5 Helpful Votes
Sail Date: December 2012
I excitedly boarded the Carnival Inspiration for a four-day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada in Baja Mexico. The majestic Fantasy-class ship, built in Finland, can carry up to 3,450 passengers. With a 9-hole mini golf course, ... Read More
I excitedly boarded the Carnival Inspiration for a four-day cruise to Catalina Island and Ensenada in Baja Mexico. The majestic Fantasy-class ship, built in Finland, can carry up to 3,450 passengers. With a 9-hole mini golf course, Carnival WaterWorks water park, and a tropical resort-style pool, guests were enjoying the outside entertainment as the ship set sail to Catalina Island. My interior cabin, without a window, can accommodate four guests, yet is cozy for two people. The bed was comfortable and the bath efficient. There are two main dining rooms on the cruise and a sushi bar. Up on the Lido deck is a Mongolian BBQ, New York style deli, pizzeria, and bountiful salad bar. I dined in the main dining room and met my table mates. The vegetarian dishes were terrific. I was having a great time on the Inspiration watching the entertainment and strolling the various decks, until I received a call from home. My daughter had recently been involved in an auto accident and my family needed me. Since our first port was Catalina Island, I took an early boat the next morning into the city of Avalon and walked to The Catalina Express ticket office to see how quickly I could return to Long Beach. It's about a one-hour boat ride to Long Beach. After purchasing a one-way ticket home, I hopped back onto a boat to the Inspiration. I needed to inform guest services of my predicament. To my shock, a guest service agent informed me that I was not allowed to disembark in an American port due to the Jones Act. I could leave the ship in Ensenada, Mexico, but not in Catalina, California. How would I get back to the Carnival cruise terminal in Long Beach from Ensenada? Take a taxi to an airport, purchase a ticket to fly to Long Beach or LAX, and then take a cab to the cruise terminal? Or I could hire a taxi or bus to the Mexican/California border, then catch a cab to Long Beach? Both made my head dizzy with fear and anxiety. The guest service agent gave me another option after seeing my face pale with worry. She could email a message to a Customs official about my dilemma. There was no guarantee that Customs would allow me to disembark in an American port, however, if they granted my permission, I would have to pay a $300 fine for leaving the cruise ship. $300? That is how much I paid for my share of the cruise. Instead of a $600 trip, it would now cost $900. The guest service agent asked if I would be waiting in my cabin until she received a reply from Customs. I asked if I could leave the ship to sightsee Catalina Island and then come back to hear my fate? She gave me a phone number to contact her and asked for my cell phone number. Jack and I didn't take any excursion in Catalina. I packed my bags, and we took a Shore boat into Avalon. Thoughts raced through my head as we tried to figure out my best strategy to get home. Could Carnival Cruise Lines and Customs force me to stay onboard until we arrived in Ensenada? You bet. What if I just stayed in Avalon until my Catalina Express boat set sail? That would probably bring on a whole new slew of problems. Just before noon, I couldn't wait any longer and called the phone number the guest service lady handed me. It was a ship-to-shore number. An automated operator informed me that each minute would cost $9.75. Since I wasn't speaking to a live person, I could easily accumulate $100 worth of minutes, before my call was connected to a live voice. Instead, I boarded a Shore boat and returned to the Carnival Inspiration. Good News! The Custom official approved my disembarkation, the bad news, I would have to pay a $300 fine now. I was so relieved that I would now be home to my family within hours and not have to deal with trying to get home from Mexico, that I paid my fine and walked off the ship. When I returned home, I did my research about the Jones Act. President Woodrow Wilson signed the Jones Act in 1917. Also known as the Merchant Marine Act of 1920, it's intention was to ensure that the U.S. has a strong merchant marine during times of war. All goods that move between two domestic ports must do so on ships that are U.S. flagged and staffed. It prohibits foreign ships from touching two U.S. ports consecutively. I was considered "goods." Today only 1% of the large commercial vessels are built in the United States. Most of the ships are built in Italy and Finland and fly foreign flags to avoid paying higher taxes and wages to American employees. There is also a piece of U.S. legislation called the Passenger Vessel Services Act of 1886, which relates to cabotage. It states that "No foreign vessels shall transport passengers between ports or places in the United States, either directly or by way of a foreign port, under a penalty of $200 (now $300) for each passenger so transported and landed." Cruise ships pass the cost to passengers, however exemptions are available in case of a family emergency. To penalize a passenger who paid for a four-day cruise, yet needs to leave the cruise vacation early, is unfair. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2012
Just finished a Back 2 Back cruise, starting with the 4 day over Thanksgiving and ending with the 3 day cruise right afterward. So this review may be a bit of both cruises, they were stuck together & I'm not going to write 2 ... Read More
Just finished a Back 2 Back cruise, starting with the 4 day over Thanksgiving and ending with the 3 day cruise right afterward. So this review may be a bit of both cruises, they were stuck together & I'm not going to write 2 reviews. This is the first cruise I've booked in a 1A for over a decade, we did better than I had expected given the bunk bed set up, small cabin & lack of balcony. Holiday cruises so the prices were quite high is why I booked this sort of cabin. It worked out pretty well with time off I already had from work. Embarkation was quick and smooth despite not being platinum, and not going for the Faster to the Fun surcharge. We were on the ship about an hour after getting to port for the first cruise, and they had a coupon system for reboarding on the B2B where we instructed to go to the platinum line - we were taken care of very well & reboarded the ship immediately after our outing to Long Beach to restock on bottled water & sundries. The cabin was well layed out, with a couple of exceptions. There is no storage whatsoever in the bathroom. A tiny and very shallow shelf above the sink - that's it. So shallow my large travel kit bag had to be tilted up on it's side to fit on the shelf, with the bar that is supposed to hold items securely on the glass shelf. I hung the hair dryer off a knob on the door (another thing with this class of ship - if you don't book a suite I hear there is no hair dryer or fridge, so pack the hair dryer!). There are a couple smallish closets & a very skinny one we used for coats/jackets. It would have been sufficient for one short cruise, but a bit cramped for a B2B equaling 7 days total. Or if only 1 person were in the room it would have been sufficient storage space, but not 2 people for 2 cruises. I hit my head on the upper bunk at least once a day for the entire cruise. It helped that I packed a travel clock, had flash lights etc. Those inside cabins are so dark. I kept turning the TV on to the station that had a camera on the bow of the ship, to simulate an actual window. But to no avail, DS kept turning the channel back to cartoons or the radio stations. The Production shows were cancelled for the entire cruise, except for possibly the last night (which I missed). A big disappointment, I was told that it was due to injuries of the male dancers with illness added on for this cruise. That's how it goes though, with only 2 male dancers & a male singer / dancer. I saw the shows on the next cruise & have to give a shout out to Jarvis, the male lead singer (who was an amazing dancer I might add, have never seen a lead singer on a ship who could actually dance to keep up with the company dancers - he looked to me like he could hold his own if not surpass some. Whatever, it's reasonable to cancel the shows in an unusual circumstance like this. Not worth destroying a dancers career to dance through a bad injury. Shows on land have understudies, but on a ship you don't have that luxury. I took the Behind the Fun tour on the first cruise, it had not sold out despite me not getting to the Pursers desk until evening the first day. And on the 2nd cruise, 2nd day into the cruise I heard it being promoted by Stephanie the CD. This is unusual, I hear they usually sell out all the spots immediately as passengers board. This was the first time I took the tour, I must say I expected more. We enjoyed seeing the galley & back stage area, but I've heard on some tours they actually go into the medical center, get to see the Brig, etc. Nothing like that on this tour. Maybe the brig was occupied! The food was good, although I wish there was some variation between the menus for the 4 day & 3 day cruises. I thought the baked mediterranean fish I had at the lido on embarkation was very good, but was so salty it was hard to eat. Seriously, 1/3 of the salt put in and it would have been perfect. The food in the MDR was fine, in fact I couldn't fault any of it from room service to the lido or MDR for our short cruise. Much better than any of the food I had on the Imagination, another Fantasy class ship. Only down point - on disembark day the pot of coffee delivered was empty. Chalk it up to crew being rushed, as I tipped very well throughout both cruises & no need for a screw up like that. We found our own tours for all the port days, for Catalina we tendered in & did a tour of the Casino. Wish we could have caught the more lengthy behind the scenes tour but it was a few minutes too late - the tour starts at 12:30 so catch the tender by 11:30 if you want to take that. In ensenada booked a massage & then a facial for both port days on the 2 cruises - this is a first rate spa with no funny stuff. Massage & Facial care, it's about 5 blocks north of the ship, about half a block SE of the McDonalds in town. I walked there with my son but really Ensenada didn't seem any worse than walking in some parts of Seattle in the evening. The only parts I found difficult were the parts closer to the ship, where women & would sit on the sidewalk with their young kids or infants, begging. I know it's to be expected in poor countries but still hard to see. It may be a trend on all the cruises, but it seems like there are fewer & fewer activities of interest to me on the daily sheet. The dance classes were 75% of the time offered once a day, and during late seating dinner. This would not work for either the late diners like me, or the early ones likely, as who wants to take a class half an hour after you've eaten? Seriously, the class should be late morning or mid afternoon, not during one of the set dining times. The ship was clean but there were some bad sewage smells walking past many of the cabins on our deck. Cabin stewards did a great job keeping the cabin clean & also trying to work around DS's bed slug schedule. Even if they only got to the cabin once a day, I told the steward not to worry about it since it isn't like I'm cleaning twice a day at home. They did a nice job of the towel animals, too. All in all a nice get away, food & service comparable to the larger Carnival ships. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
I am not normally the type of person to stuff myself into an inside stateroom, much less with three other women, but we got a the crazy idea to go on this cruise a few months ago and I'm glad we did. First let me say that ... Read More
I am not normally the type of person to stuff myself into an inside stateroom, much less with three other women, but we got a the crazy idea to go on this cruise a few months ago and I'm glad we did. First let me say that squeezing four late twenty something ladies into a stateroom was not so bad. I guess I had prepared myself for a much tighter fit, so I was pleasantly surprised when we managed to have enough room to actually move around. We did have to ask the stateroom steward to pull out the roll away bed bits so we could stuff our suit cases under the bed and it was quite the task to leap up into the upper bunks while slightly (or maybe more than slightly) inebriated, but overall I'd probably do it again. I think my max would be 5 days and that might be pushing it. I was bummed that our stateroom steward never once introduced himself. He and his assistant actually never spoke to us. We communicated exclusively by post-it. I take that back, one morning the other girls went to get a massage and I stayed in bed, only to be awoken by the room steward making the other beds. He apologized and backed out of the room looking embarrassed. It seems someone stole the "snoozin" sign off of our door. Also, on the final night, they never brought us the blue tags you put on your bags. We didn't mind so much since we carry our own bags off the ship, but we did feel a bit abandoned. We never did find the room service menu, I'm not sure they ever put one into the room. Food was so-so, but desert was craptacular... seriously bleh. Our waiter, Lloyd, and assistant waiter (whose name I could never remember) were fabulous. We also had a great bar waiter named Fitzroy who gave me quite a few extra drinks when I'd run into him on the ship. I never did have to pay for a soda with dinner. We ate in the MDR every night since we had a good time with our table mates. The highlight of the cruise was that a good 1/3 of the ship was in costume on Saturday and Sunday night (cruise was the weekend before Halloween). We had a great time. People were taking pictures with everyone else. It was like one big fabulous Halloween party. I did feel bad for the families (not that there were many of them) on board since some of the ladies were not what one could describe as modest... I'm no prude but some of them made me embarrassed by how much of them I could see. It was a damn good time. I'd do it again, but I'm going to need several weeks to recover. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
Wife and I, both in our 60's, just wanted to get away for a few days. I know most people think these 3 day cruises are booze cruises. This is the secound 3 day cruise for us, both on the Inspiration. Did not see any falling down drunk ... Read More
