I hate boats. The only cruises I was ever on before were overnight ferries with cabins. I hated it. The boats bounced around and the noise of arriving and tying up made it hard for me to sleep. Finally, last year, at a young age sixty some friends and my wife conspired to get me onto the two night Bahamas Celebration. This year I booked the trip myself, just for us.
This is a really excellent way to sample the cruise holiday experience. This is a really really small cruise as it is only 67 miles from West Palm to Freeport but you really get a taste of the cruise experience and feel like you've been somewhere.
I noticed some less than enthusiastic reviews but I think they are written by those with misplaced expectations. This is a smaller older ship. It does not have the space for an art gallery or rock climbing wall. But its a well managed ship with excellent food and a top of the line staff.
The Bahamas Celebration was built in Germany in 1981 as a Norwegian car ferry. A few years ago it was refit and began more or less the current trip but out of the Port of Ft Lauderdale. Two years ago they moved to the Port of West Palm Beach which was a good move. This port is easy to drive right up to, has excellent people moving facilities, we were never in line more than a few minutes, and reasonable valet parking for $15 per night. The business plan of Bahamas Celebration is to offer short low priced trips to the newbies who don't want to drop thousands of dollars on one of the bigger newer boats or to those like me that might enjoy the experience, but would not for a week or more. For the three day two night experience you can get onboard at noon and get lunch as the first meal. The cabins are cleaned and begin availability for first arivers as early as 2 pm. There are two dinner seating's in each of the 2 big restaurants, you choose the fancy one, one night and the casual one the next, and unregulated meals at more casual snack bars. If you want to spend more of your money there are 2 Premium restaurants that you pay extra for but they mostly have similar food. After dinner there are two shows at 8pm and repeated at 10:30 with a singer, a cirque act and a comic. All meals and limited soft drinks are included and you are offered for purchase alcohol with every meal and in the nightclub but you don't have to buy any and most don't. While in international waters there is a Casino. There is a gift shop with ship souvenirs. The first night the ship departs about midnight and sails smoothly and quietly to Freeport. At some time in the night it Anchors just off Freeport Harbor, finishing the trip and pulling up around 7:30. I presume they do this to avoid harbor charges that likely begin as soon as they dock. That morning you get a good breakfast, full buffet with 2 chef omelet stations for custom omelette's. Excursions begin as early as 8 am and as late as 10 am depending on the excursion or your preference. All excursions include transportation and the excursion and voluntary return buses begin as early as 2 pm for those who are tired and everybody must be back on by 5:30. There are about 15 excursion options this time of year. That night you have a nice dinner back on the ship. Different shows at 8pm repeated at 10:30. Snack bars are open all evening and both nights we are told there is a midnight buffet we have not seen. On the last morning you get breakfast again and must depart by 10 am. We've seen it as low as $99 per person for a windowless cabin on a low demand week but most couples pay a few hundred dollars, more if they buy alcohol. They also offer a 4 night version where they take you to the Bahamas luxury hotel Our Lucayan for 2 nights and pick you up on the next sailing. This was the main reason we took the Lucayan as the day excursion to see if it was nice, it was, before considering this option in the future. This cruise is a short cheap cruise on purpose an a great way to see if you are a person who might enjoy this type of vacation.
At the top of this review I told you how my wife and friends conspired to get me on this cruise last year but this year I booked it myself. Here's why. Right from when you first get on these people do everything right. The ship is not brand new but you see maintenance and painting being done everywhere. Its really well kept up. All meals are varied and excellent, and we heard several couples commenting that the food was better than Norwegian, Carnival etc. There is enough variety that you can easily stay on the South Beach or similar diet and you can get extra vegetables with every meal. The people are absolute top notch with many learning our names early in the trip and being overwhelmingly friendly and helpful at all times. As a smaller ship it is never crowded. If the disco dance by the pool for young people is not for you just walk 100 feet and relax in a lounge chair, empty ones are always available. The entertainers in the nightly shows may not be big names but they do a great job and you have a great time. The excursions are many and varied and the ones we have been on are
great value. Will we go again? I've already booked for next year!