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   Cruise Travel - Cruise Ships


Carnival Cruise Line

MS Holiday

Rating:Three Stars
Submit your review hereSubmit your review
Operator: Carnival Cruise Lines
Year Built / Last Refurbished: 1985 / 1994
Length / Tonnage: 728 / 46,052
Number of Cabins / Passengers: 726 / 1,452
Officers / Crew: Italian / International
Operating Area: Mexico and Southern Caribbean
Telephone / Fax: Tel 110 3216 / Fax 110 3216

Review by Christopher Smith, TravelPage.com, Associate Cruise Editor

In the early 1980's, the TROPICALE had hardly made a name for herself when Carnival realized they needed more and larger ships. They contracted with a Swedish shipbuilder, Kockums, to build the largest purpose built cruise ships yet seen. Naturally, bystanders thought Carnival was out of its mind, clucking "you'll never fill them". Well, Carnival filled them, suggesting that somebody over there's got the fun....and a lot of people on land really do like what Carnival does. The three liners Carnival ended up getting are eccentric looking, but they paved the way for the larger FANTASY class liners. With the Holiday and her sisters, Carnival gave Joe Farkas virtually free reign to work his decorative magic....and you'll see plenty of his trademark designs in the public rooms. These ships are a pretty good, solid, everyman product. They were very much evolutionary ships...not revolutionary.... so there's very little innovative about them, no matter what Carnival would like you to think. They are at present, with the TROPICALE, the little old ladies of the fleet...though at almost 48,000 each, they aren't really little....they're the fleet Carnival called the "superliners"....and though dwarfed in size by the FANTASY class ships and the CARNIVAL DESTINY, they're still super ships.

The CELEBRATION, JUBILEE and Holiday all share pretty much the same dimensions and general arrangement yet each is unique in her own right... endowed with a distinct personality...Here and now I HAVE to tell you that Carnival bashing may let you come away with a heightened sense of self esteem and self worth, a feeling of refinement and sophistication...and you'd be wrong! Hear me now and know what I say....Carnival does a good job...no..for what it is and what it promises to deliver, Carnival does a GREAT job and these ships are nothing short of fabulous...whether or not they are to your taste...Carnival does not suggest their floating cities are temples to refinement, sophistication and elegance... OK, Carnival president Bob Dickinson said it best: "People don't want to vacation with the Queen Mum."...And if the Holiday and her sisters do not share direct descent from the QUEEN MARY, that's OK, too...and with so many senior officers having made the jump from the transAtlantic liners of fabled Italian Line to cruising, these Carnival liners have a direct link to that fine tradition of Italian liners like the REX, CRISTOFORO COLOMBO and MICHELANGELO!...Carnival has an enviable record for looking after passenger's safety at sea...and that's nothing to sneeze at.

Like her sisters, she was worth every penny of her building cost...millions upon millions of dollars, and from the moment she started to embark passengers for her maiden cruise, the Holiday has well...celebrated with over 1,400 passengers twice a week... first timers, second third or fourth or more time cruisers, the overwhelming majority (something approaching a 98% vote of confidence!) voice their satisfaction and pleasure from their three or four night cruise in the Holiday...well, ok...there IS that tiny percentage who votes thumbs down...the Carnival cruise offers little for the quiet set...it is not a company whose ships favor a quiet, sophisticated cruise...it's not one of the stately homes of England...it's the Holiday...a big, sometimes loud..."FUN SHIP" and as many as 1,850 passengers (if all upper berths are filled) a week prove it, laughing, partying, feasting, sunning, sightseeing and enjoying a week aboard.

Public Areas
The whole neon thing....and Carnival's relationship with innovative interior designer Joe Farkas... had been going for ten years give or take before the introduction of the Holiday....working with the successes of the TROPICALE's interiors, Carnival laid out this ship's Promendade Deck in such a successful configuration that they later copied it for their eight FANTASY class ships. Not even a simple corridor leading from one room to another was sufficient....this seaview hallway is called Broadway on the Holiday.....it will allow you to meander from the forward Americana Lounge...where all out full scale production numbers are staged.... all the way aft to the Blue Lagoon Entertainment Center...passing all sorts of interesting places to visit in between.

A word about the Blue Lagoon....well before rival cruise lines began touting "virtual reality" centers as their innovation, Carnival had installed such games in the Blue Lagoon....along with other video games....and an ice cream parlor offering sundaes, soft pretzels, popcorn and pizza. Passengers strolling down Broadway are advised to take care of passing vehicles....there's a place called the Bus Stop with a real city bus....not to worry....it won't emit noxious exhausts...and be sure to poke your head into the Tahiti Lounge....aptly named....and much easier than enduring a 7 and half hour flight to get to the real thing. Whimsy plays a big part in the decor on the Holiday....it's amusing and harmless fun at sea.

Up top, overlooking one of the two pools, fitness lovers can get a pretty good work out in the gymnasium, then have competent staff relax their sore muscles in the Nautica Spa. There's a reasonable amount of deck space on the Holiday....not as generous as on her larger fleetmates of the FANTASY class....but adequate.

