Let me say right off that the overall rating of this cruise was great. Sure there were some less than great moments, BUT overall the rating was great.
I only booked us a 5 day cruise this time because we had talked another couple into taking a cruise with us and they had never cruised before and our lady friend has motion sickness problems...even on land and in a car or in/on other transportation as well. She wears a patch behind her ear and has tried multiple other "solutions" over the years.
The Jazz Fest was going on just prior, during and after our cruise date of April 29th, so to everyone, take note, because the available rooms during this time period each year have gone through the roof in pricing and are also very limited for booking within three months of the cruise. The Jazz Fest attendees book their rooms many months and even a year in advance of the event. Hence the high cost of New Orleans area rooms during Jazz Fest. Even out in Kenner, LA, room rates were doubled from what they usually cost. Oh well.
It was a good thing that I didn't search for rooms prior to booking this 5 day cruise in NO because I may have decided to drive to Galveston, TX instead and book a cruise on the Triumph for the same time period. We all know now how that cruise would have taken place. NOT! CANCELLED! So our problems in NO were better than the problems in Texas.
So to start...
The 5 of us left Iowa on Thursday April 25 early in the morning in two cars and arrived in Kenner,LA at our hotel destination outside New Orleans two days later around noon. We had rain on and off the whole trip. We stayed at the Crowne Plaza in Kenner over Saturday and Sunday with the cruise sailing out on Monday. Excellent facility with really nice rooms and a great morning buffet included each day.
We traveled to and from NO each day to see the city and had a blast. Saturday night was dry so we went and had a good dinner and then walked Bourbon Street from one end to the other. The street performers were all out because of Jazz Fest and people were throwing beads from their balconies. I would raise my shirt, catch some beads and then give them to my DW or DD and our friends to wear. When I finally had caught five strings of beads I could quit raising my shirt. It was hot, so raising my shirt was a nice cooling off process also.
Yes it rained both days in NO, with a torrential downpour on Sunday, so we spent several hours in the morning in Harrah's gambling and people watching. About 10 am the skies cleared and the sun came out again, so we went for a carriage ride tour of the French Quarter. The cemeteries are closed on Sunday so we didn't get to see them again this time. After the carriage ride it was still a little early for lunch, so walked across the street to the Cafe Du Monde for beignets. After everyone had finished their beignets and had their powder sugar mouth ring on, we walked the square and looked at all the art work. After an hour, the skies threatened with their rumbling, so we walked back toward Harrah's, arriving inside just prior to the rain....AGAIN.
Monday morning we both drove to the port garage, arriving around 10am (no rain), we each paid our $80.00 for the five day cruise and went inside to check in. The five of us had booked two grand suites next door to each other on the Upper deck so we were allowed priority boarding. After checking in, everyone waited until around 11:15 when they started boarding. Within 10 minutes we were on the Lido deck enjoying lunch, the fresh air and the sunshine. Yea...SUN!
We had a Cruise Critic "Roll Callâ€ meet and greet scheduled on the Veranda deck right after the safety meeting. We left our safety meeting place and headed out to go to the Veranda deck and the RAINS had caught up with us again. Scratch the "Roll Call" meet and being on deck for the sail away party, so we walked around the ship for a while, letting our friends absorb all the sights before them. The next day there was a Cruise Critic meet and greet scheduled in the fun times for 12:15 I believe, at the library. We went, but the small group standing outside didn't have a clue what a Cruise Critic meet was all about. We stuck around for a short while and then left, so unfortunately I did not get to meet anyone on our "roll call" board. Note to self...NEXT TIME SCHEDULE AN ALTERNATE MEETING PLACE ALSO, JUST IN CASE OF POSSIBLE BAD WEATHER TOPSIDE!
We had the rains again for the next sea day also, no topside sunshine. Lots of things to do below. This good sized storm followed us almost all the way to Progresso.
We left the rains behind in the early morning of our Progresso arrival. Beautiful weather the whole day ashore. About 85 degrees and sunny with a slight breeze. Our ladies wanted to just shop so we didn't schedule any tours this time. We had breakfast in the MDR and then off the ship and into town.
We took the free shuttle parked just outside the ship for a trip down the 4 mile pier to town. It is free, but they will try to sell you their tours prior to getting off the bus at the terminal. We were polite and listened, but after 5 minutes we got up and left the bus. Time is wasting and the town is calling the "shoppers"
We went to the front of the terminal and found the double decker city tour bus and took the 1/2 hour tour of the city. We all sat down below so we didn't have to duck the overhead wires during the tour around town. After arriving back at our starting point the ladies had an idea of what shops they wanted to visit. ALL OF THEM! So we walked, and walked, and walked, and walked until we came upon "Corona's" restaurant 'by the beach'. It was time for some nourishment as noon was upon us.
We were escorted into Corona's and we requested an outside table as I was very HOT from all the walking I had mentioned before. Note to self...SIT INSIDE THE RESTAURANT IF YOU DON'T WANT EVERY SEA URCHINS AND PEDDLER VYING FOR YOUR TIME AND MONEY ASKING YOU TO BUY THEIR WEARS OR PRODUCTS AS YOU SIT, RELAX AND EAT. I noticed they didn't go inside the restaurant its self, they were staying only outside in the beach area and near the pool.
They delivered fresh warm fried tortilla chips with salsa and beans to our table along with our initial bottled drink order. We ordered different appetizers to be shared by all. All the food was very tasty and plentiful. After an hour or so we left so our ladies could shop some more. We were back on board about 3pm as we were sailing at 4pm.
