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Old March 17th, 2009, 03:48 PM
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Default Which to choose for first time cruise?

Ok, this is the first time my husband and I both will be able to cruise! Can I tell you how excited I am?!!!

We are looking at 2 different cruises, both in November.

The first is a 5 night cruise on Inspiration.

Then second is a 4 night cruise on Imagination.

Both will go to Cozumel, while the 5 day goes to Caymen Islands and 4 days hits Key West.

Any suggestions on which I should do?

Also, we aren't looking for a trip that we are constantly on the go doing/seeing all. We really only want to do one excursion and then have a day on the beach relaxing and maybe hit some shops. The whole point of the trip is to have some kid free adult time and relaxing and enjoying. I'm really looking forward to the boat life, but which offers the better boat entertainment?

Also, should I book through Carnival or a travel agent? So far the travel agent has the better deals, but I don't know which is the best?

Thanks so much for the advice and looking forward to getting to know each of you as I plan this vacation!!
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Old March 17th, 2009, 04:37 PM
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I don't think you will find much difference at all between the ships. They are exactly alike except for the decor and I think both have the latest upgrades with the adult area. Entertainment is very likely to be similar. It probably comes down to the 4 or 5 day and which port is easier for you. If you have never been to Key West it is interesting for shops and lunch but not a place for a beach day. Grand Cayman can be a good beach day going to 7 mile beach. Paradise Beach on Cozumel is always a great choice and one of my favorites.
Remember not all travel agents are equal. There are some good ones to be found on this site. And another thing to remember, always use a major credit card to purchase your cruise. Hope this helps. 8)
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Old March 17th, 2009, 04:41 PM
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Hello! IMO either cruise would be an excellent choice. especially for a 1st cruise. I'd however, opt for the Inspiration, for a number of reasons. #1, It's a 5 day, rather than a 4 day, so one more day of FUN. #2, It sails to Grand Cayman, rather than Key West, and you mentioned you'd like to chill out on a beautiful beach. IMO Cayman has much better beaches than Key West. #3 Inspiration was recently in dry dock, and has lots of new, and neat stuff, including the "Serenity Deck" which is really cool. #4. Inspiration sails from Tampa, which is much easier to embark/debark IMO. and last, but certainly not least, #6 Inspiration is one of my favorite ships because it has such a great crew, and great entertainment, and super good food.
Once again, either would be a good choice, but I'd absolutely choose Inspiration.

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Old March 17th, 2009, 04:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skymaster
Hello! IMO either cruise would be an excellent choice. especially for a 1st cruise. I'd however, opt for the Inspiration, for a number of reasons. #1, It's a 5 day, rather than a 4 day, so one more day of FUN. #2, It sails to Grand Cayman, rather than Key West, and you mentioned you'd like to chill out on a beautiful beach. IMO Cayman has much better beaches than Key West. #3 Inspiration was recently in dry dock, and has lots of new, and neat stuff, including the "Serenity Deck" which is really cool. #4. Inspiration sails from Tampa, which is much easier to embark/debark IMO. and last, but certainly not least, #6 Inspiration is one of my favorite ships because it has such a great crew, and great entertainment, and super good food.
Once again, either would be a good choice, but I'd absolutely choose Inspiration.

Ken
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I can back Ken up on this, even though Imagination is my favorite ship; the Inspiration sails from Tampa; it is a 5 day, the beaches in GC way way better than Key West
and going under the skyway bridge is a must see; and the new stuff is on the Inspiration and... the Port of Tampa is much easier to navigate!!
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Old March 17th, 2009, 04:47 PM
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I agree with Ken also, Inspiration is a much better value. I did the same cruise in August of 08 and had a blast
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Old March 17th, 2009, 04:49 PM
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Thanks everyone!! I was leaning towards the 5 day myself, there really isn't a huge price difference, and then subtract the difference of driving to Tampa vs Miami, can stay the night before w/ family in Tampa vs hotel in Miami the night before. That really makes the 5 day cheaper!!

I think my big worry is the whole sea sick thing. I do not get motion sick easily, but there are times I do when riding in the car. So that was another worry on 5 day vs 4 day!

I've always wanted to visit Key West, but that was because I thought they had beautiful beaches, but if Grand Caymen has better, I'd be happy to park myself there for the day! Is it easy to find my own way to 7 Mile or should I book through the boat? The only advantage through the boat is that I heard that if you do, they guarantee they won't leave until the Excursion returns, and you don't have that guarantee on your own. Is that true?
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Old March 17th, 2009, 05:19 PM
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Key West is a really fun place to visit, but not because of beaches. (IMO there aren't really any beaches there worth a damn)
Sounds like the Inspiration is a no brainer to me, especially if you have family in Tampa. Parking at the port in Miami is a pain right now, as they are building new parking garages, and most likely you'd have to park in the only one that's available right now. BIG line to get in, and then $20 per night to park. Tampa's garage is easy. Drive right in, and as of the last time we cruised, it was $12 per night. (May go up,,as they all have gone up recently) You could probably get your family to drop you off, and save that money too!
You can easily get to 7 mile beach in Grand Cayman. Any taxi will take you there, but it's true that if you book a tour, they won't let the ship leave you. You'll find it MUCH less expensive to go on your own,,,just be sure to stay on ships time, and watch your clock. Give yourself plenty of time to get back to the ship, as it's a "tendered" port, so it takes a bit of time to take the small boat back to the Inspiration.
Don't worry about sea sickness too much. Go to your local drugstore, and get "Bonine", or meclizine, (same thing) and take one before you even go on vacation to make sure it doesn't make you sleepy. (usually you'll feel no reaction at all) The lovely Mrs. Jones (Vita) takes one every morning when we're cruising, just to be safe. No problem!
I personally prefer a GOOD travel agent to booking with the cruise line. You can actually get a better price, or else a perk or two that way. If you don't have a good T.A., and want to, just P.M. me, and I'll tall you about the best one I've found.

