Last week, Travel Market Report reported back on some of our first impressions of Carnival Cruise Line's newest ship, Carnival Celebration. Our insights centered on three of the most important aspects of the Celebration experience: the fun, the food, and Celebration Central.
But there's more to Carnival Celebration. Here are a few more of our first impressions, along with some thoughts from an advisor who had a chance to experience the ship as well.
Carnival's cabins haven't changed much over time. They're industry standard when it comes to size, with some balconies significantly larger than others depending on the cabin category.
Things we loved about the cabins included multiple spots to plug in our devices, including bedside USB ports, the overhead light fixture meant it was never too dark inside, there's plenty of hanging space in the closets, and the bathrooms have glass doors.
Not sure if there's a new trend going through the cruise industry, but Carnival Celebration is the second new cruise ship we've come across (Norwegian Prima is the other) with metal baskets in the closet instead of drawers. They're not the most practical for storing things, though a few passengers we spoke to said they put packing cubes in them.
And in another case of “what were they thinking,” Carnival has replaced the bedside cubbies with a tiny two-level metal shelf. Not only is it ugly, it’s totally impractical.
A true gem on Carnival Celebration is the unassuming Golden Jubilee lounge located off to one side of Celebration Central. For those not in the know, it’s an attractive, quiet lounge where you can get a range of cocktails, including some oldies but goodies and listen to piano player/singer.
Without knowing the history of the lounge, you can still have fun table hopping, looking for the “NINA”s in the tabletops that faithfully reproduce some of Al Hirschfeld’s “The New Yorker” magazine covers. Each Hirschfeld signature tells you how many times “NINA” appears in the drawing.
But the lounge is more than just a nice place to spend some time, it's a subtle and sophisticated (especially for Carnival) homage to Carnival Cruise Line’s 50-year history. Elements of the bar’s décor either come directly from another Carnival ship – like the aforementioned Hirschfeld cocktail table tops, which were on Carnival Fascination – or are reminiscent of décor on other ships.
For clients that want to know more, there's a QR code off to one side of the bar with information on all the various elements.
Aft Infinity Pool
Most people don't even realize this sweet spot exists. Located at the back of Deck 8, it’s called the Patio Pool and it's a great spot to get away from the crowds and enjoy the awesome aft views.
Heroes Tribute Bar
We know this isn't specific to Carnival Celebration, but we loved the location of this bar on the ship and its crystal clear dedication to soldiers, currently serving, veteran or retired. Even better? For each drink purchased in a souvenir glass, Carnival will donate $1 to Operation Homefront.
It's also a perfect to spot to sit and watch live sports – and there are two soft serve ice cream machines, making it a great spot to grab a snack.
What Advisors Had to Say
At the time Travel Market Report sailed on Carnival Celebration, not many travel advisors had made it on the ship yet, but we managed to find one advisor who had been on our sailing.
His feedback was similar to ours.
“Overall, the Carnival Celebration is a great ship, with lots of fun things to do, great places to eat, and entertaining shows to watch,” said Kurt Dahlin, owner of a Cruise Planners franchise.
“We really appreciate all of the complimentary dining options aboard the Celebration. Besides the main dining room and buffet, there are several other locations that people can get food. There’s the BlueIguana Cantina, Guy’s Burger Joint, Shaq’s Big Chicken, and Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse. We really enjoyed that both ChiBang and Cucina Del Capitano were both now complimentary, but it wasn’t easy getting into them.”
One area of the ship Dahlin got to experience that TMR did not were the Excel suites.
“We stayed in an aft Excel Corner Suite and were absolutely blown away,” he told TMR. “These are 710-square-foot suites located on the aft corners of the ship. They have a separate living room and bedroom, each with a big screen TV and a massive bathroom with a walk-in shower, two sinks and a separate room with the toilet and a third sink.”
The balcony, he said, was huge and had a dining table for four, along with two chaise loungers, a loveseat, rocking chair and a private hot tub. The suite also comes with complimentary room service.
Like TMR, Dahlin was not a fan of Celebration Central.
“One major feature of the Mardi Gras that we had hoped they would address was the main atrium area… like just about everyone we spoke to, we found it incredibly frustrating to try and watch anything there. The only seating we could find for the Celestial Strings show was at the very back on the lower deck six. We couldn’t see anything and we had to watch the monitors they have setup because they know people can’t see. The downside here is that the monitors didn’t always show what was going on. Besides, what’s the point of going to a live show if you have to watch it on a screen? … Needless to say, we are very disappointed in this entertainment space and found ourselves not even wanting to attend any shows there because of the limited view.”