Hi, I'm new here to this site, but I've just returned from my 4th cruise (July 9-13). My family and I (8 of us) wanted to go on a summer cruise instead of driving to another city. We all confirmed and unfortunately their budgets warranted us going on the Holiday's cheapest available staterooms. I was unable to reserve a balcony room (Every other cruise I've been on I've had this) so I settled for the rooms that my other family members could afford. ($350/person)
I booked us 4 rooms on the Riviera deck (bottom). Our rooms were some of the farthest forward R11,12,17 and 64. 64 had a picture window and was nice, but the other rooms had portholes and were VERY, VERY HOT. SO hot in fact that we had to have box fans brought into our rooms to TRY to keep them cool. We spent plenty of time in the lounges/casino/bus stop trying to stay cool. The fact of not having a balcony became a non-issue as the room was ok in size and I spent most of the time with them at the pool or on deck reading. But the heat was unbearable and I have logged a complaint with Carnival regarding this. I am also booked on a Princess cruise in December out of Singapore touring Australia... so if they can't sympathize with me with this I'll be changing reservations as Carnival is the parent of Princess.
This is a SMALL ship. The pool areas, buffet lines, gift shop all are OVER CROWDED!!!
The food at the buffet is AWFUL!! AWFUL!! I got so sick of hamburgers, hot dogs, sauerkraut, potato salad...every day......AWFUL!! The pizza line was at least 30 people deep during peak times.. The ice cream is a big hit, so big that there is NEVER any ice cream cones/bowls available. The Seven Seas dining room food and staff were first rate, I'd even go so far as to say world class. We did late seating and thus thoroughly enjoyed dinner every night and breakfast on 2 days.
The decor is 70's disco, brass, maroon, golds. The elevators are s l o w and inadequate. My mom is 70 and we had to take the stairs many, many times requiring her to rest between floors. There is maybe 10 elevators total and 2 of them were out of service during our cruise.
As a first cruise for you, you should have a blast. My family had a blast, aside from the heat in our staterooms. Maybe I was spoiled by having cruised other larger, better ships but be forewarned that there are a lot of inconvienences.
The port transfer in Mobile was very easy and well handled. I'm about 3 hours north of Mobile so it was very easy for me to drive down, park and get into the cruise terminal.
I almost forgot, hence the edit.... we for some reason did not have a choice in gratuity. It was automatically deducted from everyone's charges, $40.00 per person which added up to be $80.00 per stateroom, which to me was outrageous!!! EVERY other cruise I've been on I had the choice to leave any amount of gratuity I wanted without having this option chosen for me. Be forewarned..
Have fun and let us hear from you....