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Marybeth and Rip Edmundson

Age: 61


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Holiday

Sailing Date: February 17th, 2007

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

We attended a Mardi Gras parade the Friday night before we boarded. The Crew of Columbus parade was one of the many parades held in Mobile in the two weeks before “Fat Tuesday”. After the parade we drove to the cruise terminal to see where it is. Easy to find and drive to. EMBARKATION A relative who lives in Mobile gave us a ride to the cruise terminal at Noon on Saturday. She dropped us off at the door inside the parking garage where they station porters to take your bags. We had previously labeled all of our bags with the tags that Cruises, Inc. sent us and with our own tags. We also locked them up with TSA approved locks the airline requires. (Note to Carnival: The locks you sell in the Gift Shop on the ship are not TSA approved and are thus useless to anyone planning to fly. Get TSA approved locks.) We took our carry-ons (containing a change of underwear, medicine and cameras) and followed the signs to the check-in area. We showed our passports and proceeded to the counter with just a short wait. We were allowed to take a picture of our counter person who was wearing a fantastic Mardi Gras hat. (Photography is not normally allowed in the check-in area except by Carnival photographers) We were issued our cabin keys (plastic hole-punched card) and Sail and Sign Cards for charging aboard the ship. Then we proceeded to the line to have our first of many Carnival photos taken before boarding the ship. This one was the boarding photo (4”x6” for $7.99 and $4 for an album later in the Photo Gallery) Then we stood in a short line (less than a minute) to have our photos taken for our Sail and Sign Cards. The whole check-in process took less than 15 minutes total. We didn’t meet anyone who had to wait long. Walking across the bridge from the parking ramp/check-in area gave us the first close-up view of the ship. We had heard that Holiday was Carnival’s oldest and smallest ship but it sure looked new and huge to us. We are used to cruising on sailboats around 40 feet long and this ship is mammoth. There was a guy hanging from a platform, painting the red stripe around the starboard side of the ship. (When we left the ship the next Thursday, he was back up there, still painting the same stripe a little further toward bow.) We boarded the ship with our Sail and Sign card and were told that our cabin would be ready at 1:30pm. We walked from the Main Deck (level 5) entrance into the Purser’s Lobby. We saw the Excursion Desk right in front of us and decided to see what was available. We had been planning to sign up for our excursions online but waited until a couple of days before the embarkation and found out that Carnival cuts off the sign-up a week before sailing. No matter, we signed up for a snorkel boat on Monday at Costa Maya and a tour of the Tulum Mayan ruins on Tuesday out of Cozumel. Our thought was to do something we could not do in Wisconsin in February and do something that we could not do in any other location. We took the elevator up to the Lido Deck (level 10) and walked out by the pool (one of 4). We bought the “drink of the day”, Fun ship Special (different one every day) We called this one the “Yellow Rum Drink” after the color of the goblet. They cost $7.25 but you get to keep the plastic hurricane goblet and can refill it for $5.95. We also bought soda cards for each of us (unlimited cokes for $34.10). Did not seem too crowded on Lido and we went into the buffet area for lunch. Having read a lot about Carnival’s pizza, we decided to try it and were not disappointed. It was very good and very fresh. They were handing them out still steaming from the oven. This was very relaxing and we reflected that our boarding had been very smooth. Last Saturday the temperature was 3°F when we left Milwaukee and here in Mobile it was in the 50s. The Alabamans were freezing but Rip loved it. Marybeth was holding out for 80° in Mexico. After lunch, it was still not yet 1pm so we went exploring. We walked up to the Verandah Deck (level 11) and Sun Deck (level 12, very top) and looked at the miniature golf course and stack. Then we went down to the Promenade Deck (level 9) and walked it from the Americana Lounge at the bow to the Doc Holliday’s Bar at the stern. On the way we saw an Art Gallery below through an open area in the deck. We went down to the Admiral Deck (level 8) and visited the Internet Café and Library. We noticed that the Library was only open for an hour in the morning and hour in the afternoon. If you wanted a book you had to plan for it. They had books you could check out and books to trade. The Internet access on the ship was very expensive. ($24 for 60 minutes) Rip brought his laptop but ended