I had the pleasure of sailing aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship, the Carnival Celebration. Our sailing was one of her first from Port Miami, I was invited to sail as a guest with a media group. Our itinerary was a seven-night cruise from Port Miami, and we sailed a Western Caribbean cruise itinerary with port stops in Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Mahogany Bay. In this review, I will be sharing my opinions after sailing aboard this fantastic new ship from Carnival.
Carnival Celebration is the second ship in the Excel Class, and she is 183,521 gross tons. The ship features 2,687 staterooms with a guest capacity of 5,374. She also has six unique Zones: Celebration Station, The Gateway, Summer Landing, 820 Biscayne, Lido, and The Ultimate Playground.
Carnival Celebration Review
This would be my first cruise aboard one of Carnival Cruise Line’s new Excel Class ships. I had only been able to have a brief media visit preview for a day aboard Carnival’s Mardi Gras before her inaugural cruise. I have sailed numerous times aboard many classes of Carnival Cruise ships, so I was excited to have the opportunity to experience this incredible ship firsthand.
On embarkation day, we boarded the new Carnival Celebration at Carnival Cruise Line’s newly remodeled Terminal F at Port Miami. This beautiful terminal is now enlarged and designed to fit the larger Excel class ships like Carnival Mardi Gras and Carnival Celebration. Our check-in went very smoothly, and the line moved quickly. Before long we were onboard exploring the ship.
Our assigned cabin was a standard balcony on Deck 10 in stateroom number 10458. We found it to be very spacious with a comfortable and well-thought-out design. There was also plenty of closet space and storage for our clothes and items for a seven-night cruise.
Here is a video tour of our stateroom onboard:
We also appreciated the excellent new accent lighting around the desk’s mirror and the bed’s headboard. The cabin also had a very nice-sized TV mounted on the wall. The stateroom’s new color scheme and styling were very friendly and contemporary.
The stateroom features USB ports on both sides of the bed and LED reading lamps. The desk area also had plenty of power outlets and USB ports. Overall, we enjoyed this stateroom during our cruise, and I am always impressed by the many details Carnival integrates into its stateroom design.
Carnival HUB App
If you plan to take a Carnival cruise, download the Carnival HUB App before boarding your ship. It is loaded with features that will make your cruise more enjoyable. This is a must to keep up with the daily activities, dining reservations, and available dining options throughout your cruise. Now that everything is done on the app, you must utilize it during your next cruise.
The Carnival Celebration is incredible with everything it has to offer. It has a complete waterpark for kids and even a mini-golf course. The ship has a nice-sized main pool on the Lido deck and two aft Infinity pools.
We really enjoyed the sizeable adults-only Serenity deck that now has its own pool. If you want a more exclusive experience, you can get a pass to the LOFT 19 area that includes padded loungers and access to the infinity whirlpool and attentive servers.
The Carnival Celebration is the second ship to have BOLT, the Ultimate Sea coaster. BOLT is full of drops, twists, and turns 187 feet above the water line at incredible speeds.
We feel this ship is special because it has so many unique spaces for families traveling together to enjoy.
On Deck 6, the Golden Jubilee features artwork, memorabilia, and original pieces from Carnival’s earlier vessels perfectly incorporated throughout the space, bringing Carnival’s 50 years of fun full circle. We loved the reproduction of blueprints depicting the evolution of Carnival’s Fun Ships, including some hand-drawn designs by world-renowned architect Joe Farcus in the ceiling.
We also learned about the Original 17’ by 7’ full-height etched glass, nickel, and mahogany partition wall with 24 TSS Mardi Gras casino windowpanes, separating the bar from the promenade. This item and many others on display were carefully salvaged by fellow journalist and ship historian Peter Knego before these ships were destroyed entirely. I had the chance to sit down and talk to Peter about his work and many of these fascinating and historic items onboard the Carnival Celebration. Be sure to watch our interview with Peter Knego about the Golden Jubilee.
The Carnival Celebration is loaded with dining options. Most of them are complimentary and exceptionally good from fan favorites like Guy’s Burger Joint and new options like Big Chicken and Street Eats. You will not go hungry on this ship.
One of our favorites is the pizza called Miami Slice onboard. We enjoyed this several times during our cruise and loved grabbing a slice and enjoying the alfresco seating nearby. This ship has a tremendous amount of outdoor seating options, and it makes the ship more enjoyable.
Our dinner at Fahrenheit 555 was awe-inspiring. I found the steak cooked to perfection. It honestly was one of the best steaks I have ever had. The service and overall experience were very lovely and a great value overall.
This was my first visit to Rudi’s Seagrill and I enjoyed the superb seafood and other items we chose. It has a very high-end experience feel, and I would consider it for a romantic dinner during your cruise. This venue should not be missed if you are a seafood lover and want to try something special during your cruise.
Guy’s Pig and Anchor
We were able to visit Guy’s Pig & Anchor and walk right up and be seated. We enjoyed the food very much. I love how this is complimentary aboard the Carnival Celebration. However, the noise level of the band playing was a bit overwhelming during our dinner. So you may want to eat when the band is not playing or be sure to be seated a reasonable distance from the band due to the volume.
One night we visited Bonsai Sushi to sample some items. We had never eaten here before on any of the other Carnival ships, so we wanted to try some things. We enjoyed things very much. Our favorites here are the sushi and tempura dish.
We visited Emeril’s Bistro 1397 and stopped in and ordered the Beignes for $5 (powdered sugar, strawberry sauce, chocolate sauce) twice during our cruise and LOVED them, and they were perfect.
We saw many people having full meals here, and it all looked and smelled amazing. Be sure to check out Emeril’s Bistro 1397 menu. To view the menu, click here. One of the most significant issues aboard Carnival Celebration is all the excellent and complimentary food offerings. You won’t go hungry aboard this ship; we found everything delicious.
