Alright so this was my wife's and I 2nd cruise, 1st without family. First off I would like to say that this was so worth what we paid for and that one should check back with your booking often as prices change and you could miss out on a very good upgrade/or on-board-credit, so glad we kept up on that!! With that being said since we did keep tabs on prices we got a free upgrade from an interior cabin on upper to an ocean view on empress. Our first cruise was an interior and after doing an ocean view I do think that it would be worth getting again.
Embarkation was a breeze!!!! We didn't do the FTTF, though we thought very long about possibly doing that especially once finding out that the cruise was full. We arrived to port (NOLA, New Orleans, LA) little bit after 10am and we were on board by 11:00-11:15 maybe 11:30, either way it was very quick. With this being a 4-day cruise and only stopping in Cozumel we had 2 sea days and at first were not sure if this was a good or bad thing. We thoroughly having 2 sea days, it was nice just to be able to relax on Serenity deck and not be on the go all the time.
Our cabin steward was Noelan and he did an amazing job at keeping things nice and tidy. We were anticipating every night what kind of towel animal that he'd make for us and we were never disappointed. The rest of the crew were very nice, friendly, and always very helpful//willing to help.
The food was great and there wasn't anything that I didn't try that i didn't like. We ate in the main dining room every night. I tried escargot for the first time!! It was actually good and I figured it might be a very unusual taste but it wasn't so very astounded by that. Only wish the Elation would have a Sushi bar but the "Taste Bar" they have in place of that was very good as they had "appetizer items" from different restaurants of Carnivals on different ships/ship classes. We did eat breakfast once in the main dining room but other days we just went up to Lido and ate. Which I must say their Omelet Bar was great as I visited that every breakfast.
The shows were good, not mediocre by any means and I am sure that they work extremely hard on everything they do. We didn't get to any of the comedy shows but one, one of the family friendly shows. That was pretty good and wished we could have gone to more it just didn't slide into our plans very well as we would end up going after it started and there were no seats left in the house so I think that is definitely something that we will fit in next time.
Our time in Cozumel was spent on an excursion, booked through the cruise line. One thing i want to say about that is that we have and always will book through the cruise line as that is the only way you can guarantee that you will not get left behind if your excursion goes longer than expected. We were actually late leaving Cozumel port because someone almost missed the ship. Not sure why they nearly missed it but I can only assume if they did an excursion it wasn't booked through the cruise line so just some food for thought there. The excursion we did was the All Inclusive Chankanaab Beach and Snorkel. Our guide was Bernie and he was very friendly and very informative and made sure that no one was left behind. We snorkeled for nearly an hour and then had lunch, a Mexican buffet but they did have hamburgers as well. We were surprised that it was actually good as we were somewhat anticipating mediocre food. After lunch we did the Mayan Culture Tour which was very interesting and informative. Than came the tequila tasting!! Now I cannot remember exactly how many shots we had tried but I know there were at least 10 different varieties, could have been up to 14 though. Let's just say that I am glad that neither myself or my wife were driving home after that, lol.
All in all this was an amazing cruise. I really can't say anything bad about this cruise/ship/crew but if there was 1 thing that could be improved on would be a bigger Serenity area as this was always 'hopping' with people. Thank you Carnival for a wonderful time and cannot wait till we cruise again!!!