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Penny Hudson

Age: 30

Occupation:Dental Hygienist

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Holiday

Sailing Date: January 15th, 2007

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

Carnival Cruise Lines
Holiday Cruise Review
Western Caribbean

Penny Hudson

This was my first cruise, and thankfully, everything went so smoothly. Embarking was a breeze; My hubby and I got there to board in Mobile at about 1:00 and the ship sailed at 4:00. The lines were not bad and everything was done quite efficiently. We did get held up for a second when security had to measure my husband's knife to see if they could allow it onboard. Of course, his knife happened to be just about 1/2 inches longer, so goodbye to his really nice knife. It was an absent minded mistake, him bringing it, but the good tip here is to just NOT bring a knife, DUH.

We boarded the ship after receiving our Sign and Sail cards. For our cruise, there was a $100 charge they claimed as "service fees", so just be prepared for that, depending on the cruise. You do have to fill out the Sign and Sail info w/ your debit/credit card b/c that acts as your card and ID on the ship. You must also have this card when going off and on the ship when you are in port, along w/ your picture ID. We at lunch on the Lido deck and checked out our room. Our steward, Bambang, was excellent! He always had everything tidied up when we left in the morning and after dinner, our bed was turned down w/ a cute towel animal awaiting us. Our luggage arrived maybe an hour or so after we boarded, but one couple in our party had to wait much longer. Thankfully, they got their luggage well before dinner to change.

Nadel was our waiter and so was Joel; both were magnificent w/ their service. Never before had I seen such excellent service from such nice people. I really admire all the staff that made our cruise such a wonderful experience. They work so hard and always had a smile on their face. This was ALL the staff on the ship, not just our waiters and steward. It's good to travel w/ people who understand and appreciate their hard work; one woman in our party didn't really "get" this. Oh well, despite her complaints and being a picky eater, I was NOT about to let that ruin my cruise. Even though this is the smallest ship in the Carnival fleet, there are PLENTY of places to go if you want to get away from "difficult travelers" like I did, lol. I would not have minded having more things to choose from on sea days; we did do a lot on what was on the agenda, but had to wait for a while b/c most things were offered in their main lounge, the Americana Lounge. I suppose this is the one big disadvantage on a smaller ship. Nonetheless, we had a blast going to the games and activities. For a few events, we were crying from laughing so hard, like at the Newlywed Not So Newlywed game.

Our first port of call was in Cozumel. If you want jewelry, this is the place to do it. Talk these people down on price as much as you can and you can get a really good deal. They practically will NOT let you leave the store unless you have a price that you like. I got a gorgeous pendant that I am very happy with that I indeed, got for an excellent price. I didn't do much else in Cozumel besides souvenir shop and had lunch at Pancho's Backyard. It came highly recommended but was not as good as I thought it would be. The homemade tortillas were very good, though.

Our second port day was in Calica/Playa del Carmen. My husband and I went to Xcaret park. It was about 10 minutes away from the ship on the bus we took, and we were docked right on the island, as opposed to having to take a tender boat like we did in Cozumel. It is MUCH MUCH MUCH better to be docked right there b/c it was not much fun having to wait forever to get to Cozumel. I could have swam from the ship and been to the island faster, lol. But I'm getting off track!

Xcaret was what made this trip absolutely fabulous for my husband and me!!! It is like a mini-zoo and resort all rolled into one. For $60 per person, it is well worth it. We started at the underground 1 1/2 mile long river. You CAN take stuff you want to keep dry when you get your life vest; they drop it off for you at the end of the river. Wish we knew that b/c we would not have gotten a locker at the beginning, but oh well. You do have to go all the way to the end to get your dry stuff, but it is well worth it float down this relaxing river. It's well worth it to go to the end b/c we were on the coast and relaxed in hammocks on the beach. It was paradise!!!! I think that was my favorite part. I loved the sea turtles and manatees there as well. We had lunch there and had some kind of authentic Mexican sandwich. Nothing too impressive, but when you're hungry, it'll work! There are wild iguanas and beautiful tame parrots everywhere. We had fun w/ our parrot at lunch. He attacked some buttons on my husband's shirt and we got a huge kick out of that. I wouldn't have minded snorkeling, but opted not to do so b/c there would not have been much room to do so with everyone else wading in the pools around us. It was different b/c the coast was bordered by rocks and the only beach we saw was where everyone else was. This park is so huge though, that we may have missed another beach somewhere. You can't really see everything in one day; so that's why we want to go back! There are tons of different paths everywhere, so wear comfy shoes b/c you'll be walking around a lot. But it is so worth it!

Now that I've gone on for years about Xcaret, let me touch a few more points about the Holiday. There is indeed, a "mystery" toilet smell on the ship, and thankfully, we only smelled it when we walked past the Bus Stop Bar. If you like to drink soft drinks, buy the card that will give you unlimited soft drinks. You can only get one at a time, and buy it the NEXT day when you are on your first sea day b/c it's a little cheaper than when you buy it when you are in port. Another good thing to point out is to definitely tip your steward and your waiters. We tipped our steward a little every night, and the last night we tipped our waiters. There is also a drink waiter at dinner that will get you alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. We just used our soft drink card when we wanted a coke, but they won't get their 15% automatic gratuity that way, so it's nice to tip them a little as well. We ordered room service and it's best that you don't order around mealtimes. I ordered around noon/one o'clock and had to wait about 45 minutes just for a turkey sandwich and chocolate cake. Later in the afternoon and later at night was when they were more efficient. For those of you that like fruity drinks, get a Kiss on the Lips. I have a new favorite drink now b/c of this wonderful concoction. It's peach, mango, grenadine and peach Schnapps, if I heard our drink waiter correctly in the Americana Lounge. Our bed was made into a king size and it did not come apart like I've heard on some people. I really would not have minded having the beds separated into 2 twin beds b/c that could have given us more space in our room, but it worked this way just fine. At breakfast and lunch, people had to wait awhile in line to get their food on the buffet. We opted to go to the dining rooms for a nice sit down breakfast and lunch. It's MUCH more quite, and you are not waiting 5 years to get your food. The food was very good, and my favorite dinner was the steak and lobster. The chocolate melting cake was my favorite pick for dessert. The desserts are fabulous! (Even the yogurt you can get 24 hours a day is yummy.) Do NOT be shy and order as much as you want. I always seemed to get either 2 starters, 2 entrees, or 2 desserts. If you don't want anything they have on the menu, ask them if they can make you what you want and they will certainly accommodate you as best they can.

Disembarking only took us about 45 minutes, but we had to leave early to catch a flight. No problems getting off the boat and going thru customs this way, only that we had to carry our own luggage. Other than that, we seriously cannot wait to go on another cruise and I'm so glad we had a wonderful time!!!



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