Ken
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Old March 18th, 2009, 01:08 AM
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Who am I to disagree with everyone.
1) I say a 5 day beats a 4 day cruise any time.
2) sister ships, same ship... different carpet....generally speaking.
3) more shows on a 5 day
4) Grand Cayman has gorgeous beaches
That stated, I must confess that I haven't been to Key West or sailed on Imagination. I have sailed on Inspiration and she's a "Fun ship" alright.
If this will be the first cruise, perhaps it best to use your local & experienced travel agent....provided they offer what you desire at a reasonable price.
Also I book all my shore excusion tours through Carnival and have been most pleased.
If you love beaches they offer many beach tours which pick up and drop off at the pier. Grand Cayman's Seven Mile Beach is regarded as one the Caribbeans most famous.
Cozumel has lots to offer in shore excursions. First time I did an island tour with beach swim, second time was a trip to Tulum Mayan site, and next month I'm set to do a Jeep tour to a wildlife park.
While it isn't my place to tell anyone to book shore excusions through the cruise line, I can recommend it for anyone new.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 02:30 AM
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I agree with everyone, do the 5 day out of Tampa. Grand Caymen is way more cool then Key West, make sure you go to Sting Ray City on that excursion and at Cozumel take the Family to Playa De Mia beach break. Nice beach with beverages and food included!
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Old March 18th, 2009, 02:40 AM
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I would go with the 5 day. It offers a better itinerary. Book through a good travel agent. They can go to bat for you if anything happens, and sometimes can get you extra perks(though don't count on it). Make sure you speak to a cruise specialist. Also, and I cannot emphasize this enough, get the travel insurance. It is definitely worth it.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 02:54 AM
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Take the 5 day cruise. One more day of fun, plus the lure of getting you to come back for more, and you will.
Have a great trip, and take pictures.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 05:35 AM
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Only thing I could add is do your excursions thru the ship... being your first time together and have no hassles with time and so on. Grand Caymen is noted for "string ray city" and it really is amazing. I would suggest doing it if you never have and Cozumel has some amazing beaches... try Nanci Cocom (sp?) for a day trip with foods/drinks.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 05:44 AM
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Don't forget the Mayan Ruins at Cozumel.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 08:21 AM
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WOW! I never imagined I'd get this much information! lol Thank you!!!!

Ok-I booked the 5 night, and so excited about it!

Has anyone tried the Dune Buggy/snorkeling excursion in Cozumel? That's one we had liked, but a friend of mine said try the zipline. My husband will want to try all that stuff, me.....give me a hammack and a cold one and I'm good to go!

This Stingray place.......is it safe? I think it'd be neat, but the whole Steve Irwin thing just has me a bit spooked about being with them! Are you just standing in the water feeding them or are you snorkeling with them? And will you have free time to hang out on the beach after?
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Old March 18th, 2009, 11:22 AM
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Seems like a no brainer to me. If you really want to see Key west and you are driving why can't you just head south for a day or two on US 1.

Last time I checked you can't drive from Tampa to GC
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Old March 18th, 2009, 12:07 PM
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WOW, are you ever getting a lot of info!! As for Grand Cayman I would suggest getting of the ship and getting a taxi.They are all very nice and honest.If you can try to find a Mr. Alton Woods,taxi driver.He is a very personable driver and will not do anything you don't want. He will suggest a nice beach to hang out at for the day and make arrangements to pick you up at the end of the day.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 01:18 PM
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Just stay away from the tails and you will be fine around stingrays. What happened to Steve Irwin was really a fluke rather than the rule, but then he did take alot of unnecessary chances too. There are trainers nearby to help you.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 03:19 PM
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The 5 day out of Tampa is a great choice for a starter cruise. Leave your car at your relatives' house and take the Super Shuttle. Not as cheap as a free ride from relatives, but cheaper than parking at the port.
Key West is definitely NOT a beach place. Grand Cayman is. Oh, and my hubby did the Dune Buggy in Cozumel. Had a blast.
Swim with the sting rays! That was the most awesome shore excursion I have ever had. Steve Irwin made a mistake, taking a huge risk, as was his style. And, even then, the odds against what happened to him are huge. These are very gentle creatures who have gotten used to being fed by us tourists. Not something I would do to an unknown sting ray, but I totally lost my fear of them and had it turn to love instead. That is cool.
I would consider a tour to Chakanaabi n Cozumel for your beach day. My hubby and I often do separate things and I'm too chicken to take cabs around a port on my own (well, some ports are okay for that). But this is a beautiful place and very safe....sigh. Wish I could teleport myself there now.
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Old March 18th, 2009, 03:57 PM
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I am taking my first cruise in October and am pretty much going it alone, but then I do have an uncanny sense of direction and am taking precautions to leave in time to make sure I get back to the port in time. I am even renting a car in Sint Maarten so I can do what I want, when I want. Everyone finds their groove in the end.
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Old March 19th, 2009, 04:00 AM
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I know the OP already booked but personally I suggest looking at the Ship too. A bigger vessel like the triumph or Valor rides alot smoother and IMHO makes for a better vacation then the smaller vessels like the Holiday. Also being a first time cruise you do not know how you will react to the rocking of the boat, seasickness.

I did the mini 4x4 beach and snorkel and it is the same thing as the dune buggy's and jeep excursion, just a different vehicle. We loved it! Great excursion. I did talk to some people who did the dune buggy and they said that the exhaust fumes were pretty bad.
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Old March 21st, 2009, 11:56 AM
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Inspiration 5 day would be my choice. Ive sailed that cruise twice and i loved it. Tampa is a simple easy port.
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