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  #1 (permalink)  
Old January 6th, 2004, 10:46 PM
Cyndee
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Default Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

We boarded the Elation (leaving Galveston) with little effort and not a lot of waiting in lines. We showed up at around 1pm. We were pleased with the location of our cabin on the Empress Deck near the Atrium. It was a great location for getting around.

Our last cruise (also with Carnival - Celebration) had us on the Main Deck and it was too low to the water. When you looked out your window, the waves hit the window. The Empress Deck is higher up and no waves were hitting our window. The view was great.

There were 3 of us, crammed into a handicapped cabin with a roll-away bed. The clothing rack was designed for a wheelchair level so we were unable to hang all of our clothes up. With 3 people, there wasn't room for our suitcases either. It was a major inconvenience. They should not have crammed 3 of us into a handicapped room. We had absolutely no room to turn around, at all. Best advice, ask about your room first when booking for more than two. We paid around $1,100 per person (New Year's). Had it been another month, I think the price would have been around $400-$500 per person for the same cruise.

It rained our first full day onboard. We made the best of it by playing a dice game with the friends we were sailing with.

The food in the Tiffany (Buffet, open seating) Dining room was okay but not remarkable. The midnight buffet's in there were great.

Our dinner was in the Inspiration dinning room (late seating). Our dinner team was nice, but VERY slow. It took an average of two PLUS hours each evening and we felt that was way out of line to have dinner. Every night we were among the last to leave. The food was good. The two men in our group wanted more than one entree and were told no. Two nights, the waiters did not even attempt to open or serve us the Champaign we brought to celebrate with. It was disappointing that we had to drink it unchilled. Also, when we asked for more tea or sweetener for our tea or butter, it took 30-45 minutes to obtain. One night, some people from our table left because they were fed up with the slow and not-so-good service.

The Vegas style shows were fair. The first night's show was the best in our opinion. The Comedians were okay -- one guy borrowed material we had already heard from another comedian.

They have Bingo a couple of times a day but you must pay extra for this either by cash or by charging it to your sail and sign card.

The bands (one reggae and one country/oldies) were pretty fair but in our opinion, not enough variety and they didn't play much on the Lido Deck. The Discos really didn't play disco, they played hip hop or whatever the DJ wanted. We thought there should have been a better variety, especially on the lido deck where the same band played each time with one exception.

The casino was nice and the slots were very loose the last night. I donated the whole trip until the last night and was able to win my money back plus some -- I thought that was great.

The photographers are pretty good, but you can only purchase wallets and smaller photos if you purchase the 8X10's first at $20 each. I could have bought $2,000 worth of photos, literally. My husband wanted to purchase the ones taken after the first formal night and we spent $120. The second formal night's pics were the best but you cannot exchange once you've purchased. My recommendation is to throw away the ones you know you will not buy daily and then after the last formal night (Friday), pick out the ones you really want. That way, you aren't stuck with photos you don't want after seeing the rest.

The wind blew hard everyday but the last. Be careful on the Lido and Sports Decks if you go up there. The waves were tremendous, so be sure to take motion sickness pills or use the patches even if you think you are immune.

We booked two excursions through the ship. They promote for you to hurry up and book due to availability. My advice is to take your time unless it is an excursion you know will be popular with few time slots like swimming with the Dolphins in Cozumel.

At Progresso, we decided to take a taxi to Merida to shop. At the pier, we asked for a cab driver that could speak some English. We were assured our driver could understand and speak some English, but that was so not true. He didn't understand a thing. We made the best of it anyhow. We paid $70 for a van (five of us) round trip, 3 hours of shopping. The sidewalks are narrow and since this is the capital of Yucatan, it is highly populated with people everywhere. The shopping there was disappointing.

We did however visit a church that was fabulous near the plaza. The inside is amazing and I recommend you visit if able. We felt that we should have just stayed in Progresso on the beach, there is a nice area and some shopping, too. Others told us they were bombarded in Progresso by people asking them to shop at their stores, and were turned off by this. The weather was nice, but really windy. One family told us they took the excursion to see the ruins and loved it.

