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Carnival Celebration CRUISE REVIEW

Andy Hernandez sailed aboard the new Carnival Celebration, the company’s new flagship, and discovered what she has to offer.

Carnival’s new flagship

Carnival Corporation is the world’s biggest travel leisure company, and operates more than 100 cruise ships, with ten different cruise brands under its banner. The Corporation’s latest ‘Fun Ship’, Carnival Celebration, recently arrived at PortMiami, her new homeport, just in time for the company’s 50th anniversary to be marked at the city where it all began.

Carnival’s meteoric rise to the top of the cruising industry over the last half-century has been nothing short of amazing, especially when considering its humble Miami origins, having been founded by entrepreneur Ted Arison using the former Canadian Pacific liner Empress of Canada (1961/27,284gt), renamed Mardi Gras, which had been withdrawn from CP commercial service in late 1971, and which became the original Fun Ship, introducing a new style of cruising when she made her debut in 1972.

Carnival Celebration in Miami
Carnival Celebration in Miami

Now, 50 years later, Miami is host to the company’s latest flagship, the 183,521gt Carnival Celebration, the second of three Excel class cruise ships and the first LNG-powered vessel to operate from that port. She will operate from the 471,000ft2 Terminal F, which has been newly refurbished at a cost of $170 million, and is the third and largest of the line’s passenger terminals at Miami.

The Excel class platform has proven to be very successful for the company, with sub-variants in service for the Carnival’s other brands, notably Aida, Costa and P&O Cruises. The third Excel class ship, Carnival Jubilee, will debut in Galveston, Texas in late December this year.

CARNIVAL CELEBRATION - Engine Room Tour - Control Panel
CARNIVAL CELEBRATION – Engine Room Tour – Control Panel

The Bahamian-registered Carnival Celebration was built at the Meyer Turku Shipyard in Finland. Ordered on 6 September 2016 as yard no.1397, she was laid down in January 2021 and completed on 2 November 2022. Her maiden voyage from Southampton, a 14-night transatlantic voyage ending at her new homeport, departed four days later.

She arrived to a big welcome, looking resplendent in the line’s new livery. The forward third portion of the hull is rendered in royal blue with red trim, first introduced on her earlier sister, Mardi Gras, and currently being applied fleetwide as each ship enters scheduled drydocking. The new ship has been sponsored by Cassidy Gifford, daughter of TV celebrity and long-time Carnival spokesperson Kathy Lee Gifford, godmother to the original Celebration in 1987.

Carnival Celebration upper decks
Carnival Celebration upper decks

Carnival Celebration has 19 decks, of which 15 are for passenger use. There are 2,641 staterooms, which accommodate 5,374 guests in double occupancy (6,631 maximum). There are 21 different stateroom categories, the most luxurious being a pair of huge Excel Presidential Suites.

The various other suites include verandah and ocean view staterooms, with a total of more than 800 cabins. For the physically challenged, 82 staterooms in various categories have been set aside. Carnival Celebration’s international crew of 1,745 is led by her Italian-born master Andrea Catalani.

CARNIVAL CELEBRATION - Beach Pool and Carnival Seaside Theater LED screen
CARNIVAL CELEBRATION – Beach Pool and Carnival Seaside Theater LED screen

Green credentials

Richard Pruitt, Carnival’s vice‑president of environmental operations, and the ship’s Chief Engineer, Fabian Gervaise, provided a detailed explanation of the machinery and LNG operations, as well as the ship’s environmental protection equipment and procedures.

Carnival Celebration is powered by four MaK-Caterpillar M46 engines, which generate a total of 57.2MW, with twin azipods providing 37MW, enabling the ship to reach a top speed of 23 knots; 17 knots is the most economical cruising speed for her week-long Caribbean itineraries. While the ship uses only LNG fuel, the MaK-Caterpillar engines can operate on standard marine diesel oil should LNG fuel not be available.

Carnival Celebration operates alternating seven-day Caribbean schedules. On the eastern leg she calls at Grand Turk (Turks & Caicos), Puerto Plata (Dominican Republic), San Juan, Puerto Rico and St Thomas, US Virgin Islands; the western itinerary stops at Cozumel and Costa Maya (Mexico) and Roatán, Honduras.

CARNIVAL CELEBRATION - Deco Deli
CARNIVAL CELEBRATION – Deco Deli
CARNIVAL CELEBRATION - Chibang! (Chinese-Mexican Cuisine)
CARNIVAL CELEBRATION – Chibang! (Chinese-Mexican Cuisine)

 The author would like to thank the following: AnneMarie Matthews (Senior Director, Public Relations), Chelsea Stromfeld (Manager, Public Relations) and Janna Rowell (Public Relations Specialist).

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