Ranked #21 Carnival fleet
Ranked #109 among all ships
One of the oldest "Fantasy-class" Carnival ships (1991), fine for short inexpensive getaways but the age shows in ...Read the CruiseMates report
Ranked #21 Carnival fleet
Ranked #109 among all ships
One of the oldest "Fantasy-class" Carnival ships (1991), fine for short inexpensive getaways but the age shows in ...Read the CruiseMates report
The most overriding pro is that the ship was very clean and inviting and that the crew members were continually cleaning to keep it that way. My room steward, Pak, and the dining room service team, Romeo and Attila, could not have been any more professional and congenial. They were excellent in every respect.
The floor plan of the ship is very easy to understand and the lighted signs at almost every entryway made it easy to find your way around the ship from the very first day. There were few lines anywhere on the ship except at every embarkation and debarkation. The Lido deck food service area is well planned to avoid lines and a pleasant place to eat. The addition of a stack of trays to carry your meal to the table would be a helpful item. Although there were several hundred children aboard, they were usually well behaved and supervised. The 24 hour pizza was tasty and always available when I was hungry hours before the appointed 8:00 PM dining hour. The library was well stocked with a variety of reading material and quite comfortable. The Mozart Triowas by far my favorite music although I enjoyed Ted at the Piano and James at the Drama bar also. Although it was not a tour provided by the ship, the highlight of my cruise was the horseback riding in Mazatlan with Randi's Happy Horses which I found on the internet through some of the cruise reviews.
The cons from my point of view: The emergency drill was next to useless and very uncomfortable. The food in the dining room was quite variable from very good to fair at different meals. There was an extreme shortage of fruits and vegetables served and none were available in the dining room even if you asked for them. The meat course at dinner was generally well prepared with a garnish of vegetable and a tiny serving of rice or other grain. If a sauce, even cocktail sauce for shrimps, was listed on the menu it was just a dime size decoration on the plate. More was available if you asked for it.
All of the hot tubs were always full of young children playing without supervision. Never did I find one available for adult relaxation. This may have been because the pool water was always very cold.
Although this ship has a deck called the promenade, it does not really have a promenade deck where you can walk around the ship and enjoy the sea air. The ship is predominantly an indoor resort which floats and includes a few short decks outside filled with smokers. Most of the music in the evening was too loud to sit and enjoy. The lounges were small and did not need so much amplification.
For anyone who might be interested here is my daily journal of observations in chronological order, not in order of importance.
I had an easy flight into LAX where I was met by friendly Carnival staff who passed us from one to another as we picked up luggage, put it into the designated truck, and were put on a bus to transfer us to the pier. One lady said she felt like cattle at a round up; I felt secure that I was on the correct path to my adventure.
This efficiency ended when we got to the pier. The ship was very late arriving at the pier so that they were not ready for us yet. We were kept in a large holding room for our processing where there were four different long lines. The employees were friendly and the lines each moved fairly quickly. First there was document control to check paperwork and take tickets, then on to a group of chairs to wait for a bus to take us back to the correct terminal for the Elation. After the line to get on a bus we got in another line at the terminal to check our tickets again and go through the security check like the one at an airport. The last line was an extremely long one to actually get our ID cards and get onto the ship. Luckily the weather was very pleasant or it would have been a miserable experience. It took 2.5 hours from airport arrival to buffet line on the ship. I was allowed to leave my carry on luggage in my cabin.
The lunch was quite good with lots of choices from hamburgers with french fries to fresh pizza or a cafeteria style buffet of salads, hot dishes, and desserts. Overall it was of medium quality with great variety. The turkey roast was juicy and the french fries hot and fresh so I was happy. I immediately bought the $30 card for unlimited soft drinks during the week. I was never pressured to order drinks and the card was honored in a friendly manner at all bars all week. The only problem was that room temperature soda from a can was poured over ice so that all drinks ended up being quickly watered down.
The ship is not as garish as the Celebration on which I have previously cruised with my teen aged daughter, but still much too overdone for my taste. Any one of the decor elements in any spot might be beautiful, but too many at once were just gaudy. The atrium was most beautiful at night when only the lights and the copper coloring were featured.
My travel agent had told me that I would have twin beds with a roommate to be assigned or a single cabin by myself as I had paid over $900 for the fare. This was much higher than anyone else I talked with if the mention of the fare came up. My roommate had been sent an email with a picture of a twin bed cabin and told she would have a private room for her $1000. Instead the two of us are in the smallest inside cabin on the ship with two bunk beds and very little floor space. The bathroom is adequate and there is plenty of closet and drawer space. When we went down to the purser we were told that the travel agents are supposed to have checked the final fare before sailing day as Carnival will refund the difference between the fare we paid and the final fare charged if the agent checks before sailing. Since ours didn't there was nothing they could do at this time. I mentioned that it was too late for the travel agent to help us as we were now in the hands of the Carnival staff. I asked that we at least be given a decent sized cabin for the exorbitant amount we were paying compared to others who had made reservations even later. They said there was nothing they could do as the ship was full; a roll away bed would be put into the room. I later found out that rooms were available and my roommate, by being consistent in her daily requests, finally got a cabin to herself on the third day. This gave me a cabin to myself too. The cabin which had been so completely inadequate for two was just fine for one person. I still do not understand why my travel agent did not look out better for my interests and why Carnival treated us so shabbily in the first place. I had tried using a travel agent who specializes in vacations for single persons. I was hoping to avoid the usual single supplement and other overcharges commonly charged to single travelers. I had thought that the guaranteed share meant that I would pay the same and get the same treatment as two people traveling together. This was not the case. After I realized that Carnival had no intention of treating us fairly, I decided to ignore the problem and enjoy the cruise. I have found that you can always focus on the bad aspects if you want to; and I prefer not to do this.