Wife and I, both in our 60's, just wanted to get away for a few days. I know most people think these 3 day cruises are booze cruises. This is the secound 3 day cruise for us, both on the Inspiration. Did not see any falling down drunk or drink till you puck types. The crowd was younger, lots of 20/30 year olds, but all seemed to behave and all were having fun. Ship was clean, staff was all smiles, and service was great. We ate all 3 nights in the MDR. We had Your time dining. Loved our table and server from the first night, so requested and had the same table and servers every night. Elana, table 181, was fantastic. Food was good, served hot (or cold in some cases). Only port on this cruise is Ensenada. We have visited this port many times. Been to the downtown shopping district, blowhole, wine tour. This time we took the Carnival tour " Gold Coast tour". It was ok, but would not do it again. Tour bus ride up the coast to a small bar/restraunt. A free drink and you could buy lunch. Great views, but no beach access. Spend about an hour, then back to Ensenada. Sea day was just what we wanted, just relax. We will do this cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
I've never cruised before but I've certainly enjoyed some good vacations. However, for our tenth anniversary I wanted to try something different. Having used up a good portion of my vacation days for other travel in earlier in ... Read More
I've never cruised before but I've certainly enjoyed some good vacations. However, for our tenth anniversary I wanted to try something different. Having used up a good portion of my vacation days for other travel in earlier in the year, I wanted to do something that would only take up one day so I searched for a short round trip cruise at the closest port to Las Vegas. The Carnival 3 day to Ensenada fit the bill so I booked a Grand Suite. We wound up getting a call for a chance to purchase an upgrade to one of the "owner suites" and I took it. Our suite was S-1 and it was on the Starboard side of the boat on level 12 looking over the pool. The suite itself was nice, but you could hear the joggers on the track above, the scraping of the deck chairs above as well, and the noise from the atrium came right through the door but thankfully did not make it into the bedroom. However, the large balcony, openness, and size of the suite made up for it. The room was cleaned up twice each day and our room service was delivered quickly after it was ordered. The pool wasn't filled on the first day but one hot tub was opened on the Lido and both were open on the Serenity deck. The water slides were also open and fun. I think our most expensive drink was a little under 9.00 with the tip included. I've certainly spent much more here in Vegas for one drink. Having read many reviews in preparation, I knew to expect that food would be fairly standard and that there would be a lot of drinking for this type of cruise. While the food review was dead on, there weren't very many drunken people staggering around the ship on this cruise. There also weren't very many children at all, which was nice. The one port, Ensenada, that we visited was basically a tourist dive. We did get a good lunch there and I picked up cheesy souvenirs for my family. We didn't do any excursions because nothing really appealed to us. A tip though, the shuttle operators to the shopping area offered their own tours that were much less expensive than the ships. Many people took them up on them so if you don't want to book through the ship, you can always do that option. Another tip, the shuttles drop you off at a place that isn't right at the main shopping area. You need to walk about a block in a kind of sketchy area to get there. All in all, it was a nice vacation. I definitely plan to cruise again, although our next one will most likely be on another line. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2012
My wife and I were in Long Beach California in early October 2012 for other business so we decided to see what else we could do since we were already flying all the way from St. Louis to LBC. To our surprise there was a cruise that left ... Read More
My wife and I were in Long Beach California in early October 2012 for other business so we decided to see what else we could do since we were already flying all the way from St. Louis to LBC. To our surprise there was a cruise that left the very next day. The timing was perfect and the price was too great to pass up. We had previously cruised with Carnival on the Destiny and really enjoyed it so this was an easy decision. Getting on the ship couldn't be any easier. Even though the line looked long it went by really fast. The people (staff) there were awesome and we were on the ship with drinks in hand before we knew it. Our luggage was delivered right when they said, etc. etc. Really a great experience. The room itself was great. I would suggest an interior room somewhere close to mid-ship for two reasons. First, if you are closer to the middle of the ship you don't rock so much... but just enough to sleep really really well. Second, with no window (porthole) the room becomes pitch black when you close it up and turn off the lights. This is also great when sleeping or taking naps between activities, meals, etc. Other than that it's a basic room. Perfect for sleeping and getting ready to go out. The public areas on the ship are "OK". They remind me of Las Vegas in the late '90's. Overall though, the ship was clean and very well attended to by the staff. One of the cool things for us was really just to explore the ship. There are tons of clubs and bars and places to hang out. We were very pleased with this aspect of the ship considering the price... just don't expect the Ritz-Carlton LOL. The "hotel" staff was absolutely awesome. Our steward (Michael) knew our names before we even got on the ship. I called him when we first arrived to make a special request and he already knew my name and had us promptly taken care of. Our room was cleaned every single time we left it. New towels, bed made, everything perfectly clean. We prepaid gratuities but made sure to take care of Michael separately before we left. The "bar" and "dining" staff were also amazing. Our Matre d' was "Musafa" and he addressed the entire dining room each night. He could be regularly seen working with the staff and pitching in. I even saw Musafa clearing tables one day near the buffet line. Our server at dinner was "Martin". Again, he knew all of us on a first name basis and waited on us like we were family. Martin was another crew member that we gave a nice tip to before we left. Lastly, there was "Apple" our bartender. Apple worked the dinner service and also the karaoke bar. She also knew us on a first name basis but I think it was because we ordered so many drinks from her LOL. Still, she was a great member of the staff and we made sure to tip her separately. Food - OK, I've read reviews for Carnival that were very critical of the food. I will admit that **some of the food on the cruise, especially the buffets and room service was disappointing. The buffets were one step below cafeteria quality and not something we did more than once. The room service menu is really really limited. I mean like... peanut butter and jelly with chips with juice. However, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner in the dining rooms. The dining room service is actually quite good considering the price. They offer steak every night, they had lobster one evening, they offered escargot as an appetizer one night as well. Overall I was very pleased with the dining room service and quality of the food there. We felt that it was a great value. Entertainment on the ship is constant. People who say they weren't entertained are just crazy. Each day you get an agenda with all of the places to eat and all of the on board activities. There is literally something to do every minute of every day on the ship. We found ourselves racing from activity to another. We did karaoke, we did bingo, we were in the casino, we watched trivia, etc. etc. etc. Just pay attention to the daily bulletin and you will have a blast. The Spa - This is one thing that I read to **NOT book ahead of time and boy am I glad we didn't. They severely discount services once you get on the ship. My wife did an entire spa day for the fraction of what it would cost here in St. Louis and she was very very pleased. The Chef's Table - I can't recommend this one enough. On the last cruise I really misunderstood what The Chef's Table was. I mean, I already paid for the cruise. I already get meals included. Why would I want to spend another $75 to eat in a different room with the Chef? So yeah... The Chef's Table is basically a seven course, gourmet meal prepared by (and served by) the head chef of the ship and his personal staff. The head chef comes to your dinner table the night before to personally invite you to dinner and ask you what kind of food you like or don't like. Then, on the night of the dinner we started with a tour of the kitchen and some appetizers. Then we headed to the "Library" where we were treated to one of the best meals I've ever had. You could tell that the Chef really enjoyed it as well. I mean, when the guy went to school I'm sure he wasn't *really wanting to cook 400 pounds (yes, they cook 400 pounds) of bacon for big fat Americans every day. This is probably more of what he had in mind LOL. The meal included all the red and white wine you could drink and was the absolute picture of "fine dining". Each course was better than the next and when he brought out the Wagyu beef I thought, "Wow... OK, now he's just really *really showing off." If you can swing the $75/person this beats the pants off of any dolphin or glass bottom boat excursion LOL. Even at that price it's an amazing value considering the food and the service. ******BEWARE!11!!!1! Three things that really really killed the cruise for us: 1.) Carnival allows smoking on their ships. In some of the public areas, in the casino, and in some of the bars. It's almost impossible to escape at times. In the main area up by all of the bars and clubs I felt like I wanted to just burn the clothes I was wearing because they stunk so badly. Really really terrible. 2.) The people (other passengers)... yes... I know this is really really bad of me to say. People shoving and pushing and being rude to the staff. Horrible. Same with the night club. On the last cruise we hung out at the night club two or three nights and had a blast with the group there. This time we avoided it like the plague. 3.) The Children - At least 30%-40% of this cruise was made up of children under the age of 15. There were endless hordes of children roaming the ship at all hours of the night. Screaming and stomping as loud as they could from floor to floor. Sprinting up and down the hallways. Pounding on random doors. Jumping up and down on the furniture like trampolines. Yes... I know you are reading this and saying to yourself, "Oh he's just a bitter old geezer. Surely he must be exaggerating this terribly". No... I am not exaggerating in the ***least... not even one percent... and don't call me Shirley. It was to the point we actually stopped a (big big big air quotes here ->) "Security Guard" and asked if there was some kind of curfew or something he could do. I mean... what kind of parents would let their 9-14 year old daughters run through an enormous cruise ship after midnight with a bunch of very drunk adults? The guy just shook his head. WOW... Read Less
Sail Date: August 2012
Here are some comments/observations about our first cruise on the Inspiration: Embarkation Getting on to the ship was well organized, but took a long time. After dropping our bags with a porter, we lined up to enter a large dome. The ... Read More
Here are some comments/observations about our first cruise on the Inspiration: Embarkation Getting on to the ship was well organized, but took a long time. After dropping our bags with a porter, we lined up to enter a large dome. The line was long, and moved slowly. Once inside the dome, a Carnival employee lined up people in order of arrival. Total time to reach the check-in desk from dropping off luggage was 45 min.-1 hr. The check-in clerk was friendly & courteous. All of our info was correct, and we were issued our Sail & Sign cards & ship info. We passed through security easily, boarded the ship and went to our cabin. Cabin When we reached our cabin, we met Ben, our steward. He showed us into our cabin, answered our questions and told us to enjoy ourselves, and not to hesitate to call on him as needed. The room was clean and fully ready for us. The cabin was small, but sufficient for a short cruise. There was plenty of closet space. Unfortunately, we were unable to secure a larger cabin or one with pull down beds. There were two adults and a 6 yr. old, so we would have preferred a larger cabin or one with pull down beds. Still, things worked out well, as we spent very little time in the cabin, aside from sleeping. Our luggage arrived by late afternoon, as promised. Fortunately, we did not experience the noise that others wrote about. Activities Each evening, we received a brochure of the following day's schedule (daily schedules are also available in various locations around the ship). There was a large variety of activities, from trivia contests to dance lessons to cooking to bingo. Activities began early in the morning and stretched well into the night. We participated in numerous trivia contests, went to late night comedy shows, played miniature golf and saw the stage show. One of the comedians was excellent, the other OK. The stage show was a scaled down version of a Broadway type musical, and featured Beach Boys music. The show was held in the large theater. The ship has a pool, and a large kids' pool with several slides of different heights. Kids Activities Each day, our daughter attended Camp Carnival. They are fully staffed, and do a wide range of activities with the kids. Some nights they had kids meals, movies and late pick-up. One night's kids' activities went until 10 or 11pm. From our experience with activities, camps, the best judge of a program is our daughter. She had a great time! Meals/Food We have special dietary requirements, which we made clear to Carnival when we reserved. We also spoke with the hostess, prior to our first dinner on board. There was some initial confusion and a long wait, which we attribute to language differences. By day 2, we decided to take our meals on the Lido deck, and forego the main dining rooms, as we were traveling with a 6 yr. old and one of our parents. They dining staff made every effort to meet our needs. Ambiance/Atmosphere It would be unfair to say that this cruise was dominated by families or young people or old people, etc. There were families, singles, older people, babies and people in wheelchairs. I had some concern about a frat party atmosphere, but saw no drunkeness, rowdiness or drunk kids running through pasageways. Obviously, there is plenty of alcohol on board, but people were generally friendly and polite. Staff/Service Overall, we were pleased with the staff and level of service. Staff was extremely friendly, professional and courteous, and made us feel at home. In sum, our first cruise was smooth sailing, and we look forward to our next cruise. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: June 2012
