I just returned from a 4 night cruise on the Celebration departing Jacksonville and going to Freeport and Nassau, Bahamas.
Arriving at Jacksonville was good. I drove from North Carolina and getting to port was very easy. Dropping of luggage at terminal went smoothly. It costs $10. per day to leave your car parked at Jax terminal and you pay up front.
Checking in make sure you have your paperwork that was sent with your tickets filled out. If you arrive early, you won't be able to board the ship until around noon. Even then your cabin won't be ready until between 1:00 - 1:30 so whatever you carry on board, you keep with you until allowed in your cabin. During this time the ship is serving lunch on the Lido deck (deck 10) and it's crowded. Long lines waiting for food, my son waitied 45 min in line. Food offered is burgers, hot dogs, french fries, pizza, etc.
Soda cards - they are available to purchase for both adults and children. Adults run around $25 and childrens are $16 each. You go to any bar, give them your sign and sail card and state what you want. This soda card allows any soft drink to you at any time during your trip. Free drinks are only juices & coffee.
This ship - Celebration is quite small in comparison to others. This was my 3rd cruise and it was the smallest of my other cruises. The elevators most of the time during the cruise were not in service so the only way to get anywhere was to take the stairs. It really gets to you after awhile. When the elevators are working, you are waiting forever to get on and then they are so small that you're lucky if more than 5 people can be on.
My cabin was on the Riveria deck (#4) and I got an inside cabin. It had a bunk bed for my son that he was thrilled about. The room was actually better than I expected. Note: Carnivals inside rooms are larger than other cruise lines smallest rooms. Only drawback to this cabin being on the lowest deck was the noise. There were a lot of noises of the ship you could very easily hear.
Dining room - I was in the Vista dining room and had a late seating. Seating times are 5:45, 6:15, 8:00, and 8:30 (Vista times are listed 6:15 and 8:30, the other times are for the Horizon dining room) On formal night it's best to have the late seating so that you do not have to rush back onto the ship (you are in Freeport for the day) to get ready for dinner. My experience in the dining room was fair. The food was good for the most part but nothing exceptional. They did offer Lobster tail on formal night and it was quite rubbery with no taste at all. Other foods throughout the nights were good. If children aren't into eating the "better foods" than a childrens menu with pizza, burgers, chicken nuggets, etc is offered. The dining room staff I was a little disappointed with. They didn't even ask anyones name at the table (mine anyway). On previous cruises, they know your name, what you like to drink, etc....very helpful and trying to pamper you. Not this cruise. Which brings me to the next subject,
Cabin stewards - the whole time on this cruise, I didn't even meet my room steward 1 time. I couldn't tell you what he or see looked like. The room was made up everyday very nicely and it was taken care of but I didn't meet the poeple responsible for it. Disappointing there.
Entertainment - I enjoyed it. The shows were like a small Vegas production. The singers and dancers were quite good. The comedians were quite funny but the shows only lasted about 30 min. Too short in my opinion. Then the other little shows like Who wants to be a millionaire, the not so newlywed game, survivor, bingo, dance like John Travolta, they were entertaining.
Camp Carnival - my son is 12 and he took part in this for his age group. Disappointing this time around. 2 years ago on a Carnival cruise I couldn't keep him out of there. This time, there wasn't much going on in his group to participate in.
Also need to mention this bad factor. Sunday was a seaday. The weather, sunny but very windy and the water very choppy which made you feel like being on a roller coaster all day! Half the ship must have suffered motionsickness and I mean all day. You could always find people in the hallways doubled over and lying on the floor trying to keep themselves from throwing up. I love good roller coasters but this was terrible. Dramamine, the patch you put behind the ear, it did not work! Sure, ships have stabilizers but you wouldn't know it about this ship. I love to cruise but this day I actully could say would be my last cruise.
Freeport - You can definatly see signs of hurrican damage everywhere. Damaged building, uprooted trees, debris...it was sad in some areas.
Nassau - taxis are always ready to take you anytime. The water taxis are a great way to get to Atlantis or where you're going. The weather was hot so make sure you have sunscreen, etc. Strawmarket - if you plan on just looking, keep walking. You will be hounded if you express the slightest bit of interest in anything and some vendors even get annoyed if you say no thanks. That happened to me and made me dislike this experience.
Overall - Celebration is an alright cruise. I'd rate it a 2 out of 5. If you've been on Royal Carribean and then go to Carnival, you will be diappointed. Carnival is cheaper by far from Royal Carribean but then again, you get what you pay for.