Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Review - M/S Holiday - August 20, 2009

Funship M/S Holiday--August 20, 2009

This was the second leg of two late booked short cruises simply because of the good value on the cruise fare and I wanted to sail the Holiday before she is retired. This was my 17th Carnival cruise, first cruise on the Holiday, and first cruise from Mobile.

Just The Facts:
Ship: Holiday
Date: August 20-24
Captain: Sergio Tommasi
Cruise Director: Tory Secoy
Ports: Mobile - Cozumel - Mobile
Weather: Good all week, light rain on occasion.

Wednesday / Travel / Day 0
Leaving from New Orleans, Louisiana it is an easy two and a half hour drive to Mobile. I had a great lunch in Biloxi at the Old French House a famous restaurant located in the oldest house on the Gulf coast.

Thursday / Embarkation / Day 1.
The ship sails from the Alabama Ship Terminal in Mobile (photo above). I had a great view of the ship from the 20th floor of my downtown hotel. I’ve booked a cruise special that includes cruise parking along with the room. I took the hotel shuttle at 11:00 am over to the cruise terminal and proceeded to VIP desk. I had perfect timing and was sent directly on board before the other passengers had boarded. I went directly to the Lido deck and it was only 11:23 a.m. I think that is as smooth a embarkation as I have ever had on any cruise. Well as fast as embarkation went I was able to do something I do enjoy: First through the buffet line. They don’t have the room as many ships for a formal presentation or display, but the presentation of the food itself looked good. I’m not keen on outside cuts, but having the first of the roast beef at the carving station it was a given, but it was excellent. The salads and desserts were very good as well. This could be a very good sign for food on the cruise. It was Italian day on the Taste of Nations section of the buffet. I waited on deck until the cabins became available at 1:30 p.m. I dropped my roll on bag and I met my cabin steward Jesus. I took my first nap but I was awake for the first announcements of muster drill which was held about 4:00 pm. Checked bag came in good order, they seem to distribute the luggage well even better than in NOLA. We sailed about 4:30 p.m. I did get a DoD (drink of the day), the Funship Special, and watched us sail through Mobile Bay. Another thing that was nice was that the production singers and ship orchestra played on the Lido deck from about 5:00 - 6:00. Nice to see the main cast being involved more in ship activities. I have the 8:15 setting in the Four Winds Dining Room. The waiter is Francis from the Philippines. The assistant is Myra from Belorussia. I had the Fried Shrimp, Green Salad, Pork Chop, Fruit Plate and the Black Forest Gateau for dessert. The Pork Chop was very good. Service was very prompt and the dinner was good. I have a great ten top table with two solo guys (including myself) and three pairs of very nice young ladies. You never know who your table mates may be especially on a solo cruise and I have a very good table. The Welcome Show was at 10:30 with CD Tory Secoy and comedian Diane Ford. She was very funny and some jokes were on the adult side so her late show must be something. No dancers or singers, but a nice show. I then retired to the cabin and Jesus left a towel animal on the first night.

Friday / At Sea / Day 2
The sea is very smooth and beautiful today. Hopefully the start of another week of very calm seas. I always eat in the dining room for 1st breakfast and order the same item as previous Carnival cruises and by doing so I get a feel for the food for the rest of the cruise. I was there about 8:30 am and had Grapefruit sections, Tomato Juice, Milk, Eggs Benedict with bacon & hash browns. It was very good, the eggs a little over cooked. Today is a beautiful day so all the lido deck activities are going well even though the swimming pool is as small as I remember ever seeing on a cruise ship. Amazing what was considered state of the art 25 years ago is so outdated today. I had a nice walk on deck and then had a nice salad and a selection of desserts from the Wharf buffet. The Key Lime pie was the best. Again watched a few Lido deck activities and watched a good movie in the cabin. In the early evening Petit-fours were delivered to the cabin as a part of the Platinum benefits. To be honest in the past they have been dry and nothing special; however, on the Holiday they were very different. It was the same standard petit-fours however theses were freshly made and tasted good. As there are fewer Platinum guests that sail on the Holiday it may be that they have the time to make them properly. Certainly a lesson for other ships. This evening is Elegant Night. I didn’t attend the Captains Party as I wanted to try the martini drink special located at the Bus Stop Bar on Lido deck from the bus itself. You can sample four small martinis from a list of about eight for $10. Dinner was excellent and I ordered my favorites. I had the Stuffed Mushrooms, Pumpkin Soup, Strawberry Bisque, Seafood Platter (Lobster & Shrimp), and Bitter & Blanc for dessert. All very good. The production show, Shout, was after dinner. It's a very good show featuring songs from the 50’s - 80’s. The singers and dancers were great.

