I cruised on the Elation from Jan. 14th- 19th. We were on a chartered trip (The Rock Boat), with very different entertainment and pricing so I can't comment on those two aspects. Also, due to the nature of the trip there were very few children onboard.
The trip was originally scheduled on the Ecstasy out of New Orleans in September but was cancelled, so Carnival gave $100 sail&sign credits to anyone booked on the original. After everyone rescheduled for the Jan. trip, the plans were changed again to move the sailing port to Galveston, TX. More credits were given. The final change came when they switched ports of call from Cozumel/Costa Maya to Play del Carmen/Progreso.
I was traveling with a person who uses a walker, and we were pleasantly surprised when the staff member at the port directed us to skip the long main line and go to a shorter (actually only one other person) line for disabled people. The staff beyond check-in were not helpful at all, with me holding our documents and such in my mouth at times when I needed to show for both of us, and nobody ever offered my friend any assistance in getting up the gangway which is a very long uphill walk for someone with limited mobility.
Once onboard the ship, we found our rooms easily enough and were able to explore a bit and have a drink or two before the lifeboat drill. I'd have to say that the lifejackets are absurdly bulky and do not fit women. A few of those round the bottom and the BOAT would stay afloat! I did get a nice picture of the crew member enjoying the drill as much as we did!
Dinner was great every night, and one night when I was seasick they even went out of their way to get me just plain uncooked veggies in the dining room. The service varied, as we had open seating. I must have ordered room service at least 10 times for late night munchies because I was not a fan of the pizza on the Lido. The grill, however had great food at all times of the day.
Our room steward sucked. There's not much to say because he didn't do ANYTHING except come in the evenings to make our beds and turn them down all in one turn. The room was overall pretty run down, and the doorstop on the bathroom door broke (the screw hole was stripped) the first night and after it didn't get fixed the first day I did it myself, only to have it break again and never get fixed despite me mentioning it to the steward twice. We left notes asking for ice every day and got it once. We got very one ambiguous towel animal.
I didn't get off the boat in Playa because I'd had a long night and there wasn't anything there I wanted to do, and I had an excursion planned for Progreso the next day. Well, seas started getting rough that afternoon, and were so bad by the next morning that we were not able to port in Progreso at all. Carnival gave everyone a $20 S&S credit to make up for it, but since we had plenty of entertainment most of us didn't mind!
The staff were, for the most part, very friendly and upbeat. They were very accommodating to our crowd. This was basically a party boat with 30+ rock bands performing until all hours of the night (and usually morning) and most of them seemed to enjoy both the music and the passengers, and even came and hung out with us when they were off duty! There was one drink server from India (whose name was Deep) who seemed to be everywhere we went! He was always smiling and dancing and having a good time. With the exception of the room steward, every time I asked a crew member a question I got a friendly enough, if not completely clear answer.
One thing worth noting: none of the ladies' rooms had paper towel for the entire trip! Based on this experience, I'd definitely cruise Carnival again though not on this ship. It needs a makeover... I'm glad the Rock Boat has upgraded to the Carnival Legend for next year!