Carnival Inspiration: The Former Fantasy Class Cruise Ship

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A former member of Carnival’s Fantasy class, Carnival Inspiration was originally christened in 1996, meaning that, if it were still sailing today, the ship would be a whopping near-30 years old. However, as of 2020, this ship has been retired, sold and sent off to the scrap yard.

As has been the case with many of Carnival Cruises’ older ships, the cruise line did refresh Carnival Inspiration multiple times over its life, bringing it up to modern standards as much as it could, with new venues. However, there just comes a time when you can only do so much to make an old ship like this appealing to today’s cruisers.

Need to know more? Here’s a glimpse of Carnival Inspiration’s life and what it looked like at the time of retirement.

What Happened to Carnival Inspiration?

In July 2020, Carnival Cruise Lines sold several ships from its fleet, including Carnival Inspiration. Along with Carnival FantasyCarnival Inspiration headed for the scrapyard in Turkey. As a result, Carnival canceled many future cruises, all the way through 2022, that would have taken place on Carnival Inspiration.

Carnival Inspiration Stats

Carnival Inspiration seems small in comparison to many of today’s ships. Here’s how the ship measures up:

  • Gross Tonnage: 70,367 GT
  • Length: 860 feet
  • Passenger capacity: 2,052 people
  • Crew: 902 members
  • Decks: 13, 10 of which are open to passengers
  • Cabins: 1,026

In comparison, some of Carnival’s newest cruise ships measure up to more than double that size, like Carnival Celebration, which measures in at 183,521 GT and can hold more than 6,000 cruisers at capacity. 

Construction

Built in 1996 by Kvaerner Masa-Yards in Helsinki, Finland, Carnival Inspiration cost $270 million to build. After being christened by Mary A. Shula, wife of a prior Miami Dolphins coach, the ship set sail and traveled through the Caribbean and then to the West Coast, with initial sailings from Puerto Rico. 

As part of the Fantasy class, Carnival Inspiration shared many features with sister ships Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Elation, Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Paradise and Carnival Sensation. Carnival Inspiration was the sixth of the eight ships. Lead ship Carnival Fantasy had debuted in 1990.

Carnival Inspiration Dry Dock
Carnival Inspiration Dry Dock (Photo Credit: Dave R)

Of these eight ships, Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise are the only two ships still in operation. They were the youngest of the Fantasy class, both launching in 1998. 

Despite how these ships look quite outdated today, the ships were very popular when they first debuted. The Fantasy class was designed to offer a modern (for the time) cruising experience.

Carnival Inspiration Cruise Ship
Carnival Inspiration Cruise Ship (Photo Credit: Jay Adan)

Los Angeles Times article covering Carnival Inspiration’s launch described the ship as such: “the sixth in the series of glittering vessels glows with neon and twinkles with fiber optic rainbows, and wows fun-minded passengers with a soaring seven-deck atrium and glass elevators.”

Uniquely and possibly oddly to today’s cruisers, these ships did not offer many balcony staterooms at all. Instead, for example, on Carnival Inspiration, its 1,026 staterooms are primarily spread across 54 suites, 564 ocean view staterooms and 408 interior staterooms.

Stateroom on the Fantasy Class Ship
Stateroom on the Fantasy Class Ship

Fantasy-class ships also were the last cruise ships to only store their lifeboats on the upper deck. 

Over its life, Carnival Inspiration served a variety of itineraries, all over the world, sailing from around the Caribbean. At the very end of its life, it was slated to serve short cruises from Long Beach, California, to Baja, Mexico. 

Carnival Inspiration Dry Docks

If you managed to snag a cruise on Carnival Inspiration before it went the way of the scrapyard, then you likely noticed that the ship was not the same as it was when it was first launched in the 90s. The ship received several overhauls over the years.  

For example, Carnival Inspiration was the very first cruise ship to receive an Evolutions of Fun makeover, in 2007. The Evolutions of Fun initiative refit quite a few Carnival ships and lasted through 2010, costing about $250 million total.

Carnival Inspiration Undergoing Dry Dock
Carnival Inspiration Undergoing Dry Dock (Photo Credit: Dave R)

At the time of its Evolution of Fun refurbishments, the ship was 11 years old. Changes were extensive, including the addition of the aqua park, a water slide and new children’s spaces. The changes cost about $40 million. 

Other renovations came in 2016, when the ship received new dining options, among other changes, in Portland, Oregon, as well as in 2018. Another dry dock was scheduled to take place in 2021, but, obviously, that dry dock was cancelled as the ship was sold for scrap in mid-2020

Carnival Inspiration Venues

Many of the venues aboard Carnival Inspiration will feel familiar, if you’ve cruised on a Carnival ship in recent history (especially an older Carnival ship, that doesn’t have quite the same number of restaurants, bars and entertainment spaces). 

Restaurant options on the ship included two main dining rooms, Mardi Gras and Carnivale. There was also the Lido buffet, a sushi bar, Guy’s Burger Joint (which was added in 2016) and BlueIguana Cantina (also added in 2016).

Blue Iguana Cantina
Blue Iguana Cantina

All of the restaurants aboard this ship were complimentary, with no specialty dining options. While this did mean fewer overall options, it was likely nice knowing that you could eat wherever you wanted on the ship and never pay extra.

