Carnival Celebration B2B Cruise Review
Just the Facts:
Ship: Carnival Celebration is the 2nd of the new XL Class ship launched in 2022 at 183,500 Tons & 6500 max guest capacity.
Captain: Andrea Catalani - Hotel Director: Pierre - Cruise Director: Lee
Ports: Miami. FL - Amber Cove - San Juan - St. Maartin - Miami
This is only the 4th cruise sailing of the new Carnival Celebration and of course my 1st on her. I’m cruising with the Dear Wife (DW) on a B2B (back2back) for 15 days and have several friends and clients on these two cruises. This is my 108th and 109th Carnival cruises, and 192nd and 193rd cruises overall. We will sail 15 consecutive nights on board the new Carnival Celebration.
Tuesday, December 6th / Amber Cove, Dominican Republic / Day 3Smooth seas overnight and we slept very well. We were docked in Amber Cove early and it was a beautiful day. We went up to the Lido Marketplace for breakfast at about 9:15 am and it was busy, but the eggs and food were hot. We were invited by good friends to share their private over-the-water cabana in Amber Cove so we went there arriving at about 10:00 am. (Photo: The over-water Cabanas taken from our aft balcony) This was a new experience for me and the cabana was very nice with WiFi, Loungers, TV, a small Refrigerator, Bar Service, a great view of the ship, and of course the water. Due to a recent storm, the water was a bit murky but I enjoyed swimming. I enjoyed my share of beer as they had Bohemia one of my favorite brands as well as Presidente the popular local beer. Chips, Bottled water, and Coca-cola included. Food available by menu. We had an early return time of 3:30 pm so at 3:00 we were back on board and enjoying a wonderful meal at Big Chicken. It was great. We went then back to the cabin for a nap…and with the beers and a full belly, I slept until 7:00 pm well past our meet friends for dinner time. We had a movie night watching the classics Giant and Casablanca on TCM, and rested. It was a unique day at Amber Cove.
Wednesday, December 7th / San Juan, Puerto Rico / Day 4Calm seas but located far aft there is more rocking movement, enough to create an annoying knocking sound from the sidewall adjacent to the bed. I woke early but had enough rest. I went to the Festivale Restaurant (MDR) for breakfast just after it opened, I had a very nice 2-top table at the aft windows and watched us sail past El Morro Castle and into the harbor. I ordered: Hot Milk, Grapefruit, Danish, 3 eggs Sunny-side up, Bacon, Ham, Hash Browns, and toast. It was very good…fresh and hot. I then got some Croissants for the DW, she misses the complimentary Continental breakfast that was her norm on a cruise. Full sun and a hot day so we decided to stay on board and take advantage of a near-empty ship, it was nice. Also, a good time to do business since our phones and WiFi work in Puerto Rico. A good walk about the ship finishing our tour and stopping at the Lido for a light lunch. We both had a salad from the Salad Bar and I had a Banger & Chorizo from Sea Dogs. Cookies and Passion Fruit Gelato for sweets. It clouded up and a light rain made the balcony more enjoyable in the afternoon. At 5:00 pm we went to the Golden Jubilee for cocktails. The theme of the bar is Carnival’s 50th anniversary and since it wasn’t as busy I had time to view the mementos from previous Carnival Ships. They have Glass from the original Mardi Gras, the actual Tabletops from the Fascination, the original Builders Plate from the original Celebration, and the Carnivale’s original (old fashion) Telegraph from Bridge to the Engine room. They also have exact reproductions of Blue Prints and Mirror Art by Joe Farcus of several original Carnival Ships. and the Chairs are reproductions of the chairs in Carnavale’s Riverboat Lounge. A very interesting theme and is very well done. Some friends went to the feature production at the center stage (I’ll go to the repeat showing) and some to dinner. We chose the Cucina del Capitano as they have a much better variety of vegetarian choices for the DW. Items she enjoys are the Arancini, Caprese Salad, Penne Pomodoro, Parmesan Semolina Gnocchi (side), Eggplant Parmigiana, and four other vegetable sides. Perfect for vegetarians. Tonight I ordered Nona’s Meatball, the Minestrone Soup, the Veal Marsala entree, and the Baba Napoletano for dessert. The Veal was excellent as was the service by our waiter Antolin. After dinner we did a short walkabout before retiring, not as many guests out and about, I assume they were recovering from a big day in San Juan. It was a very enjoyable stay-on-board day on the Celebration.
