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My Carnival Celebration Vacation 2023

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I embarked on my multi-part series of my 7-day sailing of the brand-new Carnival Celebration from Sunday January 08TH 2023 to Sunday January 15TH 2023. This was its 9TH cruise (with passengers) ever. It was my 16TH on Carnival in a little over 23 years, and my 24TH overall (all cruise lines) in a little over 31 years.

Fun Fact: I shared a large (assigned) dinner table every night in the main dining room with other solo cruisers and a couple (husband and wife) who have all been on far more cruises than I can ever imagine. In their eyes – I was the cruise “newbie”. I was also the youngest at our table. We mostly talked about cruising each night at dinner. They were a fun group. Lots of laughs !

This week I’ll share more thoughts about the cruise.

FOOD (“B”) – Most people who choose Carnival do so for its affordability, its accessibility (at many ports), and its overall vibe (lots of fun activities for all ages from early in the morning to early the next morning). Those are my main reasons for my continued loyalty to Carnival since the late-1990s. The food is good. It’s not great. It’s better than anything I eat at home. It’s better than anything I eat out in my hometown. Could it be better ? Sure. Has it been better in the past ? Sure. But I don’t really choose Carnival for its food. It’s not what they specialize in as a cruise line. They specialize in fun. I like fun. Having said that there are so many different places to eat on the Carnival Celebration – more than any other Carnival cruise ship – aside from its nearly identical sister ship – Mardi Gras. Most of the food at the various venues is part of the overall cruise fare. Some of it costs extra. I enjoyed some really delicious beignets with strawberry sauce and chocolate sauce at Emeril’s Bistro on a couple of mornings. #BAM

SERVICE (“C”) – Customer service was generally lacking a little bit on this ship compared with many of my previous cruises. That includes the cabin areas, the main dining room, and the restaurants. There seemed to be a lack of enthusiasm (and speed) overall for such a brand-new cruise ship and the current flagship of Carnival Cruise Lines. It wasn’t necessarily bad service – just unimpressive (and slow) service compared with what I’m accustomed to at sea. I’ve felt that customer service on Carnival has been superior to the other 3 cruise lines that I’ve sailed on, but not really so much on this particular cruise.

ENTERTAINMENT (“A”) – This was definitely the best part of my cruise. Carnival has done a major upgrade in this area for their brand-new cruise ships – taking full advantage of modern 2020s electronic technology. They had nice Broadway-like shows, stand-up comedy shows in 3 different venues including matinees in the afternoons on sea days, and nice random “pop-up” video shows during the early-evening hours in-between the bigger shows. Even their game shows were modernized. I was mesmerized by these events. It’s the future of Carnival unlike anything I had ever seen before, and I liked it a lot !

CRUISE DIRECTOR (“A”) – Our Cruise Director – Mike from South Jersey – was actually substituting (last-minute) for the real Cruise Director of the ship – Lee – who was nursing laryngitis out-of-sight from the passengers. He eventually recovered, and he finally made a grand entrance (complete with standing ovation) early on the 5TH night of the cruise. Some passengers booked the cruise ship because of Lee, so they were finally glad to see him in action. From that point forth he and Mike shared Cruise Director duties and responsibilities. It was the first time that Mike had ever been a Cruise Director, and he did a great job. He’s a future Cruise Director for sure. Lee has been with Carnival as a Cruise Director for just over 6 years on 12 different ships. Here’s his story – as well as the story of the Carnival Celebration:

Next #TravelThursday I’ll tell you all about the first port-of-call – Amber Cove on the north coast of the Dominican Republic. I participated in perhaps one of my greatest shore excursions ever – from sea level to nearly 2,600 feet above. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2023 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Blogging Geography Travel

My Carnival Celebration Vacation 2023

Welcome back to #TravelThursday. Last week I wrote about the busiest cruise ship port in the world – #PortMiami. This week I begin a multi-part series on my most recent Caribbean cruise from there.

I was on the 7-day sailing of the brand-new Carnival Celebration from Sunday January 08TH 2023 to Sunday January 15TH 2023. It sailed across the Atlantic from Southampton England to Miami Florida from Sunday November 06TH 2022 to Sunday November 20TH 2022. This was its 9TH cruise (with passengers) ever !