Our group have all been to Cozumel several times and wanted to snorkel. We were told by the excursion desk that we could snorkel at Passion Island. We paid $69 each (X5) through the ship only to find that wasn't the case at all. You take a one hour, bumpy bus ride and then a 20 minute boat ride to the island (three hours there, one and a half hours back). They serve you Corona, Tequila, Margaritas and Sex on the Beach, unlimited. The food was Guacamole, grilled chicken, fish, fruit, all you can eat. It is a nice beach, but not clean water because the wind blows right into the beach. NO snorkeling whatsoever. This was the Cruise Director's favorite pick and highly recommended.

Several others on that same excursion understood the same thing we did and were just as upset as we were that we paid so much just to go to the beach. Knowing Cozumel the way we do, we could have gone to several beaches and not spent that kind of money. We felt ripped off even if we had intended to actually go to Passion Island and layout on the beach. We should have booked our excursion outside of Carnival.

When we returned, we went to make a complaint, but the excursion desk GUARANTEED us that no how, now way, would they EVER tell us we could snorkel there, even though 3 adults in our group heard them say it as well as the other two groups of people that said they were told the same thing. They didn't want to hear from us, nor hear what we had to say, period. I noticed others trying to make a complaint, too that fell on deaf ears. Cozumel was a waste of our time and money, but it is a beautiful city. From past experience, I recommend La Mission Restaurant for a great lobster and steak.

Belize is very hot with no beaches, but a beautiful (and very poor) city. We snorkeled Goff's Cay, known as Gilligan's Island by the locals. It was through an excursion booked through Carnival (Extreme Tours). We enjoyed it a lot and felt it is the highlight of our trip. The reef is the 2nd largest in the world. Well worth your time.

The (Extreme Tours) boat, however, is another story. I personally was scared because the wind was so high and the waves were, too. While the tour guide was talking, we were side-ways with the waves and it felt like we were going to capsize. Our group all lives on a lake and we're avid boaters, but this scared us. Once they took off, everything was okay. The captain got sand in the motor, which also scared us, thinking we were stranded, but it worked out okay.

Another family's adventure on that same tour was not so great. They did fear for their lives, most on their boat were crying, they did not get to snorkel and had to be towed back. When they went to complain, we were at the Atrium bar and couldn't help overhearing. The Carnival staff did NOT want to hear anything, nor take any responsibility for anything, nor make any refunds, period. The 25 or so people demanded to speak to someone higher up and finally got to talk to the hotel supervisor, also with no satisfaction. Later, one family involved told us Carnival offered them a partial refund on their (non)excursion.

It is a huge turnoff that Carnival promotes these tours, takes your money and then doesn't want to hear from you when things go bad. I think they bear in the responsibility of it and I am assuming they push them because they get a cut off of the excursions they sell.

New Year's Eve was part of our trip. The ship did not properly prepare for 2,000 plus people to be on the Lido Deck that night and consequently, there were way too many people there, broken glasses, stepping on toes, smashing feet, very windy, stumbling, boat rocking, standing room only, etc. It was NOT fun.

The pools were closed everyday except the last two days. Another great disappointment -- they were broken.

Room service was very prompt -- we asked for coffee every morning and they did not disappoint us. They didn't bring sugar when asked, but they were prompt.

The Gala Buffet is a sight to behold. Best advice, do not miss it and take your camera. They do feed you 4 times a day and I think I heard 10,000 plus meals are served everyday.

The Matre'D did not come to our table once, yet you are expected to tip him in addition to the $69 per person they tack onto your sail and sign card immediately upon arrival. We did not feel a tip was in order because our dining room experiences left a lot to be desired. All drinks (sodas, cocktails) have a 15% gratuity added automatically.

The room steward turned our air off every time we left the room. We like our room cool, so that was frustrating. Our toilet broke but they fixed it fairly quickly.

The ship's decor is very nice -- be prepared to walk up and down the stairs a LOT.

I think Progresso and Belize are new stops, so they will likely get better as time goes by. But if you are there to shop, you may be disappointed.

