My wife and I took a cruise on the Elation leaving from Galveston on Jan 30, 2005. We flew into Bush Airport and since we booked the cruise with Carnival at such a late date, we could not arrange a shuttle though the cruise lines. This would be the optimal thing to do. I think they use Grey Line Tours. I found two alternatives: Extreme Elegance Limousine Service - which will meet you at the airport at your arrival time (sign in hand) or Galveston Limo Services. You are subjected to their time schedule - sometimes as much as 1 1/2 hours after you arrive. Unfortunately we chose the latter and were crammed into a 12 person passenger van, making several stops along the way to the cruise terminal. (In all fairness, the return after the cruise was in a very comfortable bus - but I saw several of the little vans there also - so I think we just got lucky on the return). First time for us departing from anywhere other than Florida. Galveston is a very industrial city and the port reflects the same - not prettyat all !. Check in was fine, as we did not arrive to the dock until 2:30p.m. - by far the latest I have ever gotten on a cruise ship. I have sailed on the Fantasy and Sensation so the interior set up was familiar to me right away. The bottom 4 decks are rooms and the higher decks are where the activities are. We had an outside stateroom on (the 2nd floor) Main deck.
I had heard somewhere that the ship had been renovated fairly recently - somewhere within the last 2 years. The only negative thing I can say about the interior of the ship is that there are some stains on the hallway carpeting on Main deck. Our room was near an elevator / stair entrance and this turned out to be not a concern of any kind. If you have been on Carnival before - you are familiar with the loud designs & bright colors that inhabit the ship's interior. There are two different dining rooms, each having a staggered early and late sitting. We asked for the latest (8:15) and got the 8:00. This actually was better because they assigned us the late sitting closest to our cabin. This is the 1st time we have cruised without at least one other couple. There is a big controversy about "personal choice dining" as on the Princess line, but as always, I found our tablemates to be very gracious and interesting people. On the subject of people, I have never encountered anything but exceptional employees on these curise lines. Always eager to please and very hard working personnel. I hope you get Otto as your head waiter, as we did. Ports of call : Progresso - not much there - a shuttle takes you to town for free (or you can catch a cab from the same place - they will give you a tour). A large "straw" market in town where you can buy souvenir type items at a cheap price. My wife and I went to a local bar and ate home made guacamole and drank Mexican beer. Locals came in performing in one way or another and passed the hat for tips - a fun afternoon. You can tell that a lot of construction is going on and some day this will be a major port by many cruise lines. Cozumel - We took a cab to D'Zhul Ha (?) where we went snorkeling. We saw many off shore excursion boats come to the same location that we were at. Downtown is right off the pier - lots of improvements - nice and safe - lots of shopping & restaurants. Save your ship excursions for another port - plenty to do here on your own. Or just go to Chankannb Park ($12) - lots of activities - (there is another port near here - not pretty). Belize - We took a ship excursion to Goff's Caye for snorkeling. A boat picks you up right from the ship and takes you to your own "little Gliigan's Island" where you can snorkel from the island or from the ship. Off the ship you are right on the barrier reef in beautiful waters - best snorkeling that we have ever done. Off the beach are crystal clear waters. Not as fun a ride as on a catamaran, but the snorkeling was great. Others took the cave tubing excursion. Ride in bumpy bus - walk for a half an hour but the tubing was great from what I hear. At Belize you have to tender into port, the ship does not dock. - which is why I chose the excursion to take us directly from the ship. A few complaints or disappointments : Seems like everything was done in the Mikado Lounge. No small trivia games or contests. It was for the whole ship at one time. A few of the smaller bars didn't seem to get enough use, like Duke's the piano bar, hardly ever open. The Cole Porter Club, the rear lounge, wasn't used much either, except art actions in the day and karaoke at night. The singers at the evening shows were just average, the dancers, probably above average. In all, I just didn't seem to enjoy the cruise director as much as on other ships. Oh, & lots of Texans !!