Cucina del Capitano
We have had dinner at Cucina del Capitanto several times on previous Carnival ships, so we stopped in for Lunch one day during our cruise. I ordered my favorite linguine and clam sauce. I also ordered some added shrimp to make it extra special.
Dinner here is an incredible and unique experience, but the clam sauce they use for the lunch pasta is so wonderful that it is a must-have during any Carnival cruise for me. I loved it as always and enjoyed the enhanced items and service they had aboard the Carnival Celebration during our cruise. On past Carnival cruises, my family and I would always come here to eat while waiting for our cabin to be available on busy embarkation days. It’s so good!
Sea Day Brunch
During our cruise, we enjoyed a Sea Day Brunch, and I ordered the House Special Skillet Cake. In the past, I would always order Steak and Eggs. And my daughters would always get the incredible Mac N’ Cheese.
Sea Day Brunch is offered in the main dining room from 8:30 am until noon, only on sea days. If you haven’t been to a Sea Day Brunch, I can sum it up in one word, incredible. So set the alarm and don’t miss your chance for a great meal. Here is a link to the Sea Day Brunch menu – click here to view the menu.
Our cruise visited three ports in the Western Caribbean, Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Mahogany Bay. We also had three sea days.
In Cozumel, we did Tabasco’s Chef Maestro, Cooking & Tasting excursion booked through Carnival Cruise Line. This included transportation to and from the port.
This was one of the best excursions we had ever taken. Everyone in our group enjoyed it. It was a very entertaining and informative class from start to finish. We learned how to create a delicious 3-course authentic meal. Knowing the different ingredients and cooking techniques that made the menu items complete was delightful. The Tabasco Chef class is located on the second floor of the prestigious Blu by Dolphinaris facility. So the location was incredible, and we enjoyed the fantastic views and watching the dolphins in the pools near the ocean.
In Costa Maya, we chose to stay aboard the ship and enjoy everything it had to offer. Leading up to this port day, we hadn’t booked any excursions, so it was nice to have the ship tour ourselves while many of the ship’s guests were off the ship enjoying this port. If you haven’t done this before, you might be surprised how different the ship can be during these times. Suddenly, there are very few or no lines, and the whole ship has a different vibe. We chose to take it easy, have a slice of pizza al fresco, look at the many ships in port with us today, and relax.
We took the VIP Premium All Inclusive Beach Day excursion in Mahogany Bay through the ship. We enjoyed the drive over to a very private beachfront resort and then were escorted to a reserved VIP area of the beach with lounge chairs, umbrellas, palapas, and beach towels.
The service, amenities, and food were all incredible. They even had some live music playing. I would highly recommend this shore excursion to anyone visiting Mahogany Bay. This was our first time here, and we loved it. This was one of the best excursions we experienced from start to finish.
Insights & Observations
During our cruise, we utilized a Wi-Fi package, and Carnival seems to have some of the best internet connections that work well around the whole ship, even in your cabin. My wife and I quickly connected two devices with our package and never lost service.
Carnival Cruise Line has taken shopping to the next level. You won’t be disappointed if you are shopping for some vacation souvenir or a duty-free luxury watch or purse. During our cruise, our group toured the many shops and learned how the ship has exclusive items not only to Carnival Cruise Line but also unique items only found onboard this ship.
Cruise Director Lee Mason
During our cruise, we had the privilege of having award-winning Cruise Director Lee Mason welcome us onboard and be our guide for Fun and escape for our week onboard. I took the opportunity to sit down for an interview with him. It was an absolute pleasure to meet Lee in person finally. He is such an impressive human. Please watch our interview here:
Overall the crew and officers aboard the Carnival Celebration were attentive and upbeat. During this cruise, we had the privilege of meeting the Captain of the ship and his officers, shop managers, and more. Everyone is very passionate and professional about offering guests a unique, safe, and enjoyable vacation experience onboard.
Entertainment and Comedy
One of my favorite things about taking a cruise is the entertainment and comedy available onboard. Sometimes you have more choices than time, but that’s a good thing, right?
On board, we attended several comedy shows in the Punchliner Comedy Club and the Limelight Lounge. The comedians were both outstanding and were so entertaining. They were also very approachable, shaking hands and taking pictures with guests as we exited the show. I thought this was wonderful and shows how touched guests were by seeing such talented entertainers live.
Watching live music during the cruise, up close from string trios, piano players, full rock bands, and more, makes a Carnival Cruise extra special. Most evenings, you could watch live music shows in six other venues throughout the ship. The choice and quality make for a memorable evening.
Center Stage (Celebration Central Atrium)
Both the Carnival Celebration and Mardi Gras have this fantastic new stage in the new large atrium area of the ship. The area is stunningly beautiful and loaded with incredible technology. However, Carnival is trying to do full-production shows here, and the demand to see these shows far outweighs the available seats.
This area wasn’t designed to seat enough guests for their current high-demand shows. The sight lines are ok for looking directly at the stage but not always for some of the show’s aerial stunts. So even if you can find a seat, it may be partially obstructed. We saw guests waiting in line for hours or saving the open seats on the higher levels to have a chance to see these fantastic performances.
So I believe they will have to offer tickets to this venue so it can be used in a more organized manner in the future. I applaud Carnival for using this space to its fullest, but it may have been too much of a good thing in this small space, and I hope they will utilize the larger seating theater for the high-demand shows in the future.
The Carnival Celebration is a beautiful ship that offers an incredible big ship experience for both families and couples at a great price. This ship is extra special with its unique dining and entertainment opportunities. If you don’t have a cruise aboard the Carnival Celebration, click here to keep up with the latest prices and deals.