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Carnival Cruises aboard the Celebration
ABOVE: Carnival Cruise Lines Celebration Cruise Ship.

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Ship Details

Began service: 1987
Guest capacity: 1,486
Total staff: 670
Length: 733 feet
Passenger decks: 10
CDC inspection score: 94

Celebration Overview

The Celebration cruise ship departs from Jacksonville, FL. Throughout the year, she offers ocean cruises to the Eastern Caribbean. Check dates and prices for cruises to Eastern Caribbean.

Celebration is the second oldest ship in the fleet. And although it underwent a multi-million dollar renovation in 2003, the ship is still more of a tribute to the old days of cruising. This may not be the best ship for passengers who have grown accustomed to modern-ship amenities that aren't found here, such as a high ratio of balcony cabins, supper-club style alternative dining, high-tech fitness facilities, and swank spas.

The most noticeable change is purser's lobby -- redone with new carpeting, furniture, wall coverings and artwork for a more contemporary atmosphere. The dining rooms were also redesigned for a more spacious atmosphere. Also, each of the Celebration's staterooms received new curtains, carpeting and wallpaper, as well as upgraded bedding, linens, pillows and bedspreads. New leather-bound directories were placed in each cabin, and bathrooms were updated and retiled where necessary. Elevator lobbies, stair landings, pool decks and lounges underwent minor cosmetic enhancements, and all corridors were re-carpeted.

Celebration is a great value for those that are looking to have a no-frills, lay-by-the-pool "Fun Ship" vacation. The food is surprisingly good, cabins are contemporary and comfortable, and service is friendly and fast.


There is a reason Carnival is called "the world's most popular cruise line" -- it is a favorite among those who are looking for a laid back experience, a safe and fun place for their families, and the best vacation bang for their buck. The Celebration, which launched in 1987, fulfills all of the above. However, cruisers should keep in mind that cruising has come a long way since 1987.

Celebration has only 10 balcony cabins. More than half of the staterooms onboard are oceanview -- 445 out of 743; 10 of these are considered "suites," and include a verandah, separate sitting area, whirlpool tub, refrigerator, VCR, a large vanity and a walk-in closet. There are 17 modified cabins for disabled guests.

All cabins (with the exception of those that include lower and upper berths -- only 24 in total) contain twin beds that convert into a king. Decor is simple and the carpeting is new. There is a TV mounted on a shelf in the corner and the phone is mounted to the wall. Closet space is ample, with one section of shelving and two sections for hanging garments.

Cabins do not include a hair dryer, but pack your own: One 220-volt outlet and one 110-volt outlet are convenient to the desk, which has a large backless chair for grooming in front of mirror. Passengers can control the a/c in the cabin, but be forewarned: The knob is on the ceiling. Safes are available; use of terry robes is an extra perk for passengers in oceanview cabins and suites.

Bathrooms are impeccably clean and functional. There were two pumps in my shower; both were labeled shower gel but I suspect one was a shampoo/conditioner combo (or at least I assumed). It did not matter, because there was a basket on the sink containing Physique shampoo, conditioner and hair gel, as well as a few other brand-name goodies: Reach Access flosser, Suave hand cream, Listerine pocket pack strips, Crest Cinnamon Rush toothpaste, Lever 2000 bar of soap. However, I was a little perturbed by the lack of control I had over water temperature in the shower, which could go from lukewarm to icy cold to Jacuzzi-hot with the blink of an eye.


There are two main dining rooms onboard Celebration, Vista and Horizon, and both operate as traditional set-time, set-seating facilities for dinner. Dining times for dinner are staggered; early sittings include 5:45pm in Horizon and 6:15 in Vista, while late sittings include 8pm in Horizon and 8:30pm in Vista. Lunch and breakfast are served in open-seating fashion.

The food surpassed my expectations and I enjoyed all of my meals, particularly dessert. Entrees range from chateaubriand to lobster tail to roasted turkey with all the trimmings. I particularly liked the pasta dishes, as they were also available in a smaller portion as a starter dish -- perfect if you are deliberating between two different meals.