First a little about me. I am a 29 year old female who was traveling with 4 other females all about the same age. This was my second cruise and by far the best.
Embarkation- The ship did not arrive until very late due to fog. We began boarding between 2 and 3. Though the crowd of people were getting a bit on the rude side the Carnival staff was wonderful. Once on board, of course, our vacation had started and none of the wait time seemed to matter. We did not pull out of Galveston until around 1 am, due to the dense fog.
Our room-we were on the Rivera Deck in the last aft inside cabin. It was very roomy and our room steward did a good job. There was not near as much noise as I had expected. In fact, I loved our room.
Food- We ate breakfast and lunch at Tiffany's. The food in the buffet was above expectations for the first part of the cruise; however, it seemed to slide the deeper we got into the cruise. No problem though, the pizza was amazing. It soonbecame our staple. We had dinner in the dining room every night. The food was wonderful. Our wait staff was outstanding. They had our after dinner drinks (coffee and hot chocolate) ready for us even as we ordered them. The one food I thought was better on our previous cruise was the soups.
Activities-the ship seemed to have something going all of the time. We are a very laid back group and spent much of our time just relaxing in one of the 6 hot tubs, or laying out reading a book. We were not overly impressed with the featured shows, but found other things to do during that time.
Ports- Progresso, we did the city bus tour and had a wonderful time. We also did some shopping in what is known as their "flea market". We did most of our shopping for the trip here.
In Cozumel, we did the royal dolphin swim. I have to say it was one of the most amazing things I have ever done. I would pay the price and do it again in a heart beat. The downtown area is under construction, this makes things a little congested, but not too bad. You are now routed directly through all of the shops.
Belize. We were so excited about going back to Goff's Caye, but were greatly disappointed. When we got to Belize, we looked for the company we had gone with before. They were no longer doing business (they are now the company that the cruise ships use). We went with another company advertising for Goff's Caye, we were then told we would be going to a beach resort and to another Caye. We spoke to several people on our tour and they were under the impression that we were going to Goff's Caye. I do not believe the place we stopped would be considered a caye. There was maybe 20 sq. feet of sand showing. There were lots of fish, but most of the coral was dead. We have decided that in the future we will take the ship tour to Goff's caye (we love that little island). I believe the carnival price for it was around $55-60. Well worth the piece of mind and that wonderful little island.
Debarkation- We carried out own luggage off and were off of the ship and on the road home by 9:00 or so. It seemed to go pretty well for everyone. The line for immigration was daunting, but moved very quickly.
We had such a wonderful time that we have already booked the same cruise for next year.
We spent the night at the La Quinta on 14th st in Galveston. We could leave our car in their lot and take a taxi to the ship. We left around 10 a.m. and got caught in a lot of the people still getting off the ship. Next time we won't leave the hotel before 10:30 or 11:00 a.m. When we disembarked, we were through immigration and in a taxi going to the hotel with in 10 minutes.
The ship seemed in very good shape. Since we've sailed on the Ecstasy and Fantasy, we were able to find our way around very well.
Jorge the Cruise Director and his staff were great. The shows were enjoyable and were very entertaining. We were able to attend 2 of the comedy shows and they were just as good.
Our daughter (5 yo) attended Camp Carnival a few times and really enjoyed it. She came back every afternoon with her face painted and even wore it that way to dinner once. There weren't too many specific programs for her age group (2-5), but I think if we go again next year she'll have more activitiescatering to her age level.
The meals were very good. Our wait staff was very courteous, but kind of slow. Tiffany was always a good option for breakfast and lunch. We enjoyed the varying lunch menu, but breakfast was the same every day.
This was the first cruise where we stayed in an inside cabin and it was just fine. Except for the smoker in the cabin next door. The smoke filled the halls and our room. It was hard for us to handle at some times. We mentioned this on our comment card. I would think there must be some way to seperate smoking and non-smoking rooms or ventilate designated smoking rooms better. Smoke didn't bother us anywhere else on the ship except in the casino which is to be expected.
