Fodor’s Expert Review
The sixth ship in Carnival’s eight-ship Fantasy-class, Carnival Inspiration entered service in 1996. Although Carnival Inspiration has received numerous upgrades throughout her life span and features a secluded adults-only Serenity Deck, there is no word at this writing on whether the ship will be updated to add Carnival’s “Fun Ship 2.0” upgrades. Carnival Inspiration sails short getaway cruises of three- and four-nights to Mexico’s Pacific Baja coast from her home port of Los Angeles. In addition to Ensenada, Mexico, the four-night sailings include the popular Catalina Island as a port of call.Read More
Bathed in fiber-optic light, glitzy Fantasy-class interiors added expansive six-deck atriums and a new dimension to the original superliner concept. To keep the fun going, these ships offer an almost wearying assortment of places to have a good time. As times and tastes have changed, the ships have evolved as well, with new lobby bars, dedicated club spaces for teens and tweens, miniature golf, and Internet centers. Even newer are Carnival’s WaterWorks water park and the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, which increase the appeal of the older Fantasy-class vessels.
Only one level below the Lido deck, the indoor promenade connects major public rooms on a single deck, with only formal dining rooms, shops, and other small spaces one deck below. Large in size and ideal for a short itinerary, these ships have sprawling outdoor pool and sunning areas, but they can feel cramped when sailing at maximum capacity. Cabins provide calm oases from sensory overload. With the exception of Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination, and Carnival Ecstasy, to which balconies were added to existing cabins, you’ll have to book a suite if you want the solitude of a private balcony.
The world’s largest cruise line—and one of the most widely recognized—originated its “Fun Ship” concept in 1972 and has been launching party-packed superliners with signature red funnels ever since. The line’s ever-growing fleet features entertainment and activities designed for passengers of all ages, from game shows and lip sync competitions to twisting waterslides and mini golf. These ships are a reliable choice for families as well as young singles and couples who want a vacation that won’t break the bank.
Nearly all onboard dining options are included in the fare, as are comedy and production shows, children’s programs, and use of state-of-the-art fitness centers. With some of the most comfortable accommodations at sea, large new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern, while older vessels are updated with popular features, such as the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar with an adjacent burrito cantina, the Red Frog Rum Bar that also serves Carnival’s own brand of Thirsty Frog Red beer, and Guy’s Burger Joint, created with Food Network star Guy Fieri.
- 10 passenger decks
- 2 dining rooms, buffet, ice cream parlor, pizzeria
- Wi-Fi, safe, refrigerator (some)
- 1 pool, children’s pool
- fitness classes, gym, hot tubs, sauna, spa, steam room
- 5 bars, casino, dance club, library, showroom, video game room
- children’s programs
- laundry facilities, laundry service
- Internet terminal
- no-smoking cabins
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
What to expect on board
Staterooms & Cabins
Fantasy-class ships have a higher percentage of inside cabins than the fleet’s newer ships, and with the exception of Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination, and Carnival Ecstasy, only the suite categories offer balconies. Every cabin has adequate closet and drawer–shelf storage, as well as bathroom shelves. Light-wood cabinetry and simple decor are the norm for all cabins, while suite embellishments add the convenience of a seating area and small refrigerator. In addition to the extra space, a whirlpool tub is a deluxe appointment in Penthouse suites. Inside cabins have ample room, and their curtained faux windows mimic those in the more expensive standard ocean-view accommodations. High-thread-count linens and plush pillows and duvets add a touch of luxury to all accommodations. Doors have been added to a limited number of adjacent cabins to create connecting accommodations on Fantasy-class ships, and lighting in the vanity/desk area has been improved on some. Bring your own hair dryer.
Extras include shower-mounted shampoo and bath gel dispensers and an array of sample toiletries, as well as fluffy towels. Bathrobes for use during the cruise are provided for all.
Twenty-two staterooms are designed for wheelchair accessibility.
Food & Drink
Two formal restaurants serve open seating breakfast and lunch; dinner is served in two traditional assigned evening seatings or an open seating option. The casual Lido buffet with stations offers a variety of food choices (including a deli, salad bar, dessert station, and different daily regional cuisines); at night it becomes the Seaview Bistro for casual dinners. There’s also a pizzeria; rotisserie; poolside outdoor grills for burgers, hot dogs, and the trimmings; a specialty coffee bar and patisserie; a complimentary sushi bar; and 24-hour room service with a limited menu of breakfast selections, sandwiches, and snacks.
Only Elation and Paradise are scheduled to receive Carnival’s new bar features in 2014 and 2015 respectively. All have spirited piano bars and nightclubs offering music for dancing and listening. Production companies and guest entertainers performing in the show lounge, comedy clubs, karaoke, and deck parties are signature nighttime activities.
Spa & Fitness
Steiner Leisure operates the well-appointed spas that offer treatments including a variety of massages, body wraps, and facials for adults and teens; there are relaxation rooms where you can chill out before or after your appointment and complimentary steam rooms and saunas in men’s and women’s changing rooms. Salons offer tooth whitening in addition to hair and nail services.