I booked late and was told to pick up my tickets, etc. at the pier. I drove from Nashville and arrived in Galveston around 8:30 Thursday morning but soon found out that I couldn't pick up anything until around 1:30 that afternoon. by the way, there's not much to do on Galveston Island on a Thursday morning. Fisherman's Wharf opened at 10:00 so I had several pre-embarkation beverages, which I highly recommend.
At 2:00 I drove through the baggage drop-off area, found a porter, and after a decent tip, was led to my tickets without any hassle whatsoever. I was on board by 2:30, and that's even after driving my car back to the lot to park, catching the shuttle and going through the documentation process.
Once on board, I found my cabin (my bags were already there) and waited for the muster drill. Was quickly directed to the Astoria lounge for muster info. by 3:30 we were through and the ship was preparing to leave port. Cold and rainy in Galveston upon departure.
My cabin was on Empress Deck, #17 which is in the forward part of the ship. Roomy, for one anyway. Bathroom was plenty big, hot water was HOT!, plenty of towels and a basket of amenities provided free of charge (razors, deodorant, Tylenol PM, etc.).
Interesting mix of people on board. I'm mid-30's and was travelling solo. The "singles crowd" was, for the most part, much younger than I, and the average travelling age was probably 10-15 years older. Lots of families and groups on this particular trip.
Casino opened around 6:00, with slots, probably 8 blackjack tables, a Caribbean poker table and a craps table all getting action. I prefer the dice and spent most of my time and money in the casino at that location. Very good game and very personalble dealers for the most part. A native of Poland named Boudin (pronounced Bo-din) made my craps playing, even when losing, an enjoyable past time throughout the trip. Tip him well.
Travelling alone, drinking and gambling didn't lend itself to making my appointed dinner seating. I didn't take formal clothes (just a personal preference) and was usually occupied by the time my late seating was called. I did have lunch several times in the Vista room and the food was outstanding. Most of my dining was in the Wheelhouse Lounge. Breakfast was good and available most of the morning. Eggs, sausage, ham, bacon, grits, fruit, cereal, toast, bagels, and pastry were always available. You could also have eggs fried to order. Lunch usually offered a variety of entrees. Burgers, hot dogs and veggie burgers were also grilled daily. Several salads (pasta, potato, slaws, fruit, etc) were served and there was a salad bar available both lunch and dinner. Dinner was more of the same, different entrees and vegetables. Personally, I thought the food in the Wheelhouse was excellent, but I've been eating McDonald's and Taco Bell for the past year, so judge for yourself. The people I spoke to all said the food in the main dining rooms was outstanding, just not my thing.
A note about the pizza- It's great, and always available. I highly suggest picking one of the specialties and waiting the 7 minutes for it to cook fresh. There is also a Caesar Salad available at the pizza counter, but there are anchovies in the dressing so eat at your own risk.
As for on-board entertainment, what I saw ranged from good to excellent. Comics were funny and the house band was very good. The lounge bands were, uh, interesting? There were usually 3 in-room movies daily (1 being a kid's film) which were fairly new releases and worth watching should you need a break from everthing else. As luck would have it, the satellite tv signal being broadcast carried my local (Nashville) news daily. Weird, huh?
Both days at sea and the day in Cozymel were beautiful. The pool area gets packed quickly, so I'd suggest getting a lounge chair at breakfast and never leaving if that's where you plan to spend your days at sea. Didn't take a planned excursion in Cozymel but did do a little shopping, just to say I actually left the ship.
The service on the ship was excellent. It seems my cabin had been visited every time I went in. The ice bucket was always full and the beds made or turned down, depending on the time of day. Bartenders, while not always chatty, were friendly and quick.
Debarkation went smoothly, though waiting for your particular baggage tag color to be called can seem like an eternity.
I'm sure to many, it seems I wasted my money and failed to take advantage of all the things available on a cruise ship, but don't be fooled. This was by far, the most relaxing and enjoyable vacation I've ever had, and will do it again. While there are many, many things to do while at sea, you don't have to do anything if you so choose. For the money, the Celebration was a great deal, and a great time.