If you aren’t familiar with Carnival’s Celebration Key, that’s going to change quickly. The popular cruise line first announced the new private destination back in 2022. And while it will still be some time until the spot welcomes its first guests, expect the excitement to only grow as more is shared about Celebration Key.
Still, while there is a lot that we don’t know yet, there are some things that have been released regarding the new destination… and it looks like it will set the bar for what a vacation could be.
If you’re ready to get excited about what Carnival has coming, here’s what is known so far about Celebration Key.
Location of Celebration Key in The Bahamas
One thing that we know for sure is where Celebration Key will be, and it’s not far at all. The destination will be located on Grand Bahama, just about 10 miles east of Freeport on the island’s southern coast. All told, Celebration Key will sit just about 120 miles from the Port of Miami, making it an easy overnight trip from any sailings departing the east coast of Florida.
This isn’t a happy coincidence. Locating a private destination close to departure ports provides not only an easy addition to many itineraries, but it also save on fuel costs and lessens the environmental impact of cruises since the trip is shorter.
Size of the Private Destination
We also know that Celebration Key is going to be big. We’ve seen different figures for the acreage of the facility, but all put it at more than 300 acres (329 acres is the latest we’ve seen). But not all of that land will be used for passengers.
According to a Request for Information posted on Carnival’s site about the project, “approximately 40 acres of land is being utilized for the initial phase of the landside development.”
The cruise line also says it is “conserving a significant portion of the acreage as wetlands.” This includes a 100-acre “wetland conservation area” and a 55-acre nature path.
Costs Have Risen to Half-a-Billion Dollars
Like many things in recent years, the anticipated cost of Celebration Key has increased sharply. When ground was broken back in 2022, the anticipated cost was said to be an estimated $200 million. Now the cruise company says the cost will be more than double — coming in at $500 million.
For that, there will be the 40-acre initial development, two “large scale lagoons,” 20 retail shops, food, drinks, and a 1,600 foot long pier for the ships to dock.
At that cost, however, we get the feeling that Carnival may be downplaying just everything that will be included.
One of the Largest Pools Ever?
One such thing that may be a reason for the big expense is something that has yet to be confirmed. In a rendering released during the announcement of the Celebration Key name, Carnival showed an overview of the port (see the first image in this article above).
In that image, there is a large pool that seems to stretch the length of the beach. Other renderings show a low-detail overhead view with the pool and two ships docked. Using the length of an average cruise ship, we estimate the length of the pool to be nearly 1,700 feet.
Now we have yet to see word from Carnival, but if the pool is as big as the renderings let on, it could mean it’s one of the largest pools anywhere.
Visitors Expected to Exceed Two Million
It’s a good thing that Celebration Key will be so large because Carnival plans to have lots of visitors to the destination… as in millions of people.
First, the destination is being built to accommodate two of Carnival’s largest Excel-class ships like Mardi Gras or Celebration. The plan is to have a “daily onshore capacity of 13,000 guests and 4,000 crew members” according to a Request for Proposal on the Celebration Key website.
More than that, Carnival says it expects more than two million passengers to visit annually (around 5,500 per day) and have calls on the port nearly every single day of the year.
Operations/Facilities at the Spot
Perhaps the least we know about the destination is what all it will actually include for passengers. Carnival has yet to say too much just yet. What we do know comes from renderings and from vendor requests on the Celebration Key website.
We’ve already mentioned the large pool as seen in the rendering. It also appears to show a large welcome plaza, splash pad, a lengthy beach, and cabanas. The nature walk area was mentioned earlier, and there are lots of spots featured in the rendering that frankly aren’t quite clear what they may be.
From vendor requests, we also know there will be three “high volume” dining operations, duty-free, jewelry and souvenir stores, along with ice cream shops, a teen club, multiple food trucks, and more.
Opening Date: July 2025
Like the initial budget for Celebration Key, the opening date has also inflated somewhat. Initially when ground was broken for the destination in 2022, it was planned to be complete in late 2024.
Now that’s been pushed to July 2025. The first cruise we found to the spot is a 3-day trip aboard Carnival Conquest, departing July 18, 2025.
However, past that date the schedule opens up with lots of sailings available in the back half of 2025 that you can already book today.
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