up only using it to download and edit photos. Rip took about 500 photos. Next door is the Art Gallery. They have Art auctions all week although we never went to any. There was a very nice sailing painting that a lady was looking at. Rip asked her if she was a sailor and it turned out that she and her husband own the exact same sailboat as us, 1987 Hunter 31. Thomas and Sheryl are from Pensacola and we have lots in common. They mentioned that their dinner schedule had been screwed up. We looked at our Sail and Sign Card and saw that ours was wrong too. We had signed up for 6:15pm dinner and Carnival had us on the 8pm dinner. We decided to go together and see if we could get it changed. We went to the Four Winds Dining Room on the same deck we were on (level 8). The Maitre D’Cuisine was very accommodating and sent us up to the Seven Seas Dining Room with an escort. They changed our dining time to 5:45pm in the Seven Seas at table 264. That is significant because it put us on the “Blue Team” (Even table number) for many of the events the ship conducts during the cruise. OUR CABIN By this time it was well after 1:30pm and we were really anxious to see what our cabin was like. We went down to the lowest (passenger accessible) level of the ship, Riviera Deck (level 4) and to the rear hallway, starboard side, of the ship to Cabin R115. It was a window cabin (took Rip a minute to realize that meant an “outside” cabin) second from the elevator lobby. We were close enough for convenience but far enough away to not hear the elevators. The window is not a porthole, more like a picture window size. We had a wonderful view of the sunset the first two days. It was much roomier than we expected. We are used to spending two weeks every summer on a 31 foot sailboat and this was much more room. They had put two large singles together to make a nice big king-size bed. Rip had ordered roses for Marybeth to be delivered to the room because we had been on the road for Valentine’s Day. They were there and beautiful. They lasted the full five days and were still nice when we were ready to debark. You can’t take flowers (or any plant or animal material) off the ship so we gave them to our waitress in the dining room at our last dinner. We received four of our bags right away and worried about the last one right up to the “lifeboat drill”. It finally arrived, much to our relief. We had vastly over-packed despite the advice given by Ben and Lynn Catalina, our agents from Cruises, Inc. We did not know what to expect on a cruise. The lifeboat drill was something that we had read about but had absolutely no idea what to expect. We found our life jackets in the end table and tried them on. Boy, are they clunky. We use inflatable on our boat that are very comfortable to wear. These things have three times the flotation of our inflatable so are thicker than our necks are long. We went up to our station in the Reflections Dance Club on Promenade Deck (level 9) to wait for instructions. There was a little wait, and then we went up and out to stand by our assigned lifeboat on the Lido Deck (level 10). 20 minutes total. When we were dismissed, we experienced our first people jam on the ship. We worked our way down the stairs to Riviera Deck (4) to dump our life jackets and get our stuff for dinner. No shorts allowed. Bring cameras. There was a party on Lido with live music and lots of drinks. It was kind of shock treatment to get us out of the boredom endured during the Lifeboat Drill and back in party mode. You are not allowed to talk during the drill. We went up to the bow on the Verandah Deck (11) to watch the ship leave Mobile Bay. The bow below on the Empress Deck (7) was where the anchor winches are operated. There was a small crew swimming pool down there. (I keep putting the level numbers by the Deck Names because I could never get the names associated with the levels. Maybe I would on a longer cruise) DINING ROOM We met with Thomas and Sheryl and went to the Seven Seas for dinner. We were escorted to table 264 and found an 11 person table with six people already seated. They were a lady from Michigan, named Lynn, her sister, Bonnie, her two daughters aged 16 and 17 and two friends of the daughters, also 16 and 17, Amanda, Amanda, Jennifer, and Chelsea. We had a very nice waiter named Kenroy from Granada and his helper Roxana from Peru. It turned out to be a very congenial table. The second night we lost Kenroy to a reorganization but gained Mikhaela (Micky) from Romania. She was funny as she tried to teach us “Philistines” some manners. They have more silverware per place setting than we have in our whole kitchen. After each course, Micky would rearrange our silverware and we were never sure exactly why. They never do that at Applebee’s. We were able to get rid of the extra chair for a little more room. We ended up spending a couple of hours at dinner every evening with the