My first cruise was on the Carnival Inspiration 4 days to Catalina and Ensenada. We left on June 4th 2012 and returned Friday June 9th, 2012. We sailed from Long Beach CA. Embarkation was super easy. We arrived at the port around 10:30 ... Read More
My first cruise was on the Carnival Inspiration 4 days to Catalina and Ensenada. We left on June 4th 2012 and returned Friday June 9th, 2012. We sailed from Long Beach CA. Embarkation was super easy. We arrived at the port around 10:30 am and we were guided by Carnival staff to go to the Queen Mary for early check in after dropping our bags with a porter in the parking garage area. We took public transportation from the Inland Empire (Metro link and Metro subway then the Long Beach Passport free shuttle) so we were a little confused as to where to take our bags but discovered that all passengers take their bags to the parking garage even if they didn't park a car. At the Queen Mary early check in, we were in line about 10 minutes before we were called to the counter. We were only held up that long because the passengers ahead of us didn't gather all her teenagers together before checking in so that delayed the process, otherwise the line was moving very quickly. At the check in desk, we were given our Sail & Sign cards and a Zone card(we were given zone 2) and directed to go wait at our zone. We took this chance to look around the Queen Mary for a minute since I know I will never really pay to go back. My son got a kick out of the old engine room, etc. We moved outside to the Zone waiting area but couldn't find a place to sit because most of the people already there had decided their luggage took priority seating on the benches over actual human beings (why are people so self absorbed?) We walked over toward the water and found benches on the waterfront with a great view of the ship so we took some pictures and enjoyed watching the water birds, etc. We could still hear the zone calls from this area so when we heard make an announcement, we headed over to the Zone area to wait our turn. I was happy to find that the embarkation area has nice clean restrooms and a couple vendors selling last minute sunglasses, hats, etc. Our Zone 2 was called so we lined up and followed along through the process which took about 20 minutes to go through security and cross over the ramp to the ship. It was a very easy process that was so much easier than flying. Once on board the ship, most of the passengers headed to the buffet but I wasn't in the mood for more lines so we decided to grab some deck chairs and enjoy the view until sail away. We were finally on board and in a lounge chair at 11:30 so about an hour after arriving at the port of Long Beach. We bought the bottomless bubbles cards as soon as we saw the pool bar. We had been advised to wait until the next day, but we were thirsty and wanted a Coke and the price difference of the tax wasn't much. We enjoyed the lounge chairs views and wandered around the decks a bit, just enjoying the newness of it all for about two hours. We were really happy that we didn't have to lug around a bunch of luggage and could just stroll around. We were able to get into our room at 1:30 pm (about 2 hours after embarkation)Our room was M186 which is an Ocean View on the main deck toward the aft (back) of the ship. It was a nice room that had two twin beds and an upper Pullman style bed that the Steward would set up if there was a 3rd passenger in the room. When we first arrived, the beds were set up as a King size bed but as soon as the Steward (ours was Eugene and he was wonderful) realized that we were mother and son, he offered to change it. I told him that he could do it when he came to do the room later because I wanted to unpack. He seemed unsure of that because he really wanted our room to be right. I told him it was okay and we would be fine that night (we were so tired from our commute to the port that we would have made sleeping on the floor work!) I have to say that the bed set up as twin is much better even if you are traveling with a spouse. Unless you are newlyweds, I guess. The two twin set up is better because it gives you a lot more floor space to move about the cabin. The cabin is very well arranged to make the most of space, although a 3rd person would probably make it a bit crowded. A tip for a bit of privacy for changing clothes if you are traveling with someone you don't want to change in front of is in the hallway by the bathroom, the closets are across in this hallway. If you open the bathroom door and then open the closet door across from it, they form a good barrier to make a little changing room. I say this because the bathroom is small and will get very wet when you take a shower so you won't want to dress in there. There was plenty of closet space, shelf space and drawer space. I do recommend taking a hanging organizer for your toiletries as it will keep you organized and limit the clutter. There are several hooks to hang your organizer on. I would recommend you bring a few of your own hangers since as with most hotels, the hangers are those weird "don't steal them" hangers that annoy me and there weren't enough of them for me. Our cabin steward was so friendly and after the 1st full day, he already knew our personal schedules and tendencies. He asked when we would go to dinner and after the first day, he paid attention that we came back to the room straight after dinner to change and relax so after that he always did our cabin's turn down service early as soon as we left so that it would be ready when we returned. It is so amazing to come back from dinner to a freshly made bed, a cute towel animal, and the knowledge that someone was pampering us and paying attention to us. By the way, the pillows on Carnival are amazing. I know that sounds silly but these pillows were the best pillow I have ever slept on (and I have bought some pretty expensive pillows because I really appreciate pillows). This room was really close to the elevators but not so close to be noisy. Also, the air conditioner control is on the ceiling and you can adjust the level of the air output. I found that having it on higher if there was noise outside (we were next to some loud kids/families) gave us enough white noise that we didn't even know there was another soul on the ship. As I said, the elevators were convenient for getting to the Lido deck buffet. Imagine our delight when we got on the elevator, pressed floor 10 and when the elevator doors open, there's the buffet! Is that some kind of dream or what? Now, if you do book a room in this area and plan to use the dining room, I would recommend you request the Carnivale dining room. We were assigned the Mardi Gras room which is forward on deck 8 and cannot be reached easily from the elevators by our room because not all decks connect or some stupid reason that drove me crazy. I needed my ds18 to navigate me to the dining room because I kept getting lost. The Carnival dining room is much closer to the area of M186 so although is wasn't a huge problem, it would probably make your life easier if that matters to you. Another benefit of this room is that you will have great views of Catalina when going to that port. I will talk about the ports more below so I'll skip that for now. As for the main dining rooms, we had "your time dining" because I don't want to have to be anywhere at a particular time on vacation if I can help it. That being said, we tended to be ready for dinner around 5:45 every day, so we went to the Mardi Gras dining room. The line is supposed to be split with YTD guests on the left and assigned time diners on the right, but people never seemed to get this right. For YTD, they will ask your room number and assign you to a table. If you have a special request, you should make it before you sit because moving seems to be a huge ordeal for them. If you want a table for two, you will not be near a window but we found that the tables we sat at were just fine. The set up was most YTD were put on the left side of the room with tables for four closest to the window views and then 2 sets of tables for two placed next to these tables. Even if you are at a table for two, you are really only about a foot away from the next table, essentially sitting with each other. However, I liked it better than being placed at a round table because I hate being squished into a round table. That's just a personal issue though. On YTD, you will not necessarily have the same wait staff each night, although we were extremely happy with our wait team that were were seated on two of the nights and the Maitre D' staff will do their best if you request the same waiters again. Our wait team was Oleiksy ("my name is Oleiksy, you call me Alex") who is Ukrainian, Kembong from Indonesia and Augustine (who doesn't talk much and is an assistant). Oleiksy and Kembong were amazing! I have never seen such attention to detail. They know exactly when you are finished with a course and clear the table to bring the next course immediately. The food was very good overall (a few hits a few misses but fun to try new things). It's good to keep in mind that the ship is feeding thousands of people so it is prepared assembly line fashion. The quality is good and we were able to try many things we would never have considered before but it is not the quality of say a french trained chef making each entree to order. Our top faves were the prime rib because they offered it medium well (I hate bloody meat), the pumpkin soup (sounds weird but is terrific), the Indian vegetarian( I am not vegetarian but this in an incredibly tasty dish and worth a try even if you've never tried Indian food). In fact, that is my theory with all of the main dining room food, try things! I didn't like some stuff and loved others. Also, ask the waiters. Oleiksy recommended the Mahi Mahi when I ordered the Veal parmigiana. He shook his head in a cute Russian tsk tsk way and said "Mahi is good. Believe" Just a note on Oleiksy: we heard some people complaining about him but you have to respect a guy who knows his job well. He may not be flowery in his speech but he told us the truth and got us good food and his team was well oiled. We had much worse service from other wait teams that were friendly but we had to wait 10 to 15 minutes between courses. A cute story that my son overheard a couple complaining about him because they asked him the difference between a chicken entree and a pork entree (that were nothing alike) and he told them "well, the chicken is chicken and the pork is pork" in a Ukrainian accent, it made us giggle. Anway, if you don't like your wait staff, don't stew over it, just let the Maitre D' staff know and they will fix you up for next dinner. As for the buffet, it is just typical buffet food. I do recommend the braised beef on French night which I believe was on Wednesday. It is convenient to have the buffet if you feel like you may need a snack but for dinner, I say head to the dining room. Breakfast at the buffet is nice enough but in the dining room you can get some awesome chicken sausage, eggs Benedict, and better french toast than in the buffet. Other than these items, the rest of the dining room breakfast items are available in the buffet. For lunch, I think the buffet and the dining room are about the same. However, I highly recommend the Mongolian Wok. You choose your own veggies and noodles and hand them to the wok chef and tell him what meat you want chicken, beef and some type of seafood and the sauce you want. I tried the schezwan sauce and loved it but it is spicy. Generally, I have to Here are my pro's and con's of the cruise. The good stuff: 1.Being spoiled with twice a day cabin service by our Steward Eugene 2.The pillows...they were so comfy and plump and soft 3.Getting to know the crew...talk to them if you see the chance. They are from all over the world and I was fascinated by all of the different jobs they do and how it all works like clock work. 4. Finding quiet spots...if you are an early bird, go out to the Verandah deck aft and grab a deck chair while all of the partiers are still asleep 5. Eating out on the deck...why eat in a stuffy buffet when there are beautiful views outside? Grab a table out on the deck and enjoy your meal al fresco. 6. Something to do everywhere you look...I only went to one show (the family comedy show) and my son went to a few of the comedy shows but there is so much to do if you want to do it. We don't gamble or drink but we were never bored. 7. Free Carnival.com access on the ship...regular internet access is very expensive and slow but you can set up a "Funville" account on the Carnival website before you leave and start a thread under "currently onboard" as a place to communicate with family and friends while you are on the ship for free. I used it as a blog of what we did each day. The internet cafe is next to guest services on deck 7 forward. 8. Late night strolls on the balcony decks...the party people are all by the pool or casino, etc. If you want some peace and quiet, head to the decks on Lido aft or the Verandah deck and it'll be a great place to enjoy the ocean at night. There will only be a few drunks wandering by here and there but not too bad. 9. Wait to buy stuff until the sea day on Thursday when the sales start. 10. If you will drink more than 3 sodas a day, buy the bottomless bubbles. They have to serve it in a glass though, so you may want to bring your own covered cup to make carrying your soda around easier. 11. The shower water/pressure is great and plenty hot. 12. If you forget any essentials and can wait until Tuesday morning, go to the Von's in Catalina that is one block to the right of the "green pier" and one block up. Prices are slightly higher than mainland but way cheaper than on the ship for stuff like sodas, sunscreen, hygiene needs, etc. 13. You make your cruise what you want it to be. Our cruise wasn't perfect (the bad stuff is coming next) but figure out how to work around it and don't let it ruin your vacation...this is up to you not Carnival. The bad stuff: 1. Kids...I'm not anti kids. I understand and appreciate that it's a family cruise ship. However, too many parents ditched their kids and let them run wild. The kids hog the elevators in the atrium and just make it impossible to use the glass elevators. Skip the atrium elevators and use the inner ones if you can. The kids were so out of control I couldn't believe it and the security crew can't do much about it because all they can do is talk to the kids who I observed had no respect for them at all. There were also way to many drunk teenagers. I'm not talking about 20 almost 21...I saw 15 and 16 year olds that were just smashed because their parents didn't mind buying the buckets of beer and handing them over to them. I think Carnival needs to implement a "no unattended minors" rule because I'm not exaggerating, the kids were like Lord of the Flies running their own sub society on the ship while their parents were off in the casino, serenity deck, etc. In fact, on our last dining room dinner on Thursday we overheard a Mom talking to her kids asking them what they had done that week. She hadn't SEEN her kids since Monday!!!! 