Carnival Inspiration for Families
Carnival builds ships with families in mind, and families flock to Carnival Inspiration during the summer, when the number of children onboard may exceed 1,000. (Max occupancy of the ship is 2,658, according to Carnival's official stats.) The Camp Carnival program is one of the best in cruising, offering activities for children broken down by ages 2 to 5, 6 to 8, 9 to 11, 12 to 14, and 15 to 17.
The dedicated space for the 2 - 11's, complete with video game consoles, arts and crafts supplies, and various toys, is on Deck 11 (Verandah). The 2 - 11's are further broken down in three groups, each with its own age-appropriate activity list. Toddlers (2 - 5) might enjoy story time or finger painting. Juniors (6 - 8) can participate in jewelry making or bingo. Options for Intermediates (9 - 11) include scavenger hunts and pool parties.
Camp Carnival activities are included in the cruise fare up until 10 p.m. for the 2 - 11's. A babysitting service is available from 10 p.m. - 3 a.m. at a cost of $6 per hour for the first child and $4 per hour for each additional sibling. The occasional "Curfew Extended Parties" for kids are held within Camp Carnival from 10 p.m. - midnight (babysitting fees still apply).
Circle C, located off the atrium on Deck 8 (Atlantic), is the spot for the "tween" 12 - 14 set. A major focus here is on video games and movies, with Nintendo Wii consoles and a decent selection of games on offer. Other tween activities include dance parties (hosted at one of the ship's dance clubs before the adults take over), sand art making, build your own pizza, group mini-golf, T-shirt decorating and waterslide races. The 12 - 14 set (as well as the older teens) can come and go as they please.
The 15- to 17-year olds can make use of Club 02, located up a deck from the tweens on Deck 9 (Promenade). Like Circle C, Club O2 has Nintendo Wii's for video gaming and big-screen TV's for movie watching. Club 02 also has its own dance floor and "mocktail bar" with various Coke products. Other teen offerings include pool parties, mock casino night, Rockband Karaoke and a selection of board games.
Both Circle C and Club 02 offer a handful of teen-only shore excursions, such as a clear kayak and snorkel option in Cozumel and a stingray city snorkeling excursion in Grand Cayman. These can be cancelled, however, depending on the number of signups.
Adjacent to Club 02 is a small 24-hour video game arcade featuring the typical mix of car racing and first-person shooter games (killing big bucks or criminals); games are $1.25 per play. Parents take note: Each child's sail and sign card comes with a set spending limit of $20 per day; this can be raised or lowered to any amount at the parents' discretion.
Kids ages six months (the youngest allowed on the ship) to two years aren't technically allowed to participate in Camp Carnival activities, but the full contingent of babysitting options are available at the aforementioned babysitting rate. (Additional in-port babysitting hours may be available; check with a Camp Carnival representative.) Camp Carnival staff will change diapers, but passengers are required to supply the diapers and the wipes. Parents should also bring along all the baby food/formula they'll need on the cruise. Cribs are provided complimentary in staterooms, but you'll have to request a crib at the time of booking. Baby strollers can be rented onboard, but only a limited number are available.