We just returned from a 5 day cruise on this ship. If this is your first cruise you would be wiser to try a larger boat the first trip out. I am an experienced cruiser and had to resort to use of motion sickness pills several times. The last day at sea on the return trip the water was "slooshing" out of the pool so badly they had to close the pool.
Overall the cruise was good but this boat did not have the same amount of cruise ship staff as on our previous Carnival experience. There is usually a big sail away party around the pool on departure and we did not have this occur as a staff led event. However, the guests on the boat took matters into their own hands so to speak and everyone was having fun. At lunch everyday there were hamburgers/hotdogs/fries and some other foods at the Lido Buffet lines. We never ventured into the lunches (or breakfast) that were served in the formail dining rooms.
The shows were mostly entertaining however, the guest talent night show and shows that were all about the folkson the cruise were more entertaining. The staterooms have wonderfull bedding/mattresses (which you can actually order if you would like to do so). I will definately travel with Carnival again but will stay with ships at least 70,000 gross tonnage in the future (this ship is 46K gross tonnage).
We just returned today from a very relaxing vacation aboard the Celebration. This was our 2nd cruise - we sailed on the Carnival Jubilee last July out of Jacksonville also. We got there pretty late Thursday - so we missed the lunch before sailing (we did the same thing last year...next time we are going to try getting there quicker!) Embarkation went pretty quickly - I guess because it was about 2:30 and the ship was sailing at 4:00. They took all of our information, got our sign & sail card - and it was gold this year because we were a returning guest - got our picture took and boarded the ship. We were on the upper deck - had two rooms side by side with ocean view. It was me, my husband, daughter 16, son 12. The room was spotless -- the beds were so comfortable expecially the cover...I don't remember it being so nice last year. I actually slept late all 4 days and that it something I never ever do at home. The ships layout was almost identical to the Jubilee so it was pretty easyfor us to get around. There are so many workers on the ship that it just facinates me to watch them..they are constantly cleaning or doing something...it must be like this 24 hours a day. Hurricane Dennis was in the ocean so were a little concerned but we shouldn't have been - because it was on the opposite side of Flordia than we were on. We didn't like Freeport last year and we didn't like it this year - actually we waited until about an hour before we were to leave Freeport this year and just walked off the ship and walked around a few minutes and reboarded.
At Nassau there were 6 or 7 ships there...everyone seemed to have been rerouted there because of the hurricane. Nassau was so crowded - but actually I liked it a little better there with so many people. I feel very uncomfortable with all the pressure sales they try to do - everyone wanted to braid my daughters hair and little children were trying to sell everything and it is SO hard to tell a small child no...but we did...all but one and we broke down and bought a wooden turtle. We didn't book and excursion this year because last year we did the blue lagoon (loved it!!) We walked around and went alot more this year -went through the straw market which I really don't care for at all..I feel so sorry for those people working in such hot condtions and doing all the straw things they were doing. We walked around alot saw all the stores like Rolex and all...didn't buy anything. Went to Senor Frogs to eat...that place is a trip! I think it was an experience we were there at 1:30 and the wait was suppose to be an hour for a table (I guess because of all the cruise ships) we lucked out somehow and our beeper went off after about 5 minutes - of course we waited 20 minutes to get the beeper. The food seemed expensive to me --- but it didn't take long to realize that it is more for partying than for eating. I was amazed at the energy of the dj - and all the fun he was having. There was alot of cussing and drinking so some people may want to keep their kids away...but my children just couldn't get over how people carry on after they have been drinking like that...I could write more and more about Senor Frogs but I want - we bought the kids a t-shirt each and my daughter got a strawberry smoothie in the yard long glass. We really enjoyed the place and would definitely go back. We ate in the dining room each night because my children loved dressing up! They loved this last year also - they liked being served. The food was great - even though we couldn't pronounce it most of the time. The ice cream bar was a hit with all of us! The kids loved the pizza. My husband loved the food on the lido deck. The ship rocked some but not that much considering a hurricane was in the ocean. We mainly laid out in the sun, played ping pong, watched the ocean and watched the people. We have never been on a big ship so I don't know what to compare it to - but I do know that our family had a wonderful time - the only complaint whatsoever that I had was the coffee was not good at all....I tried it everyday and didn't like it. We love country music so we enjoyed the country music show. Didn't go to the other show - so don't know how it was. Debarkation seemed slow -but were off about 9:15 or 9:30 . They have self assist -- but we had 7 bags plus carryons between the four of us so that wasn't an option for us. I don't know how people pack in just one bag..but anyway we just hung out in the cabin and watched the news until they called our color and then it didn't take long at all to get off the ship. This time last night we were sitting on the deck of the ship....I wish I was there again!!!!!!!
