My immediate and extended family sailed from New Orleans on the Carnival Elation, leaving on June 2. For my in-laws, this was their first cruise but the other six of us had samiled before, with most of the trips on Carnival.
We drove to NOLA, arriving at 10:15 and was able to park, turn over our luggage to the porters and was in line to give our documents by 10:30. Embarkation was VERY easy and was told we could expect to board not long after 12:00 which proved to be correct.
We had three cabins and the only problem we encountered the entire trip was the temperature in our cabin (E169) and my SIL's cabin (E171). The temperture was almost warm even after adjusting the fan to blow as strongly as possible. It never really got cold in the room and at times was almost warm. Thankfuly my wife had brought a small fan which helped at night. We asked our room steward to see if something could be done in our cabins and he said he would turn in the request, but we never saw anyone and it never improved. The temp in my FIL and MIL was much better, almost to the point of cold, so I know it was not just my personal preference to the temperature.
We booked three excursions through Carnival: The Reef Beach Resort in Progresson, El Cedral tour in Cozumel, and the Behind the Fun tour of the ship. Although the Reef Resort is nice, Progreso is not an attractive port at all, and I don't know why Carnival stops there. Cozumel was great as was the Behind the Fun Tour.
Food and service was very good. After the first night, the wait staff almost knew our needs before we asked for something. And while I enjoy trying many different dishes on ships, it is just hard to pass up the Warm Chocolate Melting cake even after three or four nights.
I used the spa on several occasions and enjoyed the facilities. It was normally not crowded at all and was able to use the treadmill and sauna without ever having to wait for space to become available.
As I mentioned earlier, this was the first cruise for my MIL and FIL but they had a great time and not surprisingly are already wanting us to start planning another trip.
Debarkation was easy. We did not use self assist so had to wait for our zones to be called, but by 10:00 we were off board and on our way to the French Quarter to see and shop.
This was not the greatest cruise we had ever been on, but we had a great time. and I like the Fantasy class ships. Sometimes you really feel like a part of a cattle herd on the larger ships so I would suggest that you try the Elation if you have an opportunity. Granted Progreso is a nothing port, so you might want to stay on board and enjoy the ship that day, but I think that overall you would give the ship high marks.