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Grand BAHAMAS CELEBRATION — Updated

Posted on Wednesday, December 22, 2010 by

Continue with Peter Knego aboard Celebration Cruise Line’s MV BAHAMAS CELEBRATION for a two night cruise from Palm Beach, Florida to Freeport, Bahamas. The recently renovated ship was originally the top notch Jahre Line ferry PRINSESSE RAGNHILD of 1981.

Celebration Cruise Line

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BAHAMAS CELEBRATION at Freeport in November of 2008. In the background is her predecessor, Imperial Majesty Cruises' REGAL EMPRESS. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2008.

My first and only prior visit to the 35,855 gt, 1000 passenger BAHAMAS CELEBRATION was at Freeport in late 2008, while she was undergoing a major transformation from cold weather ferry to party-oriented Bahamas cruise ship. In my three hours aboard what was virtually a floating construction site, I was able to wander her upper decks, public rooms and accommodation. So much work lay ahead, it was hard to gauge what the outcome would be but certain spaces like the dual-level showroom, seven deck atrium and multiple restaurants held great promise.

Although the ship’s operator, Celebration Cruise Lines, was a start up company, it would be effectively replacing Imperial Majesty Cruises, which for over a decade provided two night cruises from Fort Lauderdale to Nassau on the venerable former liners OCEANBREEZE (ex SOUTHERN CROSS) and REGAL EMPRESS (ex OLYMPIA). Despite my adoration for those two grand old ladies, the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION would have much more to offer today’s cruising public in terms of comfortable accommodation, dining and entertainment options.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

MV BAHAMAS CELEBRATION amongst the Palm Beach palms.

A day after disembarking the magnificent CELEBRITY ECLIPSE in Miami, we were northbound on I-95 en route to Palm Beach (approximately 45 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale), where the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION has been based since this past March.

Reception, facing aft from starboard.

Friendly curbside porters transported our luggage directly onto the ship and directed us to an escalator that took us to the upper level of the terminal. We filled out the necessary paperwork, registered our credit cards, got our security photos taken and made our dinner reservations. The staff was courteous and welcoming (a pleasant contrast with recent cruise terminal experiences in both Miami and Ft. Lauderdale) and within minutes, we were crossing the gangway over the starboard sponson and into bright blue hull of the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION. We entered on the lowest passenger level, Deck 3 (Main), where the Reception area spans the width of the ship at the base of a circular, seven deck atrium traversed by twin glass elevators.

Virginia Sy and Captain Matco Antisic in the wheelhouse of the MV REGAL EMPRESS. Photo and copyright Peter Knego 2008.

It was so nice to be greeted with a hug and warm smile by hotel manager Virginia Sy, whom I last saw on board the REGAL EMPRESS in early 2009, shortly before the ship sailed off to Alang for demolition. It’s no secret that the REGAL E was my favorite U.S.-based cruise ship but it wasn’t just for that lustrous wood paneling and ocean liner ambiance — I have very fond memories of her friendly and accommodating crew.

Category 4 ocean view cabin 8144 measures 144 square feet.

We documented several categories of newly refurbished cabins, then began our coverage of the public areas, all of which will appear in a forthcoming Decked! feature.

Atrium, facing down from Deck 9.

The Atrium is impressive for its scale, especially considering it dates from 1992, rivaling those aboard the latest cruise ships of that era.

The View, facing aft from Deck 4.

The View show lounge is located at the stern on decks 4 (Restaurant) and 5 (Boat). It features a terraced dance floor and stage that is a far cry from the low ceiling and challenged sight lines of the REGAL EMPRESS’ Grand Lounge.

Trattoria Di Gerry, facing forward.

One of five dining venues on the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION, the Trattoria Di Gerry is an informal eatery serving pasta, pizza, desserts and coffee.

Wynmore Casino, facing forward.

The Wynmore Casino is an impressive double level space that was built into the forward portion of Decks 4 and 5.

Pub 437, facing aft.