Who: Barry & Kathy Cooper & Joe (18) and Sister-In-Law, Brother-In-Law and 2 sons (18 and 16) When: June 23 - June 27, 2005 Where: Bahamas Last Cruise: Carnival Inspiration - June 03 Next Cruise: Carnival Glory - August 05
Getting started ---------------
Embarkation in Jacksonville was reasonable. We drove down from Virginia in two stages and arrived at the port around 11:00. We had to wait about an 1 1/2 hours till my wife's sister and family arrived. By then the lines had gotten relatively long. I must say that the signs to the port (unlike Tampa) are pretty fail-safe.
Even though we had directions, we really did not need them. Since we had to wait, once we got checked in, we were able to get right on the ship. Lunch on the Lido deck was the typical first day Carnival buffet, nothing really special, but still good. The Muster drill was at 4:00 and was not very bad as we did not go outside to the boats, but just met at our muster station.
The Cabins ----------
Our rooms (2 outside and 1 inside) were on the Empress deck with anoutside view. The beds were separated as my son and I were registered in my room (the 7 of us were all dispersed throughout the 3 cabins), but we were able to have the Room Steward put them together. The bedding and beds on the Celebration have definitely been upgraded. The Celebration still uses the old plastic keys, so we just swapped them around. The 3 boys were in the insided cabin and seemed to have no complaints. Our room steward never really introduced himself to us, but did an excellent job. About the only negative with the room is that we think we were below one of the dining rooms or kitchen and somewhere around 3:00 AM every morning, there seemed to be a lot of banging and dropping stuff.
The ship --------
This was the smallest Carnival ship we have been on (4 on the Ecstasy, 3 on the Fantasy, 1 on the Paradise, 1 on the Pride and 1 on the Inspiration). The only thing that seemed small was the running/walking track. At one spot, it was only about 3 people wide which made it hard to get around people while jogging.
The ship seemed pretty clean to me and in pretty good shape.
Food & Service --------------
Dinners were really good to excellent. Lunches were good. We ate all but one of our lunches on the Lido Deck (the other lunch was at Blue Lagoon Island).
Our dining room waiters, Elmer, was excellent. The assistant waiter, Victoria, was a little distant, but seemed to warm up the last couple of days. My wife is lactose intolerant and Biljana, the dining room hostess, was extremely helpful with the selections. We had late seating at 8:00. Other than the first night, it seemed that at least one of our waiter's table was empty, so our service was very fast. Carnival does not carry any non-dairy creamer that we could find, but having learned her lesson the Pride and Inspiration, my wife brought her own Coffeemate (I keep forgetting to write that down on my comment cards). We were at a very nice table near the front of the dining room (for the 7 of us).
Saw a few more shorts in the dining room after the first night, especially since one of the nights was designated a casual night (even though the Capers said no shorts).
Ports & Weather ---------------
Our ports were Freeport and Nassau. We got a heavy rain early on the first morning on our way to Freeport and that was pretty much the only bad weather.
Freeport -------- The three boys did a beach excursion and seemed to have a pretty good time. The adults went into Freeport to one of the hotels and casino. Casino seemed nice, but not very big. We did walk around some of the shops, but did not buy anything.
Nassau ------ We have been to Nassau many times. We all did the Blue Island tour (with snorkeling). We had done this tour with Premier many years ago. This time, lunch was not provided, but the food on the Island was not too bad, but just a little expensive, but I was mentally prepared for that ahead of time. Snorkeling was okay, but you have to go through lots of rocks until it gets deep enough. Was disappointed in that Don Lorenzo seems to have stopped making their Double Chocolate Fudge Rum Cake, so we had to settle for other flavors.
Getting off the ship was easy, but it seemed to take quite a while for such few number of passengers. We did not do self-assist, but were able to watch everyone leave. It seemed like it took at least an hour (maybe 1 1/2 hours) for the self-assist. The good news is that when they called everyone else the line was relatively short (of course, we were the very last color called). We were able to get a porter to help with our luggage from the terminal to our car.
This was our 12th cruise on Carnival and we were definitely not disappointed. We all thought the crew on the ship were excellent. Did not really see the cruise director, Big Tex, but saw him on TV a lot. The staff in the casino cheerfully accepted all of my donations :) We are booked on the Glory for August and are looking forward to that cruise. Besides the noise in the middle of the night, the only other negative was that the public rooms were freezing (as usual)
We just returned from our 5 day cruise on the Celebration yesterday. So I'm posting while its still fresh.
Boarding at the Jaxport was a breeze. 10 to 15 minutes tops and we were on our way to our cabin on the Empress Deck. I highly recommend doing the Funpass online prior to sailing. We were in our room just moments and Jose was there introducing himself and his assistant Jenny. We were in a triple room with a "rollaway". (Doesn't roll). With four of us in the room it was a little cramped but we were there so little that it didn't matter to us.
That night at 7:30 we had orientation for Camp Carnival for my 2 girls ages 7 and 12. There were about 8 camp councelors all female and from all over the world. The younger age groups had 2 councelors all the time and the teen set had one most of the time and sometimes 2. The councelors told the children that they were on vacation and they didn't have to eat vegetables for the duration of the cruise. Got a big laugh and cheer.Children up to 8 had to be checked in and out by a legal guardian each time, ID was checked each and every time. I felt really secure in leaving my child with them. Activities started at 9 to 10am each day and varied each day. Crafts, games, treasure hunts, ice cream socials, coketail party on formal night, oh and every night from 6pm to 6:20pm the buffet on the lido deck served kids dinner of all their favorite foods.....no veggies. Although this sounds like a great idea the fact is that the food was mediocre at best and reminded me of school cafeteria food. So more often than not my kids had grown up food instead. My daughter loved the councelors and the activites did keep her attention pretty much. Activities ended at 10pm each evening. The "Playroom" was tiny but seemed sufficient for the number of kids. My 12 year old had run of the ship. At that age they do not have to check in and out, but activities were interesting enough to keep her involved. Also from 9:30pm to 10:45pm each evening the Disco was open for the teenagers only. She enjoyed just hanging out there and listening to the music. So overall the kids program was great for them. I imagine it would be much better in one of the newer ships with a larger dedicated space for it.
The Big 3 tour in Key West is awesome! Kayaking in the Mangrove islands, snorkling on the reef and Dolphin watching.
Nassau...What can I say?? It was like being mugged by the Computer Spammmer as soon as you got through the security gate. BRAIDS! TAXI! TOURS! Blah blah blah. No great shopping deals. Crowded and loud. I'm not a party girl anymore and shopping there wasn't fun. So I found no redeeming features in the town itself. We took a tour to the Dolphin Encounter in Blue Lagoon. The ferry ride there was long, (seemed like it) and it stopped along the way to pick up more passengers. No beverages included at all. When we got there the Dolphin Encounter place was crammed with people going every which way. When they finally got us in the "orientation bungalow" it was HOT and crowded. We got a quickie lesson on Dolphin anatomy and a sales pitch on pictures. They split us up into 2 groups 20 people each, then again into sub groups of 10 each. The interaction with the dolphin was great, (how often do you have the chance to be in the water with a trained dolphin??) We got to pet the dolphin back and belly (so soft!) Got dolphin kisses and hugs and got to "dance" with the dolphin which in my opinion was a very fake interaction only done so that it could be video taped and sold back to you. The whole tour was geared for wringing extra money out of you after already charging you $100 per person. Not worth it and very frustrating. In addition, there was no access to the beach once you were done with the dolphins. You had to sit around on hard picnic benches and wait for your ride back in the heat. Not worth it!
Debarkation was a breeze. Self debark was a great idea. We didn't take advantage of it but many did, which made it faster for the rest of us. We were off the ship by 9:30am.
So overall it was a relaxing cruise, the ship was clean and in good condition that I saw. Not as many activities as I would have liked but thats ok. Service was great and friendly. Camp Carnival was awesome! Food was great in the dining room, they even had low fat and low carb selections!! Food was not so great or creative at the buffet. The Islands in the Sky lounge was always soooo cold I couldn't stand being in there. The band was so so. Endless Summer bar had Karaoke and was always packed to the gills. Great fun! The Sushi Bar was ok, but just. Once the pool closed the decks were pretty dull. Not much action happening there most nights. One Lido deck party. The spas were always half empty of water and never warm enough.
I guess thats it. Great for a first time cruiser. Very laid back. Three and a half stars.
This was the first cruise that my family and I had ever been on so needless to say we were very anxious to get going. We flew from Virginia to Jacksonville to get to the port and had a car waiting at the airport to take us to the port. The embarkation process was really painless; they picked up our baggage at the curb, checked it, and we didn't see it again until later that evening in our room. The lines were really long but they moved really fast, it was amazing. I have never been in a line that was handled so efficiently. I suppose the worst part of it all was the wait to get on board; we were just so anxious to see the ship. However, seeing that there were 1800+ people on this cruise, the whole process was fast and simple.
Once on board we were amazed at how long the ship was and how long it took to get from one end of the hallway to the other; rather reminiscent of the long hallways at hotels in Vegas. We found our stateroom and met oursteward who was really friendly and courteous. He had our room made up at least twice a day and had the towel animals waiting for us when we got back; my son really loved those. I did not have one bad thing to say about how our room was taken care of; it was perfect everyday.
