October 10th, 2016. We took our first cruise. Four nights and five days to Mexico. We left out of Long Beach, CA on the Carnival Inspiration. When we dropped off our luggage outside the cruise terminal and got through the check in line, we crossed that long covered bridge to get on the ship. There it was, our big, beautiful lady of the sea, The Inspiration. Going into this I knew it was an older ship that was revamped a few years ago, but it was 4 days of cruising for $299.00 each. We could not complain. For that price, we had an ocean view stateroom. First our thoughts on the ocean view. It was really not much more money than the interior rooms, about $50.00 a person. So we decided to splurge for it. I loved it and felt like we should always have a window in our room on every cruise we take after this one. My husband and 10yr old son both thought it was annoying and unnecessary. The sun shines bright in the morning and even though the curtains are thick and heavy, they let a crack of sunlight come in and they found it annoying. And, since we spent so little time in the stateroom, I had to agree with them that it was not really necessary to have a window to feel like we weren’t claustrophobic. The room was big enough as it was so if you are worried about it feeling closed in, don’t. It was fine. We are doing interior rooms from here on it. I’m an early riser so I didn’t care about the sunlight.
Our stateroom attendant was amazing. We had ordered a 12 pack of water to be waiting for us at the room before we left port. It was there when we got to the room, as was our luggage. I asked him to bring us an Ice bucket filled with ice so we could drink the water. From that moment on, we had an ice filled ice bucket the entire trip. He was on it and never let it get empty. He came into the room throughout the day and he worked 24 hours a day. If we needed something at 2am, he was there. There was one point when we came back to the room at 5pm to get changed. My son used the toilet and his business went into the toilet sideways. I know, this is gross but when we tried to flush it, the toilet flushed fine but since the business was sideways it was kind of stuck in the same position and wouldn’t go down with the water. I was all dressed for dinner so I told them to leave it and I would try and deal with it when we got back. Well of course, one thing led to another and we didn’t get back till 10pm that evening after dinner. The room had those towel animals in it and the pillows had been all fluffed and put back where they belong. Fresh ice was there again. I forget all about the toilet issue until I went to use the restroom myself, I was standing there doing my business and realized that the toilet had be cleaned. OMG!! Our attendant took it upon himself to deal with that?? Do I even have enough cash on hand to leave him after the trip is over? How embarrassing. When we left the ship at the end of the cruise, I handed him $20.00 for taking good care of us and another $10.00 for “Above and Beyond toilet issues”. He smiled and wished us well.
I got up every morning at 7am like I do at home. I am on Weight Watchers and it’s a battle every week at my weigh-in to stay on target and lose a pound a week. Well here I am on an “all you can eat” cruise and I was determined to not gain a pound. So, every morning, at 7am I walked up to deck 14 and jogged around the track. 11 times around is 1 mile. I did 33 laps every morning. I also had a rule with my family that we were NOT to use any elevators. It was stairs all the way every day. They hated me! I ate what I wanted to but tried not to stuff myself. I didn’t really eat at the buffets but I took advantage of the Blue Iguana Mexican food because they had beans that are not made with lard (I’m a vegetarian) and I ate at the restaurant every night including desert. They had some meat free choices every night for dinner. So, if you are vegan or vegetarian, they are ready for you, don’t worry. So how did I do on my Weight Watchers? I didn’t gain any weight! Yeah Baby!!
In Catalina Island, we got off the ship and just went shopping. We didn’t even buy much, just some souvenirs for our son but it was fun to walk around the town. You don’t need to buy an excursion if you don’t want to spend the money. We wanted to do this trip economically. When we got to Ensenada, we walked around town. We found a great Mexican restaurant and had an awesome lunch. This place even had potato tacos for vegetarians. In Mexico???? You betcha! We had a great meal and then headed back to the ship.
My son went to the kids club as soon as we got on the ship to check it out. I had already pre-registered him online. They welcomed him and asked me if he was allowed to come and go on his own or if I wanted to be there to check him in and out. My 10yr old son told the guy he could come and go as he wanted to. I was not comfortable with letting him come and go by himself but some of the adventures at the kids club involved roaming the ship with groups of kids that did scavenger hunts. Eventually, I gave in and let him do it. By this point, we had been on the ship a few hours and he already knew the layout better than I did. It turned out to be good for him and he loved it. I was still uneasy about it the whole time but it’s probably because I'm a helicopter parent. He was never in any danger. He spent almost all his time with those kids. Eating, playing, dance party every night. He loved it.
What was included in our trip? Well our stateroom of course, all the room service we ordered was free. The buffet is free. I didn’t eat from it but my family did. They loved it. It was too “Golden Corral” for me and I ordered fruits from room service every day so I was never hungry for the buffet. 24-hour pizza is available to you at the buffet area and all the juice, coffee and tea you can drink. I just drank water the whole time. I watched a live show about games shows where they pick people out of the audience to play games on the stage. That was fun. There were many other shows included but I just never made it to them. Between the pool, the meals, the ports of call, the jogging, the miniature golf and all the exploring, I was wiped out by 10pm daily.
The highlight of my trip actually started out as a nightmare. When we first got on the ship, we went to the dining room and looked at what table we had. We wanted a table for 4. We didn’t want to be at a large table with other people. We found our folio number on a smaller table for 4 on the side of the dining room. That was perfect. Now I don’t have to go ask the maître D to relocate us. That night, we came to dinner and that table was taken. I noticed that our reservation card with our folio number was on a large table for 8. I was not happy. I went to complain but they insisted that we were supposed to be at that table for 8. Reluctantly, we sat there and were upset. Two ladies showed up and sat down. They said that they are supposed to be sitting with those people as she pointed to the people at our original table. She said that they were all supposed to be sitting at the 6 available seats at our current table. After a few minutes, those 4 people moved over to the table we were sitting at. As soon as that happened, I asked the Maître D to move us back to the original table but he would not do it. He insisted that it was reserved for a party of four. I told him that nobody is sitting there and nobody is going to sit there. He wasn’t getting it. After a while I just gave up and said this cruise was getting off to a bad start. As we started to eat, we realized that we had a lot in common with the other 6 people at our table. First, they were all real estate agent, which is what I do for a living. Second, they were all over 30, same as me (ok I'm over 40 but who’s counting). They were also fun to chat with. They held great conversation and not once did anyone talk about politics. At the end of the meal, the maître D came over and gave us a table number for the rest of the trip. That new table was a table for 4. The next night, we went to our new table for 4. We wanted a table for 4 because our son was supposed to eat with us, but he ate at Camp Ocean the whole trip so he didn’t eat with us at all. Well the new table was nice. Nice and quiet. Too quiet. The people behind us had 8 at their table. They were all about 22-28, talking about college and starting their careers. Talking about infants. I felt like we were in the wrong place. Our dinner was nice but I really started to miss the people from our table from last night. This was crazy. I wanted to eat by ourselves and here we are doing just that and now I miss those people from last night. On the third night. We ran into the people from the dinner the first night outside the restaurant. They were like “What happened to you guys, we missed you last night”. We told them the whole story and they said that the two spots at their table were still open so we should come back that night for dinner. We did, and we had the BEST time eating dinner with them for the rest of the trip. We saw those people in the ports of call, at the pool and at brunch. They were always polite and asked how our son was doing. They turned out to be great dinner companions. Of course now we had our original table and the table the Maître D gave us both with nobody sitting at them the whole trip. Ironic.
So, the most important lesson I took away from this trip was this. All the stuff they provide for you is great, but the people that you meet will really teach you more about yourself than you can possibly imagine. Be open for new things and new experience and be ready to make new friends. It really made the whole trip for us. - JT