After the time at the purser's desk I headed off to see the Maitre D to change my 8:45 PM late dinner seating. I was informed there was no space at 8:00 PM.
Before we left the dock it was time for the emergency lifeboat drill. I have been on several cruises so I thought I knew approximately what to expect. Wrong! The most complete lifeboat drill was on the Universe Explorer in Vancouver where roll was taken at each muster station and the crew went to find any missing person. After all were accounted for, the captain checked each group to make sure all life vests fit properly and were tightened properly. His attitude about the seriousness of this drill was clearly transmitted to us. After this we were told where to go and what to do in an emergency. We were shown two routes to our muster station, one using back stairs in case the emergency blocked the main stairway. I can understand that the Elation carries more passengers so that the captain could not personally check every passenger, but we had the complete opposite extreme. I was assigned to gather in the Mikado lounge as my muster station. We were supposed to keep our uncomfortable vests on the whole time. We waited nearly an hour in the lounge, most of the time spent waiting for stragglers who kept arriving. There were two young people in charge of the whole group who were very friendly about helping people get their vests on. After waiting for the hour we were escorted as a huge mob up the stairs to the place where the life boats would be. We stood there wedged together very tightly for awhile, then we were excused. There was no explanation of what we would actually do in an emergency situation or of how the lifeboats would get to us. I could not believe that this met the Coast Guard Requirement.
After the drill I read for awhile in the Mark Twain library, one of the most tastefully decorated rooms I have seen so far. The chairs looked good, but were not comfortable to curl up in with a good book. I later found that the most comfortable chairs were on the Promenade deck forward of the Atrium. Large black leather chairs facing the sea, perfect for relaxing and reading.
Dinner was delicious; a lot of variety of choices, good service and excellently prepared entrees. The spring lamb was perfectly cooked. There were ten at our table and all but two found their entree choice to be delicious. The mushroom soup was also very good as I had read in a review that it would be. Desserts were pretty, but not especially tasty. Black Forest cake is a favorite of mine. What they called Black Forest cake was layers of chocolate cake alternated with layers of whipped cream. There were a few cherries baked into the cake batter. A poor relative of the real thing.
The people at our table were a diverse and friendly group. I was looking forward to meals with them, but my table was changed the next morning to the 8:00 PM sitting that I had requested. My new table mates were a family of five at a table for six so I was given the extra seat. They also turned out to be extremely nice people with whom I enjoyed sharing many meals. They ate many of their meals elsewhere so I often ate at a table for one.
Breakfast in the dining room was not as good as breakfast at a good coffee shop. The eggs benedict came with cold, congealed sauce, the Danish were served cold, and the orange juice was made with too much water. Another day the omelet was overcooked until completely dry although the menu said fluffy. The oatmeal was good and Romeo was very nice about bring the brown sugar I prefer for it; but after a couple of days I ate breakfast on the Lido deck. The food was no better, but it was more enjoyable eaten out on deck. Lunches in the dining room were quite good. This was the only meal with enough vegetables as salads were often featured. At dinner each evening there was a vegetable garnish, but you could not have any more unless you took a whole second entree which I did a couple of times primarily to get more vegetables.
After breakfast I went back to the library and checked out a book. $25 was charged to my ship board account to be refunded if the book was returned by Saturday. The ship is quite rocky so I had to take sea sick preventative medication the whole time. I think this is the reason that I was sleepy a lot of the time. I do not have this problem when cruising on rivers or in the Caribbean. After lunch I went to the Mikado lounge to watch a dance lesson. The two young instructors were friendly and patient. The couples on the stage ranged from about twelve to over sixty and all appeared to be having a good time. by the end of the lesson most looked quite proficient at the cha cha and could even do some step variations. After the dance lesson I stayed for the ship's version of the TV show 'What's My Line'. The audience tried to guess the vocations of fellow travelers who turned out to be a comic book salesman, a TV producer, and a pain specialist. It was a pleasant way to spend the time. After the show I grabbed a slice of hot pizza on the Lido deck to carry me over until dinner and retired to the library to read as it is too cold to read out on deck. I have found in conversations that several people booked this cruise after doing the same trip last Easter. They enjoyed it enough to do the same thing again.
