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Inspiration Cruise review 3/13-3/16


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I'm home from my first cruise ever, and wanted to give a little review. I was on this forum all the time once I booked reading all kinds of threads and reviews so thought I would return the favor for future first time cruisers!! I will add a few pictures along the way but I didn't take as many as I thought I would, and def no food porn as I'm not that picky about eating lol. I'll break it up into the comments like most do on here but I'm still trying to type it all up so be patient with me:)


First a quick background.

My sister and I were looking to do a little girls trip for ourselves, we are both in our 30s (her 32 and me 37) and we are also new moms so this is something we have never done before just the 2 of us. It has always been with friends, boyfriends, family or now our husbands and kids. So we were calling this our "Mommy is off duty trip".

She lives in Minnesota and I’m in AZ so she planned on flying here and for us to find something to do from here to get her out of the cold weather...after the usual research and thoughts like Vegas, beach weekend in Cali, theme parks or a spa resort of some sort, I decided to start looking into cruises. I had previously shyed away from this option in my younger years because it wasn't truely "all inclusive" because your soda/booze is not included like at all inclusive resorts in the Caribbean and Mexico (I have been to Playa De Carmen twice now for this kind of booze-a-thon) But I thought my liquor tolerance isn't what it used to be and I'm not vacationing for the bar-tab per say, so decided to start my research and forum stalking. In order not to be away from the families to long being as she had 2 more travel days then I would with her flights here and back we decided on a 3 day cruise from Long Beach to Ensenada Mexico which also included a day at sea.


My booking process:

Booked 3 day Ensenada cruise on Inspiration online at Carnival.com back in Sept 2014 for me and my sister...had booked ES with price guarantee and had an inside porthole room on M deck that I picked.


About a month later got an email to upgrade to an OV room for $20 total. ..I took it, replied online and I picked a room on Empress deck....


Almost daily I would go online to Carnival and just see what the price for an OV room for my cruise was going for to see one, if I got a good deal with the $20 upgrade which was average so that was good, and if the price would drop which I never thought it would because its a short cruise over a weekend (Fri-Mon) in March 2015 which I figured is prime pickings for spring breaker booze cruising...why would it drop right??


Wed Feb 11th I saw the fare drop for an OV room on Carnival.com to like $189 pp....seriously??? My rate was over 300 pp after the upgrade to OV...so I called carnival and asked how I could get this rate since I had the price guarantee....I basically just asked if I qualified for the lower rate since I knew I booked an ES that I was new to the cruising thing and didn't know how this worked...I was told I had to forfeit the room I picked and switch to a guarantee OV room as a pack and go rate (which is what the lower rate was for)...so I agreed because it also gave me $270 OBC for the difference in fare...


She told me how to get online and submit the form for the ES thing and about an hour later I got an email saying they received it, but nothing had changed with my booking thru carnival.com... while I was on message boards and forums I had seen people were doing something similar and getting results like the same day??? After about 2 days I called back and said I was nervous because nothing else had happened...which was good I did because the 2nd lady told me I only qualified for a $40 price reduction....I was like WHAAAAA??? I said NOOOO...I was told I could forfeit my chosen room and switch to Guarantee OV instead...so I could get the OBC...after a few holds so she could talk to someone else she came back and said yes we could do that...I was just chancing not knowing my new cabin # until the day of sailing (UMMMM OK) it made me a little nervous since I'm an over organizer exp with something I have never done...but for the OBC I was willing to stress a little LOL


It took about 24 hours for my booking to adjust showing the lower rate and my OBC and then I got my new room assignment 2/15...Aft (like 5th room from back end of ship) on U deck...This ended up being a great location IMHO.

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Originally I was planning on just driving to LB the morning of the cruise. It’s about a 6hr drive from West Phoenix where I live, I knew this was a risk and all the veteran cruisers were making that very clear… but at the time it was the only option I had because of scheduling conflicts with daycare and my husbands schedule. We then decided maybe just driving half way to Palm Springs the night before was better then nothing and I booked a quick Motel 6 with free cancellation in case things changed…that would only leave maybe a 2 hour drive to port the next morning. I didn’t want to try to get any closer as we would have been getting in around midnight as it was and driving at night is not my favorite thing…at all.