wonderful food and great company and superb service. And entertainment. The staff of the Seven Seas would sing one night and dance the next. One night they did a Congo line and half the diners joined in. Very funny. The Maitre D’ held a tour of the kitchens on Wednesday afternoon. It was fascinating and we were glad they waited until the last day so we had an appreciation of what had come out of the kitchens before we saw what went on in them. Of course, the place was spotless and sparkling and this was not at the beginning of the cruise but near the end. The whole ship was like that. You could tell the ship was not new but it was scrubbed within an inch of its life. And they could not wait till between cruises to clean because they only have eight hours between cruises. The Carnival Holiday runs two 5-day and one 4-day cruise every two weeks for months at a time. They dock at 8am, get rid of the old passengers and garbage, load the new passengers and supplies, and sail by 4pm. CREW I should take a minute to talk about our room steward, Edward. He had our room cleaned up every time we left it for a few minutes. Over the course of the cruise he also made animals out of towels, a dog, elephant, rabbit, and walrus. They sell towel dolls and a book of instructions in the Gift Shop. Edward also decorated our cabin for Marybeth’s birthday. We had Mardi Gras beads all over the cabin and Edward did creative things with them. We tipped him extra, along with Micky and Roxana and the Maitre D’. They really set the tone for the whole cruise and put us in a party mood. Carnival puts $100 on your Sail and Sign card for tips automatically ($10 per person per day) but after meeting these folks and seeing how hard they work we felt really appreciative of their efforts. We know it’s their job and they are all professionals at customer relations but every crew member we met, without exception, treated us like friends. Hated leaving them and the ship. Roxana learned our preferences and catered to them shamelessly all week. Our basic point is that with 1650 passengers and almost 700 crew members, you feel like a millionaire. The crew members really try hard to make your vacation special. At least that was our impression. We heard that there are crew members from forty different countries. ENTERTAINMENT The first evening we went to the Americana Lounge for the entertainment. It is the large auditorium in the bow on decks 8 (main floor) and 9 (balcony). When we went down there after dinner, the Cha Cha dance class was winding up. They had their graduation dance and they either didn’t need lessons or they learned a heck of a lot in 30 minutes. We met one of the ladies in the dance class later. She was the mother of one of the ship dancers, Chloe. Several crew members had family on board for this cruise. I should mention that at any one moment there are many activities going on that you can participate in. The kids have Camp Carnival. The casino was in full swing as soon as the ship passed the Sand Island Lighthouse. There was a Singles get-together in Rick’s Café (Port side, Deck 8, by Four Winds Dining Room). There was Karaoke in Doc Holliday’s Bar (Stern, Deck 9). Country and Oldies music was playing at the Bus Stop Bar. There was a teen disco in Reflections Dance Club forward of Docs. The Art Gallery was having a preview of paintings up for auction later in the week. The Gift Shop was having liquor tasting in the hallway to the Americana Lounge. That slowed us down a little. You had to be a dull boy to not find something fun to do on that Saturday night. Every night had just as many things going on. Back to the Americana: The first thing on the program was an event they called “Game Show Mania”. It was hosted by Mel from Canada and Bob the “Irish Guy”. We got into the spirit and volunteered as a contestant in the second round. It was more like Jay Leno’s Jaywalking because Mel the hostess had to practically feed the answers to the contestants. In every round there was one contestant who could not get any of the questions. Mel would make the others put their hands in their pockets so they couldn’t get to the signal button. Jessie in our round had such a problem that Mel finally asked him “what color is your underwear”! Jessie had to look!!!! We laughed our *** off. In the last round Mel at the end of her rope, asked one lady the number for 911. SHE HAD TO BE PROMPTED BY ANOTHER CONTESTANT! Rip got a second place medal on a ribbon for my efforts. He wore it with his Mardi Gras beads for the rest of the cruise. First prize for each round was a “plastic piece of ship on a stick”, a little trophy with the Holiday on top. Next came bingo, which we haven’t played in 30 years. They sell one card for $10 or 3 for $20. The jackpot tonight was $500. The family behind us won it. Two different people in the same family bingoed and shared the money. It’s not just the bingo that