After getting underway, we all went up to the forward deck to watch the ship wind through the waterway. We actually had two dolphins lead us out of the port. It was so awesome to watch them swim and jump out of the water ahead of us. I believe that I heard somewhere that it's good luck to have dolphins swim next to your ship when you sail. Not sure if that's true but we had great luck the whole trip.
The entertainment on the ship was great. The shows were done very well and the comedians were really funny. My wife and I caught all of the shows and we had a blast. My son really enjoyed the activities that the ship provided; he didn't want to leave and could not wait until he could go back to the next event.
I had always heard that you could eat twenty four hours a day on these cruises; it was not a myth. The food was excellent. Everything from the formal dining to the midnight buffet was just spectacular. We really enjoyed the formal dining most of all though. The food was always prepared just right and tasted out of this world. The head waiter was both efficient and an absolute pleasure to be around. By the end of the cruise, he and my son were really good friends. He really went out of his way to make dining for my son an experience he will not soon forget; and neither will I.
This particular cruise went to Key West and then to Nassau. The snorkeling excursion in Key West was outstanding. From the boat trip out to the reef to the boat trip back, we had an awesome time. The reef and the fish were an amazing sight to see if you have never seen anything like that before. In Nassau we had the opportunity to swim and snorkel with the stingrays. These creatures were unbelievable to pet and just be around in general. They are very docile, graceful and really seemed to be comfortable around us.
The whole trip was a very pleasant experience. We had no problems whatsoever, the ship's crew did an excellent job in their service to us, and the weather was beautiful the entire trip. We could not have asked for a better vacation or a better blessing than what we got. We are already looking forward to our next cruise and can't wait to set sail again. I really enjoyed the Carnival ship and I think that we will continue to cruise with them in the future.
There was 4 of us girls that went on this cruise plus it was our first. We didn't know what to expect some of the reviews I read didn't seem like much fun but we believed this was going to be a wonderful vacation and it was, we had a wonderful time. We knew the Celebration was an older ship but that didn't matter to us we went for the Fun and Excitement! The Fancy stuff didn't matter we just had a good time and left our troubles behind.
Freeport wasn't all that exciting we got off for awhile bought a couple things and back on the ship.
We woke up in Nassau and it was great! We went to the Blue Lagoon and its so pretty.
The night we left Nassau was wonderful, buffet on lido,music,seeing everybody outside by the pool but when we sailed we went to the bridge and watched her sail out into the night.It was a trip I'll never forget.Our fun day at sea was more relaxing and got some good bargins to bring home.
Met a friend on board KYCruiser from Kentucky so nice.
I haveno complaints about this ship she was a great. The food,shows and all the crews were just fantastic.So everyone planning on sailing the Celebration I hope you have as much fun and enjoy the ship as we did. She's not fancy but she does make dreams come true she did for us!
This was our eighth cruise overall, and the second on Carnival. Our previous cruises include 2 on the Disney Magic, 1 RCCL Sovereign of the Seas, 3 Princess (2 on the Grand, 1 on the Sea Princess), and a trip on the Carnival Miracle in March 2004. My wife and I had not been away in 13 months, and the proximity of the port of Jacksonville to our home outside of Beaufort, SC was too good an opportunity to miss.
We understood that the Celebration is one of the oldest ships in the Carnival fleet at 18 years of age, and somewhat dated from a design and public space standards of today's ships. The ship did have an extensive refitting in 2003. However, knowing the limitations ahead of time we decided to book the cruise anyway.
Embarkation in Jacksonville was a breeze; we were on the ship in less than 15 minutes and found our way to V7 on the Veranda deck.
Originally we had booked an outside stateroom on the Empress deck, but since my wife had just accepted a new job offer with a substantial increase in pay, wecalled our travel agent and upgraded to a suite on the Veranda deck.
There are only 10 Veranda Staterooms on the Celebration, and be advised that in V9 and V10 the view is almost totally obscured by lifeboats. V7 and V9 are about 45% obscured, but still have a good view from the forward area of the outside deck. The remaining Veranda staterooms (V1-V6) have no obstructions; however they also have no privacy as they can be easily seen from the forward observation deck on top of the ship's bridge. At least our stateroom V7 and our mirror image V8 were not easily seen from the observation deck.
The suite looks just like the pictures on the Carnival website complete with a walk-in closet and Jacuzzi tub in the bathroom. We never got a chance to try the whirlpool tub as there seemed to be barely enough hot water to get a good shower. This must be a limitation of an older ship with outdated technology.
Despite the age of the ship we were impressed by the level of maintenance and cleanliness throughout. Public spaces are smaller than we have been used to, but with the lesser passenger capacity it never became a problem until a dinner seating was over and a show beginning. What was a problem was the lack of restrooms throughout the ship. We would often simply return to our stateroom rather than search for an elusive public facility on the various decks.
