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Jack and Melissa Loucks

Age: 24 and 22


Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Holiday

Sailing Date: September 22nd, 2003

Itinerary: Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise and, overall, we were pleased. We felt that we got our money's worth and were very pleased with the ports of call.

The food was very good in the dining room (we were seated at a table of 6 in the Four Winds dining room). The food on Lido deck was decent, if not exceptional. We usually ate breakfast and lunch on Lido deck and then had dinner in the dining room. Our wait staff was excellent. They even remembered my preference for decaffeinated coffee, which pleased me very much. Desserts were always fantastic.

We were given a free upgrade to an outside room, which was nice. The room was small, but we weren't there enough to feel cramped--I'm sure the window also helped with this. Our beds were comfortable, but we both like a more firm bed. The bathroom was cramped, but it was clean and everything worked properly. The water temperature did have a tendency to fluctuate somewhat, and sometimes it would suddenly get very hot. Our steward was Edwin. He was fantastic. He always made sure everything was clean and that we had fresh ice, towels, etc. (The towel animals were cute, too.)

The evening entertainment was amusing. The song-and-dance team was pretty good and the band was excellent. The comedians we had were only so-so, but my understanding is that the ships change comedians on a regular basis. Daytime entertainment was not really very interesting to us. We are young and like to "go and do" all the time and there really wasn't that much going on, other than simple contests and games, which didn't last more than 30 minutes or an hour anyway. We spent a lot of time in the casino. It was small, but had all the major table games and plenty of slots, so we ended up spending a little more than we planned there.

We enjoyed both ports of call. The beach at Playa del Carmen was unbelievable. The water was as clear as our swimming pool, the sand was softer than any in Florida, and there were plenty of umbrellas and cocktails to keep us happy. Shopping in Playa del Carmen was not so great. The town is very humble and the streets are in such terrible condition that you sometimes wonder if you're in some kind of war zone (I'm not exaggerating, here.) We ate at Senor Frog's, where the staff involved us all in a game in which we won free shots. The food was good, about the same as you get in any major Mexican food chain in the States. We both had quesadillas, which are not on the menu, but they will make them for you if you ask. One of the couples we sat with in the dining room ate at some local restaurant and they didn't feel well that evening, so my recommendation is that you stick to the big chains that use purified water and ice.

The beach at Cozumel was also nice, although the sand was not as soft and the water not as clear. We took the Catamaran Sail, Snorkel, and Swim excursion and were very pleased. Also, when we got the private beach that the excursion took us to, we were able to go horseback riding on the beach and in the jungle. There was an extra charge for the horseback riding, but we really wanted to do it, so it was worth the extra money to us. Plus, the guide took some really good pictures of us on the trail and the beach. Shopping in Cozumel was much better than at Playa del Carmen. We took a taxi downtown and walked around to the different shops. We bought a few souvenirs and some Cuban cigars. We were repeatedly warned not to take the cigars off the ship when we debarked, so we left them for our steward. But we later regretted this, because we actually didn’t have to go through any security when we got back to New Orleans. We didn’t even see any police or dogs…just Carnival security and they didn’t even have us walk through metal detectors. We should have put the cigars in our pockets and no one would ever have suspected a thing.

For the most part, we enjoyed ourselves very much. We probably won’t take another cruise, however. Although the accommodations were great and the cruise staff was wonderful, we will probably just do all-inclusive resorts in the future. This is mainly because of the “days at sea.” We would prefer to spend those days enjoying our destination rather than being somewhat limited in what there is for us to do. If you are older or maybe just prefer a quieter vacation, it would probably be better. Also, we were thinking it would be a lot more fun if you went with a big group of friends.

We give this cruise an “8” out of “10.” It’s definitely worth what we paid for it, just not our style.

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