Embarkation at NOLA was quick and easy. Once on the ship, I realized how much I liked the decor on this vessel. Yes she is showing her age but the crew is constantly cleaning and repairing to keep her nice. The Romeo and Juliet lounge is beautiful but a closer look shows how badly the furniture needs to be redone. There are so many fabrics out there that do not stain, if Carnival does not know about them--just ask any company that makes furniture for nursing homes!
The food on the Elation was good and at the right temperature. I am always amazed at people here complaining about the food. If you want 5 star dining, do not book a discounted cruise on Carnival! The food is tasty, properly done and plentiful. There were more than enough choices to please any palette and the staff bent over backwards to make sure you were satisfied. One of my table mates was not happy with a dish she had ordered and was almost immediately brought another entre. The steaks and seafood (including the lobster) were cooked perfectly! The ribs were delicious and falling off the bone.
Entertainment was so so. The comedians, "Mo" included, were not to my taste but they were very typical of this level of show. It is not Vegas or Branson, for sure. The library is a very nice space but is only open for short periods of time. What a waste! It could have been used for card and board game tournaments, some kind of enrichment classes (maybe lectures on the Mayan ruins or Inca traditions) There was very little to do during the daytime hours. Since many of us were older and not of the "Drink Yourself to Oblivion" set or the "Cook in the Sun" set, it would have been nice to have something other than overpriced Bingo and "the marriage game." Since there was almost no sun and high winds closing off the Serenity deck and the aft pool deck, something going on inside would have been nice.
We did not get off the ship in Progresso, there is so little there and it is so depressing. Not much has changed in the 4 years since we were there last time. The people that did get off returned quickly and many asked why Carnival continues to go there. I was hoping Carnival's presence would lift the town up but it does not seem to be happening. Very sad. If you do go and want to get off the ship, go to Flamingo's Restaurant. The food and service are excellent.
Cozumel is very touristy. Skip the restaurants in the port area and get out in the community if you want good food.
Unfortunately we hit very bad weather on this cruise, so for me, one afternoon and evening and two nights of a 5 night cruise were lost to severe motion sickness. Our breakfast companions (on their 19th cruise) said this was the worst weather they had ever encountered on a cruise. Certainly not Carnival's fault and the staff did everything to try and make the trip pleasant. Just one of the risks you take when you book a cruise.
All in all the cruise was well worth what we paid for it. The staff on the Elation are fantastic! I know they live a hard life for little pay but everyone was more than pleasant and always had a smile for us. Our room stewards, Dean and Akbar, and our waiters, Rudi, Eddi, and Wayan were so nice and so much fun. They made our voyage fantastic!
A word on tipping--read the Carnival breakdown of where your "automatic" gratuities go. I felt it was important that the staff behind the scenes get those gratuities but I also felt my room stewards and my waiters were not getting what I would tip onshore. We tend to tip heavy for good service and we certainly received that on the Elation. I hope you will tip these hard working people well. Many of the staff are there to support their families and they are not paid well by the cruise lines (hence your cheap prices).
Debarkation was slow and long. Getting that many people off the ship is difficult. If you have any problems walking or standing in line for long periods--take the wheelchair assist. The only good thing about debarking is that you are going downhill.