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Age: 29

Occupation:Self Employed

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Celebration

Sailing Date: July 15th, 2006

Itinerary: Bahamas

As I was booking my first cruise on the Carnival Celebration, I was not exactly sure what to expect on my upcoming vacation. Having scoured the ‘net for information about the boat, I was met with mixed reviews. However, after the five-day cruise, I can honestly say that this ship far exceeded my expectations and offered my boyfriend (hereafter known as BF) and I an affordable and fun vacation.

The Room – Wow. Like I said, this being my first cruise, I had no idea what to expect. The room was very nice by nearly any standards. Exceptionally clean. Small but still plenty of room for the two of us. The closet space was more than adequate, lighting was fine (loved the reading lights on the bed), and there was plenty of desk space for all my makeup and hair stuff (great for formal night). As for the bed – I’ve only slept in one other bed that was as comfortable as the one we had and that was at a 5-star hotel. The room was quite cool, even when we adjusted the vent. There was some noise but no more than most hotels I’ve stayed in. Bathroom was very clean. Also impressed with basket of amenities – wasn’t expecting the sun-glow lotion or nice razor, or the Dove shampoo/shower gel dispenser in the shower. I never even had to use my own basic toiletries. Our room was on the bottom passenger deck, mid-ship (R92). We did the Inside Guarantee option when we booked, so we didn’t have know beforehand where we were going to be, but it turned out well for us.

The Food – No complaints. In fact, some of the best food I’ve had an opportunity to eat was on this ship. Even in port, we chose to eat onboard with the exception of some Key lime pie in Key West. Most meals we ate at the Wheelhouse on Lido deck, buffet-style. Different theme each day (French, Italian, Indian, etc.) for lunch. Everything I ate there was delicious (BF especially enjoyed the coleslaw and potato salad!) Desserts were out of this world. The low-carb cheesecake was unbelievable. Sometimes there were lines but never had to wait more than 5-10 minutes. Food was always hot and tasted fresh. Pizza was quite good. Breakfast was your typical continental-style. I highly recommend the omelet bar (I got one every morning). We ate two suppers in the dining room. Both were very good, gourmet-quality. I’m still kicking myself for not getting the lobster, but my pasta dish was excellent. Never heard a complaint from our tablemates, either. I only went to the sushi bar one night, but what I had was very good.

The Entertainment – This is where the ship could use some improvement. First, let me say that Big Tex, the cruise director, is a hoot! Always funny and entertaining. Also, the band on board, Mickey Utley Band, was GREAT – southern rock, Elvis, country you name it – they outdid themselves. The comedians were all quite good. Their late-night shows were pretty raunchy but funny. The feature shows, however, were amateurish. The dancers and singers weren’t bad, but they weren’t great either. I think it was more a problem of bad choreography than inept actors. Definitely not “Vegas-style”. We didn’t do bingo or karaoke or dance, but it seemed to be enjoyed by lots of other folks.

The Spa – I did the Ladies Pamper Night Special after we left Key West. For $50, I didn’t expect much, but I had a great time. However, they didn’t have enough room for everyone (@13 of us) in the tiny locker room. We were given samples of various products in their skin care line and shown how to apply them. Then were taken to the Jacuzzi where we got to soak in some kind of bath salts, order drinks and meet the other ladies in the group. Next, to the sauna where we got mini-neck massages and then back for salt scrubs. Several ladies were dissatisfied and left early, but for the money, what do you expect? Plus, we got to pick a product from the skin care collection worth $50. I thought it was great.

Key West – We did the bike tour in Key West. All in all, a great deal especially if you aren’t familiar with the town. I’m not terribly in shape, but I had no problem keeping up with the guide and he gave us quite a tour. We saw all of the high spots over our 1.5-2 hour ride. I would recommend, however, if you do this in the summer, take a backpack with lots of water and an extra t-shirt. It was hot – about 97 degrees - and I was soaked by the end of the trip. We still had plenty of time to shop and bar-hop after biking. Next time, I’d probably not book an excursion but that’s cause I know where to go down there now.

Nassau – We took the Blackbeard’s Beach Break excursion in Nassau and would definitely take it again. I’m not a beach person at all but even I wholeheartedly enjoyed it. The 30-40 minute boat ride to the island was absolutely beautiful and seemed to go by much more quickly than it actually did. The water was breathtaking, the most beautiful blue-green I’ve ever seen. Had no problem finding beach chairs once we got there, either, which was nice. Oh, and try the Goombay Smash from the bar on the island. The swimming area is roped off and for an extra fee, they have an area where you can snorkel with stingrays. All in all, a great, low-cost excursion where you can relax and enjoy some beautiful Bahamian beach time.

The Ship – Ok, so it’s an older boat. It’s still not bad and I heard it’s going to be remodeled again in the near future. After the first day, I didn’t feel any motion from the boat, except for a vibration in the back lounge. I’m sure other newer boats are much fancier, but for a nearly 20-year-old ship and for the price, you get a deal. If you want to swim, you are out of luck if it’s during the summer. Our boat was probably had 1/3 to 1/2 of its passengers under the age of 18, so the pools were packed when they were open. For sunbathers, you have to stake out your chair practically before dawn or head to the top-optional deck, which is where we laid out each day. No one actually takes their top off anyway. The exercise room is pretty sad. Five treadmills, 2 Elipticals, 2 stair climbers, a bike and some free weights. And if you aren’t there at 6 a.m. when it opens, hang it up – you’re not getting a machine. I tried the first day, but gave up after a while. The walking track is very nice in the morning, though. Everything was clean on the boat, also.

The Staff – We had absolutely no problems with the staff, save for one incident with our room steward, which kind of soured the last night of our trip. With that one exception, everyone was extremely friendly, helpful and kind, and very hard-working. Remy, our waiter in the dining room, was superb. Roxy and the other staff in the spa were great also. A waiter spilled some red wine on the BF’s pants at the cocktail party, and the staff cleaned his pants at no charge, with no questions or problems. The incident with the room steward is a bit too lengthy to get into in detail here. We did make sure that he received no tips from us, however, and filed a complaint at the purser’s desk.

All in all, a wonderful trip at a wonderful price and I would definitely cruise with Carnival, and probably even on the Celebration, again. I’d like to go on a longer cruise next time and see some new places. But given the opportunity, I’d cruise the Celebration again without hesitation.

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