April 15, 2009
On 25 April 2009 I sailed on the Carnival Holiday out of Mobile, AL. This was my 9th cruise and 5th "Fun Ship" vacation. The objective was to sail on this older class of vessel before they are completely replaced. There are those who claim that this ship is a frumpy rust bucket and seem eager to see her leave the fleet in November. That assessment is largely incorrect based on my experience traveling on her.
For the most part the ship has been maintained in a lovely condition and doesn't look her age.
Embarkation in Mobile could not have been more efficient. I arrived at the car park at 12:00 and was on the ship 20 minutes later. The Mobile staff was absolutely fabulous in showing good old fashioned Southern hospitality. The city is very proud to have a ship to call its own, and that showed. Finding the ship from I-10 was easy enough, however I do recommend a more prominent "turn here" sign at exit 26A.Debarkation was very much the same story -- fast and polite.
Southern hospitality seems to carry over onto the ship itself. Being relatively small compared to the newer "Fun Ships," the Holiday possesses a small town atmosphere. Clearly a passenger is a name, not simply a number.
Being a relatively smaller ship has both advantages as well as disadvantages. Everything is within close walking distance, meaning that getting from one's cabin to the dining room and then on to the show lounge is never overwhelming. Getting lost is not the problem that it is on the mega-ships. Another advantage is the camaraderie of passengers and personal attention given by the staff. Out of 9 cruises, I would rate Tory as my favorite cruise director. Her 3 social hosts were most personable in making time to befriend guests.
The 2 production shows were to most everyone's liking. The first show presented primarily a rock n' roll theme. The second was totally country western, which catered appropriately to a Southern US clientele. The grand finale was a touching version of Lee Greenwood's "proud to be an American." Everyone took to their feet in enthusiasm.
The food, as always, was very much to my liking. Continuity is a Carnival strength and the menu is no different. The warm melted chocolate cake is offered every night fleetwide.
The most noticeable disadvantage to being only a 46,000 ton ship is the relatively rough ride. She traveled a bumpy road -- at least on my sailing she did. Unfortunately I had an aft/stern cabin where I felt the engines, wenches, and other commotion. Stay way clear of Upper deck aft staterooms!
A minor issue is the poor sight-lines in the Americana Theater. Get there early if you prefer a good view.
All things considered, it will be sad to see this vestige of Carnival's past sail out of the fleet.