April 15, 2004
We just returned from our first cruise ever, aboard Carnival Cruise Lines M.S. Holiday from New Orleans to Cozumel, Mexico. We enjoyed ourselves very much.
First off, embarkation was a breeze. We arrived at the Port via taxi at approximately 11:30 am, which we thought was too early. It turned out that it was not. We were greeted by cruise line employees who checked our bags and retrieved our stateroom assignments (we had IS category). We were guided into to terminal where we received our sign and sail card and room keys. We went through the checks, and were on the ship by about 12:15 (the carnival site says embarkation starts at 1:30). Lunch was ready on the Lido deck, with a full buffet, fresh made pizzas, fresh made deli sandwiches, and a salad bar. The staff was friendly from the start. Food was better than average in this area, and in mass quantities. Also of note, are a 24-hour pizza parlor, and ice milk and frozen yogurt available in this area (I did make use if this most every night!).
About the ship itself, it was quite clean. The carpet and wallpaper appeared new. There was a slight smell of sewer that others had mentioned, in certain areas, but not much. The railings were always being polished, and everything always seemed to be getting cleaned, all the time! The decks were nice, with an ample amount of sitting space available all through the day, despite being sold out. The bars were all nice, but we especially liked to pool bars, because of the fun atmosphere. The two dance shows we saw were Vegas type, and quite good. Not Vegas, but they did exceed our expectations for such an inexpensive cruise.
The food in the main dining room was excellent every night. Great fish, steaks, and other fair. The portions were small, but you could order another if you like. We only did this once, as we liked to partake in pizza or the buffet around 10 pm each night. Each meal involved an appetizer, a salad, a main entrée, and a dessert. We had a table for 8, with 6 present each night. We pretty much had all the available entrées between all of us each night, and there were no complaints. There are two waiters for each table, and they provided excellent service. The galley tour was also nice.
Cozumel was nice. We went to Chakanaab Park and did some walking. It is a national ecological park and contains some nice plant and animal life. The admission fee of $12 per person is quite hefty, however. We also shopped some. We did nothing really special, so I won't comment on this further. It is quite commercialized in the city, but that is what we expected.
Overall, I would highly recommend this cruise to anyone. You do need to realize how much you paid when judging the cruise and it's content. I think many of the negative reviews are due to expecting too much for something you paid so little for. Overall, it was an excellent value and we have no complaints. It is perfect for first time cruiser like us, as well as someone who is interested in spending some time on a cruise, enjoying the cruise atmosphere, without worrying about where you stop.