Thursday, February 28, 2008

Cruise to Cozumel on the Inspiration

Carnival Inspiration
Driving the three hours to the Tampa Pier was uneventful. We made a stop in Lakeland to pick up Bobbie, my sister. She was to share a cabin with Ovidiu and I. Bobbie is an agreeable roommate so I didn’t hesitate to invite her to join us. I did have some reservations about the amount of room we would have in the cabin, but it worked out just fine..
We arrived at the pier about noon and since I am a Platinum Member passenger I was ushered past other guest to the VIP lounge. We were quickly checked in and personally escorted to the ship. We endured the usual picture taking, then made our way to the cabin.
It was obvious that the ship had been refurbished. The broad hallways and doors were brand new. They even smelled new. Upon entering the cabin we found the bathrooms had also been refurbished. They were very modern and shiny new. I was a little disappointed that they had replaced the spacious shelving above the lavatory with only one shelf, but they had the usual amenities, toothpaste, razors, and cosmetic samples. I was surprised at the absence of a hair dryer. I am sure they had feedback about that. Surely they intend to replace the hair dryers at some point in time. It was definitely an inconvenience contacting the room steward for a hair dryer each time we needed it.
For an older ship, I think the Inspiration is a pretty ship although I still find the purple“alien space worms” in the Lido Restaurant a bit much. There is a lot of deck space plus a water slide which some of my group really enjoyed. Carnival has added an adults-only deck at the back of the ship where adults can lounge and sun without the distraction of children.
Dining was a pleasure. Our Waiter was efficient and friendly. Service was impeccable and the food was good. The food in the Lido Restaurant did not live up to my expectations but was not bad. They definitely need to teach the chef how to prepare grits. I’m assuming they don’t have grits in India. But he makes a mean warm chocolate dessert. My after-meal favorite was the frozen yogurt. It’s available 24 hours, as is the pizza. Ovidiu and I also enjoyed Sushi served each evening from 5 to 8pm.
Our port of call was Cozumel, a small island off the coast of Mexico, great for beach and shopping. My favorite activity is shopping, then a local meal at Poncho’s Backyard, followed by a couple of hours at one of the local clubs. A favorite is Carlos and Charlies or Senior Frogs. We don’t usually stay long because they tend to get raunchy toward evening.
Evenings on the ship found Ovidiu and I dancing, listening to soft music or perhaps an hour or two in the casino. We seldom take in the shows because we cruise a lot and see so many of the same type of shows, however those who did seemed to enjoy them. We did attend a comedy show which was just ok.
The ship arrived back in port a little late because of fog, but we did the self-assist disembarkation and were off by 9:00am. Embarkation is very easy using the self-assist program.
All-in-all this was a very nice get-a-way for us and we really enjoyed the company of our group

Tips for passengers on this ship:
If you have an early flight or want to disembark early, pack only one bag that you can handle yourself and
use the self-assist program.
If you are cruising with a birth certificate as proof of citizenship, you cannot use the early self-assist for disembarkation.
Be sure to plan your flights in the afternoon. Fog in the Tampa area sometimes delays the ships arrival.
Take your own hair dryer.
Air conditioner control is located in the ceiling.
The staterooms have two robes located in the closet for your use.
Try the Sushi Bar in the afternoon…So good!
If you like to bake, buy the pure vanilla available in Cozumel. Makes a nice gift too.
Do not...Do not rent scooters.