Well, I wanted this post to be a positive post but I am falling short on positive material to make it that way.
My wife and my inlaws boarded the Holiday on 11/27 and everything went as planned. I was able to get them boarded as VIP's with my wife and me. I accomplished all of my embarkation rituals and then was focused on getting my stateroom ready for the cruise. Ten minutes into unpacking a bag that was delivered early, I received a call to inform me that I had been "upgraded". (I don't care how many times that you have cruised, this is an exciting proposition.) We hastily repacked from our Empress deck room and retrieved the keys to our Verandah deck room. We entered the room and were immediately repelled due to an excruciatingly pungent odor of vomit. My wife, who is pregnant, refused to stay in the room. I opted to go back to our original room. Alas, they had already given it to someone else. I could have argued the point but why bother. I ended up with an inside room on the Upper deck (with a little shipboard credit... yeah! (whatever))
After we finally got unpacked, we ventured around the ship and I gave my inlaws the grand tour of the highlights of the Holiday. I love the Holiday but she seemed to be in a state of depression. All of the crew were less than friendly and everything seemed to be a bit less sparkling and polished.
I thought it was just me but I ran into several past Holiday cruisers who were remarking the same things. I guess this leads into where things went wrong.
Steve Cassel is one of my favorite cruise directors on Carnival. I have been on cruises with him since 1994 and he is always consistently better with every cruise. I told my inlaws about him and they were excited to hear his "Devil Went Down to Georgia" rendition. Alas, when we looked at our initial Carnival Capers, we discovered that Steve was no longer on the ship and our CD was to be a young British female named Tory Secoy.
Tory is a nice but utterly juvenile cruise director. She is constantly wearing a rhinestone belt buckle that spells out the words "WOOHOO". She wanted that to be her catch phrase and everytime you saw her you were supposed to scream, "WOOHOO." It was annoying and, much to her chagrin, it didn't catch on well.
Bekka was always my favorite assistand CD, but that role is now filled by a young girl from the Grenadines who is appropriately called, "Island Girl". She is humorous enough but all of the trivia games took twice as long because most people could not understand her broken English.
It was the first Carnival cruise that I have ever been on that, by the last day, I couldn't tell you the name of our cabin steward or a vague description of what he or she looked like. It was kinda odd.
As far as the dining room was concerned, I was very pleased with the Four Winds maitre d', Gabriel. He hails from Argentina and is one of the most personable maitre d's that I have ever had the pleasure of sailing under.
The dining room staff were a little overwhelmed. They didn't seem to ever be able to catch up with the demands of the passengers they were serving. We only saw our assistant waitress three times during the entire cruise.
The food was good but everything seemed to be just a little overcooked. This was not just a simple one-person opinion. Many people were expressing the same sentiment. Even the melting cake took on the consistency of a brownie. (I have to give props to my headwaiter Ringgo for giving me four lobster tails and three shrimp cocktails on formal night.)
Cozumel was it's normal predictable self but fast forward to our last day of the cruise. At around 9am cst, we entered into the first of what would be many storms. The Holiday was rocking and rolling to say the least. I am not one to believe in space aliens but their were enough green people on board to do a star trek episode without needing extras! People were walking down the halls and doubling over to show you what they had for breakfast and lunch. The evening show was cancelled for "dancer safety" and even the rated-R evening comedian was cancelled due to "unforseen sickness".
All in all, I hate that it may have been my last cruise on the Holiday but I feel that they did not live up to their 2007 Crystal Eagle award and that they need better leadership. Good luck to others who sail on the last days of the Holiday.
DrL. I too was disappointed in many of the same ways you were on our Holiday cruise this summer. We still had Steve as the CD but we only saw him at a couple of the shows. It was like he was busy looking for a new job and couldn't be bothered with his duties. Well now that he has moved on, maybe that was the case.
I think the Holiday has served her useful life with CCL. They should not have stretched her through this year. She needs a complete overhaul and refitting. I'll hate to see her leave the fleet but its better than seeing her as a tired ship.