Since it is Captain's welcome night the menu features lobster, prime rib, and salmon. All on one night so that you must choose. Everyone at our table chose the lobster. It was a bit tough and dry, but tasted good. I was able to get the baked potato from the prime rib dinner. This plus a couple of sprigs of broccoli made a nice dinner. Between dinner and the main show I sampled the clubs along Elation Way on the Promenade deck. They were generally nice, but again the volume took precedence over the quality of the performance, even in the intimate setting of the Romeo and Juliet lounge. The main after dinner show was a Las Vegas type review. It had colorful costumes, energetic dancing, and well done special effects; however, the music was so loud that the voices were distorted coming through the sound system. Maybe that is to be expected in a show entitled 'Rhythm'. I had arrived early enough to get a good seat in the balcony and found the show a pleasant way to end the day.
Tuesday morning I spent reading. After lunch I perused the gift shops before going to tea with live classical music. The afternoon tea was very low key and enjoyable with a selection of teas and a waiter circulating with a tray of little cakes. A piano, violin duo played light classical pieces quite competently. This has been my favorite scheduled activity so far on the cruise. Today I am trying the patch behind the ear. It seems to make me less sleepy than the pills. The weather is overcast and too cool to sit out on the deck and read so I will rest in my cabin until dinner.
Dinner tonight was several choices of routine foods presented in an elegant fashion. It was OK, but nothing special. My roommate has found that the dining selections for a vegetarian are completely inadequate; a few slices of green pepper and some pilaf or something similar. The after dinner comedian was sometimes funny, but mostly bathroom humor of the type that appeals to nine year old boys. The fiddler was good, but over loud due to excessive amplification. I left after one number as I have had enough loud music to last a long time.
Today, Wednesday, I woke up with a very upset digestive system so I stayed in the cabin until it calmed down then had a breakfast of Rice Krispies and ginger ale. We are docked in Puerto Vallarta, but I have decided to stay on the ship and read. It was also nice to get on the treadmill in the well equipped gym with no wait. The lunch buffet in the dining room was nothing special; cold cuts, salads, rolls, and overdone roast beef. I did not check out the Lido deck to see if it was better since I planned to eat a very light lunch anyway. After lunch I finished my book from the library. I ate very little for dinner even though it looked good as I still do not feel well in the tummy. I am surprised to feel so ill when I have not eaten anything ashore yet. After dinner there was folk dancing and Mariarchi music in the Mikado lounge. After the show I went to cash a travelers cheque to be ready for Mazatlan tomorrow. The Atrium is much prettier at night with just the colored lighting as the main design element.
I set my alarm for 7:00 AM so that I would be ready for my horseback ride at 8:30. by 8:00 they had told us that fog would prohibit our timely entry into the channel for the dock at Mazatlan. They finally let us off the ship at about noon and there was Randi, with her sign, who had waited for us. We were transported to Stone Island where we were given instructions and helped onto our horses. I had never been on a horse and was quite apprehensive. It did not help when I was told that the name of my horse was Lightning. Luckily it was definitely the wrong name for him as he was extremely patient. I was terrified for the first fifteen minutes and would have gotten off if I had known how to, but by the end of the ride through palm trees and along a beautiful ocean beach I was able to keep up a respectable trot and had a wonderful time. Randi and her two assistants were very encouraging and helpful. After the ride we had refreshments at a beach restaurant and some of the group played in the waves which were great for body surfing. Some of us bought souvenirs and some had a delicious late lunch. I bought two beautifully carved wooden animals for $10 apiece. It was definitely the best part of the trip so far. Randi and her assistants got us back to the ship in plenty of time for our 5:30 PM sailing. The tour was $40 for all transportation from the gangplank of the ship and back, the ride, and a soda or beer at the restaurant after the ride.
After the ride I enjoyed the music of the Mozart trio until time for dinner. I had a decent, but not great, veal entree. The best part was the small serving of cubed zucchini under the veal.
On Friday we anchored outside Cabo San Lucas on a perfectly gorgeous day. I had a pleasant breakfast sitting on the deck outside of Tiffanies on Lido deck. Again I enjoyed the gym with almost no other people. I did my mile on the treadmill with no wait. After this I lounged on the promenade in a comfortable leather chair near the atrium until time to go up on top and enjoy the perfect view as we sailed off.
The lentil soup at lunch was good, but the pepper steak, Chinese style was just OK. Next I listened to the Mozart trio for an hour on Elation way at the Musical Cafe. The ship is definitely rocking more this evening. As I got ready for the Gala evening I noticed that the little cabin is just as right for one person as it was inferior for two. I am sure glad that my roommate was able to get her own cabin so that I also have some space in this one. I had grown quite tired of bruising my shins on the roll away each time I used the bathroom or answered the phone. Tonight was one of the better dinners. Prime rib and grilled jumbo prawns were among the choices. After dinner I want to the show in the Mikado lounge. The dancers were energetic, the costumes clever, but the overall presentation was even more disjointed and amateur feeling than the Monday show. The dragon ice carving at the Gala buffet was spectacular. I enjoyed looking at the beautifully presented food, but did not stay to sample any. I sat for awhile at the Drama bar and listened to James playing guitar and singing. It was very pleasant, not over amplified as most of the music has been. The ship left Cabo over an hour late and is going quite fast with lots of rocking and creaking. The ear patch seems to be working. I am not sick and I am sure I would have been without it. Two were missing from our dinner group feeling ill. The ship rocked fairly gently all night. This is once when I am glad I have a midship cabin on the very bottom passenger deck. The upper ones will be feeling a lot more of the motion.
