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Tim and Dixie Herll

Age: 38

Occupation:Sales and Human Services

Number of Cruises: 2

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Holiday

Sailing Date: January 26th, 2004

Itinerary: Cozumel and Playa Del Carmen

We just completed our 2nd Carnival cruise and 1st aboard Carnival’s Holiday cruise vessel and we had an absolutely great time!!! So many cruise reviews that we read had a lot of negative things to say about the ship. Let me tell you, for the age of the ship, it is in great shape and there is plenty of fun waiting for you, should you decide to set sail on the Holiday.

We chose this particular cruise because we wanted to go to New Orleans. On our previous cruise we stopped at New Orleans for one of our port stops and had a great time there. We really wanted to experience the French Quarters at night and we weren’t disappointed. We flew in a day early and booked a room at the Marriott on Canal Street, which is right on the edge of the French Quarters and just a few blocks from Bourbon St.

We got the room for only 50.00/night through and it was very nice. Our group of four walked down to the French Market and bought some souvenirs and made some great buys. Next we headed up to Bourbon St. for dinner and drinks and just to simply take in the nightlife that makes this area so famous. It was a Sunday night before Mardi Gras so the bars weren’t packed but there were plenty of people and partying going on so we just blended in and had a great time. New Orleans is just an absolutely WILD town so bring your beads and your energy and let ‘er rip!

Day 1 was embarkation and it went very smoothly. In less than an hour we were dropped off at the pier, through the check-in line and aboard our sailing vessel. This ship is a bit smaller than our previous cruise ship and it didn’t take long to figure out were everything was. We booked a guaranteed inside stateroom and got bumped up 2 levels so that worked out very well for us. And our 2 rooms were right next to each other—what a bonus!! The life jacket drill went off without a hitch and we were off!!! We had early seating, so we headed to dinner for the first of 5 calorie filled delicious experiences. The food and service were fantastic and don’t be shy ordering as much as you want. If you don’t like it, try something else. One evening I ate 2 lobsters and tried some quail!!! I went on a quick diet BEFORE the cruise to prepare myself for all the eating that I knew would take place. We all checked out the casino and the ventriloquist, who was hilarious and partied pretty hard for our first day.

Day 2 was an “at sea” day. More good food and up top for some warm sun was the order of the day. Would have liked to spend a little more time in the casino but luck wasn’t on my side. I’d lose my allotted money before I could get comfortable. Oh well, better luck next time. Sang karaoke in the Tahiti lounge and then we went to Rick’s café were the piano bar was and had a blast there. Leonard, the pianist, knows thousands of songs and taking the “mike” and singing a song is encouraged. I did and had a lot of fun with it. Leonard even went on the Internet to get lyrics for me for my next appearance!

Day 3 was Playa Del Carmen. The beaches there are beautiful. We walked up and down the beaches with our sandals in our hands and enjoyed the soft sand. We had bought calling cards before we left the states so we could check on the kids back home when we got to Mexico. We couldn’t get them to work until a gentleman brought to our attention that our calling cards, although designated as international calling cards, would only let you place your international call FROM the U.S. and not TO the U.S. We ended up buying the correct card at a shop in Playa and finally checked on the young ones. We went shopping for souvenirs in town and bought some beer to take back to the beach instead of paying full price at the little cantinas along the beach. It was only a couple of blocks away and was very relaxing. We actually got to stay at this port for quite a bit longer than had been previously been planned. We found a little bar later that sold buckets of beer- 7 dollars for 5 beers. Had a great time there visiting with the other tourists there.

Day 4 was Cozumel. We had been there before and I liked it more the first time. This island is definitely becoming more commercialized. Even Carlos and Charlie’s had moved and been upgraded. I liked the old one better. We did an ATV excursion and had a lot of fun. We got a late start but once we got to the jungle for the ride we were treated to an interesting experience of Mayan culture and history along with thrilling ATV riding. This excursion was a little overpriced. 99.00 per person was a little much for just a couple hours of riding but it was fun!!! Got back to town and bought more souvenirs and made a short stop to Carlos and Charlie’s before heading back to the ship.

Day 5 was “at sea.” The final day was a rainy one. No outdoor activity to speak of but the hairy chest contest was a riot as were the horse races. We went to the debarkation meeting to be sure we knew what to do when got back to the states. One last wonderful meal, a little singing in the piano bar and off to bed disappointed that the cruise was over.

We woke up in New Orleans and ate breakfast in the Lido deck before our color was called to exit the ship. We had a long wait for our flight out but we were pleasantly surprised that at the terminal, there was an outfit that would take your luggage to the airport for you for 5.00 per bag. That came in handy for us so we took advantage of this and made one last pass through the French Market.

Folks, the best way to describe the cruise experience is that if you don’t have fun going on this cruise it’s not Carnival’s fault!! There may be larger-newer ships available for more money but dollar for dollar, you just can’t beat the value of the Holiday 5 day trip. All the staff that we dealt with was very friendly. The ship was very clean, our rooms were neat and clean all the time, we had the towel animals on our beds at night and the nightly entertainment was very good. If you do set sail on this ship or any other in the near future do yourself a favor and get involved in all the ship activities. That’s what makes it fun. If you’re going for peace and quiet, find another vacation!!! Happy sailing!!!

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