After leaving Progresso, our dinner was scheduled in the MDR at 6pm. Sometime during dinner around 7pm we noticed the seas were gathering white caps and the rains had began again. An announcement during dinner said that the topside outer decks were closed because if the weather. After dinner I checked the weather channel on TV in our cabin and notice that the northern storm that had been following us this whole trip had JOINED FORCES with another good sized southern system coming up the coast from Beleze and the WHOLE peninsula of Mexico and much of the gulf was showing this red storm area. ...AND THE ROCKING AND ROLLING BEGAN...
The three ladies decided that it was Dramamine time and they were in bed by about 10pm with my male counterpart deciding to sack out also. Me...I hit the casino and went back to my cabin about 12:30am, (Cozumel tomorrow, so an early day again) I crawled into the sack and slept like a baby rocking in a hammock! I was up about 7am and checked the weather channel again. The storm had actually split in two, with the northern piece moving farther north of Cozumel and the southern part moving east of Cozumel. These cruise ship ports must have an agreement with the Good Lord that when a cruise ship arrives...the port will receive sunshine for the day.
Again we did the MDR breakfast and then off the ship so our ladies could once again shop, shop and shop. It was beautiful weather of about 90 degrees with a slight breeze We stayed ashore until around 2:30 pm and then returned to the ship for a light lunch because dinner was in 3 hours. As we pulled away from port we ran into the winds and then the rains again, which didn't really matter to us because we needed to go get changed for dinner anyway. That night after dinner it was a calmer sail for the ladies, but after having two days back to back of ports at calls and all the walking, everyone was tired, so off to bed they all went around 11 pm except of me. I went to the casino again for an hour or so before retiring to our cabin.
Friday the weather was dry and the sun was shining on the deck, which beckoned everyone topside. It was a very nice day except for about a 10 minute rain in the afternoon. That night the storm that had followed us across the Gulf was once again with us most of the way back to NO.
Now some of you might wonder how I could say from the get go that the cruise was great? IT WAS A CRUISE! Way too many things to do aboard ship to be concerned about some rain and wave action.
Our cabin was Grand Suite U107 on the port side. The cabin was clean upon arrival and stayed that way with the hard work of 'I Made' our cabin steward. For those that demand perfection...the Elation has had many passengers aboard since her last refurbishing and her age showed some what as our carpet was stained (but clean), the wood work had some mars and scars showing, you could see some rust if you looked for it, BUT things were clean and the maintenance crew worked on her our whole trip. Painting, cleaning, repairing, varnishing. etc. so it isn't like Carnival is just letting the Elation go to pot, but when it is its turn to receive the 2.0 upgrade it will sparkle anew again. If we lived closer, I would cruise her again this week.
The food...in the MDR for dinner for the most part it was very good, some dishes stood out among all those that were ordered at our table of 10. Of course the 'lobster and shrimp' dinner was the highlighted fare of the cruise in my opinion. The seafood pasta dish offered one night required additional sauce to be brought to the table as it came out very dry. There were some comments that the fried chicken pieces were very small in size, (Bantam, Cornish or very young hens?) so they just ordered another meal. Problem solved! Some dishes were not favorites of some, but liked by others who ordered the same meal, but that is with everything in life...different tastes for different people The ONLY dish ordered deemed NASTY was on the last night of our cruise. It was ordered by 3 at our table and all 3 plates were sent back with the request for a different meal, was the MEATLOAF. Everyone at our table tried a bite to see if it really was as bad as was being said. IT WAS! The meatloaf's meat had such a very fine ground consistency and not a lot of flavor that that bite tasted gritty with the uncontrollable desire to take a very large gulp of what ever liquid was at hand to wash it down. Sea rations 45 " 50 years ago use to taste better. So if any of your group or a tablemate has been a real pain for the whole cruise, you might suggest the MEATLOAF to them that night. LOL There were 6 out of the 10 of us that had adventurist palates, so we tried a variety of extra meals or appetizers each night. As with most things in life, some we liked, some we didn't (but all still edible, EXCEPT THE MEATLOAF). I believe every night most of the deserts offered were ordered at the table and I don't recall any negative comments on any eaten. My DW had the melted chocolate cake with a scoop of ice cream each and every night for dinner. She never looked for anything else the whole cruise.
The Lido buffet...is a buffet and as with any and all buffets I find you go through the line and get a little of what looks tasty and if your guess was correct, you go back for more. I had the Mongolian Wok 4 out of 5 lunches with black bean and double schezwan sauce. I tried the burgers twice (without any bun) and they were too dried out and had no seasoning to speak of for my taste. I am hoping that the burgers available at the 'Guy Fieri's' hamburger station aboard other ships with the 2.0 upgrades are better and can be received medium and nice and juicy. Everyone in our group of five enjoyed the nicely seasoned chicken strips that were available each day and the chili for the hot dogs was pretty good. The grilled onions and mushrooms able were unseasoned and tasteless. It was like they were cooked in water then served. The omelets were very good and the thin crusted goat cheese pizza was still the best. All the fish offered on the buffet line on different days were nicely seasoned and very tasty. We never tried the lunch menu in the MDR and always ate at the buffet if we ate aboard.
The morning of disembarkment we went again to the MDR for breakfast around 8 am. We had a leisurely breakfast and stayed there until about 9:30 when our zone 2 was called. We made sure we tipped our waiter well for all his time and work.
We had filled up our cars prior to going to the pier so all we had to do was head on down the road. We were back in Iowa two days later.
Our friends did comment that even with the bad weather, they had enjoyed the cruise and might consider another. HUM??