The Wheelhouse Bar & Grill buffet is Celebration's casual dining option. There was nearly always a line, and tables were hard to come by, but there is outside seating, and was generally worth the wait. Each side of the buffet offers the same items. Table clearing is prompt, but drink service is lacking unless it is the friendly bar waiters trying to sell the drink of the day or your particular poison (they will make it a point to remember).

The "regular" buffet for lunch includes a selection of non-green salads, such as potato, navy bean and baby shrimp, and couscous, as well as hamburgers and hotdogs, a variety of hot dishes and a carving station. One day featured turkey with all the fixings, another day roast beef. The separate green salad bar has the veggie and dressing fixings. The dessert stand features cookies and cakes which are decent, but no match to the self-serve ice cream and frozen yogurt. This station is always loaded with cones and small dishes, and is open 24 hours.

The breakfast buffet offered made-to-order omelets. The scrambled eggs were blah, but the pancakes were incredibly hot and tasty. There was also sausage and bacon, lots of pastries and breads to choose from, plus fruit, milk, yogurt, cream of wheat, oatmeal and cereals.

The 24-hour pizzeria is located in the Wheelhouse Bar & Grill, and is excellent for a snack or light lunch, especially when the lines are long at the buffet. Pizza comes in several varieties and there are always fresh pies in or ready to go in the oven. There is also fresh Caesar salad available around the clock.

Room service is available 24 hours a day. Service was very prompt; I called in an order at lunchtime and it arrived in just over 10 minutes. Full stateroom bar service is available 9am until 3am.

In-stateroom continental breakfast is available by hanging a checked-off menu on your doorknob before 5am. You can indicate between which times you would like delivery.

One last dining option: Bourbon Street, the ship's "promenade" area, actually has a real trolley car that becomes a sushi bar each night from 5:30 until 8:30. The selection of freshly prepared rolls varies each evening.


As expected on Carnival ships, which are known for their entertainment, stage productions are as excellent as cast members are talented. A country music show played to a nearly packed house, but I fell in love with Standing Room Only, a great medley of Broadway tunes. You can clearly see how much work goes into this, with uncountable costume and set changes, and toe-tapping tunes. There were also numerous daily activities to keep cruisers happy, including art auctions, bingo games, slot tournaments, fun contests and game shows like "Newlywed, Not-So-Newlywed," comedians, and more.

Most of the action happens in the ship's two-deck-high main theater, Astoria Lounge. Arriving early guarantees good seating; drink service is friendly and fast. Tip: short folks may want to avoid the upper tiers; a glass panel borders every tier, and the edge of that glass panel was directly in my line of vision.

Additional entertainment can be found in the Endless Summer lounge. Amusing Karaoke takes place here every day, and draws a huge crowd at night. Islands in the Sky is a lounge for comedians and daytime activities such as art auctions.

Fitness & Recreation

There are three pools onboard Celebration. The main pool is surrounded by two tiers of deck chairs, and topped off with snaking slide. There is one whirlpool next to this pool. A smaller pool provides a quieter atmosphere and a great view of the ship's wake. It is also steps away from the ice cream machine in Wheelhouse Bar & Grill. The third pool is a children's wading pool, located next to the staircase leading down to Camp Carnival's children's center.

There was no warm reception area when I stepped off the elevator by Spa Carnival -- just a dim, institutional hallway with treatment rooms. The treatments were on the high side price-wise -- a simple facial was $109. The salon was almost as disappointing upon first glance, a small space cramped with nail tables, stacks of towels on shelves and sitting areas, and extension cords snaking visibly across the floor. It is also in a nosey corridor just off the shopping area. However, Ceri who did my treatments was a complete doll, and my salon experience ended up being quite pleasant.

Note: Port-day "discounts" are deceiving -- you may be paying less for a treatment, but be sure to ask whether your treatment is the same length. A chunk of time is shaved off of certain "sale" treatments. I was psyched to save $25 on my exotic hand and foot treatment ... until I found out I was receiving a 90-minute procedure while sea-day customers were spending a full two hours being pampered.

