We just got back from a 5-day aboard the Celebration and couldn't be happier!!!! We arrived for embarkation check-in at about noon and were on the ship by 1:00.....very smooth check-in. We immediately found our room.....Empress deck....room 46......and met our cabin steward....Igusti Kencana. He was very nice and promised to do everything he could for us. We were quite taken with our window....have been on 2 other cruises, but never had a window before!!! I'm pretty sure we could never go back to an inside cabin now!!!
We made our way up to the WheelHouse Grill for some lunch......this was the only place on the ship that we really didn't care for the food. It was somewhat bland. The breakfasts were good there, but lunches and dinners were not so great. They had great salad bars and dessert bars there too. And of course the 24-hour pizzeria...which was absolutely fabulous!!! The ship was a bit confusing at first, but they give you these handy little deck plans that help lots. At 2pm, we went to the Salon talk in the Astoria lounge. Was very glad we went, because I won a pedicure.....it wasawesome!!
Our waiter (Murat) and assistant waiter (Damor) were simply wonderful!!!! You could tell they were busy, but they always had time for us and when they slowed down after dessert, they always came over and chatted with us. Murat was funny, in a dry sense of humor sort of way. Damor was hilarious...always posing for pictures! The food in the dining room was wonderful. My husband is a hearty eater, so he always ordered 2 entrees and Murat was more than happy to bring both.
We didn't do any of the ship shore excursions, so I can't tell you anything about them. In Cozumel, we rented a Chevy Tracker and took off on our own. If you want to rent a car, take a cab to downtown and go see Freddie at Alamo downtown....he gave us the best deal and it was really easy. We found some Mayan ruins to tour and found the most wonderful restaurant, Coconuts, on the East side of the island. It didn't even have electricity....they cooked over an open flame. It was up on a bluff over looking the ocean!!! We docked in Playa del Carmen instead of Calica, which was good because there was shopping there. We decided to take a cab to Xel-Ha as the only ship excursion there included the Tulum ruins. It was a wonderful place with snorkeling and such....just beware....the cab ride there is about $20-$25 each way.
HINT.......shopping is better if you get off the main drag in Cozumel.....more vendors will bargain with you. However, the more quality t-shirts are on the main drag. Playa del Carmen is awesome for shopping!!!!! I really think it was better than Cozumel. The shows on board were really good. The only thing I didn't like was that you couldn't use flash photography, so we couldn't get any good pictures of them. The Mexican dancers were ok, just not really our style. We probably wouldn't go see that show again. Everything else was great.
Beware of pictures......they take a TON of them for you and charge you an arm and a leg for them. I love pictures, so we spent a ton on them. 5x7's are $6.00, 6x8's are $8.00, and 8x10's are $19.00. Also, if you want a picture with the captain at the captain's cocktail party, enter the Astoria lounge on the bottom right side and bring your own camera. This is one of the few picture opportunities the crew did not take.
I was somewhat disappointed that the bridge tour was scheduled for while we were in port. And the galley tour was cancelled due to rough weather. Our last day at sea was the roughest I have ever experienced on a cruise ship. It was rocking so much that it was knocking over band instruments in the orchestra!! We had to buy the motion sickness wrist bands and medicine.....and I have never been motion sick in my life. We finally had to go take a nap. Fortunately, it only lasted about half the day and smoothed out.
If you want Carnival beach towels to take on shore with you, remember to request them the first or second day. We got ours, but heard that they do run out pretty quick. Just remember to bring them back or it's $20. each. Also, you have to ask the cabin steward for the safe key. Keep up with it, or that's another $40.
Overall we had a wonderful experience and would definitely cruise Carnival again. I'm not sure that I would like the bigger ships though....this one was a pretty good size!! If anyone has any questions, I will certainly try to answer them!!
This was our second cruise with the first being on Royal Caribbean's Sun Viking to the southern Caribbean. There was a major difference between these two cruise ships and lines which has compelled me to write and share my experience.
Check in was smooth and easy with no problems but we received the wrong keys so we could not get into our room. A trip to the Purser's desk solved the problem with courteous but rather "harried" personnel. The ship's interior along the hallways shows its age as a well used hotel, with an assortment of stains and personality.
Our cabin was clean and compared to the RC Sun Viking, the room was large. I noted areas where the vacuum cleaner never hit but was not a concern as these areas are not normally noticed. There were four of us in the cabin and a roll away bed was brought in and the one we received was very well used. I am thankful that our youngest son survived this sway backed and worn out bed. Our room steward was from Vietnam and was courteous and attentive.
We had to purchase soft drinkcards or passes for our two boys at $18.00 each so they could have soft drinks anytime they desired and not have to pay bar price for them. Soft drinks are not included and I found that rather odd. It would have been just as easy and probably a similar cost as the tea, lemonade and punch that was dispensed in the open buffet area called the Wheel House Grill. The tea tasted odd to me as it came from a concentrate. One problem we noted was that servers were reluctant to serve the boys soft drinks as they did not receive a gratuity when serving the boys a soft drink. This was very evident in the dining room.