Despite all the negatives I have expressed here, we did manage to have fun, we made the best of our trip.

If you asked me to recommend this cruise, I would be very torn to say that I would. I think our experience must not be the norm, but then again, they didn't give us great reason to recommend it.

CW, Oklahoma
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old January 6th, 2004, 11:30 PM
Denis
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

It sounds like your trip had it's share of disapointments. We live in TX, and have taken RCCI, and NCL out of Houston/Galveston (it's so convenient). My sister took Carnival out of Galveston last year, and was very pleased. Guess I'll need to read more trip reviews before I would book the Elation.

It seems your biggest problem was with the Shore Excusion desk. That's unacceptable. As far as the dining room service, I would have been seeking out the head waiter to get resolution to that problem. We've experieced similar issues before, and they were resolved very quickly. That's the best way the head waiter can earn his tip!!

I would also say that cruising over the holidays or spring break is not the best time. First of all, you pay a big premium. Also, ships get very crowded, as children add to capacity due to higher stateroom occupancy (3-4 to a stateroom). Service tends to decline big time as the ship reaches maximum capacity.

I think that the level of service has gone down accross the board since the cruise lines have instituted these new tipping policies of automatically deducting them from S&S. I truly believe that they started this practice as a result of the influx of new cruisers over the last 5-10 years. Many people cruising today don't realize or even care that tips are what truly pays these service people, and the cruise lines need to keep competitive with their employees.
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Old January 7th, 2004, 08:38 AM
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

Man you have a lot of complaints! First off, it was not the ship's fault for "cramming" three of you into one cabin - why didn't you pay for two cabins??? Your next biggest complaint seems to be the weather - yep, that is totally the fault of the cruise line! Slow service taking two hours for dinner? what else did you have to do ??? so what, maybe they were new or having a bad time for some reason or another. why didn't you just go with the flow. no matter how slow the service was, it had to be better than cooking dinner yourself at home! extra costs for things like bingo? of course - all ships have that - if you don't want to pay the extra, then don't play it - no one was forcing you. the shore excursions sound like they were partly bad because of the weather - again perfectly logical to blame the ship for the weather. why didn't you do some research and find out private tours instead of booking through the ship? yes, the ship will tell you a lot of things that aren't true ("book early", "don't book private tours"," only shop at the stores we tell you to") - it's up to you to decide for yourself if it makes sense or seems reasonable. they are a business and will tell you things to boost business revenue. so things weren't perfect on your cruise - still beats being at home and reading about people who complain about every little thing wrong with their cruise!
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Old January 7th, 2004, 09:08 AM
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

I agree Ready, from what I have read this was not all the ships fault. That's where you have to take these reviews with a grain of salt. I was on Elation earlier in the year, she was perfectly fine, I don't do ship excursions. My only complaint was I did not like her decor. As for promises made, have you never had that happen to you before? Have you never made a promise knowing full well it was not true? What do you expect when you go to a foreign country. He probably did not understand your question and only knew to say yes that the taxi driver spoke/understood English. Our's is a tough language to learn.
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Old January 7th, 2004, 09:35 AM
Denis
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

I too believe that most of the problems Cyndee experienced weren't the fault of Carnival, and I chose to take her comments with a grain of salt. However, she did seem to have some valid complaints, such as the misleading advise from the shore excursion desk, and the poor service experienced in the dining room.

Personally, I would have chalked up the excursion as a lesson learned, and I agree that she should have booked independantly in Cozumel, as she stated she had been there several times before. As far as the DR service, as I said before, I believe that this has become a real problem lately, but can easily be remedied. Most of her other complaints seem to be self-inflicted by attitude, or the result of poor weather, none of which I would blame on the cruiseline.

That said, if you are reading these reviews with a grain of salt, I see no purpose of jumping all over her, as she is entitled to express her opinion in this open forum. If all I wanted to read were perfectly gleaming views of Carnival, a forum like this is useless. Carnival's website would be just fine for that.
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Old January 7th, 2004, 11:44 PM
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

We were recently in Progresso/Merida on a different Carnival cruise....we had come from Port Canaveral stopping at Key West, Belize City, Cozumel and Progresso.
I took an excursion to Merida, while my husband took the excursion to Chitzen Itza.
We both had a wonderful time. Unfortunately, our excursion was the last to return to port and it was behind schedule (15 mintues after the time we were to be back). I briefly looked into the shops by the pier and saw the least expensive prices I had seen the whole trip. I was so sorry I didn't have time to shop there.

