Carnival Reviews - Cruise Ship reviews by Cruisemates Readers
Carnival Cruise Lines

by Cruise, J.D.
Western Caribbean
June 24, 2006

This is a review of a cruise on the Carnival Holiday that my wife and I took beginning on June 24, 2006. The cruise was out of Mobile, Alabama. Our first cruise was last year on the Carnival Conquest. We had a great time on the Holiday and I thought it compared favorably to the Conquest. For experienced cruisers or those looking for a newer ship, the Holiday may not be the best option. However, for first time cruisers or those looking for a cheaper alternative to the 7 day cruises, I think the Holiday is a great choice.

General Comments
Embarkation and debarkation were both smooth and fast. The food, service, ports, and entertainment were excellent. Both the food and service were better than we experienced on the Conquest. Lines were somewhat longer at the buffet and the Lido deck seemed more crowded, especially during breakfast. I would avoid it at peak times or try the dining room. Sometimes it was hard to find a seat on the Lido deck and that was never a problem on the Conquest. The vibration in the elevators was pretty severe, and they are small and slow, but you get used to it. A sewer smell developed on the Main deck in the public areas and persisted. It was not overwhelming but was annoying.

Both of the production shows, Extreme Country and Shout, were entertaining. There is a definite sense that the ship is targeting a Southern audience with those selections. Extreme Country is mostly country music and Shout includes a cross-section of music, excluding anything modern. We did not attend any of the comedy shows but we went to the karaoke a few times and it was OK. For those who enjoy karaoke, I’m sure it would be great. There is a band that plays in the Tahiti Lounge every night, but the hours must have conflicted with our dining time because we never saw them. The nightclub Reflections stayed empty for most nights unless you stayed up late. It finally filled up one night at around 1:00 a.m. Both the Captain’s Cocktail Party and the Past Guest Party were well staffed and it was easy to get multiple drinks.

We did not attend the usual Carnival contests and games. I think they are pretty standard across all the ships and did not appear interesting. Our free time during the day was spent either at the Aft pool or in a quiet area enjoying each other’s company and the view of the ocean. We did attend one of the art auctions and found it very interesting (the free champagne doesn’t hurt). I also thought there was much less “in your face” selling of products compared to the Conquest. The Holiday is definitely showing some wear, but it was nothing that detracted from our experience. Overall, we had a great time and enjoyed our experience on the Holiday.

06/23/06 Mobile, AL
We excitedly drove to Mobile the day before embarkation. The drive was pleasant and we enjoyed the beautiful crape myrtles planted along the Mississippi highways. I had reserved a room at the La Quinta Inn using Priceline. The room was great for the price, but if I go back to Mobile I would rather pay more and stay downtown. On this day we went to Gulf Coast Exploreum Science Center to see a mummy exhibit from the British Museum. It was a very interesting exhibit with an up-close view of a mummy and various Egyptian artifacts.

For dinner, we wanted to try some local seafood. We drove out across Mobile Bay and saw there were several seafood restaurants available. We decided on the Original Oyster House and we enjoyed a great meal. I had grilled shrimp and grilled Tuna and my wife had some kind of shrimp and oyster platter. The food was excellent and live music was provided beneath the restaurant. The drive across the bay also allows you to see some of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina.

06/24/06 Mobile, AL – Embarkation
We attempted to enter the cruise terminal at 9:30 a.m. but were turned away by a police officer because it was too early. To kill time, we parked downtown and strolled through a city park with an art exhibition and farmers’ market. At 10:30 we drove back down by the terminal and decided to park under the overpass across the street from the terminal and wait-n-see.

I was advised on Cruise Critic’s Carnival board to not park under the overpass while on the cruise. The parking there is attractive because it is free parking. Not parking there is probably good advice for those who are extremely risk averse, but I saw no homeless people nearby and there were TONS of vehicles parked there. Unless there is something special about your vehicle that makes it attractive to a thief or looter, I would feel safe parking there.

