Number of Cruises: 2
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Celebration
Sailing Date: June 26th, 2006
This was our second cruise- our first was
two years ago on Carnival Sensation to Grand Cayman and Cozumel. We had high
expectations from our previous experience, which we enjoyed so much we couldn’t
wait to return!
Embarkation: We arrived about an hour before the suggested arrival time and it took no time at all to get through security and board the ship. We gave our big luggage to the porters and I kept my beach bag filled with a sweater, some books, and other essentials to keep us busy until our luggage made it to the room. I highly recommend doing this as it may be hours before you are reunited with your belongings! The only negative thing I have to say about the embarkation process is that they took my bottle of water because it was an open container. So make sure if you’re planning on bringing a water bottle, it is sealed before leaving! But we did get on the ship, and get some buffet lunch and a cocktail before we took off.
The room: The ship was unfortunately a disappointment. We somehow booked ourselves into a room on the very bottom floor (room R7) with bunk beds. This was an early anniversary present to ourselves, and the bunk beds were less than romantic. If you’re booking your trip online, make sure you know what you’re getting. The room was very bare and the bathroom was dirty. The grout was stained and the shower needed a good scrubbing. I could not sleep at all the first night because I kept hearing loud noises, which I still have not figured out. It sounded like someone dropping a shopping cart filled with bricks down a long staircase. The noises did not stop, but I became so exhausted that I ended up sleeping through them the next couple nights. I will make sure not to book a room on the bottom floor next time.
The ship: We thought we’d start off our cruise with a relaxing massage. Unfortunately, they did not offer a couples massage, so we had to get individual massages. The “spa” was a huge disappointment. We arrived 15 minutes early as directed, even though the massage therapists did not arrive until after right after the scheduled appointment. We had time to check out the “gym” which was a room the size of a large linen closet with a few machines. It looks nothing like the picture. The his and hers changing rooms consisted of a couples bathroom and shower stalls and a wooden bench. Once again, the grout was terribly stained and I did not even want to walk barefoot in the room. The massage rooms were small, but adequate. The massage itself was wonderful and I did feel much better afterward. Although, after I was completely relaxed, they of course got more money out of me by giving me a “home health care plan” which required me to buy a ton of their products (even though the massage already cost about $100).
By day: The rest of the ship was a little nicer. The quietest spot was the topless deck on the very upper level. If you’re looking for a quiet place to relax in a beach chair and read away from the Lido deck and the kids in the pool, this is your best bet. Very few people bother going up there, but it really is a nice, quiet haven. We noticed that the further up you go, and away from the lido deck, the better chance you will have of finding a chair to sunbathe and relax. There were tons of children and families on this trip, and it gets very loud on the lido deck. It also seems most parents don’t care what their children do and let them run wild, leaving it to the crew to stop children from damaging the ship (we watched this happen twice in a matter of 30 minutes).
By Night: The karaoke bar was fun, but very small. There weren’t enough seats and it was very packed. We were lucky to have real talent on the ship, so that could explain the crowding. As far as the shows are concerned, the orchestra was great, but I was less impressed with the dancers and singers. The best night of the trip was the guest talent show. We had 3 very impressive singers (from the aforementioned karaoke bar), and our cruise director even serenaded us with a song of his own (quite well, too!). The other shows were ok, but nothing spectacular.
The food: The food was wonderful! It was even better than what we had on our first cruise. We ate in the dining room every night except when we were in Nassau and were entertained twice with singing and dancing by the servers. Our server was probably the best part of the trip. He was friendly, and really worked hard to make sure everyone was having a good time. The Maitre’d even sang and played the piano on the last night. The entire food crew- cooks, servers, etc- were the hardest working and friendliest people on the ship. We went to the picture taking portion of the big food display one night, and we grabbed dinner at the Mexican buffet during the midnight party on the lido deck after Nassau. We ate breakfast on the lido deck (I usually grabbed a croissant, ham, and cheese, while my husband visited the omelet station). For lunch I usually had a salad from the salad bar, while my husband got pizza. I had hot chocolate, coffee, and water throughout the day. It was hard to avoid the drink specials, and since we were on vacation, we racked up a nice bar tab on our sign and sail account! The drinks are great. Be sure to look out for the coconut monkey, which can be used as a coin bank. I couldn’t resist.
Excursions: Our excursion tickets never made it to the room. We asked at the excursion desk who told us they had been delivered to our room steward who said they never received them. They were able to print a duplicate copy, but it was an extra hassle. We booked the kayak trip in Key West and it was definitely worth it! It rained just as we started out, but cleared up after a few minutes and we had a great time. The guides point out and pass around different things they find in the water so it’s educational as well. We went on the morning trip, then went back to the ship to shower off and grab lunch before walking around the city. Be sure to grab a key lime pie on a stick from the Blonde Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory. We booked the Blackbeard’s Beach Break in Nassau. We took a ferry to a private cay (once again it was raining with thunder and lightning as we started our journey, but cleared up after a while) where we spent the day on beach chairs drinking pina coladas. No one warned us of the invasion of sand fleas. Bring anti-itch cream if you take this excursion. We both got terribly eaten up. By the time we got back to the ship, the entire city (minus Senor Frogs) had closed up, so we missed everything. If we were to go again, I would skip the excursion so we had more time to check out Nassau. It was disappointing to not see anything else and we could have stayed on the ship and not been eaten up by the sand fleas. We overheard a group who hired a taxi to tour them around. For $100 (not bad if split between a group), he drove them around and narrated a tour for 2 hours before dropping them off at Atlantis.
Free time: Bring cards or games or books. We had more down time than originally expected, but we were prepared with travel games and books.
Disembarkation: We were off the ship within an hour of waking up. You can take off your own luggage (which I highly recommend!) and be the first off the ship.
Overall: The crew was outstanding, but the ship needs work. We did have a great time, but I would recommend the Sensation over the Celebration (although it’s been a couple years, so it might not be as clean and pretty as it was when we went on it either).