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Sandra Jones

Age: 47

Occupation:Accountant

Number of Cruises: 1

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Holiday

Sailing Date: January 23rd, 2003

Itinerary: Cozumel, Mexico

We sailed on Thursday, January 23, 2003. We arrived at the dock parking lot just as it was getting full around 1:00p.m. so we were given directions of where to drop off our luggage and go to the parking garage and shuttle. By 1:30 p.m. we were in line to get checked in and then had to go through many security checkpoints. We were in our room by 2:30 p.m. and then our luggage got there around 3 p.m. At 4 p.m. we had the lifeboat drill and at 4:45 p.m. the engines started but we could not feel any movement. Our departure was soon after that but we did not see much of the river because of the early sunset. (We had the early seating at dinner, 5:45 p.m., and by that time it was pretty well dark.) Most of Thursday and Friday, it was very cold and with the wind it was super cold. We went up to the top deck but could only laugh at the topless signs because everyone had on their big coats. This was our first cruise and when we walked to our room, I realized that this was a big hotel on the water. It had all of the conveniences of a resort but you never had to leave the premises to go out to eat, see a show, or go to a club. The service was excellent ? the beds were made and then turned down at night. We never saw our steward come and go but he always had everything we needed when we needed it. Every evening including the first day out, we had a Carnival Capers which had highlights of the day?s activities but also a complete schedule of what was going on when so that we could plan what we wanted to do. The cruise director, Dave Armour, was most entertaining and added to every activity that he was involved with. The staff that held the trivia and bingo games was funny and even though we weren?t playing bingo, we enjoyed watching it because of the staff?s comments and way of playing the games. I watched one of the dance classes and they were learning the cha-cha. It was done one step at a time so that everyone could learn it. Because we are older, we really enjoyed the live band in the Americana Lounge. One night it was rhythm and blues, the next big bands ? it was very relaxing and the waiters were very attentive in bringing you drinks.

It was very interesting to see the demonstrations of food carving, towel and napkin folding. Each waiter has to fold his own napkins or does not get promoted. It is amazing how much time goes into each meal and the amount of staff involved.

We missed the breakfast in the formal dining room until the last day but we really enjoyed the breakfast that day. The Wharf restaurant on the Lido deck was a good alternative to the formal meals when we didn?t want to be at a certain place at a certain time but the formal meals had a classier menu with many more options. Breakfast at the Wharf was similar to the breakfast bar at Shoney?s plus more options. There was an omelet bar, which I really enjoyed. There was milk, chocolate milk, hot tea, hot decaffeinated tea, coffee, decaffeinated coffee, hot chocolate, orange juice, apple juice, cold tea, and lemonade at every meal.

If you missed your assigned meal time in the formal dining rooms, the Wharf on the Lido deck was open as a buffet a lot of the time. We tried the pizza at the 24-hour pizzeria and it was good to know that it was available but after eating lunch and dinner in the formal dining room, we were never hungry. We did not make it to any of the midnight buffets. We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary so we aren?t exactly young and by midnight we were ready for relaxation and peace and quiet. We did not have any trouble with noises from the other cabins. We could hear the ship creaking with the motion of the water and about 3 a.m. someone called our cabin by mistake. We used the wake up call a couple of times and that worked out well. We never did order room service but saw trays in the hall by other rooms where they had requested it. When we got on the ship at 3 p.m. the Wharf restaurant had a buffet but we had eaten lunch on the way because we thought we would not be able to eat until our dinnertime of 5:45 p.m.

The meals in the Seven Seas dining room were like that special meal that you have for a special celebration but we had six of them in four days. We so enjoyed our waiter, Luis, and he was very respectful in his service. The captain?s recommendations were very good and helped me decide when there were too many good choices. The entertainment provided by the wait staff at dinner was a pleasant surprise and made for memorable evenings. The food was different and prepared and presented in interesting ways. (Pepper pot-yam soup?) Bread would be offered at the beginning of each meal and several times through each meal. The menu was posted outside the dining room each day so that you would have a chance to look it over before actually going in the dining room. If you got there a few minutes before or actual time you were scheduled, you may have to wait a few minutes but if you got there 5 or 10 minutes later, you could walk right in. At the first meal you are shown to your table and, unless you request a change, that is the same table that you are seated at each meal. Our table seated eight but for the most part there were only four of us on a regular basis. Two other couples showed up for one meal but changed their seating after ? one went to the later seating and I don?t know what happened to the second couple. We were celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary so we had requested a table for two but after meeting the other people at the table, we did not request a change of table and it was very pleasant to meet them and get to know them. They had made arrangements to get married on Cozumel and it was very interesting to hear how it turned out.