Saturday, December 10th / Fun Day at Sea / Day 7
Sunday, December 11th / Embarkation Day / Day 8 of B2BSmooth Seas overnight and I slept well. We had been docked a while when I got up at 7:30 am and had a quick breakfast at Big Chicken as debarkation began. I then returned to the cabin to pack as we change cabins today. Fortunately, it’s just down the passageway from the current cabin with the same room steward. Since the guests left early we were able to get moved into the new cabin before our 9:00 am meet time for B2B’s. All of our friends were there and eventually, the 250+ B2B guests received their new cards and had new photos taken. At about 10:00 am we were off to Border control and the Facial Recognition system. All was well with our group and we were back on board before 11:00 am. We have coupons for the Welcome Cocktail and Photos so straight back to the new cabin. We quickly changed for the Summer Landing Pool hoping to get pool calisthenics in before guests arrived. We ended up in the Hot Tub…much warmer! I had Pig & Anchor BBQ for lunch, and DW had the Macaroni & Cheese with Pretzel roll. The BBQ was quite good, I didn’t have any last week. It really got busy so we returned to the cabin to unpack and set up for the next 8 days. We have a suite, really just a larger & longer cabin with a sitting area and two big screen Televisions. The bathroom is larger too. It will do. We met the group for cocktails in Golden Jubilee then had dinner in Cucina del Capitano. I had the Veal Marsala again as well as Arancini, Nonas Meatball, Minestrone Soup, and Tiramisu for dessert. We ate a bit early so that the group could see more shows on this cruise. They had a variety of Preview scenes at Center Stage and Amor Cubano in the Theater. A lot of music in various venues and Comedy in Limelight and in the Punchliner. A busy day for guests. It was a busy day for us as well on the Carnival Celebration.
Monday, December 12th / Fun Day at Sea / Day 9 of B2BVery smooth seas overnight and I slept well. A lazy cabin morning and I had fruit for breakfast. We had TCM movie time, Cool Hand Luke and I did some Monday morning business until lunch. We went to ChiBang for Noodle Bowls, not as much meat in the Beef Bowl as last week, but I did order two so it was fine…easy too. I did a walkabout, does seem as many guests outdoors as last week, perhaps a bit cooler. Along deck 8 seems to be the area most overlooked for both sunbathing and activities. Balcony time in the afternoon until we met our friends at Golden Jubilee for cocktails. Fun time...it's great to have good friends on board. We returned to ChiBang for dinner as it’s a completely different menu and we have not eaten there for dinner as yet. I ordered a lot and all of it was very good to excellent: Egg Drop Soup, Slow-Braised Pork Belly (much better than the Diamond Luncheon), Spring Rolls, Pot Stickers, the Kung Pao Chicken entree, Hakka Noodles, and Tres Leches for dessert. Also a very nice Lycée Martini...my favorite at a Chinese venue. We all split up for Casino, Center Stage feature show, or Cabin. The DW and I retired, and we are enjoying our suite very much. It was a restful sea day onboard the Carnival Celebration.
Tuesday, December 13th / Grand Turk / Day 10 of B2BSlight rolling of seas just enough to rock one to sleep. We slept late and I again had Fruit for breakfast. Our friends are going to Jack’s Shack today. We are not going off the ship, we were just in Grand Turk a few weeks ago, and we enjoy the ship with fewer guests onboard. I did a nice walkabout the ship then did some work online. The beaches and water here are beautiful, you can see a lot of the island from the upper decks. We watched some classic black&white TCM movies with the Falcon, a Detective. We enjoyed them. For lunch we went to the Deco Deli, DW had Swiss Cheese on Rye bread (off menu), I had the #5-Reuben (classic) and a #9-Pan Con Lichon (Pork, onion, mojo sauce on Cuban Bread). We ate outside on deck 8, the under-utilized deck I have mentioned. Then sat at the Summer Landing pool on deck 8 enjoying the perfect weather an views of the beach…looks like a lot of people at Jack’s Shack, but a lot of new competition along the beach. We had an early dinner before Big Chicken closed for the evening. Then we sat outside on our balcony to watch the sunset and our brief sail-away. We only backed from the dock and anchored just off the beach for hours. We are close to our next port so perhaps the Captain wanted the protected waters for the big Circus Production show with aerial performances tonight, but who knows? Just seems very odd…I’ve never experienced it here. It was an easy relaxing day on the Carnival Celebration.
Wednesday, December 14th / Amber Cove, Dominican Republic / Day 11 of B2B Hispaniola (photo). We went to the Lido Marketplace for the first time for dinner. The selections were very good, I had Roast Beef from the Carving Station and two small NY Strip steaks plus side dishes. It was very good. The DW was able to find Salad and Rice for herself. We found a unique dessert, hard to describe, similar to a warm bread pudding but made from cereal with a sweet topping side. It was excellent. Lots of good entertainment tonight, but after that nice meal we decided to have a movie night. We watched the classic The More the Merrier (1943), and the comedy Out of the Blue (1947). I had never seen the 2nd and it was hilarious. We are enjoying TCM. It was another easy relaxing day on the Carnival Celebration.