We were seated in the Vista Dining Room, late seating. Our waiter was courteous, but slow. Our first night we did not get out until 10:20 PM and our table was always the last to leave. We were seated with a couple who met while they were working on an American Hawaiian Cruise, he as a waiter! I had a prime rib, with a gazpacho soup. The meat was good but cool. I love horseradish with prime rib and when I have had prime rib at other restaurants, it is more a cream of horseradish or a horseradish sauce. They brought ground horseradish that was very bitter. The gazpacho was terrible. Never had one like that. The salads were warm too. The food was, however, presented very nicely with a nice artistic flair seen in upper class restaurants. The food quality and service this first night did not reflect "fine dining". The portions were also very small. We had to ask several times for colas for the boys. I asked for coffee and never received it.
Our first dining room night was not that great but there were more days to come. The day at sea was great but we began to notice that our room was warm and the air circulation was poor. We asked for a fan and reported the air problem and we did receive a fan. We found that the air register was removed and flat cloth pipe was in there where air came from. We were told that the rooms were set at 76 degrees, but ours was warmer than that. It kept us out of our room and that may have been the reason as the cruise wants you to spend money.
The cruise director was a hoot! He was very articulate and very funny. He should have a show all of his own! The ship's in-house entertainers and band were, I felt, outstanding! The comedians that the ship had were top notch as well. I have never been too impressed with run of the mill ventriloquists or jugglers and they did present one each. Not so hot and rather boring doing the simplest and most basic acts. Other than that, we had a great time watching the shows.
We ate most of our meals in the Wheel House Grill - buffet, and found that on the whole the food was just OK. Some was pretty good but it was balanced by that which was poor. The hamburgers were dry, but the French fries were good. Carved meat was very good and their grilled steaks were good. The pizza was good from the 24 hour pizzeria. One of our greatest disappointments was after leaving Cozumel they had a Mexican buffet. They should have gone to shore and simply looked and tasted good Mexican food because what they served was shameful. Salsa is simple. Tomatoes, cilantro, onion, peppers and maybe some salt and pepper. Whatever they served as salsa appeared to be a mix of left over tomato juice, ketchup and who knows what else. It had a smoky taste like they were trying to make it taste like a chipotle, or smoked chile pepper which is used in some salsas and recipes.
We only ate in the dining room two nights. The second night of the cruise was our last in the dining room because it was even slower, the waitress did not want to get soft drinks for the boys, (that was very obvious). We had lobster tail, which was tough, cold and dry. I have never had a lobster tail of this consistency in my life! The soup was OK but there were "dribbles" all over the bowl. Our table guests, the ex-waiter, was really watching minor details that would not occur in a fine restaurant or on other cruise lines/ships. The Head waiter would come by and talk and it appeared to me that he was just talking and really didn't care. By not looking at you, looking around, like a speech that is memorized or a script. Maybe I am wrong but our table guests noted it too. They only ate one more night in the dining room and they and we complained, gently, about the length of time it took for us to get our food, generally cold. We never griped about the taste or quality.
Most all of the employees were personable and we struck up a conversation with a Russian waitress who was very well informed and a delight to talk too.
I was not too thrilled with Montego Bay as a stop. It was OK but the southern island near Kingston would have been much nicer and more fitting a place for a cruise ship to stop. We did the Martha Brae bamboo raft tour and it was nice but a bit spendy for what it actually was. Shopping in town was high pressure. We found a nice cab driver who took take care of us, picked us up, dropped us off and bought some Guinups for us, a small island fruit with a unique flavor.
The stop at Grand Cayman was too short but we went scuba diving and had a very good time. Cozumel was also very nice, but some of the merchants "barkers", those hired to call you into a store, might mumble things in Spanish which were not too pleasant if you didn't come in or if you ignored them. We again did scuba diving and enjoyed the waters here very much. We ate first class Mexican food in town so we were happy!
Planned activities for teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 were lacking. This age group would just hang out and give the security guards fits. It would have been nice to see the security guards smile once in awhile and acknowledge passengers and speak to them as other employees would. Being a police officer myself, some community oriented policing skills and training would be beneficial for these guys and gals. They just seemed too stern. I do wonder how they handle a domestic violence or other common police problem aboard this ship.
Laundry facilities were provided for passengers, but the crew usually had them used up. My wife was up until 2:00 AM doing some clothing and this after removing and folding a crew member's underwear from a dryer!
All in all the cruise was a good deal and worth the money. Next time, however, I would be willing to pay more for all soft drinks inclusive and a more first class cruise ship, such as Royal Caribbean. I base this from my experience and in speaking with others who were on a huge Royal Caribbean ship that was in port with us in Cozumel.
This was our 1st cruise. We are a mid 40's couple and enjoy travel of all kinds. We chose the Celebration because we wanted to sail from New Orleans. The reason was having family living near NO and combining a weekend with them before leaving. NO is a great town to visit and I would recommend giving thought to spending an extra day there just seeing the sites and enjoying the food. We booked through a TA, Just Cruises of St. Charles, Mo. Jerry & Linda Bosch were both very helpful in making sure all our trip went as planned. I highly recommend their service @ www.cruisenut.com.
