Number of Cruises: 4
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Holiday
Sailing Date: May 22nd, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Lines
Holiday Cruise Review
After hearing some of the news reports,
and other reviews of the FEMA contracted ships, I was a little apprehensive
about cruising on the Holiday. We arrived in Mobile a day early in order to see
the USS Alabama, and Dauphin Island (Ft. Gaines), shop, and enjoy that hot
Embarkation: The Mobile cruise terminal is excellent! Security won’t let you into to complex until 11:00 AM, but at 11:10 the porter had our luggage, and I was parking in the attached garage ($60.00 for a 5 day cruise). 20 minutes later we were on the ship. A polite and professional staff made this the most painless embarkation we’ve done so far. Our rooms were still being prepared, but I met our cabin stewards Andrew and Yuveh. I dropped off my carry-on and headed for the Lido deck for lunch, getting my daughter a fountain card in the process. Exploring the ship is easy, it’s not the same floating palace that the Conquest is; more like a floating, better than average hotel. After the mandatory lifeboat drill, Mobile slips away and the pool party kicks up a notch. We had selected early seating for dinner, and in the Seven Seas dining room we were met by the maitre‘d, Alehandro, our head waitress Eva, and our team waiter Lukas. Some of the menu items were new, and I know I liked some of them from previous cruises. The Georges Blanc selections were excellent, and when in doubt, I’d take Eva’s recommendation. After the first night Lukas knew our drink selections, as well as which one of us wanted after dinner coffee, with my daughter’s hot chocolate.
First day at sea: The weather was overcast, but that didn’t stop the fun. The small size of the pool didn’t stop my daughter (or Dad), once the slide opened up both were soaked in short order. I preferred the hot tubs. Typical cruise routines went on the entire day, hairy chest competition, horse races, bingo, etc… Nice and relaxing.
Calica: There is nothing in Calica (yet) but a quarry and a pier, so excursions, or a taxi up to Playa del Carmen are a must. We took the shopping and beach break and had a nice time with it. The wife bought a skirt and top, but had difficultly using traveler’s checks, eventually getting things worked out. I spent all my time on the beach at the Blue Parrot; this is where the guide hangs out for the duration of the excursion. A few couples on the tour went parasailing, and pretty much anything you want to do, the staff at the ‘Parrot can arrange. Warning to families with juveniles, tops are somewhat optional at the beaches, occasionally a topless woman might walk by, I denied looking, my wife didn’t believe me, but hey, worth a try…
Cozumel: Hurricane Wilma demolished the pier at Puerto Maya so a water taxi shuttles people back and forth. Those with excursions get to the beach first. Shopping can still be done at the Puerto Maya landing, most of the buildings survived, but we took a taxi to the Cozumel shopping district, which is relatively undamaged, and still probably offers some of the best shopping in the Caribbean. The stores on the main drag don’t haggle much, but around behind Las Palmeras (great food BTW), is a large plaza that’s a shopper’s paradise. There are plenty of excursions available (in both ports), so a person could do as much, or as little as they wanted.
Last day (at sea): The sun came out and provided a picture perfect day. Lots of sunbathers, even so, the pool wasn’t too crowded. The aft pool was great as well, less people and noise, same sun.
Debarkation: Not too bad. Those willing to haul their own luggage off the ship can debark shortly after the ship clears customs (about 8 AM). After they are out of the way, early flights and vacation club members are next, then they start calling out by decks. Once reunited with the luggage (and this is too cool), the porters waited with us as we passed through customs, and took our luggage all the way to the car!
The Holiday: She may be the oldest ship in Carnival’s fleet, but she’s well kept. Holiday is small enough that you can interact with the crew (if you want), and large enough to find peace and quiet. The only detractors are the walls are kind of thin, so you may hear noises from adjacent cabins, and for a short time the commodes didn’t flush for a group of cabins (I think that someone might have flushed something they shouldn’t have), the problem was fixed in short order and during this time if I had to use the bathroom, I went down 5 rooms to Dad’s cabin and used his.
The shows were excellent; there is a country themed show the second night where Steve Cassell (the cruise director) plays a mean country fiddle, the second show “Shout” is a review of music from the 60’s to 90’s and was a crowd pleaser as well.
All in all, the Holiday is a great value, and something that I would recommend to first time cruisers or anyone unsure about cruising. It’s a great way to spend time with family.