Remember that red headed lady on TV - you know the woman who kept singing about the results of her friends "seeing her now"? That line about "eating fancy food?" I don't think Carnival's passengers are eating much "fancy food" and I didn't find it particularly fine food or even memorable...but it was good enough and there was LOTS of it all graciously served up with plenty of smiles, so what more could you want! No, there is no caviar here, but remember, as the late great Temple Fielding once wrote..." let's face it, you aren't paying for it, either!" Think of the vast numbers of mouths fed every day in the time permitted to prepare and serve it, what you paid, and you will surely agree that Carnival passengers are generally well fed and passengers aren't going hungry!!

As in her two sisters, the Holiday seats her passengers in two similarly decorated dining rooms...the Four Winds and the Seven Seas.... each seats hundreds of people at one time so expect no intimate dining experiences here....there are even Greek coffee shop style booths for four..and someone on either end will have to move if the one in the middle gets seasick or needs something (nah...it'll never happen!)...don't ask for a table in the smoking section either...there IS no smoking allowed in the dining rooms! And unless you are on your honeymoon or lodged in a suite, forget about a table for two....Carnival wants you to mingle and couples who "vant to be alone" tend not to party much...Remember, this is a mass market operation and I find that as much as anything else food service epitomizes the concept...it's efficient, it's organized...watch it closely and you see how very hard the dining room staff works....pat 'em on the back...pad their tips with extra cash...they REALLY work for it...and pity them when they have to interrupt their work to do a little song and a little dance...seems that the food department thinks part of the waitstaff's job is to sing and dance...I thought it was their job to bring food, leaving the stage singing and dancing to others...don't expect leisurely unhurried dining here...that's not what this is about...remember...there are TWO sittings...

Up top is the Wharf Bar and Grill which serves breakfast, light lunches and buffet dinners as an alternative to the main dining room... don't ask me if I liked breakfast in the Lido...I don't often eat breakfast anyway...but Lunch...that is another matter entirely...and I LOVE Lunch! You can get burgers or other fried or grilled fare from the serving station/line out by the pool, but I prefer some air conditioning when I eat in the tropics...so it's inside for me...where there are TWO grill stations, a salad/bread bar and a pasta table...none of the food was bad...but I never found it very good and my burgers were usually dried out...but I didn't go hungry...and drinks were always offered by wandering drink servers...

Of course, 24 hour room service....for sandwiches and simpler fare....is available...as well as an open all night pizzeria with six varieties of pies, calzones and caesar salad.

Almost all the cabins on the Holiday are identical in size and layout...and at 185 square feet each, they're spacious....if not lovely to look at. You will not be able to tell the difference between them and their counterparts on the newer fleetmates. There is the expected dandy storage space, beds that convert to king...but again, the inboard sleeper will be an obstacle to be surmounted should the outboard snoozer need to move first. The bathroom is a dream....plenty of room to maneuver, and a large shower. Each cabin has a TV set and most outside grades come with a large window. Only the least expensive categories one, two and three....and category twelve suites, are a different layout.

The lower categories have bunk beds....otherwise, their fixtures resemble the standard grades. The Veranda Suites, located just above and behind the bridge, are well equipped, and situated for maximum privacy and quiet.. The beds in those quarters are near the passageway, and the wall separating me from late night revellers and early morning room stewards was not overly soundproofed. But the storage space was fantastic....as was the private deck.

Who Goes
This ship gets people of all ages...you'll see people from 90 days to 90+ years of age here and it seems that fleetwide about 30% of the passengers are under 35 years of age....there seems to be something for everyone...even lackluster, curmudgeonly ME...I like the Library here, too...even though it is hardly EVER open...but it IS a pretty room! Kids are happy in this ship and the onboard "Camp Carnival" allows parents to drop off their young and know that they will be well looked after.

For the first half of this year, the Los Angeles based Holiday makes three and four night cruises to Baja California....the Friday departing three night voyage visits Ensenada, and spends a day at sea. The four day trip, leaving each Monday, includes Catalina Island as well. Mid year the Holiday will shift to the Southern Caribbean leaving on 7-day cruises from San Juan. These Saturday departures are port intensive with calls at St. Thomas, Tortola, Dominica, Martinique, Barbados and St. Kitts. There are no sea days.

These are marvelous, amazing ships....big for me, yes, impersonal for me, too...and far too much fun for my stolid, antediluvian inertia... and that she might not be my style is okay. I recognize her for the great ship she is! She can't cater to your every whim...so don't expect her to do it...yet all reasonable requests seem cheerfully accommodated...no mean feat for a cast of characters THIS size!...Some weeks she hosts almost 3,000 different paying guests!!!! Fleetwide, Carnival carries about 20,000 people every week..so...who can be more than a number here? Lose yourself in a crowd...let your hair down...even if you don't have any hair! Breathe deeply, let it out slowly if you are annoyed, let 'em do it their way and let them amuse you THEIR way....they're damn good at it!...Carnival DOES have the fun...it's not a top notch five star city hotel or a classy, high end resort, but that's not what you came to this ship to see.

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