We arrived in NO on Friday evening and spent the weekend enjoying the City. Having family there we used the drive up facilities too unload our luggage on Sunday around 12:30 PM. The lines for check-in were long so we checked our luggage and elected to spend a couple of hours enjoying the Riverwalk Mall before boarding around 3:30 PM. The Riverwalk offers a large Mall and an excellent food court featuring all the famous foods of the area and is well worth the timeto explore. When we did board it took about 15 min. to go through the process.
Upon arriving in our Cabin we found our luggage and sail & sign cards there and we were ready to go. I might add we booked a Cat. #7 cabin with a window and were lucky enough to get upgraded to Cat #9, our cabin was almost exactly in the middle of the ship. I know this contributed to the fact we experienced no motion sickness at all. Rather than breaking our trip down day by day I will break it down by categories.
1. Embarking- As I have already said embarking is a breeze if your patient and don't have to the 1st on the boat. I recommend checking your luggage with one of the available porters and enjoying the Riverwalk till the crowds thin out. Also make sure to fill your forms out ahead of time to avoid a delay while doing this.
2. The Ship- It's really hard for me to compare this ship to any other because it was our 1st experience. Instead I'll just give my opinion and what info I can concerning this ship. The ship was very clean, and the Cabins were very suitable for the 2 of us. There is plenty of closet space and shelf space. The only shortage might be in drawer space but that is easily overcome by using the shelves in the closet. There is a small safe in the closet for jewelry, Moines etc. It however is not large enough for cameras or large items. The bathroom was quite adequate with ample storage and a nice size shower. There was always plenty of water pressure and hot water. The only complaint was the twin beds that we had to slide together to make a queen bed.
The dinning rooms were very nice, the wheelhouse bar and grill area was adequate. There are 3 pools one with a large slide. The sun decks were large enough to accommodate all that wanted to sun. There is a walking track, volleyball area, as well as a spa and workout area. There are numerous lounges all providing a different atmosphere and music to satisfy anyone's taste. The Casino offers all major games and on sea days and evenings is quite popular. The Astoria lounge where the shows are nightly is quite adequate and is a very comfortable facility. There is also a library as well as numerous, shops and sitting areas. All in all for it's age, it's a well kept ship..
The only complaint is the ship is a little noisy but unless your a very light sleeper you'll have little problem.
3. Food- We ate most our meals in the dining room. The food was above average, presented well and a very good variety. The service was excellent and our waiter Roberto and busboy Mario made sure we were well taken care of. The matrade' George ran a great place and was very entertaining. The Wheelhouse was especially good for a quick lunch and the 24 hr Pizza was decent. We did not use room service. The bars were all fine and the drinks were good. Don't forget soft drinks and liquor not included!
4. Service/Staff- As I said above the dinning room service was great. Our cabin steward Andy was also very good and made sure we had any and everything we needed. In the cat #9 cabins we were provided with robes, and all linens for the room, trips and the pool are provided. The rest of the staff including the purser's desk were very helpful and it seemed everyone's' goal was to make us happy. The cruise director Steve Cassell was absolutely great.
5. Dress- the only reason I mention this is to eliminate any misconception you may have on dress. Around the boat the dress ranges from swimsuits to Slacks and shirts. For dinner in the dinning room, with the exception of the formal nights, anything goes except for shorts and tanktops.
6. Activities (on board)- Swimming, Casino, Volleyball, Dancing, Shows, Sunning, are just some of the things to do. The shows are average with the local crew dominated shows the best. Bingo is popular with pots of $500-$1000. Informational talks given by the cruise director are very good and a must for 1st timers, and the Food display is a must see. They will take your picture every time they get the chance as this is a big seller on board. Also daily specials are available in all the shops with some good buys!
Jamaica (Montego Bay) Although the shopping in the designated area is good and some of the tours are decent if we missed Jamaica I wouldn't miss it. We did shop, and we took the Martha Brae rafting trip. The raft trip was interesting and we did see a good example of lifestyle there but all in all the people are very pushy to sell souvenirs, understandingly so with a 30% unemployment rate. Others we talked to went to Ocho Rios to the falls and most enjoyed this trip although it was a long ride!
Grand Cayman Of what I've seen it don't get much better. Beautiful beeches, great snorkeling, nice shops and very friendly people. Would even consider spending a week here. Most snorkeled or went to Stingray Bay, all reports were very positive. This is a great place and don't miss the Rum Cakes.
Cozumel, Mexico Cozumel is also a beautiful place, but not quite as much as Cayman. The snorkeling is great here also with many places to choose from, for history buffs the tour to the Mayan ruins is available and to those who enjoy this type tour I understand this is very interesting. We again snorkeled! Cozumel offers some of the best variety of shopping for jewelry especially and "Carlos & Charlie's" is a must. Warning: Even though the margaritas are great BE CAREFUL, their potent!
Transportation in Cozumel and Jamaica are by taxi $5 in Cozumel and $2 in Jamaica, In the Caymans you must tender on boats from the ship to the island.
8. Debarking BE PATIENT! This is done in a very orderly fashion but it can get very hectic with around a thousand people trying to get off. All in all not bad.
This being our 1st cruise we had a GREAT time with little to complain about. The bottlenecks getting off the ship in ports and at debarking and the sometime rude behavior in the lines were somewhat annoying but we would have stayed on the ship for another week. We will definitely cruise again and if the itinerary fits would cruise with Carnival again. If you have any specific questions feel free to contact us @ firstname.lastname@example.org. We also intend to post pictures on a web page in the near future so watch the bullentin boards for that.