We've always taken Carnival excursions...and although there have been some that we thought might not have been worth the money paid...we have still enjoyed them.

In Belize we went to see the howler monkeys up close and personal...we were divided into two groups each going to the same place. I thought we had the less experienced of the two guides...was I ever wrong. The guy we had went after those monkeys and practically brought them to us...we saw two entire groups of them. I even got to feed some leaves to one of the younger ones. On the other hand...the other group only saw two monkeys total. They were not pleased at all. So perhaps it's just the luck of the draw so to speak.

We were on the Elation last April for the Mexican Riviera cruise...it's one of the best cruises we been on...ship and all.

We've talked with the wait staff about the tipping...and it has hurt them more than helped them. Before the days of having it put on your sail and sign card they'd often get over the minimum amount and now they rarely do. So for them it's been a decrease in pay.
We haven't noticed a decrease in service though...our wait servers have always been great!

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Old January 8th, 2004, 09:09 AM
Cyndee
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

Actually, my comments about the weather were just that. We live in Oklahoma, so we're used the wind. I was merely stating the wind blew (be careful on outside decks) and that it rained one day.

As far as being crammed into a cabin -- there were 3 of us in a handicapped cabin. That makes a huge difference than if we had just been in a regular cabin.

Denis, you are right, dinner and the ship excursion desk were our biggest complaints.

Readygo, I don't think anything I said would be pleasing to you --

My comments were about our trip overall -- not just the bad stuff. It's what people will get for their money. Denis, perhaps you are right, we shouldn't expect great service on a holiday, but you do pay much more, so why shouldn't you expect par service at least?

We have sailed 3 times (one other time with Carnival on Celebration) and did NOT experience poor dining room service or bad crew attitudes. Just a point I made.
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Old January 8th, 2004, 10:07 AM
starfighter
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

Well, it doesn't sound like the kind of cruise I would look forward to experiencing. I can't help but think that the overall cruise experience was a result of the weather, rather than the cruiseship personnel. I've always found that if the weather didn't cooperate from the beginning, everything from that point on was looked at from the prospective of the glass being half empty, rather than half full. And of course, losing in the casino from day one wouldn't change that perception either. I have noticed that cruiseship casinos are more user friendly on the last day of a cruise. Something to think about! I have also noticed that many of the same excursions that are offered by the ship are available at a decent price on an outside excursion agency called Port Promotions. I hope you have a better cruise next time.
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Old January 8th, 2004, 01:31 PM
ford1998
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

Take my advice, sail the the newer ships. They are bigger, nicer and not as worn out as some of the older ships. I did sail on the Imagination last year and for it being a smaller, older ship, it was very nice and would definately said on it again. I don't care for the older ships at all..
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Old January 8th, 2004, 04:18 PM
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

Cyndee - I'm sorry you had such a terrible time on your cruise. My husband and I just returned from this same cruise (12/28 Elation) and we could not have had a better time. I have posted a review a on this board about our week.

I cannot say enough great things about the crew, especially in the Imagination dining room (late seating). Eddie & Sammy were terriffic and we could not have asked for a better wait staff. We never passed a crew member that didn't say Hello or Happy New Year.

I agree the shows and the comics were only ok. But we really enjoyed the New Year's Eve party on the Lido deck. It was warm and not as windy as it had been earlier. I just enjoyed being on deck & listening to the band to ring in the New Year.

Two of our tablemates were on the shore trip from hell to Goff's Caye. They ended up having a meeting in the conference room the next day and Carnival ended up refunding quite a bit more than the price of the shore trip.

We did Cozumel on our own and booked a private excursion in Belize. Many of the ship's shore tours seem to be out of line on their pricing.