The photography staff was VERY busy. There were at least 10 backgrounds set up every evening and you couldn't get very far without someone wanting to take your picture. I thought the 8x10s were over priced ($20 each), but we purchased a few for family portraits.
With a five year old we limited our excursions, but still had lots of fun on the ship when it wasn't too crowded. In Progresso we took the shuttle into town. It stopped at a nice market and we did some shopping. There were also shops right at the dock at the end of the pier. The prices here were much better than the ones we saw in Cozumel. In an hour we were heading back to the ship. In Cozumel we took a taxi to Paradise Beach ($14 each way). Admission and use of chairs and umbrellas were free. There is a charge to use the equipment ($8 per person). Its a great beach and if we cruise to Cozumel again, we'll go back there. In Belize City we took the city tour. It was interesting to learn about the city and its history, but not too many great sites. Its a very low income country.
Overall, it was a great trip and we're ready to plan our next cruise.
This was our second time on the Elation and it will not be our last trip on her or the cruise line!
Embarkation: We live about 3 hours away from Galveston so we normally leave our house around 5:45 am and get there at the terminal around 9:15 am. At the terminal everything went real smooth. Our family happened to be one of the first families to go through customs and board the ship at 11:45 am. After we got on the ship the first thing we did was head to Tiffanys on the lido deck. Since it was about 12:45 when we were through eating and our rooms would not be ready until another 45 min. we decided to wait outside by the pool while drinking some ice tea.
The Room: We normally get balcony or ocean view rooms but this time we decided to try out an inside. We were on the Empress deck cabin numbers E92 and E96. We LOVED them! They turned out to be great. At first when we booked them I was a little scared about how dark it would be, oversleeping, tripping inthe dark etc. Actually I think we slept better on this cruise because of how dark it was at night! It was a little dark but we left our bathroom light on and closed the door were there was just a tad bit of light shinning through the crack. Its always nice to have a window or balcony but if you want to save your money on the room and spend all the money on buying souvenirs from the cruise then a inside is the way to go! And our Cabin stewards were Junior from Jamaica and Ralucca from Romania. I wish I could of taken them home with me!
Food on Lido: GREAT! We loved all the food served there. And the desserts were delicious! On the last day of the cruise you cannot miss the chocolate dessert buffet! Its wonderful! The kids LOVE the pizza and ice cream as well as us!
Food in dinning room: We were once again in the Inspiration dining room. Our waiters were Sy form the Philippines and Tina from Peru. They were great! We also ran into our waiter that we had last year on the Elation..Joel from the Philippines. The food was very good also in the dining room. My favorites foods there are the Prime ribbs, Vegetarian enchiladas (we are not vegetarian but we love these enchiladas) Tiger shrimp, Lobster etc.
Crew: All the crew on this ship were very friendly and helpful!
Ports of Call: We never do any excursions we just enjoy exploring the towns and shops.
Progresso: We had a great time there. We just got off the ship and went to the little shops right there beside the ship. It was a real quaint area. Something we found out this time we were there were that all the shops prices were sky high! We tried to bargain down a couple of dollars but no luck! It was ok though..it was our first port of call and they always seem to have the exact same things at the other ports! Although we did not go into Meridia, I personally think that we could have done without that port!
Cozumel: It was great as always! It seems to me there is always something to do in Cozumel. Whether its do an excursion or just walk around like we normally do! Something that I recommend doing is the little bike things whre a guy has a bike with the big seat in the front. It's very fun and it helps so you do not have to walk that whole way down the pier in the hot weather to get back to the ship! The price for this is in tips, so you can pay them how ever much you think they should be paid. We gave them $5.00.
Belize: This was our first time here. Last year on the Elation we were also scheduled for this port but we did not make it because they had a transportation strike. I was very surprised about Belize. A lot of people say how rude the people are and how poor the city is. We did not go into the city but were the tenders let you off at there are small shops up and down the tender dock. I found them to be very clean and well run!