Today is the last day on the ship. Lunch was a beautifully prepared salmon fillet with an adequate serving of julienne vegetables. This had been one of the best meals on the ship. After lunch I packed my larger case and went up to listen to music until dinner. The ship was pitching and rolling so badly that three of our table mates could not eat dinner. I felt it even with the patch so I spent the evening on deck until show time. A lot of people were getting sick in the restrooms and they were not getting cleaned. I called the infirmary to ask a question, but there was no answer to the telephone, it just kept ringing.
I went to the show in the Mikado lounge. Both the band and the featured musician were so loud that I could not stay for the comedian. I could hear the band clear past the atrium until I was outside on the deck. So many people were sick that I decided to go to bed where the rocking of the ship soon had me sound asleep. The disembarkation went smoothly although the lines were long.
Although I had a good time on the Elation; I would not take this cruise again unless I were sailing with my grandchildren. I prefer a ship where quality is the main emphasis not quantity. Music, food, and decoration all had quantity as their main feature. I really enjoy meat at dinner, but feel that fruits and vegetables need to be an integral part of the meal, not just a garnish. On several cruises vegetables and potatoes were passed in separate bowls by the assistant waiters so that each passenger could take as much or as little as preferred. This would be a nice addition on the Elation. Also on most other cruises I have taken I have truly enjoyed just sitting and listening to the dance bands in the lounges. Almost everything on this ship was just too loud to be enjoyed just for listening and relaxation. I think it is a good vacation for families and young singles, just not for me, especially not at the price I paid.
PREVIOUS CRUISES This cruise was my ninth over all. It was my second cruise with Carnival, but the first on a Fantasy-class ship. My previous cruises include Premier's Big Red Boat Oceanic to the Bahamas; Celebrity's Zenith to the Western Caribbean; Majesty's Royal Majesty (currently NCL's Norwegian Majesty) to Bermuda; Holland America's Veendam to the Eastern Caribbean; Holland America's Westerdam to the Eastern Caribbean; Princess' Crown Princess to Alaska (Vancouver to Seward); Carnival's Carnival Destiny to the Western Caribbean; and Royal Caribbean's Voyager of the Seas to the Western Caribbean. Since I had just sailed on the world's largest ship, Voyager of the Seas four weeks before the Elation, I was anxious to see how this 'smaller' ship would compare.
THE ELATION When we first pulled up to the pier in San Pedro, I was suprised how small the Elation seemed. However, as the week went on, the Elation became a very good sized, comfortable ship. The first three floors of the Elation are nothing but cabins. We were on the second floor, Main Deck. On Empress Deck 7, there was the bottom floor of the Elation Atrium, the Plaza Bar, the Purser's Desk,Shore Tours, and the Photo Gallery.
The Elation Atrium was a beautiful place on the ship. I rises seven decks, and is capped by a glass dome. The thing I liked so much about this atrium is that it was so wide...it is about two-thirds the width of the entire ship. At night, the atrium would light up in shades of pink and red, creating a magical atmosphere. On Atlantic Deck 8, there was the first floor of the Mikado Show Lounge, the Galleria Shops, the Card Room, Duke's Piano Bar, the Mark Twain Library, the Imagination Dining Room, and the Inspiration Dining Room. The Mikado is a nicely decorated room, highlighted with a Japanese theme with green and gold colors. Though it was a very pretty room, it had some horrible sight lines and many obstructed views. If you got here early for a show, you could get a good seat, but if you came late, it was almost guaranteed that a pole or something would be in your way. The Galleria Shops are right at the entrance of the Mikado. There is quite an impressive collection of stores in here, including the Carnival Logo Shop, many designer boutiques, and a liquor and sundries store. Duke's is the Elation's Piano bar, and here people did piano sing alongs nightly. The Mark Twain Library is a very quiet place, and is decorated in a Riverboat theme appropriately. We ate in the Imagination Dining Room. This dining room is accessible from the atrium. The dining room served its purpose; however, it was a bit dark. At times, this room seemed a bit claustrophobic, but I didn't mind since I was eating. The Inspiration Dining Room is in the back of the ship, and it is accessible from the aft elevator lobby, or down the stairs of Gatsby's Great Bar. Up on Promenade Deck 9, there was the Mikado Balcony, Virtual World, Elation's Way, the Casablanca Casino, Sushi Bar, Drama Bar, Romeo & Juliet Lounge, the Musical Cafe, the Jekyll & Hyde Dance Club, Gatsby's Great Bar, and the Cole Porter Club. The Mikado Balcony, unfortunately had some sight lines of the stage which were even worse than the main level's, especially if you sat in the back part of the top floor. Virtual World was an arcade room which featured many games that I had pretty much no interest in. Elation's Way stretches down the Starboard side of the Elation, connecting most of the main public rooms. Sofas and chairs are present down the entire length of Elation's Way. I loved sitting on one of the sofas next to a window, and watching the sea go by. The Casablanca Casino was quite large, and it featured tons of slot machines and many tables. The gambling age on Elation is 18, but this was rarely enforced. The Sushi Bar is on Elation's Way, and right across from the casino. I guess if you like sushi, you might like this place. It tended to leave a nice little sushi stench down Elation's Way before dinner. The Drama Bar was one of my favorite places on the ship. Each night, Jimmy, a guitarist and vocalist would sing songs. I just really enjoyed this. Romeo & Juliet had some unique decor, and a band played here nightly. The Musical Cafe was a closed off sitting