This cruise was a four-night trip on the Carnival Inspiration, round trip from Long Beach, visiting Catalina Island and Ensenada. This was my 16th cruise lifetime, and 4th on Carnival. My most recent cruises were on Princess; my last cruise on Carnival was about two years ago. This was my first cruise as a solo (divorced) traveler. I picked this trip simply because the timing worked out, and the price was right. Even having to pay double occupancy fare, with taxes, port fees and gratuities prepaid it came to under $500.
I arrived early on Monday morning at the pier at 10:30am. My boarding pass showed I was in boarding group A3 and has a check-in time of 12:30pm. The parking garage is incredibly convenient, being right next to the terminal building. Part of it is currently under construction for expansion, but I had no problem finding a spot, and ended up on the ramp between the 1st and 2nd floors, right near the exit. Incidentally, this location charges $23 per night for parking.
There were several porters sitting around by the curb at the edge of the garage, but I couldn’t immediately tell if they were bringing luggage out for people leaving or picking up new luggage. So I walked past them before being directed back by the friendly Carnival staff at the crosswalk. At the terminal building there was no one waiting, and the staff welcomed me to come inside and “get the process started”. They have three lines at the entrance – one for priority and FTTF, one for people arriving at their check-in time, and one for people arriving early. It didn’t matter though, since again no one was there. So I walked into the terminal at 10:42am and was through security at 10:45. Then I had nothing to do but wait inside the large domed building on their cushy bench seats.
Off of the stair and elevator landings they have big signs indicating which side has odd and which has even stateroom numbers. And honestly, I still get turned around on ships and almost always head to the wrong side first, turning back as soon as I see the first stateroom door number. So that was actually appreciated. My stateroom was U7, a far-forward oceanview (portholes) room. This is one area where the ship still shows its age, although flooring and furniture is not original to the 1996 launch date (the ship was last refurbished in late 2018). The room is actually quite spacious, as I’ve found rooms to be compared with the small rooms on Princess. But it has no nightstand, no fridge, no thermostat (just a ceiling vent you can open or close to control air flow). There’s one electrical outlet at the desk. On previous cruises I’ve enjoyed using magnet clips on the walls to hold papers I’m saving. On this ship there’s not enough metal in the walls for this to work. Fortunately the bathroom and stateroom doors would hold a magnet. The bathroom only has one small shelf to put stuff on (on Princess I’ve found they offer a lot of bathroom storage space). But, it is a very good size room, and was comfortable enough. It does have a desk chair and an ottoman seat as well.
I didn’t see my room steward Montana all that much, but I’m a low maintenance guy. She was very nice all the same, and I got a different towel animal each day. They now have you pick what time frame you want for your cleaning time, or a nightly turndown, or if you want both. The stewards have a piece of paper you make your selection on, and you have to sign it.