Pub 437 is a piano bar and pub accessed from the port side promenade that spans the length of Deck 4.

Suite 8142, facing forward.

My home for the next two nights was spacious Category 1 suite 6142 on forward Deck 6 (Lower Bridge) with a view over the bow and to starboard via pairs of picture windows. It featured a queen sized bed, flat screen TV, an unfolding sofa, coffee table and mini bar. More than ample, I’d say!

Suite 8142 WC.

The bathroom was laid out lengthwise with shower stall at the end.

Celebration Cruise Line toiletries.

Breck conditioning shampoo and Beach Mist soap were provided.

Welcome champagne.

A lovely chilled bottle of champagne beckoned but appetites trumped bubbly so we headed up to the buffet on Deck 9 (Top).

Day one buffet.

There are three buffet stations in the nook just aft of the adult wading pool on Deck 9. The main buffet station has a selection of cheeses, fruit salad, fried chicken and pasta.

It's all about the Greek salad!

The salad bar has a trio of offerings, including an excellent Greek salad.

Day one buffet desserts.

There is also a small dessert station with cakes and brownies.

DJ's ice cream parlor, facing forward.

After lunch, we went inside for a quick scoop of ice cream at DJ’s Ice Cream Parlor on the starboard Deck 9 terrace overlooking the atrium.

Horseracing at sail-away.

Afternoon activities included a guided ship tour, a liquor tasting and orientations for karaoke and the ship’s Caribbean Idol contest. As the sun began to set behind Palm Beach, there was a sailaway celebration and horse racing by the pool, hosted by veteran cruise director Jim Ward. Jim has worked with Holland America, Dolphin, Cape Canaveral Cruises, Premier and Imperial Majesty and I have sailed with him over the years on the OCEANIC, DOLPHIN IV, OCEANBREEZE and REGAL EMPRESS.

Twilight funnel from port Deck 9.

At twilight, the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION blew her whistle, cast her lines and with a puff of smoke and the aid of a tug, backed away from the terminal.

Palm Beach Cruise Terminal.

The wedge-like cruise terminal was soon in our wake as the ship turned about in the narrow basin and sailed past the brightly lit Palm Beach shoreline.

The Cove, facing aft.

The BAHAMAS CELEBRATION has a gourmet dining venue called The Cove. For $25 per person (plus 15% service charge), it offers exemplary service and cuisine. Reservations are required.

The Cove, table setting.

Table settings include special chargers with the ship’s portrait.

Kumar in the Cove.

Our waiter Kumar was a familiar face from the REGAL EMPRESS and OCEANBREEZE. A native of India, he is both friendly and very attentive to detail.

Shrimp amuse bouche in the Cove.

The five course meal begins with an amuse bouche and a choice of three appetizers: Warm Goat Cheese Pancakes with sweet bell peppers, garlic, chips and parsley paste; Gravlax Served with Mustard Sauce; Sauteed Escargot in herb butter with cognac and Pernod.

Arugula salad in the Cove.

There is a choice of two soups: Fresh Water Crayfish with mussel bisque, fennel flan and chives; and Consomme Double Profiteroles. Salads include: Arugula with goat cheese, sundried tomatoes, pine nuts and fried onions; Phyllo-wrapped Baked Anjou Pear and Roquefort Cheese with lollo rosso lettuce, spicy pecans and port wine reduction; and Baby Spinach and Frisée with Porcini Vinaigrette.

Pan Seared Pacific Salmon main course in the Cove.

For the Entrée, there is a choice between: Pan Seared Pacific Salmon with green lentils, buttered sautée of carrots, green and red peppers and creamy lobster sauce; Lobster Francaise in Saffron Beurre Blanc with glazed green asparagus, sautéed endive and pomme puree; Duo of Colorado Lamb Chop and Braised Shank of Marjoram Lamb Jus with peas puree and pinot noir sauce; and Pan Seared Fillet Mignon with pomme puree, wild mushrooms, haricots verts, cognac cream sauce and grain salad.

Viennese Apple Strudel With Warm Vanilla Sauce.