There is a very noticeable vibration on this ship, and it can be felt everywhere. In some areas the vibration seems as though it builds up and periodically releases in a rhythmic manner. We noticed different variations where ever we went, but the vibration was always present except when docked in port.
The elevators are very small, in some cases barely accommodating more than 6 people.
In some areas we periodically noticed a distinct odor of sewage, including the bathroom in our stateroom.
The Wheelhouse restaurant on the Lido deck was typical of most Lido restaurants. Don't be fooled into waiting in line as you first enter from the pool area, this is the hot buffet line. We quickly learned to bypass this area if there was a line because once inside there are other food stations available including a salad bar, sandwich bar, dessert area complete with soft serve ice cream, and a pizza kitchen that was terrific.
The Vista dining room was our assignment for the 8:30 seating. The food was good to very good, and the service was very prompt, efficient and personable. Our waiter Manoj and his female assistant Biljana gave us great service every night.
We ordered room service twice in the morning for a Continental Breakfast. Both times the waiter arrived precisely at the appointed time with our order, excellent job.
We encountered friendly and helpful staff at almost every point on the Celebration. I already mentioned the terrific dining room team, but there were similar smiling faces in the lounges, Lido deck, and pool areas as well. The Captain, Andrea Viacava, is both highly visible and very personable with a good sense of humor.
One odd occurrence on this ship was that we never actually met our stateroom steward. He did a fine job, not a thing out of place and the towel animals were a nice touch. But this was the first time that the steward did not make a point of introducing him or herself on embarkation day. Perhaps this behavior is unique to Carnival as I have read this comment in other Carnival reviews.
After such a great experience with the entertainment on the Miracle, we were very both disappointed with both the variety and quality of the shows offered on the Celebration. Two of the shows for our 5 day trip were good, the rest were rather poor and haphazard.
Key West was fun; we had never been there before. We felt more like we were in the Caribbean rather than Florida. Perhaps the wild roosters and chickens running around downtown contributed to that feeling. The Conch Train Tour was fun, but frustrating because they never stop so you can get photographs of the landmarks the guide is pointing out during the tour. However the driver was great, very informative and entertaining.
This was our third visit to Nassau, so the straw market was not really an option. We decided to go see Atlantis since we had not done so on any previous visits.
Despite the $29 per person admission charge to see the Dig and Predator Lagoon, we felt the trip and the experience of not only the Aquarium but the visually striking setting, architecture and gorgeous landscaping of the Atlantis property was well worth the cost. We're glad we went and thoroughly enjoyed our visit.
In a word, perfect. We really got lucky on this trip with the weather just gorgeous the whole trip. This was quite a contrast from our Miracle trip in March, 2004 when the winds blew 30 - 50 knots the whole time. Certainly not something anyone can control, but when Mother Nature cooperates it can make the trip so much more enjoyable.
Carnival has the fore site to offer a self-assist debarkation option for those willing to tote their own bags off the ship. Our deck was called at 8:15 AM; we were through customs and pulling out of the parking lot at 8:40. It just does not get much better than that.
We had an enjoyable trip despite the limitations of the ship because we understood them ahead of time. We would consider the Celebration again primarily due to the convenience of the Jacksonville port to our home. Hopefully in the future Carnival and some other cruise lines will offer even more itineraries from Jaxport.
Just returned from the Celebration yesterday. It was the best four days in a long long time! Our party was a party of 10 (8 adults and 2 children). We drove down from Atlanta-got to JAX around 11:30am and was on the boat around 12:15-12:30pm. Everything moved very smoothly. Our room was ready -however we did not get our luggage til around 7pm. But it was cool, thanks to all the advice on here-we were prepared. My daughter got a kick out of going under the bridge while departing Jacksonville! We all cheered once we made it under. The views were beautiful, the ocean, the wind blowing-it was wonderful.
Food: Not the best but it was cool. My best meal was the last dinner on Sunday. I tend to walk away from the dining room still "lunchy". I think I OD on the Cheeseburgers-they were great. I notice a lot of people was packing the cheeseburgers down! Pizza was good and the ice cream was refreshing after sitting out on deck in the sun. We loved our waiter -Ricardo was his name and he was a lot of fun! Miss himalready!
Entertainment: Did not care too much for the shows. Enjoyed the Galaxy Disco-especially Friday night-it was definitly better than single night held that Thursday. The older crowd definetly knew how to party! I believe we had a party crowd on this cruise-especially the older cruisers-I can learn a lot from them (smile).
