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 2): In All My Cruises, I’ve NEVER Seen This Before
- Live Blog (Day 3): Jeeps, Beach, and Grown Men on Waterslides
- Live Blog (Day 4): Cruising Costa Maya
- Live Blog (Days 6 & 7): What’s the Verdict on Carnival’s New Ship?
We all have that friend or family member that says cruising isn’t for them. No matter what, they wouldn’t get on a ship. I think you should tell them about the sort of day that we had in Roatan.
Don’t get me wrong. Not everyone is going to be a cruise fanatic (like the wonderful lady I met today that had a total of 11 trips planned from September through March!). But I often say that cruising is like visiting Las Vegas. Not everyone is a “Vegas person,” but if you can’t find some way to have fun there for at least a short trip, that’s your fault.
Case in point: Today Carnival Celebration made its last port of call for the cruise in Roatan, Honduras. And I don’t understand how anyone couldn’t have had a blast doing what we did.
Sailing a Catamaran From Mahogany Bay
Here, Carnival has their own private port called Mahogany Bay. It’s a spot with shops and restaurants, along with a separate beach area where you can lounge in the shadow of the ship, swim, and eat. (Or even do that weird thing where you let tiny fish eat the dead skin off your feet.)
I was here last year and did exactly that (minus the whole feet and fish part). So this time I opted to try something a little different. Through Carnival we booked the Jolly Roger catamaran excursion. According to the description, a catamaran picks you up at the port and then takes you out to a reef for snorkeling, followed by lunch and drinks.
So at 8:30 in the morning, we made our way out to the port, walked down to the water, and boarded a catamaran with about 20 people. Just minutes later we were slowly making our way out to sea.
The first sign that this was going to be a good day was that the catamaran sailed right past the front of Celebration with the morning sun hitting the ship just perfectly. It’s a shot that you wouldn’t be able to get any other way without the dock or trees obscuring some of the view.
From there, we motored out from near the ship for about 45 minutes as the catamaran rolled up and down with the waves. It definitely makes you thankful for how smooth a modern cruise ship is at sea but it’s also fun to feel the roller coaster of the waves… at least for a little bit.
Making our way around one point, we tied up in the next cove over. It’s just our little boat, open water, and our guides. Then it was putting on our snorkel gear and diving in to see the reef. Let me say that it’s the first day of December, but you wouldn’t know it here. In fact, the air temp has been blazing hot. Cold water? Not a chance. Even during the winter, it was extremely comfortable.
Now we did some snorkeling in Cozumel a couple of days ago. Here, the difference was like night and day.
The spot we explored was teeming with all sorts of coral — sea fans, brain coral, staghorn coral, and more. This included the largest sea fan I’ve ever seen that was easily four feet across. But oddly enough, despite the coral growth, there was actually more aquatic life in Cozumel. Don’t get me wrong, there were plenty of fish to see darting around the reef. It just wasn’t as many as a couple of days ago.
Still, I think this was a much more interesting spot to explore simply because it offered more variety to experience. Not only was there all the coral, but the depth would vary widely from being able to stand to easily 20+ feet.
Back on the boat, it was time for drinks and lunch. The open bar consisted of the captain behind a cooler full of ice pouring mixtures of rum and Coke, rum and punch, rum and Pepsi, and even rum and rum. And I can tell you that these drinks were by far the strongest I’ve had during the cruise. One and you’re feeling good. Two? You’re partying. Three? I don’t think you want three.
A simple but tasty lunch was served with some grilled chicken, rice/beans, watermelon, and pasta salad. It’s amazing how the simplest food can taste like a delicacy when you mix in a little salt air and sunshine. I know it wasn’t anything gourmet, but it may as well have been five-star dining when you’re eating it on a boat in the middle of the water.
So there we are on a catamaran just off the coast of Honduras, music playing, drinks flowing, sun shining, and full stomachs. Like I said, if you can’t have fun doing that, then it’s only your own fault.
From there we continued the trip back to the ship, again giving some great views of Celebration in the full sun as we docked back where we started.
Hopping off, we took a lap around the beach area to see if we wanted to spend the rest of the afternoon here. But between getting too much sun during the snorkel trip and how hot it’s been today, we decided to make our way back to Celebration.
Just a hint is that there is a nature trail between the ship and the beach. It takes you through the woods and offers a lot of shade and even some misters to cool off. It also offers some amazing openings to take a photo in front of the ship that you wouldn’t see on the main path.
Getting to Enjoy the Ship (With Fewer People Onboard)
Once onboard, I felt like it would be a good idea to grab a little more to eat. Between the sun and the drinks, Big Chicken at the back of the ship was calling my name. I’ve really enjoyed the food on Celebration. The fact this is the first spot I’ve eaten twice should tell you something about how good I think it is… and how much there is to eat around the ship.
Recharged, my friend and I decided it was time to take advantage of many people still being in port to hit the waterslides once again. I just want to say that by now I’ve ridden some of these slides more than a dozen times, and they have yet to get old. In fact, the only thing that makes me stop is that climbing the stairs each time wears you out. I’d estimate we rode slides continually for 45 minutes with no lines before we just couldn’t do anymore stairs.
And what better way to recover than by taking advantage of Loft 19? This spot has quickly become a favorite as it really does offer an escape from the rest of the ship. One thing that would be nicer is if the pool that’s here was just a little cooler. The temperature is as hot as a hot tub, but it’s not as cool as a swimming pool either. On a hot day like today, cooler would be better.
A Dessert That You Can’t Miss
Now, I’ve mentioned food a lot aboard Celebration. Of course it’s a big part of any cruise, but what’s really standing out to me is that there are so many options to eat that are included in your fare. Normally I eat only a handful of places because I don’t want to have to pony up the extra money to eat at a specialty restaurant every night. Here, there are tons of free options.
We decided on Guy’s Pig & Anchor Smokehouse tonight. The first day on the cruise we tried the lunch option here, where you essentially pick and choose from a buffet, and… it was not good.
But every evening we pass through, this spot is packed and it smells like good BBQ. So given that it doesn’t cost anything, we decided to give it a try. It was a completely different experience.
For dinner, it’s table service. You pick either three meats or one of their main entrees. Then you choose three sides and a dessert. I chose the Pig & Anchor Melt (a sandwich with pulled pork, brisket, bacon, gouda, and sauce) and a few sides like slaw and fries. For dessert, I went for the Backyard Brownie, which does cost an extra $5.
I’m born and raised in Texas so I’ve been eating BBQ since I was born. This sandwich, which was a mess to eat, hit the mark. Heart healthy? No way. Good for the waistline? Absolutely not. But good to eat? You better believe it.
And then, dessert came to the table. Let’s just say even if you don’t go for BBQ at Guy’s, stopping here for this dessert is a must. The brownie was about half the size of a brick, complete with fudge and a big scoop of vanilla ice cream. You can’t finish it. You and whoever you’re traveling with can’t finish it. But you’ll want to.
Days 6 and 7 are at sea on the way back to Miami. I will combine those last two days into one post.
- This morning was the towel animal invasion on the pool deck. I always wonder how many people don’t even know this happens simply because they don’t make it down to the pool early in the morning. My favorite? A huge blue elephant.
- I watched “Deal or No Deal” for the first time on a cruise, and it’s a neat feature. If you haven’t seen it on the ship, Carnival sells game cards that have the 20 suitcases on them. One contestant is selected to actually play on stage. Everyone else opens the suitcases on their card as the contestant on stage picks them. Match enough numbers and you can win everything from casino credit to cash to free cruise to $5,000.