Friday February 8 2008: Around 6.30am I called Carnival to inquire about the "Rate Of The Day" on the Elation 6-Day cruise to Cabo San Lucas, La Paz (inside the Sea of Cortes!!!) and Ensenada sailing the same afternoon out of San Deigo @ 4pm. Carnival only does this sailing twice a year and the fact that the ship cruises INSIDE the Sea Of Cortes is what peaked our interest in going. Sally @ Carnival offered me a Returning Guest, California Resident rate of $261 for the cruise and port charges, $55 in taxes and fees and $30 fuel supplement, per person. I yelled at the Mrs, while still on the phone "START PACKING" By 11am we were on Interstate 5 on our way to San Diego, we got there around 1pm.
Embarkation was a piece of cake, Platinum status does have its benefits , we zoomed past the ship's photographers and were onboard the Elation within 10 minutes or so of entering the terminal. This was our 4th time on the Elation, the 1st time we sailed her she was still a brand-new ship in 1999. First impressions were that the public areas are still immaculately maintained but if our stateroom was any indication of the condition of the other staterooms, then yes, the Elation is starting to show her age. The furniture in our stateroom did look and feel dated, other than that, everything functioned just fine. Our cabin steward stopped by to introduce himself, after exchanging pleasantries, I asked him if he could wipe down the handles on the furniture as everything felt YUCKY and STICKY :evil: , he comes back within 3 minutes with a huge pail of disinfectant/cleaner and sure enough went thru the entire cabin wiping every darn piece of furniture and the mirror spotless clean. Which is the way it should be in the first place. Next I asked him to spray the phone with whatever it was that he was using. We went up to Tiffany's Grill and had lunch. After that we went hunting down the Maitre d' to request a table for 2 and late seating for dinner. Well what do you know, Ante was the Maitre d' of the Inspiration Dining Room, we have cruised with him in the past and after exchanging greetings, he told me that I should feel at home on the Elation as a few officers from the Pride
who worked under my dear friend Captain Lanaro are now on the Elation!
JOY!!!!! GReat! More about that later..............
Off to the Lifeboat Drill we go and after that, the Mrs and myself headed to the open decks for the sail-away. As the Mrs felt chilly, we headed back to our cabin after a while for some afternoon fun - a nap!
Come dinnertime we head up the stairs to the Inspiration Dining Room, Ante greeted us by name and showed us to our table, way back in the dining room and for good enough reason. Right above the Inspiration Dining Room is the Cigar Bar (Gatsby's) and I think this is the thing that annoyed me the most. You can access the Inspiration Dining Room and Gatsby's thru a common staircase at the front of both venues. If anyone is smoking a cigar, the front part of the dining room and the entrance to same STINKS LIKE HELL with the staunch smell of cigar odor! And many passengers were being vocal about it, so I was glad Ante seated us way back and at the far end of the dining room. Other than this gross miscalculation on Carnival's side of allowing smoking upstairs while dining is in progress downstairs, the evening progressed just fine. Ante introduced us to our waiter Jaime and also mentioned that Captain Salvatore Messina extends his welcome and offered us our choice of a bottle of wine with the Captain's compliments. We were also given to understand that a visit to the bridge was already in the works for us. More on that later.... The general condition of the Dining Room reinforced my earlier observation that even though the Elation is 10 years old, she is aging gracefully in the public areas.
After dinner we were off to the Welcome Aboard Show hosted by the cruise director Lesley Gray and featuring the comedian David Sayh amongst others. After that, the Mrs felt an urge to go and leave her contribution for the night at the Casablanca Casino! while I headed to bed.
Re: Our Elation 6-Day Cruise - Review & Some Observation
Originally Posted by CaptainEdwardJohnSmith
[b]I will post this review in segments, here's Day 1
Other than this gross miscalculation on Carnival's side of allowing smoking upstairs while dining is in progress downstairs, the evening progressed just fine. Captain
I know the smell does travel but I have to say I always thought smoke "rises" and not descends, into the DR.
