Built in 1996, the 2,056-passenger Carnival Inspiration has Carnival's hallmark features: a water park with a twisting waterslide, an adults-only area, and plenty of family-friendly activities. It also received some of the line's most popular bars and casual eateries after a renovation in 2016, including Guy's Burger Joint and BlueIguana Tequila Bar as well as RedFrog Rum Bar and Alchemy cocktail lounge. Although the budget-friendly ship may still lack some of the much-touted attractions of newer vessels, features include steakhouse offerings on the main dinner menu, and the Taste Bar, with samples of dishes from restaurants on the line’s other ships.
What We Love
Complimentary Casual Food: Guy's Burger Joint serves up some of our favorite burgers at sea, and the tacos and burritos at BlueIguana Tequila Bar — complete with a station with all the fixings — hit the spot for lunch by the pool.
Behind-the-Scenes Tour: This onboard excursion is well worth the $55 per person for a look at the inner workings of what it takes to produce the thousands of meals eaten on board in a week. (Plus, you get the recipe for Carnival’s melting chocolate cake.) Still curious? You can also explore the engine control room, the bridge, the laundry, and the backstage area of the theater.
Rhapsody in Blue Piano Bar: A barstool-studded bar encircles a baby grand, where the piano player takes requests and leads guests in an engaging singalong.
Best Known For
Kids Programs: Carnival has improved its children’s offerings in recent years with a partnership with Dr. Seuss Enterprises. Perks for kids include a Seuss character parade, photo ops, story time, a towel puppet theater, and even a Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast (for $5 a person).
Hasbro, The Game Show: You can grab the family and compete in life-size versions of Sorry!, Connect 4, and Yahtzee in front of an audience to win prizes — it's always a crowd-pleaser.
It's Always 5 O'Clock Somewhere: If a watering hole is what you're after, you'll find it here, whether you prefer sipping a beer at RedFrog Rum Bar or a creative cocktail at Alchemy.
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Who It's Best For
Newbies: Carnival Inspiration embarks year-round on three- and four-day sailings from Los Angeles to Catalina Island and Ensenada, Mexico. These cruises are just long enough to give you a taste of life at sea to see if it agrees with you.
Families: With activities for all ages, there’s something for everyone. Parents can relax knowing their kids are in good care and having fun doing supervised activities with others in their age group. Then everyone is happy to see each other again at dinner.
Cruisers on a Budget: We've seen prices for a 4-day Baja Mexico cruise on this ship for as low as $179 for an inside cabin or $219 for an ocean view — which is just about as low as cruise fares go.
Don't Say We Didn't Warn You
The Internet Access Isn’t Very Fast: Although affordable, the ship’s Wi-Fi is provided by satellite. That means it will be much slower than the service you’re used to at home.
The Violins Bar Is Smoky: Unfortunately, this bar is directly across the promenade from live music and other events. If you’re not a fan of cigarette smoke, you’ll likely miss out on some good entertainment.
Lana Gates is a Phoenix-based contributing writer for ShermansCruise.
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Carnival Inspiration at a Glance
- Line: Carnival Cruise Line
- Class: Fantasy
- Number of Passengers: 2056
- Ship Size: Large
- Launch Date: 1996
- Refurbish Date: 2013