was so entertaining. Mel has a practiced banter that just got you involved in the game. The Show Dancers assist her by selling and checking cards and they are fun to look at in their Red, White and Blue jumpsuits that look like Domino’s Pizza Delivery uniforms. WELCOME ABOARD SHOW Steve Cassel was our Cruise Director and he was a hoot! He is an Ichabod Crane type guy with so many talents and so much likeability. When we first met him, we had no idea how talented he is and how entertaining he would be over the course of the cruise. He gave us a good introduction to the cruise and the entertainers on the ship. Steve was followed by John Floyd, a comedian from Rocky Mount, North Carolina, who was pretty good. MIDNIGHT BUFFET The ship serves excellent pizza and ordinary soft serve ice cream (we are from Milwaukee, home of Copp’s and Leon’s Custard, best in the world) 24 hours a day. Thomas said he went to the Lido Deck one night around 3am when he could not sleep and there were over 20 teens in line for pizza. It must, along with the burger bars, be where most of the kids ate too. The Cruise Director said there were 500 kids among the 1650 passengers but we hardly ever saw them. SUNDAY – SEA DAY We slept late after a busy Saturday and got up to see where the ship was located. They had a notice board in the Purser’s Lobby on the Main Deck. We went to Breakfast (notice the capital B) in the Seven Seas Dining Room and were seated at a rectangular table for 8 on the Starboard side with two other couples. We enjoyed meeting so many people from all over. It must be something about people who go on cruises because everyone we met was delightful to talk with and we enjoyed our few minutes with them. Aside: In his monologue the previous evening, Steve Cassel tried to set up a joke by asking how many Harley (motorcycle) owners were in the audience. Not one person volunteered that they were Harley owners. He was shocked and so were we. Coming from Milwaukee, we are used to half of any group being involved with motorcycles. Not in the Americana on this evening. EXCURSION TALK On Sunday morning, the Cruise Director, Steve Cassel, introduced the excursions that are available at Costa Maya and Cozumel. We had set up our excursions when we boarded but we were interested in hearing about the other trips and it was a good thing we listened. When we returned to the cabin that evening after the Midnight Buffet, we found a note saying that our snorkel trip in Costa Maya was cancelled due to boat problems. More on that later. We were reading our Carnival Capers daily guide, placed in our cabin daily by Edward, religiously. It was crammed with events and information. There were bar parties, Gift Shop specials, games, talks, auctions, and seminars. We were snowed at first until we realized that we could not do everything. We finally decided to relax an “go with the flow”. Anything we wandered into would be fun or informative. Today’s Drink Special was Caribbean Breeze, a “Red Rum Drink”. As good as yesterday’s “Yellow Rum Drink”. They fooled us on Monday with the Mexican Mama, another “Yellow Rum Drink”. The Goombay Smash, also yellow, was Wednesday’s drink. I must have been drunk all day Tuesday because I don’t remember the drink of the day. Marybeth says it was called a “Yellow Bird” and was another “Yellow Rum Drink”. LUNCH We went to lunch on the Lido Deck with Thomas and Sheryl. One line was Indian food and the other was burgers and hotdogs. Then there was the salad bar, New York deli, pizzas, and ice cream sundae bar. Every day the Wharf Restaurant has a Taste of the Nations Buffet. Yesterday was Italian, today Indian, then French, Greek and American. It was all good, way too good. We almost lost it when we walked out of the Wharf into the pool area where they were holding a Hairy Chest Contest (Men Only). Disgusting – but funny. Marybeth says she didn’t find it disgusting, for women anyway. We went by the Photo Gallery to look at our boarding photos. They were nice and for $7.99, one of the decent deals on the ship. Where they get you is volume. There are 700 crew on the ship; 500 of them are photographers. We didn’t mind though. We found 4 shots during the cruise that we liked. We bought one for us, one for each of our daughters and one for Marybeth’s parents. While we were there Rip looked at an Olympus 740 camera that he had been coveting for a month. It was $50 more on the ship than over the internet but it was right there. Carnival appears to specialize in Olympus cameras and Rip is an Olympus fan. He has taken over 20,000 photos with his current 550 Zoom. Anyway, he bought it. We went back to the cabin so Rip could charge the battery on his new camera, dump the photos from his old camera and start reading the manual on the 740. Of secondary importance was dressing for the ship’s only “Formal” night and the Captain’s Cocktail Reception (free drinks) hosted