I look forward to hearing more of your review. We sailed Elation in 2004 when I proposed to Liz at the Captains (Messina) (is he named after the town in Sicily BTW? I've been there before.) cocktail party-on the dance floor-with a mic and spotlight!! . CD John Roberts helped me with the arrangements.
Phil & Liz
The Original Phil & Liz
The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people's money. Margaret Thatcher
Never take an idiot travelling, you can always pick one up when you get there. Billy Connolly
I Didn't Come here and I ain't Leaving.
9/01/2013 Carnival Legend
2/16/2014 BC 7
20 years ago we had Johnny Cash, Bob Hope and Steve Jobs. Now we have no Cash, no Hope and no Jobs. Please don't let Kevin Bacon die.
Saturday February 9 2008: Fun Day @ Sea. We both slept in, it's very unlike the 2 of us, at home I am usually up at 3-4am and the Mrs is up by around 6am or so. There is something that has a hypnotic effect on the two of us sleeping in a pitch dark inside cabin. On cruises, I am usually up just before the crack of dawn and out on the deck power-walking while listening to my 70's rock collection on my MP3 player. Not this time around though. We were out of the cabin just in time for lunch which we had in the Imagination Dining Room. You access this dining room from deck 8 in the atrium area. I have always thought of the Elation's atrium as one of the nicest, in subdued tones, I still think it is so after so many years and so many different cruiseships later. Again, both the Imagination Dining Room and the Atrium have held up well to 10 years of continous service. After lunch, we headed up to the Lido Deck, the Mrs wanted to check out the guys participating in the Hairy Chest Contest while I just sniggered and licked my vanilla icecream cone An elderly gentleman took 1st place and it was nice for a change seeing Carnival give out something more than a lousy plastic ship on a stick! First prize was a Carnival Bathrobe, they sell those for $89!!! After that I went to check out the Art Auction while the Mrs sucked up some sun on Lido Deck. Mid-afternoon we went to the Mikado Lounge to see the NewlyWed, Not So Newlywed game. We tried to participate but didn't quite make it this time around, even though the cruise director Lesley Gray knew beforehand that we have a reputation of being Carnival's undefeated champs of this game! I personally did not like Lesley's take on the game because she had the guys go to a "soundproof" backroom of sorts and just asked the questions to the girls. The guys never made it out of the backroom until the game was over so it gives you the feeling that the girls are playing by themselves. The guys just answered thru a microphone. They just had to guess the wives' answers, usually the second part of the game the girls go backstage and the guys answer the questions....The final part is when both husbands and wives check off how many matches they had......did not work this way on this cruise. But a game is a game is a game. Come 3.30pm and we head to Duke's Piano Bar for High Tea, and the Captain don't drink no tea. But the Mrs does so while she sipped different kinds of tea and made small talk with the ladies, I turned my attention to the mini-sandwiches and the scones, which I must say were both EXCELLENT. After that, once again it was siesta time for me and the Mrs, and you know the drill by now.... Tonight it's formal night although this time around I see that Carnival called this Cruise Elegant Night, even on the Capers.
It's now 7:15pm and time for Captain Salvatore Messina's Reception, aka, the Captain's Party. The Cruise Director introduced the Captain who in turn introduced the senior officers to the crowd present in the Mikado Lounge. I noticed some people making pigs out of themselves and taking advantage of the free-flowing booze and stuffing themselves silly! And one guy in particular was really being a PITA with one of the servers, yelling and shouting that his section was not being served often/frequently enough. I guess there is always at least one in every crowd.