2. Drunks...I know it's a safe place to party because you don't have to drive but I saw way too much barfing, stumbling and stinking drunk people that were loud and obnoxious. Not my thing so I learned to avoid the areas they would be on the Lido deck by the pool, casino, etc. 3. Sketchy food hours: the buffet closes around 9 and doesn't open until 7. There is pizza, ice cream and room service available so you need to plan a little if you tend to like a late night snack. I usually get a sweet craving in the evening so I learned take a dessert up to my room while the buffet was still open. 4. My door decorations got torn down and partially stolen. If you decorate your door, know that the unruly kids/drunk teens will probably ruin it so don't overdo it. This irritated me but if you know it will happen, just keep it to a simple sign so you aren't disappointed like I was. You can see that my "good stuff" far outweighs the "bad stuff" so overall the cruise was awesome. All of the bad stuff can be avoided if it bothers you and if it doesn't bother you then you will have a totally positive experience. It will not keep me from cruising Carnival next time and I'll be mentally prepared next time. The Catalina port is where we had the most fun off the ship. We rented a golf cart at Daves (one block to the right of the green pier) $80 cash + $40 refundable deposit for 3 hours. It was totally worth the price and tons of fun. We also booked the wild dolphin tour thru Carnival but it was cancelled due to not enough bookings. There is plenty of shopping and eating. We had a light snack at Pedro's by the Casino. We saw lots of people having fun renting kayaks, peddle boats, etc. There is also a small beach area. Hint: go to the left of the pier on the other side of the bathrooms for a quieter beach area. In Ensenada, we caught a shuttle (not booked just pick it up at the port) for $3 each round trip to the little shopping area. I was nervous about going to far away from the ship in Ensenada so we didn't do an excursion to the better shopping area. We managed to buy enough tourist crap on the $3 shuttle to satisfy our needs. Ensenada is not a great destination but again, you make of it what you will. We had fun for an hour and then headed back to the ship for some quiet time. Most of the kids stayed on the ship and we only really saw the adults heading into town more in the afternoon for happy hour, etc. I definitely recommend this cruise for the money and will cruise Carnival again although we will probably try Alaska next time. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2012
It's a long review, sorry! My previous cruises have been with Princess. After reading reviews and speaking to friends/relatives who have been on Carnival, I did not have high expectations. However, Carnival exceeded my expectations ... Read More
It's a long review, sorry! My previous cruises have been with Princess. After reading reviews and speaking to friends/relatives who have been on Carnival, I did not have high expectations. However, Carnival exceeded my expectations and I will be sailing with them again. Hotel: We drove to Long Beach Thursday night and checked into the Queen Mary Hotel. The hotel is very convenient for Carnival cruises as it shares the parking lot and the early check-in is actually on the QM. The old girl is looking a bit tired these days but it was clean and comfortable. Parking is $14/day either in the Carnival garage or in the QM lot. Boarding: The Carnival early check-in office is near the engine room. There were no lines when we checked in at 9:45. We dropped off our bags with the porter in the parking garage and then toured the QM. We were in Zone 1 and could have boarded around 11:30, but waited until after the rush. We boarded at 1:45 and were through security and on the ship in about 10 minutes. Of course going from the QM (elegant) to the Inspiration (loud) was quite a shock. Style is subjective, but I will say the Inspiration's interior design is not boring and is actually amusing. Our cabin was forward on Upper deck, so we headed down the staircase and found our cabin right away. Cabin: The cabin was spotlessly clean. In contrast to the public spaces, the cabins are plain. Our cabin was an interior-porthole, which is the same as an ocean view but with two small portholes instead of a picture window. The shower was bigger than on Princess Grand-class ships and had awesome water pressure. The bed and linens were very comfortable. We did notice a smoky smell in the cabin, so we went directly to Guest Services. I didn't go to complain, just wanted it noted so we would not be charged a cleaning fee. The crew was wonderful, over the next 18 hours we received two in-person inspections, a phone call, and a pot of coffee delivered as an apology. The smoke smell faded but came back a few times; someone must have been smoking near a vent on the decks above. Ship: The ship was very clean (except for the windows which are impossible to keep clean) and well maintained. The Inspiration is an older ship, only has one pool and isn't as well 'coordinated' as newer ships, but was fine overall. Because there is only one pool, and given the nature of a 3-day cruise, the Lido area was always noisy and crowded so we tried to avoid the area. I did notice that the spas were always filled with people and lots of kids. Aren't kids under 13 supposed to avoid spas? We had a difficult time finding a quiet space to read. Based on activities any one given area can be quiet one minute and crowded the next. We tried the Serenity adult-only area, but found some guests brought speakers and were playing music from their iPhones. Carnival did not stop this, and the music ruined the quiet atmosphere for me. Finally we ended up in the Chopin lounge and found comfortable lounges to use. Food: The food was good to very good in the dining room but only fair in the buffet. We had 'Your Time' dining and were assigned the Mardi Gras dining room. Noel was our server the first night and we came back each night at the same time because of his and his team's excellent service. The food was generally good, but the menu choices were limited compared to Princess. The second night featured decent prime rib, so I was happy. The first morning, we had breakfast in the buffet and were unimpressed, so we ate in the dining room the rest of the voyage and used the buffet only for snacks. Breakfast service was always good, lunch service not as much. Our poor lunch experience was due to our server also having a table of 10, then 12, then 14 (more kept coming) and they were pretty demanding, so our server was busy with them. The deli sandwiches were decent, as was the pizza. Having the drink, ice cream (ice milk) and pizza stations open 24 hours was nice. We did not get to try the omelet bar, Mongolian BBQ or hamburger grill, but the food looked good. We tried the Martini sampler (8 different kinds) in the Chopin lounge and will get the sampler again. Ensenada: The little cruise terminal is nice and has gift shops (of course) and clean bathrooms. We did the wine country tour, and had a great time -- highly recommended. Our tour guide Melanie was awesome (and from Quebec -- go figure). Keep in mind the tour can run late depending on the crowds at the wineries, our tour took nearly 5 hours. We each got a bottle of wine (and bought a bottle of champagne) that Carnival took from us upon boarding, but we got them back the last morning. Entertainment: We watched one show: Shout. It was typical cruise-quality but a lot of fun. The Paris lounge seats (at least in the balcony) were very comfortable and roomy. We watched some of the on-board games and they were as expected. We did not attend any other shows or events but plenty were available. Disembarkation: The worst part of any cruise, but it went fairly smoothly. You can stay in your cabins until 9:00. We left ours at 8:15 and hit the restaurant for breakfast. Just after 9:00 we went to the Paris lounge to wait for our group. Once called it took about 45 minutes to clear customs. Overall: We had a good time and I liked Carnival more than I expected to. I'll take this cruise again, and will look at taking longer cruises on newer ships. The people were as expected; there were some drunk/obnoxious people but not as many as I'd feared. The Carnival crew was uniformly friendly and eager to please. Good job Carnival! Read Less
Sail Date: May 2012
Emabarkation was smooth and fast as we booked a junior suite which gave us VIP access. We had immediate access to our 'suite' which was impressive. We booked V14, junior suite and got far less than we expected. The cabin was ... Read More
Emabarkation was smooth and fast as we booked a junior suite which gave us VIP access. We had immediate access to our 'suite' which was impressive. We booked V14, junior suite and got far less than we expected. The cabin was regular sized with a regular tiny balcony and mediocre service. (The mirror was dirty on arrival, and still dirty on departure). However, it was a comfortable and quiet area - right at the top forward, with very few cabins and therefore very light traffic. The atrium (or spectrum on this ship) reminded us of a 90's nightclub, all trashy neon and chrome, totally lacking in ambience. The Brasserie didn't impress much either with it's purple alien worm things clinging to the ceilings. The Lido pool is the only pool, this is also outdated. The Mardi Gras dining room was pleasant, the staff were very attentive even tho we had any time dining and far less likely to form a tip heavy friendship. The food was pretty good, we chose to eat here instead of the Brasserie, which resembled half price day at Walmart...at closing time. The passengers were a mixed bunch ...a 4 day cruise is budget friendly and appeals to those of us that want a short break or adding on to the end of a vacation. Unfortunately, it also appeals to a less desirable crowd (for me anyhow) ... lots of heavy drinking, rowdy crowds and cigarette smoking. I normally love to read my book by the pool but felt uncomfortable. There is a quiet serenity deck at the aft, with two hot tubs, no noise and padded loungers ...on the day I went to use it, I could not access it due to a private function ...that kinda pissed me off ..I paid for a whole ship to wander around, not to fund a wedding event. We visited two ports .. Santa Catalina Island and Ensenda Mexico. We LOVED Catalina Island, it is truly beautiful with a colorful history! This was our second visit to Ensenada and we took a bus tour to La Bufadora, well worth the $25 for a narrated bus drive, a natural phenomenom and a colorful market ...not to mention the best fish tacos EVER! The Casino was incredibly smoky and we only visited once due to this - Carnival needs to outlaw smoking inside the ship ...it is disgusting. There are very few quiet areas on the ship, so we spent most of our down time in the cabin or on the balcony ..which is why we choose a balcony. I think my mistake was booking a shorter cruise ..the last cruise was a 9 day wonderful experience. We are booked on the Triumph for Christmas this year...here's hoping the crowd is a little more palatable! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2012
Wow! Just got back today from my first cruise and what an experience! I'm not the write a review type, but I read so many before I traveled it only seems fair I do the same. This was not only my first cruise, it was the first vacation ... Read More
Wow! Just got back today from my first cruise and what an experience! I'm not the write a review type, but I read so many before I traveled it only seems fair I do the same. This was not only my first cruise, it was the first vacation my girlfriend and I have taken together-no pressure. ! She has been on 2 other cruises and was very good in allowing me to go crazy planning, reading, pre-packing and being consumed on finding out everything I could to make sure we didn't miss anything on our trip. Carnival Inspiration as I had read is an older ship that had been retro fitted not to long ago, I was very impressed with how well maintained the entire ship was considering how much it is used. Only took 30 minutes after early check in to get on the ship and get lunch! Got in our room by 1 pm, had our bottles of booze waiting in room, I highly suggest ordering bottles instead of smuggling on board. Also, get the soda card for both, it made life so much easier for us during dinner or laying pool side. I read so many reviews about the food it seemed to be a love it or hate it, very little middle ground. We thought the food was very good, you have to remember there are around 2300 people on board hard to get 5 star food. Dinner was nice, had a fun table to sit with and catch up on the days events. Great selection for dinner staff was amazing! Lunch choices were a bit limited but we found some favorites at the Deli and grill that satisfied. My Big complaint was the Sushi Bar..... Or Cart as it should have been called. I was looking forward to an off night from the dinning room to have Sushi, they had a cart with pre made rolls very disappointed by this. Lots of fun activities to keep you busy; trivia games, game shows, etc. the biggest thing I found is that all the planning I did, it was just nice to hang out and relax. This is a great cruise, be it your first or one of many Carnival does a great job!!! I will be on a cruise again, sooner rather that later! Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: May 2012
We flew in from New Zealand on Sunday and then set sail on the Inspiration on the Monday. It was supposed to be a nice relaxing start to our holiday in the States but really had minimal expectations, especially after reading some reviews ... Read More
We flew in from New Zealand on Sunday and then set sail on the Inspiration on the Monday. It was supposed to be a nice relaxing start to our holiday in the States but really had minimal expectations, especially after reading some reviews here. We checked in at Long Beach and were immediately given special treatment as I use a cane to walk-we were on board the vessel in about 20 minutes. Fantastic. We went to our cabin to have a look and thought the size and cleanliness of them was first rate. Again, I had read that the food was really average, however, we found it to be very good quality and nothing to complain about, in fact quite the opposite. We did have a drama getting one of our bags delivered the first night and had an anxious time waiting for it to arrive but it did eventually, so no real worries. The destinations themselves are really not the star of this cruise. Catalina was quite nice, Ensenada was a bit of a dump really but we had nice weather, it was warm, and we were on holiday. Kids were not an issue on our cruise-we thought they would be but we had no issues. Entertainment was a bit lacking. One of the comedians Jeff Big Daddy Wayne was hilarious, however we were at times left wondering what to do for a few hours, as nothing seemed to be happening or planned. As a start to our holiday, it was an absolutely excellent experience and we had a great time on board for the most part. We also travelled on the Splendor a week later and we preferred this shorter cruise (I will review that one soon) as the ship carried a lot less passengers and the whole trip seemed more relaxed. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