area on Elation's Way with a bar which sells cookies, desserts, and such. I do not understand why Carnival charges for these foods. This seems really stupid to me, especially when you can go up a floor to Tiffany's Restaurant and get the same desserts on the buffet for free. Oh well, I just hope they drop the charges for these snacks. The Jekyll & Hyde Dance Club is a nice sized disco. Here, karaoke sessions take place, and it is alive with music and dancing at night. There is a Fossil Watch shop right next to Jekyll & Hyde. Going further back, Gatsby's Great Bar is a great place for a pre-dinner drink. Cole Porter Club is in the very back of the ship, and here, there are the midnight, 'R-rated' comedy shows and the past passenger reception. Up on Lido Deck 10, there is the main pool area, and Tiffany's Bar and Grill. The Patio Pool Area features a very nice sized pool, two hot tubs, a large waterslide, a stage, and plenty of deck space. Finding a chair here was rarely a problem. However, people still saved their chairs with towels as they do on every ship. There is a poolside buffet on deck where hamburgers, hot-dogs, and the regular lunch and breakfast buffet is served. Tiffany's features two buffet lines, a salad bar, the pizzeria, and another bar. On Verandah Deck 11, there are 4 Ping-Pong tables right outside of the Atrium. Going further back, there is tons of deck space and another pool in the back with two hot tubs. On Sports Deck 12, there is the Gym area and Children's World. Up on Sun Deck 13, there is the jogging track, the 'beach volleyball' court, and more deck space. The Elation was truly spotless, she is an extremely clean ship. Overall, this ship was very easy to navigate, and I became very comfortable with it since it felt quite 'homey'.
CABINS We had two cabins, an inside, and an outside across the hall. We were in cabins M40 and M42. The two cabins were virtually identical except for the window. The beds were in an 'L' configuration. There was a TV in the corner of the room. There was also a desk and vanity area. The closet and drawer space was plenty for two people...and I severely overpacked. The bathroom is a very good size, and the shower is not small at all. Overall, I feel that Carnival has some of the nicest, and most spacious cabins at sea, so they did not disappoint.
SERVICE The service on board the Elation was overall quite good. Our room steward, Mickey was very kind and friendly. We saw him all the time, and he always had time for a conversation. He did a very good job in making up our room, and leaving our ice bucket full all the time. He also did several extra little things like bringing us cookies one night. Our waiter, P.I, was excellent. He is a 64 year old man, and he always had a smile on his face. He provided flawless service, and never had problems with special requests such as multiple appetizers or entrees. He was probably one of the best, if not the best waiter we have ever had on a cruise. Our Assistant Waiter, Roberto was also very friendly. He always goofed around, and had a joke for us. He also provided excellent service. Looking at the crew of the Elation as a whole, it seemed that they acted a bit tired and overworked. In the beginning of the week, many seemed almost grouchy, but service got better as the week progressed. The overall service on the Elation was very adequate; actually very good, but it was not up to the service we have had on several other ships.
FOOD Since I had already been on a Carnival cruise within a year (the Destiny last summer), I pretty much knew what to expect as far as the food goes. Carnival has not changed their menus since last summer...the dinner menus were identical. Everyday, there were two options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. They were the main dining room, or Tiffany's Bar and Grill. Breakfast in the dining room was quite good. The service was very good, and the food was above average. My favorite, the eggs benedict was okay, but the portions were quite small. Breakfast up in Tiffany's Bar and Grill was also very good. There wasn't a huge selection, but the food there was certainly adequate. The made to order omelets were excellent. The omelets quickly became the highlight of my breakfast! For lunch on the Elation, you could eat in the dining room, or up at Tiffany's. Lunch in the dining room was excellent. The menu was extensive, and the food was very good as was the service. It was truly a pleasure eating sit down lunch on the Elation. Lunch up in Tiffany's was almost equally as good. The hamburgers were very good...large and juicy. The buffets featured a pasta, a carved meat, and 4 or 5 other dishes which were sometimes good, and were not at other times. The Pizza at Tiffany's was excellent. As I have previously stated, Carnival Cruise Lines' pizza is the best at sea. The pizza was always fresh, and very tasty. Also available at the Pizza Bar are calazones, caesar salad, and chicken caesar salads. The Pizza Bar is open 24 hours, so you can always snack here. The salad bar up in Tiffany's is very extensive and fresh. I enjoyed a huge bowl of salad on many occasions. There were many desserts available, as well as a self serve ice cream machine which was open virtually 24 hours. Dinner in the Imagination Dining Room was pretty good. It really varied night to night. The appetizers were usually excellent, the soups were just good, the salads were okay, and the entrees varied. Some entrees were excellent, others were just okay. All of the portions seemed a bit on the small side, but that wasn't a problem since you could order another if you wished. I did notice that there were many repeated entrees during the course of the cruise such as Prime Rib, and several seafoods. The desserts were excellent, but again, the portions were quite small. I wish Carnival would change their menu a bit from ship to ship, because the menu on the Elation this year is the exact same as the Destiny's last year, and the Paradise which my parents sailed in February. Overall, the food on the Elation was very good, but it does have some room for improvement. You will definitely not go hungry on this ship!