And for dessert: Viennese Apple Strudel With Warm Vanilla Sauce; Gran Marnier Creme Brulée; Crepes Suzette Prepared by the Maitre’D; or an International Selection of Cheeses.

Creme Brulée in the Cove.

We wined and dined until the wee hours and then decided to have a walk around the ship.

Facing forward from top of slide platform at night.

There was a welcome aboard show in the View, the Caribbean Idol Competition in the Ocean Breeze Lounge and a whole galaxy of stars to be enjoyed from the open decks.

Over stern at night from top of slide platform.

The engines simmered to a barely audible hum as the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION slowed to a stop, a gentle trade wind coursing over her decks. The bright lights of what we guessed to be Grand Bahama island loomed off our port side.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Dawn over Freeport.

In recent years, Freeport has become one of the most interesting ship watching theaters in the Western Hemisphere. In addition to the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION, there would be two other visiting cruise ships, possibly something in the Grand Bahamas Shipyard and at least two laid up veterans awaiting an uncertain future.

Awoken by the glow of morning outside my window, I threw on some clothes and ran up to the top deck with my cameras.

Bahamas sunrise.

As our ship made her slow approach, the sun began to break through the clouds on the starboard horizon.

NCL and Carnival stern to stern off Freeport.

Off our stern, the incoming CARNIVAL CONQUEST hove to as an NCL Jewel class ship crossed in the distance.

MV CARNIVAL TRIUMPH arriving at Freeport.

After entering the harbor, the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION began to pivot in the turning basin, then aimed her nose into the outer berth, tying up at 07:30. Meanwhile, the CARNIVAL TRIUMPH revved up her engines and sauntered in behind us.

MV CARNIVAL FASCINATION at Freeport.

At the same time, the CARNIVAL FASCINATION backed into the innermost berth, her ungainly midships and aft “paste on” balconies glinting in the morning light.

Dawn over the dockyard.

Two of the more interesting, smaller ships in the basin adjacent to the cruise terminal included the laid up PALM BEACH PRINCESS (ex ILMATAR) and the SEA SPIRIT (ex RENAISSANCE FIVE), which was undergoing a refit and ice strengthening from her recently failed Cruise West incarnation as the SPIRIT OF OCEANUS.

Double Fun Ships in dry dock.

The Spirit Class CARNIVAL PRIDE and the Triumph Class CARNIVAL VICTORY were side by side, stem to stern and high and dry in the Grand Bahamas shipyard. Hard to see in the distance across from them was the laid up and now very transient-looking ISLAND ADVENTURE (ex KAZAKHSTAN) from defunct Sea Escape Cruises.

Wings over the wharf.

Our view of Freeport was soon obscured by the massive CARNIVAL TRIUMPH, which took the center berth off our port stern.

Fellow passengers headed off on various excursions that included a day at Lucaya Beach Resort ($39 per person with lunch, $54 without), Glass Bottom Boat Tours ($54), City Tours ($40), Garden of the Groves ($48), Golf ($63 for nine holes and $93 for eighteen), Two Tank Scuba and Shark Dives ($139), Dolphin Encounters ($109), Dolphin Swims ($200), Snorkeling ($76) and Horse Back Riding ($139). I needed to catch up on sleep, so napped for a couple hours, then went back up to the top of the ship to finish documenting the outer decks before we headed ashore.

BC reflection.

We were tempted to go to Lucaya for a nice afternoon on the beach but with two other ships in port, the crowds would have been a bit much. Also, I wanted to get what could be my last close up look at the historic PALM BEACH PRINCESS and then spend a bit more time on our own ship.

MV BAHAMAS CELEBRATION at Freeport.

Although passengers used to disembark the car deck when the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION called at Nassau, they now exit the ship via a very tall gangway at Freeport. Nonetheless, the massive bow doors are opened when she is in port, presumably for the loading of stores.

Freeport dockside marketplace.

