I had read many bad reviews on here about the Elation being old, unfriendly staff, sorry food, bad entertainment, etc, etc. Those people must have sailed on a different Elation than me. I loved the Elation!
I will start with embarkation. My grown daughter and I drove from Arkansas to New Orleans (about a 6 1/2 hour drive) arriving at Fulton Parking Place about 1:30. I highly recommend this parking garage. The rate is $12.00 a day $4.00 cheaper than the port parking and they shuttle you to the pier of course. Arriving this late there were no lines. We did not check any luggage we only had carry-ons. Security did go through my bag because I had water. I could not believe the water bottles that were confiscated sitting against the wall containing alcohol. There were hundreds of them. I can't believe people really try to get away with this.I found security to be very friendly.
Our room was ready when we got on the ship. Our room was a porthole at the very front of the ship on Floor 7 Empress which is the floor we had entered on. I was a little leery of being this far forward on the ship but it turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Being at the end of the hall there was no traffic. No doors slamming, no feet going up and down the hall. The steward's closet was beside us but they kept the noise to a minimum and we rarely heard them. We met Seri from Romania our room steward. He was very friendly and always willing to accommodate any need we had. I do have to add that coming into port and dropping the anchors can be loud in the forward rooms but it is only a couple of times and I actually got use to it and enjoyed the sound. lol.
The first time you hear it until you realise what it is can be a little nerve wracking tho.
We had Your Time Dining and never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a table even when we showed up during main dining hours. The hostess, maitre'd, wait staff were all very friendly and knew our names from the first night even tho we did not sit at the same table every meal. We took all our meals in the dining room. I much prefer the slow pace of this to the business of the buffet on the lido deck. This is what I cruise for to be waited on! The food was always good and they were more than willing to bring you something else if they thought you did not like what you had been served. One of our favorite waiters was Anthony from the Philippines. At one of the meals there was a mix up and two ladies never received their desserts so they left. You could tell he took pride in his job and this was very upsetting to him. I felt so bad for him.
We did the Chef's Table one evening and I can not rave enough about this. It is an extra expense for it but well worth it and more. Turning out thousands of meals at a time they don't get to show off their expertise as much. At the Chef's Table they really shine. I was blown away by the quality (and quantity) of the food. Executive Chef Govind Bahal (India) and staff were beyond extraordinary. It is a seven course meal not counting the most mouth watering appetizers, champagne, and wine. You also get a tour of the galley and shown how they make that wonderful chocolate melting cake. This is an experience out of this world. I highly recommend every one enjoy this at least once.
I do say you might no want to take small children. It is a long night. We started with the tour of the galley at 6:30 and finished up with the meal at about 9:30. Also most of the foods are not going to be recognisable to kids, they may balk at trying it. Just my thoughts on that. I have heard of kids having melt downs through these long dinners.
The entertainment I found to be top notch also. Our cruise director Gary and his assistant Nick were hysterical. Gary is from England and Nick from Dallas. They play off each other wonderfully with this. Ryan and Rachel are part of the entertainment staff and we really enjoyed them as well. These people are very good at what they do. I thought all the shows were really good and well done. The new Legends show was outstanding!
Now finishing up my thoughts on the ship. I found the Elation well maintained.They were constantly cleaning and doing maintenance. I loved her understated colors and thought she was beautiful. I have sailed on the Conquest also which is a much larger ship. I have to say I prefer the smaller class of the Elation. I know that is just a personal preference and everyone has their own opinion on that. It was day 5 of a 7 day cruise before I finally figured out the lay of the Conquest. I stayed confused all the time. Of course it was my first cruise and I didn't understand the difference with the forward and aft elevators. I knew the lay out of the Elation by the end of embarkation day. For first time cruisers I would recommend the smaller class of ships. The larger ones can be very overwhelming to start with. Once again just my opinion. Loved the Elation and look forward to sailing her again.