The Maitre d' Ante introduced us to Captain Messina, he's a real charmer, shaking hands with me and kissing the Mrs' hand! I told him, "Hey, what about me?" He said he could kiss my hand too if that is what I wanted! We all had a great laugh at that one. We chatted very briefly with the Captain and he did inform us we were welcome to visit the bridge the following day to see the ship set sail out of Cabo San Lucas! Needless to say, we wholeheartedly accepted. It is now dinnertime,
that darn cigar odor was again present as you enter the Inspiration Dining Room and I did notice that many of the tables close to the entrance were empty tonight, I assumed the passengers sitting there must have been reassigned to other tables away from the cigar odor making its way downstairs from the Cigar Bar (Gatsby's) upstairs. We had the lobster, which seems to be getting smaller and smaller (I will make some final observations/constructive criticism at the end of the review on food and other matters). The Mrs had the chocolate melting cake, she really digs that and she also likes to end dinner with a capuccino. After dinner we headed to the Mikado Lounge again, this time to see the Rhythm show, which was so, so. The plan was to go to the midnight R-rated adult comedy show performed by comedian David Sayh but decided to call it quits instead since we were planning on getting off the ship early in Cabo San Lucas the following morning and drive up north in a rental car....More of that on Day 3. Before we retired for the night, we did stop by and had a look at the Gala Buffet at 11.15pm, there were all sorts of wonderful desserts, cakes, pastries. All could be had at 12.15am, allowing for an hour of picture taking opportunity.
Day 3 Cabo San Lucas....Livin' it up at the Hotel California
Sunday February 10 2008: Cabo....Livin' It Up At The Hotel California
Let me explain .......I was up on deck early on Sunday, I just wanted to see if we luck out with the whales as it is now prime-time for whale watching. Sure enough, plenty of water spouts and I do mean plenty of water spouts greeted the arrival of the Elation to Cabo San Lucas and many California Grey whales were to be seen around the ship surfacing and then diving down again. Now the Elation weighs anchor just off Medano Beach.....the Mrs and myself have a quick breakfast, I go for the Egg Substitute (Eggbeaters) ham and mushroom omelette, no oil and the Mrs goes for Kellogg's Special K and fat-free milk. After that we make our way to Deck 3 for the short tender ride ashore. A quick short walk on the main drag in Cabo brings us to Dollar Rent-A-Car. Knowing how expensive cars are to rent in Mexico, I booked online before we left and I booked a compact for $26.00, including insurance and taxes. Dollar's walk-in counter posted rate is $79 for the same group car! Lina did our paperwork quick, she spoke excellent English, much, much better than my Spanish.
And off we go on Highway 1 and then onto Highway 19 heading North out of Cabo towards the town of Todos Santos (All Saints) about 80kms/50miles north of town. It took us about an hour to get there. The Eagles Hotel California album has a picture of the property by the same name and urban legend has it that Don Henley wrote the song while staying there although Henley did officially deny that a few years back.
But the cat was out of the bag and the town now gets plenty of visitors chasing down the legend and sure enough, any guesses as to what they were playing in their restaurant when we got there? The property was busy with tourists clicking their cameras and their cantina restaurant was doing brisk business. The town is an artists enclave, plenty of art galleries and art stores. Last time we were there was about 3 years ago and it always makes for a nice drive from Cabo. We headed back south towards Cabo and made a couple of stops taking dirt roads from the main road to these beautiful unspoilt beaches to watch the whales. I managed to see one breach about 400 yards from the beach. What majestic creatures they are We arrived back in Cabo around 3pm, stopping by the Pemex gas station 1 block from Dollar Rent-A-Car to fill her up before returning, again, you just cannot let your guard down at those gas stations. So the guy fills the tank up, I ask him how much it was in US dollars and he points to me to the 20.00 line on the gas pump meter implying it was $20 dollars! I told him "No senor, that's 20 litros" and I pointed to him the line above which reads Pagado 134.50 PESOS, then the son-of-a-gun realized that I don't have STUPID plastered on my forehead and told me "$14 senor" :evil: :evil: :evil:
Anyways, we make our way back to the ship and are back on board by around 4.30pm, we head to the New York Deli for a pastrami and corned beef on rye sandwich. I tell you, those sandwiches are to die for. After that it was the shower and 5.45pm finds us at the Pursers desk from where we were escorted to the bridge. Captain Messina himself greets us and gives us the 25cent tour of the bridge and explained to us in detail what was going on. This was one of the best bridge visits ever for us as we were there at a time when the place was alive with activity and all the officers were there taking orders from the Captain and the 1st Officer. I am not usually at a loss of words but that was one instance when I just kept silent and OBSERVED with intense interest what was going on. The Elation executed something like a 45 degree turn to head out to open water and sooner than you know it, we're on our way to La Paz, located on the Sea Of Cortes INSIDE the Baja California peninsula. We were on the bridge for the better part of 45 minutes, the Captain even showed us the bunch of whales ahead of us (we could see the water spouts) on the radar screen. It was such a surreal experience. I spent some time talking with Captain Messina, I found out he is one of the youngest Captains in Carnival's fleet, he became a Captain at the young age of 40 and now he's still only 46 with a bunch of officers serving under his command that are all youngsters, maybe in their early to late 30's. It would be an understatement if I were to say that I was impressed, no, make that all capitals, IMPRESSED! What a fantastic team Captain Salvatore Messina is surrounded with! A huge KUDOS to Carnival on this one. I was sad when it was time to leave the bridge and as I told Captain Messina, as far as I was concerned, that was THE highlight of my cruise. After the bridge tour, the Mrs wanted to go get some sushi from the Sushi Bar and then we headed to the Mikado Lounge to see Asad Mecci, the Master Of Comedy Hypnosis. At showtime, Lesley Gray, the cruise director announces that the hypnotist was supposed to have flown-in to Cabo that afternoon but because of bad weather where his flight connected, his flight was canceled. The ship's band put on a impromptu performance, the audience's response was that the ship's band ended up playing to a nearly empty theatre! Since we had some time to kill before dinner, the Mrs decided it was time for her to once again leave her contribution at the casino and spent about 45 minutes playing the slots. We went to dinner at 8.00pm, after dinner we decided to call it an early night even though there was a Late Night Blues Show scheduled for 11pm.
Monday, February 11 2008: We woke up to the Elation making her way into Pichilingue, La Paz's harbor located approximately 10 miles north of the city itself. La Paz is located on the "inside" side of the Baja Peninsula on the Sea of Cortes and the city is the state capital of Baja California and its name means Peace The approach to Bahia De La Paz (La Paz Bay) is real scenic and beautiful as the ship makes its way past Isla Cerralvo and Isla Espiritu Santo, thru the Canal San Lorenzo and finally into the cruiseship terminal in Pichilingue.
La Paz was the main reason that we decided to go on this cruise, very few cruiseships go there, the only cruiseline that goes there on a regular basis that I am aware of is Holland America out of San Diego in the winter months, but I could stand corrected on this one. As I mentioned earlier,
Carnival ony goes to La Paz twice a year and so far I have not been given a clear answer of why so! So we'll see what the city holds for us.......
Since the cruiseship terminal is isolated from anything closeby, Carnival
provided a free shuttle to downtown La Paz and to the Beach at Playa Balandra. Given the limited time we had, we decided to take the downtown
shuttle.........what a long line of passengers all heading in the same direction. The shuttles provided by Carnival carried around 86 passengers so the line did move at a reasonable speed but I think Carnival should have provided a few more shuttles to keep up with the demand/number of passengers attempting to make it to town. I would not call the process disorganized but it could have been a bit faster, considering we waited close to 40 minutes to board the bus. The line was even longer trying to make your way back from downtown to the ship and a bit more chaotic.
We boarded the bus around 11am and the last shuttle back to the ship from downtown La Paz was at 2.30pm, so that blew our plans of picking up a rental car that I had reserved thru Avis. Interesting enough, the Carnival Capers of Feb 11th made absolutely no mention of the fact that Carnival was providing this complimentary service so something tells me that the shuttles to town were a last-minute thing. I'll comment on the Capers later on in my observations as I feel that there is room for plenty of improvement on this daily publication, at least on the Elation's edition.
The ride from Pichilingue to La Paz is a very scenic 20 minute affair with the beautiful Bay of La Paz on one side and Saguaro cactus as far as the eye can see on the other side. (Saguaro cactus are those huge towering plants so familiar in western movies) If I were to rate the ride I'd give it a 12 out of 10 When we arrived in town, La Paz did NOT disappoint us. What a quaint seaside town, no annoying beggars or vendors to worry about, no one trying to sell you Mexican "Cuban" cigars or "Mexican" Viagraa and how clean the town seems to be! There is a mile-long oceanfront malecon (pedestrian walkway) dotted with beautiful statutes, the majority of them having an nautical/marine theme. We walked the entire malecon, then we walked a few blocks inland to the public market and stopped by the cathedral, a welcome reprieve from the hustle and bustle of city life. Sooner than you know it we realized it was 1.45pm and decided to head back to the bus terminus for the ride back to the ship.......Oh Boy! What a line snaking its way from outside the building.... just like waiting in line at Disneyland!
