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Jean Cooper

Age: 52


Number of Cruises: 4

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Celebration

Sailing Date: November 5th, 2005

Itinerary: Bahamas

A group of six of us, my mother, my two sisters, their husbands, and myself, went on this 5-day cruise to celebrate my mother's 75th birthday. This was her first cruise, and she really enjoyed it.

The cabins looked a bit worn, but were comfortable. We saw very little of our cabin steward, although he did keep the room quite clean and stocked with fresh towels.

The one thing that impressed me most about the ship was the smooth ride. This was probably because we were just off the Florida coast for most of the trip, but I've never been on a ship with so little motion. It wasn't until the last night, when we were out in the Atlantic away from land, that I started feeling the motion of the waves.

Food: The food was not outstanding, but not bad either. I especially enjoyed the all-you-could-drink hot chocolate in the cafeteria. I was surprised at the lack of deck service. On other cruises I've been on, one could lie on a deck chair and raise one's hand, and immediately there would be a waiter there to take your drink order. There were very few waiters on the deck on this trip, and the ones who were tended to congregate around the pool area.

We ate at second seating in the Vista Dining Room. The food was good, and the service was friendly, if a bit slow. We sat at a large table for 9, with another family of three - the son was celebrating his 25th birthday, so together, he and mom had a century of experience!

We visited Key West, FL; we did a little shopping and took the Conch Train tour. Rather than take the tour through the ship, we just walked to the tour ticket kiosk on land and paid directly, which was much cheaper. I really enjoyed the tour; there were many interesting sights. In fact, I liked Key West, although it certainly isn't a shopping mecca. We were only there for about 8 hours, and I could have spent another day or so there and not have been bored.

The ship also stopped at Nassau, which I've been to before. They've redone the cruise ship pier, and it seems like it is at least a mile to the new tourist center and shops. Then it's another block or two to the main street. I did find some nice carvings on this trip, which I bought as gifts for friends.

After a brief shopping trip, we took a "party boat cruise." This is the first time I've ever been on one of these, but mom wanted to experience the "whole thing." You get on a three-"story" boat, with a band and a bar on the lowest deck. Then they serve you watery alcoholic punch (for free) or name brand beers and other drinks (at a price). The destination is a private island with a small, crowded beach, a manta ray(?) pool, and hot dogs and hamburgers for $5-$10. On the way back, everyone was drunk enough to do the electric slide. I enjoyed this party cruise because I got to see more of the Bahamas from a different viewpoint, but the music was so loud, I had to go to the top deck to escape.

My recommendation to travelers in these sunny climes -- take along waterproof sunblock RTF45. It worked wonders, and I never got a burn all week.

My group also enjoyed the slot machines in the casino; although we didn't win big, we didn't lose big either. If you choose to sit in the casino, however, be sure you can tolerate the cigarette smoke, because you cannot get away from it.

I also enjoyed the shows and the entertainment staff. Big Tex was a hoot, and the cruise director was very funny. Mom and my sisters liked playing bingo.

All in all, it was a pleasant 5-day cruise. I think I will continue to prefer 7 or more day cruises, though, since 5 days just isn't enough to unwind.

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