I booked late and was told to pick up my tickets, etc. at the pier. I drove from Nashville and arrived in Galveston around 8:30 Thursday morning but soon found out that I couldn't pick up anything until around 1:30 that afternoon. by the way, there's not much to do on Galveston Island on a Thursday morning. Fisherman's Wharf opened at 10:00 so I had several pre-embarkation beverages, which I highly recommend.
At 2:00 I drove through the baggage drop-off area, found a porter, and after a decent tip, was led to my tickets without any hassle whatsoever. I was on board by 2:30, and that's even after driving my car back to the lot to park, catching the shuttle and going through the documentation process.
Once on board, I found my cabin (my bags were already there) and waited for the muster drill. Was quickly directed to the Astoria lounge for muster info. by 3:30 we were through and the ship was preparing to leave port. Cold and rainy in Galveston upon departure.
My cabin was on Empress Deck, #17 which is in the forward part of the ship. Roomy, for oneanyway. Bathroom was plenty big, hot water was HOT!, plenty of towels and a basket of amenities provided free of charge (razors, deodorant, Tylenol PM, etc.).
Interesting mix of people on board. I'm mid-30's and was travelling solo. The "singles crowd" was, for the most part, much younger than I, and the average travelling age was probably 10-15 years older. Lots of families and groups on this particular trip.
Casino opened around 6:00, with slots, probably 8 blackjack tables, a Caribbean poker table and a craps table all getting action. I prefer the dice and spent most of my time and money in the casino at that location. Very good game and very personalble dealers for the most part. A native of Poland named Boudin (pronounced Bo-din) made my craps playing, even when losing, an enjoyable past time throughout the trip. Tip him well.
Travelling alone, drinking and gambling didn't lend itself to making my appointed dinner seating. I didn't take formal clothes (just a personal preference) and was usually occupied by the time my late seating was called. I did have lunch several times in the Vista room and the food was outstanding. Most of my dining was in the Wheelhouse Lounge. Breakfast was good and available most of the morning. Eggs, sausage, ham, bacon, grits, fruit, cereal, toast, bagels, and pastry were always available. You could also have eggs fried to order. Lunch usually offered a variety of entrees. Burgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers were also grilled daily. Several salads (pasta, potato, slaws, fruit, etc) were served and there was a salad bar available both lunch and dinner. Dinner was more of the same, different entrees and vegetables. Personally, I thought the food in the Wheelhouse was excellent, but I've been eating McDonald's and Taco Bell for the past year, so judge for yourself. The people I spoke to all said the food in the main dining rooms was outstanding, just not my thing.
A note about the pizza- It's great, and always available. I highly suggest picking one of the specialties and waiting the 7 minutes for it to cook fresh. There is also a Caesar Salad available at the pizza counter, but there are anchovies in the dressing so eat at your own risk.
As for on-board entertainment, what I saw ranged from good to excellent. Comics were funny and the house band was very good. The lounge bands were, uh, interesting? There were usually 3 in-room movies daily (1 being a kid's film) which were fairly new releases and worth watching should you need a break from everthing else. As luck would have it, the satellite tv signal being broadcast carried my local (Nashville) news daily. Weird, huh?
Both days at sea and the day in Cozymel were beautiful. The pool area gets packed quickly, so I'd suggest getting a lounge chair at breakfast and never leaving if that's where you plan to spend your days at sea. Didn't take a planned excursion in Cozymel but did do a little shopping, just to say I actually left the ship.
The service on the ship was excellent. It seems my cabin had been visited every time I went in. The ice bucket was always full and the beds made or turned down, depending on the time of day. Bartenders, while not always chatty, were friendly and quick.
Debarkation went smoothly, though waiting for your particular baggage tag color to be called can seem like an eternity.
I'm sure to many, it seems I wasted my money and failed to take advantage of all the things available on a cruise ship, but don't be fooled. This was by far, the most relaxing and enjoyable vacation I've ever had, and will do it again. While there are many, many things to do while at sea, you don't have to do anything if you so choose. For the money, the Celebration was a great deal, and a great time.
Getting to the ship: We live in Katy, Tx, about 1 1/2 hours away from Galveston. We had no problems getting to the ship. Traffic was heavy due to rain. Hubby dropped us off with the luggage at the port and we waited for him to park. You must have correct change in the parking lot. They would not change a $100 for him there. He had to drive around and find somewhere to break it before he could park. We arrived at the ship about 12:30, and it took about an hour for him to park and get back to us. I had intended on carrying our luggage onto the ship ourselves, so I did not pack any carryon luggage. However, the porters told us we would not be allowed to carry on our large bags cos they wouldn't fit thru the scanners upstairs. So, reluctantly, we handed everything over. They said the bags would probably be on the ship before we were since we were early, but they were wrong. It took 2 hours before the first bag arrived, and hubby's bag never did. The tag hadcome off, so he had to go to the Purser's Desk to look for it.
Embarkation: Check-in went very smoothly. Since we had all of our paperwork filled out prior, the whole procedure took about 5 minutes. There was a Camp Carnival representative waiting where you picked up your keys to invite Kayla to their activities.