Our first stop was the marketplace alongside the cruise terminal where we bought sun block. And then, because construction was blocking the most direct route to the PALM BEACH PRINCESS, we headed outside the port area.

MV BAHAMAS CELEBRATION at Freeport.

Before long, the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION and her Carnival companions would disappear behind a canopy of palm trees.

MV PALM BEACH PRINCESS at Freeport.

It felt like eons before we reached the entrance to the quay where the PALM BEACH PRINCESS was tied up. Two years prior, the CASINO ROYALE (ex CASTALIA, etc.) lay at the same berth. Eight years before that, it was a silent pairing of the DOLPHIN IV (ex ZION) and TROPICANA (ex PRINSES PAOLA). All have since been demolished at Alang, precisely why I did not want to miss the PALM BEACH PRINCESS (which dates all the way back to 1964 as Finland Steamship Company’s ILMATAR, one of the first Baltic ferries adapted for a latter life in cruising). The non-SOLAS 2010 compliant vessel was withdrawn from her day cruise service last February, with a failed main engine and her owners on the verge of bankruptcy. After her arrival in Freeport, many of her crew members were stranded without pay and forced to live on board until they could make their way home.
From the outside, the ship actually looks in pretty good order but that’s about all I can say since her owners ignored my requests for a visit.

MV SEA SPIRIT at Freeport.

On our way back to the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION, we had a fleeting view of the 1991-built, 4,200 gt SEA SPIRIT in her new deep blue livery.

Rio buffet.

We made it back to the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION in time for buffet lunch in Rio, one of the ship’s two main, included in the fare, dining venues. Seating was a bit tight at the long banquet tables but the dining staff were efficient with frequent refills of iced tea and water and removal of “used” plates as we made several trips back to the 35 foot long buffet. The standout was an amazingly tender whole turkey that was cooked and carved to perfection. For dinner, Rio is informally themed as a Brazilian steakhouse with meats carved tableside, in addition to a large selection from the buffet.

From there, we were off to DJs for a scoop of ice cream, then repented with a quick workout in the gym.

Crystal Dining Room, facing forward/starboard.

We had dinner in the Crystal Dining Room, the second of the ship’s included dining venues, located just forward of Rio on Deck 4. Our busy waiters, Anna and Edwin were friendly and kept the courses coming quickly.

Onion Zucchini Pakora with Spicy Shrimp appetizer.

Appetizers include: Onion Zucchini Pakora with Spicy Shrimp with Chipotle Sauce and Fuji Apple or Vegetable Strudel with Tarragon Sauce. Soup choices were: Country Style Lentil Chowder with Apple Wood Bacon and Smoked Turkey Leg or Butternut Squash.

Iceberg and Romaine salad.

For salads, there was: Tomato Boccacini or Iceberg and Romaine Lettuce Tossed with Vinaigrette and Topped with An Abundance of Garden Vegetables.

Mushroom Stroganoff.

Chef Signature Spicy Rotisserie Chicken.

Five entrées included: Red Snapper Francaise in saffron beurre blanc; Oven Roasted Duck with wild mushroom ravioli and port wine reduction; Mushroom Stroganoff with macaire potatoes, stemmed broccoli and almonds; Bahamas Celebration Chef’s Signature Spicy Rotisserie Chicken served over chickpea curry; Beef Wellington (fillet of beef tenderloin) with potatoes and mushrooms gratine served with winter root vegetables.

Dulce de Leche cheese cake sundae.

Dessert choices: Dulce de Leche Cheese Cake Sundae; Semi Bitter Chocolate Mousse Mini Cake with Fresh Raspberry Coulis; No Sugar Added Apple Strudel with Pineapple Soup and Pink Pepper Corn

Celine Dion impersonated.

We made it to the View just in time for the evening variety show. The first act was an incredibly talented and versatile chanteuse. She “out Celined” Dion with her powerful vocalizations and drew roars from the crowd.

Tango in the show room.

The second act was an Argentinian gaucho style performer who kept the crowd fully engaged with his twirling ropes and drum solos. The third act was a comedian we had seen on prior cruises aboard the REGAL EMPRESS, so we headed up to the Oceanbreeze Lounge.