(It’s worth noting that The Chef’s Table specialty dining option was offered on this ship, but that’s more of an event or experience than a true restaurant option.) 

Carnival Inspiration Cruise Ship
Photo: mariakray / Shutterstock.com

For thirsty cruisers in search of a drink, the ship offered its Rhapsody in Blue piano lounge, a promenade bar, Avant-Garde karaoke bar, Rock and Roll Nightclub, Chopin cigar bar and Candlelight Lounge and Bar. Several additional bars were added in 2016, including the RedFrog Rum Bar, Alchemy Bar and BlueIguana Tequila Bar.

Paris Theater Show Lounge on Carnival Inspiration
Paris Theater Show Lounge on Carnival Inspiration (Photo Credit: mbarrison)

There was also a specialty coffee bar, Cafe des Artistes, aboard the ship, and Cherry on Top, selling candies and similar sweets.

For entertainment, the ship offered the standard cruise ship theater with nightly shows named the Paris Lounge, and a comedy club in one of the bars, as well as the Monte Carlo Casino. Other venues included the fitness center, Carnival WaterWorks water park, Serenity adults-only space, Spa Carnival and sports courts.

WaterWorks at Aft of the Ship
WaterWorks at Aft of the Ship (Photo Credit: Melissa Mayntz)

For the kiddos, Camp Carnival provided programming for the youngest cruisers, while Circle C provided programming geared toward pre-teens and Club 02 catered to the teenagers in your crew.

Classic family-friendly activities were plentiful, such as with the Seuss at Sea program, and family-friendly fun at the sports courts, such as with the mini golf course. An internet café was also available, as was an art gallery and 24-hour arcade.

Classic Decor

The décor aboard Carnival Inspiration was classic Carnival, with all the red, yellow and orange that was standard on the cruise line’s older ships. There was a distinct 90s flair, too, as could be seen in the ship’s neon-covered grand atrium, and in the blue-tiled pool areas, or in the 90s-carpeted kids’ areas (you know the 90s carpet we’re talking about). 

Carnival Inspiration Atrium
Carnival Inspiration Atrium (Photo Credit: Bob n Renee)

Staterooms were distinctly red, orange and beige, with lots of warm woods and a budget hotel vibe. Even the nicer, larger suites, such as a junior suite or grand suite, did not offer an updated décor scheme or any large degree of luxury.

Read Also: All Carnival Cruise Ships By Age – Newest to Oldest

However, certain spaces took a more timeless approach, channeling the arts and historic styles, as could be seen in the library and some of the bars. Special features aimed to wow, such as the hundreds of electric candles in the Candelight Lounge, or the revolving piano in the piano bar.

Promenade Deck on Carnival Inspiration
Promenade Deck on Carnival Inspiration (Photo Credit: mbarrison)

Overall, the ship’s appearance and aesthetic were an indicator of its age, and severely outdated it, regardless of the fact that Carnival had updated the ship with new venues, restaurants and family-friendly perks. What the ship really needed was a major décor facelift. 

Carnival Inspiration Scrapping

Possibly due solely to the ship’s age, maybe due to the COVID-19 pandemic that swept havoc across the cruising industry, or maybe due to a combination of both, in 2020, Carnival sold several ships, including Carnival Inspiration. Along with Carnival FantasyCarnival Inspiration headed for the scrapyard.

In the first leg of its last journey, Carnival Inspiration traveled to Brion Wharf in Willemstad, Curacao, in early July 2020, where many important items that were not fit for scrapping were removed. Then, the ship headed across the Atlantic Ocean, making way for Turkey and, finally, the ship-breaking facility in Aliaga.

Once there, the ship was beached on August 5, 2020, joining Carnival Fantasy and Sovereign of the Seas. Before beaching, Carnival took care to ensure that the ships would be dismantled and recycled responsibly. Partnerships with recycling companies guaranteed that the ships were dismantled in the most environmentally friendly ways possible, exceeding international standards.

Worth Reading: Uncovering the Secrets of the Cruise Ship Graveyard

As of today, the ships are entirely gone, with many of the ships’ materials having been repurposed, either on other ships, or in completely different uses altogether.

Carnival Inspiration FAQ

Did Carnival Inspiration have balcony rooms?

Carnival Inspiration did have balcony rooms, but unfortunately, only suites offered balconies. Suites options aboard Carnival Inspiration included the Junior Suite, Junior Suite with Obstructed View and Grand Suite.

Junior Suites offered sleeping arrangements for three, and deck seating for two, while the Grand Suites offered sleeping arrangements for five and a roomier deck, but still with seating for two.

Did the Carnival Inspiration have a movie theater?

While there was not a movie theater aboard Carnival Inspiration, there was a traditional theater. The main theater was called the Paris Lounge, which hosted day and evening shows and events, including musicals, games, and parties.

What class ship was the Carnival Inspiration?

Carnival Inspiration was a Fantasy-class cruise ship. The Fantasy class began with Carnival Fantasy, which entered service in 1990. There were a total of eight Fantasy-class cruise ships that sailed, including Carnival Fantasy, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination, Carnival Imagination, Carnival Inspiration, Carnival Elation and Carnival Paradise. As of April 7, 2024, only the Carnival Paradise and Carnival Elation remain in service.


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