After reading several negative reviews, we were concerned about our trip on the Bahamas Celebration. Considering we had purchased our cruise tickets utilizing a Groupon 50% discount, we figured 'how bad could it be' and now happy to share our 'positive' review'
We were absolutely surprised how great the overall experience was. We were assigned a cabin on the 8th Deck (8220) with a large port side window. The cabins are indeed small compared to a typical cruise ship but we knew this was renovated/expanded ferry so expected the smaller size. The cabin was very clean with fairly new carpet. The bathroom (albeit small) was comfortable with very contemporary fixtures. Shampoo and soap were provided along with wall mounted body wash dispensers adjoining the sink and inside the shower. Victor Martinez, our cabin steward was excellent and we enjoyed his towel sculptures and tissue art! The nightly turn down service was equivalent to any first class hotel (OK no chocolates but then again I have never been met with towel wildlife in any premium hotel). The A/C worked perfectly and there was always hot (very hot) water.
Check in was a breeze especially if had completed the forms online and we even printed out the completed onboard credit forms so went right to one of the multiple check-in windows. The agent there was very pleasant and after taking our photos, she handed us our ID's and off we went to wait. We had arrived at 10:40, had the car parked by valet ($15 per night so $30 cash), cleared the security scan and so were too early to board (which started promptly at Noon). While waiting we mulled over the offer for unlimited vodka drinks, soft drinks and bottled water (which are $3.75 onboard) for $50 per day and after doing the math, figured that the $100 was good deal and signed away on our first 'charge'. The young lady reminded us that we could start having cocktails immediately upon boarding as they were serving lunch on the 9th Deck (similar to a 'Lido Deck') with two TiKi Bars (one smoking) adjoin the buffet. You will also have the opportunity to select your dining room choices and times. We selected the Crystal room (8:30 seating) for the 1st night and Rio's for the 2nd night (*:330 as well).
We carried our bags on; there is a complimentary baggage check but you will have to wait for them to deliver yours bags so we highly recommend carrying your own bags on. Greeted by several staff members as we boarded, we went to 'check out' the cabin immediately, then went back down to the Concierge desk to 'borrow' a power adapter to charge our phones (complimentary unless you forget to return it). Then it was up to the 9th Deck for a simple buffet lunch with live entertainment and games until we left port (around 45 minutes late which no one noticed).
Dinner that night in the Crystal room was very good (service and food alike). It is a full service restaurant with a dress code. We both had the duck was prepared perfectly and very happy to see a sugar free Cheese Cake option. The evening show in the two-level View was very good with a talented singer, a 'Cirque-style' act and a Miami based Argentine 'boleros' performance. A quick visit to the casino (very nice for a small casino) was followed by a stop in another lounge 'Ocean Breeze' with karaoke for few more drinks. Note that 2 bartenders from the non-smoking TiKi bar were exceptional' Moses and Italo! They shift around so we saw them at other locations including the View as well. They both remembered names and drinks so we always added an additional tip even though the gratuities were included in our $100 deal. Kudos in fact to all of the bartenders, servers and staff who were always pleasant and helpful.
Arriving in Freeport in the morning, we had an average buffet breakfast in Rio's which offered both waffle and omelet stations along with standard breakfast fare. While not booking any excursions as we have been to Freeport too many times, we disembarked and caught s shuttle to the Lucaya Marketplace area for $10 round trip. They give you a pass card to catch any shuttle returning to the ship on the hour up to 4:00 PM which was great to have a return time option.
We chose a 2 o'clock return and were able to have drinks and 'snack' back up on 9 including hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza and more. We even visited the Trattoria late afternoon for a salad and ciabatta sandwich (even though they have much more to offer). Dinner at Rio's is much more casual where the first courses are buffet based and the entrees are served. It is also a type of churrascaria with servers offering four types of meat on-skewer many times through-out your meal. Dessert is also buffet style. The food was good indeed and the casual atmosphere was nice after a day of trekking the beach in Freeport. Back to the View for another show including a magician, the same 'Cirque' duo performing a different routine and a great comedian (Steve Zimmerman). Sitting in the front caused me to be a part of the 'Motown' bit in Steve's act which is what I got for sitting there! Still great fun at my expense and the audience's howls!
Back in Riviera Beach (West Palm Beach) on Day 3, we had plenty of time to shower, pack and head up one deck to 9 for a limited breakfast buffet. The breakfast buffet stops at 9:00 AM in the Rio so we opted for the outside buffet. Beyond control of the Bahamas Celebration, the waiting for clearance by US Customs is a lengthy process and then going through US Immigration is very slow. The valet had our car to us in 5 minutes so that was great.
Over all, it was a great trip. It is not to be compared to one of the large 7 to 14 day cruise ships; however, the Bahamas Celebration 2 night cruise was a perfect get-away. We are 3 Star Mariners with Holland America and yet we enjoyed the entire mini-cruise and can truly recommend the ship as long as you do not expect large cabins, climbing walls, skating rinks etc. Note that there is a 150 foot water slide for kids (12 and under) on the top deck along with their own pool! While some may say you get what you pay for, we felt that we 'got' more than what we expected and will be returning soon'