GYM The gym and workout facilities onboard the Elation were very complete, and adequate for this ship. The gym itself features several treadmills, stairmasters, weigh machines, and a free weights area. There was an aerobics area as well. Two hot tubs were located in the gym too. There is a locker room area for men and women. Each is complete with lockers, showers, a steam room, and sauna. Up a deck, there is the jogging track. I personally love the jogging tracks on Carnival since they are isolated from the pool activities. I also love how they are padded like a real jogging track. I feel that these jogging tracks are much more practical for a ship than the huge tracks which encircle the pool on other ships such as Voyager of the Seas. Those types of tracks are frequently blocked by chairs and people waking from one part of the ship to another. With the jogging track up top as it is on the Elation, it is practically reserved for those who choose to run or walk on the track. You cannot really be disappointed with the gym facility on the Elation.
ACTIVITIES The Elation featured many activities. As it is with any Carnival 'fun ship', there is always something to do. There are game shows, contests, pool games, karaoke, tournaments, ping pong, shuffleboard, volleyball, demonstrations, bingo, and many other things. The arcade is a very good sized facility, but it is usually overrun with smaller children. Camp Carnival, the kid's program seemed to please everyone as the little children were always kept busy. One thing I did miss on this ship was Internet access. On our previous cruise on the Voyager of the Seas, the Internet cafe came in very useful, and I really missed it on the Elation. Not to worry, there are plenty of things to do on board the Elation.
ENTERTAINMENT Entertainment the week I was on board the Elation was the best I have encountered on any of my nine cruises. The entertainment was presented by the Cruise Directory, Lenny Halliday. He was very friendly, but nothing that special. He did sing one night, and I enjoyed that. The two production shows were quite good. One of them featured lasers and other high tech special effects. We had three comedians during the course of the week, and they were all excellent. Each one did a main show and a midnight 'R-rated' show. The comedian the last night, Lowell Sanders was one of the best comedians I have seen on a ship. Another night for entertainment, we had a fiddler. This guy was completely impressive. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the entertainment on the Elation. It was the best I have had on a cruise.
NIGHTLIFE Few ships can compare to the nightlife offered on the 'Fun Ships' of Carnival. There are sing alongs in Duke's Piano Bar, Jimmy sang at the Drama Bar, an excellent band played at Romeo & Juliet's, a band played in Cole Porter Club, there were strings in Gatsby's Great Bar, the Jekyll & Hyde Dance Club was jamming until the early morning hours, and as always the Casablanca Casino was roaring all night long. I personally spent much of my time in Jekyll & Hyde dancing the night away! This lounge was quite strange; not my favorite club on a ship (like the Vault on Voyager of the Seas or Point After Dance Club on Carnival Destiny), but it served its purpose well. Jekyll & Hyde played music late into the night until around 3:00 AM, and sometimes later. If nightlife is your thing, you will not be disappointed by the Elation!
WHO GOES Everyone! We had a full ship of 2699 people...it was actually over maximum capacity, meaning that there were several roll away beds in use in addition to the upper births and sofa beds. There were many families on our cruise, as well as large family reunion groups. This meant that there were many kids and teenagers. We had about a dozen honeymooners, tons of couples and singles. There were older people and younger people. This cruise attracts a wide variety of people, and this mix of people creates a very fun environment. Since the Elation leaves from Los Angeles, I'd say that 60% of the people on the ship were from California. The average age was probably 35-40.
EMBARKATION/DISEMBARKATION Both embarkation and disembarkation left a lot to be desired. The embarkation process was incredibly slow. We had to wait in a lounge, then in a line for check-in, and then another line for our room key. It took about an hour and ten minutes from the time we got off the taxi to the time we were on board the Elation. Unfortunately, embarkation was the better of the two processes, because disembarkation was even worse. The best way I can describe it was organized chaos. We were told to be out of our cabins by 9:00, so we were out by 8:45. by this time, breakfast was not being served anymore, and the waiting ensued. People did not start getting off of the ship until 10:30, and we were off by 11:15. I'm sorry, I know customs may have held up the ship for a while, but it is ridiculous to not start letting people off until 10:30! On my last cruise, Voyager of the Seas, they had 1,000 more people than the Elation did, and everyone was off the ship by 8:30. I was completely unimpressed with the embarkation and disembarkation process on the Elation, and Carnival really does need to work on this procedure.
MEXICAN RIVIERA ITINERARY This was the first time we have done this itinerary, so it held our attention much more than the Caribbean since we have cruised to the Eastern Caribbean twice, and three times to the Western Caribbean.
