Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Celebration
Sailing Date: October 23rd, 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
This was my second cruise and it was far different from the first. My first one was in 1994 on the Imagination and we cruised to Mexico, Grand Cayman & Jamaica. It was wonderful all around. There was little if no rocking, vibration or problems. I had read some of the reviews for the Celebration in the weeks prior to our departure this time and was a little worried but tried to be optimistic. I did not mention the bad reviews to the rest of the five people I was traveling with because 3 were new cruisers and I did not want to worry them. But it was evident the first night the reviews I read were not just from inexperienced cruisers and people with higher expectations than this bargain cruise line offers. Now we only paid $279 a person for this cruise so I wasn't expecting much except to relax from my job, see some new places, have a few drinks and eat some new foods. We departed at 4:00 on a Saturday and it was great on the way out of Jacksonville. Breezy, beautiful, had a decent lunch. By the way, after you check in and head up for lunch, pass right by the line of buffet burgers and slop and go straight for the pizzeria. I grew up in Chicago, I know pizza and the pizza on the ship is actually not bad. And there was a nice little salad bar near it that offered a tomato & mozzarella salad with pesto, perfect with the pizza and much better than the buffet that everyone was piled up for. But shortly before dinner the ship started to rock & roll...really bad. My partner got sick and couldn't even enjoy her dinner and the wine we brought. That's another thing, the wine. I had read that you could bring one bottle of wine or champagne per room and drink it at dinner for a $10 corking fee. Still not a bad deal considering the markup on wine. So I was going to have the 2 other couples we were with carry on one each of our bottles so we could bring them to dinner, as they don't drink wine. But then I read here that others had brought all kinds of wine & liquor and it was never checked for. So I ended up bringing 5 bottles of good wine, brought one to dinner every night, and they NEVER charged us a corking fee. So if you drink wine, bring all your favorites! But back to dinner that night. Our dining room was in the back of the ship, and not only was it rolling but the vibration was most evident back there. I wasn't really bothered by the vibration or even noticed it for the most part, but during dinner, combined with the rocking, was more than mildly annoying. Dinner was pretty good the first night. Filet Mignon, cooked right, good sides, nice appetizers. Our head server and her assistant were absolutely wonderful. They were sweet and adorable and worth every penny. Don't sweat that $10 per person per day tip charge they add on your bill, the staff is worth it. We tipped them extra. Our room steward was adorable too. We saw her all the time and she was always pleasant & personable. So we saw a show afterwards, not bad, but still rolling. By the time we went to sleep it had calmed down a bit. But I woke up at 6:00 in the morning by the ship rocking so bad I thought we were going to tip over. We had an inside room so I couldn't see outside and started getting claustrophobic which I have never suffered from in my life. I had to get out of the room so I went up and got some coffee and paid $35 to get 60 minutes online to try to look up the weather & conditions in the area of the Atlantic we were in. I had to find an explanation for all this movement. I was panicked that the reviews had all been right and we would have to endure this the entire cruise. I was actually starting to get seasick it was so bad. I found nothing out of the ordinary & started asking crew members what was going on. Their explanation - the wind. It wasn't that windy, but I was assured it would calm down soon. And it did about 10:00 that morning. The ship was pretty stable for the rest of the cruise until we were on our way back and as far as I could tell were in about the same spot we were when the ship was rolling around the first night. I don't know if there is a particularly windy spot out there off the coast of Florida but I swear it was the same area. And it was just as bad. I am going to try to break down the good and bad points of this cruise as I experienced them.
The food --Good thing is there's lots of it. Bad thing is its not always good. The first night as I mentioned our filet mignon was great. The second night there was beef Wellington on the menu which is beef tenderloin wrapped in puff pastry. For those of you who may not know, filet mignon is a fancy name for beef tenderloin. So is chateaubriand. So we should have been served tender, delicious beef tenderloin 3 of those nights. The first night was good. The other 2, bla! The beef was so tough Im sure it was a cut of round steak. The buffet in the wheelhouse grill was pretty gross for the most part. Make the sit down breakfast, lunch & dinner whenever possible. My experience with the beef was the only really bad part about eating in the dining room. its not 5 star dining, but for the amount of dinners they put out, over 1000 appetizers, entrees & desserts a night, they do a good job. If you cant make the dining room, get some pizza. Unless its breakfast time, then the buffet is tolerable.
The drinks -- No complaints. We brought our own wine, didn't drink any beer, but the mixed drinks we had by the pool & during the shows were all good. Plenty of liquor, reasonably priced. I have paid much more for worse drinks at clubs in Jacksonville. Try the dirty banana, its great.
The rooms -- Ours was a good size, but get a window if you can afford it. I had a window on my first cruise & it was much better to at least be able to look outside.
The ports -- Key west was fun & beautiful, Nassau is a dump. Its beautiful pulling in & out & from the ship, but once you get outside the port beware. Unless you are really going to do some shopping, which they do have some great deals, skip it. Take one of the shore excursions to Atlantis or the dolphin encounter instead. We did the dolphin encounter and it was awesome! Its $100 each but worth it. You get to play with the dolphins, pet them, they hug & kiss you, its great, they are so sweet, like big smooth puppies!
The staff -- awesome, no doubt about it, except for the cruise director, who is a bit annoying and sounds like she smokes 3 packs of cigarettes a day.
The ship - Easy to get around, in good shape cosmetically, but then there's that darn rocking...I don't know if its mechanical or not but it was still awful. Onboard activities - OK, but there was just too many "fun days at sea" this cruise. After a while there's nothing to do but eat, drink & gamble. And the casino doesn't pay out much. I pumped about $150 into the slots and it barely hit $5 here and there. I should have learned my lesson the first few days, but like I said, you can only eat and drink so much before you wander around trying to find something else to do. The pools are small and always occupied by the kids. It was relaxing, don't get me wrong, but it would have been nice to have more activities on board besides the hairy chest contest & poolside chess. The shows are only at night. The galley tour was cool though. Well, hope this helped and didn't scare you off. For the price, it was OK. But if it were not for that rocking, would have been a great value.