The Carnival Celebration is the newest cruise ship that I’ve ever sailed on, and YES – it’s got a subtle “new cruise” smell to it. The previous newest cruise ship I’d ever sailed on was in late-October / early-November 2007 when I sailed on the maiden TransAtlantic voyage of the Carnival Freedom from Rome Italy to Miami Florida. But that cruise ship had already sailed a full inaugural spring and summer season of Mediterranean cruises. I like to say that I helped “deliver” the Carnival Freedom to the U.S.A.

The almost $1 billion Carnival Celebration is Carnival’s biggest ship ever at 183,521 gross tons. There were about 6,000 passengers onboard with a crew of over 1,700 (from some 70 nations). I believe that my cruise was close to capacity (over 90%). It’s the biggest cruise ship that I’ve ever been on, and it’s the most people that I’ve ever been on a cruise with. It was the complete opposite of my Carnival cruise from exactly one year (to the date) earlier when I sailed on the Carnival Liberty – which was less than half-full. That was right after the cruising industry “restart” post-pandemic. You can read all about it here.

This was my 24TH cruise in a little over 31 years – and 16TH on Carnival in a little over 23 years. My 2ND night on this cruise was my 100TH night with Carnival. It’s my favorite cruise line – mostly due to activities onboard. Every cruise line specializes in something, and they do it better than most other cruise lines. For Carnival it’s the sheer number of things that you can do and activities that you can participate in from early in the morning until early the next morning.

My last 3 Carnival cruises have been great. I did not have such a good time on my 13TH in May 2014. After that one I decided to no longer go on cruises and retire from the sea. That “drought” ended almost exactly 4 years later when I went on a short 4-day Disney cruise to Key West and The Bahamas with my brother, sister-in-law, her parents, and my nieces. That turned out to be a surprisingly fun cruise, and it reinvigorated my passion for cruising. After that cruise I went back to Carnival and gave them another chance. I booked my next cruise for 9 months later, and that was the 1ST of 3 great Carnival cruises in a row – all in January – in 2019, 2022, and now 2023.

January is my preferred month for cruising. May is another good option for me, as is September and October. I try to avoid Spring Break (February, March, and April), Summer (June, July, and August), and the holidays of November and December.

Next #TravelThursday I’ll write more about the Carnival Celebration, and in the weeks to follow I’ll write about the 3 ports-of-call on the 7-day cruise – Amber Cove Dominican Republic, San Juan Puerto Rico, and Charlotte Amalie St. Thomas U.S. Virgin Islands. You may be surprised as to which of those 3 ports was – by far – my favorite of them all – at least on this cruise. This will likely be a 6-part series through the end of February, so let’s embark for fun at sea and abroad. Let’s keep traveling together.

All rights reserved (c) 2023 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

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Blogging Food Photography Travel

My Carnival Liberty Vacation 2022

And now Week 7 of my 7-week series on my 8-day fun-filled vacation on the Carnival Liberty out of Miami Florida.

If you missed any of the previous weeks of this series then you can click here: Week 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6. (If you missed all of them then start with Week 1 and work your way forward.)

You know I disembarked the Carnival Liberty 46 days ago, and I’ve been reliving my 8 days on that fun ship every #TravelThursday since then. When I walked off the ship and into the terminal building at PortMiami I thought to myself – that was a great cruise – just as great as my previous Carnival cruise of nearly 3 years earlier. I was already thinking about when my next Carnival cruise would be. More to come on that !

What do I actually do on a Carnival cruise ship ? Well I don’t drink or party. Those days and nights ended on – ironically – a Carnival cruise ship in 2007. I drank alcohol for the very last time in my life on that ship coming out of the Mediterranean Sea and entering the Atlantic Ocean on its way across the sea to Miami. I drank for 22 years from age 18 to 40. I quit drinking 14 months after the start of my salvation in Christ.

Here’s what I do onboard when not in port. I eat a lot. I walk a lot. I eat and walk more than twice as much on a cruise ship as I do back at home and at work. I watch people, and I meet people. Carnival does a fantastic job in encouraging activities where you meet and talk with new people that will hopefully become new friends. I play trivia. I play BINGO. I attend nearly all of the shows in the main lounge. I laugh a lot. I applaud a lot.

