Carnival Inspiration - Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Berlitz Cruising & Cruise Ships 2017 (Berlitz Cruise Guide) (2016)

Carnival Inspiration


Berlitz’s Ratings

Ship: 309 out of 500

Accommodation: 138 out of 200

Food: 212 out of 400

Service: 262 out of 400

Entertainment: 73 out of 100

Cruise: 244 out of 400

Overall Score: 1238 out of 2000

Carnival Inspiration Statistics

Size: Large Resort Ship

Tonnage: 70,367

Lifestyle: Standard

Cruise Line: Carnival Cruise Lines

Former Names: Inspiration

IMO Number: 9047489

Builder: Kvaerner Masa-Yards (Finland)

Original Cost: $270 million

Entered Service: Apr 1996

Registry: The Bahamas

Length (ft/m): 855.0/260.6

Beam (ft/m): 103.0/31.4

Draft (ft/m): 25.9/7.9

Propulsion/Propellers: diesel-electric (42,240kW)/2

Passenger Decks: 10

Total Crew: 920

Passengers (lower beds): 2,056

Passenger Space Ratio (lower beds): 34.4

Passenger/Crew Ratio (lower beds): 2.2

Cabins (total): 1,028

Size Range (sq ft/m): 173.2-409.7/16-38

Cabins (for one person): 0

Cabins (with private balcony): 152

Cabins (wheelchair accessible): 22

Wheelchair accessibility: Fair

Cabin Current: 110 volts

Elevators: 14

Casino (gaming tables): Yes

Slot Machines: Yes

Swimming Pools: 3

Hot Tubs (on deck): 6

Self-Service Launderette: Yes

Dedicated Cinema/Seats: No

Library: Yes

Onboard currency: US$


This is an ultra-colorful ship for first-time casual cruising

Overview. Carnival Inspiration is the sixth in a series of eight almost identical Fantasy-class ships. Carnival Inspiration is a well-liked ship - and is aimed at anyone taking their first cruise.

The Ship. The open deck space is quite inadequate when the ship is full and everyone wants to be out on deck. However, the aft decks tend to be less noisy because all the activities are focused around the main swimming pool and hot tubs (one has a thatched shade). For anyone who prefers European-style sunning there’s also a topless sunbathing area, as well as Serenity - an adult-only ‘quiet’ (extra-cost) lounging space on Deck 9 aft - you need to be over 21 to use it. Sadly, there is no walk-around open promenade deck, although there is a short jogging track atop ship. The lifeboats, six of which double as shore tenders are positioned high in the ship.

The interior of the ship is well designed. The general passenger flow is good, and the interior design - the work of Miami-based creative genius Joe Farcus - is clever, functional, and extremely colorful. The underlying decor theme is the arts (in an Art Nouveau style) and literature. It includes a colorful mix of classic and contemporary design elements.

The interior focal point is an ‘open’ atrium lobby, with its balconied shape dressed to impress, with scrolled shapes resembling the necks and heads of violins. The lobby spans six decks, has a marble staircase, and is topped by a large glass dome. The purser’s desk and shore excursion desk occupy the lowest level, together with a popular Atrium Bar with live music, and a small sushi bar off to one side; it’s a good central meeting place.

There are public entertainment lounges, bars, and clubs galore, with something for everyone (except quiet space). The public rooms, connected by a double-width Inspiration Boulevard, feature many contemporary design elements. Most public rooms and attractions lead off from this boulevard - a sort of shipboard Main Street which runs between the showlounge (forward) and the Candlelight aft lounge. Gamers and slot players alike will enjoy the almost non-stop action in the Monte Carlo Casino. The Shakespeare Library is a rather stately room, and 25 of his quotations adorn the oak veneer walls, but, sadly, there are few books. One of the most dazzling rooms is the Rock and Roll Discotheque, with its guitar-shaped dance floor, video dance club, and dozens of video monitors. There’s also a 1,200-sq-ft (111-sq-m) conference room for meetings and group use.

Forget fashion - the sine qua non of a Carnival cruise is all about having fun. While the cuisine is just so-so, the real fun begins at sundown when Carnival really excels in sound, lights, and shows. From venues such as the Rock and Roll Dance Club/Disco to the Chopin Cigar Bar, the ship’s interior decor will certainly entertain you.