by Capt. Giuseppe Donato in the Americana Lounge. FORMAL DINNER Sunday evening was the Formal Dinner on M/S Holiday. Everyone was dressed up and looking good. It was kind of nice. We haven’t dressed up to go out in a long time. Rip had to go to Men’s Warehouse for a new suit for the cruise. The young ladies sharing our table were very attractive and the mature ladies at our table were glamorous. Tonight’s menu included lobster and several people at our table (I’m not saying who) had more than one. The menus included appetizer, soup, salad, entrée and dessert. Micky wouldn’t let us get away with skipping a course. She somehow knew we were unsophisticated rubes because she encouraged us to try new things. Everything we tried was wonderful. Chocolate lovers reveled in some of the exotic desserts. Photographers came around to capture us in our finery. We brought Marybeth’s roses to the table to share with our tablemates and dress it up for the formal theme. Other tables were very jealous. Dinner went late tonight. We had to be out by 7:30pm because the late seating came in at 8pm. We never waited in line for dinner but sometimes when we left the Seven Seas, we saw people already in line for the 8pm seating. We didn’t understand that because the tables were assigned and the service was instantaneous. PHOTO OPPORTUNITIES Because everyone was dressed up, the photographers were out in force with every kind of backdrop imaginable. We had a couple of photos taken. We watched for a while and was almost late for the: EXTREME COUNTRY SHOW After dinner on Sunday in the Americana Lounge, we attended the show put on by the ship’s entertainers. The title made us hesitant because we are not into country music at all, but it was a diversion and we are not into gambling or drinking (well, a little). The singers and dancers surprised us with a show that while country-themed had broad appeal to all musical tastes. There was a featured male and female singer, eight female and three male dancers. Later, when we met one of the dancers, Chloe, she said there were supposed to be four male dancers but one came down ill and left the ship at Mobile. You would never have known they were missing a member of the company. They were so young, energetic and attractive that we were drawn into their performance. We enjoyed it so much that we stayed for the second show. We were tardy getting to the first show and had to sit off to one side. The seats were okay but the stage sticks out into the auditorium so seats are on three sides. For the second show we caught seats right in the middle. It was almost like seeing a different show. The shows were slightly changes too. They used different performers in featured spots in the second show. One of the numbers was “The Devil Comes Down to Georgia” featuring Cruise Director Steve Cassel on his fiddle. It was an inspired performance that had everyone in the room on their feet clapping the beat along. We expected him to saw the fiddle in half. He was one of the main reasons we stayed for the second show. We were just beginning to see his talents. Between the shows we went to see if we could meet some of the performers. We recognized a lady talking to one of the performers as a dancer in the Cha Cha class the evening before. She turned out to be talking to her daughter, Chloe. We were able to take photos and talk with them about performing on the ship. She said they have been on the ship for three months and have three months to go. After a break, they will be assigned to another ship. MIDNIGHT BUFFET The Midnight Buffet tonight was at the Four Winds Dining Room. They let us in early to take pictures of the food on display. There was an ice carving demo on the Lido the afternoon and the results were an eight foot long, four foot tall Chinese dragon and a 3 foot long model of the Holiday. Everything was so beautifully carved and decorated. They used all kinds of fruits, veggies, pastas, meats and breads to build cutsie and creative toys. We said goodnight to Thomas and Sheryl and went down to our cabin. When we got there we found a clean room, our bed turned down with a new animal made from towels and a note from the Excursion Desk telling us that our snorkel trip in Costa Maya was cancelled due to a problem with the boat. It was Midnight and we were due in Costa Maya in twelve hours. We went up one floor to the Purser’s Lobby. The Excursion Desk was closed but the Purser’s Desk was open. During the day there is usually a line at the Purser’s Desk but now it was clear. After some machinations, we decided to switch our excursions so we would visit Mayan ruins at Costa Maya and go snorkeling at Cozumel. It ended up costing $28 less that way. MONDAY We finally got to bed at 1am after a quick drink from the Bus Stop Bar. We had discovered that we could walk out the door of our cabin, walk 15 feet around the corner to the elevator, go up five floors