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Jerry French

Age: 24


Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Celebration

Sailing Date: September 18th, 2006

Itinerary: Bahamas

I am writing this review as a helpful resource to anyone looking to go on the Celebration or just want to know more before booking. After reading, thinking and carefully considering other points of views I honestly must say that the Celebration was a great time. We’ve cruised once before and this trip lived up to our high expectations!

My wife and I went on our first cruise last year on board the Carnival M/S Inspiration and we had a wonderful time. Initially, I was skeptical about cruising, but a week later I was singing a different song. We had the best vacation ever! So as you could imagine we had high expectations for our second cruise, and the Celebration lived up to them all.

But here a few things to remember...

1. Carnival is a "Fun Ship" don't forget that!
2. The people on board have the same goal as you, to have "fun"!
3. It doesn't matter where you go, rude people are always somewhere.
4. If you love the "stuffy" uptight atmosphere then look elsewhere.

If you are focused on having fun then it will be so, but if you love to look for what people do wrong then keep it to yourself. For my wife & I, we found Carnival to be the best vacation value. We are a well traveled couple, with visits to 25 states, over 28 countries, from Paris, France to Sydney, Australia and to some of the most remote places in the world like Iraq. I, Jerry, have spent 12 years of my life living in the eastern hemisphere. So when we say that this is the best value, we are not joking around.

Traveling to the port:
We traveled by plane so we'll speak on this matter of transportation only. We found that it's best to carry no more than maybe $50 at the most. As a breakdown we used $20 for transfers (airport to port), $10 on coffee and snacks while in transit, and finally $5 in tips. Once on board you won’t need cash unless you are going to put cash on your Sail & Sign Card, in any event there are plenty of ATMs on-shore and on-board. We both wore sandals which made going through airport security and customs easier due to the fact that you have to take your shoes off. Keep your paperwork accessible and ready to present. When you get to the Jacksonville Airport you will see a sign for Carnival guests and just follow their lead. It's cheaper to use the shuttle ($20 as mentioned before) vs. a taxi ($25+).

If you want to enjoy a nice lunch on board, then get there early with paperwork in hand. Give your luggage to the porter and don’t forget to tip. Your bags will meet you at your room. Embarkation is NOT some nightmare of a line, it's a breeze if you get your Fun Pass paperwork done prior to arriving and have ALL of your paperwork ready and in hand! It took us at the most, and this is stretching it, 15 minutes!

The This ship was built in 1987, making it 19 years old at the time we sailed on it. Back in the 80’s this ship was considered state of the art and when going aboard you must prepare yourself for that. If you spent time looking at pictures of modern-day ships such as the Carnival Legend or the Freedom of the Seas, stop now. It won’t help you! When going on board just go with a positive attitude and open mind. Just enjoy it! Go out on the sun deck and look over the side at the ocean going by. Look at all of your troubles from home sail away. Take it in, because in 5 days time you’ll feel sorry that it’s all over!

Despite the fact that this is one of the smaller ships, it makes up for it with all the fun on board. We played bingo and for the first time we won the $120 prize! There’s Las Vegas style shows, casinos, the Trolley bar, the piano bar and a library. My wife & I don’t drink, so one may think that this may limit our fun or level of activity, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. We, in fact, found all kinds of things to do on board in the back of the Carnival Caper. The Carnival Caper is a newsletter delivered to your room each night with the next day’s activities. It’s to good have it handy!

The Cabins:
The cabins are just like the ones on the Inspiration, we had U184 ocean view and on the Inspiration we had the E234 cabin, also ocean view. To make it plain and simple it is just like the picture, but better! The beds were extremely comfortable and when we got home we had a hard time just trying to sleep! All in all the rooms are roomy and very comfortable. Here’s a hint don’t spend all day in it! Get out and meet the people!

The Service:
The service from the staff was on par with our previous cruise and we couldn’t ask for more. We were spoiled by all the staff. The moment we left our room our cabin steward, Amalia, was standing by to clean it and the dining room staff, Lennox, was there to call on us for every need! One of the nice things about the Celebration is that they had a formalities shop where you can order roses, a bottle of whine, chocolate and more to be sent to your room while you are at the evening show! Another cool feature was the Past Guest Reception in the Astoria Lounge where they had ball room dancing and free drinks! We had a wonderful time getting to know and enjoy the service of our staff!

The Food:
It was great! This might be the only part on the ship that couldn’t rival the other vacations I’ve taken. I must say eating in Italy is the top of the bill, yet my dining experience as whole (from service to entertainment by the staff) Carnival may have an edge. The one thing I really enjoyed about the dining room was order a second plate! There’s no limit and it’s not like they’re going to tell you no! You’re on vacation.

The Excursions:
The excursions were well organized and reasonably priced. You can go off and do your own thing which is fine, but the one thing about the tours that Carnival sets up is that if you are running late they won’t take off without you. They will wait, however we of course didn’t have that problem. We recommend that you make reservations ASAP! Look up your ships Ports of Call and do some research so you can get an idea as to what you want to do. Here’s what we did in Key West and Nassau, Bahamas:

• Key West was a great time and there’s a lot to do and see there! We went on the Butterfly Conservatory excursion and City Tour. Our guides were excited and passionate about their museum and city which made our trip one of a kind. They told us how to get around and where to find other sites to visit. One of the site went out on our own to see was the Audubon House. The Audubon house was quite a site with its colorful gardens and beautiful gallery of Audubon’s famous paintings! We took over 200 photos in Key west alone! Then we went shopping! I must agree with the tour guides on this, 5 hours in port doesn’t do a visit to Key West any justice!
• Nassau, Bahamas In the Bahamas we went on a city tour and saw the Queen’s staircase and one of many Forts surrounding the island. Then we headed for the Ardastra Gardens! At the Ardastra Gardens, my wife had the opportunity to walk with the flamingos. Believe or not the flamingos are quite a site and I admit the yard props don’t do them justice! They are interesting birds and a lot of fun! Just as we did in Key West we went over 200 photos there too!

All in all the excursions were wonderful, however the shops in the Bahamas close up too early! So get out there early to do some shopping!

In Conclusion:

Debarkation was simple and we recommend self assist to beat the crowd. Going home was simple and no real crisis there. In the end I felt that we were the winners of this vacation, we’ve been on other vacations where we spent over $3-4,000 in a week’s time. With Carnival we spent around $2,000 in total (souvenirs and all)!

Yes, you’ll see whiners out there but they could find anything wrong in any situation, so whatever. We had a great time and we’re convinced that you will too!

When it was all over we wished to start it all over again! So we did the only logical thing there was to do….we booked a third cruise with Carnival! This time on the Carnival Legend, so look for a review next year in September!

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