Photos by Mark Leppert
Once again Carnival Cruise Line lived up to our expectations and gave us a wonderful 4-night, 4th of July cruise aboard the Carnival Inspiration to long remember!
We met up with a patriotic group of fellow passengers upon boarding the Inspiration at the port of Long Beach, all set for a colorful celebration. It was quite a treat to be a “floating” hotel as we watched a 20 minute fireworks display from Avalon Harbor, just off of the island of Catalina, while anchored beside other boats of every size including Carnival’s sister ship, the Imagination!!
One would now think that fireworks would be a tough act to follow, but Carnival came through with flying colors!! We were onboard the ship along with our 2-year-old God granddaughter, Maggie, and her parents, Shawn and Rebekah. So, we had three generations represented. (Carnival is a perfect cruise line for family gatherings and reunions. With activities for all ages, everyone finds plenty to do, and the cost of a Carnival cruise is so reasonable that it is well within any family member’s budget. We saw several such family groups on our cruise.)
Visiting Catalina was a real highlight. It is easy to feel as if you are much farther from home on this quaint island a mere 21 miles from Long Beach. The 5 of us enjoyed ourselves as we played in the sand, ate lunch in a shoreside restaurant and were able to purchase hard to find Hawaiian shirts. And let’s not forget the wide range of sweets available at the local candy store complete with ice cream, fudge and oodles of different types of candy! (Of course, when our Catalina candy was all gone, we were able to replenish our supply in the Cherry On Top candy store onboard. Yummy candy selections here too! One could also celebrate a special occasion with flowers, cookies, cakes and other specialty items also available.)
The Mexican port of Ensenada was the second and last port, and visiting La Bufadora and a local restaurant offered much relaxation for Maggie’s parents! My husband, Mark, and I were more than happy to stay onboard with Maggie where she enjoyed the kids’ program for ages 2 to 5. Maggie also had fun in the pools with Mark as her swimming buddy! I, of course, had to take those much enjoyed photos, capturing our cruise moments that would allow us to reminisce after our cruise was over.
Our third and last day was a sea day which offered more than we could possible do. Maggie, and the rest of us, enjoyed the whimsical Towel Animal Theater where the towel animals found nightly on our beds came to life in their own stage presentation! So cute!! Mark and I tested our knowledge with the slogans trivia and managed to win, receiving the familiar “ship on a stick” trophy commemorating our victory! The gentlemen tried their hand at the 9-hole golf course, nicely laid out and full of fun for all ages on the top deck of the ship.
Poolside activities abounded from the ice carving to dancing, plus a chance to help raise money for the St. Jude’s hospital by purchasing a T-shirt for a mere $10 donation. St. Jude’s is a hospital that Carnival supports through donations on all of its ships, and we as a family make it a point to donate every time we sail with Carnival as our way of just giving back. Every T-shirt bought helps increase the overall donation amount. So, maybe try to make a point to donate on your next Carnival cruise. Many more activities were available, but you will have to cruise yourself in order to check them all out!!
Eating can be a sport all of its own on a Carnival cruise! It seemed as if we were constantly planning our day around the numerous food options available throughout the ship! We tried and enjoyed them all from the regular dining room with its options for a steak and lobster meal, at an added cost, to the wonderful flavors of the Blue Iguana Cantina.
Guy’s Burger Joint was a family favorite, and we loved eating there at lunch time. For a more casual and quicker meal, we ate at the Brasserie where there was a wide variety of food types offered for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our favorite remains the sea day brunch offered in the main dining room where both breakfast and lunch items are offered from 8:30am until 1:00pm. This is a nice option for those wanting to get a bit more sleep. Pizza was always available as was yogurt and ice cream. Room service was very useful with a little one. Lots of choices with some requiring a small charge.
Evenings offered production shows, family game shows, adult comedy shows and the ever popular love and marriage show where married couples of all ages are given a chance to show how well they know each other.
Our stateroom was an ocean view room, nicely laid out with plenty of storage space for our 4-night cruise. The bathroom was functional with a walk-in shower. The beds were some of if not the best we have ever slept in! Super comfortable!! The inside staterooms were laid out in a similar fashion to the ocean view rooms and would function just as well. Few balcony rooms were available on this ship for those wanting a bit more space. But we were quite pleased with our room selection!
Before you know it, it is time to debark and leave our floating home to return to the reality of our own homes! But it is so nice to know we can return at any time of the year to enjoy either another 4-night cruise or even just a 3-night cruise! It is so easy sailing in and out of Long Beach at about just a 2 hour drive from our home in San Diego. And not having to fly makes these homeport cruises even more enticing! The shorter cruises offer such a nice getaway allowing one to recharge their batteries on a very reasonably priced excursion. I know we plan to do this cruise again soon, and maybe we will bring along more family members next time! Thanks for everything, Carnival! We’ll see you soon!!