to the Promenade Deck, walk ten feet straight ahead to the bar and get a soda for free. We would go up in our Carnival supplied robes and no one objected. The first night we had closed the curtains on the window but tonight we left them open to watch the sea go by. We are so low to the water that some of the bow wake waves were higher than our cabin. It was pretty wild looking. At about 3am, we passed lots of lights on shore. We suspected it was Cozumel. COSTA MAYA We had breakfast at the Wharf and went to pack up to go ashore. We watched the approach and docking from the Aft Promenade Deck behind Doc Holliday’s Bar. That is the location of the Nemo Pool for children. Our instructions from the Excursion Desk were to wait there for debarkation from the Aft Port on Deck 3. On the entire cruise, this was the only activity that we did not enjoy. We waited a long time before we moved out to the stairs. Then we stood in line on the stairs for an hour in another “people jam”, inching our way down six flights. We did get to see the bowels of the ship. That was kind of interesting. We went through the laundry room. The Carnival Liberty was on the East side of the North Dock and the Grand Princess was on the West side. The Holiday backed into place on the South side of the Main Dock. According to the Puerto Costa Maya web site, there is only 30 feet of water where we docked. The Holiday draws 26 feet of water, so there was only 4 feet of water under the keel. The Liberty left here to go to Costa Rico where some of their passengers fought off muggers. CHACCHOBEN MAYAN RUINS We had a lot of time on the stairs to meet the people around us. We found several people who were also going to the ruins. We kind of banded together for the walk down the dock to the little pretend town, Mahahual. I call it pretend because it is brand new and looks like a stage set. It was carved out of the jungle to service the cruise ships. We followed the crowd to town (5 minute walk) and gathered at the sign for Chacchoben Ruins Tours. They had us troop off to buses for the hour ride out to ruins. After we got home I looked at the area with Google Earth and you can actually see the uncovered ruins. The landscape is flat and scrubby with little to look at except depressed housing and brand-new bright orange electric transmission towers and lines. Our guide was Joel Perez Aviomar and our driver was Jose. The buses were fairly new and air conditioned. Boy, was it nice to need air conditioning. On the ride, we got a little history of the Mayan and of Chacchoben. When we got to the ruins we had a potty break and then explored the ruins for a while with the guide explaining how they were found and restored. There is not a lot known about the Mayans but Joel made up enough to make an interesting story for us. The ruins are only about 70 acres so it did not take more than 90 minutes to see the dozen buildings restored from the 100 on the site. They sold us some ice cream bars at the Gift Shop and we headed back to the Port. We were back by 5:30pm. We walked through the shops, only stopping to buy a book about the area. We did notice armed soldiers on the roofs of the buildings in the village around the Port. DINNER Back on board, we changed clothes and went right up to dinner just as the sun went down. Thomas and Sheryl were there and the ladies from Michigan came a little late. The girls showed up too late to get served. They were out late and had a long day at the beach. The ship left the dock in Costa Maya while we were at dinner. AMERICANA EVENING We all went down to the Americana Lounge for the evening’s entertainment. The Swing dance class was going on when we arrived and we watched that while having the drink of the day, the Mexican Mama. They were good and it made us want to visit Fred Astaire when we get home. We need a lot more than 30 minutes to learn any steps. The first game was “What’s in the Bag”. We were encouraged to bring a bag full of common things from our cabins. Some people brought several bags. They asked for a number of items before they came to something we could bring to the stage. Waiter Danang Wilianto from Indonesia had just served our drinks when the host asked for a “bartender”. Rip grabbed Danang and hustled him to the stage to win the points. Thomas tried to pass a room card off as a “set of keys”, no sale. One lady had her father’s false teeth in her bag. They asked for four “left shoes”, lots of weird stuff. This was one of those events that pitched the Blue Team versus the Red Team. The second game was the “Battle of the Sexes”. It pitted women against men. They asked for three men to be team leaders. After three had volunteered, Mel decreed that the wives of those men would be the Ladies’ Team Leaders. That got the men in trouble. Jake, the Assistant Cruise Director, asked the women questions that were male oriented and Mel asked the men questions