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Carnival’s biggest cruise ship ever sets sail from Miami and TPG is on board

Nov. 21, 2022
6 min read
Carnival Celebration
Carnival’s biggest cruise ship ever sets sail from Miami and TPG is on board
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After a music-filled christening ceremony at the Miami cruise port Sunday night, Carnival Celebration – the cruise line’s biggest cruise ship ever – will set sail Monday on its maiden voyage from U.S. shores.

The six-night Caribbean cruise will keep the inaugural celebrations going with Thanksgiving festivities as guests on holiday try out all the ship’s attractions, from the line’s second roller coaster to an Emeril Lagasse restaurant.

TPG cruise editor Erica Silverstein is on board to document all the fun.

For cruise news, reviews and tips, sign up for TPG’s cruise newsletter.

Naming ceremony

Cassidy Gifford names Carnival Celebration. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

Carnival Celebration was not the only new Carnival property debuting Sunday. The festivities began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for Carnival's redesigned state-of-the-art Terminal F at PortMiami — the F stands for "fun," said Christine Duffy, president of the line known for its "Fun Ships."

The line’s third terminal at the port and its largest in South Florida, Terminal F will be among the first to be shore-power ready in 2023. Passengers will appreciate a Captain's Lounge waiting area that can seat 500, an immersive tunnel on the second level and cool digital imagery throughout.

Related: The ultimate guide to Carnival Cruise Line

After the ribbon-cutting, guests boarded the ship for the naming ceremony. To celebrate what is also Carnival's 50th birthday and the passing of the name Celebration from the original 1987 ship to bear that name, Carnival chose Cassidy Gifford to be the ship's godmother, taking on the role from her mother, Kathie Lee Gifford, Carnival's first spokesperson and godmother of the first Celebration. Cassidy is an actress, appearing in TV and film roles including "God's Not Dead" and "The Gallows."

In a small gathering before the official christening, she spoke about how she grew up on Carnival ships, where she loved the waterslides and the pools. She talked about the memories she had of spending time with her brother and her dad while her mom worked, emphasizing the family focus of a Carnival vacation.

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Then she joined Duffy and John Heald, Carnival's brand ambassador, on stage to name the ship. She pulled a candle-shaped lever atop a Romero Britto-designed birthday cake to trigger the traditional Champagne smash against the ship's hull as confetti rained from the ceiling. The evening concluded with a concert by Kool & The Gang, known for their hit song "Celebration."

Carnival Celebration naming ceremony. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

About Carnival Celebration

The second ship in Carnival’s Excel class, the 15-deck-high Carnival Celebration is a sister vessel to Carnival's 181,808-ton, 6,630-passenger, 1-year-old Mardi Gras. (Third sister Carnival Jubilee debuts in 2023.)

The two identically sized ships are a whopping 35% bigger than the next-biggest Carnival ship currently afloat, the 3-year-old Carnival Panorama; only 11 other cruise vessels in the world are bigger than these twins. For comparison, Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas — the world's largest cruise ship — can house 7,084 passengers.

Related: The 8 types of Carnival cruise ships, explained

Beyond size, Carnival Celebration has many similarities to Mardi Gras. Most impressively, it has a roller coaster, named Bolt: Ultimate Sea Coaster, on its top deck. Its vehicles will reach speeds of roughly 40 miles per hour as they careen around an 800-foot-long track.

Carnival Celebration, like its sister, will have a giant water park on its top deck. It will also feature more suite options than other Carnival ships. Restaurants such as Rudi’s Seagrill, Chibang (mixing Mexican and Chinese) and Emeril’s Bistro 1397 (Creole favorites from Emeril Lagasse) all return on Celebration.

Plus, the ship will be powered by liquefied natural gas like its twin – the only two ships in Carnival’s fleet to have this technology.

But the new vessel won’t be a complete copycat of Mardi Gras. It will have three new “zones” (themed sections of the ship): Celebration Central, The Gateway and 820 Biscayne.

Related: The 5 best destinations you can visit on a Carnival ship

Celebration Central is the area located around the central atrium, featuring several bars that pay homage to the cruise line’s history. The Aquaria Bar is decorated with an ocean-themed glass mural originally found on Carnival Victory, and the Tropicale Bar is named after the Carnival ship that debuted the line’s famous red, white and blue split funnel.

The Gateway on Carnival Celebration. ERICA SILVERSTEIN/THE POINTS GUY

The Gateway is a two-deck area themed around the joys of travel. Its 12 high-definition multimedia virtual windows will display scenes from around the world, tailored to that evening’s theme night. Food, drinks and entertainment in the area will match the theme, which could be Mexico Lindo or Abroad in Europe. The new Latitudes bar will evoke a classic train station and will feature a special happy hour every evening.

Bar 820 on Carnival Celebration. CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE

Finally, 820 Biscayne will be Carnival Celebration’s homage to Miami. Its Bar 820 will serve martinis and other cocktails inspired by South Florida, as well as Cuban coffee. Like Miami, this area will have a variety of dining options, ranging from Deco Deli and Miami Slice (for pizza) to the Italian Cucina del Capitano and Rudi’s Seagrill.

Returning zones include Summer Landing, Lido and The Ultimate Playground.

Related: Carnival cabin and suite guide

Carnival Celebration is scheduled to sail six- to eight-day voyages to the Bahamas and the Caribbean out of – where else? — Miami. Fares start at $449 per person, not including taxes and fees.

Planning a cruise? Start with these stories:

Featured image by CARNIVAL CRUISE LINE
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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Apply for American Express® Gold Card
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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
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    Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.

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  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

Pros

  • 4x on dining at restaurants and U.S. supermarkets (on the first $25,000 in purchases per calendar year; then 1x)
  • 3x on flights booked directly with the airline or with Amex Travel
  • Welcome bonus of 60,000 points after spending $4,000 in the first six months

Cons

  • Weak on travel outside of flights and everyday spending bonus categories
  • Not as useful for those living outside the U.S.
  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
  • Few travel perks and protections
  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
  • $120 Dining Credit: Satisfy your cravings and earn up to $10 in statement credits monthly when you pay with the American Express® Gold Card at Grubhub, The Cheesecake Factory, Goldbelly, Wine.com, Milk Bar and select Shake Shack locations. Enrollment required.
  • Choose the color that suits your style. Gold or Rose Gold.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees