Number of Cruises: 6
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Celebration
Sailing Date: June 11th, 2007
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
We drove down a day early, finding a nice
hotel near the airport.
Embarkation - Jacksonville's cruise terminal is really easy to find. We arrived at the terminal right around 11:00, and after luggage drop-off and parking, there was only a short wait prior to boarding. None of the rooms were ready yet, so we quickly found a table on the lido deck for lunch. We (wisely) invested in a drink card for our daughter, and since my wife is a diet-coke-aholic, she got a drink card as well. Soon enough our stateroom was ready, and we scouted out the ship and began to settle in. After the obligatory lifeboat drill, Celebration slipped down the St. John's River and the sail away party began. Many of us on deck cringed as the ship slid under the Dames Point bridge. I kept expecting to hear a horrible scraping sound as the ship passed under, but there was plenty of room to spare (but it does look close). Later we sailed past the Mayport Naval Station (my old stomping grounds) and got a nice view of the USS Kennedy.
At dinner we met out headwaiter James and
our team waitress Dragana. We also met our tablemates, a very nice family from
South Carolina, who just happened to have a 10-year-old daughter to keep our
13-year-old company through the meal. Our kid wolfed down dinner (I did too) in
preparation for the chocolate melting cake for dessert. The best thing about it
is you can get it every night, and I'm pretty sure she did (sometimes two).
After dinner I registered our kid up for Camp Carnival and she quickly found a
crew of kids her age and "dismissed" me to the lounge for the welcome aboard
First sea day - A picture perfect day (as was the whole week). The Florida coast off the starboard side, and a blazing sun overhead. The pools and deck full, but not so bad that a person couldn't navigate around with an appropriate drink in hand. Typical lido deck antics (hairy chest, biggest splash, etc) kept everyone busy.
Key West - I had planned to enjoy the beach at Fort Taylor, but the women decided that we were going to shop. Therefore, we went shopping. There is an orange flavored Tortugas rum cake that you can only get at Key West, so we made a stop at the store. And our kid wanted to go to the Ripley's museum. After the museum and more shopping, we returned to the ship. The pools were deserted nearly, the slide was open, and there we spent the remainder of the day.
Nassau - Another shopping day (next time I'm going to beg to go play golf). The day was perfect, but hot. Shopping is plentiful right off the pier, lots to buy, but not a lot of haggling. Our kid got a purse at the straw market that she insists is "cute"; I'll take her word for it... More rum cake (chocolate this time).
Last day at sea - One again, perfect weather found the pool decks crowded, but easy to move around. The promenade deck is a nice, quiet and air-conditioned place to enjoy a book, or hang out in the sun with everyone else.
Debarkation - self-debarkation is starting to catch on with a lot of cruisers. So much so that they now announce it by decks. It made for a long wait, but we were off the ship at 9:30. Porters are available to haul luggage all the way to the cars if need be. But we could see our car from the lido deck, and it really isn't that far of a walk.
Celebration - The décor is not as loud (garish) that other ships I've cruised on. In contrast I though the Celebration was very subdued. If I had not known how old she was, I'd have never guessed that Celebration has been in service for 20 years. The crew is very proud and takes very good care of her. The floors along the promenade were highly polished, tiles along the pools were being replaced in the off hours, and the decks were immaculate. I never got our stewards name, I never got to see him (totally invisible I suppose), but our room was always nice and tidy during the day and we always had the cool towel animals after dinner. The Celebration (and her crew) did a fine job of keeping us entertained for the week, and I believe this would be a nice introduction to a family that's unsure about cruising as a form of vacation. Also there is something quaint about the smaller ships, the huge, multi-deck atriums may be missing, and the pools may not be as big. But there is something to be said about the smaller crowds and personal service that Celebration (and her sister Holiday) can offer.