SUNDAY, JULY 09, 2000 -- San Pedro, California (Port of Los Angeles) Today, as we drove down the highway, we saw the Elation approaching, and our excitement increased. After the hellish embarkation process, I toured the ship, got a bite to eat, and then went to the muster drill. After muster, I watched as we pulled away from the pier in San Pedro, and set sail for Puerto Vallarta. We then went to early seating dinner at 6:00. After dinner, I went to the show, and eventually ended up in Jekyll & Hyde. Dinner: Casual
MONDAY, JULY 10, 2000 -- At Sea Today I slept in, had breakfast, and then ran a couple miles and worked out. It was a very cool day outside, as it was in the 60s all day. This was very enjoyable for me since I live in Texas, and this was a welcome change in weather! Today I participated in some activities, and just mainly took it easy all day. We then went to the Captain's Cocktail Party, had formal portraits made, and went to dinner. Afterwards, I went to the show, and enjoyed the nightlife that the Elation had to offer. Dinner: Formal
TUESDAY, JULY 11, 2000 -- At Sea Today I did basically a repeat of Monday. It was a little warmer today...in the 70s, but still very pleasant outside. Today, I saw several whales while sitting on deck, so this came as a welcome suprise! After dinner, I went to see the comedian, then went to Jekyll & Hyde, and then to the midnight comedy show. Dinner: Casual
WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2000 -- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico This morning I woke up around 6:30 to watch us pull into port. From the observation deck above the bridge, I witnessed one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever seen as the sun rose above the Sierra Madre Mountain Range. I then went to eat breakfast, and we headed down to get off the ship for our tour. We chose to take the Countryside Tour...mistake! We boarded our nice, air conditioned bus, and headed to a shopping area in downtown Puerto Vallarta. After this, we boarded our bus for a ride to the Mexican country. Well, when your bus is extremely comfortable, the tour guide can barely speak English, and the ride was frankly, boring; the ideal circumstances arise for a little nap. I fell asleep for a while, and apparently we made some periodic stops in little towns where locals would hassle you to buy something that you never would have thought about buying if the locals were not harassing you in the first place. That is basically what this tour consisted of...going from one market to another. In my opinion it was highly uninteresting, and if I wouldn't have caught up on much needed sleep, I would dub it a waste of time and money. When we got back to the ship, I ate lunch and then napped a little longer. I then walked to the market by the pier for more hassling. I did find an Internet cafe about a block from the ship. It cost $2 US for 30 minutes, so I was able to check my email and such. I then headed back to the ship for dinner. After dinner, I saw the show, and headed up to the deck party as we departed Puerto Vallarta at around 10:00 PM. This was my least favorite port of call. Tonight, we hit a squall line at around 1:00 am. Deck chairs were blown overboard by 100 mph winds. There was intense rain and lightening everywhere. This was the worst storm I have encountered while on a cruise, but the Elation handled it quite well. Dinner: Casual
THURSDAY, JULY 13, 2000 -- Mazatlan, Mexico This morning we woke up excited, ate breakfast, and headed down to the pier for our much awaited horseback ride. We had booked our horseback ride before the cruise through Randi, and independent Horseback ride operator (www.mazhorsebackride.com). She offered a horseback riding experience for half the price of the one offered on the ship. We met Randi at the gangway along with some other people I had met online before the cruise. She took us by taxi to a fishing port where we boarded a water taxi for Stone Island. Here, we met up with our horses, and started our ride. We rode on the horses all around the island through coconut groves (there are over 1 million coconut trees on the island), estuaries, small lakes, and down the beach. This was fully guided by Randi and Miguel. After our ride of about 2 1/2 hours, Randi took us to a local restaurant on the beach where she bought us drinks. We stayed here and talked most of the afternoon, and eventually ordered some great quesadillas. This was a truly enjoyable day. When it was time to go back to the ship, we were pretty sad since this was one of the best shore excursions we have ever taken. I highly recommend it. We departed Mazatlan at around 6:00. After dinner I went to the show and Jekyll & Hyde after that. Dinner: Casual
FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2000 -- Cabo San Lucas, Mexico This morning, we woke up early so we could experience Cabo San Lucas in the little time we had. We were only there from 7:00 am until 12:30. We boarded a tender and took that into town. Here, we purchased water taxi tickets to Los Arcos Beach. They were $10 per person round trip. Los Arcos Beach is absolutely beautiful. It is one of the prettiest beaches I have EVER seen. There are stunning rock formations along this beach including the famous arch. The water on the Sea of Cortes side (the beach facing downtown Cabo) was very clear and calm. There was excellent snorkeling here, and the beaches were a little more crowded on this side. A five or ten minute walk takes you to the other side of the peninsula where there is the Pacific Ocean beach. Here, there are huge 10 to 15 foot waves crashing into the rocks. It is recommended that you do not swim on this side because of the dangerous rip currents. The few hours I spent here were amazing. Like I said, this is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, so don't miss it! We then took the water taxi back to downtown and waited in the long line to tender back to the Elation. I really wish we could have spent more time here! We departed Cabo at around 1:00, and we then cruised by the rock formations of Los Arcos. Here, many took photographs of the famous arch rock formation. The rest of today was like a typical day at sea. The second review show was shown tonight after dinner. Dinner: Formal.
