This is a review of our 8/24/03 sailing on the CCL Celebration. There were four of us, my DH, son (18), his friend (18), and myself. We elected to drive this time, and although it went OK, we plan to return to the flying route.
We arrived in Galveston in the afternoon on Sunday, and checked into the Hilton on Seawall for the night. After making our parking arrangements and setting up the shuttle for the next morning we set out for Benno's for dinner. The fried shrimp was really good.
The Ihop was close, and we had a nice breeakfast before heading to the pier. We arrived around 11:40 am, and there was a line. I have to say that the staff at the Galveston facility is very efficient, and the line moved very quickly. They win points on this one. We were able to board right away. The ship is pleasant, and kept quite clean.
We were not sure how it would be to have all four of us in the same cabin, but it worked out just fine. We had a cabin with the twin/king and one upper berth, we used a roll away for the fourth bed. This was a good plan because the roll away is almost on the floor, and was easy to get around. All beds were very comfortable. Our Cabin Steward was Brenda from South Africa, and she did a fine job all week. In the cabin when you board there will be a bunch of sodas, bottled water, etc.. on the desk, Brenda gladly removed them for us as we never purchase these items. We brought on our own water and a few cans of pop for the cabin, a couple bottles of wine, and even smuggled on a few little bottles of rum. We ended up taking home pop, rum, and one of the bottles of wine. We did use our bar cupons that I bought prior to the cruise. We did have a small problem with the shower. The screw that holds the shower head up was stripped out and made taking a shower a little inconvenient. We did request that it be fixed, but was not done during our cruise. There was plenty of closet space, and we made use of my over the door hanger. The walls on this ship are made of paper though! On one side we had a couple with two toddler boys that felt the need to get up by 5:30am each day, and ready to jump on beds, click the light buttons, yell and play! On the other side was a loud couple that insisted on being intimate at around 2:00am! They clearly didn't have any regard for the people on the other side of the "paper wall" to try to keep the noise down!!!!!!! This in turn caused the boys to go into hysterical laughing, with me joining in no matter how hard I tried to ignore them! Sleep was not a reality on this cruise!
We went to the Aft pool area for the sail away, and I ordered my traditional cruise drink, a Kiss on the Lips. I was VERY disappointed to find out that they didn't have any Mango juice, so no Kiss on the Lips for me!! In fact they never got any, so all week I had to do without. I did enjoy the Green Apple Martini. We had good weather most of the cruise, and only had noted movement on Thursday afternoon, after leaving Calica.
We were seated at table 250 in the Horizon dining room at a table with a nice family of four. We did feel vibration at dinner every evening. The food on this cruise was excellent, and never had a dish we didn't like. The menu was the same as it has been for the past few years, but I don't mind, this way we know what we like best! The food in the Wheelhouse Grill/ Buffet was also very good, fresh, and plentiful. The Lobster, Prime Rib and Salmon were delicious on Formal night, but I must say that the Salmon was especially great this time! Not a bad dessert all week either!
Formal night was nice, and being the traditionalist we are the guys were in beautiful tuxes, and I wore my favorite matching black and white gown. We were beautiful if I do say so myself! LOL! I had the boys hit the showers after me, and they showered and dressed while I went to the spa to have my hair done. When I got back they were done and out of the way. Even though this 5 day cruise was more casual, we did get a few compliments, made us feel good!
The entertainment on this cruise was pretty good, and the new big production shows were very well done! It was nice to see something new. You really should not miss these. The female singer Amy Sexton was extremely talented, and did outshine the male singer Heath McMillian. There were plenty of ship board activities to enjoy, or not. It has been a goal of mine to win a ship on a stick, and no matter how much I have tried, I have never won one. We have won medals, and that lovely bubbly wanna be Champaign, but never the coveted ship on a stick. I was determined this time, and lo and behold, my darling son won one for me! It took great effort on his part to do so. He and his friend participated in the Battle of the Sexes game. Between ripping the dentures from my DH's mouth, and stripping to his boxers on stage, the guys came up victorious! He was so sweet to present the trophy to me! Sometimes you just gotta love teenagers! We were disappointed to find out that the Video Diary people didn't film this competition, but at least I took photos!
I also must mention the fabulous captain Antonino Allegretti! On most of our cruises the captain was never very vocal, or social. Captain Allegretti was animated, funny, very social, and you could tell by the way the crew felt about him that he is a wonderful man to work for! Our cruise was his last sailing until after his vacation, and the crew gave him a send off celebration. They sang to him and some shed a few tears! We will definitely pay more attention on future bookings to see if we can sail with him again!