We were back on the ship just before 3pm, had a couple of slices of the wonderful Chevre pizza (goat meat and mushrooms, no tomato sauce...YUM YUM!!! ) We stayed up on deck for an hour or so as we sailed out of this beautiful part of Mexico promising ourselves that we will return to La Paz again. Then it was back to our cabin for a quickie late afternoon siesta 7pm finds us at the Mikado Lounge for the Merle Hobbs comedy show. We have seen this comedian a few times before and even though his repertoire is all deja vu to us, we both think that this guy is really hilarious! After an uneventful dinner, mind you, the wait staff did sing the Macarena tonight the Mrs found her way once again to the great calling of those one-armed bandits inside the Casablanca casino, I complained like a baby that my feet were killing me with all the day's walking and made my way to our cabin for a good night's sleep.
Tuesday February 12 2008: At Sea We both slept in, I just couldn't get myself to drag my butt, or the Mrs butt out of bed! My feet were killing me, I still felt very tired!
It's 11am and we are still in bed, when she suddenly yells, "Get out, shave and shower and I'll follow you, and make it quick" I says to myself, "What the heck is she up to now?" Well surprise! surprise! it seems that all of a sudden, the Mrs remembers she had 2 entries to the Slot Tournament, so here we are at 12 Noon in the Casablanca Casino and the Mrs is playing her first entry..........it was a no go...........in 5 minutes of slot play, she only garnered 29,000 odd points. I told her we have had no freaking breakfast yet apart from coffee, it's lunchtime and here you are playing the Slots. As the devil would have it, in her second entry she hits 149,820 points and propels herself to the top of the list of 8 qualifying for the finals at 3pm. Good, now we can go eat. We had lunch at the Imaginaton Dining Room, after that we did some shopping in the duty free store, we bought a couple of bottles of liquor and some Calvin Klein men's fragrance for our son. At 1.30pm we attended the Art Auction but there really was nothing going on in there, most of the paintings went unsold and the bidders present were only purchasing the "art" the auctioneer was giving away for next to free. As they say in Mexico, ALMOST FREE! Next we went to the the Ice Carving Demonstration on Lido Deck followed by the Horseracing event in the Drama Bar. Trust the Mrs to put down some of my cash on a losing horse! Come 3pm and it's now time for the Slots Tournament Grand Final, we head back to the Casino and to our amazement, the Mrs is still #1 on the List of Finalists.
Automatically because she qualified as a finalist she won me XXL Carnival Ocean Players Club T-shirt and a nice Ocean Players Club polo shirt. Oh she also won an Ocean Players shining plastic necklace for herself! So anyways, despite my rooting for her and cheering her on during the final plays, she did not do as well in the final round and that $500 prize eluded us! At tea-time I was paged by the Purser's Desk and Melissa there told me my Carnival shareholder's member benefit of $50 onboard credit had finally posted to my account, I was not counting on that credit actually making it since we only booked the day of sailing. Oh by the way, 2 Booboos happened today if you ask me. #1, The scheduled Debarkation talk by the cruise director was canceled, no reason was given although it was rescheduled for the last day of the cruise. And the shopping consultant gave a shopping talk about our last port of call the following day, Ensenada and she had the wrong arrival and departure times, she said 9am to 5pm versus our actual times in Ensenada of 1pm to 7pm. So, the fool :evil: was directing passengers to attend this drawing in this Carnival-recommended store at 10.30am and another drawing at another Carnival-recommended store at 11..30am when we were not even scheduled to arrive in Ensenada until 1pm!!!
We attended the SPIN production show at 7pm, it was one of the better shows of the cruise followed by dinner in the Inspiration Dining Room.