SATURDAY, JULY 15, 2000 -- At SeaToday I slept in, ate breakfast and took it easy. It was almost cold outside (50s and 60s), so I didn't stay up on deck too long. I went to watch 'Titanic' in the Mikado, but fell asleep, so I headed back to my cabin. Here, I packed my bags. I then went to dinner and the comedy show. After that, I said some of my good-byes, and headed to Jekyll & Hyde where I danced till about 3:00 am. Dinner: Casual
SUNDAY, JULY 16, 2000 -- San Pedro, California (Port of Los Angeles) We docked this morning at around 7:00. I slept until around 8. We were out of our cabin by 9, and we headed up to Tiffany's to wait. Breakfast had stopped being served, so I missed that. We then waited forever until we disembarked. We eventually found our bags, got in the taxi, and arrived at LAX by noon. We then boarded our Southwest Airlines flight back to Houston. The cruise was over =(
ODDS & ENDS The Elation is a fun, fun, fun ship! The first and last day at sea are quite cool outside. It is a welcome change from the warm, muggy Caribbean. Randi's Horseback Ride was the best! Carnival, please do not charge for things at the Musical Cafe! Trays are needed at Tiffany's restaurant badly! Many ships forget the little detail of how hard it is to carry multiple plates to the table. The ship is quite smooth, there was a little bit of rolling, but that is to be expected in rougher waters. She handled a severe squall line beautifully. We saw whales and dolphins on several occasions. Carnival is very strict about bringing alcohol back onto the ship. If you have it, they will confiscate it and give it back to you at the end of the cruise. You cannot buy alcohol in port and drink it on board unless you sneak it on somehow. They do this so they will have increased revenue with bar sales. Carnival, PLEASE reverse the itinerary so more time can be spent in Cabo San Lucas, and a little less in Puerto Vallarta! We had 2,699 passengers (71 over max capacity), and the ship did not feel crowded. There were very few lines the whole week.
IN CONCLUSION... I thoroughly enjoyed my week aboard the Elation. She is a very fun ship, with tons to do. I really enjoyed the Mexican Riviera itinerary...it was a welcome change from the Caribbean. Overall, the ship was a very comfortable, manageable size. We will probably wait to do Carnival again when the Carnival Spirit comes out. The Elation is an excellent cruise value, and I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat!
My wife Diane and I just returned from a 7 day Mexican Riviera cruise which we both enjoyed very much. While the weather was nippy on deck the seas were calm coming and going. The time in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlan was cool and comfortable unlike June when the humidity starts to rise along with the heat.
Embarkation and debarkation - As usual when you use cruise line air the price from Sacramento is cheaper than arranging your own and paying for ground transportation. Of course you must put up with their pick of flights. AS luck would have it we got a 6:30AM flight which meant a 4AM wake up. Since Sacramento is only a one hour flight. We were in LA and at the luggage pick up by 8AM. We made sure our luggage had arrived though we didn't claim it and went back up stairs to have breakfast. McDonalds is not the best but Pucks was just over priced for what we wanted. By 11AM we had our bags and were waiting for the bus to the pier. Since United Shuttle is the last we were leftwaiting while full buses passed us by. Finally at noon we got on a bus but their was no room for our bags which stayed on the sidewalk waiting for a later bus. When we got to the terminal their was a huge crowd and we were not on the ship till 2PM. While our boarding was slow the debarkation was held up till after 10AM and we were first off since we took the tour of the Palace Verde Peninsula. We found out later the delay was due to a longshoremen's slow down that was being staged and not customs.
Food - Both Diane and I found the food and dinning room staff to be better than the Destiny which we sailed in October 2000 although we were not so thrilled with the alternate dinning in Tiffany's Bar and Grill which was dry and lifeless the night we went. We only went because early dinning was scheduled at 5:30 which was just to early for us. The Metairie did change our table to one seating ten as I have no desire to sit in the booth where we were assigned. I'm just to large to scoot or squeeze in and can't believe they even have booths aboard Carnival ships. For some reason they always try to assignee me to one and I always have to change even when our booking states no BOOTH
Entertainment- Since the Supper Bowl was on the life boat drill was postponed one day. The way the game went they could have held it anyway. The illusionist Debra Kim was very good and the Elation dancers put on two very energetic shows but the other shows in the Mikado lounge were just run of the mill. It's to bad that the sight lines on Carnival Ships in general are so bad that only those how get in first have unobstructed views and they save all the seats contrary to all announcements. The guitar player in the Drama bar David Davol is really talented and has a huge repartee.
Shore tours - We went on our own and rented a taxi for $30 an hour in Cobo and covered the sights we hadn't seen in this port. In Peurto Vallarta we just went down town and walked around since it was so nice out. I kept warning Diane to watch her step on the uneven sidewalks and I was the one to take a header and was fortunate enough not get hurt as I ended up on my back a culvert. In Mazatlan we went to the Gold Zone and shopper around for a while and drank some beer then rented a cab to see some sights. It all worked out well for us as we've been on this itenerary 4 times and 5 times in Cabo
Ship - We were on the Elation in 1989 and I must say they have taken good care for her. I saw some stains in hall carpets where people had spilled drinks with grenedene which makes a perminet stain . The Elation seems in better shape than the Destiny over all.