Carnival Inspiration is a floating playground for the young and young-at-heart. Because it’s a large resort ship, there will be lines for things like shore excursions, security control when re-boarding, and disembarkation, as well as sign-up sheets for fitness equipment.

The ship is not for those seeking a quiet, relaxing cruise experience. There are many annoying announcements, and the never-ending hustling to get you to buy drinks and many other things. Also, shore excursions are booked via the in-cabin ‘Fun Vision’ television system, so obtaining advice and suggestions is not easy.

Families. Youngsters have their own play areas, with children’s programs divided into five age-specific groups under Camp Ocean (ages 2−11 - with children ages 2−5 called ‘Penguins’; 6−8-year-olds called ‘Sting Rays’; 9−11-year-olds called ‘Sharks’). Tweens have ‘Circle C’, while teenagers have their own ‘Club O2’ - a chill-out (no adults allowed) room/disco. Group babysitting is also available.

Also, an expansive children’s water park is a lot of fun as an outdoor play area.

Accommodation. There are several accommodation grades, ranked by facilities, size, and location. The standard outside-view and interior cabins have decor that is rather plain and unmemorable. They are marginally comfortable, yet spacious enough and practical (most are of the same size and appointments), with good storage space and practical, well-designed no-nonsense bathrooms. However, if you have a queen-bed configuration instead of the standard twin-bed layout, note that one person has to clamber over the bed - an ungainly exercise.

Choose a suite and you get more space, whirlpool bathtubs, and some rather eclectic decor and furniture. These are mildly attractive, but so-so, and they are much smaller than those aboard ships of a similar size of competing companies. A small gift basket of toiletry samples is provided in all grades.

Room service items are available 24 hours a day, although in standard cabins, only cold food is available, while those in suite-grade accommodation get a greater range of items (both hot and cold) to choose from.

Dining. The two large main dining rooms, Mardi Gras and Carnivale (the names given to Carnival’s first two ships), are located amidships and aft, respectively. Both have ocean-view windows and attractive, but very bright decor, but they are noisy. Choose either fixed-time dining (6pm or 8.15pm) or flexible dining (any time between 5.45 and 9.30pm). For something really simple, there’s an ‘always available’ (when the dining room is open) list of ‘Carnival Classics’ that includes mahi mahi (fish), baby back ribs (beef), and grilled chicken. Note that the two main dining rooms are not open for lunch on port days.

Remember, however, that this is standard catering, with all its attendant standardization and production cooking; it is, therefore, difficult to obtain anything unusual or ‘off-menu.’ The selection of fresh green vegetables, breads, rolls, cheeses, and fruits is limited, and there is much use of canned fruit and jellied desserts. The waiters sing and dance, and there are constant waiter parades - so it’s really more about ‘foodertainment’ than food quality.

Other dining options. A Lido café, called the Brasserie Bar & Grill, features the usual casual self-serve buffet eats, most of which are non-memorable. The venue includes a deli counter and pizzeria. At night, the venue morphs into the Seaview Bistro, and provides a casual alternative to the main dining rooms, for pasta, steaks, salads, and desserts - it typically operates only between 6pm and 9pm. The food selection, though limited, makes a change from the large, crowded and noisy main dining rooms. Outside on deck is a Mongolian Rotisserie Grill.

A patisserie offers specialty coffees and sweets (extra charge), and a so-called sushi bar off to one side of the atrium lobby bar on Promenade Deck is open prior to dinner only; the sushi is just so-so.

There is no specialty (extra-charge) restaurant, as aboard some of the larger ships in the Carnival fleet.

Entertainment. Paris Main Lounge is the principal showlounge - the venue for large-scale production shows and major cabaret acts - although 20 pillars obstruct some views. The resident troupe includes two lead singers and a clutch of dancers, backed by a large live band.

Spa/Fitness. SpaCarnival is a large, glass-wrapped health, fitness, and spa complex. It is located on the uppermost interior deck, forward of the ship’s mast, and is typically open from 6am to 8pm daily. It consists of a gymnasium with ocean-view windows that look out over the bow and the latest in muscle-pumping machines, an aerobics room, changing rooms, sauna and steam rooms, beauty salon, and body treatment rooms. Some fitness classes may incur an extra charge.

Sporting types can play basketball volleyball, table tennis, mini-golf, and go jogging on the banked track on the deck above the spa.