We decided to hang around until 11pm to attend Merl Hobbs Late Night Special R-Rated Adults Only Comedy Show. Funny, very funny, although I have a feeling some topics/subjects that were the brunt of his jokes, he would not even touch with a 10-foot pole if he was performing that act on land in the United States. Straight to bed after that.
Wednesday February 13 2008: Crappy weather today, cold, humid and overcast as we make our way to Ensenada. I woke up early, had breakfast and went back to bed. We finally alight from our cabin at lunchtime and ate at Tiffany's Grill, they had a nice buffet going of Japanese food. The place was busy like crazy with everyone trying to get lunch done and over with by the time we arrive in Ensenada, which was to be around 1pm. Believe it or not, we were in the buffet line about 20 minutes until it was our turn! :evil:
We head ashore soon after arrival and head to downtown to pick up our Hertz rental. We have rented from Hertz in Ensenada before, they have an office just off the main drag in downtown, about a 10-minute walk from the ship. We were on our way quickly and headed out to Estero Beach, naturally because of the weather, no one was swimming there but it's a nice spot to park for a while and enjoy the view of the bay and the city.
Then on thru the valley passing by a few wineries along the way and shortly thereafter we headed out on the peninsula road leading to La Bufadora, the blowhole! Lousy day to make the drive there, visibility was
poor, it was cold and very humid too. You park next to this open-air market with hundreds of vendors that hound you to death trying to sell you their wares. They mean no harm, they're only trying to eke out a living. But yes, they can be annoying especially when they do not take a "No gracias, senor" for an answer! Well we walk out to the blowhole, visibilty was really poor and the water splash from the blowhole felt like freezing cold! We decided that we had been there, done that before and decided to head back to town. We decided to park on Juarez Avenue which is a couple of blocks north of the tourist area and strolled around for a while. Juarez Avenue is the main shopping street in Ensenada. Many shops were selling all sorts of gifts for San Valentino, February 14th and I bought the Mrs a white teddy bear with a red Te Amo (I Love You) heart! At least that cheered her up a bit cuz the Mrs unlike the Captain, she don't like the cold, humid weather! So, wallking down Calle 6 (6th Street) we come across these couple of buses with passengers from the ship, they were getting off the buses and walking into the Santo Tomas Winery, on the spur of the moment the Mrs and myself decided to crash the party and tag along. So we got a free tour of the winery, some bread and cheese and quite a few sample cups of wine, red white and I think purple! Thank God the Hertz office was just around the corner, so to speak. Around 6pm, we returned the car, the guy offered to give us a ride back to the ship but we decided to walk the walk. On our way out of Ensenada, there weren't that many people out on the deck for the sailaway, it was rather chilly and windy. We had our final dinner in the Inspiration Dining Room, I had the Escargots (snails) they are MY FAVORITE!!! Followed by a chewy Chateaubriand (aka Filet Mignon) steak. The Mrs had her final fill of melting chocolate cake plus a serving of Amaretto Cake. We gave our waiter Jaime an additional tip as he was really good to us all week long and put up with our antics of me wanting ICE COLD water, the Mrs wanting her water at room temperature (she has a sensitive tooth) and her also wanting decaf the moment we sat down for dinner and having her glass replenished. I stuck with my red wine and Jaime saw to it that he kept pouring as the glass emptied. I think he was one of the best waiters we ever had on any cruise. We said our goodbyes and on our way out I also gave a small tip to Ante, the Maitre d'. For all he did for us, he really earned and deserved his tip. At 10.30pm, there was the usual last show of the cruise, the Carnival Legends. To us it's a glorified karoake event without the screens and the lyrics so we decided to pass on this one too.
But many cruisers just love this event and I know that on many cruises the theatres/lounges are usually "sold out" for this event. The Mrs decided to tempt Lady Luck one last time at the casino and I stayed with her until she lost it ALL! Then it was off to bed for the final night's sleep.
I will conclude this review later on with a brief post about debarkation in San Diego and also some constructive criticism/personal observations.