Nothing special here. The Inspiration is an older ship, which really was alright. Fun comes from within ourselves - not the decor of the ship. The food was nothing to write home about - especially the midnight buffet. It was a Mexican ... Read More
Nothing special here. The Inspiration is an older ship, which really was alright. Fun comes from within ourselves - not the decor of the ship. The food was nothing to write home about - especially the midnight buffet. It was a Mexican buffet and...to tell you the truth... Taco Bell is better. On past cruises, the buffets were photo worthy. Not this one at all! Not even close. The every day food was simple - I didn't gain any weight. Matter of fact, I probably lost weight. Drinks were good, and the prices weren't out of line either. A lot of the niceties weren't there, and some of staff weren't as friendly as on other cruise lines. We had a wonderful waitress in the formal dinning room and 2 favorite bartenders at the pool on the Lido Deck. The security was over the top. Great to know they are watching out for us. There were ample tours to choose from. Our room was nice - the shower was great! Folded animal towels on our beds every night. Can't say anything bad - but, it wasn't special either. I'd probably go on again, but will try Royal Caribbean next time. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2012
Mother Daughter Birthday Celebration Cruise 4/30-5/4 I flew into warm and sunny Las Vegas from cold and cloudy Portland on Sat. 4/28. I spent the weekend at my parents along with my sister. We booked this cruise just 4 short weeks ... Read More
Mother Daughter Birthday Celebration Cruise 4/30-5/4 I flew into warm and sunny Las Vegas from cold and cloudy Portland on Sat. 4/28. I spent the weekend at my parents along with my sister. We booked this cruise just 4 short weeks ago. My mom and I wanted to surprise my sister with a trip to celebrate her birthday. Option 1: Live it up in Vegas...No good, they don't gamble, not big drinkers and in the 8 years my parents have lived in Vegas they have only seen one show! Option 2: Girls trip to Disneyland...Not very relaxing and when you add up the cost of hotel, park fees and food it quickly becomes expensive. Option 3: A 4 day cruise on the Inspiration! It has it all...A relaxing get away, entertaining shows, new places to visit (at least for me and my sister, our mom actually sold cruises for 16 years and has been on a similar cruise), no cooking or cleaning, best of all the price was incredible! So we took off Monday morning, leaving behind the mid 80 degree weather, and made it to the cruise terminal at 11:10 by 11:50 we were on the ship and heading to the Lido deck for lunch. We all had a made to order sandwich from the deli, 2 Rueben's, 1 turkey wrap, 1 iced tea and 2 drinks of the day! We wandered the ship a bit and before we knew it our OV room M185 was ready! The room had plenty of space for 3. The shower was a nice size, no sliding door, but the shower curtain stayed in place and didn't attack you while you showered! The one place that could use more storage was the bathroom, we were glad that I had brought along an over the door plastic shoe holder. It's a great place to store things like hairbrushes, small makeup bags, accessories, sun-glasses, travel hair drier, etc. when not in use. You will also want to bring a power-strip, as there is only one outlet in the room. We roamed around the ship some more and then at 4:30 it was time for the muster drill. This was the longest strangest drill any of us had been to. I won't go into detail, just be sure if your muster station is outside and it's a cool windy day to have a jacket/sweater! No life-vest needed. We stood outside around the aft bar area of the pool deck for an hour. We watched as other groups were taken to lifeboats, but our group never was...good thing we didn't need to know which lifeboat was ours! : ) We had early dining; it was our only option as we booked late. We were at a table for 11, but only 8 of us remained at the table. A family of 3 was to join us, they had a special needs child, they were surprised when they showed up to dinner and found it wasn't a private table. Within minutes they had a new table, the staff was prompt and friendly in the transition. Our server was Elena from Bulgaria. Very personable and she had our names down in no time. They work very hard, we saw Elena the next morning working the breakfast shift in the buffet and she took time to chat with us and to make sure we were informed of up coming events and that we were aware the breakfast was also offered in the Mardi Gras MDR (we were assigned to the Carnival MDR for dinner). Back to dinner...the three of us ordered the beef barley soup and the beef dish. The soup was tasty, the beef a bit bland. We also ordered the chocolate melting cake that I had read so much about on CC. All through out the dinning room the wait staff was singing Happy Birthday or Happy Anniversary to guest, my sister had just said don't do that for me...just as Elena brought over my sister's dessert lit with a candle as she and a few others started to sing for her! A couple of years ago my mom and sister surprised me with a trip to Farrell's restaurant in Hawaii where I had to stand up, say my name and say how old I was turning while holding my candle lit sundae...I didn't feel too bad for her! We didn't make it to the Welcome Aboard show that night it was held at 10:15 or 10:30, we had a long travel day so we all went to bed early. We didn't plan any excursions for this trip, so we were in no hurry to get off the ship after our breakfast in the buffet. However they made so many announcements to be on a tender to Catalina before 10:00 that I think it made the tender line longer then need be. It also didn't help that the crew did little to no crowd control. In reality it only took 25 minutes to get on a tender and only 5 minutes to get to Catalina. We arrived a little after 10AM. My sister and I found Avalon to be charming and beautiful! The landscape is a cross between desert and tropical. If I were to go back I would absolutely rent a golf cart to explore more of the town! Unfortunately throughout our cruise we had very cool temperatures. All three of us bought sweatshirts that say Catalina on them! Lots of passengers did, we saw them all on display being worn by our fellow cruisers! So we spent the day walking and shopping and had lunch over looking the pier. Just a lovely day! Back on board I got in a little exercise walking the track. I had to borrow sweatpants from my mom and wear my new Catalina sweatshirt, but I was determined to work off last nights melting cake! Before we knew it we were heading to dinner. Today is elegant dress night. It is also lobster night! Order two if you go for the lobster, they are very small portions and no problem ordering more than one. The dining staff puts on a little show towards the end of dinner and couples are encouraged to get up and dance. It was a lovely evening! After dinner we went and had a couple of pictures taken before the show. I've never seen so many photo stations on a ship before! Tonight's show was a Latin inspired number, I'm sure to inspire us for our day in Mexico! It was a fun show with beautiful costumes, not over the top but nice. Make sure you choose your seats wisely! There are support beams that make viewing difficult. After the show mom heads to bed and my sister and I roam the ship. We stop into a couple of venues but don't stay long due to the smoking policies. We are not smokers. Most of the venues have a smoking and non-smoking section, but lets be honest the smoke doesn't know to stay only in one area! No it takes over the whole venue. We finally found the Rhapsody piano bar; too bad it's nearly midnight. We found a great smoke free area and the best talent on the ship! We listen for a while and then call it a night and head to bed. We awake to a partly sunny sky! Today we have breakfast in the MDR. My mom loves lox and bagels so she is happy, my sister has perfectly poached eggs and I have an omelet that is swimming in butter, but that's OK because it is only the size of my hand...very small! Getting off the ship isn't a problem. We opt to walk into town. We have to work off all of the extra calories from dessert every night, from the drink of the day and all that butter from my omelet! Expect to see the same things over and over and to have vendors really work you. Around lunch time we found ourselves being led to Mango Mango's where we had fresh guacamole made table side for $7, you pay the man then and there. We also had a margarita. My mom had been here before and remembered that the drinks were free-not any more! Make sure you find out up front what the price is. We had so many guys trying to get us into their restaurants offering ½ off or buy one get one deals, so by the time we sat down we didn't really know and based on my mom having been there before...well??? We ate our delicious guacamole and sipped our very weak drinks...they were free right? We sat and sat and sat until we each went to leave a tip for our "free" drinks. When finally a guy came over and said $21. At which point we were all like for those crappy drinks? He said that we should have complained once we received our drinks...maybe the mixture in the machine was off/wrong...I'm sure it was...intentionally! We gave him the $21 and no tip. I told him I was going to let people know about his weak drinks...I think I just did! More shopping, a stop at Starbucks for some caffeine, more shopping and back to the ship! I had read about Carnival's pizza and wanted to give it a try. I ordered the goat cheese and mushroom one, mom and sister were too hungry to wait and had chicken caesar salads. While waiting for my pizza I grabbed drinks from the bar for sis and me. Let me tell you these were the best drinks and they actually had alcohol in them! : ) The pizza was so worth the wait!!! We decided to lie by the pool and read for a while. No problem getting a lounge. We also had a special drink served in a coconut with the face of a monkey carved into it, the top had a slot for coins so that after the trip you could use it as a penny bank...you know to save for your next cruise! We only got one to share...again not big drinkers...light-weights really! The drink was $15 but you can refill it for $6.50. Well, it's time to get ready for dinner. Again dinner doesn't disappoint! I had a white fish that was perfectly prepared. Again, great fun entertainment by the dining staff. We filled the hours after dinner with a refill of our coconut/monkey and enjoying our fellow passengers sing in the Paris Lounge, Karaoke with a live band! We went back to our room to layer up in our Catalina sweatshirts so we could enjoy the deck party on the Lido deck; it was a lot of fun. This was also the night of the midnight buffet, it was a Mexican theme. We didn't take part; it was just another buffet line nothing special. Off to bed! We awake to overcast skies and wind. We head to the buffet for breakfast. One thing that is nice on this ship is that we always found a table. I found the eggs in the buffet to be well, gross. I never went looking for the made to order station. I'm not a big breakfast girl; at home it's just a protein shake. But I'm happy with the oatmeal and the silvered almonds, raisins and brown sugar! I've also found the danish station-I'm on vacation after all! There is also a nice variety of fruit. After breakfast its up to the track for more power walking! After our exercise session we are determined to at least get into a hot tub. So we change into our swimsuits grab our towels, sweatshirts and yes our bathrobes. By the way I've never been on a ship before where so many passengers roam the ship in these robes! I think a lot of us were caught off guard by the cold weather. Now the excuse for wearing the robes over PJ's in the buffet??? Hey we're all on vacation! We head to the adult only solarium and of course there are plenty of lounge chairs...90% are open. We decide to read our books first, we huddle down and try not to freeze, we notice the people who step out of the hot tubs and the look of pain as the cold wind hits their warm, pink flesh, we decide it's not work it! Instead we head inside for something warm to drink. Mom and sis are fine with coffee/tea from the buffet, but I want to try a latte. So we find seats around the cafe, I go to order my skinny vanilla latte; I'm surprised that a large is only $3.50. While waiting for my order I spy the most delicious looking Black Forest cake. I'll try to describe it...it is a layered cake contained in about a 3 or 4 inch cylinder that is make out of a thin layer of chocolate. Being that this is a birthday cruise I can't resist, it's only $2.25 for the dessert. I'm sure on land it would sell for $8.50 or more. Best dessert on the ship! As I set the treat before my family we all realize that today is the chocolate buffet...Oh well! After we share our treat, Mom's off to shower, sister and I decide to at least go look at the chocolate buffet-we see some desserts in the buffet where Elena said to look, but nothing special, maybe we missed it? I'm sure it wasn't anything as good as our Black Forest cake! Off to shower... Lunch already? We make it to the MDR just before it closes for lunch service. I don't recall what mom had but sis and I have another white fish dish. Best entree of the cruise for me! We watched some of the activities in the Paris lounge, looked at the photos we had done and before we know it its time for afternoon tea-can you believe more food??? We sit at a table for 3 and we are served tea of course, but also little finger sandwiches, lox on a toasted beget (for mom), strawberries and cream, cream puff type treats and a chocolate meringue sandwich cookie filled with dark chocolate cream-Sinful! Oh there was more to choose from, but really!?! We already had our treat earlier and by this time my sister is on a sugar rush and needs to walk it off! Not sure what she and mom did, but I went back to the room to pack my suitcase, they soon returned and we all finish packing. Dinnertime! Again the staff sings and entertains us. We have a lovely evening. I had the mushroom soup and it did not disappoint. My mahi-mahi wasn't good though, nor was my crab cake. Strange how the other two fish dishes were so good! After dinner it's show time. We arrive early and grab front row seats for Shout! Fun show. Afterwards we purchase our pictures and roam the different venues then hit the hay! Why Mom was up and showered by 6:30 on the last day I have no idea? But she was so sis and I followed suit and off to the dinning room we went with our carry-on bags in tow. We say good-bye to our room steward in the hall on our way out. He has done a great job and treated us to towel animals every night. For breakfast I encourage my sister to try the eggs Benedict, as she has never had it and the lox as well. Mom ordered the same thing, there was so much that they could have shared one order of each. I remember the poached eggs that my sister ordered the other morning and go for that and fruit. We finish and head back up to the Lido deck for another cup of tea/coffee and find a nice window seat where we sat and read until our number was called. They must have been running late because we weren't called until 10:10. It took a while to get through customs but finally at 11:00 we were in our car heading back to Vegas! Not mentioned but worth noting: -Our room was cold, so I called the # for our room steward and asked for additional blankets. Good call! -While the shower certain didn't attack you the smell of sewage might! I had read about this in previous post so I brought a can of Lysol with me. Not a problem in the restrooms throughout the ship only in our cabin. Thanks for the heads up CC! -I took the bed by the window and found it a bit loud there, mom and sister's "bunk bed" was tucked against the wall and they said it was quiet. I used earplugs and it helped. -The ship layout is a bit choppy; remember deck 8 is blocked mid-ship. Great cruise for the price we paid. This was my 1st Carnival cruise as it was for my sister. We didn't know what to expect. I'm sure all sailings are different, but I really liked the vibe of the ship, friendly staff, all ages of passengers-families with little ones, families with older kids, young couples, newly weds, 30-60 something couples and a few seniors. Missing was the college crowd, but that is due to the time of year. By the way, my mom is in her mid 60's and my sister and I are approaching our mid 40's...she's just beating me to it! The only other advice I can think of is always take the stairs (if you are able), it helps to keep the extra lbs away! This review is for those of you (like me) who want all the info you can get while planning, for the rest of you sorry it was so long! Happy cruising!!! Oh, and yes! I would take this cruise again for the right price...I noticed it really does vary depending on the time of year. : ) Enjoy! Read Less
