Carnival Says Adios to Celebration

September 5, 2007
In an effort to target Spain's burgeoning cruise market, Carnival, as part of a joint venture with a Spanish travel company, will transfer Celebration out of its fleet in spring 2008. Carnival and Orizonia Corporacion, Spain's largest travel company, have named the joint venture Iberocruceros.

The 1,486-passenger Celebration, which launched in 1987, will undergo an extensive renovation before its move to Spain. The ship is currently based in Jacksonville, sailing year-round four- and five-night voyages to the Bahamas.

For a number of reasons, reports Cruise Critic's Melissa Baldwin, who sailed on the ship two years ago, Celebration's departure is not a huge surprise. First? Carnival recently announced that it would replace Celebration in Jacksonville with Carnival Fascination, part of the line's newer (all things being relative) Fantasy-class series of ships, but made no assignment for the older vessel -- a clear warning sign. Secondly, Baldwin notes, the fact that Carnival opted not to include its two oldest ships, Celebration and the Mobile-based Holiday, in the multi-million dollar series of major upgrades that all Fantasy-class ships are receiving, was another ominous sign. She also noticed that while Carnival is tweaking the names of its Fantasy-class ships as they are refurbished -- Fantasy, for instance, will become Carnival Fantasy -- the new moniker system wouldn't have applied to Celebration (or Holiday).

In a recent review of the ship on Cruise Critic, it's noted that "Celebration is the second oldest ship in the fleet, outlived only by Holiday, which launched in 1985 (Jubilee, which entered the fleet in 1986, exited service last year). And although it underwent a multi-million dollar renovation in 2003, the ship is still more of a tribute to the old days of cruising. Even with all of its upgrades and updates, this may not be the best ship for passengers who have grown accustomed to modern-ship amenities that aren't found here, such as a high ratio of balcony cabins, supper-club style alternative dining, high-tech fitness facilities and swank spas."

Celebration will enter the Iberocruceros fleet late next spring. We wonder, will Holiday be following suit in the near future?

--by Carolyn Spencer Brown, Editor