by Cruise, J.D.
June 7, 2008
This is a review of a cruise on the Carnival Holiday that my family took beginning on June 07, 2008. The cruise was out of Mobile, Alabama and was my and my wife's second cruise on the Holiday and our third cruise overall. This was our first cruise with our 14 month old son. Our cabin was E100. Overall, we had a great time and I can recommend the Holiday. My review of our first cruise on the Holiday is also posted in the review section of this site.
Other than taking our child and the associated limitations, the primary difference between this cruise and the last one on the Holiday was the food. The food was pretty good last time, but it was fantastic on this cruise. We did not have one bad dish in the dining room. The embarkation and debarkation process remained easy. Our service this time was better in some ways and worse in some ways. The lines and crowding on the Lido deck were still a problem. I did not experience vibrations in the elevator this time or sewer smells. The infamous brown water did show up. However, it would go away if you left your sink running and it completely disappeared for three days.
We attended part of the Extreme Country show, but did not attend any of the other production shows or comedy shows. We attended a few of the activities and found them enjoyable. We were also not able to enjoy much of the nightlife aboard the ship, but it appeared people were having a good time in the various clubs and lounges. We missed the Captain's Cocktail Party, but made the Past Guest Party. There were plenty of servers and free drinks available.
The Holiday remains a great cruise. As the Cruise Director, Steve Cassell, pointed out in the debarkation talk, the Holiday is doing better than Carnival ever expected. Yes, the price is a little lower, but it takes more than that to consistently bring people back and fill up a ship. I ran into many passengers who were past Holiday cruisers. I like bargains, but I am not going to jeopardize my vacation dollars on a questionable cruise. The Holiday offers a solid vacation value. Our group was a mix of first time and experienced cruisers -- no one had a bad time or thought they didn't get their money's worth on the Holiday.
06/05/08 -- 06/06/08: Mobile, AL
Upon arrival, the front desk staff took an inordinate amount of time to find my room. In addition, I had called ahead and requested a crib for the room. I was told there was not a crib in the room and that the front desk did not have the ability to get one at that time. When I made it to the room I discovered there were no towels and there was a dead bug (dirt dobber) on the floor. Other problems in the room were burned out light bulbs, the remote did not work well, and the A/C did not work well. I heard other guests report the pool was cloudy. Positives were the inclusion of a refrigerator in the room and the water pressure.
For the price I paid for this room, I feel I received adequate quality. However, if I was paying the retail price for this hotel, I would feel the hotel was substandard. I would only recommend this hotel if you can get it for a substantial bargain off the retail price.
On Friday, we went to the local Wal-Mart to pick up some supplies. Afterwards, we met up with my wife's family and took a drive around Mobile. We drove to Dauphin Island and that afternoon we went to the Original Oyster House for dinner.
This was my second time to eat here and both times were excellent. I had the grilled Ahi tuna and shrimp and a nice beer brewed from pecans. I ordered my tuna as rare as possible and the quality of the tuna was outstanding. Everyone in my group reported their food was good. The restaurant has interesting photos on the wall of its past and the impact of hurricanes. Great food and atmosphere and great views of Mobile Bay.
06/07/08: Mobile, AL -- Embarkation
For some dumb reason, I had it in my head that we needed to carry on a lot of stuff. Trying this with a one year old was a mistake. We carried on two suitcases, three bags, and a small ice chest -- in addition to our son in his stroller. Needless to say, he got tired of being in his stroller and this was a big headache. We did have a lot of essential carry on stuff, but a lot could have been checked. Note to self -- don't do that again when bringing on a small child.
We made it on the ship at about 12:30 and chilled out in the Main deck lounge for awhile before going to our room. We met our room steward and introduced ourselves. I also gave him an extra tip and asked him to keep my large collapsible cooler (I packed it in my checked luggage) filled with ice. He did it one time -- but never filled it again. This was very frustrating as the same thing happened last cruise. I even left a note. The note disappeared but there was no ice. Next time, I will escalate the matter. I ended up lugging ice from the Lido deck like last time. Other than that, our room steward was fine throughout the week. He made up our son's crib and placed his lovies in the crib each night which was a nice touch. All of our checked luggage arrived fine. I packed some alcohol in it and it was there.