Oceanbreeze Lounge, facing forward.

The Oceanbreeze Lounge is a glass skylight-topped, circular space at the aft end of Deck 6. It has a cabaret ambiance and is a perfect setting for those brave, talented or deluded enough to try karaoke. We enjoyed several performances, then walked outside for a view over the stern and a final romp under the Bahamian sky.

Pasta in Pizzeria.

I’m not sure either of us was very hungry but we couldn’t resist one last bite at Trattoria di Gerry. Some wonderfully unnecessary pasta and pizza topped with oregano, parmesan and chili finished off our second evening on the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION.

We left our luggage outside our staterooms for collection (before 2:00 AM) and called it a night.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

After buffet breakfast in Rio, we disembarked. Palm Beach’s polite customs and security officers were not taken for granted after a long week of travel.

Keeping in mind Celebration Cruise Lines offers a mass market and not premium or luxury cruise product, our BAHAMAS CELEBRATION cruise lived up to the standards set by our prior sailings on the REGAL EMPRESS and OCEANBREEZE.

The ship offers a wide variety of dining and entertainment venues and has a pleasing ambiance, especially considering her market. Food, service and entertainment are every bit the equal of her mega cruise line competition on the short Bahamas cruise circuit.

End of Grand BAHAMAS CELEBRATION Sea Treks

Very Special Thanks: Martin Cox, Rob Di Stefano, Lis Kemp, Glenn Ryerson, Virginia Sy

37 Responses to Grand BAHAMAS CELEBRATION — Updated

  1. John Pepper

    December 23, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Did the same cruise in July. Deck 6 Cat 1 Suites forward are superior IMO to deck 8 Cat 1 Suites, which we had. Bed was similar to a Roll-Away, very uncomrfotable. No complaints about the meals, entertainment, or other on-board amenities. Fact that most of the elevators were inop was a real issue. And they were not repaired nor made operation through-out the trip. There were four (occasionally 3) working elevators on the entire ship – and they are she size of a hall closet. Cabin service in the suites was excellent – again, getting what you pay for – morning coffee or whatever delivered on time. Make up, etc was satisfactory. Casino was great. Brazilian Steak House was nothing but a zoo . . . eat somewhere else. Excellent dinner the final night in the Cove. Recommend that. Handle your own baggage on re-arrival at Port Everglades, easy off and fast thru Customs.

  2. Edward J Kelley

    December 23, 2010 at 8:12 am

    The vast majority of people who cruise are interested in mid range accomodations, food etc. All this tells me is about one of the best suites on the ship and an extra cost restaurant – both of which are probably being supplied on a complimentary basis hoping to get a good review. When is the last time, I, or any other mid range customer, was greeted at the door by the Hotel Manager. I am interested in a review by people living in the “average” accomodation and eating in the “included in the fare” restaurauints.

  3. Edward J Kelley

    December 23, 2010 at 8:15 am

    This “review” by Peter is fine if you understand that he gets the best accomodation and eats in the “best” restaurants – not what I do on a cruise normally.

  4. Edward J Kelley

    December 23, 2010 at 8:17 am

    My experience in the “Coach cabin”, eating in the “regular” restaurant was much different.

  5. Peter Knego

    December 23, 2010 at 10:11 am

    Edward, I guess the holidays have you in a grumpy mood.

    First of all, I have not finished my “review”. I dined in the Crystal Restaurant on the second night and will report on that in the next post. Other than my cabin, there was nothing different from an “average”, as you put it, experience. Perhaps you missed the image I posted of a category 4?

    Yes, my trip was comped. That is the standard of the industry — cruise writers make less money than your “average” person and could not take cruises if they had to fund every assignment out of their own pockets.

    The hotel manager is a friend from the REGAL E. I have known her for years.

    In addition to showing all of the public areas from top to bottom, I will post the full range of the ship’s accommodation when I do my Decked! feature.

