by Carol Funchess
May 19, 2003
My two children (ages 9 and 7), myself, my traveling companion and her 9-year-old daughter took the Carnival Holiday five-day cruise May 19-24.
Let me begin by saying that this was our first cruise; therefore, I have nothing to compare it with. Fellow cruisers aboard the ship said not to judge all cruises by this one, but I just can't get past how bad it was.
Embarkation was about what I expected. The real fun started when we got on board. We had requested rooms either side-by-side or at least across the hall from each other, and that our rooms be toward the middle of the ship. This was not to be. My friend's cabin was on the other side of the ship and neither of us had a room toward the middle. I had requested a refrigerator for medication but didn't receive it until late that first night, and only after I complained to the purser's desk.
However, I must say that our rooms were nicer than we had expected. We had been upgraded to rooms with windows and there was plenty of space for our clothes. The servicing of these rooms was good, and we never ran out of fresh towels.
Out of approximately 1,500 passengers, almost half were teenagers on their senior class trips. They were there to party on the "Fun Ship," and they did plenty of it. I won't go into all the details because it would make this review too long, but let me tell you it was a circus! They used an abundance of profanity, consumed a lot of hard liquor (I thought the legal age was 21), smoked cigarettes in the rooms and hallways (where were the smoke alarms?) and finally passed out about 3:00 every morning. The room next to mine seemed to be a designated meeting place for before and after the partying, so imagine how much sleep I got -- and I sleep with ear plugs.
You too, potential Carnival Holiday guest, will need ear plugs when you hear how loud the music is on the lido deck. And I do hope you like rap sprinkled with the "F" word, because that's what was played on the lido deck.
My friend and I chose not to complain to the purser since everyone else was doing plenty of that. Plus, we couldn't see that it was doing much good. There were teens on every deck, and they were being catered to -- I guess because of the amount of money they were spending at the bar. The rest of us were treated like that stuff you flush down the toilets on the ship.
Let me site one example: My little boy missed the height requirement for the slide at the pool and they made him get off. He missed it by so little that when I put his swim shoes on him the next day, he made the height requirement just fine. Give me a break! What's more, the pools were nothing more than extra large hot tubs filled with salt water, with the deepest one being 3.5 feet deep. The casino and bars, on the other hand, took up at least half a deck. Also note that the pools close every day around 5 p.m., a real disappointment when you have kids.
The food was mediocre and those beautiful buffet-style spreads you read so much about never appeared -- not in daylight hours, anyway. Something was served on several nights from 11:30 p.m. until about 2 a.m., but we were trying to sleep at this time. The food in the main dining room was good. The best dessert is a brownie off the kids' menu. The worst desserts are those cakes iced with Cool-Whip (which was served on every cake, every day). The 24-hour pizza was good, so we ate lots of it. The 24-hour ice cream bar is nothing more than two soft-serve machines, one regular and one fat-free. Breakfast consisted of the same food every morning, whether you went to the buffet or ate in the dining room.
The two ports were great. We did Xcaret at Playa Del Carmen, and the kids swam with dolphins. They loved it. We did the Atlantis submarine at Cozumel, and that was good too. We also shopped at Cozumel and didn't have to walk very far to do it.
When we got home, my travel agent went to bat for us and called Carnival. The person she talked to said "Oh yes, we are used to getting these kind of complaints around the end of May". She so graciously offered us a 15% discount for another Carnival cruise within the next 18 months. It would take a lot more than 15% to make me go through that hell again. I'm not even sure a FREE cruise with spending money would be enough to entice me.
In conclusion, I think if you're single, between the ages of 18 and 28, and just love to party, then this is definitely the cruise for you. On the other hand, if you are a parent with small children, then DO NOT TAKE THIS CRUISE. Spend the extra cash and go Disney.