Sail Date: February 2012
After 10 other cruises I feel like an experienced cruiser. We took this to celebrate our wedding anniversary, 35 years. It was a nice cruise, but not breathtaking. We paid extra for a balcony and that was a waste of money. The balcony ... Read More
After 10 other cruises I feel like an experienced cruiser. We took this to celebrate our wedding anniversary, 35 years. It was a nice cruise, but not breathtaking. We paid extra for a balcony and that was a waste of money. The balcony was only about 1 1/2 feet wide, 4 feet long, and two people couldn't even be on it at the same time. However, it was nice to be able to open the door for the fresh air. The ship itself, although clean, was tired and old and needed some TLC. The room was very nice, large, and that was worth the extra money. The dining room was ok, but the food was not very good. Most times it was cold, or chewy, can't say there was one great meal. The coffee was old and tasted like swamp water. The dessert's were terrific though, Carnival seems to be famous for their desserts. We cannot say enough about our cabin stewards and the dining room servers. They were excellent. The cabin steward introduced himself, and from then on he was discreet and aside from a smiling Good Morning on most mornings he went about his business and we had little interactions with him. Our room was kept immaculate at all times. Kudos to them. Also the dining room Head Waiter learned all our names and used them from the first night forward. Kudos also to him. We went into Catalina, but choose not to go into Ensanada. We had been there a couple of times before and knew Mexico held no interest for us. Catalina is a lovely little island, we enjoyed it. The true highlight of the trip was the Chef's Table. What an amazing experience that was, from beginning to end. It was worth every cent, the food was wonderful, the wines were ever flowing, we were truly pampered. Make sure if you take this little cruise you sign up for this, it is where you want to put your time and money! Getting on and off the ship was much easier this time than our last Carnival Cruise leaving and returning to Los Angeles. But then again for one brief period we were VIP's. All in all we enjoyed this and it's only as good as you let it be. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
I have cruised with Carnival for years both on the Mexican Rivera and the Caribbean and have enjoyed every cruise until this one. The ship was dirty in that I mean the windows were dirty with rust around the window frames. My wife and I ... Read More
I have cruised with Carnival for years both on the Mexican Rivera and the Caribbean and have enjoyed every cruise until this one. The ship was dirty in that I mean the windows were dirty with rust around the window frames. My wife and I got some good friends to try this cruise and we talked it up a lot but I was embarrassed at what I see as poor maintenance on the exterior of the ship as a whole. When you are looking out your window and see rust stains almost entirely encircling your window it is not a nice sight but then again the window was so dirty that any view was obscured anyway. Our room was immaculate and our room steward, Eugene was on his game. No problems there. My wife and I like to find a place on the Promenade deck and just sit and have a few drinks and watch our fellow passengers. Bar stewards used to be plentiful but not on this cruise. The dining room was the worst. You could sit for an extended period of time and never see a bar person and then they went by so quickly you couldn't get there attention. At dinner it was 50/50 if you would see one at all to order drinks. One oddity was that there were gambling machines outside the casino with only a camera on them. There was also some other type of machine that you guided a pointer to get money, IPad, etc and there was no marking on the machine of what age could try to win money or a prize. The machine was also available when the ship was in port in Ensenada. I think kids should not be playing this but parents and kids were playing it with no casino personnel anywhere. The casino itself did not appear to have enough floor personnel and the ones they had were not interested in helping my wife when her machine continually malfunctioned on the first night. One malfunction caused her to lose a jackpot and the casino employee seeing that just walked off. Last night when I need to get the cash off my Sail and Sign card there was only one person in the cage at 9:00pm and there was a long line of people waiting. Since cashing in on the last night seems to be a big deal I would think that they could have had 2 of the 3 windows open. The dining room was nice and the waiters and other personnel did a great job getting the food to us but the quality was bad. The flat steak on Friday night was horrible (but much better on Sunday night, per my friends). I had Talapia that was warm when I got it and quite frankly looked like it sat in the back for awhile until it was served. It was dried out and tough. Worst dinner I have ever had on any cruise I have been on. I had ice cream for dessert and it was over half melted when I got it. I drank it mostly. Poor service by the kitchen or waiter I am not sure who. Lastly, what's up with the shop sales people? They sound like the street hawkers downtown Ensenada, they start talking outside the store and try to get you to go in and it is annoying. I am used to being left alone until I want or need a sales person but these guys( younger guys) were too loud and too obnoxious for my liking. I generally stayed out of the area. For bringing new first time cruises on board touting the food and the service we went away all commenting on the lack of both on this cruise. I am quite sure I will never get them to cruise Carnival again. What a shame. Overall, I always have a relaxing time but Carnival needs to step up on ship cleaning especially on the exterior. Dirty windows and rust show a lack of attention to displaying Carnival as a serious cruise company. Will we cruise again with Carnival, of course, but I will be looking to see if they are still going to try and impress their Platinum members like they have in the past. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
I just got back from sailing on the Inspiration for a weekend with my mom friends and free of spouses and kids. (This is our third annual moms cruise). Fifteen of us boarded the ship on January 6th without issue. Although the ship was ... Read More
I just got back from sailing on the Inspiration for a weekend with my mom friends and free of spouses and kids. (This is our third annual moms cruise). Fifteen of us boarded the ship on January 6th without issue. Although the ship was reportedly sold out, my friends and I all arrived at different times during the day with all of us reporting short lines and fast check-in. This was much improved over our experience last year where we waited in line for over 2 hours to get on board. This is my first sailing on the Inspiration having previously sailed the same itinerary on the Paradise three times. The ships seemed to be virtually identical with exception of the water slide area which was much better on this ship. Our large group opted for the late seating in the dining room and we were sat at two tables which were adjacent to each other. The menus were unchanged from last year's menu, the food was fine (good - not great), I enjoyed the soups and of course the chocolate melting cake. I really enjoyed the tea which was offered at the day at sea in the piano bar area. Highly recommend. The assortment of sandwiches, tarts and desserts were delicious. Don't miss the sushi bar at 5pm for an early evening snack. The adult comedy was excellent on Sunday night. I didnt catch any of the big shows as they were unchanged from last year and they were just okay last year. We had breakfast each morning in the dining room which was nice. Eggs Benedict was delicious and I also enjoyed the belgian waffles and french toast. Lunch was at the buffet which fine. There is good selection and if you like chocolate, don't miss the chocolate covered fruit station in the back by the deli area. There were apples, pinapple and melon that the attendant will dip in dark chocolate. The dance clubs were hopping each of the three nights as was the karoake club. There was a live band playing outside of the casino which was quite good. People would walk by and join the fun and it turned into an impromptu dance floor. Leaving the ship was also quick. After breakfast in the dining room, we headed out at 9am (carrying all our bags) and was in the parking garage within 30 minutes. This ship is older but clean. The staff worked hard. Our group had a great time and for the price, its a good value. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
Took an early flight from bay area on the morning of 1/13/12-flew into Long Beach Airport. We were at Carnival Port(Long Beach) and on the boat by 11:30am. It was the first time we ever got on this early.It was a breeze. We chose to bring ... Read More
Took an early flight from bay area on the morning of 1/13/12-flew into Long Beach Airport. We were at Carnival Port(Long Beach) and on the boat by 11:30am. It was the first time we ever got on this early.It was a breeze. We chose to bring on our own luggage with the allotted 1 bottle of wine per person. We went & ate (grilled Reubens very tasty)& relaxed in the sun a bit, then went to the room(inside U81)at 1:30 to drop bags. Room was ready & we met our room steward, I Made (pronounced Imaudie). Very pleasant, always smiling & took very good care of us over the next few days! We loved our inside room - it was quiet, dark & mid-ship. We did the Your Time Dining & liked the fact that we could go whenever. We had a table for 2 each time & got right in each night. The longest wait was about 5 minutes because we accidentally showed up at the same time as the 8pm seating one night. Food was good in dining room - but could improve, loved the chocolate melting cake, and we went to the omelet bar for breakfast each morning. A short wait, but way better than the eggs in the buffet. We didn't make it to shows this time except karaoke one night. It was okay with a few exceptional singers. Instead we listened to music in the Rock and Roll lounge and in Violins Bar. I treated myself to a martini each night (Violins) and Rahyu (pronounced R U)remembered how I liked them each night. Port day in Ensenada we took shuttle into town, walked around the shops and finally stopped at Pappas and Beer for a margarita & a beer & some people watching. It's a good little getaway when you can't go M-F! Read Less
Sail Date: January 2012
Our 3 and 5 year old granddaughters were introduced to cruising on the Carnival Inspiration. We had been telling them that it would be fun and lots of pizza and ice cream available to eat. The 3 year old wasn't too sure about going ... Read More
Our 3 and 5 year old granddaughters were introduced to cruising on the Carnival Inspiration. We had been telling them that it would be fun and lots of pizza and ice cream available to eat. The 3 year old wasn't too sure about going on a cruise without her parents. The girls were excited once they saw the ship. Arrived a little after 11:30 am and waited in line to get cabin keys. We didn't check in early near the Queen Mary and had to wait for the other 8 zones of people to enter the terminal before we got in. We were on board by 12:30 and went for lunch on the Lido deck. About 1:20 pm announcement was made that we could go to our cabins. Get an oceanview cabin if you have young kids. They spent a lot of time looking out at the shore, sea, dolphins, seagulls, boats, etc. Both loved the pull down bunk bed. The staff was great throughout the whole ship. I dropped my camera and someone turned it into lost and found. I had the camera back within an hour of losing it. Our waiter, Surin, was outstanding and patient with the girls while they were deciding what they wanted to eat. The older granddaughter enjoyed Camp Carnival, family comedy show, and afternoon tea. The younger one wanted to stay with us and only went to Camp Carnival when they had face painting. Both liked the T-shirts they received from Camp Carnival on the last night. It was a good first cruise for both of them. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We flew into Tampa 2 days early and were booked into the Holiday Inn Rocky Point. We felt this was a good choice as they had shuttle service not only to the port but would pick you up at the airport as well as take you anywhere within a ... Read More
