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ShipsCarnivalCarnival Celebration Review, Carnival Cruise Line's Newest Ship

Carnival Celebration Review, Carnival Cruise Line’s Newest Ship

I recently had the opportunity to sail on Carnival Cruise Line’s newest and largest cruise ship, Carnival Celebration.  This seven night cruise from the Miami visited the Western Caribbean with port stops in Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Mahogany Bay.
Carnival Celebration cruise ship review

I sailed on Carnival Celebration with a group of media as guests of Carnival. Here is my review, thoughts, and opinions after sailing on this newest ship from Carnival Cruise Line.

This was my sixth cruise on a Carnival cruise ship, and I had previously sailed on her sister ship Mardi Gras.  The ship is very similar to Mardi Gras with the cruise line making a few nice changes.

Embarkation

Embarkation took place at Carnival Cruise Line’s newly remodeled Terminal F at PortMiami.  The terminal was enlarged and redone to fit the Excel class ship and I was impressed how quickly the lined moved when checking in.

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While we arrived early and had to wait in the waiting area to board the ship, the line at check-in moved fast as they had around 30-40 employees checking in passengers. It was by far the best check-in experience I’ve had while boarding a Carnival cruise ship.

Cabin

We stayed in a standard balcony cabin on deck 10. I thought it was a great cabin with a nice bathroom.  The only thing I didn’t care for was the chair at the desk that doubled as a storage unit. It was a pain to move in and out and Carnival should have just put a standard chair there instead.

Everything else about the cabin was great, there were USB ports on both sides of the bed and plenty of power outlets on the deck.  The bed was awesome as usual as Carnival has some of the most comfortable beds at sea.

The balcony on our cabin was huge, although not all of it was private. You can watch a short video tour of our cabin and balcony below.

Carnival HUB App

Downloading the Carnival HUB App is a must before stepping foot on board the ship.  Carnival no longer puts a paper list of daily activities in your cabin, although you can pick one up at the guest services desk each day.  Everything is now done on the app.

One of the best features on the app is used for dining. Since we had the second seat dining time, we could choose which restaurant we wanted to eat at starting at 7:45 each night. This doesn’t apply to specialty restaurants since you can book anytime with those.

Since Chibang and Cucina del Capitano are grouped with the main dining room, you can dine at any of the three. One night we wanted Italian, so at 7:45 we opened the app and put in for a table at Cucina del Capitano.  In five minutes, it told us our table was ready and gave us our table number.  The app made it so easy when it came to dining, but more on food later in this article.

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With the HUB app, you can see everything going on around the ship, you can see and buy your photos, check your account balance, and much more. It’s a must have.

Cruise Ship

Carnival Celebration really has something for everyone. From a roller coaster on the top deck to a quiet spa for those who to get away and relax, there’s always something to do on the ship.

The main pool deck on Carnival Celebration

While the main pool deck isn’t that large for the size of the ship, there are also two aft infinity pools. There is a waterpark with waterslides for kids and a mini-golf course. The adults only Serenity Deck is a pretty good size and also has a pool.

The waterpark on Carnival Celebration

There is a lot of outdoor space not only on the top deck of the ship, but also on deck 8.

Carnival has a large atrium (Center Stage) on the side of the ship that offers three story floor to ceiling views of the ocean during the day. In the evenings and for events, the wall becomes a giant TV screen that radically transforms this area.

Center Stage on Carnival Celebration

There are also shows here but in all honesty, it just doesn’t work. The problem is that there aren’t many seats that have good sightlines of everything. The shows looked great but unless you wanted to arrive an hour or more before the show and wait, you were either going to end up standing and/or having an obstructed view. I really do like this area, but it just doesn’t work for production shows. It has a poor layout if you want most people to be able to see everything going on.

Carnival Celebration has the biggest cruise ship casino I’ve ever seen.  One nice thing is that half of it is non-smoking and there are doors to it that helps keep the smoke from pouring out to other parts of the ship.

The biggest change to this ship from Mardi Gras is the new Latitudes Bar and the redesigned Emeril’s Bistro next to it. I really did love this area.

Latitudes Bar on Carnival Celebration

Golden Jubilee

One of my favorite parts of the cruise ship is the Golden Jubilee. This area right off of the main atrium celebrates the 50 years that Carnival Cruise Line has been offering cruises.

The unique thing about this area is that Carnival brought in authentic items from previous ships that include the glass bulkhead from their very first ship Mardi Gras, the Carnivale Telegraph, doors from Carnivale, tables tops from Carnival Fascination, and other relics.

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There is a QR code on the wall that you can scan that shows you everything in this area that has been brought on from a former Carnival ship.  Many of the items in this area were salvaged by ship historian Peter Knego as the vessels were being dismantled.

View Prices on Cruises on Carnival Celebration

Dining/Food

There is no shortage of food and dining options on Carnival Celebration.  There were 15 different spots open for lunch, with 11 of them being complimentary.  Our favorites were Big Chicken (Shaq’s restaurant) and of course, Guy’s Burger Joint.

For dinner, we did a combination of specialty and complimentary options. Here are the different places we ate at for dinner and what we thought of each one.

Fahrenheit 55 – In the past, I was really never that impressed with Carnival’s steakhouse. However, it was fantastic on this cruise.  The service was good, steak cooked to perfection, and it was great meal.

Guy’s Pig and Anchor – The nice thing about this BBQ joint is that you don’t need reservations, you can just walk up for dinner and it’s complimentary.  We went at opening one night and we loved it.  Tip: If you want to have dinner here, look at the music schedule.  When they are playing live music here, it makes it really hard to have a conversation as the music is pretty loud.  The music is good, we just preferred to be done with dinner by the time it started.