We had a pleasant time this past July on our "staff cruise" aboard Holiday, but as I've written since that cruise, it was not the Holiday I fondly recalled from our previous 3 times aboard her. The food quality had gone down, the ship wasn't as sparkling, and the staff seemed distant and most performed in a perfunctory fashion - not all were like this, and I should note that I found no shortcomings in service, it just wasn't always done with a smile or a nod. Mr. Cassel seemed more concerned with being an entertainer than a CD.
So to summarize, I concur with what both drlivingston and Jim have posted. I hate it, but the Holiday probably was kept in Mobile a year more than it should have been.
We still had a fine time, and being around the group made it fun. In retrospect I do wish we were on a newer ship. It was funny - in our private discussions nobody seemed to want to say the Holiday was a bit disappointing. Perhaps the others didn't want to hurt my feelings since I had promoted the ship so heavily. Finally, one of us broke the ice (I think it was Jim, maybe it was me) and that let the flood gates open. It wasn't a bad cruise by no means, just not as good as it should have been.
Robert - you know what I say about upgrades! The risk is not worth it!
I agree, I didn't mean to imply we had a bad time. We did have fun. it just wasn't up to Carnival's standards. I also must say that our dinning room wait staff did an excellent job. Unfortunately, having just got off the Carnival Freedom, Holiday's age stood out terribly. It is a 9 hour drive for us to sail from Mobile. I won't make the trip again until a newer ship is there.
the last time we were on the holiday (our 3rd cruise on her) we were a bit disappointed too. She seems to be tired and worn out. I wished they had retired her before the shine wore off of her. She gave us lots of great memories but it is past time to put her to bed
It was kind of depressing on many levels. They didn't even have an invitation only captain's reception for past-Carnival guests. It was a come-one come-all reception where everyone was invited. It was awful to see the senior officers introduced on the stage of the Americana with people sipping free drinks dressed in tanktops and shorts and even some in swimsuits with towels wrapped around them. I felt sorry for the officers who were dressed in full uniform for the normally-regal event.
It is a shame that people ignore the "recommended" dress for things - and the cruise line allows them to enter anyway. I always try to follow expected decorum. I would never show up at a function involving the Captain dressed like a beach bum. Class is a rapidly vanishing thing.
Robert, I am sad to hear of this as well. I had an inkling of this as I mentioned to you privately about reporting about the ship's condition. They should have never left her that long in the fleet without a major overhaul. The first clue for me that things may go downhill was when they didn't even spend the money to officially re-name her Carnival Holiday.
This is a sad way to end her long run as one of the original four purpose built Fun Ships. In a way I'm glad I didn't see her in this condition, as she is one of my favorite ships.
And, yes class and manners are a fading thing too in today's society.
Robert, four lobster tails and three shrimp cocktails?
Welcome back DrL. Sorry to hear your cruise wasn't that good. The Holiday is old, but I knew that going in and overlooked a lot of things. My hubby said he'd never sail on Carnival again. That was mainly his fault. I guess I was the wierd one of the group, I had a fantastic time. She was an old, tired ship, but I had a great time. The cabin lay out was strange, and I never did see our cabin steward, but I just figured it was because it was a short cruise. She reminded me of the Jubilee, so maybe that's why I had so much fun. The elevators scared the daylights out of me, but brought back great memories. I can relate to all of your comments, because I listened to them from my hubby. I do think it's time for a refurbishment or retirement for her, though. I do hope your next cruise is 100% better! You'll need one after the baby comes along
Now I am a little worried. We are booked on the Holiday for Valentines Day. Never sailed her before and have been looking forward to it in part to everyone speaking so highly of her. We have sailed on the Glory, Valor, Miracle, and Inspiration and were wanting to try a smaller ship.
I guess the best thing is to do like Penny3333 and go into it with an open mind. We got a great deal on this cruise and any cruise beats staying at home.