Muster Drill: We had a very abbreviated muster drill. It occurred about 3:30. Our station was in the Astoria lounge. A staff member stood up on the stage and demonstrated how to put on a life jacket. No one came around to make sure we had done it correctly, and we did not have to go outside to our lifeboats. There were no photographers coming around to photograph us, and the flash on my camera would not work. So we missed out on that photo opp. The whole boat drill took about 15 minutes.
Departure: The ship left about 30 minutes past the scheduled time. It was very cold and rainy up on deck, but we suffered. There were about a handful of people on shore to see us off. Everyone had fun yelling at them! We called all of our family from the deck on the cell phone to rub it in that we were on a cruise ship and they weren't!!
Luggage: Like I said before, we were not allowed to carry on our luggage ourselves. The porters were very friendly, but insisted on taking our bags for us. They were very efficient, and there were plenty of them. We tipped about a dollar a bag.
Dining Room: We were assigned to the Vista dining room, table 138. It was a booth for 6. We were a family of 3 seated with a family of 4, so they pulled up a chair for the 7th person. Our waiter was Sylforde Dennie and our assistant waiter was Darma. They were both very nice, but not as outgoing as our waiters had been on previous cruisers. We didn't get the napkin folding demonstrations or other games that other waiters had provided for us. They were very efficient, and our food was always still hot and prepared just as we ordered it. We did get them talking a little about their personal lives a little bit. They didn't volunteer much, you had to ask! The Head Waiter was Pierre. He was great with Kayla. He came around each night and flirted with her. She was embarrassed! :) The maitre d' also came around each night to talk to her. He didn't come around on tip night, however. We were surprised by that! We gave him his tip on the way out of the restaurant.
Dining Companions: We were seated with a family of 4, with a 16 year old daughter and an 8 year old son. It turns out that they also live in Katy, about 2-3 miles from us! That was kind of neat, but we were looking forward to meeting other people from other places. They were a very quiet family. This was their first cruise, so they didn't quite know what to expect. We had a good time with them, but I doubt we made lifelong friends.
Cabin: We were on the Riviera Deck, cabin R52. This was a 6A cabin. Very spacious. It had 2 upper bunks, one directly over the lower bunk by the window, and the other abutting the bathroom. There was not much noise or movement in our cabin. We did receive an amenity basket, with all of the usual items in it. We also received the 2 bathrobes. They were very comfortable. They took them away before the last night of the cruise.
Cabin Steward: Johnson was our steward. He spoke English very well. He was nice and did an excellent job. We had the towel animals almost every night, and he always 'fancied up' Kayla's stuffed animals. The only time we called him, it was by mistake. Bryan thought he was turning on the cabin lights. But Johnson was there in a flash.
Dining Room Food: I never got up early enough for breakfast in the dining room (except on the last day), nor did I ever eat lunch in there. So I can't give a firsthand opinion of the food. The food for dinner was great. I had the steak on the first night, and it was actually prepared the way I ordered it!! The second night (formal night), I had the lobster. Both were delicious. Chocolate Decadence was one of the dessert choices the first night. If you've never had this, you need to try it. Especially if you're a chocolate lover. Dennie was even good enough to save me a piece for later during the cruise! We had cherries jubilee on the second night. They flamed them in the kitchen and then brought them out to us. One thing I don't understand is, why do they serve flaming desserts when they aren't allowed to be flaming when we see them? Isn't there another dessert they could serve that can be presented in another way?
WheelHouse Food: The food was good, but still about what you'd expect to find in a cafeteria. Breakfast selections were always typical American breakfast foods. The 'fried egg' station served up eggs that had already been scrambled. You could not get an actual yolk here. You had to get that in the main dining room. If I hadn't seen it for myself on the last morning of the cruise, I would have suspected they used powdered eggs or something. The pizzeria was very good. I didn't eat any of the desserts offered in the WheelHouse. The hot chocolate was very good.
Cozumel: We went to Chankanaab for the day. Cabs are $8 one way. Chankanaab is $10 per person. If this is where you're going -- don't rent your snorkel gear on the ship! Rent it here! It costs about half as much, and you don't have to lug it on and off the ship. We had a great time. Getting into the water was a little scary, cos occasionally the waves get rough coming up onto the rocks. It made my 8yo a little nervous, and she dropped her mask. It doesn't float. Snorkeling was unbelievable!! We saw so many different fish -- we even saw a barracuda. We had our picture taken underwater. After swimming we laid out on the beach. There were bar servers, but we were still recovering from the night before, so we stayed sober. We walked along the trails a little bit, they were very pretty. We saw a few iguanas. We also had our picture taken with some macaws. The guy said the money we paid was supposed to go for the care of wild macaws to help protect the species. Shopping here was very inexpensive, I thought. We got a souvenir for each of us, including 2 shorts outfits, T-shirts, and hot sauce, for only $30. I didn't bother trying to haggle cos I'm not good at it and his prices seemed so reasonable. We got back to the ship around 3 o'clock. The ship was to leave at 5 o'clock, but there was still a long line of people getting back on at that time.