We did discover that we will not sail from any port other than Florida during the last two weeks of August. It was a very good thing we brought a friend for our son to hang with, as there were no older teens, or young adults on board for them to do things with. Evidently, Texas students had started back to school already, and most of the families from the east coast fly to Florida to cruise, so back to Florida for us. There were MANY older cruisers, and they did provide some interesting entertainment at the Bars! We did see Security "help" a few people to their cabins on a few occasions.
Cozumel was great as always! It has really built up since we were there 2 years ago. There is a big outdoor mall area as you exit the pier. You have to walk through it to get to the taxi area. There also is a big indoor mall at the pier closer to downtown. We skipped shopping at both of these places. We went back to Chankanaab first thing to try to beat the crowds. The snorkeling was very good, with good clear water, and lots of variety of fish. They still do a good job of keeping this place clean. We did notice that there were not as many big Eguana at the park as there had been a couple years ago. Also we noticed that there were not any water lilies in the pond in the Botanical garden any more, not sure what was up with that. Since the highway has been completed the taxi ride to and from the Park was not as exciting. They still go very fast though! After snorkeling we headed to Poncho's, the original one, for lunch, margaritas, and music! Fabulous as always. It was my son's friends birthday the week prior, and my son told them at Poncho's. The waiters sang Happy Birthday to him in Spanish, and proceeded to pour a tequila shot down his throat! The look on his face was priceless!! He discovered that he likes Key Lime Pie, they brought him a slice with a candle in it, and he had never had it before.
After lunch we headed out to the downtown area for some bargain hunting. This was all new to my sons friend, and was a bit nervous about the aggressive salesmenship, but it didn't take long, with our help, to get his shopping done with some great bargains in tow! We then headed to Sally's Mini Golf. We are so glad we had time to go there! Sally makes it very special, and we all had so much fun! We were able to choose the music we wanted to listen to while there, and her Sangria is wonderful! The course is beautiful! by the time we finished shopping it was time to head back to the ship for showers and dinner. After dinner was the Mexican Heritage Show. We had seen this a couple years ago, and it was fun to watch again.
We set sail and proceeded to basically sail in circles all night to dock at Calica the next morning. We had chosen to go to Xcaret for the day and I have to say that I have very mixed feelings about the place. Should we go back to Playa Del Carmen/ Calica again, we will try Xel Ha instead. Snorkeling, and the undersea world is one of the most important aspects of our vacation, and Xcaret really fails in this area. The only fairly decent snorkel area is in the Manatee lagoon. This a pretty area with a couple ropes extended across it that you can cross, and fun for the boys to "fight " on. The shoreline and designated snorkel/dive area are very sad! The coral is dead, and the only fish to be seen through the filmy water is a school of huge Blackjack that hang around because they feed them meat! Evidently this are has been over used, and it was sad to see. The other areas of the park are pretty to look at, and we had a very good buffet lunch, with delicious Pineapple Man drinks! This brings me to the man made Mayan, and underground snorkeling rivers. DON'T WASTE YOUR TIME! There was virtually nothing to see under the water, when you could see, there is no current to float with, so you will have to swim to get to the end, and there were areas that smelled like manure, and one area that had a strong fuel smell! I understand that there is a natural underground river to snorkel in at Xel Ha, and some people that had been there the previous day spoke highly of it.
The boys tried out the Casino, and our son did pretty well. It made it hard for us to try to teach the lesson that you don't always win because every time he played the slot machines he came out a winner! At least he was smart enough to take his winnings and leave each time he got ahead. He used some of his winnings to buy a new watch on board.
The Cruise Director was Darcy Knievel, and although she is not a song and dance type she was funny, and ran things well. The Hosts were Jennifer and Smitty, and we enjoyed them both.
We were chased by Tropical Storm Grace all the way back to Galveston. We stayed an extra day in Galveston at the Holiday Inn. The storm preparations were being made, and there was enough surf for the boys to have some fun with the Boogie Boards. In the afternoon the rain came, and it was sideways a few times, but we went on about enjoying our day. We tried out the water ride at the Rainforest Café, and had a delicious dinner at Fish Tales, topped off with huge ice cream sundaes.
All in all, we had fun. It was a good cruise, clean, comfortable, and fun. We never had to worry about deck loungers, there were plenty. My sons friend had a great first cruise, and hopes to go again. I have saved the Capers, and have lots of photos I will be posting. If you have any questions I will be glad to answer them for you.
You can check out our photos at-