  6. Kenneth Eden

    December 23, 2010 at 12:12 pm

    Dear God, if you want what the average person gets on a main stream run of the mill road ship today, ya aint’t gonna get much. Maybe if Golden Corral, or Buffet Gardens had a ship………….POLEEZE wait until Peter finishes, as I am willing to try this little ship, if Peters likes it.

    Peter, have a wonderful Holiday, Christmas and keep up the good work.

  7. Glenn L.

    December 23, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    Thanks for the report Peter, well done as usual. I wonder why they had to add such huge sponsons to the hull, was stability that bad? Anyway happy holidays and all the best!

  8. Peter Knego

    December 24, 2010 at 1:53 am

    Hi Glenn, thanks for the message and Happy Holidays to you, too. Same to Ken, and thanks as well. :) The sponsons were added by Color Line during one of the ship’s rebuildings. I am on the road at the moment and don’t have access to my sources but I think this occurred when they bulked up her stern.

  9. John Pepper

    December 24, 2010 at 6:51 am

    Glenn, if I read a previous report on Bahamas Celebration correctly the sponsons on the ship were after she was stretched and an additional deck added (Deck 8) as it was indeed a stability issue. She was a North Sea Ferry, and those waters can be pretty rough running.

    I have seen before and after pictures of this ship. As built in 1981 she was only 16,000 tons. After the rebuild she was nearly double that and longer and taller. I have a link for a great photo her as originally built from another site. If Peter would like to share it, I’ll be glad to pass it along.

    Looking forward to the rest of the report Peter and Happy Holidays.

  10. Peter Knego

    December 24, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Thanks, John. Please feel free to share the link. I do have a whole slew of images of her in her various guises from the great Bruce Peter that I will use for my Decked! in the future. She was an extremely handsome ferry as built and her interiors were quite attractive, too. From the same shipyard that built the HAMBURG.

  11. Glenn L.

    December 24, 2010 at 9:49 pm

    Thanks guys, John, Peter and all . Tired of entertaining at home. We’ll be booking Christmas at sea next year. Last time we did that, we gave our stewards two days off, I’d like to make it mandatory but some people just don’t understand. Peace to all and to all a good night.

  12. John Pepper

    December 25, 2010 at 12:13 am

    Here’s the link to the as-built in 1981, with a 1988 deck plan and a substantially different exterior profile.

    Happy Holidays.

    http://hhvferry.com/raghnilde80sdpx_t.jpg

  13. Mage Bailey

    December 26, 2010 at 7:18 pm

    Just back from a week on the Tosterdam, to report that we found the hotel manager delightful despite the fact that we were a in the tiniest of inside cabins. We certainly enjoyed this start of your journey and note the food on both ships seem similar. Saw the Regency SEVEN SEAS NAVIGATOR sporting good sized sponsons too. Also saw two sad old ferry’s chugging along for Baja Ferry’s. All that rust…..

    Hope you had a good holiday.

  14. Kalle Id

    December 27, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Have to point out that the ILMATAR was built not for Finnlines but Finland Steamship Company (tho’ those two are commonly confused for one another and the latter did later own the former). She did spend the 1975 summer season under charter to Finnlines but the rest of the 1964-1980 she spent sailing for Finland Steamship Company, first as a ferry and later from 1973 onwards increasingly as a cruise ship. It’s a shame you could not visit her, her interiors would have been very interesting to see.

    Unrelatedly to that I’m fairly certain the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION’s impressive atrium wasn’t there in the ship’s original 1981 incarnation. Certainly it doesn’t seem to exist in the deck plans provided by John Pepper above and such impressive spaces – with panoramic elevators no less – didn’t become common on ferries until the latter half of the 80′s. The first multi-deck atrium on a ferry that I know of was the three-deck high atrium on Viking Line’s MARIELLA of 1985. I would therefore presume the BAHAMAS CELEBRATION’s atrium dates from the 1992 rebuild.