Days at Sea: The usual at-sea activities took place. We had a great time relaxing and enjoying the sun. Kayla loved the frog pool. On the last day, we ran into a storm about noon. The ship really moved a lot. Kayla and I had fun wandering the decks enjoying the movement of the ship. She got a taste of what it felt like to be drunk!! We went to play bingo, and about halfway through, I began to get sick! I had to go lie down to get rid of the queasy feeling. A lot of people were affected by the movement on this day, but it wasn't too bad on other days.
Ship: Others on other forums complained about how old the ship was. I tried to be very critical in this area, and I honestly could not find many signs of wear. I saw a few stains on the carpet, but that was about it. It has been kept up very nicely. Crew were constantly painting and cleaning. Public areas on the ship were nicely laid out, and we didn't have any trouble finding our way around the ship. Even on the last day, however, we were still finding new ways to get places!
Crew: Everyone we encountered was fantastic!! People were constantly stopping to talk to our daughter, and calling her a little princess. Even people who would not be expecting a tip at the end of the cruise. Everyone in the Vista dining room was great, from our waiter (Dennie) and assistant waiter (Darma), to the Head Waiter (Pierre) and the maitre d' (David). This was the first cruise where I actually thought the Head Waiter and maitre d' deserved a tip. We loved Daniel at the Pool Bar. He was always great! He even helped us with a "Rescue at Sea" (Kayla lost her mask -again- at the bottom of the pool, and could not dive down deep enough to get it. He helped us by getting the pool skimmer out and rescuing it for her.
Fellow Passengers: A very quiet crowd. I think most of them were first-time cruisers and didn't quite know what to expect. We heard a lot of complaining over the drink prices and other costs on the ship. Most of the passengers were from Texas. Our table mates at dinner actually live about 5 miles from our house!! Everyone on the ship was very friendly and open. Good crowd, but sometimes it's nice to meet people from all over. It seemed like most of my fellow passengers were right in my own backyard!
Parties: We attended the Captain's Cocktail party on formal night. It was very nice. There was a nice selection of cocktails and hors d'oeuvres. They played Big Band music, and there were a surprising number of people who were actually GOOD at dancing to this type of music! We also attended the Deck Party on Saturday night. My husband participated in the lip synch contest. (I made him) They were going to make him sing to "I'm Too Sexy," but took one look at him and gave him AC/DC instead. Much better choice! He actually enjoyed it, but said he would get me back for that!
Shows: We went to both Broadway style shows. Kayla loved the elaborate costumes. She got to meet one of the dancers after a show. We thought their dancing was excellent, and the shows generally were very good. They do need a wardrobe update on the second show, though. The sequined dress the lady wears during one part is about to fall apart! The hem is coming out, it is missing patches of sequins, etc. We also went to the Comedian's show, on the first night for general audiences, and on the second night for adults only. On the general audience performance, he was only so-so. But on the adult show, he was hilarious!!
Camp Carnival: We did not participate much in Camp Carnival. We went to the Welcome Party, and she went to the Pajama Party the first two nights. After that, she just stayed out with us. She went once during the day for a couple of hours. It seems they keep the kids inside that little bitty playroom the majority of the time and play games. She wasn't thrilled with it, and never asked to go back. I'm guessing they had an abbreviated program since there were only 70 kids on board.
Debarkation: The Riviera Deck was assigned to the Lido Deck to wait. I don't get this -- our deck is closest to the gangway, but we're given the HIGHEST deck to wait on, AND we're the last to get off. This must be one more area where it pays to get a higher level cabin. It was chilly, so most waited inside the WheelHouse. Breakfast was still being served, and coffee and hot chocolate was available. That made the wait a lot more bearable. Everyone gave out a loud cheer when our color was called, like we had won bingo or something. Everyone seemed cheerful and patient while waiting. As far as getting off the ship went, debarkation went very smoothly. Galveston, however, needs some practice. They did a poor job of directing traffic thru the terminal. There are 3 lanes of traffic, and only 2 were supposed to be used for loading. People were using the third lane for loading as well, and were never told to stop. This made the traffic back up considerably. It took the hubby an hour to get from the parking lot up to the terminal so we could load up. We were still home by 12:30, though, so it beats having to fly into a port any day!!
Wrap up: This was a fantastic cruise. We loved it so much, I went out already and got a new brochure so we can plan the next one!
Embarkation: This was a breeze. We arrived around 11:30(too early) and were onboard before 12:30. After unpacking (we chose to carry our luggage), we explored the ship and put in a request for seating change in the dining room from a table for 4 to a table for 2. A card informing us of the change was slipped under our door before 9pm. We did enjoy our tablemates Omar and Emma from Texas, and managed to stay in contact with them for the rest of the cruise, and also exchanged email addresses.
Cabin: Our cabin was at the very back of the ship. We immediately pushed the twin beds together and the steward made them up that way after that. Robes and soap were provided. There is an almost constant vibration in this room, but we loved it. It put us to sleep every time we laid down. The engine noise is more noticeable while going down the Mississippi River. It actually woke us up once before we got out into the Gulf, but after that we never even noticed it. You cannot hear anything in the next rooms.