Friday, December 16th / St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands / Day 13 of B2BSmooth seas overnight and I slept well. We had been docked well before I woke at about 8:00 am. We went to the Blue Iguana again for breakfast…it was very good. We are the only ship docked here today. We left the ship at about 10:30 am and took a taxi into Charlotte Amalie. We really enjoyed the nice shops and the old historical area of the old port. We met the owner of the Side Street Pub which is located at Creque Alley in the old town. We had a great discussion about the significance of Creeque Alley to Rock Music history specifically the Mamas & Papas. It was here in a bar owned by Hugh Duffy that the band members worked while honing their music…including writing California Dreaming. I asked him how many Pub customers are even aware of this and his answer was: “98% have no clue”. My personal favorite Momas & Popas song is the one named Creeque Alley about the formation of the group and the transition from Folk music to Rock. We did some more shopping and then returned to Side Street for refreshments and snacks. Most of the seating is outdoors and very pleasant with a sea breeze. We ordered a Bushwacker+, CocaCola, Water, and Chips and Dips including Pico de Gallo, Salsa, Frijoles, and Queso Cheese…all was very good. We met new friends as well. We taxied back at about 2:50 pm as we have a 4:00 pm sail time. We met our friends in the Heroes Bar of Summer Landing upon reboarding. Time for a couple of Farmers Ales until sail away. Thanks, Mike. We sat on the balcony for sunset as we left the Virgin Islands behind us. We ate at the Lido Marketplace again tonight as it really is best for DW and her vegetarian needs. I also enjoyed it, tonight I had Pork Shoulder from the Carving Station, Breaded Chicken Breast, two BBQ Ribs, Soup, Baked Potato, Broccoli, and Bread Pudding for dessert. It was great. It was a super FUN day in St. Thomas and on the Carnival Celebration.
Saturday, December 17th / Fun Day at Sea / Day 14 of B2BSmooth seas overnight and I slept well waking at about 10:00 am. I had a banana for breakfast from our fruit bowl to ‘hold me’ until the Diamond Luncheon at noon. A beautiful day and guests are enjoying the outer decks today. I met our friends at about 11:45 and we got a nice six-top table in the prime location for the Cruise Director and Captain’s comments. The menu was the same and I again had two NY Strip Steaks as one of my friends unknown to me ordered an extra for me, a running joke as I usually have the DW’s steak but she didn’t attend. The Steak was actually very good as were the small Salad, and Fruit plate. The tall (her mother was Montenegrin) and attractive Alexandria really kept us in the cocktails too. Not as many Diamond guests as last week, maybe 300. We again stopped in the Golden Jubilee to finish our cocktails but for perhaps an hour+ not the rest of the day as the last cruise. It was nap time when I returned to the cabin. At about 7:00 pm we went to the Lido Marketplace for the DW’s Vegetarian meal. I had a light dinner: Prime Rib from the Carving Station with Horseradish and Bread Pudding for dessert. I retired early as I was still happy from the complementary cocktails from the Luncheon. It was an easy restful and needed sea day on the Carnival Celebration.
Sunday, December 18th / Fun Day at Sea / Day 15 of B2B
Monday, December 19th / Miami DebarkationI was up by 5:00 am as we sailed past Miami Beach and into Miami’s famous cruise row before dawn in Miami (photo). I had time to finalize packing and have breakfast before meeting the Diamond priority walk-off at 7:00 am. We actually were off before 7:15 am so waiting for the shuttle to Premier Parking for half an hour. But by 8:15 am we were heading down the road arriving at the Villa at about 12:45 pm. Easy Peasy.
The newest ship in the fleet with that new ship smell, so to speak. The XL class is a unique and great improvement for Carnival. The same basic design as the Mardi Gras with an extra staircase and new Zones and Bars.
Week One: we had cabin 9507 an aft-facing balcony on deck 9. It has a huge balcony, but only two chairs and a table outside. The usual push button safe, queen bed, couch, two shelves, reading lamps at the bedside, a nice small refrigerator, bench at dresser/desk, and large screen TV. There are two large wardrobes and one set of drawers at the dresser. The bathroom is small and compact, but glass doors at the shower. Week Two: we had cabin 9459 a suite located just off the aft elevators and the same Cabin Steward. The balcony was not as large, but the cabin was much larger. The usual push button safe, queen bed, two shelves, reading lamps at the bedside, a nice small refrigerator, chair at dresser/desk, and two large screen TVs. There are two large lighted wardrobes and one set of drawers at the dresser. The bathroom was much larger with sliding glass doors at the larger shower…also premium toiletries. The best is the separate sitting area with a couch and vanity. Very nice.
Loved seeing all the veteran Alchemists on board. Our cabin steward Joven was very good and friendly. The wait staff in the MDR and specialty restaurants were also friendly and did a good job serving us. They usually do have the best crew members on the new flagship.
Dining / Food / Bars / Entertainment
The MDR food is the long-time standard Carnival menu, they have added 50th birthday throw-back classic dishes. The Specialty Restaurants are numerous and very good. My favorites were Big Chicken and Cucina de Capitano.
It was a FUN cruise on the new Carnival Celebration