Sailed on Celbration June 10-14. Here's how it went! We live in Clear Lake, only about 30 miles from Galveston. We left at 1000 Thursday morning. We pulled into EZ Cruise Discount parking at 10:45. We were in the security area at the pier a couple of minutes past 1100, just as they opened up the line. We cleared security and check in by 11:15. The young lady at checkin told us that since we had sailed twice before, we would receive a special invitation to a Captain's dinner but we never received it. Another member of our group (actually, the group leader) was told the same thing but she never received this invitation, either. They opened the ship right at noon and by 1205 we were eating lunch on the Lido deck. After lunch we walked around the ship, getting reacquainted with her after having sailed once before in 2001. We went to check our cabin, which was prepared. We had a 6a guarantee and had been upgraded to 6D Empress Deck, E10, ocean view. Our bags were delivered and actually in our cabin before the life boat drill. David, our steward, was a nice, friendly man from Costa Rica. He was polite and efficient but never actually did anything 'above and beyond.' For example, we asked on the first afternoon about getting ice in our collapsible cooler. He asked his assistant to get it. I asked David to refill the cooler each day. He never did. I always had to go looking for ice. One of his assistants, a young Asian woman, got it for me once. She was astonished that I gave her five bucks for her efforts. I think I got a bigger smile from her than anyone else on the crew. I also reported to the steward that our dead-bolt safety lock on our cabin door would not work but he never had it fixed.
The food was terrific! I had two entrees at each dinner. Our waiter insisted that he bring the second one out when I was finished with the first. I would rather have had them at the same time. Lobster/Prime rib night was great. I had one of each. Wish I had order a second lobster tail. One thing that was strange is that one night, when I ordered the chateaubriand, I was told that it only came in 'medium rare' and 'medium well' rather than the 'medium' I wanted. I wore my tux on formal night. There were several tuxes at our dinner--early seating in the Vista dining room. The majority of the rest of the men had on suits or sports coats with ties. There were many men with coats over sports shirts. A few were in just short sleeve pants. Most of the ladies were dressed in very dressy dresses. Some of the younger ladies had prom type dresses. There were a few "my comfort is worth more than my dignity" types. We enjoyed our dining room experiences. We were traveling with a group of 18. Five 50ish couples and eight 17-upper 20s, including some newly weds. We had two large window tables with great views. My bride and I ate all of our meals in the dining room. Open seating Breakfast was only held in the Horizon dining room, the larger of the two. Lunch was assigned by your table and seating. It seemed that very few people were eating lunch in the dining room. The Wheelhouse Grill on the Lido deck looked okay for a buffet. The pizza was fantastic.
On the first night, after dinner, we went to the kareoke bar. Several in our group sang. I finally got up the nerve to try the Beatles "When I'm Sixty four." It started off way too high so I had to stop. The hostess lowered the pitch five notches and I was able to sing. I dedicated it to my bride. We were celebrating our 30th anniversary. It was fun.
We then went to the "Welcome Aboard" show in the Astoria Lounge. I was selected, along with nine other adults, for an 'icebreaker' activity. We were put into two groups and had to run a spoon, attached to a rope, down our pants (or dress/blouse, etc) and back up the clothing of the person next to you. We won the first round. The second round required pulling the spoon in the opposite direction. We won again. Everyone was given a bottle of champagne for participating. We had a late night snack and retired.
Our second day was a sea day. The sky was a bit overcast. The wind had been extreme since we left Galveston. We were on the edge of a tropical low that gave us a very strong headwind all the way to Cozumel. Fortunately, the seas were pretty smooth.
We went to the art auction and had a few glasses of champagne but did not buy anything. I went back to the auction on Sunday. This time I bought a piece that my wife had admired. She did not attend this auction so the purchase is a surprise. (If you see her, please don't tell her!) I also won a print in the 'early bird' drawing.
It was very rainy in Cozumel. The ladies in the group took off to go shopping. The younger set went on a snorkle/party catamaran trip. The gentlemen went on a pub crawl, going from one dollar beer sidewalk cafe to the next. The ladies met up with us at noon and had a couple of beers with us. Some of them had done some buying. They were upset that the ship's "super shopper" had promised they could get authentic designer purses- Dune Bourke, or something like that. (sorry, can't remember the name-it's a guy thing.) but when they got there, the purses were of a style of about ten years ago and they were fakes. Not even a decent quality knock-off. They were cheap fakes. I thought Carnival was supposed to be good about not misleading its customers re: shopping.
