Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Episode #44 - Scott's Cruise Review: Carnival Inspiration

Welcome to Episode #44

Cruise Dude Scott and his wife, Pam decided to take a post summer 3 day cruise to Ensenada, Mexico on Carnival's Inspiration cruise ship to get away from it all. So on this show, Scott tells us all about his cruise, the water slide, the food, his excursion tour in Mexico and so much more. 

Besides enjoying the cruise, Scott did some Periscope videos while on board and in Mexico. These videos are archived and you can view them here: www.katch.me/thecruisedudes

Also on this episode we cover the cruise news, cruise chit chat, the theme cruise of the week and a Cruise Dudes exclusive, a statement from SpongeBob SquarePants regarding his contract break-up from Norwegian Cruise Lines.

We appreciate your support of our show!  Please continue to share our show with your family and friends. 

Thank you! Tommy & Scott
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Carnival Inspiration
“Short Review”
By Scott Andrews, www.TheCruiseDudes.com

3-Day Baja Mexico
This California 3-Day Baja Mexico cruise sailed from the Port of Long Beach. The Cruise Itinerary; departing Friday at 5:30pm, arriving Saturday at 8am in Ensenada, Mexico departing 6pm. A Fun Day at sea on Sunday, returning to Long Beach at 7am.

Check-in is between 1-4pm.  My advice is to beat the crowds and check in as early as you can. Let your cruise begin. The pool, buffet will be open. My cruise day started pulling into the parking structure at the dock. The cost of parking is $19.00 a day. Just remember this while putting a budget together. There are taxis and Ubers around that might make the cost cheaper over a longer cruise.  Check-in will take some time.  There are two types of check-in, Priority passengers proceed to the Captain’s Lounge located in the plaza and all other passengers proceed to General Check-In inside the Dome (formally the Howard Hughes Spruce Goose Hanger). Remember, 2,000 of your soon to be “close friends” are also checking in.  Expect a little controlled chaos.  All the lines were open and the very helpful Carnival staff direct passengers.  It can take 15 minutes to an hour to check in before you step foot on the ship. The number one thing I saw holding up check-in was how individuals were arguing with staff about taking drinks, such as bottled water and other alcohol, onto the ship. Every passenger over the age of 21 may bring one bottle of wine.  Passengers are still permitted to bring on sodas as long as they are in a can.   Even with the politeness of staff explaining the policy many people tried to sneak beverages on in their carry on luggage. The new policy of not bringing bottled water I believe is a good policy to have. It cuts down on the screening of liquids at check-in. Not to mention the affordable $2.99 12-pack of water that can be purchased online then delivered to your room before the cruise begins. This also includes sodas that can be purchased and sent to your room so it is waiting for you when your cruise begins.  Once at the check-in station staff was very polite and helpful checking in passengers.

The Ship
The Carnival Inspiration launched in 1996 part of the 8 ships in the Fantasy class. With the passenger capacity of 2,056 and a crew of 920 this ship is the ideal size for a 2-5 day cruise to Baja California.  I had an inside room. I love the inside rooms on such a short cruise. Sleeping in complete darkness is nice. The room was the standard 185 square feet. The room steward, Ida, who took care of our room was excellent; he was always there cleaning rooms and keeping passengers happy.  The hallways were kept cleaned and tidy.

The ship has different food options throughout the cruise included in the price.  There is a Sea-day Brunch, 2 Dining Rooms, the buffet at the Lido Restaurant, Pizza Pirate, The Taste Bar, 24-Hour Room Service, Mongolian Wok, Swirls, and more.  If you are looking for more, Inspiration also offers for extra cost The Coffee Bar and favorites like Lobster any night from the Steakhouse Selection. I chose the anytime dining starting at 5:45pm until closing instead of having a set time. With 600+ seats in each dining room the wait was only a few minutes each time. The menu included appetizers, soups, and salads. The desserts were excellent, the Hot Melted Chocolate Cake was to die for. Everything I had was hot and tasted great. The prime rib was cooked perfectly to my preference. My favorite appetizer, escargot, was on the menu and yes I had two. The dining room was spotless. Wait staff were always there assisting passengers with selections until the lights dimmed and the wait staff went into dance mode getting passengers up and dancing. It was very entertaining. It was also nice to see hostess staff enforce the nightly dress code turning passengers away for coming to the dining room in inappropriate attire, i.e. sports shorts, sleeveless t-shirts, etc.   

There are so many activities, shows, and excursions to choose from while on board.   There is the Casino for the adults and the kids have their own programs and areas to hang out in too.  The nightlife also includes the Rock n’ Roll nightclub or great productions like Motor City, with the sounds of the 60’s, 70’s & 80’s or Studio VIP, which brings back disco. Both shows are very entertaining to watch. During the day on the pool deck you can play fun adult themed games to watching crew making large ice sculptures and if you dare the water slide. If you want to get away from it all there is the Serenity Deck for a bit of peace and quiet for adults only. There are so many other things to do while on the ship. I found myself constantly on the move enjoying every second. I would actually need a longer cruise just to do it all.

On Saturday the ship docked at Ensenada giving passengers a window between 8am to 6pm to enjoy what the city has to offer. I chose, with the help of listeners, to take the Mexican Craft Beer Tour.  It was great, we went to The Grumpy Goat where we were treated to a behind the scenes tour and tasting with the brew master, Juan. I am now “broken”, I tasted the best Irish Red Ale I have ever had, it’s not sold in the states as of yet, ahhhhh! From there we went to the Wendlandt brewery right on the coast and was given another tour and tasting. There I had the Farmhouse Ale that’s aged in old French oak wine barrels.  Our last stop was Hussongs; it’s the oldest bar in Ensenada and is the true spot where the first margarita was born.   Our tour guide, Stefano, was awesome.  He talked about the region and the history Ensenada as we were driven through the beautiful scenery of Mexico.

What’s happening to the Inspiration in the near future? The last dry dock of the Inspiration was November of 2013. The next dry dock will be taking place in January of 2016, with the first set cruise Super Bowl weekend.  All I can say is more Fun Ship 2.0 elements are coming soon. I would love to see a Guy Fieri’s Burger Joint or the Blue Iguana Tequila Bar or Cantina. I guess we will just have to wait and see. I am looking into returning for another cruise on the Inspiration in February when she is launched once more from dry dock. For more information about the Inspiration or what is Fun Ship 2.0 go to the Carnival.com website. Until next time, “Keep On Cruising!"
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