I also pray a lot and dive-in to God’s Word while watching and listening to His marvelous seas. On some cruises I even write sermons; although, I didn’t do so on this cruise because of all of the activities that I was participating in.

This was a very unique cruise in that it was only about 40% full (my estimate – not based on any actual data). There was plenty of open space with very few people at all times during this cruise – both inside and outside on the open decks. I think on my next cruise it will be back to normal – at 100% full capacity.

And so now my big announcement. Exactly a month ago – just 18 days after disembarking the Carnival Liberty – I booked my next Carnival cruise. I’ll be sailing on their newest and biggest ship ever – the Carnival Celebration. It’s still under construction in Finland. It makes its maiden Transatlantic voyage from 06 to 20 November 2022, and she arrives in Miami as her new homeport. I’ll be sailing on her about a month-and-a-half after her arrival. It’ll be the newest cruise ship I sail on in my entire 30+ year history of cruising. (I sailed across the Atlantic on the Carnival Freedom in 2007 – 8 months after her maiden voyage.)

Next #TravelThursday a new short series (not 7 weeks) begins at the scene of my next vacation. It won’t be too far away from home – just 60 to 90 minutes away – north up in Broward County. I’m attending a couple of concerts, and I’m spending some fun times with my family (visiting from North Texas).

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp

Categories
Blogging Food Photography Travel

My Carnival Liberty Vacation 2022

And now Week 6 of my 7-week series on my 8-day fun-filled vacation on the Carnival Liberty out of Miami Florida.

If you missed any of the previous weeks of this series then you can click here: Week 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5. (If you missed all of them then start with Week 1 and work your way forward.)

As I’ve mentioned previously I’ve been on Carnival (15 cruises), NCL (6), Royal Caribbean (once), and Disney (once). All of these cruise lines specialize in something different. Carnival has the best (and most) fun activities for all ages from early in the morning until late at night. NCL has the best professional entertainment at sea. Royal Caribbean has the best innovations that you won’t see on any other cruise line. Disney has the best food, and surprisingly I had some fun at the dance club late-night on my one Disney cruise (in 2018).

My favorite cruise line (by far) is Carnival, as I enjoy all of the fun activities at sea. Carnival has a reputation of being the “Walmart” of cruises. Hey – I like Walmart. You get a good deal for your money at both. If you want to go on a fancy cruise ship then don’t go on Carnival, and you can pay three times the amount for your cruise.

Carnival also has a reputation of being filled with drunken college kids running rampant. Yeah – maybe if you go in March or April – which I would never do. My 2ND week of January cruise had very few kids on it, and not too many in their 20s or 30s either. In fact – as a near-55-year-old – I think a little more than half of the cruisers were older than me. Go in March, April, June, July, or August, and meet a different demographic. January is a fantastic time to take a cruise (for me anyway), as it’s back-to-work and back-to-school for most people.

Carnival is not really known for their spectacular food quality, but I enjoy eating a lot of good food onboard. It’s certainly better than anything that I can get here in my hometown. Most of the food on Carnival is free (part of the overall cruise price). On my cruise I actually did eat at both of the “upcharge” places a couple of times each. Their steakhouse cost $38 (all-inclusive). You get a lot of food there – HUGE portions – and it really is the best food on the entire cruise ship.

I was assigned a 6 PM (early) seating at a large table in one of the two main dining rooms. I ate there 5 out of 8 nights. As Carnival typically does when you’re a solo cruiser (like myself) I was seated with other solo cruisers in my age group (which turned out to be 50s, 60s, and 70s). I enjoyed the company of each and every one of them, and we got along great as dinner companions. We ate. We talked. We laughed. We looked forward to seeing each other each night at 6 PM.

I ate a lot of good food on my cruise, and I did a lot of walking around the ship and in the 3 ports-of-call in an attempt to burn off a bunch of those calories. I typically eat twice as much food – (OK maybe even more than that) – than I do back on land at home and at work. Of course I also get more exercise walking on cruises (and on vacations in general) than I do during my normal everyday routine.

Next #TravelThursday – the journey concludes as I reveal my next cruise (already booked). I’ll also reveal my next vacation (on land) which will be much closer to home.

All rights reserved (c) 2022 Christopher M. Day, CountUp