Ship entertainment and activities: The ship had great entertainment! Jorge the cruise director was hilarious! I am still laughing! The night shows were very good and do not miss the great balancing act and the comedian. There were also many fun activities to participate in. One thing that I have never done but find out to be very fun was the dance classes! They had Saturday night dance fever class as well as the Austin Powers dance class.
And finally the worst part about this cruise
DISEMBARKATION: As all of us may know this part of the cruise is always the part that hurts the most! It all starts the night before you disembark the ship when you have to have your luggage out in the hallways no later than 9:45! The disembarkation was also real smooth this time. The last couple of times we have cruised out of Galveston they would have the U.S Immigration in the Cole Porter Lounge at the back of the ship and it was for ever before you could get off of the ship because of the long line all the way to the Mikado theater at the front of the ship! Now when they call off you tag color you just go line up in the Atrium and the Immigration part is after you collect your luggage. It works much, much faster that way.
Well hope I did not miss anything!
Altogether this cruise was our favorite hands down!! Everything went great! I very MUCH recommend Carnival and the Elation to anyone! We will be on Carnival again!!
By the way for those cruisers who sailed with me on this cruise, do you by any chance know what color won? Red, white or blue? We were Red! GO RED! hehe
If you have any questions about the Elation or what ship I have been on you can email me at email@example.com!
Past ships that we have cruised: Ncl Sky 5/2002 CCL Jubilee 12/2002 CCL Celebration 5/2003 CCL Elation 7/18/2004 CCL Ecstasy 11/2004 RCCL Grandeur of the seas 5/2005 CCL Elation 7/3/2005!
Next cruise on Celebrity Galaxy 12 night Panama Canal cruise 12/17/2005!
We sailed on the Elation on May 1, 2005 from Galveston. The weather was great, the food was very good (for the most part) and we really enjoyed our waiter, Arnel. He learned our names the first night and never got us mixed up. Cabin stewardess was okay...not highly motivated (we ran out of shower gel and she said she couldn't find any more) but kept the room clean and made us some towel animals. The air conditioning was really cold and this is new for us on Carnival. We even brought a fan because our last ship was so warm but we didn't need it! Beds were comfortable and we slept better than at home. Progresso was awful! It was the first stop and is really on the itinerary so people can take the bus to the Mayan ruins. We went to a beach there, but the water was dirty and the little town is really sad. There were soldiers with guns around the fence at the beach and that made us uncomfortable. In Cozumel we swam with the dolphins and had a blast! It's very expensive -$165 each, but worth it for a one time thing. So fun except for the idiot father who was brow-beating his son who was scared to get into the water. When will these macho guys learn that telling your kid to 'stand there and look stupid' does nothing for their child's confidence? Anyway, I digress. We swam with Madonna (our dolphin) and it was great. They video the whole thing and try to sell you the tape for $35. A little steep, we thought. Maybe $20 would sell more tapes. Then on to Belize. We took the hike through the rain forest and tubed through the underground caves. It was beautiful! The water is so clear, you can see straight to the bottom. The lunch at Cheers was awful! Our bus broke down and a new one was brought to us, but it didn't take more than half an hour. We encountered a little road rage on the way back to the bus when an ice truck played chicken with our bus driver, but we were bigger!
We really enjoyed the cruise but would have liked to have a sea day between the port days. Three port days in a row was exhausting!
We took two Elation cruises (back to back) on January 9th and January 16th. We had an outside (porthole) cabin on the "Upper" deck.
First a little background. My wife and I are in our early 50's. We are from a small town in Missouri. We have cruised 16 times; and we often cruise back-to-back. We prefer Carnival, RCCL, and Celebrity. We prefer inside least-expensive cabins. We are scuba divers and enjoy active/adventure excursions. We almost always do our own excursions. Here is our humble opinion:
Bottom Line. The Elation cruise out of Galveston is an excellent value. It was a very enjoyable cruise for these reasons: a fine ship, good food, decent entertainment, three fun ports of call, and good passenger demographics.