that were female oriented. The Ladies skunked the Men with far more correct answers. TALENT SHOW The big event of the evening was the Guest talent Show. Five men and one lady performed and all were surprisingly good. All were singers except for one young man who played classical piano. We were expecting a Gong Show performance but it was more like the finals of American Idol. They had rehearsed with the band and were very professional. After the show, we decided to make it an early night (relatively). We were going snorkeling first thing in the morning. Steve made our day by announcing that the ship would be docking at Cozumel instead of tendering passengers in. The experienced cruisers in the crowd were ecstatic. They said it is an enormous hassle to tender into a port. I am not sure how it could be more hassle than the debarking we did in Costa Maya. TUESDAY IN COZUMEL We ordered room service breakfast which was very good. They only serve Continental but it includes coffee, juice, milk, cereal, fruit, rolls, butter, and jam. We organized our gear (we brought our masks, fins and snorkels) and went directly to Deck 3. The Holiday staff greatly simplified the debarkation today. We were able to walk straight off the ship through the forward Port Deck 3 exit onto the dock. At the end of the dock we had a short wait for the Snorkel Boat people to get organized. Then we walked back out the dock to the snorkel boat. It was a mahogany wood boat that looked very sturdy. We motored South along the coast for a couple of miles past the International Pier where the Freedom of the Seas was docked. We stopped at three different spots not very far apart and not very different from each other. There was not very much to see in the way of flora or fauna or artifacts. The guides enticed a few small fish over with bread but otherwise we only saw one barracuda, one turtle, a couple of grouper and some sea fans. The sun finally came out and it warmed up. Marybeth got stung by a jellyfish and sat out the second dive sunning on deck. The crew has some kind of probably toxic salve that took the sting away. She was good to go by the third dive. That is when we saw the turtle. Rip got a few decent photos with his Nikonos but the best photo was the one the guide took of us underwater. They gave us sandwiches and Corona. We were chilled from snorkeling but the sun felt good. We returned around Noon and went up to the Hot Tub on the Verandah Deck for a warm soak and the drink of the day, “Yellow Bird”, another yellow rum drink. We met Nichol from Romania who served us our drinks in the spa. She is perfecting her English and hopes to tour the States when she finishes her contract with Carnival. She is saving up money to finish college back home. Three cute little six-year old triplets came to the hot tub. They were dolls and made us homesick for our three grandchildren. When we left the hot tub we walked through the gym and found another hot tub on the other side of the ship that was “Adult Only”. We changed for town and walked in to see the sights. There was a group of dancers on Main Street. They had block one side of the boulevard for them. We found out later that we seeing the first act of a big Mardi Gras party they were throwing that evening. The ship was leaving before the parade. We walked around and bought a few trinkets. We ended up at Senor Frogs for a free drink courtesy of our snorkel boat. We were back on board by 4:30pm. The ship sailed almost immediately. MARDI GRAS Parade and party was held tonight between sailing and dinner. The Tahiti Bar band paraded from the Americana to the Tahiti and then played in the hall outside Tahiti. They threw beads and played some good jazz. DINNER The high point of the day was dinner every day in the Seven Seas. We really enjoyed our table and looked forward to it. I’m sure that our perception of the cruise was highly affected by the mode set by our table. After dinner we went to the Cappuccino Coffee Bar with Thomas and Sheryl. We sat around talking for an hour and showed the photos we had taken on the trip so far. Rip got 50 free photo prints with the new camera so he had put those in this morning and received them this evening. We printed photos of our favorite crew members and gave them copies; Danang, Chloe, Micky and Roxana. We printed pictures for our tablemates and a few for ourselves. We got our underwater photos back and put together an album. BINGO Tonight, Thomas and Sheryl played Bingo and we cheered for them. No luck but lots of fun again. Took advantage of the game to take pictures of the Holiday Dancers. We can’t take pictures during the stage shows COMEDY SHOW Brad Tassel was the comedian tonight. He is a very funny Christian comic who writes children’s books. He was advertising an R-Rated show for tomorrow night. We found that curious. How does a “Christian” comic do an R-Rated show? Steve Cassel, juggling