Again, sorry you had such a bad time. Maybe your next vacation will be better.

Holly
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Old January 8th, 2004, 07:20 PM
rd899195
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

I cruied the Elation over Thanksgiving and experienced the same frustrations with the dining room staff. The bargirl was the worst out of the bunch by far, as we had to wait 1 HOUR for our drinks a few nights! Do tell me however, are all the hallway carpets still stained?
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Old January 8th, 2004, 09:46 PM
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Default Re: Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

Hi Holly,

What do you recommend for a shore excursion in Cozumel?

Bill



Post Edited (01-08-04 21:51)
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Old January 9th, 2004, 10:56 AM
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Default Re: Re: Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

Bill,

I have only been to Cozumel twice. Last year we took the Catch the Wave snorkel safari through Royal Caribbean. It was ok, but kind of pricey (70 per person I think). They put us on a boat and took us just past the cruise ship to snorkel. Then they dropped us off downtown to shop.

This year we decided to try it on our own. I had wanted to go to Chaankanab, but I was worried about the crowds since we were on a holiday cruise. We talked to a couple of different cab drivers. One recommended Dzul Ha and another Playa Corona. We chose Playa Corona. ($10 from Puerta Maya) It is a small bar/beach club type place. There is no beach to lay out on, which was fine for us since we spent most of our time in the water. We did get a table/palapa right near the water. The snorkeling was good, but I had heard that Dzul Ha and Chank are better. The big downfall was there were no lockers. I was a little nervous about that. I sopke with our waiter and tipped him extra and he watched our bags. I can't say that would work again. Maybe we just got lucky. However, there were several tables where people left their belongings. Snorkel groups came through and they left their bags in a pile unattended. I didn't see anyone having any problems. Although the location was beautiful and the people were very friendly, I think I would try a place with lockers. Or I would rent a car so I could lock my stuff in the trunk.

We had talked to some other cruisers on the ship and they had rented a car to explore the other side of the island. They said it was amazing.

Have a great trip no matter what you decide!

Holly
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Old January 9th, 2004, 11:47 AM
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Default Re: Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

We cruised the Elation over Halloween and were disappointed. One of the azipods went out and we returned to Cozumel and missed Belize. We had booked the cruise primarily of two new ports for us, Progresso and Belize, and had arrainged tours at both. Carnival did nothing for us as a result of the missed port! Even a $10 cabin credit would have shown us that they thought something about the passengers.

The food in the dining room was quite good, but on the Lido deck, it left something to be desired. The service in the dining room was slow, and we were unable to even order our desserts until after the nightly show.

The cabin had no heat, only cold air, so we had to completely shut off the fan at night.
The ship was pretty, but the design was not nearly as good as on the RCI ships with their large glass walled dining rooms.

We have done 19 cruises thus far including 7 on Carnival, but this was probably the last on that line.
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Old January 9th, 2004, 11:59 AM
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

We also were unhappy with the dining room service on the Elation. We sailed Nov 30 and had late seating in the Imagination Dining Room. On the first night, our waiter plopped our dinner plates down on the table. There was some sea movement so we assumed that it was a near miss and was glad it landed on the table and not in our laps! Unfortunately, it happened again the second night--sea movement--I don't think so. He only spoke to us to take our order. We were at a table for 6 and we were the only ones there. The table in front of ours was also empty-so he wasn't extremely busy (yes they work hard and it's amazing that they can keep up with all they have to do) BUT his attitude made us feel very out of place. We tried the dining room a 3rd night and then decided to not go back for the duration of the cruise. I explained in detail our experience on the comment card and also faxed a letter to Carnival when we got home. Out of 8 cruises all on Carnival, this service was not up to their standards.

AKcruiser

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Old January 9th, 2004, 02:24 PM
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Default Re: Carnival Elation - Just returned -- Thumbs Down

My advice for better than average service is to tip the waiter & cabin steward at least $20.00 the first time you meet them and service couldn't be better. You shouldn't have to do this but I think the extra tip empowers them to go the extra mile for you. I always tip tip a bartender or barmaid good on the fist drink and always recieve great service either on land or sea.
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