It was smooth through embarkation on to the ship, then things started to go downhill. My family and I have been on multiple cruises, on Carnival and Royal Caribbean, and was not expecting what we experienced.
The rooms were old-feeling, there were chips in the sink in the bathroom, medicine cabinets were difficult to open, beds were very uncomfortable, bedsheets were torn, counter drawers were difficult to open, and there was a constant loud metal squeak that persisted throughout the trip. There were no secondary 'inside only' locks on the door and housekeeping knocked and quickly opened our door, not a reassuring experience.
On previous cruises I had observed how friendly the staff was, from the wait staff to the housekeeping staff, everyone seemed happy. This was not the case on the Elation. The cruise employees I encountered rarely smiled, the waiters in the dining room were unbelievably slow, bordering on negligent. I swore that they bugged our table, because after a few days of comments to ourselves regarding the lack of service, day 3 went overboard, which was entertaining...like they somehow heard what we were saying. The concierge was friendly, but I wouldn't trust the excursion director when asking about the weather. Should be fine the day before turned into your excursion is cancelled due to rain (not really their fault, it just added to the experience).
I had always complimented the food on Carnival, and thought in my experience that is was superior to Royal Caribbean. This trip changed my view, as the dining room food was lacking any real flavor dynamics, the meals were at best warm, sometimes cold. Food on the Lido deck was hit or miss. Pizza was pretty good, for what you'd expect from a pizza place on a ship. The buffet lines varied their meals, sometimes a hit, other times a miss. Was missing biscuits, but not that huge of an issue with the rest of the breakfast selection. Mongolian grill was good, and definitely hot, which is why that line was so long.
Not being a big time gambler, it's difficult to critique, with the exception that it's centrally located and easy to get in and out. Took a little bit to get squared away using the Sign and Sail card in the casino but worked out well.
Didn't catch too many shows, walked in on one and stayed about 5 minutes, then left again. That shouldn't be a reflection on all the shows, just the one I caught. Performance area is smaller than other ships, but still pretty comfortable. Bingo host was entertaining, and I didn't mind blowing $50 as the experience was fun.
Didn't even know it existed until we complained to a staff member that all the clubs were filled with kids, and she brought us out to the back of the ship through the comedy club. Very small considering the number of adults who would have used the section.
Separate from the food and service issue, the dining room was very claustrophobic. The ceilings were much lower than any other ship, the tables were so close together that if you needed to leave, you'd have to wait until waiters made their way through. The usual 'you can't get there from here' when trying to get to the back dining room, which is pretty much standard, it just took a day or so to get familiar with the best paths in and out of the dining room. Lights were flickering and the captain's announcements, while amusing, didn't have the same feel as other trips.
Never in my life have I had this many issues with elevators not moving. Not sure if they were broken or if kids were holding them on specific floors, but all areas had issues with moving from floor to floor.
It was cold (as it usually is in January), but can't some engineers find a way to utilize heat from the engines to warm the pool a bit? Just a suggestion, as other pools have similar issues. The music was a nice mix that wasn't too loud, and varied from laid back to fun. The area didn't get much use until the day after we left Cozumel, and everyone took advantage of it. The scavenger hunt was entertaining, and something I hadn't seen before.
One small souvenir shop, one small jewelry/perfume store and one alcohol/tobacco storefront. Less than I've seen on other ships. Nothing overly impressive, and would have liked to have had more options
Laughable at best. Kids were never in there, because there was nothing of real interest.
Didn't utilize, but did tour through the gym. Being in the front of the ship with the great view through the windows, it would be something special to be running on the treadmill while looking at the open ocean. Also available was a steam room and sauna, but didn't step in either one.
If you've NEVER cruised before, then this won't lower your expectations. If you've been on others (including the Triumph and Conquest), this was very much a let-down.