My sister flew in on Wed March 11th (her birthday) we took our mom for a night at bingo and after tons of back and forth we were finally able to make it happen that we would drive to Long Beach on Thursday afternoon after a little mani/pedi/shopping morning…I wasn’t real concerned about staying anywhere overly priced because I was literally just going to be sleeping and showering there, and having to park at the port either way. So after cancelling the Motel 6 in Palm Springs we booked the Super 8 in Long Beach, we arrived around 845pm on Thursday 3/12 and it was a typical budget motel, nothing fancy, free wine and snacks in the lobby in the evening and free continental breakfast in the morning to tide us over until we got onboard. It was easy to get to, front desk as very nice, room was clean, my only true small compliant was parking kinda sucked. We had to park pretty far away from my room. We ran over to In & Out Burger for a quick bite and settled in for the night in our room adjusting our packing to be sure we had what we needed.

The next morning we decided to run over to Ross to see if my sister could find a little dress to wear for formal night or if anything else caught her eye (she didn’t have much time prior to treat herself to something new) After a small purchase we went back to our room and got our things to head to port.

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We had to check out of hotel by 11am, On the wed night we were playing bingo with our mom I got a voicemail from Carnival stating our assigned check in time was between 1230-130pm, I hadn’t seen this anywhere on the forums before so I inquired…and most said this could be due to late arrival to port or the ship needing clearance etc etc…never the less we checked out about 10am and figured if we had to wait we would wander over to the Queen Mary, we were literally maybe 15 mins to the port..it was so nice to get there without having to be in the hurry, we continued following the signs to the parking garage (a little backwards I think I missed the first turn to park but made my way arou) we parked and then took our bags to the porters where I tipped 5 bucks for the 2 bags we checked (we also had backpacks we carried on with our essentials, and Wine….and Wine) and made our way over to the outdoor counters to check in. NO LINE! This was about 1030am, we literally walked up to the lady and I gave her our boarding pass, health questionnaires, passports. We got our S&S cards and we were so excited that it was so easy and smooth. She told us we were Zone 1 for boarding and that it would be about 12pm before they would start boarding…however I noticed not a lot of people “waiting” most were still collecting their families and bags and departing from previous cruise.I thought maybe people that had FTTF and upper levels of diamond/platinum may already of boarded or something?? We decided to walk over and take a few shots of the ship (so amazing) this is where it kind of set in for us…that we were doing something so cool and new and this was everything I had read about…Excitement was overwhelming. We decided to walk over to Queen Mary to kill some time, I mean how could you not. The nostalgia alone is worth the quick walk, we browsed the deck and bought a little souvineer in the gift shop, we couldn’t have been there more then half an hour, we walked back over to the terminal and I walked up to where I saw people walking into the dome and asked what zone they had called, and the nice guy said “Just Zone 1 for now” WOOOHOOO! We walked right thru to security, scanned our bags (right here I would like to say we asked if we had to take our wine or soda out of our bags, security guy watching the screens said nope just leave it in the bag so I guess my thought was how would they have known if my wine was wine or if it was rum, I had a screw top wine bottle of moscato so I could of swapped and smuggled rum but whatever, just an observation) , got a few pictures taken, head up the escalators and before we knew it we were on the glorious gangway….onto the ship and straight to guest services to address our cash acct. Come to find out our total OBC was $296 !! We both added another $100 to the acct which gave us a nice start to our little getaway. Went right to the Atrium bar for the DOD, cheers to everyone around us…and I kid you not, we were on the Lido deck at a table having lunch by 12pm. No joke. So my initial thought was YES, I will the drive the day before because basically in my mind I got a whole other day of vacation out of it.


At lunch we checked in with our families and then we discussed how grateful we were to be in such an atmosphere, I honestly get quite emotional during times like this you work hard and get in a routine of taking care of everyone but yourself sometimes, its nice to be literally off duty for a change although I couldn’t help but miss my lovies, I called my husband and thanked him for being such a great man and watching our baby (she is my first and she is 22 months so I have a hard time letting go of the reigns still) so I could have some time away to relax and spend some much needed time with my sister, he was very encouraging, told me to stop being a sap and go have fun LOL. So after lunch and a second DOD and a lot of pictures with our phones to post on Facebook (since we would be putting our phones away for the duration of the trip) we decided to go look around and just see where our room was going to be, we never heard any kind of announcement that certain levels were ready or anything like that so we just went to look anyway (our backpacks were getting annoying) Low and behold coming off the elevators on our floor we saw 2 big things full of luggage and ours was on there!! Haha after a slight thought of just swiping it and taking it down the hall we figured we better see if it was even ready yet. We found our room U223 and it was ready! Was everything I figured it would be, 2 twin size beds next to each other with plenty of space for to ladies to spend the weekend. We happened to see our room steward in the hall (Ida) and told him we would like our wine on ice to be cold for dinner, he promptly showed up with a bucket and ice, I tipped him $10 and told him thank you and we would see him soon. We changed into our swim suits and summer dresses and headed off to explore. We trampled all over this ship up and down and all around just taking it all in. I jumped in on all the line dancing for the sail away party while my sister pointed and laughed at me, possible it was due to the fact I am a master of the cupid shuffle while holding a drink in one hand and an ice cream cone in the other. I’m sure she has those pictures HAHA! Before we knew it we realized we were moving!!! Off to take pictures of Long Beach port!

