Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Celebration
Sailing Date: June 7th, 2007
Itinerary: NOT FOUND
One of my good friends and I decided to
take a cruise together, and this Carnival cruise traveling to Freeport and
Nassau from Jacksonville was the one we selected. Honestly, we based our choice
mainly on price, length of time, and sailing dates. This cruise was one of the
only we could find that would work price-wise, was our preferred duration, and
sailed over a weekend [to allow taking less days off of work]. Since this was
one of the cheapest cruises we could find, I did have my reservations.
My friend and I are both female and in our mid-20s, she is single, I am married. This was the first cruise for both of us. We arrived in Jacksonville by plane, and it was a hassle just getting to the port. TIP: If you are flying in from somewhere else, be sure to pre-buy the Carnival transfers – they will come pick you up at the airport and take you to the port for $10. We neglected to do this, and the taxi company at the airport gave us a really hard time about getting to the port – I assume it is just too much of a hassle for them and they figure the trip isn’t worth the money they get from it.
Actually getting on the ship was fine, and my friend and I boarded and went to the Lido deck for lunch. Another tip about flying: I would recommend taking a flight that does not arrive any earlier than about noon into Jacksonville. My friend and I took a very early flight, and ended up having to wait about an hour and a half at the port before we were allowed to board. My first impression of the ship was disappointment. I think it was built in the 70s and it really shows. The décor totally looks like something out of a different time era. Also, the pools were a pretty big disappointment. There are 3 – one is kids only, and the other 2 are adults and kids. Of course, there were always a ton of kids in the 2 adults/kids ones anyway. The pools are all very small. The one at the rear of the ship almost could be a fountain – actually, I think I’ve seen some fountains that are larger.
When our stateroom was ready, we went inside to change into swimsuits and see the room. It was fine – we weren’t expecting anything much as we booked the second to cheapest room available. Small bathroom, 2 twin beds, a closet. We headed back up to the “party pool” – it is right in front of the Lido deck dining room and they’re always playing loud music and stuff. We grabbed some chaise lounges and my friend started drinking. I bought a Beverage Card [used to purchase soda], and I really got my money’s worth, although I maintain it is ridiculous that they even charge for soda. If you do wish to drink alcohol – BEWARE. Of course, everything is extremely high priced, and they add a mandatory 15% “service charge” to EVERY drink you purchase. So don’t worry about leaving any tips. They make you open up one of those Sign & Sail cards and it’s used like a credit card for the length of the cruise – sometimes you don’t realize how much you’re putting on that thing.
I was also disappointed in the food. I had read some reviews that all indicated the food was pretty great, but I didn’t think so. The hot food in the Lido room is pretty terrible. The salad bar is fine for cold food and the ice cream/frozen yogurt is also a nice touch when you’re feeling like you want a snack, but the actual prepared food is pretty bad. Once I asked for a grilled cheese from the grill – I just wanted them to heat some cheese on a hamburger bun since I don’t eat meat – and the cooks didn’t even know what it was or how to make it! I will say though, that they were very nice about it and willing to try and make it for me.
The food in the actual sit down dining rooms is marginally better. Be prepared though – the portions are extremely small – I assume because they want you to believe the food is “gourmet” – it’s not. As an example, I ordered French toast once for breakfast – it was one piece of bread, cut in half. Therefore, I recommend you order several items and don’t feel bad about it. Unfortunately, for dinner we got stuck at a table with a waiter who was…not very accommodating. I think he just didn’t want to have to do any more work than was absolutely required, and he would literally attempt to talk us out of ordering more than the bare minimum. Once I tried to order a soup, salad, and an appetizer, and I didn’t even receive everything I ordered! Another time I tried ordering an appetizer and the main course and he told me the 2 things I asked for were “the same thing.” Um, I can read the menu, thanks, and they were not the same thing! In all fairness though, in talking to other people I heard that other waiters were extremely good about getting them anything they wanted, even encouraging them to order more, so I think we just got stuck with a bad apple.
Our itinerary included stops at Freeport and Nassau – it rained torrentially for the entire day, both days. This is not the cruise line’s fault, I completely understand – however, keep in mind that if it does rain, you’re basically screwed because the ship has absolutely NO back up plans whatsoever, which I think is unacceptable. You can’t go swimming or lay out (obviously), the shore excursions are usually cancelled (and sometimes you don’t get any or the full amount of your money back); so basically, you’re left to sit or wander around the ship – not very fun. And actually, I don’t recommend a cruise that involves either or both these stops – Freeport and Nassau are ugly, dirty, and not fun. There isn’t even much to do, and I was not impressed with either of them. In Nassau, we did spend the day on the island, just because we were so bored of being stuck on that ship, and it was not good. Go to Vegas, it’s the same, only cleaner and a tad less skuzzy.
Other issues: the plumbing is bad on the ship. Our toilet got clogged twice – once it overflowed, we had 2 inches of water in the bathroom, it overflowed the bathroom and soaked our carpet. We had wet carpet for the next 2 days – yuck. The evening entertainment is cheesy. At least it gives you something to do at night, but it’s not very good.
I did read some reviews about never being
able to use the fitness room, but I used it every morning and never had a
problem with it being too full. It is very small, and gets extremely hot.
I will say that the staff is reasonably competent, and most are very nice. Some are very clear that they are NOT enjoying their job, but most are fairly willing to do whatever you want and give good service. Our stateroom person was very good. And I’ve already detailed our experience w/ the dining staff, which was not so good. My friend and I also enjoyed the sushi bar, where the person manning it was very nice. I would take advantage of that if you like sushi.
Our last day before returning to Jacksonville was our day at sea – perfect weather (of course), and that was fine – we just enjoyed the sun and laid out. Getting back to Jacksonville was also fine. They let you have breakfast on that last day, but again, take note that they want you OFF that ship as quickly as possible. They don’t open the pools and everyone is pretty much off by 9:30 – 10:00 AM. Remember this when you are booking your flight home. My friend and I did not know this and didn’t make our flight until about 5:00 PM. That was a terrible, terrible mistake. We ended up stuck in the Jacksonville airport for a good 6 hours with nothing to do. I would recommend trying to get a flight around 1:00 PM. We were actually at the airport by around 10:45, so you could probably even go earlier than that – and we didn’t rush AT ALL. Some people were off the boat by about 7:30 – 8:00 AM.
So, all things considered, I would probably not take a Carnival cruise again. I’m not even sure I would go on a cruise again, but it would have to be a major upgrade. Maybe I’m just picky, though.