Food: Dinnerin the dining room was very good. The soups (lobster bisque, pepper pot, cream of spinach etc) were delicious. Lobster, steak (very tender), shrimp dishes, trout, and desserts were also delicious. Breakfast in the Wheelhouse was french toast, omelets, bacon, sausage, and oatmeal....and we ate their almost every day. The eggs were spongy though. Lunch was buffet style here and was ok, but nothing to rave about. We did make it to a couple of the midnight buffets and they were good also. The Gala Buffet was more beautiful than tasty, but not to be missed. Also, pizza on this ship is great!
Staff/Crew: Everyone was friendly and helpful in all areas of the ship, but Jose and Ibrahim were fantastic. They did everything possible to make sure that we were taken care of and well-fed (sometimes too well-fed). Jose's recommendations were perfect and his jokes very funny. Ibrahim made sure our glasses and cups were never empty. He and Ibrahim worked very hard, but always found time to talk with us about the ship, our different countries, and our families. They also sang Happy Anniversary to us one night, and Happy Birthday to me another night. We really miss them. We only saw our room steward, Peldid, in the hallways but he was always friendly. The towel animals were very cute, and the chocolates on our pillows were a nice touch. Beach towels were left in our room without having to ask for them and our room was always clean.
Activities: The shows in the Astoria lounge were good and the x-rated comedian was very funny. There were always games around the pool. Although we did not participate, we did enjoy watching everyone have fun. They also had bingo, newlywed game, horse races, trivia contests, and bridge and galley tours. There is always something going on.
Ship: We really fell in love with this ship.....I guess because it was our first!!!! The topless deck was very crowded on the days at sea, but there are several other decks and plenty of lounge chairs. We found a quiet spot on the side deck behind the bridge (dark at night) to sit and listen to the waves and look at the stars (very romantic). There is also the deck above the bridge that is wonderful to watch the sunrise over the mountain as you are sailing into port at Jamaica. It is very windy here, but the view is well worth it. There are several lounges with a variety of music to suit your taste. The band on the Lido deck around the pool was very good also.
Ports: The people in Jamaica were very friendly to us, even when they weren't trying to sell something. Our taxi driver "Teacher" was very informative, although he did have a problem talking to us and watching the road at the same time. This led to a very interesting ride into town and to the beach. We came to relax and that is what we did at Doctor's Cave Beach......very pretty. In Grand Cayman, we had to take a tender to the pier and I would have been happy to ride on it all day in the slightly choppy water, which was the most beautiful I have ever seen. We did not take a tour, but the ones that did, enjoyed Stingray City. Be careful of the rum cakes here.....very tasty, but lots of rum. Beautiful beach here also. At Cozumel, we took a taxi into town and shopped for souvenirs($5 taxi to town). Chankanaab Lagoon is a very nice place to go here. There is also a small beach in front of La Cieba hotel close to the pier. We really enjoyed everything here, but would like more time in port.
As you can see, we did not take any tours on this cruise. We came to relax and that is just what we did, although we walked so much that we didn't gain a single pound. My husband was not too sure about taking a cruise, but now he says he wouldn't take any other kind of vacation. We hardly ever knew what time it was and didn't care. The ages of the people on this boat were from 9 months to about 90 yrs, and all looked liked they were having a great time. We met passengers from England, Scotland, Canada, and all over the USA. We will definitely cruise with Carnival again, and if the Celebration were still in New Orleans in October....we would book the ship again (even after the fire). My husband did remind me that on Saturday at breakfast the ship started vibrating really bad, and then the engines stopped. After an hour or so, they started back up, and we were on our way again. This may have been an indication of the problem that happened this week, however I would still sail on her again. We are going to book the same route again and this time we will be taking some of the tours. I am sure that I left out so many things, but I am still coming down off of the natural high of being on the ship surrounded by all that water.
Our group of 12 people had never been to New Orleans, so we decided to spend three days before the cruise in the Crescent City. Our thanks to the people on the following lists for many helpful suggestions: Travel Ease, Cruises and Ziners.
Cyndi, from Blue Moon limousine, (1-800-379-1514 or e-mail: email@example.com) met us at the airport. She had a skycap at the gate with her and escorted us to the baggage area. I would highly recommend this company to anyone including TA's for transportation. Cost was $26.25 per person ($135 each way to and from airport and $45 for transfer from hotel to pier. Within minutes we had our bags, were past the personnel checking luggage tickets and boarding the mini-bus to take us to our hotel - Hilton at Riverside. Hotel had great views of the river and the paddleboats and other ships on the river, but it was a big disappointment for a Hilton classified as "classic". Service in the lounges and restaurants were awful. We spent 3 full days in New Orleans and we could have spent more time. We tried as many of the suggestions as possiblefrom fellow travelers and were not disappointed in anything we did.
Sunday: Blue Moon picked us up at 11:35 and took us to the pier. Embarkation went smoothly and I was on the ship a little after noon. They started to let people board right at noontime. by 12:15 all 12 people were on board and at their cabins. One of the couples had a different dining room. The Maitre' D was scheduled to handle changes/problems at 1:00 and at that designated time we were first in line and that minor problem was rectified. This was not the first time that a minor seating problem has arose, but I have found that if you are able to get to the Maitre ' D early, they are able to rectify the situation. Once this problem was all set, we met with our group in the lobby and began to tour the ship to familiarize us with the layout. The ship was faded, but she was kept clean. She can definitely use some sprucing up! We watched her depart at 6:00 PM and head down the river. It was a very low-key send off. As we sailed down the Muddy Mississippi, rocking and rolling with every twist and turn, we headed back to our cabins to get ready for late seating. Dinner was pleasant and both our waiter and busboy (actually a waiter) were extremely good and showed a good sense of humor. They would need it with this group.