There is a small but functional gym with six treadmills, four cycles and two steppers. Despite its size, it never seemed exceptionally busy, but was never empty either. The Sun Deck is has a volleyball net, shuffleboard and a jogging/walking track. (Thirteen laps equals one mile) Cruisers can also play chess with jumbo pieces , or tee off on the small putting green.

Public Areas

The core of this Fun Ship is the Promenade Deck's Bourbon Street, embellished with "brick" streets, a real trolley car, and splashes of purple, gold and green for a real New Orleans feel. There are cozy chairs by windows where many passengers played cards or read books during daylight hours. There is also a player piano for live evening entertainment and the Trolley Bar, where cruisers gathered to watch sports.

Most of the ship's nightclubs and lounges are accessible from Bourbon Street, including Galax-Z, a disco-esque club with a small dance floor lit from below by neon. While there is no traditional game room, there is a small grouping of arcade games in the back of Galax-Z; these range from 25 cents to a dollar to play, and are open 24 hours.

Also off Bourbon Street is the ship's casino, Rainbow Club. Cruisers can try their luck on over 180 slot machines. There are also several electronic poker machines roulette, poker and blackjack tables. Slot tournaments take place throughout the week. The main bar at the end of this particular rainbow is called Pot of Gold.

The Red Hot Piano Bar is hard to miss with its striking, bright decor. Ebony and ivory keys are set around the bar for decoration, and fire-engine-red walls and booths surround accent tables and chairs. In the back there is a narrow, spiral staircase that leads to the Rainbow Club casino.

Warning: this lounge is smoky as it is one area where cigarette smoking is allowed.

Directly across from the piano bar is Admiral's Library. There are cabinets with a small selection of books and board games that can be borrowed throughout the week.

The library also doubles as Celebration's Internet "cafe." Six computer stations are available for Web surfers, as well as a very reliable and easy to use wireless program for laptop owners. It is the fastest, most reliable Internet access I've used at sea (but that could also be due in part to the ship's proximity to the equator on my particular sailing). The library is the only place onboard where wireless access is offered, but the signal is strong enough for use in the Red Hot Piano Bar, so you can have a cocktail and listen to music while checking your e-mail if you've brought your laptop.

Connection can be pricey, and is available through packages, or a la carte at 75 cents per minute. Packages are the way to go -- the more minutes you buy, the more you save, and the more free minutes you earn. Pricing for using either their computers or the wireless network works out to be about the same in the end (you can buy 250 minutes at $0.40 per minute for either method), though wireless can be a better bargain because you avoid the $3.95 activation fee required to connect to the Internet via one of Carnival's computers.

Holiday Square is where shoppers can browse a handful of shops offering logo wear, Carnival souvenirs, perfume, duty-free liquors and cigarettes, and jewelry.


Carnival's kids' program, Camp Carnival, is tailored for many age groups. I saw them marching through the promenade and having an ice cream sundae party. There's a kids-only turndown service featuring fresh baked chocolate chip cookies. Other activities include arts and crafts and sing-alongs (for the younger crowd), puppet shows and t-shirt painting (for juniors), and talent shows, scavenger hunts and pool parties (for older kids). Teens can participate in disco parties in Galax-Z early in the evening, and watch late-night movies.

An additional perk: baby-sitting services, basically a slumber party in the play room, are available for a very reasonable cost -- $6 for the first child and $4 for each additional child in the same family -- from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m.

Expert Celebration reviews are edited by Michelle, and provided by Ian and Cruise Critic.com, an award-winning cruise community. This objective information can help you choose just the right ship for your next cruise vacation.

Check Dates & Prices for cruises to Eastern Caribbean.


Discount Code

Celebration cruise reviews

Cruise Ship Inspection Report
All passenger cruise ships arriving at US ports are subject to unannounced CDC inspection. Celebration Score: 94

Cruise Critic: Celebration
The Cruise Critic gives Carnival's Celebration a 3-ribbon rating.

Web links

Carnival Cruises
Request a brochure, or find a travel agent who represents Carnival Cruises at the company's official Web site.

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