What a Celebration! Carnival’s new ship is filled with memories of 50 years of cruises, as I discover on her maiden call to Southampton

Let the Celebration begin: The ship docked at Southampton yesterday (Picture: Dave Monk)

Carnival Cruise Line’s newest ship Carnival Celebration showed she is already packed with memories when she picked up her first passengers during a rainy visit to Southampton yesterday.

I was one of the first on board before thousands of passengers embarked for the sold-out 14-day transatlantic sailing to Miami where the ship will be named.

The wet weather certainly didn’t dampen the arriving guests’ spirits as they soaked up the new features, such as the Golden Jubilee bar featuring many souvenirs and reminders of the line’s 50 years.

High sea Roller: The 1934 Rolls Royce Saloon rescued from Carnival Ecstasy (Picture: Dave Monk)

Among the mementos I saw on a day visit to the ship are:

  • A 1934 Rolls Royce Saloon from Carnival Ecstasy (originally bought from an antique dealer in North Wales);
  • Original vintage engine telegraph from 1955 installed on TSS Carnivale;
  • Coins for every ship in the fleet, both past and present, embedded into the floor;
  • A model of the TSS Carnivale, recovered from MS Inspiration, at the entrance to the Carnivale Restaurant;
  • Chairs recreated from TSS Carnivale’s Riverboat Lounge paired with cocktail tables from Carnival Fascination’s Hollywood Boulevard;
  • Reproductions of blueprints depicting the evolution of Carnival’s ships, including some hand-drawn designs by architect Joe Farcus;
  • Original bronze statue of Carnival founder Ted Arison and Finnish shipbuilder Martin Saarikangas, given as a gift from the Kvaerner Masa-Yards to the line on delivery of Carnival Sensation in Helsinki, Finland, in 1993.
Full steam ahead: The vintage engine telegraph from TSS Carnivale (Picture: Dave Monk)
Filled with memories: The Golden Jubilee Bar (Picture: Dave Monk)
Small beginnings: A model of the Carnivale, one of the earliest ships in the line (Picture: Dave Monk)

Bringing the collection right up to date is a 1:100 scale, 12ft-long ship model of Carnival Celebration.

During my short stay, I saw as much as I could of the ship’s six zones – though, sadly, the rollercoaster and other activities in The Ultimate Playground were out of use due to the wind and rain.

Ready for departure: The Latitudes Bar (Picture: Dave Monk)

The Latitudes Bar with its clattering airport-style departure board is a great introduction to The Gateway, which also has a set of LED windows that can show scenes around the world relevant to that night’s food or entertainment.

Window on the world: The LED displays in The Gateway (Picture: Dave Monk)

You could almost believe you were in Miami on entering 820 Biscayne with its sunny giant postcard and colourful food outlets.

Central feature: Celebration Central with its high windows

Celebration Central is a three-storey entertainment space surrounded by bars, restaurants and shops. The Lido area at the top of the ship has pool and the RedFrog Tiki Bar while Summer Landing on deck 8 has a pool at the stern plus Guy’s Pig & Anchor (Big Chicken is on deck 16).

Rainbow welcome: A rare burst of sunshine yesterday (Picture: Steve Dunlop/Carnival Cruise Line)

Carnival Celebration is the second Carnival ship, after sister Mardi Gras, to be powered by liquefied natural gas.

The line’s president, Christine Duffy, said: ‘Carnival Celebration is the ultimate 50th birthday gift and is a key part of a very unique and exciting period of growth for us. It’s been a wonderful 50 years, and we kicked off the next 50 with a bang today! Next up – Miami!’

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