We had decided on ATD for dinner, so after we were on our way we decided to head back to room and change back into our regular clothes for dinner in the MDR, when we got back we found our bags outside the door safely (Thanks porter guy) we walked into our room only to find the bucket of ice had leaked all over our stuff on the vanity YIKES! Our fun times and “Things to know” papers were ruined but nothing important. Quick call to Ida who promptly brought us a second bucket and cleaned up the mess (he was so nice to us thru out trip) Wine was cold, poured into glasses that had already been in there the first time we entered the room packed our cellphones in the safe and off to dinner we went…we were in the Mardi Gras Dining and we were seated immediately. We got seated next to 2 great ladies at the next table who kept us company and great convo talking about “Geocaching” I had never heard of this and man that is cool stuff!!

The first night my sister ordered some Italian soup, Caesar salad and flat iron steak, with a side of mashed Yukon gold potatoes she said it was just OK. I had ordered shrimp cocktail, Caesar salad and a grilled chicken with a side of the same potatoes…chicken was very dry and bland….again I am not a picky eater nor am I a foodie so it didn’t ruin my night or anything, the service was fun and fancy compared to what we are used to so the atmosphere alone had us coming back to the MDR each night, and the food got better as we went along. I finished dinner with the melting chocolate cake…with 1 scoop of ice cream. Thank you to the lady on the forums who told me to get 2…I learned why that night! SOOOOOO YUMMY!

After dinner we took in some entertainment at the karaoke club and I even busted out some Dixie Chicks..altho not my best go at it as I was suffering from lingering throat issues making me kind of hoarse, but hey…who cares if I sucked. I’M ON VACATION!!! Afterwards we decided we were exhausted from our travels and excitement (and drinks) and decided to head over to serenity to soak in the hot tub and enjoy some peacefulness from the back of the boat. I don’t know why but being on the back of the boat brought my heart down a notch as I couldn’t help but think of the poor guy that went overboard on a carnival ship out of Miami just days before we left….I can’t even imagine what this family must be going thru, no matter how or why it happened, accident or not, its still a life lost at sea and its sad. Spa was amazing and much needed and we had it all to ourselves for the most part. We called it a night after that and being in bed by 11pm on a vacation shows us we are definitely friggin mom’s LOL. More to come!

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Subscribing! I have done this itinerary 3 times now and have enjoyed all of them. It's such a great weekend getaway, and it's so nice that it is a short drive from AZ to LB, no planes required!


I know it was so easy too, My husband would have loved it. WE LOVE Vegas and it kinda felt that way being a weekend getaway, told him the sooner he gets his passport the sooner we can go, would be his first time also, will be so fun showing him around!

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I did not see Lobster on elegant night on my cruise unless you ordered it off steakhouse selections which was an extra fee.


There is lobster on CE night that you don't have to pay for. If lobster was taken off, many people would be upset. This is from Kobayashi's review from the Inspiration last month.



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On embarkation day, is Lido buffet the only lunch venue (not counting room service)?


All the Lido food areas are open. MDR isn't open for lunch.


Buffet, Pizza, Deli are inside. Grill, Rotisserie/carving station and Mongolian Wok outside.


dcandme13 - Half the time I don't see things on the menu either.:) Good review.

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  • 1 month later...

My friend and I are planning on taking the 3 day Inspiration trip on June 12th. We are both recovering from skin cancer surgery during the past year, and he is also recovering from other medical issues. With that said, we won't be chair hogs by the pool.


Is there any bar onboard that has live sports events on it? Doesn't really matter what kind...just want to hang out in the shade.

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  • 2 months later...

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