  15. Peter Knego

    December 27, 2010 at 3:00 pm

    Thanks, Kalle. I’ll amend on the Finland SS Co. That’s what happens when I post from the road without access to my references. Also, I’ll bet you’re right about the atrium being from the 1992 rebuild when they installed the new midsection. Still, it was quite an impressive space for a ferry — even in 1992.

  16. Peter Knego

    December 27, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    I did go on board ILMATAR when she was VIKING PRINCESS in the late 1990s. There was a little woodwork but for the most part she had been rebuilt with shiny ceilings and 80′s style furniture.

  17. Kenneth Eden

    December 28, 2010 at 4:53 am

    Hi Peter,

    It has been a long time since I have heard anyone refer to the “shiny ceilings” that once plagued the cruise ships in the 1980′s and ’90′s. I believe they were made out of mylar (?) – whatever, they were the most vulgar ceilings ever seen at sea.

    My first encounter with shiny celilings was on my one and only cruise with Royal Cruise Line, on the Royal Oddysey, former SS Shalom. The ship was refitted to be “modern”, and it was a joke. Shiny celings, smoked glass panels, mirrored bar tables – all of the charm of the original liner were hidden. The electrical plant was way too old, as the ship broke down three times, once in Leningrad, not a place to be in the cold war, with 99% Americans aboard. This was in the 1980′s.

    I encountered other ships with shiny ceilings, 1980-1990 newbuilds, and they seemed to fit the new ships of that time, BUT not the Royal Odyssey.

    As Don Ho sang, “Tiny bubbles…. I sing “Shiny ceilings….

  18. Kalle Id

    December 28, 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Peter, glad to have been of assistance. And indeed the Celebration’s atrium was impressive for a ferry in 1992. Hell, it’s impressive for a ferry today.

    A shame about the ILMATAR’s interiors. I haven’t come across many interior pictures from her, but if she’s anything akin to other Finnish ferries of the time the interiors should have been rather splendid.

  19. Tom D.

    December 29, 2010 at 7:39 am

    The “Bahamas Celebration” also carries cargo (see the Celebration Cargo Line) in the car deck, so I’d imagine that they would use the bow doors for loading/unloading cargo containers.

  20. Michael Bennett

    December 30, 2010 at 1:22 pm

    A very belated congratulations on your article, Peter! I always look forward to reading your submissions. I enjoyed your perspective on the BC…I guess the only disappointing thing I would have to say about the current itinerary is that there is so little sea-time. What is it, about 80 miles in each direction to Freeport LOL? But moving away from PEV was hopefully a smart move for them. Their ads are on TV CONSTANTLY.

    BTW…don’t forget…you have a taxi when you are here…me!

  21. Kenneth Eden

    December 31, 2010 at 8:25 am

    If you think Florida to the Bahamas is a short distance, how about a Boston to New Port RI segment. The drive by car is 45 minutes IN TRAFFIC!!!!!

  22. Glenn L.

    December 31, 2010 at 12:42 pm

    Happy and Healthy New Year to the officers and crew at Maritime Matters and to all my fellow shipheads.

  23. Dan, Key West

    December 31, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Thanks Peter, The article and pictures are great I was hesitating however I will give the Bahamas Celebration a try.
    I checked out the rates I think the category 1 suite rate is very is very manageable, it’s what I will book
    and I consider myself an average cruiser when it comes to on-board accommodations.
    I’m not sure what all the fuss was about in earlier postings.
    The Regal Empress was a favorite and I sailed on her often enough that some of the crew greeted me by name also, I miss her and the creaky paneling in U91!

  24. Kenneth Eden

    January 2, 2011 at 6:08 am

    Peter, Happy New year!

    I wish only to comment on your above article, which for a very mundane cruise, to a rather blah Freeport, you have visually and verbally made the BC seem very appealing, and I think I shall give her try.

    As for what Peter paid, it wouild really not be of anyones business, except for Peter, and as he pointed out, it was a comp. a perk for the travel writer. To also lump passngers as having mid-range interests when planning and taking a cruise, is well, ………………………………….!

