EMBARKATION: Easy peasy. We got there around 2pm - carried on our luggage. No fuss, no lines. Went straight to our room. Unpacked a little, grabbed our Fun Times and toured the ship.
FOOD: Ate at the poolside grill - food was a huge improvement from the Carnival Paradise. I'm talking 200%. Granted my cruise experience is limited to Carnival but this was my 2nd cruise and the Paradise had awful food. The Inspiration had a huge assortment of fresh fruit and vegetables. I ate pretty healthy all weekend. Our dining assignment was the Mardi Gras room. We switched tables the 1st night and ended up with a great group. I skipped Elegant night in lieu of sleeping off a bad hangover. Ate all of our meals in the dining room, everything was fresh and carefully prepared. Service was professional and efficient. It was such a different cruising experience from our first cruise.
PASSENGERS: Since this was a Christmas cruise not everyone was here for Christmas. I'd say 80% of the passengers were Indian and Chinese. It made for a very pleasant time on board because many of the Indian women dressed so beautifully for Elegant night. Their saris and beaded dresses were exquisite. One thing I noticed is Indian and Chinese men do not step aside for women like American men. I found myself in an elevator with Indian or Chinese men and having a bit of an awkward tussle to get out of the doors first. Oh well, lesson learned. Again, lines were 4-5 people deep. The entire ship was decorated inside with festive wreaths and Christmas trees. Very tasteful. Nothing offensive. The Inspiration had a Channukah celebration too - there were quite a few Jewish families on board as well. Nice mix. Didn't see too many Americans but it worked out really good because there were so many families on board, the entire ship was asleep by like 9 am.
SHORE EXCURSIONS: We did La Bufadora. We paid for it in Mexico and got stuck on a really ghetto tour bus. The driver "Yoshiro" was NOT Asian, he was a US citizen that married a Mexican chick and moved to Ensenada. He was latino but... born in LA. It showed. He was very distant and L-O-S-T. We stopped at the fricking gas station to get gas! Somehow we ended up on a bus where 9 of the 15 passengers wanted to go horseback riding AND to La Bufadora. It sucked. He couldn't figure out if he wanted to drive the Blowhole people up the hill first or drop off the horseback people, drive up the hill and come back and drive again. We ended up dropping off the horse riders and then going to the Blowhole and getting an extra hour up there. I got ripped off at Habana Banana AGAIN and wound up running back to the tour bus, 15 minutes late. Agh.
CARNIVAL INSPIRATION CREW: Great people! Always cheerful, always friendly. At least on Main deck they did! Everything was clean, clean, clean. I smelled bleach all the time. I love that. The Empress deck midship was kinda sewer smelly though. I will continue to book Main deck mid or aft. There is no more tipping the stewards or maitre 'd. No aggressive sales pitches for photos or drink. It was nice.
ENTERTAINMENT: The main shows were really good. The comedy was bland, both adult and family. The comedians couldn't find their rhythm because I truly believe the audience didn't "get" their jokes. Wrong demographics and it drained their energy. I left both shows about 10 minutes into their acts because it just was not funny. The clubs weren't fun either because there didn't seem to be enough young adults on board. Again, 80% of the ship was in bed by 9pm. The casinos were jumping though. Bingo was toned down, so were the raffles. I don't know why but everyone seemed really relaxed and the energy was at a very low decibel. Aside from the Christmas decorations on board (and my door) it didn't feel like Christmas. There was tasteful Christmas music playing all over that I really enjoyed.
OVERALL: I had a great time. I am disappointed that the Inspiration only goes to Ensenada and not Cabo but I'm definitely going to book again in 2012. :)