Galveston. This is a fun departure port and embarkation was very smooth. Plan to spend an evening in Galveston; it's a neat town. Most hotels offer free parking for cruisers. If you drive there like we did it's easy to get around town and very easy to do a drop-off at the pier while you go park the car.
The ship. The Elation is a well-laid out ship and indecent shape for its age. Cabins are very roomy (a Carnival standard). The ship was generally clean and in good repair, a great gym with good equipment, and lots of stuff to do onboard. Lots of nice warm hot tubs. Restaurants were nice and the food in the restaurants and the buffet area was good (not great, but good). We felt pushed by the waiter staff to finish at the late seating; I would opt for the 8pm seating next time instead of the 830pm. Good 24-hour pizza and a great sandwich deli also. Lunches and breakfasts were good in both the buffet and the restaurant. Really enjoyed the sushi bar. Service was good; on par with most cruise ships. If you have a lower forward cabin you will definitely hear the roar of the bow thrusters going in and out of port. Ship has stabilizers and azipods; handled rough seas very well. Cabin service was good and room service was excellent. My wireless laptop worked great; but access fees are absurdly expensive so I did most of my work in internet cafes at the ports. The entertainment was OK; the production shows were good, the comedy acts and jugglers were so-so. The trio of ladies who played classical were great.
I loved the passenger demographics; very few kids but all ages of adults. Mostly Texans and folks from the Midwest; nice, friendly folks.
Progreso MX. You can take a local taxi to Merida for just 16 pesos. ($1.50). Definitely go see this beautiful proud city with its outdoor cafes and mixture of new/modern and very old Spanish architecture. It is a jewel; and it is true Mexico, not the touristy junk you see in Cozumel and Cancun. Back in Progreso you can take a fun open-bus tour for a few bucks, walk the beach and get cold cans of Tecate for 7 pesos (65 cents!)
Cozumel. We scuba dive here and nothing else, so if you want to know a good dive shop send me an email.
Belize. Cave tubing and scuba diving are both a blast here; although the diving is so expensive I could gag. Also the wood carvings from the "Ziricote" wood are just beautiful; the hammerhead shark and the stingray I bought are spectacular. The local brew is called Belikan; not too bad. This is a tender port; so allow yourself an extra 30 minutes on both ends.
If you have any questions, I love to talk cruising, so feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Happy cruising, Bill Grier
My wife and I just returned from a week aboard the Elation. We were on the ship from Jan 9th - Jan 16th. After having read many of these reviews I have come to the conclusion that a cruise is always what you choose to make of it. We had an awesome time. I will try to help those who read this get a feel for the cruise they will receive if they take the Elation.
Boarding the ship was fairly easy. We chose to stay at a new hotel on Galveston called "Best Value Inns and Suites". May I strongly recommend this hotel. We had a suite about a block off the water and they offered free cruise parking all for 59.95. Taking a Taxi to the port cost 9.00 and they took us right up to port. We got to the port at 12:30 and were on the ship by 12:55. Very easy. Once on board we went to our room changed clothes and then went to the Lido Deck for food. The weather was cool but not cold. We then took a walk around the shipto see the different rooms and colors. It really is a very nice ship clean and always being worked on. During the week on each Atrium floor is large pictures that they changed while there. Pretty neat to watch.
We had an inside room on Upper deck. Very basic, very Carnival. Our cabin worked and was in great shape. Each night the steward would clean and set up our room. Chocolates on the pillow and of course the towel animals. What fun to see something new every night!
Life on this ship was easy going. Eat when you want except at dinner time. The food everywhere was the best I have ever had on a cruise. I honestly did not have a bad meal. I am also always amazed at how so often we have great tablemates to eat with. This cruise was no exception. If I were you when you go on the ship eat at least your dinners in the dining room it's a great experience.
Entertainment: Here is the area where the ship failed to impress. I was on another cruise with Carnival 4 years ago and they were the same acts! Same jokes! There really needs to be a shake up in the way they do entertainment. It lacked. Oh well you can't have everything.