lighted balls in the darkened auditorium, was very different. He is very creative and fun to watch. There is such an energy about all of the entertainers on the Holiday but Steve puts out everything he has in every show. We sat in the Americana after the show for a while visiting with people we have met during the cruise. One nice thing about a smaller ship, we kept meeting folks who we recognized. We got to know a few of them by name and origin. We also heard about other cruises people had been on. WEDNESDAY – SEA DAY After another wonderful Breakfast we went to Steve Cassel’s: DEBARKATION TALK At 11am we heard what the procedures would be to Thursday morning. We were to put our bags outside the door tonight and they would be picked up and put into storage. Our Sail and Sign bill will be put under the door overnight. If it is correct, we don’t have to do anything, it will be charged to our credit card. The people who can handle their own luggage can leave immediately tomorrow morning. If you want your luggage removed, you have to wait until your deck is called. We were given customs forms to fill out. Each person was allowed to bring $800 in purchases back to the US. There were limits on liquor and cigarettes. The Cuban cigars buyers would have to smoke them all up before landing, illegal in the US. LUNCH AT SEVEN SEAS Then we went out on the Aft Lido Deck and laid in the sun, read and napped. Would soon be back in the cold and wanted to store up some warmth. There were plenty of chaises available. We skipped the Goombay Smash and just had sodas from the bar facing the sun deck. KITCHEN TOUR At four PM, the Maitre D’ of the Seven Seas conducted a tour of the huge kitchen that is between the two dining rooms on Admiral Deck (level 8). We described the tour earlier but can add that after seeing all the food they put out every day, we were impressed with the accomplishment. DINNER Tonight was our final dinner on the ship so we dressed up again. We took Marybeth’s roses to decorate the table and leave for Micky. We took our photos to give to everyone. Micky and Roxana had a present for us too. They gave us nice prints of the ship which we all signed for each other. Lynn and Bonnie had gone to a wine tasting and brought wine for the table to try. We all enjoyed the wine and dinner. The company was good as well. This was the night of the staff Conga Line. Lots of people joined in. SHOUT SHOW The Holiday Singers and dancers put on another energetic show for us. We haven’t mentioned that the band in the Americana Lounge was very good too. They are certainly versatile, handling every style of music. R-RATED COMIC, BRAD TASSEL Well, he managed it with no cursing. His R rating came from the subject matter which included some very funny observations on marital life and family relations. PACKED BAGS OUTSIDE CABIN We didn’t get the bags out by Midnight but we finally got packed up (remembering to leave out something to wear in the morning.) We had to pack up Marybeth’s birthday decorations, which hung from the ceiling all over the room. We had to remember to empty the safe. Fortunately, it opened for us. We had locked ourselves out of it twice during the week. The purser had to open it for us. MIDNIGHT BUFFET After we were ready to leave the ship, we made once last pilgrimage to the Midnight Buffet. The food on the ship was an experience that we will remember for a long time. It will take a while to lose the weight we gained on this cruise. THURSDAY, 22 FEBRUARY 2007 We cleaned out the last of our stuff and packed up our carry “off” bags to take with us up to the Lido Deck for Breakfast. We ran into all of our Seven Seas tablemates up there and had eggs and waffles and sausage. Rip enjoyed the coffee on the ship. It was always fresh, because they go through so much. CHECKOUT They called our color (Brown for Riviera Deck) and we went down to the Purser’s Lobby to exit to the Cruise Ship Terminal. We secured a porter and found our bags in five minutes. We only waited about ten minutes to get through customs. Then our porter found us a cab and within half an hour we were back at our cousin’s home. WRAP-UP We really enjoyed everything on this cruise and look forward to our next one. It is a whole new world that we never dreamed existed. It is luxury that we can afford (maybe every two or three years). We feel that Carnival did a very competent job and they hire very competent people. We were lucky that everything went so smoothly. We could see how something could go wrong and spoil someone’s vacation. A cruise ship is so complicated that it is a miracle if something doesn’t go awry. Ben and Lynn from Cruises, Inc. told us that our attitude would go a long way toward our enjoyment. We relaxed and went with the flow and enjoyed every event we encountered. We highly recommend cruising, Carnival and M/S Holiday.

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