Note: Carnival welcomed its newest ship to the fleet earlier this month with Carnival Celebration now sailing from Miami. Cruzely was invited to sail on one of the first voyages. The seven-day cruise departs Miami headed to Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Mahogany Bay (Roatan). I’ll be live-blogging the experience each day to share what sailing the new ship is like.
You can view other days here:
- Live Blog (Day 1): Scratching the Surface of Carnival’s Newest Ship
- Live Blog (Day 3): Jeeps, Beach, and Grown Men on Waterslides
- Live Blog (Day 4): Cruising Costa Maya
- Live Blog (Day 5): If You Can’t Have Fun Doing This… That’s On You
- Live Blog (Days 6 & 7): What’s the Verdict on Carnival’s New Ship?
Having taken a lot of cruises, I’ve had the opportunity to do most of the things that you can experience on a cruise ship.
Today on Carnival Celebration, however, I was able to do things that I’ve NEVER done before… and likely never will get to do again. And while most people that sail on Celebration won’t get to experience them either, I think it’s something worth sharing.
During the cruise, Carnival has arranged a number of things for us to see and do so that we can get a feel of the full scale of everything that’s onboard. And I do mean everything.
Case in point, while most people were headed to the pool deck this morning in order to take advantage of the beautiful weather (calm seas, warm, nice breeze, and barely a cloud anywhere), a group of us met at the Rolls-Royce on Deck 6.
From there, it was to the elevators to Deck 16 and then heading as far forward as you can. There, you start to see the “Restricted Access” signs. A crewmember with our group had to use the special lock to open a rather non-descript door.
Enter, and you see a modestly-designed hall and rooms. While the rest of the ship is appointed nicely, here things are much more utilitarian. This place isn’t meant for guests, after all.
It’s through one more short hallway, but this time the lighting is a faint red instead of bright fluorescent lighting. Open the door and the expanse of the next room stretches from port to starboard.
This is the bridge of Carnival Celebration.
Now as mentioned, I’ve sailed plenty but never had the opportunity to see the bridge of the ship. From here, there’s obviously sweeping views of the sea, but there’s also lots of space and lots of technology.
At the center of the room sit four different chairs along with banks of controls for maneuvering the ship. On either side of the bridge sits another station so that the crew can navigate from here as well while looking down the side of the ship.
Perhaps most impressive is the data on every aspect of the ship. If the engine room is the heart of a cruise ship, this spot is the brain. Screens show the ship’s location on the map, complete with water depth, speed, wind direction, and other nearby vessels. There’s data on alarms and measurements around the ship.
Screens show camera views of everything from the casino to the elevator banks and down each side of the Celebration. There is even data down to the exact number of people on the ship (5,283 passengers, 1,804 crew, for a total of 7,087 people on the ship today). And as a cool bonus, we were also able to chat up the ship’s captain as he answered questions about his job and how everything works.
But would you believe that seeing the bridge was only one highlight of the day? That’s because after that tour, we headed to another place I’ve never experienced… the absolute bottom of the ship.
Leaving the bridge, the next stop was an environmental tour. If you’ve ever wanted to do one of the behind-the-scenes tours of how a ship operates, then this is it. But to my knowledge, these sorts of experiences — which used to be offered on sea days — were halted with the pandemic.
On the ship during this sailing was Carnival’s Vice President of Environmental Operations, Rich Pruitt. When it comes to anything that touches the environment — from the sort of fuel used to wastewater processing to food disposal and recycling — it falls under his umbrella. And being led on a tour of the ship’s inner workings is like being led on a tour of Yankee Stadium by the team’s general manager.
First we entered the Engine Control Room. If the bridge is the brain behind maneuvering the ship, this room is the brain behind the ship’s propulsion. Screens show all sorts of data on the engines and power. While we are cruising along at sea going about 15 knots (about 17-18 miles per hour), Celebration is operating on just two of her four engines. And the crew can see exactly how fast each propeller turns, data on bow thrusters, any alarms on the ship, and more. It’s a technological marvel.
