Cruising on the Elation was a nice way to start our Wisconsin winter escape. We have been on several Royal Caribbean cruises and two Norwegian cruises (one the week after the Elation), but this was our first Carnival Cruise. I read the reviews and knew this was an older, smaller ship, but we found everything in good repair and the ship comfortably delivered us to warm weather, which was our number 1 priority.
Common areas were attractive and not overly crowded. Hot tub space was at a premium. We did manage to find a spot in one on the serenity deck during sail away and it was a great place to enjoy the sunset. The serenity deck was nice, but rather small, and it did fill up. There were frequently some hot tubs closed, but I guess I could see why they needed to close and clean them and adjust chemicals with the heavy use. We went to use one on the serenity deck after dinner one night and it had a lot of scummy foam on it.
We had cabin R3, which has two portholes for the price of an inside. The room was quite large, but needed more furniture. There was room for a loveseat where a lonely small backless chair sat. The bathroom was good sized and the shower was great. The bed was a little firm for us and we received the requested extra padding. Carnival still leaves little chocolates on the pillows at night. You will not need an alarm clock on port days in this cabin, as the engine noise during docking and sailing away is loud! I only saw our room steward briefly in the hall the first day, but our room was always made up when we came back from breakfast and dinner, so I felt his service was excellent.
We thought the food was very good. Our dining companions at the early seating were friendly and service was prompt and friendly. Waiters seemed to be working very hard, with many people to serve along with almost nightly singing or dancing, and they did their jobs well. I enjoyed all the soups, especially the lobster bisque, entrees were good, and the chocolate melting cake (which I indulged in 4 out of the 5 nights) was excellent! We also enjoyed brunch in the dining room on sea days. Steak and eggs was a good choice. Made to order omelets in the buffet were fast and good. Fruit was mostly melon. We also went to one tea in the piano bar. When we entered, place settings were nicely set out and we chose a comfortable window seat, but more people ended up coming in than the room could comfortably accommodate. I was expecting more tea sandwiches, but we received one small appetizer and the rest was sweets. It was a nice experience with the piano entertainment. On the pool deck, a nice feature was the ice tea and ice water that was always available without going into the buffet.
Entertainment was OK. There were only 2 production shows in the theater. There were 2 comedians. We only saw one and I thought he was just OK. We were at the adult show and warned about language at the beginning. I didn't think sprinkling in the F bomb made the jokes any funnier. There were lots of audience participation type shows. There was a good live trio that played pretty frequently, but they had them across from the drama bar, so if you wanted to dance, you were basically dancing in the walkway. There seemed to be other rooms that weren't used very much that would be better venues for this music. We did go to the Michael Jackson white party in the disco for a little while, but we do prefer live music, and there wasn't much of it. We went to a ping pong tournament one morning and found other guests there waiting to play, but no staff member to run it, so we finally left. We used the ellipticals in the gym once and found the space nice and not crowded.
We enjoyed the 2 ports. The AutoProgresso tour to Uxmal in Progresso was better than expected and I would recommend it. In Cozumel we walked to El Cid and enjoyed using the tennis courts, snorkeling beach and hot tub. I would return.
We found New Orleans to be a good place to sail from and especially liked listening to music on Frenchman St. the night before the cruise. We stayed at the Marriot Converntion Center and parked in the Fulton garage, both walking distance to the port.
We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and found this cruise to be a very good value.