Having sailed 8 times on the Bahamas Celebration and really enjoying the short cruise, we decided to end our grandson's birthday vacation with a quick cruise, sailing on Monday August 27th from the Port of Palm Beach.
We had been closely watching the weather since Tropical Storm Isaac was swirling around and causing a lot of itinerary changes by the major cruise lines.
As it turned out, the Bahamas Celebration was circling around in the waters off Palm Beach for about 9 hours, since the Coast Guard had closed the Port of Palm Beach early in the day. The ship was finally assisted into the port by several tugboats at around 5:15pm. (Usual arrival time is 7am.) We were aware of the delay because my husband uses a website that shows ships positions and speeds as well as direction, and one of the excursion staff who we are friendly with had messaged us, so we delayed our arrival to the port and got there about half an hour before the ship arrived. We did not want to add to the confusion in the terminal unnecessarily. The terminal was very crowded with passengers waiting to embark, however, there were still chairs available for those who wanted to sit. Some of the passengers had been there since early morning and were not too happy, some were downright irate. (I don't know how people can blame a cruise line for something way out of their control. Mother Nature is a force not to be reckoned with.)
Although they were backed up, the embarkation crew quickly and efficiently got us through the check-in process. They have the process so streamlined, it is much easier than the major cruise lines.
All the other areas that are taken care of before boarding, ie: excursions, the seating arrangements and assigned times for dining, the specialty dining, soda and liquor packages, spa appointments etc. were also handled very efficiently. (That is one of the many things we like so much about this cruise, all these things are done before you board, eliminating the need for time consuming decisions after you board.) Once on-board your fun begins right away.
The staff from the dining room on-board appeared almost as soon as the ship docked, with platters of sandwiches, onion breads, cookies etc. for the waiting passengers. There are always carafes of juices and water in the terminal and there are a number of vending machines as well.
The president and CEO of the cruise line, Charlie, soon appeared at the entry to let us know that we would have at least another half hour's wait before we could board, since the ship has to be cleared by customs and immigration. We finally boarded at about 7:30pm, well past our assigned time for dinner seating.
The entire staff and crew went above and beyond to ensure that once we were on-board, everything ran smoothly. Congratulations on a job well done!
Amazingly, there were no lines at any of the dining rooms, or buffets. Meals were served promptly and efficiently. It was amazing, given that the food service staff had to feed all the disembarking passengers an extra two meals while the ship was circling and then had to be ready for us to come on-board and all of us hungry for dinner.
(We finally sailed about 9:30 or 10pm (I think). You don't pay too much attention when you are enjoying yourself, and it really doesn't matter anyway, since you sail so slowly overnight to Freeport.)
The entertainment was very good as usual, Nestor was phenomenal! What was great was that he mixed the Spanish and English so all could understand him. Tania entertained with piano playing and singing, she was very animated and enjoyable, though we missed seeing Shepherd and Green. We enjoyed all the shows, especially Serge and Alina - they are awesome! We have seen quite a number of performers on-board, we enjoy Shane Phillips, and Darius, the Gaucho is great! There is no way to name them all.....
There is always amazing talent on-board. Whether it is professional, or talented passengers, it is always good. My husband won a $25 OBC for taking part in, and earning a semi final spot in the Caribbean Idol Karaoke Contest! That was a lot of fun too, though he had some very stiff competition.
The addition of the new "Adult scavenger hunt" is great, you never know what to expect! Even Jim seemed to enjoy emceeing it! We had seen it on other ships - it is a lot of fun. We missed Steve Zimmerman, you need to bring "Funny Man" back. Still think he should be cruise director, he is all over the ship all the time when he is on-board. HE MAKES EVERYONE HAPPY! (Had he been in the terminal while everyone was waiting for the ship to be cleared to enter the port, there would have been a lot fewer grumpy passengers, just sayin.....)
The cruise line president, Charlie, scheduled a 15 minute window of time in the View lounge that evening, where everyone who wanted one, was comped a drink, a "hurricane". That was an unnecessary, but very nice gesture, good PR. Thanks Charlie.
As usual, everyone on-board was very friendly, those of the staff we have become friendly with, greeted us warmly, (our grandson was very impressed) and we enjoyed seeing them all again.
It was especially nice to see Headwaiter Ali back from a hiatus, although we know he will be leaving again to manage his restaurant in his own country - and we wish him well! As always, Everton, waiter in the Rio, makes you feel welcome and special. We love him! (Have a wonderful vacation with your family Everton! We will see you when you come back, because we definitely will be back!)
The housekeeping staff were their normal happy selves despite the difficulties they must have had in getting the ship ready for another onslaught of passengers in such a short time-span with the all problems that the storm had brought. They are always happy and take the time to say "good morning or evening and ask if you are enjoying yourself". Our stateroom was spotless and though it was an inside room, there was ample room for us and our grandson.
(Point of information for first timers, the electric current is European, so you need converters, or ask for appliances such as hair dryers or flatirons from the concierge when on-board.)
The photography staff, headed by Martin, is always excellent. We have taken a lot of cruises on 6 of the major cruise lines and never get photographs as good as those we get on the Celebration. (Have a great vacation Baskcom!) Kudos to you all. Keep up the great work!
We have come to expect perfection and have not been disappointed. Our grandson asked us if we could do it again with him the next time he visits us here in Florida. That tells us that he had a good time too.
This is not a luxury cruise ship by any means, but for a 2 night cruise it is excellent. It is a great way for a first timer to see if they would like cruising, and we love it because it is not necessary to take a lot of time off from work if you need a quick change of pace. We will definitely be sailing on the Bahamas Celebration again in the very near future!