My husband had purchased a digital camera for our use on the trip but after the first couple of hours, I pushed the wrong button on the wrong menu and erased the pictures we had taken to that point. WARNING ? know what you are doing with a new camera.

On Saturday we went to the Mermaid excursion but it took some time because the water was rough and they weren?t sure they could dock the boat. We had Carlos for a guide and he was very interesting and funny. It lasted for about 90 minutes. There are several shops there at the dock including the Duty Free shop which had pretty good prices. We took a taxi to downtown and went through some of the shops but we weren?t comfortable with the amount of chatter on the street from all of the vendors trying to get you to buy something. We ended up at Poncho?s Backyard, which is in Los Cinco Soles and ate lunch, and then we did the majority of our shopping there. It was around 2:30 p.m. and we had to be back at the boat for 3:30 p.m. so we went back to the dock and shopped in the Duty Free shop. A friend of mine had loaned me a rolling shopping bag that folded up very small and it was great to haul all of the items we had purchased.

This was Superbowl Sunday so there were special superbowl activities ? including hot dogs in the lounge.

On the last day of the cruise there are specials in the gift shop ? 2 t-shirts for $20.00, travel bags and jewelry.

When we awoke Monday morning, we had already docked. We did not have to wait in the designated location but just found a good spot where we could hear the announcements. We would have been more comfortable waiting in our room since seating was limited. It wasn?t until Sunday that we realized that there were announcements that we could not hear in our rooms so if we were in our room, we needed to leave the door open so that we could hear the p.a. system. We did disembark around 9:30 a.m. and did not have much trouble finding our bags or our shuttle back to the parking garage.

The cruise line does so much to help you be prepared for everything. The night before debarkation, your suitcases have to be in the hall outside your room by midnight. Then when you get off the boat, you go to the area that matches the color of your luggage tags (Upper Aft ? purple). Someone had packed a bottle in their luggage and it was leaking on the floor so either carry your liquids or put them inside of ziplock bags and pack them very well. We were instructed to fill out customs forms but were never asked to give them to anyone.

Things I didn?t know ? The Holiday provides soap, shampoo, toothpaste, towels, beach towels, terrycloth bathrobe, and razors. The toilets are similar to airplane toilets without much water and plenty of suction.

Miscellaneous prices:
6 X 9 picture $ 8.00
Man?s tie in gift shop $10.00
Admission to the museum in Cozumel $ 3.00
At Los Cincos Soles:
3 blankets $11.95
post card $ 1.50
hammock $24.95
onyx chess set $23.95
(I remember the rest of the receipt, it is in Spanish.)
Shore tour on the Mermaid boat $43.00
(lasted about 90 minutes and a good way
to see the coral and fish without getting wet)
20 oz. Bottled soft drink $ 2.50
Canned soft drink $ 1.50

There are many photo opportunities and then you go to the gallery to find yours and decide which ones you want to purchase. You throw away any that you don?t want to buy to make room for more pictures. We made the mistake of throwing one away that we thought we didn?t want but the ones after that weren?t as good and we thought we would have purchased that one if we had not put it in the discard box.

Go to cuisediva.com for cruise planning and packing lists.

Cruisesinc.net and Cruiseplanners.tv are also helpful sights.

I had spent so much time preparing for this trip and so many hours on line investigating Cozumel and the restaurants, stores, beaches and things to do but when we actually got there, the time flew by and we really didn?t get to do much. I very much enjoyed the time on the ship and would do it again but maybe a cruise that had two days on shore. It was a fun thing to do ? different than anything we had ever done before. It was a good thing to do as two adults without the kids. It took a couple of days to get acclimated and by the time we really started enjoying it and relaxing, it was over. It was so convenient because we live in Louisiana and there was not flying involved and we could drive directly to the dock and then home. It was economical because it was all-inclusive. I would recommend it to first time cruisers but I would one day like to do it again.

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