From there, we headed to the recycling plant on the ship where recyclable material is sorted, compacted and processed. All those cans… and cardboard… and bottles… are all sorted, compacted, and stored until reaching land.
It’s down another set of stairs when I notice that the stairwell marker (shown at the start of this article) is designated as “Deck 0.” This is the literal bottom of the ship and a place that no passenger normally gets to see.
Our tour here takes us through the wastewater treatment system as well as the processing area for oily water to be treated. But perhaps the highlight is through the black and yellow watertight doors where we all have to wear earplugs due to the noise. There, two of the ship’s massive engines — powered by LNG — are humming along as we push toward Mexico.
It’s loud, it’s hot, and unbelievably fascinating to see this part of the ship.
Heading Back Topside for More Traditional Cruising
Back above the water, the tour concluded, and by that time it was back to the more normal activities that come with cruising.
For lunch we tried Emeril’s Bistro 1397. This spot is an extra charge, but the prices are low compared to what you’d find on land. I ordered a shrimp po-boy for just $7 that was absolutely phenomenal.
With the great weather, we decided to take advantage of the pool deck to get outside. I’m noticing that Carnival Celebration, which seems to have fewer wide-open spaces in the ship’s design (especially around the pool deck), can feel crowded. It’s not that there isn’t space, but between the on-deck features, number of passengers carried, and all the loungers, it just feels more cramped.
In fact, I look through photos of the pool area and see there are open loungers here and there, and it’s not insanely busy. However, the feeling when I was there was that it was more crowded and harder to navigate. If you’re expecting huge, wide open spaces, that’s not the case.
During the afternoon we tried the ropes course that rises above the ship at the back deck. I’ve never done one of these courses on Carnival, and I think it’s a must-do. While it seems like you have to be athletic to do it, that’s not really the case. Still, it’s a fun challenge. There is a short zip-line at the start of the course that takes you out over the edge of the deck that you won’t forget. (Scared of the zipline? You can opt to cross an obstacle bridge instead.)
And if you’re looking for a spot to get away from the crowds, then you can check out Loft 19, which we were able to access on this trip.
Many cruise lines have moved toward offering this type of space for suite guests as a nice extra feature for booking. On Celebration, Loft 19 is for Excel Suite passengers, or those that want to pony up $500 per day for a cabana! It sits on Deck 19, features cabanas, loungers, and a small private pool that looks down on the Serenity deck.
I’ll be frank that the space itself is nice, but there isn’t much difference from the feel of the Serenity deck just below. But what’s special is the exclusivity. Celebration is a busy ship. Having a spot that’s guaranteed to be less crowded and more private is a very nice feature.
With the end of our day at sea, the evening included drinks at The Golden Jubilee. This spot is quickly becoming a favorite. It has a retro vibe, and all the history that’s gone into the bar and lounge with the design and special features is interesting to take in while having a drink.
Little hint: There’s a QR code on the back of the menu that will bring up an explanation of all the pieces in The Golden Jubilee that call back to older Carnival ships that I highly recommend. You’re literally sitting among history and may not even realize it.
Tonight was capped off with dinner at Cucina del Capitano. While it was formal night, lobster has been moved to the second formal night of the trip (when we plan to dine in the dining room). Therefore, we took the opportunity to try somewhere a little different. I had chicken parmesan, and with such a late dining time, I felt like I could have eaten three of them. The fact that this spot is included in the fare instead of an extra charge must be one of the best deals in cruising.
Day 3 sees the ship dock in our first port of call, Cozumel.
- One thing I’m noticing is that Celebration is VERY busy. I’m a big fan of finding quiet, out-of-the-way spots to just relax and watch things go by. Despite the ship being so large, that’s actually a bit difficult. The ship is bigger, but there are also more people, and more things packed onto it. On the flipside, it seems almost impossible to be bored given everything going onboard.
- If I had to choose what the best thing I ate today was, I couldn’t do it. Breakfast was in the buffet, but lunch at Emeril’s (shrimp po-boy) and dinner at Cucina del Capitano (chicken parmesan) were both fantastic. I could easily eat them again tomorrow and be perfectly happy. I think that speaks well of the food options on the ship.