Our dining room was the Seven Seas and we had the main seating at 6:00 p.m. That night at dinner I had the Gazpacho for a starter and the New York Strip for an entrée. Both were excellent. In the past, the steak was a bit tough, but not tonight.
After dinner, we walked around the ship with our son. We went to the gift shops where a free liquor tasting of Amarula and Bailey's was given. I managed to catch a little of the Welcome Aboard show with some of the guys who came with us. The comedian for the night did a small part and he was funny.
06/08/08: Sea Day
For dinner, I had the Stuffed Mushrooms for a starter, two lobsters for an entrée, and lime sherbet for dessert. All were excellent. On our past cruise, I thought the lobster was rubbery. However, it was tender and moist this time. My second lobster was served on a complete plate after I finished the first one.
That night we went to the Extreme Country show. Somehow our son managed to sleep through the loud music. The male lead is a better singer than the female lead, but it is a decent show. We left a little early to go to bed.
06/09/08: Progreso, Mexico
When we arrived in Progreso, we immediately made our way to the beach. We entered the beach near a statue and went to one of the free palapa huts with a table and chairs. There is no charge for using these, but it is a nice gesture to order drinks, food, or both from the waiters who will come around. The restaurants across the street put out the chairs and palapas. The first spot we were at had beer for $2. The waiter had a Del Sol shirt on.
We were constantly bombarded with pleas to buy trinkets and get massages while on the beach. One time a guitar player played a song for us without our asking and then asked for a tip. We were constantly saying "no thank you". That was usually enough.
Our son loved the beach and the ocean. He would try to wriggle his way free when we took him into the water! He also loved playing in the sand and the seashells. The water was a little murky here, but it was still the ocean and the water was swimmable. The beach is fairly wide and the sand is not bad. Eventually, we saw my father-in-law, and we moved down the beach to meet up with the rest of our group. At the new spot, Corona's were two for $3 and the proprietor was giving us free food and shots of tequila.
After our son fell asleep, we made our way back to the bus drop off and caught the free bus back to the ship. That night at dinner I had the Thai chicken for a starter, jerked loin for an entrée, and tiramisu for dessert. Everything was excellent.
06/10/08: Cozumel, Mexico
The snorkeling was fantastic. A lot of colorful fish and we also saw a sea cucumber and a large eel. Fruit and drinks, including beer, were offered. After our snorkeling, we took taxis back and did some shopping. Eagle Ray called the taxis for us. I can recommend Eagle Ray divers for snorkeling. My wife stayed back with our son and shopped in the pier area.
At dinner, I had the shrimp cocktail for a starter, lamb chops for an entrée, and Grand Marnier soufflé for a dessert. I liked everything, but thought the soufflé was a little bland.
That night I hung out with my father-in-law and we walked around the ship and had some drinks. We tried to get a bottle opener from room service, but it was going to be 45 minutes so we just took the wine bottle to the bartender on the Lido deck pool area and he opened it for us.
I had read about a nice "secret" open area on the Verandah deck, so we decided to find it. You can get there by taking the elevators that are all the way forward to the Verandah deck, then walking down the hall and through two doors or you can walk out of the Lido deck pool area onto the side deck and then all the way forward and up the stairs. When we got there at night, there was only two other people there. It was nice and quiet and a romantic spot -- however, I was there with my father-in-law, so we didn't hang around much! Eventually, we went to the casino and my father-in-law hit a lucky four of a kind playing video poker and won $108. Needless to say, he was excited.
06/11/08: Sea Day
My wife's mother watched him for a little bit, and we left to explore the ship with others and take a break. We went to the "secret" area on the Verandah deck and took pictures and had some pizza.
When we got back, our son's fever had risen to about 102° and he was having severe congestion in his nose. We took him to the infirmary and the doctor did a thorough examination of him and asked about his medical history. He diagnosed him with an upper respiratory virus and prescribed some medicine. The doctor appeared very competent to us and our son responded nicely to the medicine. By that night, he was wanting to play and his fever had come down.
We didn't leave the cabin much that night. I went and ate at the Lido deck and brought some food back for my wife and son. We hung out in the cabin and played.
06/12/08: Mobile, AL -- Debarkation