MV CARNIVAL INSPIRATION Double Decked!, Part One: Sun to Lido Deck

On December 17, 2011, the Port of Long Beach, California welcomed its latest resident cruise ship, Carnival Cruise Line’s CARNIVAL INSPIRATION, the subject of this two part, top-to-bottom Decked! feature.

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Carnival Cruises

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2011 unless otherwise noted.


Operators: Carnival Cruise Line
Registry: Bahamas
Builder: Kvaerer Masa Shipyard, Helsinki, Finland (hull number 489 )
Entered Service: 1996
Gross Tonnage: 70,367
Length: 855 feet
Beam: 103 feet
Draft: 25 feet, 9 inches
Passenger Capacity: 2052 double occupancy (2,606 maximum)
Number of Crew: 920
Propulsion: diesel electric (56,000 BHP), twin screw
Maximum Speed: 21 knots

Bell from above.
A fire boat salute for the INSPIRATION on her fist Los Angeles visit. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 1996.
MV INSPIRATION. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 1996.

When this ship was introduced as the INSPIRATION in 1996, she was the sixth in what would ultimately be the eight member Fantasy Class platform of ships commissioned by Carnival Cruise Lines. The other seven Fantasy Class ships include the FANTASY (1990), ECSTASY (1991), SENSATION (1993), FASCINATION (1994), IMAGINATION (1995), ELATION (1998) and PARADISE (1998).

Bow of folly.

In 2007, the Carnival prefix was added to the names of all the vessels in the fleet. At that same time, the CARNIVAL INSPIRATION received a multi-million dollar “Evolutions of Fun” refit, which saw the addition of a water park and newly-decorated public spaces.

QUEEN MARY starboard side, appearing in need a fresh coat of paint.

The CARNIVAL INSPIRATION offers year-round three and four night cruises to Mexico from the QUEEN MARY-adjacent Long Beach Cruise Terminal, which is housed in a geodesic dome that was originally built for Howard Hughes’ “Spruce Goose” airplane.


Forward Sun Deck, facing starboard.
Over bow from Sun Deck.

Sun Deck (14) tops the ship and begins with an open platform that overlooks the bow. One of my favorite aspects of the Fantasy class are their semi liner-like traits, including cambered, teak-covered decks.

City Sports Park, facing forward.

An angled glass screen serves as a wind break for a cushioned jogging track (eleven laps equals one statute mile) that actually passes through the base of the radio mast and encircles a turf-topped, nine hole miniature golf course called City Sports Park.

Aft from Sun Deck.

From the aft portion of Sun Deck, there is an excellent view of the CARNIVAL INSPIRATION’s midships lido and pool area.


Spa Reception.
Relaxation Room, facing forward.
Treatment Room #11.
Men's Changing area, facing forward.
Men's Sauna.
Gym, facing starboard.
Aerobics, facing port/forward.

Sports Deck (12) is divided into forward and aft sections. The 12,000 square foot Spa is forward of the Grand Atrium on Sports Deck and includes:  a unisex relaxation room for guests’ use before and after treatments; several treatment rooms offering a wide range of massage and skin therapies; separate men’s and women’s changing areas with their own saunas and steam rooms; a well-equipped gym (overlooking the bow) that adjoins an aerobics room (with Spinning equipment in addition to plenty of open space for classes and stretching).

Beauty Salon, facing aft.
Pedicure station.

The Beauty Salon is located on the forward/starboard side of the Deck 12 Grand Atrium, just aft of the Spa.

Grand Atrium, facing down from Sports Deck

The Fantasy Class ships have vertiginous, balconied, horseshoe-shaped atria that soar a height of seven decks from their base on Empress Deck (7) to the skylight on Sun Deck. The popular Atrium Bar replaced a large sculpture during one of the CARNIVAL INSPIRATION’s early refits.

Funnel from aft Sports Deck.
Twisted view.
Opposite Twisted view overlooking aft Sports Deck.

The aft portion of Sports Deck is an open terrace at the base of the funnel overlooking the pool and lido area. It used to be an adults-only (tops optional) sun bathing haunt but that era ended with the advent of the water park in 2007. Reached via a spiral platform on the port side, Twister is a vertiginous water slide that hurtles riders into a trough on aft Verandah Deck. A smaller pair of slides called Racers is located on the starboard side.


Forward Verandah Deck, facing starboard.
Facing aft from port Verandah Deck.

Verandah Deck (11) begins with a second forward observation platform situated directly above the wheelhouse. Wings extend slightly over the side of the ship, offering impressive views, especially when the CARNIVAL INSPIRATION is at sea.

Camp Carnival, facing aft from port.

The interior portion of Verandah Deck begins with a block of accommodation, composed of Mini-Suites and Interiors (see part two). Camp Carnival is a children’s playroom on Verandah Deck that borders the aft portion of the Grand Atrium and overlooks the midships lido and pool. Separate areas and activities are coordinated for those aged 2 to 5, 6 to 8 and 9 to 11.

Port Verandah Deck overhang, facing aft.
Resort Pool, facing port.
Port Verandah Deck, facing forward.

The midships portion of Verandah Deck continues on either side of the pool with a teak-lined promenade that extends over the side of the ship.

Aft Verandah Deck, facing forward.

The aft portion of Verandah Deck offers up more teak-lined sunning space and the bottom portion of the water park.


Forward port Lido Deck, facing forward.

The interior portion of Lido Deck (10) begins with the wheelhouse and officers’ accommodation. Aft of the bridge wings, finite open promenades stretch aft to the pool area underneath a canopy of lifeboats. A pair of similar promenades begins aft of the pool area, continuing to the stern.

Resort style pool, facing aft.
The Winner Takes It All...

The center portion of Lido Deck is home to the ship’s pool (called the Resort Style Pool), two Jaccuzzis and a stage for poolside events with an over sized chess board. A pair of Poolside Bars with open and shaded seating is located on each side of the midships Lido area.

Off The Grill, facing port.

At the aft end of the midships Lido, Off the Grill is an open air grill on the starboard side. Its port side complement is the Mandarin Wok.

Brasserie, facing forward.
Aft Lido Deck terrace, facing starboard.

The 722 seat Brasserie is the CARNIVAL INSPIRATION’s casual buffet style eatery on aft Lido Deck. Its vivid colors and fiber glass “tube sprouts” are Carnival architect Joseph Farcus’ playful take on the organic Art Nouveau style.  Small terraces on either side conclude this level.

End Of CARNIVAL INSPIRATION Double Decked!, Part One

Part Two Coming Soon…

Special thanks: Martin Cox, Jennifer De La Cruz, Vance Gulliksen

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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