Thursday February 14 2008: Being Platinum members, we had the option of getting off the ship early before the crowds. But since were not exactly early risers on this cruise, we decided to just leave when we were ready, which was around 9.30am
Our Platinum luggage tags were Group 1 but when we exited the ship, they were calling Group 14, I think it was! But it was all very organized and were were out of our cabin and off the Elation in about 10 minutes altogether! Before we left, we gave our cabin steward an extra trip, he too deserved that for keeping our cabin spotless clean and for keeping up with our irregular hours.
If I may, I would like to comment on certain aspects of this cruise:
1) Captain Salvatore Messina and his senior officers are really a great team. What a fantastic feeling to be visiting the bridge surrounded by these younger gentlemen with a fantastic attitude and humor to boot!
2) Our cabin steward was one of the best we ever had. My first impression when we first boarded (and found all the drawers had yucky, sticky handles) was not so great. But he quickly changed our impression
for the better. Every little (and one not so little) issue we had with the cabin, he took care of it, straight away and got it resolved without the need to bring it to his attention the second time. In addition to the auto tip, we did show him our appreciation at the end of the cruise by a small extra tip.
3) Likewise for our waiter. The guy was genuinely friendly and on top of his game. He remembered after Day 1 how cold I like my water, how the Mrs likes her water at room temperature due to a sensitive tooth. He kept the wine going when my glass emptied and he served the Mrs her decaf fix throughout dinner. He got me seconds when I requested so. And he had a charming way with kids, a table across from us had this lady and her 3 young kids and he kept them entertained throughout dinner. And charming and well-behaved kids they were. So likewise, we tipped him a bit extra on the last night.
4) The Maitre d' on this cruise really made things HAPPEN for us in more ways than one and we felt that he really deserved a tip and as such, we did tip him on the last day. I do not know if it was the fact that we had cruised with him before but whenever and wherever we met him on the ship, he always made it a point to stop and chat, even for a brief while.
I usually have mixed feelings about Maitre d's, some interact with passengers whilst others do not. But as usual, Ante was just a great host.
5)The Cruise Director: well I see plenty of opportunity for improvement in her department . She needs to tone down her annoying high-pitched voice that drove me nuts every time she blared over the Public Address system her sales pitch that this sale was going on and that sale was going on, etc..
She had a couple of events canceled, one of them without any reason being given whatsoever and no apologies offered with either event being canceled. Then she has her port shopping consultant give a speech about shopping in Ensenada and having the arrival/departure times all screwed up. The Carnival Capers had the incorrect sunrise and sunset times, and not by a few minutes but try a couple of hours. I brought this to her attention on the 3rd day of the cruise but still no corrections were made to the following editions of the Carnival Capers. In La Paz, the Carnival Capers made absolutely no reference/mention to the fact that there was a free shuttle service operating between the ship and the beach and also to downtown La Paz.
6) The Ship: All the public areas of the ship are in excellent condition and hide very well the fact that the Elation is 10 years old. If our stateroom represents the general condition of the other staterooms, then it is high time for a major refurbishment as the furntiture, while functional, is showing its age. I was told that the Elation is going in for a $60 million refurbishment next year. I noticed that on the Elation, in the public restrooms there is no paper towels, just air dryers. I am assuming this is a measure to cut back on costs on Carnival's side. I do not know if this measure is fleetwide or not?!?! It sure is annoying though to find most of the blowers operate at a low speed and with the exception of 1, all the air blowers I used blew out cold air which is NOT conducive to drying your hands. It sure is annoying to have to shake your hands dry!
7) The Dining Rooms: I found this rather odd and it is the very first time I have seen it on any cruise I have been on that the Main Dining Rooms were both closed for lunch during port days! Again, I do not know if this is just on the Elation or fleetwide making it another way for Canival to cut back on costs!