We flew into Tampa 2 days early and were booked into the Holiday Inn Rocky Point. We felt this was a good choice as they had shuttle service not only to the port but would pick you up at the airport as well as take you anywhere within a four mile radius of the Hotel. The rooms were very nice and exceptionally clean plus the Hotel offered a great morning breakfast. The only downside was that the only restaurant close was the Bahama Breeze and it is a very popular spot, so you had better have reservations. We found the food there to be excellent. Embarkation-- Could not have went better. We arrived at about noon and as this was the first time we were considered VIP's, the whole process took less than 20 minutes. Once aboard we met up with the other two couples we booked this cruise with. The Good: The ship was in great shape and the crew was constantly working on it,painting,cleaning and making sure it was top notch. The crew was uniformly courteous and friendly. Quick with a smile and a greeting. We were booked into an obstructed balcony room. While this is sold as a suite it is really nothing more than a balcony room, however the balcony is very small. I have read a lot of comments on these boards regarding these rooms and I must say that we found this room more than adequate for our needs. The extra space was great and the balcony, while small was sufficient for what we used it for. The view is partially blocked but it was not a great hindrance to seeing what you desired. Our room steward was lights out. He was always pleasant, kept the ice bucket full, and met any other needs we had. The room was always spotless and he even loaned us a bottle opener for a bottle of wine. Great crew. The Bad: We had early seating for dinner and a table for 10 (5 couples) including the two couples we we sailing with. The first night we were seated and it took over an hour before we got any food and then it was cold. The next night 4 of the five couples went to the buffet. The Maitre d came around and asked what the trouble was and the remaining couple told him. He said the problem was that of the 2100 or so passengers aboard, about 1900 of them opted to eat early. While the anytime diners can eat at 5:30 the early seating doesn't eat until 6:00. My question would be that if they knew that, why not put some extra help in early dinning room. He suggested that we come at 5:30 for dinner. So we started that and never had any further problems, in fact after that the service and food was great. While not five star cuisine it was more than adequate. I must say though that having been on two previous Carnival cruises as well as sailing on two other lines, the quality of the food and selections have diminished in my opinion. It is also apparent that they have reduced the staff and while the ones serving you are terrific they are over worked. The buffet basically had the same food as the dinning room but the addition of the sandwich station, pizza station and poolside grill made it a good choice for lunch. All three stations had great food. The downside to the buffet besides the crowding was the decor. The room looks like a large bunch of purple worms with their ends covered with orange and overlaid with a black webbing. Our group referred to this area as "The Colonoscopy Room". Whomever their designer was for this is indeed a sick individual. The Ugly: Every single disembarkation we had on this trip, whether it was for an excursion or for the final disembarkation was a total scr%@#ed up mess. Never once did we get off on time. In Costa Rica we were over three hours late to our excursion and in hindsight should have just cancelled it as many others did. The excuse was the tides and not being able to match the boarding ramps to the dock. The Paradise had been in there two days previous, maybe they might have learned something from them, or failing that went to the nearest hardware store and bought a tide book for less than a dollar. In Cabo we were the first ship on anchor, followed by Disney and another ship, both of which started disembarking passengers shortly after anchoring. We were still messing around an hour and a half later. I noticed the other ships were disembarking pax's on the lee side of their ships while we were trying to get people off on the Oceanside which made it rougher. simple little thing. The disembarkation at long beach was a complete joke with many passengers missing their flights.( I know of at least four personally). There was a complete lack of coordination and it was apparent that one hand did not know what the other was doing. Unfortunate as it was this led to a lot of discord amongst the passengers. The differing announcements--go to the Paris lounge--no--go to the lido deck and have lunch--no--go back to the Paris lounge really showed to all a failure of those responsible for running this disembarkation. There surely is a better way of doing this. Final Analysis: Hey, it was a cruise! We enjoyed seeing the sights we got to see-- the Panama Canal, Cartagena, Costa Rica. We enjoyed the great warm weather and being pampered, if only somewhat. I have heard it many times that a cruise is what you make and I have to say that is the truth. Sure, there were problems but we still had a good time. Would I do it again? My wife says not on Carnival but I have not closed that door yet. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2011
We live locally so the morning of December 19th we awoke, finished packing and loaded the car for the 1 hour drive to Long Beach and the start of our cruise. We have never cruised in the month of December before. Our past cruises have ... Read More
We live locally so the morning of December 19th we awoke, finished packing and loaded the car for the 1 hour drive to Long Beach and the start of our cruise. We have never cruised in the month of December before. Our past cruises have been summer cruises - June and July - on either Carnival, Disney or Celebrity. We booked this cruise because there was no airfare required, it was the week before Christmas and we though a nice pre-Christmas get away would be relaxing. Because we had taken a big family trip over the summer - Carnival Dream cruise followed by one week in Disneyworld we booked an inside cabin for the 4 of us. Mom, dad and two teenagers age 13 & 15. Usually the kids sleep and that is it in the cabin. My husband and I usually hang out at various times throughout the day on previous cruises on the balconies so this would be a new experience for us in an inside room. Embarkation was a disaster but I don't know who was to blame for this. The computer system they use to check you in was not working at all. : ( Everything had to be done manually which resulted in long lines and longer waits. From the time we arrived in the parking lot until the time we boarded the ship it was 1 1/2 hours which is not normal for this port. Once we were on the ship we were greeted by Welcomes from many crew members and directions to get to the buffet for lunch, which is where we headed. After lunch the rooms were opened so we headed down to our room. We knew an interior would be a different experience for our family - we usually book balconies and only a couple times an ocean view room and this was an interior on the bottom deck midship. The room was very clean, had more than enough storage space to place our clothes and suitcases fit perfectly under the bed. We met Raul our room-steward who was great. We ran into him a few times during the cruise and the room was always clean, ice in the bucket and clean towels in the bathroom even though we hung the used ones up to save water. No complaints here. We explored the ship, got our bearings and then were ready for the muster drill. Ours was initially inside in the Rock and Roll Lounge and after discussing what to do we were all walked out to the life boats 'just in case'. Dining - We had anytime dining and the first night was the only night we had to wait for a table. We received a beeper and went to the library to wait. Our dining room was the Mardi Gras. After about 20 minutes we received our table. The remaining three nights we arrived about the same time however were seated immediately. Overall the food is fine. Not 5 Star but adequate for our family and always arrived hot and with attentive servers. We had breakfast on the lido deck buffet and lunch daily here as well. The lines moved a bit slow and the selection of hot items was just OK. There was a nice salad bar daily, deli sandwiches made fresh for you and a pizza bar opened 24 hours. The desserts in the buffet was just adequate and that allowed me to skip dessert at lunch. We did not use room service or eat in any other venue so I can only comment on the buffets and MDR. Shows - The first night we did not attend any welcome shows. We were tired and in bed by 9 PM! The second night and 4th night we attended the shows in the Paris Lounge with the dancers and singers. They were the usual Carnival shows, well done and with a million and one costume changes. The final day - our sea day - there was a children's holiday show where the kids on board could participate with the dancers and singers, it snowed on the stage and Santa came for a quick visit. Spa and Casino - walked through them but did not utilize any services here. Pools - it was cold so very few people were in them. No chair hogs this trip!Kids clubs - 13 year old daughter participated in Circle C and 15 year old son participated in Club 02. Both met other kids in their age range and enjoyed some activities on board. The kids programs on port days however don't open until after 3 PM for Catalina. Various activities were offered - Wii, scavenger hunt, trivia, karaoke, and more. Both kids received a cute t-shirt that their new friends signed. They enjoyed spending time with other kids vs. being stuck with their parents. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: November 2011
This was our 8th cruise overall, but our second cruise with Carnival. The last Carnival cruise was really boring. This cruise however, was really nice. We decided to book since our 7 year old was out of school for the Thanksgiving week. ... Read More
This was our 8th cruise overall, but our second cruise with Carnival. The last Carnival cruise was really boring. This cruise however, was really nice. We decided to book since our 7 year old was out of school for the Thanksgiving week. We were really surprised at the number of children on this cruise. We were told that of the almost 3,000 passengers on board, 800 were children. We recommend getting to the ship by 1200. Check-in really is a breeze. The cost of parking is about $75. Before you park, drop your bags off and have them delivered to your cabin. When you return from parking, have your passport ready. Expect 15-20 minutes to get through security and checked in. We also recommend bringing as many cases of water on board as you can carry. We didn't know they would let us, but we wished we had. Once you're on board and settled, take a tour around the ship. This is not a huge ship, but one can get lost often enough. Shortly after sailing, you'll have to go through the muster drill. This too is very simply and Carnival does this drill by zones. Once the drill is complete, consider attending the Camp Carnival introduction. This is a free day care service which our daughter actually had fun participating in. They offered a list of daily activities and again, our little really enjoyed this. The food was not so great, but good enough for a cruise. Carnival does not offer open seating which we prefer, but we were lucky enough to sit with a very nice family. I'm not sure why, but Carnival did not have a lot to offer in the form of entertainment. Besides one really good show at the end of our cruise, there really was nothing offered. I mean outside of "Hair Chest" competition, gender wars, music trivia, etc. NCL & RCCL offer great shows. Overall, we would do it again. We didn't expect to be this happy with this cruise, but we were. On a scale of 1-10, we give this cruise a 7.5. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2011
Pre-Cruise hotel: Arrived two nights prior to embarkation and stayed at the Wyndham, Westport. We booked through Priceline and won a $45 bid. The hotel was convenient, good quality, and had an attentive staff. I had reserved the ... Read More
Pre-Cruise hotel: Arrived two nights prior to embarkation and stayed at the Wyndham, Westport. We booked through Priceline and won a $45 bid. The hotel was convenient, good quality, and had an attentive staff. I had reserved the Embassy Suites at $93 for Sat and $103 for Sun and found that to be the average in Westport. The Wyndham was more than adequate and nicer than expected for the price. Unfortunately they discontinued the M&M's at the desk. I asked about it and the manager told me it cost on average $5,000 per month to keep M&M's on the front desk. They still have bags, all you have to do is ask. Recommend against the "Stay and Sail" package. The transportation folks will pick-up and drop off at the airport and the cruise port without the package. Save your money. The drivers don't see any of the $ from the package deal anyway, so our party of 6 tipped $30 each way and they were very appreciative. Embarkation: Standard porter haze, they won't let you check your own bag, so porter/tips are part of the deal. I guess $2 isn't too much to ask, I just don't like not having the option. Most of us did the "roll on" option and it was painless. The "Platinum Class" process looked very quick and efficient. The regular folks (us) were in line about 45 minutes. We've have definitely seen less efficient and comfortable operations. The Cruise itself: Ship- adequate, but lacking in many of the modern facilities of the newer ships. The ship only had a small pool and two hot tubs, no "jumbotron" for MNF or movies for the kids and an older somewhat inefficient design for traffic flow. Overall the ship was in decent shape but showed a very hurried dry dock where many of the finishing/cosmetics were rushed or incomplete. The carpet for example was not trimmed properly in areas or was left uneven. This is not a big deal but something that even a casual observer would notice. Our daughter was in the 9-11 year old kids program and quickly bored with the program. They do more babysitting than actual programs. Not terrible though, but anticlimactic after our last cruise on Disney. Food: Hit or miss. The dining room fare vacillated between above average to totally uninspired. The Lobster, prime rib, and chocolate melting cake were all good. The rest was mass produced and lacked inspiration and freshness. The Eggs Benedict had a hard crust every morning on the hollandaise sauce from sitting under the heat lamp. The service was polite but often deplorable. I use the empty water as a metric of service and we had to ask for more water every single meal. The servers are spread very thin and appear harried and undermanned. The days of personal service and building a report with your service staff are apparently over on the big box lines. JMO We never did room service, our daughter enjoyed the pizza and it looked fresh and good. The buffet on the Lido was often overrun with guests loading up on platefuls of medium quality fare. Entertainment: The comedians were fine, not to my taste but my wife laughed at Valerie Storm's show. The Variety show was actually well done. Not to Disney standards but well above the amateurish NCL star crew we saw last year on the Star. Ports: Grand Caymen- Walk outside the fence and book your own excursion, you end up at the same place and in our case the very same boat, at half price or less. Cozumel- We took a taxi to Palancar, I dove a single tank (Columbia, and Palancar gardens) and my wife and daughter snorkled. It wasn't cheap but very relaxed and low key. The dive was first rate ($60) and the snorkel equipment for the girls was $10 each. Mario the beach server was a genuinely nice man that doted over our daughter. Summary: Have fun but manage expectations before time so there are no major disappointments. Carnival is better than we remember but it's still very entry level. The rooms at 185 square feet are better than most and our steward Gabby was first rate. he definitely deserved the extra gratuity. The only negative comment I have about the stateroom was the dirty exterior of the window. Enjoy your vacation! Read Less