Monday/Tuesday/Saturday: These days were spent at sea with plenty of sunshine. There were enough deckchairs and although the pool area was crowded, there was more than enough space to lounge one deck up. For those that wanted to have more shade, there were plenty of spots to pull up a chair on the Lido deck to enjoy reading or napping without too much sun. The ship's staff had planned many activities from horseracing to the newlywed game for those that didn't want to sun. The one armed bandits opened around 8:00 with the full casino opening at noon.
Ports of call: In Montego Bay, Jamaica our crew tried two different excursions. Some did the river rafting, while some hired a taxi and did Dunn River Falls and toured on our own. The rafting was ok. Each raft holds 2 people and a guide and you take a leisurely ride down the river. The river ride (scenery) reminded one of our crew of river rides taken 30 years ago when he was accepted by our government to attend the University of Vietnam. Most of the guides were young kids who at the beginning were quarreling among themselves. Those of us that did the tour to the Falls on our own saved about $20 per person from the ship's tour. For entrance to the Falls and transport we averaged approx. $26. Versus ship's $46. (Per person) We had a great driver who had just retired after working for 31 years in New York City. He only drove a couple of days a week to keep busy.
In Grand Cayman, we tried scuba diving and snorkeling with the stingrays. Once again, if you have never done the stingray tour, it is a MUST. For those of you who have done it and if you do not have any health issues then you have to try the scuba diving. Once you have dove, you will not want to snorkel again. The only problem is that they take a very limited number in the novice program, (12 from this ship) so you need to get your choice in right away.
The last stop was Cozumel. Here some chose to ride horseback, some shopped and a couple tried the submarine. We had done Tulum on a previous cruise in '93 so last year we tried horseback riding and had so much fun we decided to do it again. They have some minor ruins to see, but the riding is fun and although it is hot, it is not as hot as Tulum. As for the submarine, if you can snorkel, there is no reason to do this. The couple was greatly disappointed in this tour. They felt the price and what you got was definitely not worth it. Snorkeling would have been a better choice. The couple that went shopping found some good buys and was quite happy. They have a background in gems and things. I do not have that background so therefore am leery about what type of deal I am really getting. Last but not least, we stopped in at CARLOS AND CHARLIE'S. What trip to Cozumel would be complete with out a visit there. The music was loud, the place was packed wall to wall and the waiters kept bringing "The Yards" out to the rambunctious travelers.
Debarkation: We were off the ship with luggage in hand by 9:15. Debarkation was done by color coded luggage tags. They use the same colored tags as those for embarkation, so don't take yours off like I did. We were the third color to disembark (brown, orange, yellow, green, and blue .). I had arranged for Blue Moon to pick us up at 10:30, so I called and they dispatched the mini-bus right over. In the brochure's they say the ship docks around 8:00 AM, but she actually comes in at around 3:00 AM with passengers starting to leave around 8:30 AM. We could have made an earlier flight around 11:45 AM, but had to wait until 3:20 PM. CCL had said not to book any flights before 12:30 PM.
Positives: The ship's crew was excellent. From the cabin stewards to the pursers, they were attentive, helpful and did everything possible to make the voyage memorable. The food in the dining room was superb and our waiter worked extremely hard to make sure we enjoyed ourselves. He had double duty at our table because at least 8 of the 14 guests had double entrees, plus 2 or 3 appetizers at each meal. All parts of the ship were kept very clean, although it can use some renovations. The decor is kind of dated and faded. The casino staff is one of the best that I have encountered. I can not remember a friendlier engaging group of supervisors in any casino. They always had supervisors floating assisting passengers with any questions that they had regarding any of the games of chance. Perhaps this is why Carnival has so many "first contract" dealers on her. Their influence was reflected quite favorably with how the new dealers interacted with the passengers. The cocktail waiters and waitresses were always around but never intrusive. Every night at dinner, there would be soft drinks served to those at our table (that had requested them) as we entered the dining room.
Negatives: The ship was a little noisy at night. Mostly from teenagers and a few young couples talking loudly in the halls. People in the area were given discounts off future cruises. The entertainment left a lot to be desired. The ship's company (dancers and singer) were fine along with the cruise director's juggling act, but the rest was not up to CCL's usual standards. The air conditioning was a problem in areas of the ship for the first 3 days and then again on the last night of the ship. Lounges were dead by 11:30 at night. One reason was that in the disco, there were two many children. Maybe this ship should do what other CCL ships do and after a certain time, let the kids have their own disco near the game room. The Endless Summer lounge had a group, but they never seemed to be playing and when they did they couldn't hold or draw a crowd.
Overall: The whole group would sail on her again. The pluses far outweighed the minuses. We were able to find things to do and make our own entertainment as need be. The ship's staff should be highly commended. In each department staff members consistently gave excellent service to passengers. Shore excursions were plentiful and there was enough of a variety to make sure there was something for everyone.