This was our 11th cruise and 2nd on Carnival. The first time we had taken 24 family members on a 5 day cruise on the Carnival Ecstasy out of Galveston and all had a great time with no problems. Since we were planning a visit with our granddaughter attending college in New Orleans, we found this cruise offering a "Junior Suite." In the past we had chosen inside cabins, ocean view cabins and balcony cabins, so we saw this as an opportunity to experience a suite.
Perception is often tainted by expectation. Well our expectation was quite high because we had experienced most other arrangements so believed this suite would be above the others. There were no real balconies on the Elation so there were a few Grand Suites and 41 "Junior Suites" on the 11th deck, the highest of the cabin decks. We were able to get a suite with an unobstructed view.
There were only a few perks associated with the suite but the most appealing was priority embarkation/disembarkation. Embarkation was easy and went well except no directions were given as to where to go after check in except "out those double doors." Then you just get back in line with everyone else.
So, how great was the "suite life?" Absolutely horrible. So we get to the "suite" to discover it is tinier than any room we have ever experienced before with a tiny balcony just 3' x 10' with some of that space taken up by the door swing. Still OK except the people next to us were smokers and the smoke blew back on us so we were not able to use the balcony very much. Despite our disappointment, we had little choice but to make the best of it. Then the real surprise! If you were designing a ship, where would you choose to put the gym? Of course, over some of the most expensive rooms. The gym was opened from 6 am to 10 pm so you can imagine the bumps and thumps ALL day long.
But, they probably rewarded this idiot by then appointing them entertainment director. Only 2 shows over the 5 days and these were so load and bad, we walked out of one. We've seen better shows put on by high school students. There were a number of children on board and some of the costumes and skits boarded on pornographic.
Then there was the dining. Dinner was great 2 of the 5 nights, the rest were mediocre. Waitstaff was incredibly inefficient. Constantly mixed up orders, didn't bring baked potato condiments, no jelly for bread at breakfast, and on and on. One waiter did a great job of filling our half full tea glasses with WATER. Usually just went to the buffet for breakfast and lunch. Not bad except for the lines. Once was a 30 minute line for an omelet. There were only two beverage stations in the buffet area, both on the same end of the dining hall. There were signs at the entrance restricting bathing suites, which were promptly ignored. Threw food away on more than one occasion because of some passenger with gross body parts showing.
Elevators were another story. There was only one set of elevators for our floor, two on the starboard side that stopped at Deck 10 and two on the port side that went to 11 and 12. When the up call button was pushed and the elevator on the starboard side arrived first, it cancelled the port side call button. Had to wait until the starboard side elevator door closed before pressing the up button again. We sat thru this cycle sometimes as many as 3 cycles before catching an up elevator.
Then there was the ultimate slap, the perk of priority disembarkation. So those with priority disembarkation were told to meet at the back of the ship on deck 9. So, we get the elevator down 2 floors and trudged to the back of the ship where the area filed up with people and those in the know filled in the hallways ahead of all us with the "priority" perk. Then, one hour later, we trudged back to the front of the ship and bounced our pull behind luggage down 2 flights of stairs to deck 7 to get off.
My advice, this cruise is Ok if you want a quick get away and don't expect much. However, if you really expect a first class experience, join us on Princess or Royal Caribbean. You won't catch us on Carnival again. We do have one positive. Our cabin steward was fantastic, was there with a smile and greeting whenever we saw him or needed something. He even remembered our names.
At least we got to visit our sweet grand daughter!