Tuesday, January 13, 2015

My first time Cruising - Carnival Inspiration

Carnival Inspiration - Food Chocolate SquaresI had second thoughts about going on a cruise. Even though most people I know who has been on a cruise all gave raving reviews, somehow, I was still not convinced. I had to go on cruise myself to check it out with an open mind.  

In a nutshell, the story went well because I enjoyed the cruise and I was absolutely relaxed.

Mijo and I went on a Cruise for the first time to celebrate a loved one B's milestone birthday. There were about eighteen of us in the group and we all chose to go on the Carnival Inspiration. The boat has a guest capacity of a little over 2 thousand guests and nine hundred plus crews. It sailed out of Long Beach in Los Angeles and docked in Catalina Island and then Ensenada, Mexico for a total of 5 days.

From LAX, our friends and fellow cruiser F&C picked us up from the airport. They drove over the weekend from San Francisco to Southern California to visit family so they were already in the area by the time we fly into SoCal. 

The port is in Long Beach. I have never seen a parking garage that big. We walked a lot from within the port's parking garage to the actual port. There was a check in process. From here, I could almost tell which ones are newbies from the hard core cruisers. I heard lots of 'welcome back' during the Carnival check ins.

Carnival Inspiration - Ship Checking in Carnival Inspiration - Ship Checkin
  Carnival Inspiration - Ship Boarding 

This is just one of the four lovely sunsets I was going witness while on the boat for five days.  
Carnival Inspiration - Ship Sunset  

 This is a model ship. The ship is called Carnival Inspiration. It looks big but this boat is not even one of their largest boats according to the Carnival website.
Carnival Inspiration - Ship Model

This is the main atrium. This is what I saw right after checkin. We left our luggages right by the entrance and a Carnival staff delivered them to our cabin later on. The crew came from different parts of the world. I met a few Filipino staff and they were all very friendly. I learned that most of them are based in the Philippines and they work in Carnival for months and then they go home.
Carnival Inspiration - Ship Main Atrium  

The ship is huge. If this ship is not even big by Carnival's standards, I can't imagine how huge the others ships are. My first impression was how do you not get lost while in the ship? They do provide you with a little map and an itinerary for the day. The itinerary was full of activities everyday. A mandatory event is the guest welcome and orientation.
Carnival Inspiration - Ship Lido Deck Carnival Inspiration - Ship Passenger Orientation Carnival Inspiration - Ship Main Dining room Carnival Inspiration - Ship Art Auction Carnival Inspiration - Food Chocolate Squares 

 Not to mention the shows and activities on the ship. All of activities Mijo and I went to were already included in the bill. I was reading on the their website that on some ships, there are activities that you pay a very small fee. Mijo and I and a few in the group went to see a Broadway-esque show, a comedy show and a Latin night that turned into a Zumba night. The Bingo place was very popular so we weren't able go. There was also a dance club. Mijo and I and the entire family went dancing one night and that was super fun.
Carnival Inspiration - Show Comedy night Carnival Inspiration - Show Broadway 60s 
Carnival Inspiration - Ship Zumba Carnival Inspiration - Ship Bingo 

The food was good. The best part is that I didn't get sick at all. I've heard horror stories of people getting sick while on the ship. Thank God that I didn't hear any one getting sick at all.

For the food, there are items that you pay for like this steamed lobster.
Carnival Inspiration - Food Lobster

But the others, except the drinks and soda, they are all-inclusive. I think I over ate, even though, I tried to choose carefully what to eat. There were buffets everyday.
Carnival Inspiration - Food Squid Carnival Inspiration - Food Tres Leches Carnival Inspiration - Food Soup Carnival Inspiration - Food Minestone soup Carnival Inspiration - Food Breakfast plate 

My favorite plates were during dinner. You have the option to dress up and go to the formal dining rooms. We all dressed up for B's birthday. 