Saturday / Cozumel Mexico / Day 3
Weather was hot, but very beautiful all day with a breeze. Arrived in Cozumel about 8:00 a.m. and docked at the International pier. I was in no rush as I didn’t have a lot planned for the day. I began with a good breakfast in the Seven Seas dining room and left the ship about 9:30 am. I took a taxi into San Migel and visited with Nelly at her Mayan Pearl shop. She informed me of the local news and politics. As I travel there so often I try to keep current on what is happening on the island. I went by Antonio’s barber shop just after 10:00 and they were not yet open so I spent almost an hour next door at the computer center checking some email ($1 per hour for internet connection). Martin opened and I got another great haircut. I had a Bohemia beer across the street after my haircut just trying to stay cool. I looked around and noticed some new shops, but also a lot of shops are closed. It’s is tough times right now for business. I did buy a shirt and I did stock up on some items from the drug store. I did have some chips and guacamole at Casa Denis, the oldest place in Cozumel. I decided to head back to the ship early and did so. Cab fare seems to have increased by one dollar since my last visit. It’s now $7 from downtown to the piers. I was back just in time to sample the desserts in the Wharf grill. The Tiramisu Cheesecake was best. Sail away from Cozumel was nice and we left on time at 5:00 pm. I went to see the feature singers Justin Sassanella & Tiffany Thompson and the orchestra that played live for dancing in the Americana Lounge. Tiffany is a petite blonde from Louisiana that really can sing. Very impressed. Dinner was very good and our entire table showed even though it was Cozumel day. We do have a fun table. For dinner I had the Fruit plate, Green Salad and as an entree two fried Shrimp with sweet & sour sauce. Dessert was Tiramisu. This is Deck Party night with the Mexican buffet. Also Magic with Tony Albano and comedian Hank Mcgauley in the Americana Lounge (theater).

Sunday / At Sea / Day 4
A little overcast very early, but it turned into another beautiful day. Another breakfast in the dining room and it has been very good all week. I did a little walk along the decks and looked at the shops just a bit. I did buy a $10 watch. The one I bought five years ago on the Elation still works, but I probably need a spare. Lunch was from the the Wharf deli station, a turkey wrap. People are taking advantage of the good weather and the decks are full. I did the galley tour in the afternoon and it was interesting. I also purchased some rum from the gift shop. The production show time for late dinner seating was before dinner and I was able to get a good seat on row three. Xtreme Country is a great show and I highly recommend attending although I like the finale of the Xtreme Country show on the Ecstasy better than this one. Still the singers and dancers did a great job and were very entertaining. Final dinner was good. I had the Pasta, French Onion soup, and short ribs with horseradish. The desert was Baked Alaska and a fruit plate for me. After dinner and some time of visiting with new friends I made my farewells to the waiters and table mates and I went back to the cabin to pack.

We arrived back in Mobile on time. I’m using self debarkation and priority meets at 7:45 am so I’m around early and it’s good as there is a problem with the bill. Seems I was charged for the premium reserve Captain Morgan rum and not the regular spiced rum. Be sure to check your invoices and billings carefully, I should have noticed when I signed the purchase slip, but at least noticed on the final statement. I got that sorted out and had a nice early final breakfast in the dining room. I did leave the ship before 8:00 am and I went through customs and was on the street within minutes. The hotel shuttle picked me up and I was dropped at my car by 8:15 a.m. You really can’t expect any better than that for a debarkation. I did a power drive back to Texas stopping only at McKenzie’s BBQ in Conroe and was home at 7:30 pm.

I have cabin U197 a 1A aft center on U (upper) deck six. It has an upper lower berth, plenty of storage especially for a solo. Nicer chair than on the 6C cabin of the Fantasy, nice simple safe, and ample storage. No refrigerator or hair dryer. You do feel the vibration and cavitation when changing speeds. Really only bad when departing or arriving in ports. It was worse during the final few hours before arriving back in Mobile. Cabin steward was Jesus and he did a good job keeping the cabin clean.

I thought the food was good to very good in the dining room. The deli sandwiches are very good as is the salad bar and desert station in the Wharf. I didn’t try the pizza or use room service. Although a smaller ship she offered everything that the larger ships offer in the food area. I thought the Bar Service was good.

Ship / Crew
The Holiday is both the oldest and smallest ship in the Carnival fleet and it reminded me of cruise ships I sailed years ago. Little things such as the equipment (hoists) for the bow lines are visible on deck, your up close and personal with the life boats, small swimming pool, small elevators, etc. She is very clean and well maintained. You really don’t see the brass trim and railings that the Holiday has on her on the newer ships. Being a small ship I thought that the crew seemed tighter and greeted each other as well as the guests. Much easier to know everyone on a smaller ship. The catch phrase of the CD Tory is Woo Hoo. I like it. I didn’t participate in any trivia or bingo but the hospitably staff seemed fun.

Another very enjoyable cruise.


Susie said...

I don't know if you remember me or not, but my sister and I ate breakfast with you in the dining room on Saturday before heading out into Cozumel. We overheard you mention you had a blog and are happy that we found it! Looking forward to reading about your upcoming cruise adventures!
Best wishes,
Susie (and Laurie) from Michigan

Snoozeman said...

Yes Susie I remember. I hope you had a good cruise. Look for me on the CruiseMates website.