5 Night Western Caribbean (Tampa Roundtrip) Sail Date: January 29, 2007 Ship: Carnival Inspiration Cabin Type: Oceanview Traveled As: Couple Reviewed: 11 years ago
Value is the final determinant, how much pleasure one can have for how little expense, upside + absence of downside. This trip was less hassle than a flight, a train trip, or a drive. What could go wrong? These ships never sink. Turbulence was minimal. Going around Cuba was fascinating, but to get to Grand Cayman and Cozumel and to experience their famously clear seawater is to feel transported to the South Seas. That I was in Mexico again was a sensation -- though I lived there 40 years ago, I haven't been south of the border all this time. What a revelation Cozumel with its bounty of Mexican culture freely seen and heard, especially incredible Pancho's Backyard, which is like a museum so user-friendly is its vast displays of the regional arts, its good green courtyards, its live music, traditional costumery and top-notch (and inexpensive) attention to cuisine elegantly presented. The horsecarts, the sombreros, the mariachi, the saloons, the huge plaza, the waterfront -- it felt as if we were in a movie to be in such deep Mexico with such ease. We even found a Mayan homestead with all its appointments in the local museum with indigenous peoples explaining the alphabet, the number system, the foods, the unique things that make this almost-lost world. This Latin American sampling was profound and heartening and wonderful accompaniment to our time in George Town among the parrots and iguana and wildlife of that special place where the natives seemed friendly and calypso. This was a taste of the Islands that the calypso band on deck reinforced as we all played around the pools (or people-watched). My pleasure was jacuzzi (four of them, all told!) plus sauna and steam room. The clean air and tropic sun made a man want to be out and about. A full moon didn't hurt. Was the perfect weather all part of the plan?
Food and Dining
5 out of 5
Listen, I first learned good food from cruising. I was 10 and had never eaten so well. Now, having worked in fine dining as dinner director for the most exacting clientele, I can say categorically Mardi Gras
served us well. We were indulged our every desire willingly by our cheerful crew. It was a bon vivant atmosphere for all. What a concept, 24-hr pizza!
5 out of 5
Here I'm qualified particularly since I worked in the field and have been exposed to the best there is. These shows were excellent, particularly "Shout!" which was Broadway-worthy. The dance troupe was
first-rate, as was the choreography. We saw three nights of different shows plus the talent show, which had moving moments. The ventriloquist, the first comic, the singers -- what a lineup. I was thoroughly satisfied by the live shows, which required so little time to get a good seat to. Effortless!
5 out of 5
We don't have kids but we certainly enjoyed seeing the kids have a good time. I loved the chute, which I took several times: I was the only non-kid (I'm 60!). The ping pong I enjoyed, and I noticed kids all
eager to play at the other table. When I woke up at 3 AM the last night in advance of passing under the Skyline Bridge into Tampa Bay, the only other people up were some college types running about and I thought I'm not old yet. We were, all of us, trying to milk all we could from this cornucopia of stimuli.
Best were the WWII veterans whose stories I loved to hear at dinner or in the Paris Lounge. They made me feel like a youngster listening to them. Because digital photos are so easy to trade online, we've made some friendships out of this cruise already via correspondence by email. Boy, that's socializing.
Service and Staff
5 out of 5
Wow is a big statement when it comes to getting along with a thousand staff from all over the world, but there you have it. Everybody was genuinely pleasant. Well, maybe not everybody at every moment, but 99% of the time people were professional, I thought, which is better than any other institution of the kind I've experienced traveling all over the world. Some of these people are indelibly impressed into our
brain, particularly the maitre d', our waiter, some talent-show singers from the staff. The internationalism of your hard workers says "Travel."
5 out of 5
I've cruised twice across the Atlantic and several times around the Mediterranean. This ship had the best outdoor facilities, big as those other ships were. It was impeccable and, after its decade afloat,
seasoned as to the feng shui of performer with performance space. I even enjoyed cruising the casino, the atrium, the art auction, things I'd never do ordinarily on land. The Inspiration was a revelation, broadening
my horizons inside and out. Of course, the ultimate experience is the sea.
Cabin / Stateroom
5 out of 5
Grander than we ever expected. Loved having the window because love is the experience one has with the sea. One wants one's cues and we used the first light to awaken us every morning, thus setting our agenda
against midnight buffets, tempting as they are. The little touches of chocolates and towel origami, schedules and mounted multichannel tv sure make for happiness. We never heard anybody through the walls, but we
loved the radio options for their own sake. Soaps and razors all got used
Well, we wandered around town and had a good time just picking up the details of the local craftspeople and street merchants. We enjoyed the older buildings that still have island atmosphere (like the church overlooking the harbor). Cayman has all kinds of jewelry and banking options,
which neither of us took advantage of, though so inclined. Instead we beelined to Seven Mile Beach, which was as every bit as wonderful as its reputation indicates. The blues of the sea, the whites of the sand, the little curly-tailed lizards, the international set and of course the swimming in such clean waters all satisfied. We just kept walking until its was time to sunbathe, swimming until it came time to come in. We both agreed this beach is world-class.
A sampling is only that, but Cozumel was so delicious we knew by the end of the day we have to come back. The clarity of the sea here is such that you can see thousands of fish just from the dock. The size of Cozumel City was awesome, and the richness of the culture such that one feels compelled to delve deeper into the Mayan roots, the Latin ways (largest Spanish country in the world), and the Yucatan uniqueness that says the Caribbean is one of the most fascinating places in the world. Best eating is, without a doubt, Pancho's Backyard, if only for its destination-quality all-Mexico-in-one-place World's Fair ambiance. It is awarded year after year as one of the great restaurants in the entire continent. How else to reach this remote destination but by cruiser?
Pros: dining, entertainment, gym, jogging track, views, culture, community, classes, surprises like flying fish, anticipation and wonderful memories
Cons: waits of any kind, anything less than just so, announcements on intercom, the brevity of time at any port, too many photographers
*Cruiseline.com is not a booking agent or travel agency, and does not charge any service fees to users of our site. Our partners (travel agencies and cruise lines) provide prices, which we list for our users' convenience. Cruiseline.com does not guarantee any specific rates or prices. While prices are updated daily, please check with the booking site for the exact amount. Cruiseline.com is not responsible for content on external web sites.
Every Wednesday you'll receive the latest articles, deals, and news from the Cruiseline.com team, plus tips and photos submitted by our vibrant community of diehard cruisers. You'll also get a free gift — a downloadable, printable PDF of our guide to cruising!
Sign up for weekly cruise deals.
Join other subscribers and get the best cruise deals of the week in your inbox every Thursday.