8.) The Food: In the Buffet at breakfast, you no longer have a choice of milk or half and half with your coffee or tea. They only had half and half, if you wanted milk, you had to open one of the small milk carton/packets
and just let the rest go to waste! That to me defeats the whole purpose in trying to economize. Also, on the Elation they no longer had those small individual servings of jams and jellies. The jams and jellies came in these jars and they had an oversize spoon stuck into them, each serving from that oversize spoon must have been at least twice the size of the small individual packets. Again, it does NOT make financial sense to me, apart from the fact that the area where the jams/jellies were located was always in a constant state of a mess with the oversize spoons toppling the jars over and splling the contents! As for selection/variety both my wife and myself have noticed a declining, sliding trend slightly for the worse. Having cruised scores of times on Carnival, we remember the days not too long ago when the Buffet food at dinner had a much bigger selection/variety. In the Dining Room, I regret to have to say we have noticed a similar trend. The lobster is nowadays miniscule (the size of a large prawn/shrimp) although second, third and fourth helpings are forthcoming, I can attest to that by watching one of the gentleman at the next table devour lobster tail after lobster tail, he did say he ate 4 of them and had plenty of room for more but he said he was a bit embarrased to ask for more! Rack of Lamb I have not seen in at least the last 2 Carnival cruises we took, again, I do not know if that is a fleetwide, cost-cutting measure.
I hope someone will find this review useful and maybe entertaining too , I have tried to be fair and honest in my comments towards Carnival, they are our favorite cruiseline after all. But in my book, Good is Good and Bad is Bad and there is nothing better than telling it like it is.
And you all know the Captain don't like to mince his words
I really enjoyed your trip details and review of the Elation. Thanks for taking the time to write such a lenghty review. I have been looking forward to it because we are booked on her in May for our 4th trip on this ship. Being on her repositioning trip from Fla thru the Panama Canal to the West Coast has made her one of our favorites. Her regular Cruise Director Stuart Dunn was off for the C/D conference during your voyage and we have always found him to be top shelf. Sounds like the person left in charge was not up to the job. Hopefully Stuart will be on board for our trip. Thanks again for the great read.
The dining room being closed at lunch, on my last two (Freedom, Conquest) one of the dining rooms were open for breakfast and lunch each day. The public restrooms, both ships has dryers only. Not enough room for a crowd of men in my opinion, there were small paper towels on the door to use to grasp the door handle to leave.
I have been on the Elation when she was in Galveston and, yes, she is a great ship!
Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
Courage and perserverance have a magical talisman; before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish into the air.
Pick your company wisely! Hang around people who are going to help you become all God created you to be.
Thanks to all who viewed and responded, I sincerely appreciate your feedback. Some comments:
Phil & Liz: Smoke from the Cigar Bar did NOT descend into the dining room, I said "If anyone is smoking a cigar, the front part of the dining room and the entrance to same STINKS LIKE HELL with the staunch smell of cigar odor!"
R2GN: Congrats on hubby's upcoming retirement and I wish you guys many happy years wandering the high seas!
JPMaximus: We have a soft spot in our heart for the Elation, maybe because we remember her when she was still brand spanking new and are now seeing her graciously mature.
Once again, thanks to all who took the time to post feedback.
Thank you for the great review Captain. I feel like I went on the cruise with you.
Life is too short to let the ship of your dreams sail without you.
Carnival Destiny Feb. 2006
Carnival Fascination Feb. 2007
Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas Feb. 2008 The DTW & MsBJ tour
Carnival Valor MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2009
Carnival Glory MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2010
Carnival Dream MsBJ and Dina Feb. 2011
Enjoyed your review Captain
My, you get your cruises cheap over there?? Total $330 pp? for 6days of cruising and food!! Thats about £170 ?? Our 2 night cruises in a inside cabin are $400 each!!
I am amazed how greedy some folks are too - 4 lobster tails, hardly anyone would ask for more than one on a brit cruise...but your portions are big usually in USA and perhaps its expected on ships as well!
P&O Arcadia -Canaries, Aurora- Bruges, Arcadia -Med, Aurora Amsterdam, -Arcadia -Venice, and Ventura Bruges. In 2009 - Oriana and Oceana Fjords.
Thank you guys, to all who responded. Believe it or not I did this review all from memory. It was one of the few times when I did not take my laptop with me. I only had my copies of the Capers to remind me of gthe events of the day! Thanks again, all.