You pay extra on some of the meals, otherwise, they are part of the all-inclusive.
Carnival Inspiration - Food Seared Tuna Carnival Inspiration - Food Salmon
Carnival Inspiration - Food Baked Escargot Carnival Inspiration - Food Lobster Shrimp Carnival Inspiration - Food Hen

If you don't feel like eating a lot, try the Taste Bar. There is a chef serving these little tasty creations. I tried their tasty Tortilla Soup and this delicious Pork Roast. Yumm! Carnival Inspiration - Food Taste Bar Soup Roast

I also enjoyed their panini section.
Carnival Inspiration - Food Tuna melt

You also have a choice to eat lite and healthy.
Carnival Inspiration - Food Fruits Carnival Inspiration - Food Breakfast bagel Carnival Inspiration - Food Fruits yogurt

The snacks are available all day or at least they were there everytime I go to the dining hall.
Carnival Inspiration - Food Flourless Choc cake Carnival Inspiration - Food Custard Cake Carnival Inspiration - Food Cookies Cakes  Carnival Inspiration - Food Apple Pie Carnival Inspiration - Food Carnival Melting Chocolate Cake

 Drinks are not part of the all-inclusive. This means you have to pay. They give you two options - you buy a drinking pass card and this card allows you to drink a lot throughout the cruise but it comes with a hefty price. Not that we drank all the time. The pass allowed us to try different kinds of cocktails which was great. If you think you are going to drink a lot, choose the drink pass, if it is available.
Carnival Inspiration - Drinks Vodka Cranberry Carnival Inspiration - Drinks Tequila Sunrise Carnival Inspiration - Drinks Mojito Carnival Inspiration - Drinks Cosmo Carnival Inspiration - Drinks Bloody Mary

 Out first stop was Catalina Island. The island is beautiful. The  fair weather also contributed to the entire experience. We were given the full day to get off the ship and explore the island. There were island tours available but we chose to explore Catalina independently.
Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island View from deck

Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island Ferry to Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island Avalon Bay 

The water was ice cold but Mijo and I took a dip since we brought towels and swim shorts with us.
Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island Beach   

The main attraction of the island is the art deco Avalon Casino at the very end of Via Casino. The landmark houses a theatre, ballroom and a museum. 
Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island Via Casino

The walk from the port to the building may look very far at first but it definitely did not feel that way. The walk was very picturesque and you'll see lots of interesting views and artsy pieces along the way.
Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island Casino Way

Like this beatiful tile work by the benches. Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island Sidewalk tile

The museum also contained historical artifacts regarding the island but taking pictures was not allowed. I did buy a fridge magnet as a souvenir. We walked around the building and immensely admired the art deco design.
Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island Avalon Casino Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island Avalon Casino Front Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island Avalon Casino facade

This is a view of the Descanso Bay and downtown Catalina Island that afternoon from the ship.
Carnival Inspiration - Catalina Island View from deck afternoon

After Catalina Island, we were out the sea all night long and we reached Ensenada by the morning. Like in Catalina, there were tours available like wine tasting, site seeing, food tours, etc. We chose to see the Bufadora. The bufadora is a marine geyser and it is the main attraction in Ensenada. We had to pay extra for the tour which whisked us from the port to the main sites in Ensenada. The markets and the local food were all great! 
Carnival Inspiration - Ensenada Welcome Carnival Inspiration - Ensenada Landscape Carnival Inspiration - Ensenada Market Carnival Inspiration - Ensenada Fish Tacos Carnival Inspiration - Ensenada Churros 

Mijo and I saw lots of people eating these baked clams, or Almejas Horneadasm, so we sampled them with a Mexican cerveza. Estaban deliciosas! They were good! 
Carnival Inspiration - Ensenada Almejas Horneadas

Here's the bufadora. You have to wait for a big wave to witness the marine geysers. The water shoots up really high when the wave is right. There was something soothing with the sound they geysers create.
Carnival Inspiration - Ensenada Bufadoras 

 We spent the whole day in Ensenada. We sailed back to California the entire night. We disembarked the ship the following morning in Long Beach.

All in all, I enjoyed the cruise. It allowed us to celebrate B's milestone birthday, to be with Mijo's family, see different places without the hassle of transfers and hauling the luggages. The food and entertainment were superb. The service was also very attentive. Kudos to all the Pinoy staff at the Carnival Inspiration. Maraming Salamat!

I can positively say that I won't mind going to another cruise in the future. 

Carnival Inspiration - Ship Disembark

Until the next travel.


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