that I barely remember, 1 Disney- which was amazing, but pricey, and 6 NCL). We didn't have much choice in choosing this cruise as we went with a group.
I will try to be as objective as I can with this review and apologize to anyone in advance who disagrees with me, because I know there are probably many Carnival diehards out there... After 8 cruises, I will compare the pluses and minuses of my previous experiences.
When we arrived at the pier (at about 1:00) their were plenty of porters to take our luggage. The porter that took our luggage stated, "I'm going to take your luggage and bring it all the way to your room" before we even had a chance to tip him. To me, that sounded like he was asking for a tip, but my DH disagreed. I do normally tip the recommended $1 to $2 dollars per bag.
When we walked through the terminal there was a LONG line of people. It took approximately 1 hour to get to the front, but they were friendly when we finally got there. We were infomed that our rooms were ready as we boarded the ship.
The decor of the atrium and dining room areas were quite elaborate and beautiful. However, I do not feel this ship was kept up with to the same standards of the other two cruise lines I've traveled. One of the arms in the one lounge was broken. There was rust on many parts of the ship. Oh and be cautious if you allow your children to go by the smoke stack (where the water slides are) because people have written things in the dirt like "wash me" and have drawn pictures of penis' and other things you probably wouldn't want your kids to see.
At first I was impressed as there was a wide variety of food on this ship. By the pool, each buffet line had sightly different entres. Inside, there was also a 24 hour pizzeria, hot sandwich station, salad bar, and dessert station. Then, I tasted the food. Other than the hot sandwich station, everything else was quite bland. Furthermore, the buns for the hot dogs and hamburgers were warmed, but did not look fresh. At one of the carving stations they were serving raw turkey which my friend had to tell them to take away before someone got sick.
The 24 hr room service menu was serving most of the sandwiches from the hot sandwich station. (Hot pastrami, grilled chicken ceasar salad-with anchovies in the dressing, peanut butter and jelly, grilled cheese, tuna, BLT. etc.) They were very prompt and the food was good! Most of the othr cruise lines have basic food like hamburgers and hot dogs so you need to decide if that's a plus or minus for you.
We were assigned to the Carnival Dining Room, which was beautiful. The food on the other hand was not to par. The first night, I had the steak with peppercorn seasoning. The piece I had was very fatty. I had fat on every piece I cut throughout and it had absolutely no flavor. The second night, I had the turkey over macaroni. Again, the turkey was fatty (I didn't know turkey could be fatty) and the macaroni was okay. The waiter did try to make everything right, but really I don't think there was anything he could do. The matre D, George the Greek was very funny.
This ship has much more variety in food than any other cruiseline I've seen, but the taste was just not the same. I would much rather than condense there menu and have a few things that taste amazing. I have had some amazing dishes on the other two cruise lines.
Well, I can only speak about the first two shows. The first night was a welcome show that was to give you a taste of the entire cruise. They had dancers and a comedian perform. My one friend commented "who's there choreographer", it was that bad. The comedian was okay.
The second night we watched the comedians show and it again was okay. His late night show (adult only) was a bit funnier but nothing to rave over.
After that we kinda gave up on having to watch the shows when normally we don't miss a single one.
Carnival calls themselves "the fun ship". Well, I think they need to up there game if they want to compete with the other cruise lines. There was only one deck party. I'm used to having theme nights every night and parties to go along with it. I now understand why my dance teacher creates her own "theme" nights. And yes, if you were on this ship we were the ones dressed up each night.
The activities seemed to be lacking big time although they did do some pool games, bean bag toss, scrapbooking classes, dance classes, etc.
The night clubs were very tiny. I still don't understand why they don't use the candlelight lounge, where the karaoke is for the night club. There wasn't any room to sit and when 15 dancers are sitting on there butts you can tell there is a problem with the music. They didn't seem to play any modern music. The one night, I really wanted to party the one club was playing 70's and 80's and the other had a live band playing metallica (they were talented, but didn't care for the type of music).
So needlesstosay I was quite disappointed not really getting to dance until the night of the deck party.
I have never been harassed so much for photos on any other ship. I literally had to take four pictures just to get off the boat in cozumel. TOO MANY... I know all cruise lines do lots of pictures but this got obserd.
First of all, I watched the cruise talk twice, just to make sure I didn't hear him wrong. He specifically said you could wait in your stateroom OR on the deck to be called. Well, at 9:00 we were getting called that we were supposed to be out of our room at 8:30, meanwhile we didn't get called to leave until 10.
I strongly suggest you do not walk off with your luggage. The cruise director stated he would call walk offs by floor, but he didn't. There were crowds of people everywhere.
Since I have so much luggage, I decided to go when my number was called. I was able to walk right off. However, when I got to my luggage my garment bag with my wedding outfits (which we wore for one of our groups themed nights) was completely ripped open.
We were then able to get right threw customs.
In all honesty, the fun I had on this ship was because of the people I was with and had nothing to do with the ship. I was extremely disappointed in almost every area of this trip. The last time I travelled Carnival, I was 16 so I don't remember it too well. I didn't have great memories but they were much better than what I now have.
I don't think that my DH and I will travel this cruiseline again. I've had to many wonderful experiences on NCL and Disney to waste anymore money with this line.