I specifically booked this cruise for my first one because it is only a two night cruise with one port; I am somewhat claustrophobic and introverted; I wasn't certain crusing was for me. What I learned after this sailing is that I do like cruising, and this cruise offers good service and good value--however, I suspect it is much more of a budget cruise than some experienced cruisers are accustomed to.
Embarkation was so quick and simple; the instructions on the website regarding check-in are less than clear, however, if you bring the proper forms with you already completed, you will have no trouble at all. On the website, print the Embarkation Form--each cruiser needs to fill out one entire sheet (entering the exact same information twice for the one traveler). We turned in our forms, were given our keys, selected our dining options, and boarded the ship. It could not have been easier.
Pre-sailing lunch: I thought the buffet on Deck 9 was ample and tasty (especially the Greek salad). There was lots of seating space, and lots of comfortable chairs to relax in prior to entering the rooms. I boarded at 12 noon, and enjoyed being able to eat and relax before setting sail.
The cabin: Knowing that I am a bit claustrophobic, I selected a suite, on Deck 7, which was almost 300 sq feet. The room was very large, with a full sofa, chairs, double windows, large bathroom, comfortable queen size bed and tv. The decor is VERY dated, but the room was large, functional, clean and quiet. I slept exceptionally well and enjoyed having so much space.
Food: I enjoyed every meal I ate. We dined in the Crystal Room on night one, sampled the free pizza, pasta and ice cream throught the cruise, had two breakfasts, and the upgraded dinner at The Cove. I enjoyed everything I ate. In fact, the upgraded dinner at The Cove was one of the best meals I have had...BEYOND worth the $25 per person upcharge. If you go on this cruise, I would absolutely recommend the upgrade--food quality and portion size were superb (we had lobster, fliet mignon, chocolate covered strawberries, etc); it was a meal to remember, and a highlight of the trip.
Excursion: We chose the Our Lucaya beach day with the included lunch. I am sure I could have saved $10 and found a taxi to take me there, and eaten my lunch at Subway in the market, but I was willing to pay more for the convienence of having things arranged. The resort and beachfront were lovely...plenty of beach and pool chairs, a private stretch of beach perfect for walking or swimming, clean restrooms and changing facilities as well as multiple pools. Also, the lunch buffet was tasty and plentiful. I wanted to maximize my time on the beach, not search for food...the food quality, portion and convience was well worth the $15 pp added for lunch. I can't compare this beach excursion to other options, but I had a WONDERFUL day at the beach. If you want to relax and soak up some sun, you will not be disappointed with this excursion.
On-board entertainment: The cruise staff did an admirable job trying to keep guests entertained, and some of the entertainment was good. However, I thought the comedian was weak, but the kareoke singers were fun. Also, the atmosphere in the Ocean Breeze Lounge on Deck 6 was a blast. I was never bored on the trip, but I wasn't overwhelmed with the entertainers.
Pool area: I didn't have the time or desire to swim on the boat, but the pool area was very small. Not sure how more than 20 people swim at any given time.
The constant drink sales; I think I was approached 50 times in 2 days and asked if I wanted a speciality drink. I didn't, and had no problem saying "no thank you" repeatedly; but they may push the drinks a bit too much. I know thats where they make their money, but by day 2 it was a bit annoying.
The boat decor: The ship is very dated; with the exception of the Spa, the Ocean Breezes Lounge and the public restrooms, the decor is not modern. It's like a floating Ramada or Days Inn...not the fanciest, but clean and serviceable. I didn't book the cruise for the decor, so I was fine with it. But if modern decor is a requirement for you to enjoy a cruise, you will not like this boat.
The "mandatory" 4 pm meeting: Skip this if you have already selected your excursion; it's nothing more than an overdone sales pitch. The itinerary said it was very important to attend, but it wasn't. If you can read the brocheure for the excursions, you can skip this meeting.
Breakfast on Deck 9: The food was fine, but there were bees swarming all over the pastries, and there was rap music blaring from the speakers. I chose to eat on the Deck instead of in restaurant the first morning, hoping to enjoy the tranquilty of the morning, sunrise, etc...but the bees and the rap beat were tough to take. I ate my second breakfast in the Rio restaurant and enjoyed it much more.
Disembarkation: The process was organizaed and quick; but I was practically harassed when being asked to leave my cabin. The disembarkation information I received very clearly stated that passengers needed to leave their cabins no later than 10:30 am. At 9:30, there was a loud knock on my door from the steward demanding I leave the cabin; I answered the door in my towel (I had just showered), explained the paperwork said that cabins could be occupied until 10:30 am, and that I planned to dress and leave. I dressed, finished packing, and at 9:50 the phone rang; it was an unpleasant call telling me I needed to leave the cabin immediately. I again indicated that 10:30 was the time given, and was told to get out of the room. I gave the room a last glance over and hurried out; but I did not appreciate the way I was treated. Overall, this did not significantly impact the experience, but 10:30 must not mean 10:30.
OVERALL IMPRESSIONS: I read lots of the reviews on this site prior to sailing, and didn't understand how the opinions could vary so much; however, now I do. Folks who book this cruise must realize what they are paying compared to other cruise lines...a suite like the one I had on this cruise would cost 3 to 4 times as much on other cruise lines...I paid $229 for a suite with an oceanview, had excellent food and service (except for disembarkation), spent a wonderful day at the beach in the Bahamas, and overall had a lovely quick trip; I thoroughly enjoyed myself. But I know what I booked, and my expectations matched. This is not a luxury cruise; it's basic and standard in most ways....it's no frills. Don't book if you require frills. But, I found it to be a good value for my money, and it met all of the requirements I had. If you require things beyond the cruises capabilities, book elsewhere. But if you are looking for a good value and can look past a few negatives, I think you will enjoy Bahamas Celebration.