My husband and I first cruised on the Carnival Elation in 1999 & fell in love with cruising. We then cruised a second time again on Carnival & since then have cruised on 4 other cruise lines. This time, we hoped that because it was Christmas time, Carnival would have something special- after all, the cruise fare was much more expensive during the holiday. We live near the departure port of Long Beach so we didn't have to bother with flights.
First, we were so disappointed at the ship- it is very outdated even after their so called renovations. Employees were nice, but they just didn't seem happy- no smiling or greeting like we get on Royal Caribbean. We had to tender in Catalina & waited for an hour - they only had 2 tender boats carrying 35 passengers! Our stop in Ensenada was mediocre- there's not much to see so we just walked around town & did some souvenir shopping.
The food in the dining room was okay- good selection, but we've tasted better. I do have to state that our inside cabin was pretty spacious- for an inside cabin! The ship has hardly any balcony cabins & few ocean views as well. It didn't have great entertainment- just okay. Since we had cruised Carnival before, we are past passenger & usually, most cruise lines offer special incentives to those passenger. You know what we were offered? One free drink to enjoy during breakfast or lunch!! And only my husbands card was colored to distinguish him as a previous cruiser- not mine. Royal Caribbean gives you MUCH better discounts after just one cruise!!
Overall, I personally wouldn't recommend this ship- spend a little more & travel to Florida or even Galveston for a better ship & nicer ports. Second, we love Royal Caribbean and will definitely stay loyal to them from now on. We love cruising so much that I'll be joining a friend in her travel agency business and first recommendation- do not cruise on Carnival. Even agents are having a difficult time in dealing with them.