Bonsai Sushi – This was probably our favorite place to eat on board the ship. My wife loved the sushi and the ramen is the best.  While it does come with an extra charge, it is extremely reasonable especially considering how good the food was.  We had dinner there twice and our bill right right around $20 total.

Rudi’s Seagrill – The food was great, but service was extremely slow.  It could have been because we were on one of the first cruises and they were still working the kinks out.

Emeril’s Bistro –  We ate here once but wish we had gone at least once more it was so good.  While there is a charge here, it was never really busy and you could always get a table if you wanted.  It’s well worth it and the food was delicious.

Cucina del Capitano – We loved the fact that we had a table outside on deck 8, but it wasn’t as good as we had on other Carnival ships.  We walked away thinking it was ok but were really glad to sit outside while at sea.

We never made it to the main dining room on our cruise because there are so many options to eat around the ship.

For lunch, be sure to hit up Street Eats right off of the main pool deck.  The Hawker Centre type stalls offer food from around the world and it can vary from day to day.

Sea Day Brunch is offered in the main dining room from 8:30 am until noon.

If you go hungry on Carnival Celebration, it’s your own fault.

Ports/Itinerary

Our cruise visited three ports in the Western Caribbean, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Mahogany Bay.  We also had three sea days.

In Cozumel, we did the Adventure Jeep, Snorkel & Anemona Beach Club excursion through the ship. It was a fun excursion but the Jeep had definitely seen better days. Some Jeeps were newer and nice but ours wasn’t and things like the speedometer and air conditioning didn’t work.  The beach was nice and relaxing and those who went snorkeling got to see a large sea turtle. Our tour guide was outstanding.

In Costa Maya, we did a couples massage in the big hut right in the port area. It was $90 for 45 minutes and a great way to start the day. We then took a cab into town (Mahahaul) for $4 per person.  We had a great lunch on the beach enjoying the shade and cool breeze from the ocean.  We came back to port, walked through the bird aviary, and then found a couple loungers by the pool.

Our view for lunch while in Costa Maya

In Mahogany Bay, we took the VIP Premium All Inclusive Beach Day excursion through the ship.  It’s around a 30 minute bus ride to the beach where we spent around four hours. There were tons of loungers to choose from and umbrellas that provide some shade.  It was a great excursion to just sit back and relax.

You have a waiter who will bring you any drink you want and will also bring you your lunch.  You could also go up to the bar and get a drink if you wanted. This was our favorite excursion on the cruise.

Overhead view of the beach where we spent our day in Mahogany Bay/Roatan

One great thing about Mahogany Bay is that you really don’t even need to take an excursion if you want to just relax on the beach.  Part of the private port area is a large beach that is around a 10 minute walk away. You can also pay to take a chairlift there that offers nice views of the ship and water.

View Prices on Cruises on Carnival Celebration

Odds and Ends

The crew on Carnival Celebration were pretty much amazing.  We had great service all around the ship and our room steward did a fantastic job.  Carnival Cruise Line really does have some of the best crew members you’ll find at sea.

I really liked the cruise director Lee.  He made just the right amount of announcements and seemed to really connect with guests.  I usually don’t pay much attention to cruise directors since they have no influence on my cruises, but I really liked Lee.

The WiFi on Carnival Celebration ranks up there with the best I’ve ever had on a cruise ship.  The download speeds were amazing and it just worked really well, both on my phone and on my laptop. I did two speed tests while on the ship and both of them recorded over 100 mb download speeds.

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The pizza from Miami Slice is pretty decent, although there was usually a line for it.

I really like how Carnival moved the guest services desk away from the main atrium to a place on the ship where it’s much quieter. This makes it easier to talk with someone if you have an issue.

Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t that great the last two sea days so BOLT, the roller coaster, was closed for a couple days.  If you cruise on Carnival Celebration and really want to ride it, try to get on early in the cruise just in case the weather isn’t cooperating later one. I rode it on Mardi Gras, and it really is a blast.

I did take a short video of the roller coaster in action early in the cruise that can be seen below:

@cruisefever I can’t wait to ride this sometime this week. #travel #cruise #CarnivalCelebration #rollercoaster #carnivalcruiseline #cruiseship ♬ original sound – Ben Souza

Family Feud is held in the main theater and is extremely popular.  It was standing room only for our sailing so if you want to see it, come early and get a seat.

There was a really nice variety of comedy shows held in the comedy club and in the Limelight Lounge.  This is everything from family friendly to adults only with multiple shows.

In the evenings, you could find live music all around the ship.  This includes in Summer Landing, the Piano Bar, Havana Bar, Limelight Lounge, the Golden Jubilee, and Latitudes Bar.

Near the main atrium, there is a station where you can get drip coffee and ice water 24/7. It’s really convenient when you are in this area and want something to drink without paying extra. There are also some grab and go food items near the JavaBlue Cafe as well.

If you like to shop, Carnival Celebration has a really nice variety including a good assortment of Carnival merchandise.  Many items found in the shops are exclusive to Carnival Cruise Line.

Overall, Carnival Celebration is a great ship and offers a nice large ship experience for families. I hope you enjoyed this review of Carnival Celebration and hope you enjoy your cruise on the ship if you have one booked.  If you don’t have one booked, it’s definitely worth considering if you’re looking for a budget friendly option on a cruise to the Caribbean.

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Ben Souza
Ben Souza
Ben is a world traveler who has visited 40+ countries and taken over 70 cruises. His writings have appeared and been cited in various media outlets such as Yahoo News, MSN, NPR, Drudge Report, CNN, Fox, and ABC News. Ben currently resides in Cincinnati, Ohio. Follow Ben on Instagram. Visit Ben Souza on Linkedin. You may email Ben at [email protected]
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