Camp Carnival-My daughter went everyday! She was hesitant at first, but enjoyed it. She made new friends and was happy. We missed the talent show by 5 minutes. No one wanted to get up on stage so they closed it down. Great outlet for her and great "me" time for me! Will recommend to anyone w/kids. My daughter and her friend could have lived in the pool the whole cruise. They enjoyed the Jacuzzi better than the adults.
Freeport: Went to the straw market-that was all we did. It rained for a good 30 minutes or so-I mean pouring rain but not one drop fell near the ship! The highlight was our Taxi Driver Kenneth-he cracked us up the whole time. He's someone we will not forget.
Nassau: Went to the straw market. Hit up Senor Frogs. Really enjoyed myself. Saw the fire show near Senor Frogs. The locals are hilarious and very very very friendly! And it's definetly true-the shop keepers are very very pushy w/sales both in Nassau and Freeport-it's nerve wrecking to be honest.
Stateroom: We was in U217 the last room on the back of the boat w/a view. The room is definetly bigger than the rest of the staterooms w/a view. Only thing wrong-you felt everything. I think we was sitting on top of the engine or the breaks one! The room would vibrate real real bad when the boat picked up speed or was slowing down. However it lulled us to sleep. Some of the best sleep I've had in weeks!
Sunday: Was a lazy day- however we felt every wave there was. I mean we as everyone on the boat. It was kinda funny hearing people say "did you feel that" or "whoah- I'm a lil dizzy there" or my favorite "what the". Everyone in my crew was ready to go home....me I could have stayed a few more days-I think I'm ready for a 7 day cruise!
Overall: Enjoyed every moment of my cruise on the Celebration. She maybe the 2nd oldest ship but she was a lot of fun. It's definelty what you make it out to be! Hey don't forget to hit the upper deck (deck above the lido) around 11:30 pm or 12am...it's beautiful- the stars, the ocean, the wind....I thought I saw a dolphin (it's a inside joke for our group). one more thing- please place a towel in your deck chair before you sit down in them....u'll be surprise what people are doing on them things after dark! Ha! Believe me we got an eyeful by accident!
Cruisers: Myself and Husband (39 and 41 respectively) and our 10 year old daughter and her 10 year old friend.
Previous Cruises: Regal Princess 1997 S. Caribbean Carnival Imagination 1999 W. Caribbean Grand Princess 2002 W Caribbean Golden Princess 2003 E. Caribbean Caribbean Princess 2005 E. Caribbean
We chose this cruise mostly because the port was within a reasonable driving distance from our home in SC and was therefore a less costly alternative to other cruise and land based vacations. We have cruised Carnival once before and although we didn't dislike our cruise, we really preferred Princess. I was a bit concerned about sailing such an older and smaller ship since our recent cruises have all been on Princess' newer mega ships - but I was willing to give the Celebration a try knowing that it really couldn't compare with the Princess mega ships as far as amenities and options but that it certainly had the potential to be a great cruise nonetheless.
Embarkation: We arrived at the port of Jacksonville at 11:10 am and were aboard the ship by 1:00 or so. Unfortunately we arrived at the very busiest of times and waitedlonger than others.no big deal, however if I were to do it again I'd stroll in the port about 1:30 and probably be on the ship by 2:00 at the latest. The fun pass lines did move at a quicker pace than the others.
Cabin: Empress 183 AFT - Went immediately to our cabin which seemed cleaned and ready but was instructed by steward not to close the door.oh well we'd change into our bathing suits later. We liked the location of this cabin, just a few flights up to the Wheelhouse and pool area. We did notice quite a bit of vibration towards the back of the ship and a great deal of noise when the ship docked. We were underneath the Horizon dining room and noticed banging noises on a couple of occasions. One evening we could hear VERY distinct conversations from the cabin next to us, but never noticed it the rest of the cruise. There was adequate storage for the four of us - we are light packers though and it was just a 5 night cruise. The bathroom however was a different story, just the one shelf above the sink. I was SO glad I packed the over the door shoe hanger - we hung it on a towel rack and it was very handy keeping all of our toiletries and other necessities organized. The bed linens in our cabin were fabulous, besides the Ritz-Carlton I don't think I've ever slept on nicer linens anywhere. The beds did slip apart more than ones on other cruises leaving that uncomfortable "gap" in the middle. Our steward was not overly friendly but certainly did his job efficiently and well. Our girls stayed in the cabin quite a bit and he always worked around their schedule (or lack thereof) cleaning it at unusual times of the day.