The rain let up mid day and we went to Carlos and Charlies for a while. Crazy place! We were fortunate to avoid shots! It was raining very hard when we got back to the pier. We went up to the Wheelhouse and had pizza and desert. The youngsters in our group did not make it back to the ship until about ten minutes before sailing. There were two very concerned moms waiting for them.
We sailed pretty much on time out of Cozumel. The seas were unbelievably rough. The ship was pitching and rolling terribly until about 0200 the next morning. This made it very uncomfortable for many people. A lot of folks never made it to dinner that night. Combination of the rough seas and the partying in COZ, I suspect.
The nightly entertainment was of a pretty high quality. The second night at sea, there was a Broadway type review. They have two lead singers and several male and female dancers. The next night, there was a tribute to the "Blues Brothers" which was very good. It starred Chris, the cruise director and one of the ship's dancers who is a great singer, too, though not their lead singer. The last night they had the "X-treme Country Show. Again, a very good show, but the highlight was their guest fiddler. This guy was fantastic. We were wondering why he was doing cruise ship gigs. He blew us away with the classic "Orange Blossom Special" and Charlie Daniels' "The Devil Came down to Georgia."
Speaking of the shows... If you are in the forward Empress deck, pretty much the front half of the section that runs from the most forward elevators to the front of the ship, you will be directly under the Astoria lounge. Because we went to the early shows, we were sometimes in the cabin while the late show was still going on. The noise is pretty loud. The base resonates through the ceiling of your cabin. Don't plan on doing any sleeping while the show is going on. Fortunately, however, the shows are always over by 11:30.
There was also the occasional loud, unidentifiable bump in the middle of the night. We always wear ear plugs, plus we brought along a pretty powerful table fan, so most of the other noises did not bother us. The famous Celebration 'vibration' still exists even though the ship has been renovated. We could always feel it, mildly in our cabin or forward part of the ship, but it was very pronounced in the rear of the ship, even on the upper decks, like in the "Islands in the Sky lounge. In our room, it was not bothersome and actually felt like a motel's "Magic Fingers." By the way, the beds in the cabins are fantastic! I heard many people comment on how comfortable the matresses are.
The people-- well, the staff were all very polite and gracious as is expected. The Celebration staff consistantly rates at the top of the fleet in customer satisfaction. As far as the passengers, there were very few problems. There were many teens on board, including a couple of high school music groups. They were all great. There were a few of the typical ten year old boys who ran down the halls. We always stopped them, explaining that there were many older people on the ship and that they (the boys) would feel very badly if they knocked down someone's grandmother.
Saw a few toddlers but don't believe I ever heard one except for breakfast on the last morning when we were already in Galveston. I don't believe there were any infants on board- wise parents! Smoking was not too much of a problem except for the ones who left a smoking area and carried their lit cigarettes through the non smoking parts of the ships. None of the cabins smelled of smoke. It looked like the cleaners sprayed "Fabreeze" or something similar on the carpets as they were vacuuming.
No loud, obnoxious drunks, either, except... there was one 18 year old who stayed drunk the entire four days. She was traveling with her step-mother who was also plastered all the time. The step-mother was about 40 but was a teen age wantabe. She hung around the kids all the time. One morning she was bragging about going to her room with one of the guys she met the night before and was asking the step-daughter if she remembered the guy's name. They were both loud and foul mouthed, their only known adjective being an 'f' word.
After our rough and stormy departure from COZ we were relieved that the early morning overcast burned off to a beautiful sunny day for our day-at-sea. The seas were smooth but we now had a fairly strong tail wind. Because the wind was only slighly faster than the ships, the relative wind was almost non-existant, meaning there was hardly the slightest breeze to cool you off.
We arrived in Galveston and were sitting at the dock right around 0700. We went to breakfast and waited in our cabin for our number to be called. I think this is a change from our previous cruises where we had to get out of the cabin and were required to wait in one of the big lounges or theaters until our number was called. We were about the last group to be called to immigration, which was held in the "Islands in the Sky lounge." The line moved very quickly and we were allowed to immediately leave the ship. We found our bags immediately and were out front waiting for our parking shuttle by 1000. We were in the car by 1015 and in our driveway by 1100.
I strongly recommend EZ Cruise Parking
They charge only $30.00 for a four day cruise. They are located about two blocks from the ship. This is small family owned company just starting out. We got to meet the owner, Cindy. She is assisted by her son and her brother. Beware that Dolphin Parking is ripping EZ parking off by having signs that say "Dolphin/ EZ Cruze Parking." Dolphin has also been stealing signs that belong to EZ parking.
We had a wonderful time with good friends. Celebration is a wonderful ship. Jacksonville is going to love her. But we are also looking forward to having the larger 'Ecstacy' come to Galveston!