Carnival Celebration Review

4.0 / 5.0
92 reviews

A very mixed bag

Review for the Western Caribbean Cruise on Carnival Celebration
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NuttyCruiser1
2-5 Cruises • Age 40s

Rating by category

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Family
Value for Money
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Additional details

Sail Date: Feb 2024
Traveled with children

Having cruised on the original Excel class ship (Mardi Gras) in 2022, we were looking forward to sailing on the Celebration, expecting similar entertainment quality and value.

We got a big shock concerning the entertainment offerings shortly after departing. The shows featured at the center stage (the three-deck atrium) were very lackluster in comparison. There may have been a technical issue with the motorized LED panels on this cruise, because they never moved at all. The two outer screens were always at mid-height and the two inner ones were completely retracted into the ceiling the whole cruise, from what I saw. This severely limited the show possibilities from a visual perspective.

They had a drum kit set up on stage for all the shows we saw. They had a pair of acrobats that would do a one or two-minute performance at the end of a couple of shows, but that was about all. All the shows on Celebration focused on music performances, which were pretty good, but I noticed that they seemed to try to augment the lack of visual appeal, dancing, and acrobatics by simply cranking up the volume of the music to make the shows seem more impressive than they were. At times, the mix was off and the singers' voices were drowned out by the music.

Cabin Review

I have no idea what my cabin category was, but it was a normal balcony up on 15. They are small, but fine. No complaints from me other than wishing the bathrooms were bigger.

Port Reviews

Amber Cove (Puerto Plata)

This is a Carnival-developed port. The shops are rip-offs and sell only cheap Chinese wares. I don't think my party was able to find anything made by locals. I also expect Carnival gets a (high) percentage of the profits. You cannot find any cigars for sale except in the duty-free store at prices higher than you'll pay your neighborhood shop. They have a couple other brands in the coffee shop and near the cabanas. Thankfully a conversation with a great guy at the Cabanas warned me off buying them. So many good sticks are made in the DR, I was shocked they way they have this port set up. You have to get a cab into the city for the good stuff at good prices. The cabanas/pool/zipline excursion was 5/5 - had a good time there, but the port itself is not impressive.

San Juan

I would give this one a 3/5 had I not taken a taxi to the Castille fort. That place was awesome, got some great photos and history. Otherwise, the excursion choices were only so-so. I think the excursion that includes the fort was something like $120pp (crazy) - we paid $10 each (if I remember correctly) for the fort entry and maybe $12 for the cab ride up, then walked back downhill to the ship. We stopped on the way for pictures with four parrots for only $5 a person. We gave them an extra $5 and they wanted to give us change back until we told them it was a tip! The city and tourist-trap market is big - you'll never see it all in a day.

St. Thomas

Beautiful port. I'd like to visit again to do/see more. We did the Champaign Catamaran to Saint John. It was great! This port would have been 5 stars, but unfortunately the set up at the pier for excursion departures was awful. There is no shade and no seating. You line up at a chain-link fence for about an hour if you want a seat near the front of your transport. While you stand there or sit on asphalt, you get to repeatedly hear a a blaring warning that if you "don't have your ship card and a photo ID, you will not be allowed to reboard your cruise ship". None of that crap at San Juan or Amber Cove, so I don't know what that was all about. In fact, I've never seen that at any port, much less a US territory. Interestingly, one of our companions who have never cruised other than to Alaska, didn't think to bring her passport. Back to the ship she went for it - not fun. We always bring our passports since - well, you never know. But upon return, WE had to show our passports, but she didn't! There's some good consistent security. LOL.

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