Went on a cruise to celebrate my 21st birthday and had a good time for the most part. The Elation was a nice ship, considering its age, and that showed later on during the cruise and I will go into that more soon. Embarkation was smooth and we got to see New Orleans from a unique view. The trip down the Mississippi was great and that was nice to see southern Louisiana in a way I haven't seen before.
The food was such a disappointment. Many items were not held at proper temperatures as most of the things I was served were cold, especially during the first two days. People must have complained enough because there wasn't much of an issue with temps during the latter part of the cruise, but I suspect the illness I experienced on board was due to eating something that wasn't held at proper temperatures. Nothing stood out as fantastic eating, either. Everything was just okay or blah.
Service was outstanding, though. These folks were trained very well. There were a few who seemed as if they didn't want to be there anymore, however. If they had been working as long as I expect they have, who could blame them?
Tips are something that they need to address more. The standard $11.50/day per person was fine with me, but if you buy ANYTHING from a bar, you will be charged an additional 15% gratuity. I thought that was a little much. We then found out that tips are expected to be extended to your evening dining room waiters and steward. Be prepared to spend upwards of $300 on tips alone if you get a lot from the bars. A few dollars every purchase add up. I don't think bartenders deserve 15% gratuity automatically for pouring a beer into a glass.
Don't buy the Bottomless Bubbles. You would be better off getting a coke from the bar and paying the gratuity with it. Trust me, you won't drink $37.20 worth of cokes. They run about $1.95 without the automatic gratuity.
Our cabin was what was expected. It can be crammed with 4 people, but you can make it work. Bathrooms work great and any problems you have in the cabin will be addressed swiftly. It will be hot, so be prepared to have the vent taken off in the room.
We didn't do much entertainment, but what we did was nice. Catch a comedy show if you can.
Liquor prices are crazy cheap in Mexico and are tax free in certain places. You will end up buying a lot. They will negotiate prices there too, so don't be afraid to go low on prices.
If you go to Cozumel, you have to go to Passion Island. Best $69.99 I've ever spent. Crystal clear, blue water and a lot of fun. There is a buffet and, wait for it, and open bar! Free cokes and beer and margaritas!
The seas were rough on Thursday evening and Friday. Wow, that was hard and I'm still feeling it. The ship swayed quite a bit and people we met around the ship said they've never seen it that bad before. That was a little scary.
Overall, this was fun and I had a good time. I don't know if I would go on Elation again, though. It was a little much at the end, and being sick didn't help anything with the swaying.