Number of Cruises: 1
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Holiday
Sailing Date: June 4th, 2007
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Lines
Holiday Cruise Review
We boarded the Holiday on June 4 in Mobile for our first cruise. I am very impressed with the Holiday and will sail with Carnival again. I’ve heard rumor that the Holiday will be retired in November and replaced with two larger, more modern ships.
They let us board around noon, but couldn’t get into the cabin till 2 PM. Luggage didn’t arrive till 8pm or later. So make sure that your carry-on has all essentials and change of clothes for the formal dining room.
Our interior cabin (U57) was larger than I expected. There is plenty of storage/closet space for two over-packed adults and a child. The safe in the closet is programmable with a four-digit code of your choice. It is a necessity for wallets, iPods, cameras etc. The bathroom was tiny but clean. Shampoo and soap are provided from dispensers built into the shower.
The cabin steward cleaned the rooms each morning and prepared the beds each evening. They took great care with everything and nothing came up missing. The beds are wonderful. I slept like a baby since no sunlight could reach our interior cabin. The comforters are very clean and soft and really are a nice touch. Much nicer than typical hotel bed sheets.
I never found the thermostat, but the cabin was always at a very comfortable temperature.
I would stay on the “upper deck” again. There were several levels of cabins above and below us. Therefore, we were insulated from engine noise and the parties on the Lido deck. Also, ask for a room in the center of the ship. Motion is less noticeable there.
There is PLENTY to do on board. The slot machine was very generous to me and I won $450. The shows were very entertaining. I saw stand-up comics, a magician and some off-Broadway musicals.
There are several bars located on the ship. The daily mixed drink specials were always very good and very tropical. But drinks are EXPENSIVE! Beers are $5 and mixed drinks are around $7. I successfully smuggled a fifth of liquor on board in my checked luggage. Made it through with no problems. Not that I condone or endorse such activities. Everything is charge through your “sign and sail” card, so it is easy to lose track of how much you have actually charge.
Now let’s discuss the food… It was outstanding! The buffet featured cuisine from different countries (France, India and Italian come to mind) on different nights. I had some excellent tilapia and prime rib. The escargot soup was tasty, but somewhat bland. My daughter enjoyed the pizza station. The buffet is good for something quick. But if you truly enjoy fine food, then do yourself a favor and make the most of the formal dining rooms. You paid for it, so get the best possible meal each time. It would be a travesty to eat nothing but hamburgers and hotdogs when you have already paid for the lobster and steak!
The formal dining room was outstanding. You will sit at the same table for each meal and the same wait staff will take care of you. They have service down to a science. Our headwaiter, Carlos, went above and beyond the call of duty in pampering my daughter. He took excellent care of us.
The menus and breadbasket arrive almost immediately (make sure you try the “tomato bread – outstanding!). Then you make the difficult decision of what type of appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert to order. Do not miss out on the sushi or the lobster tail! I had two of each. Order as many as you want!
One caveat… Their version of antipasto is different than any other version I’ve had previously. I expected the traditional Italian dish of olives, cheeses, pepperoni, artichoke hearts, etc. They served me squid. Complete with little suction cups on the tentacles. That was the only dish I would advise anyone not to get. And yes, I like sushi.
Some of my favorite dishes include: sushi, lobster tail, Veal Parmigiana, Hickory-Smoked Alaskan Salmon, and Jerked Pork Loin.
Do pack some formal clothes so that you can attend the captain’s reception. There are FREE drinks and appetizers there, so don’t miss out on that.
I did not encounter any of the crew that didn’t speak English.
Our first port of call was Cozumel. We did not book any excursions or plan what we were going to do for the day, so we wandered around an open-air mall for a while. My daughter wanted her hair braided, but refused to pay $30. I talked the lady down to $10 and she accepted. Not knowing where to go, we bought some t-shirts and went back to the ship. The Lido deck (where the pool is located) was virtually empty since everyone was in Cozumel, so we enjoyed some peace and quiet.
The next port of call was Calica. It turns out that Calica is not the name of a town, but actually an industrial park or some sort of quarry. It’s not very attractive, but we promptly left on a bus for the dolphin encounter. It puzzled me to see Mexican soldiers with machine guns and major intersections. What are they doing? Is crime that rampant down there?
The dolphin encounter was fun and the highlight of the trip for my daughter. The encounter was about 30-minutes long and slightly overpriced at $100 per person. But the staff was very friendly and knowledge. When the encounter was over, we were forced to stay in the park for about three hours so we could spend even more money there. Our guide took us to a lovely beach to spend our time. But the beach belonged to a hotel that was not connected to dolphin encounter folks. They basically snuck us on to a private beach. A hotel “employee” wanted to charge us $10 for privilege of using one of their tables for towels, etc while we were in the ocean. I didn’t play that game and just relocated our stuff. We had a good time and the water was beautiful.
The fitness center on the Holiday was something of a disappointment. They had plenty of treadmills and cardio machine, but the free weights consisted of an assortment of dumbbells. There were two benches and one long bar. I think the maximum weight that could be loaded on it was about 65 pounds. I was excited to discover the steam sauna in the fitness center. To me, there is nothing better than sitting and sweating after a strenuous workout. Then jumping in cool shower. That was very fun.
The girls enjoyed the chocolate buffet on the Lido deck. In fact, there was a midnight buffet of some sort every night.
We had a very pleasant vacation and will cruise with Carnival again.