Entertainment: This was the one area in which I thought Princess was weak and I was curious to see how Carnival measured up. We saw one big production show "Standing Room Only" a medley of Broadway show tunes and dances, this was good - not Broadway good - but not bad. We enjoyed listening to the acoustic guitar player in the Trolley area before dinner in the evening and thought the Blackjack band was good. I always enjoy the steel drums on the Lido deck during the day and this cruise was no exception to that. We caught the comedian Kim's late R rated show one night and thought it was hysterical; we thoroughly enjoyed her humor but can understand why some people don't. My husband went to see the magician and comedian one evening and said they were good. My daughter enjoyed the talent show. I caught it on TV and wasn't as impressed. All in all we enjoyed the entertainment and music on this cruise more than on Princess, perhaps because it was geared toward a bit younger (but not TOO young) crowd. According to my daughter the Country production show was very good, but after her rating of the talent show I have to wonder! We didn't run into the cruise director Big Tex very often, saw him on TV quite a bit though.after having Graham Seymour for two cruises on Princess I'm not sure anyone can compare - we enjoyed very much his sense of humor.
Dining: We were assigned 8:30 dinner seating in the Vista dining room at table 106, which was a table for 8, we were seated with another couple with 2 children near our girls ages. Our service from Carlos and his assistant was just about perfect. For the most part the food at dinner was very good to excellent. The lobster on formal night was the best I've ever had aboard a cruise ship, however my husband's lobster was tough, go figure! The pasta choices were not very tasty, but the soups and in particular the chilled soups were great. The Grand Marnier souffle on the last evening was magnificent. Carnival treated all diners to a glass of champagne on the Fourth of July or do they do this for every cruise??? We ate breakfast in the Horizon dining room every morning, I was surprised that the menu was the same every day, I don't remember that being the case on our prior Carnival cruise. I ordered a ham and cheese omelet every morning and it was always very hot and cooked just right, and I am picky about my egg dishes. On the other hand the Eggs Benedict were too cooked for my husband's taste - just goes to show how subjective tastes are when it comes to food. Lunches we usually did in the Wheelhouse or pizzeria or deli station, the quality of food wasn't bad but there didn't seem to be much variety.just MHO. I think my daughter and husband subsisted merely on ice cream for the entire cruise. The quality of the food certainly compared well with Princess, however I think Princess' quantity of options and variety is better - again I am comparing two exceedingly different ships so this may not be a very fair statement. My husband and I much prefer the anytime dining aboard Princess as well as the 24 hour buffet, it was so nice to walk through their buffet at 1:30 am and have so many different choices of food. On the other hand, having one waiter every evening increased the quality of the service which was definitely better on this cruise than the Caribbean Princess.
Ports: Really liked Key West. We were off the ship by 9:00 and immediately set out to find somewhere to parasail. The closest choice was at the Hilton Marina with the Fury group. Got on the 10:00 boat and we were off. It was a highlight of our trip - none of us had ever been before - and it was great fun for us all. Can't remember the exact cost but I think it was around $200 - perhaps a bit more - for the four of us. We also purchased their picture and video disc for $25.00 (?), they usually do one per couple but split it up between us which was nice. We've had fun watching the video and they took some great pics of us. After getting the girls situated back on board we stopped at a couple of bars and did some shopping and were back on board well before sailaway at 3:00. We've definitely decided we'll return to Key West at some point - hopefully soon - in the future. We got to Nassau early and were allowed off at around 11:30. We had a the Catamaran Snorkel trip scheduled for 2:00 so we just sunned on board a fairly empty ship until it was time to meet our group. When it was time to meet on the dock for our shore excursion we discovered the gentleman at the Shore Tours desk had sold us 4 tickets to the Blue Lagoon instead of the Catamaran Snorkel! Word of advice: Check your tickets!!! With but 5 minutes to spare I sent my husband back on board to try and straighten things out, the shore excursion desk was closed but the very friendly girl at the pursers desk managed to work things out for us and we were booked for the right trip. What a relief, I wasn't entirely opposed to the Blue Lagoon but hadn't really wanted to spend that much time on an excursion. The snorkel trip was fun, our girls hadn't ever snorkeled before and they thoroughly enjoyed themselves even if they didn't get the hang of diving deep. We had a brief tour of the harbor on the way out to Athol Island and then had an hour in the water. It was warm, clear, and beautiful and full of colorful fish - buy or bring some food for the fish as well as an underwater camera - we wish we'd had one. After snorkeling and freshening up on board we thought we'd shop a bit but all the stores were closed. The Straw Market was still open however but was much too crowded and hot for us so we went to Senor Frogs where we spent a very fun evening. Although we didn't see much of Nassau and didn't really do too much, we still enjoyed it and were happy with our stop there.
Debarkation: We chose to do the self assist and were off the ship by 9:00 am. Had a leisurely breakfast in the dining room around 7:15 or so then got our last minute things together and waited for our deck to be called. Empress deck was the last to be called for self assist. The entire process would have been painless had it not been for the people sitting on the stairways taking up space, it was very difficult to get all the luggage around them without knocking them over which was what I really wanted to do.