  25. Mike

    January 2, 2011 at 4:39 pm

    Thanks for the review Peter. Also sorry that your cabin window was dirty :( When you were in freeport did you see SeaEscape’s Island Adventure still in dry-dock there?

  26. Peter Knego

    January 2, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Hi Mike, yes, she was across from the dry docks. I took a photo but it wasn’t so good from the distance and did not post, accordingly.

  27. Timothy Hickey

    January 3, 2011 at 7:42 am

    I just wanted to mention you made a misrepresentation in one of the pictures above. You indicated the “Carnival TRIUMPH” to be the “Carnival CONQUEST”!! Oops!! :)

  28. Kenneth Eden

    January 3, 2011 at 7:54 am

    Peter,

    When I think of bath amenities, I certainly do not think BRECK. It is a drug store brand, and not high end, however, this is obviously not a high end cruise line.

    I do remember on many a cruise when the only provisions were a bar of Ivory, or Palmolive, tiny travel bars, and no other amenities except toilet paper and a box of tissues in the bath, and the toilet paper was of the cheapest, harshest kind. This was not long ago, either. Look how far the cruisse experience has come, soft toilet paper and BRECK! Incidently, Breck was origianlly called DRECK, in the 1920′s, yiddish for s_ _ _t! Or is that urban legend?

  29. Mike

    January 3, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Thanks for the quick reply Peter, i am glad she is still in freeport and not scrapped. I saw the photo of Casino Royale on your website and my heart just sank, she looked like a great small vessel for day cruises :( . Could you e-mail me the photo of the Island Adventure if you have time? Thanks again for the great photos.

  30. Peter Knego

    January 3, 2011 at 9:15 am

    Hi Timothy — thanks!!! Somehow, I swapped TRIUMPH for CONQUEST not just once but three times. Yikes… Now fixed. Again, thanks for catching that! :)

  31. Deborah DAmbrosi

    January 3, 2011 at 10:23 am

    I guees DISCOVERY SUN wasn’t there on this trip huh Peter? If you were at Freeport, and it was Wednesday…then she is’nt there at all.

  32. Peter Knego

    January 3, 2011 at 1:46 pm

    HI Deborah. Nope, she was nowhere in sight…

  33. Grady

    May 11, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Thanks for the great pictorial. I am considering a cruise on her, and this has helped a lot!

    BTW: I liked your comment about Carnival Fascination’s “pasted on” balconies! They really detract from the look of the Fantasy Class ships.

  34. Peter Knego

    May 13, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Thanks, Grady. Yes, if you do not expect a Silversea experience, the BC provides an enjoyable cruise. Of course, nothing will be able to replace the REGAL EMPRESS If you are a classic ship lover….

  35. Michael Bennett

    May 16, 2011 at 6:18 pm

    In reponse to an earlier poster…I also wrote a review for MM on BAHAMAS CELEBRATION, when she was here in Fort Lauderdale. Peter wrote his usual masterful review, which I always look forward to with antici…pation LOL. I paid for my own accommodation and wrote my review anonymously, except for the head housekeeper who graciously showed me some cabins. As for the trip and the ship: it is what it is, and it’s priced accordingly. For a 2-night getaway it’s hard to beat. I enjoyed seeing the masterful transformation of parts of the ship from her past life. FYI, I also had the minimum grade u/l coach cabin. It was akin to a mass-market Caribbean vessel in the 80s. Look forward to sailing BAHAMAS CELEBRATION again from her new homeport.

  36. Ron Brown

    August 7, 2011 at 1:02 pm

    the room a nightmare, to small–I guess we got what we paid for but still there was bags , bags and bags in the hallways . speaking of the hallway, to small.
    I rate this ship 1-star and we won’t be back .

  37. juan luis igual

    February 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    working in the accommodation, in the reform of 1991, in zones: atrium, pub, duty free shops, a la carte restaurant and auditorium

    Is still as beautiful as we left 20 years ago.

    in very blogspot no photos of that work

    is very gratifying to see that your work lasts over time.

    thanks

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