Sail Date: October 2011
We wanted to do something special for our 25th Anniversary, but recognizing that in a few years 2 of our 3 children will be in college - we decided to celebrate on a trip for all 5 of us. The first half of our trip was 9 days in Orlando, ... Read More
We wanted to do something special for our 25th Anniversary, but recognizing that in a few years 2 of our 3 children will be in college - we decided to celebrate on a trip for all 5 of us. The first half of our trip was 9 days in Orlando, FL enjoying all that the theme parks have to offer - and when we were trying to decide what to do the rest of our trip, my husband, after all my years of pestering him, to my surprise suggested a cruise. I knew that Carnival was the only cruise line that has cabins that accommodate 2 adults and 3 children - so we decided to narrow our search only to Carnival. After looking at a ton of options, we decided on the Inspiration going to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We love to snorkel, but have only done it on the pacific so were very excited about Grand Cayman as we read that it's the location of the best snorkeling in the world. We were also very excited about Cozumel because we LOVE Mexico. Unfortunately due to storms, our stop in Grand Cayman was cancelled. Here are the "facts" and things we did right or would do differently. The end of the review will be more narrative if you decide to keep reading. Cabin: we chose the least expensive cabin that was available when we booked (interior on the lowest floor) but about 6 weeks before embarkation we had an email from Carnival offering us an upgrade to an Ocean-view for only $50 more We were on Empress Deck - which was great! The room felt spacious even though there were 5 of us. Closet space is great and bedding is very comfortable. We had 2 uppers and a king size w/a trundle. We brought an outlet strip to accommodate all the electrical things since there is only one outlet (thanks Cruise Critic Members for that hint!) WEIGHT GAIN and CRUISING: We had just been in Florida walking 6+ miles a day at theme parks so we decided to take the stairs as much as possible on the cruise. We ate more than we usually do, but 3 out of 5 of us lost weight on the trip! Take the stairs - it's great exercise.Soda Card/Bar Coupons: Before we left we gave our children the option of us buying them the "bubbles" card ($25) or giving them $25 cash to spend on the trip. They chose the cash, so I went on to the website (Bon Voyage) and bought each of them a gift which was 4 "tickets" for soft drinks on the ship ($7) It was a great way for them to order soda when they wanted one in the restaurant or by the pool. We also brought 3 12 packs with us (you are allowed one 12 pack per person) but since we were usually drinking water or iced tea, we ended up only drinking about one 12 pack. We also made sure that our kids knew to NEVER drink any of the water bottles or soda that are left in the cabin for our convenience (thanks again CC members!) I did the same for my husband - but with bar "coupons" for 4 drinks ($23.) These were not as good of a deal as the soda ones - they only gave you $5.75 off any drink, but most drinks were $7 - $9 so there was always an "upcharge" and we didn't really save anything - but we were able to offset some of the expense by "pre paying" for a lot of the drinks. Also - you can get any of their yummy drinks without alcohol for the kids usually for only $4.50. The wait staff was always around to take your order and were very good about any special requests. DINING: We had heard a lot about assigned tables/table mates so we decided we wanted the "full cruise experience" and opted for late dining (8:15.) The first night when we arrived at our table, the head waiter greeted our son by name and was very friendly to all of us. Our son was a little sea sick (actually all of us were a little off - waves 15 - 20 feet) and our waiter brought him crackers and when we left dinner that night sent us with a stack of crackers. Both the head waiter and assistant were fantastic. Dinner was probably one of the best times on the ship for us because of the great food and the great waiters. Unfortunately our dining partners (another family of 5) never came to dinner - so we always sat alone. The dining room was our favorite place to eat all of the meals, but for convenience sake we often ate on the lido deck for lunch. In the dining room, the breakfast menu was the same,lunch had some variety and dinner had one side of the menu consistently the same and the other side unique. The food was consistently DELICIOUS but the portions were way too much and our family felt badly that every night more food was thrown away than eaten at our table. I'm recommending to Carnival that they offer "small" and "large" portion options. Having photographers at dinner almost every night got to be a bit annoying, as was evident in our families pictures towards the end of the cruise. The other options for dining included a variety buffet inside the lido deck restaurant, Mongolian wok on the lido deck outdoors (lunch only) and a grill on the lido deck outdoors as well (chicken strips, burgers, hot dogs, etc...) In the evening there was also sushi on the promenade deck. Ice Cream was available 24 hours a day as well, and for a small price, the Coffee bar had beautiful and delicious desserts ($3 and $4.) We also ordered from room service a few late nights (hot chocolate and cookies or cheesecake.) Make sure you tip them. :) TEA TIME: On the 2nd day at sea we found "tea time" in the Rhapsody in Blue Lounge. It was the best way to spend a relaxing hour in the afternoon. Beautiful setting, soft piano music, delicious tea and yummy cream puffs, cucumber sandwiches, cakes, etc... (another good reason to choose late dining!) Get there early as the 2nd day we tried to bring our kids and had to wait quite a while for a table to clear.ENTERTAINMENT: We went to the Paris Lounge for the talent night (7 passengers performing) but the quality of most of the entertainers that night was not very good(there were 2 that actually were on key...) We enjoyed the karaoke and the "superstar" karaoke where there was a live band playing the songs. We did stop in at a show in the Paris lounge the last night on the ship but it was quite boring and our son asked if we could leave. We did attend a "family friendly" comedy set one night - but unfortunately they only had that one night - the rest of the nights it was "adults only." The piano players were great - but every night there was a guy playing guitar and singing either by the casino or in the atrium lounge bar area and he was awful - it was almost like a joke - but he kept coming back. DEBARKATION IN PORT - COZUMEL: since we had to cancel our stop in Grand Cayman due to the weather, we actually got into Cozumel 1 day early and were there from 5 p.m. Wednesday to 8 p.m. Thursday. It was actually really nice because we went downtown to shop and eat on Wednesday and then could focus on the water and other sites on Thursday. The port you arrive at is not near anything - you have to walk to the exit of the port and get a taxi or rent a car. The taxi's have a set price and everything is in dollars - so that is nice. Make sure when you get a taxi to take you back to port you confirm the same price you paid coming into town ($11 each way when we were there.) There are usually 3 - 5 ships in port there every day, but due to the bad weather all the ships had cancelled for 3 days so the vendors were like piranha's when we arrived downtown. I used to live in Mexico and speak Spanish fluently so we did ok getting them to leave us alone. One thing you have to know is that when the quote you a price, it's probably twice what you should pay - so always cut their price by 60% and work your way up from there. Also - if you just walk away - they will usually come chase you down and continue to bargain. We asked a local for a recommendation for an authentic mexican restaurant and he directed us to a little hole in the wall outdoor place (in a carport) about 8 blocks from downtown. It was delicious, but if you don't speak spanish fluently - probably should stick to downtown "gringo" restaurants. When we got back on board that night they made us walk through the "duty free" shop which I found annoying - especially with 3 tired kids. Getting on and off the ship was fairly easy and we never had to wait more than 5 minutes except right before our departure as so many people had to turn in their liquor purchases (me included - 2 bottles of Kahlua for $20!) We did not purchase any ship excursions, instead rented a jeep to explore the island ($75 w/tax right there in port.) It was great - all 5 of us, the top down stopping along side the ocean to swim whenever/wherever we wanted. This was definitely the BEST part of our trip! We also went to the San Gervasio Ruins - definitely NOT worth it! We wished we had skipped that and stayed in the ocean longer. Make sure you bring bottles of water with you and lots of sun screen. Other Ship "Stuff" Water slide was not that exciting - but maybe it was because we had just been in Orlando. The pool has saltwater and was almost always full. The hot tubs by the pool were always full. The Serenity Deck is Adults Only and we sometimes found a seat there - but it was often crowded. The photo gallery is fun - but they take so many pics that you feel bad throwing so many away when you sort through what you want to buy. We had decided to buy pics as we never have our family pictures taken. Best purchase we made - the pictures were great and we got 5 portraits, get one free ($22 each) from formal night. We also bought some watches and other trinkets on the ship - lots of the prices were pretty good. Miniature golf on the sports deck was fun and windy! Our son went to Camp Carnival activities for his age group - but he said his counselors were always grumpy and yelling at the kids - so we only went to a few things each day. Our daughters went to their club and the counselor was great. Lots of teens on the ship were drinking as their parents and other family members were buying drinks for them - that was disappointing. Read Less
1 Helpful Vote
Sail Date: October 2011
Inspiration -â€" Uninspired This was my 10th cruise, 7th on Carnival and 2nd on the Inspiration. So -â€" I knew what to expect from Carnival. The Inspiration's days are numbered out of Tampa. Soon, this ship ... Read More
Inspiration -â€" Uninspired This was my 10th cruise, 7th on Carnival and 2nd on the Inspiration. So -â€" I knew what to expect from Carnival. The Inspiration's days are numbered out of Tampa. Soon, this ship will be on the west coast and the Paradise will be taking its place. The Paradise is the same ship, same age, different décor, so I don't expect it to be much different. Here are the high- and low-lights: Food: The main dining room still provides good food. It seems like the waiters have bigger areas to serve, as service was slow. Highlights off the menu continue to be Warm Chocolate Melting Cake, Prime Rib, Farmer's Salad and BBQ Ribs. Bread was hot and fresh one night and cold and somewhat stale the next. Outside grill continues to serve hot and tasty hamburgers, fries and chicken nuggets with very good honey mustard sauce. The inside buffet lines ranged in themes from French to Caribbean and none were inspired. Lots of carbs -â€" not so much protein. Breakfast at the buffet was the same every morning. You have to go one place to get sweet rolls, one place to get (and toast) your bread, one place to get your omelets and another place to get your drink. By the time you are done getting your food together, some is cold and then you have to find a place to eat. We usually get our table set-ups and drinks, find a place and then go get the food. The coffee machines in the buffet area did not work properly the entire time. Very frustrating. When they were working, coffee was terrible. Entertainment: The live entertainment on the 5-night cruise has been cut to 2 production shows. The Latin-themed show was excellent. The Shout! show is about 2-3 years old and the costumes look it. The other nights are lame. The piano player in the main atrium was great, but there are so few seats in the area, that you have to just stand around if you want to listen to him. The other groups I heard throughout the ship were mediocre and one duo was so bad, I winced while hearing them while I was in the casino. Entertainment Staff: Some of the best I have sailed with. Matt, especially, has a lot of personality and a great sense of humor. Stephanie, the Cruise Director, was adequate, but it seemed like we heard a little too much of her over the loud speakers. The crew was, as usual, nice and helpful throughout. One last thing: music was too loud everywhere: especially on deck and in the Paris Lounge. Bring some earplugs. Miscellaneous Hints and Tips: 1. There are no fridges in the staterooms. 2. Bring an extension cord. There is one plug in the stateroom and no plugs in the bathroom. 3. If you have "Anytime Seating" for dinner and you like where they put you the first night, remember to write down your table number and waiter's name, so you can ask for them for the rest of the cruise. If you don't like where they put you the first night or your waiter, you can ask for someone else the next night. 4. One bottle of liquor and one carton of cigarettes per person. That's it. If you buy more, you must pay duty when you re-enter the country. Duty on one carton of cigarettes is over $23.00!!!! 5. Cappuccino after dinner is included -â€" no extra cost. Even for the money, this cruise was disappointing. My first Carnival disappointment. Read Less
Carnival Inspiration Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 3.0 4.1
Dining 4.0 3.9
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 3.9
Family 4.0 3.9
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.3
Service 4.0 4.2
Value For Money 5.0 4.1
Rates 2.0 4.3

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