At 10:45 we noticed the police officer was letting people in, so we drove into the terminal. There are terminal staff at strategic locations letting you know where to go. I drove into the parking deck and dropped off the luggage with a porter. The porter was very friendly and graciously accepted a tip. The cost of parking is $60 and must be paid by credit/debit card or exact change. After parking, we headed into the terminal and went through the security screening. I had a box wine in my carry on that was equivalent to about 5 bottles and nothing was said. I had already packed other liquors into my checked luggage (which arrived safe and sound). We were among some of the first to arrive so embarkation was quick and painless.

The Carnival employee at check-in was very friendly and welcomed us back to Carnival. I had booked an inside guarantee and we were pleasantly surprised to find we had been upgraded to an ocean view room on the Main deck. We were on the ship by around 11:45 and headed to the Lido deck for some lunch.

After lunch we headed to our stateroom to check things out. I promptly embarrassed myself by inadvertently entering a password into the safe without remembering it! A call to the Purser’s desk and a quick 10 minutes later an employee appeared and helped out. We left instructions for our room steward to fill our collapsible cooler with ice and to bring some wine glasses to our room. Unfortunately our room steward did not take the initiative and fill our cooler each day with ice, so I would haul ice from the Lido deck. It wasn’t that big of deal, I needed the exercise anyways.

We spent most of the afternoon basking in the sun on the Lido deck – Aft while watching the skyline of Mobile grow ever distant. Fish and dolphins occasionally jumped out of the water in the wake of the ship. It was a beautiful day. We enjoyed dinner in the dining room that night and walked and toured the ship later.

06/25/06 Sea Day
Cruising is such an interesting way to travel and vacation because of the multiple options it provides to different people. To me, the beauty of a sea day is that I feel no compulsion to engage in any activity. It is a day of relaxation, do-nothing, and quiet enjoyment of the ocean and ship with my wife. We did attend the afternoon art auction and it was a great chance to view different art and see how much other people would pay for it. That night we again enjoyed dinner in the dining room.

06/26/06 Costa Maya, Mexico
We had no definite plans for Costa Maya other than relaxing, drinking, swimming, and shopping. Our original plan was to try and go to Chac Chi (the resort next to the pier) but recent posts I had read on internet message boards indicated that a lot of construction and confusion were taking place in the area. When we arrived at the terminal, we were the first ones to go to the beach area so we grabbed a spot near the water with an umbrella.

The terminal area is somewhat of a tourist trap. However, for the convenience we were willing to pay a little extra. There was no charge to use the beach chairs and umbrellas. A waiter came by occasionally and we ordered drinks and food. They do not serve Corona so we settled for Dos Equis. The fish tacos were excellent. My wife did a little shopping but was not impressed by the quality or prices of the goods.

06/27/06 Cozumel, Mexico
Arriving in Cozumel was exciting. Last year at Cozumel we did the Tulum ruins tour so we did not spend much time actually in Cozumel. For this cruise, I had pre-booked a 3 hour snorkeling tour with Eagle Ray Divers. That would leave us plenty of time to stroll and shop.

We were on the first tender to Cozumel and had the pier area almost to ourselves that morning. After some shopping, we took at taxi to the Marina La Caleta for our snorkeling tour. [Hint: Make sure you bring exact change for taxi fare as you do not want to be haggling with the driver over the proper change. You can use pesos in the shops if you receive them as change, but why bother.]

Our snorkeling tour with Eagle Ray Divers was fantastic. We were on a little boat with only 6 other snorkelers, a captain, and a guide. The guide was very nice and accommodating. He pointed out and named several fish and was always close by to assist. We went to two reefs and saw lots of colorful and amazing fish. We were offered fresh fruit, beer, and other drinks. The water in Cozumel is amazing . . . it is easy to be mesmerized by the brilliant blue color. The only downsides to the tour were that the boat was not very fast and there was no bathroom aboard. I would not hesitate to book a snorkeling tour with Eagle Ray Divers again.

06/28/06 Sea Day
It was another relaxing sea day to end the cruise. To be honest, I don’t think we did much of anything other than lay-out by the pool and do some shopping.

06/29/06 Mobile, AL – Debarkation
Debarkation was a breeze. The only snag was one piece of our luggage was misplaced in the baggage area. Thankfully an employee assisted us and diligently searched and found it. Before we knew it, we were on the road back home. Thank you again Carnival for a wonderful cruise.