Ports of Call were very good. Progresso is not a great place but if you want to take a tour of Mayan ruins then this place for you. We took a tour off the ship and enjoyed the day. We heard there really was noting in the town at all but if you want cheap souvenirs this is a good port. Hint if you want something local they make GREAT hot pepper sauces in the area. Cozemel as always was awesome! I love going to this port. If you can't find something to do at this port you never will. They have lots of shopping and also easy access to great beaches. We went on our own to Choconob Park. It costs 12.00 to get in and you can snorkel or walk their many trails. Don't and I repeat don't at this stop take the ship tours. You can do it so much cheaper and at your pace on your own.
Belize is a great place except you have to tender. We again went on our own and went cave tubing with a company called X-Stream. They are very well known and do a great job for about 50% less then the ship. So if you want to do these kinds of thing do it on your own. Just be aware you will have to get a tender ticket and won't get on the shore until 9:30am earliest.
Days at sea are whatever you want to make of it read, swim, get involved in one of the many games. Just have fun. This is a great cruise at a fairly great price. My wife and I agreed we may just take this cruise again in the next year or so.
One last note, I loved the port of Galveston. Neat shops and great restaurants down right by the port. Of the 3 ports I've started off from this was the best.
My daughter and I (age 11 yrs) sailed on the Elation out of Galveston. I was expecting a great "Camp Carnival" experience with the assurance that I could go about my business without worrying about her. Upon registering we discovered that children enrolled in the 9 to 11 yr. old program are allowed to sign themselves in and out as they please. I was very disappointed and frustrated with this. I feel this becomes a hugh safety issue when children are allowed the "run" of the ship without supervision. Many children would leave the program on their own.
I found many parents searching for the children because they had signed themselves out to join their friends that did too. While I felt the food and service were great, I would reconsider a Carnival cruise if my main priority was to have limited free time from my child. I also feel that their policy should be clearly stated for parent prior to booking the cruise so that there arn't preconceptions regarding the vacation experience.
This was a fun cruise! The entertainment was great. There were dancing/singing shows, comedians & a balancing act. The staff was awesome. They really know how to make you feel welcome and are very interesting people. Our room was on Riviera deck, inside. We slept later than normal due to the darkness in the room, so if you book an inside, set a wakeup call if you want to be up at a certain time. While Elation does not have hair dryers in every room, we found that they do have them at the Purser's desk for a $20 deposit. We had no luck in the casino or at bingo, but I did manage to score a solid gold plastic trophy playing match game!
We ate every evening in the Inspiration dining room. George & Kristina were our waiters. They were very friendly & attentive. We had a couple episodes where the kids didn't like their appetizer and they picked up on that & brought out something else. When my son wanted peanut butter & jelly, they brought it right away & with a smile.
Our 11-year old spent most ofhis time playing ping pong and enjoying the water slide. He used camp carnival mostly as a way to meet kids his age. He participated in some of their activities, but not a whole lot.
Our 16 & 19 year old daughters spent dinners & shows with us, but the rest of time were on their own. They love the freedom on the ship and met about 10 others in their age range.
We did not do an excursion in Progreso, just wandered around town a bit.
We did the helmet dive in Cozumel. The helmets are very heavy, even under water, so be forewarned. It includes admission into Chakanaab. The snuba & dolphin swim & encounter are also done here. We didn't stay at the park due to some heavy rain. I think I would have enjoyed it more if we had been able to explore in comfort.
We did shark/ray alley in Belize. The boat ride is over an hour long, but it is interesting to see the tiny islands with houses on them as well as the mangroves. It was really cool to swim with the sharks & rays. I got to touch rays, but the sharks are very shy. We got the best look at them before everyone jumped into the water and at the end of the snorkeling when most of the others had gotten back on the boat.
Overall, the 7 days went really fast & I began to feel melancholy the last evening. Oh well, back to reality never is easy.
P.S. If you get cold easily, take a sweater as some areas of the ship are very well air conditioned.