Carnival Inspiration Cruise Review to Mexico

Third Mate

4-6 cruises


Helpful Votes

4 out of 5

Not so fast to the fun

Sail Date: October 26, 2015

Reviewed: 11 months ago

Traveled As: Large Group

Room Type: Inside

Cabin: U 126

This was my third time on this particular cruise on the Inspiration to Catalina, so obviously it's a trip I enjoy.  I took my parents and sister with us this time, and since my mom and sister both have back problems caused by arthritis, we purchased the Faster to the Fun package so we wouldn't have to wait in long lines (standing for a long time is difficult for them) could board early, go straight to our rooms, have luggage delivered early, etc. It was the first time I purchased it, but had read reviews from people who'd had good experiences and figured it would be worth the extra cost. And I'm sure it would have except for this particular cruise.  We got to the terminal about ten am, no waiting at check-in, but were told there would be a delay in boarding because of damage done to the ship by the previous cruisers.  Okay.  So we waited.  Explored the Queen Mary for about an hour.  Waited some more.  Got told we could start boarding at one, then that was changed to one-thirty.  We were given a paper that said the delay was due to a charter group, but was told by an employee that 300 passengers were still partying and refusing to leave the ship.  I don't know if that was true, or if the charter had arranged for them to get off later than usual, but it was a huge mess for all of us waiting.  We ended up getting lunch at the little taco truck at the terminal (which was pretty good food, btw).  My parents and sister were very uncomfortable waiting on concrete benches in the heat--which is what I was trying to avoid by buying FttF in the first place.  Finally started boarding about 2:30, and of course the rooms weren't ready yet.  I went straight to Guest Services and asked for a refund for the money spent on Fttf, since I had paid extra for a service I did not receive (got the refund for all of us).  The girl I talked to also offered me a coupon for a free drink which I accepted gladly haha!  Everyone was pretty grumpy about the crappy way the cruise started, but we didn't let it ruin the rest of our vacation.  We had no problems with our food or service.  There was plenty of evidence of the debauchery the night before, mainly cigarette butts EVERYWHERE, all over the decks and staircases which staff hadn't had time to clean up before we came on, but by the next day everything was fine.


We had a wonderful day on Catalina, which is the main reason I like this itinerary.  The weather was perfect.  My parents and sister rented a golf cart to explore the island, my husband and I took the trolley to the botanical gardens which we hadn't been to before.  It's a very pretty place and a nice walk--if you have mobility issues probably not the thing to do, it's a steep gravel/dirt path--but we enjoyed hiking up to the memorial and seeing all the different types of cactus.  Beautiful views from the top. For some reason (I heard one employee say "clearance issues", not sure what that meant) we didn't leave Catalina until after ten that night.  A lot of people were grumpy because that meant no casino or fun shops--Carnival lost a lot of money there!--but I enjoyed seeing the island lit up at night.  The later it got, I started hoping there was a problem with the ship and we'd just stay there for a couple days but no luck, the next day we were in Ensenada.


I've done Ensenada twice, this time chose to just stay on board. My folks went out to the little market at the terminal but didn't venture out into the city.  One piece of advice for this trip--don't buy any shore excursions for either place through Carnival.  At Catalina you can buy tickets for everything right on the pier, and in Ensenada there is a bus you can get on there at the terminal for three dollars round trip that will take you downtown and you can buy tickets there for half the price.  If you go to La Bufadora, you have to pay for the bathrooms so bring quarters. We just enjoyed the day visiting and watching the dolphins in the harbor.


I bought the internet package this time since it's no longer pay-by-the-minute.  I had read that it would be $16/day so I had planned on only buying it for the two days I would spend on the ship.  Once onboard I saw they had a package that was $35 for the whole cruise, so that's what I got.  I didn't have any speed issues, but a few things like videos I couldn't open.


We had an early flight home, so we did self-assist and were off the ship and into a cab in about ten minutes.  Much nicer than trying to get on!  All in all, we had a good time.  The food was delicious (I always wonder about people who complain about the food.  Where do they normally eat??)  Everything we had was amazing, the service was excellent, we were very well taken care of the whole time.  We enjoyed our vacation and didn't let the snags ruin anything for us. If you're looking for something negative you will find it everywhere.  I was looking for a relaxing trip in the warm sunshine being catered to and that was what I found.  Looking out my window at the monsoon outside, I'm sure I will take this trip again next winter.

Cabin / Stateroom We got an interior room this time, my husband actually prefers it because it's so dark during the day he can take a nap haha! The room is just the same as the oceanview. There's a tv channel that shows the views from the exterior cameras which simulates a window quite nicely. Tips would be to bring a battery alarm clock, a power strip, a hair dryer if you need one and an air freshener for the bathroom which does get an "RV" toilet smell after a couple days. I'd book an inside again, I wasn't claustrophobic at all. I chose U deck because the only thing above us were more staterooms and it was very quiet. Last time we went we were on Empress Deck, which was convenient, but the galley was above us and we got a lot of loud noise.
Embarkation and Disembarkation
Disembarkation was a breeze. Embarkation was a disaster. They need better security to not allow passengers to trash the ship and refuse to leave.
Ship Quality
It was pretty messy when we first got on, but they cleaned it up nicely.
Destinations and Excursions
I'm amazed when I see people say there isn't anything much to do on Catalina. I love it there, I wish the ship just stayed there for three days and went home. You can take the trolley around Avalon for four dollars, seven for an all day pass, the botanical gardens were seven dollars. You can rent kayaks for fifteen dollars an hour, golf carts for forty an hour. If you have kids, they'll enjoy the glass bottom boat, probably be kinda blah for adults. I've done the dolphin excursion (amazing!) I haven't done the inland tour yet, maybe next time.

Ensenada...I don't care for and didn't go out into it this time. There is a market right off the ship if you want to buy souvenirs and drinks without leaving the terminal. I've done the winery which was okay and La Bufadora twice which is once too many. If you haven't been there yet you might as well go, just remember to bring change for the restrooms. Buy your tickets downtown, not on the ship.

Long Beach--if you get there too early to board you can walk over to the Queen Mary, it doesn't cost anything to get on, but if you want to take a guided tour you will have to pay. It's pretty interesting. If you fly in, I recommend just getting a cab at the airport rather than reserving a shuttle or booking a transfer through Carnival. It cost us about forty dollars each way, there were five of us so we got a van. There will be cabs lined up at the terminal when you get off, no need to order one ahead of time. We told them we needed a van and one was there for us in about five minutes. We had an 11:00 flight and were at the airport and through security before nine.
Onboard Activities
Mainly my onboard activity consisted of laying on a lounge chair reading a book. I love the Serenity deck.
There was a band this time called Resting Beach Face and they were VERY good.
Service and Staff
Ask your room steward for an ice bucket when you get on, they will keep it filled for you the whole time.
Food and Dining
The food and service in the dining room were excellent as always. We ate there for breakfast and dinner every day.

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