Review of the Carnival Celebration- 6/23/05 - 6/27/05
Who: Barry & Kathy Cooper & Joe (18) and Sister-In-Law, Brother-In-Law and 2 sons (18 and 16)
When: June 23 - June 27, 2005
Last Cruise: Carnival Inspiration - June 03
Next Cruise: Carnival Glory - August 05
Embarkation in Jacksonville was reasonable. We drove down from Virginia in two stages and arrived at the port around 11:00. We had to wait about an 1 1/2 hours till my wife's sister and family arrived. By then the lines had gotten relatively long. I must say that the signs to the port (unlike Tampa) are pretty fail-safe. Even though we had directions, we really did not need them. Since we had to wait, once we got checked in, we were able to get right on the ship. Lunch on the Lido deck was the typical first day Carnival buffet, nothing really special, but still good. The Muster drill was at 4:00 and was not very bad as we did not go outside to the boats, but just met at our muster station.
Our rooms (2 outside and 1 inside) were on the Empress deck with an outside view. The beds were separated as my son and I were registered in my room (the 7 of us were all dispersed throughout the 3 cabins), but we were able to have the Room Steward put them together. The bedding and beds on the Celebration have definitely been upgraded. The Celebration still uses the old plastic keys, so we just swapped them around. The 3 boys were in the insided cabin and seemed to have no complaints. Our room steward never really introduced himself to us, but did an excellent job. About the only negative with the room is that we think we were below one of the dining rooms or kitchen and somewhere around 3:00 AM every morning, there seemed to be a lot of banging and dropping stuff.
This was the smallest Carnival ship we have been on (4 on the Ecstasy, 3 on the Fantasy, 1 on the Paradise, 1 on the Pride and 1 on the Inspiration). The only thing that seemed small was the running/walking track. At one spot, it was only about 3 people wide which made it hard to get around people while jogging.
The ship seemed pretty clean to me and in pretty good shape.
Food & Service
Dinners were really good to excellent. Lunches were good. We ate all but one of our lunches on the Lido Deck (the other lunch was at Blue Lagoon Island). Our dining room waiters, Elmer, was excellent. The assistant waiter, Victoria, was a little distant, but seemed to warm up the last couple of days. My wife is lactose intolerant and Biljana, the dining room hostess, was extremely helpful with the selections. We had late seating at 8:00. Other than the first night, it seemed that at least one of our waiter's table was empty, so our service was very fast. Carnival does not carry any non-dairy creamer that we could find, but having learned her lesson the Pride and Inspiration, my wife brought her own Coffeemate (I keep forgetting to write that down on my comment cards). We were at a very nice table near the front of the dining room (for the 7 of us).
Saw a few more shorts in the dining room after the first night, especially since one of the nights was designated a casual night (even though the Capers said no shorts).
Ports & Weather
Our ports were Freeport and Nassau. We got a heavy rain early on the first morning on our way to Freeport and that was pretty much the only bad weather.
The three boys did a beach excursion and seemed to have a pretty good time. The adults went into Freeport to one of the hotels and casino. Casino seemed nice, but not very big. We did walk around some of the shops, but did not buy anything.
We have been to Nassau many times. We all did the Blue Island tour (with snorkeling). We had done this tour with Premier many years ago. This time, lunch was not provided, but the food on the Island was not too bad, but just a little expensive, but I was mentally prepared for that ahead of time. Snorkeling was okay, but you have to go through lots of rocks until it gets deep enough. Was disappointed in that Don Lorenzo seems to have stopped making their Double Chocolate Fudge Rum Cake, so we had to settle for other flavors.
Getting off the ship was easy, but it seemed to take quite a while for such few number of passengers. We did not do self-assist, but were able to watch everyone leave. It seemed like it took at least an hour (maybe 1 1/2 hours) for the self-assist. The good news is that when they called everyone else the line was relatively short (of course, we were the very last color called). We were able to get a porter to help with our luggage from the terminal to our car.
This was our 12th cruise on Carnival and we were definitely not disappointed. We all thought the crew on the ship were excellent. Did not really see the cruise director, Big Tex, but saw him on TV a lot. The staff in the casino cheerfully accepted all of my donations
We are booked on the Glory for August and are looking forward to that cruise. Besides the noise in the middle of the night, the only other negative was that the public rooms were freezing.