Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Holiday
Sailing Date: 2004
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
I had heard horror stories about the ship being run down and smelly, however, I found it to be a good experience. I have been on three previous Carnival cruises (Inspiration, Celebration, and Sensation) and this one was just as good if not better than one or two of the previous cruises.
Embarkation - not a problem at all. Fill in your "FunPass" info before leaving home to speed up the process. Pick up your "Sign and Sail" card and then have a short wait to get on the ship. Though we were told that you couldn't get on the ship until 2 PM, I believe we were on by 1245 PM.
Dining - Clive, India, was our head waiter and Zdenka, Romania?? (can't remember), was his assistant. Clive was better than average, however, Zdenka will make an excellent head waiter someday. Great personality!!! Seems to really love her job.
Everything I ordered for dinner was wonderful. My fiance had a less than stellar lamb dish one day. Pretty fatty and not great taste. A friend of ours had the lobster tail one night and it was pretty tough for some reason or another. One thing I will say is that I have noticed the head waiter, on previous cruises, immediately notice when one of his diners not enjoying a meal and ask them if they'd like something else. Though I can't really knock Clive for anything else, he never did this (though he did let one of our friends order two main course dishes during two or three dinners).
Social director/cruise director - Paul Santley/band leader - The staff was WONDERFUL. I proposed to my girlfriend on the first night at the "Welcome Aboard Show", in front of hundreds of people, and I was shocked as to how willing they were to assist me and how quickly they arranged it. Band leader, his name escapes me right now, did a great job in getting a requested song played during my proposal with only 2 1/2 hours notice. I couldn't thank them enough.
Rooms - very standard for the older cruise ships, but more than adequate. Hopefully, you aren't spending too much time in the room anyway. Had an inside room and I see no reason in spending extra money for a room with a balcony. Our cabin steward was great and it seemed that we would sometimes leave our cabin for dinner, realize we forgot something about ten minutes later, go back to the cabin to retrieve it, and our room would already be clean.
It is VERY hard to get a perfect temperature in the shower. PAY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THE SIGN THAT SAYS "RUN COLD WATER FIRST TO PREVENT SCALDING". There is a reason that warning is right in plain view as you enter the shower.
In reference to odors of sewage, I only noticed it a few times on the five day cruise. Sure it was unpleasant, but it was only brief.
In reference to the ship being run down, it's in good shape for a cruise ship of that age. You should know before going on it that you didn't sign up to go on the Conquest or other newer ship.
Pools - Space gets limited early in the morning. If you love the sun during days at sea, you must be up by about 7 AM at the lates to get a half way decent spot. Bar service was decent, but you might as well just walk up to the bar for very quick service while basking in the sun.
One thing I was thankful for was the man playing the steel drum by the pool. On a previous cruise, I believe it was the Inspiration in 2000, there was almost no music by the pool (not even over the speakers) at any time of the day.
Ports of call -
Playa del Carman - We did the Xcaret excursion. It was a fun experience. Snorkeling the river that runs through the park is an interesting and different experience, but there isn't much to see underwater. Only a small sandy beach area, but it is still a relaxing day.
Cozumel - All we did was shop. If you go to the "Smart Shoppers" talk with Jason, you will know exactly which stores to go in and which ones to avoice. Even if you don't catch the talk live, you can watch it 24 hours a day on your cabin's TV (or so it seems). DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME WITH SHOPS THAT JASON DOESN'T TALK ABOUT. There is a reason he doesn't talk about them. Shopping in Cozumel, with a lunch thrown in there, can take up your full day in Cozumel. If you are wanting to get some sun on the ship after your day in Cozumel, get back on the ship around 130 PM at the latest and take your pick of space near the pool.
Bars - Very good drinks. Most of ours were Bombay Sapphire gin for me and a variety of martinis for my fiance. The Bus Stop was our favorite place to hang out before our late seating dinner. They bartenders usually did not go lightly with the alcohol (a plus in my book). One female bartender from Peru did accidentally charge me for 34 buckets of Corona at once. Since I was in Cozumel all day, I didn't notice that the receipt said something like 540 dollars since I was used to seeing items priced in pesos all day. When I pointed it out, she quickly apologized for the mistake and assured me that it would be voided. I saw her two nights later, as we were having some pre-dinner drinks, and she immediately recognized me, apologized again, and asked if the charge had been voided yet. Needless to say, it had been fixed by the night of the accidental charge. I wasn't too worried about it as I was pretty certain that if I had to point it out later, that no one would think I had actually bought 34 buckets of beer at once.
Pictures - PLENTY of opportunities to get your pictures made during the five days. ONLY bad thing about the picture service - DO NOT attempt to walk through the concourse area while the pictures are being sold. Go through the casino instead.
Shops onboard - Plenty of Carnival themed souveniers to buy onboard. Brand named cologne/perfume at very good prices. Buy your alcohol on board. I saved about 11 dollars a bottle for Bombay Sapphire Gin onboard. Though you are "limited" to one liter of duty free alcohol, you can buy as much as you want. Plus, there is a BIG chance that Customs will not even deal with duty when you get off the boat. My fiance and I bought eight liters of alcohol total and to tell you the truth, I didn't see much of Customs. It wasn't that I was trying to avoid them, I just didn't see them.
We didn't see any of the comedy shows and didn't use the salon or fitness areas so I can't comment on them.
Karaoke was OK, but it was usually females between 17-18 that were either obnoxious people or had gotten their hands on alcohol at some point of the day.
The cruise definitely gets an A in my book. The only reason it isn't an A+ is because it was an older ship.
I'm looking forward to my next cruise. Possibly the Conquest in February of 2005 for my wedding/honeymoon.