Miscellaneous Comments: There wasn't a whole lot of chair saving going on during this cruise, it was much easier to find a chair than on our Caribbean Princess cruise and we like to be a deck or so above the pool area. The seas were the calmest I have EVER seen, I don't think I ever even felt the ship rock once. On our last sea day you'd have thought we were on a lake - no swells, waves, whitecaps, or anything, it was unbelievable. We saw several dolphins, many before the ship even sailed from Jacksonville, and even once leaping out of the water through the ships wake, I've not seen so many before. Perhaps the calm waters made them easier to spot. The ship was well maintained if a bit dated in style, workers were always cleaning and shining. I did notice a bit of the sewage smell while walking through the hallways on our deck, it seemed to be concentrated midship but was much less noticeable later in the cruise. The service was great during the cruise, even the cocktail waiters knew our names and had our drinks ready before we ordered them. (maybe not such a good thing now that I think of it!!) In this area I thought Carnival was a bit better than Princess. On our past three cruises we've been very fortunate to have a balcony and I was concerned that I'd been spoiled and wouldn't enjoy my cruise as much without one, while it would have been great to have one, I didn't miss it as much as I thought I would, I really liked sitting up in the window watching the water. All in all it was a great cruise and a great value for the money we all had a good time and are ready to plan our next cruise. I did keep all the Carnival Capers, can't scan them in but will be happy answer any questions I can regarding our cruise. If you are sailing on the Celebration anytime soon don't let the negative reviews and comments worry you, if you sail with an open mind and not expect perfection (no cruise is PERFECT) you'll have a great time.
We arrived at the port at 11:30 or so we dropped our luggage off and went to park. I went straight to the line and had my sail and sign card in hand in no time. Then we waited forever to get our picture taken which was ok there was a wedding party there and they all got up and went through the line. We where on the boat by 1:00. Went to my room dropped my carry on off and tried to put money in safe. Safe was messed up and had to wait a while for someone to come fix but still that was fine. Someone came got it fixed and we where on our way to the Lido deck for lunch and some drinks.
Lido area was packed the lines where out the doors and there are only two lines so I went around them to look at what was on the buffet and there was the pizza there wasn't anyone in line so that was lunch. Got my pizza and got my drink of the day and there is my first failure, cause Inever found out what it was. We eat are lunch and got ready for the muster drill and it started late we didn't leave port until 4:30, but we where finally on our way.
Had dinner 8:00 in the Horizon dining room great service and food. Was really good. Left dinner and went to bed got ready for Freeport.
Day 2 Freeport
We got up and had breakfast on the Lido had french toast and bacon,ham all the normal breakfast. Breakfast was always good. We did the Freeport Snorkel was very nice crew very funny but the water was rough hard to get the hang of things, but we did it seen lots of pretty fish and went back in. Then we stayed in town and did some shopping got a great drink at this shack thing 2 drinks for 5.00. Real good deal. Took the last bus back to the port at 5:30 got there at 6:00 got on the boat and got ready for formal night and the captains Welcome aboard party. Had Prime Rib and lobster was all great, went to the show, it was ok but seen better, Went over to the Club and then went to bed....
Day three Nassau Got up early had breakfast and went into town to the straw market to shop. Shopped until noon then went back to the ship and got ready for the Yellowbird Party boat. Free rum punch all the way out to the beach had about a hour or so on the beach then the boat ride back more Rum punch some dancing and libo was alot of fun!!!!!!! Went back to the boat and tried to make it to Paradise Island to parasail but I was too late so back to the boat took a shower and had dinner on the lido deck then off to Senor Frogs after 8:00 it was free admission so that is when we went. Senor Frogs was the best time we had alot to drink and danced and some other stuff and if anyone wants to know I will go into better details. We left Senor Frogs about 10:30 went back to the ship and they had a sail away party up on lido went up there and don't recall much of this, if anyone was there please be nice. Went to bed or got put in bed around 3:00 am, Had a rough night but it was FUN!!!!!!!!
Day 4 last day at sea
Got up aroung 9:45 but couldn't get up until 12:00 had some food went to lay out got real hot so left to go take a nap. Ordered room service, they where kinda slow, but I really didn't care about it the food was food had a chicken ceasar saled. took shower went to the early show went to see the comic he was not as fuuny as Dean something, dean was sooooooooo funny.
Anyways to end my trip got up around 7:00 went to the lido had breakfast We where cleared to start self-assist debark the started with Rivera and deck 11 We waited the they went to main We decided not to wait we where on the Empress, so we headed out was in the car by 9:30 and on my way..
I had a great time met some real nice people, Would love to sail the Celebration would like to do the 5 day.. Everything was clean and neat and I was very happy with everything. I think I haved cover all I can think of if you have any questions just ask......