Our 5 day cruise began with a very nice embarkation experience. My wife and I arrived very early to the Port of New Orleans and we were the second couple to arrive and the check in had not yet even begun. By the time check in began about 50 or so cruisers were also waiting. The Platinum Cruisers and the Faster to the Fun cruisers were called first and then a Carnival worker named Mrs. MiLu had remembered that we had arrived very early and came over to us and the other couple that had arrvied early and led us to an available check in rep. That was very thoughtful of Mrs. MiLu.
Once boarding was announce our boarding process took about 5 minutes and we were on the Lido deck in no time. After a bite to eat at the Lido buffet we were in our ocean view room on the Empress deck in about an hour where we met our cabin steward Julio. Julio did a great job throughout the cruise. Our room was always neat and cleaned on time and he always made sure we had everything we needed.
It seems I have been reading many negative comments about the food on the Elation. We only had two food items that we were not satisfied with. Once it was very undercooked chicken from the buffet and my wife had some sort of vegetable dish she did not care for in the MDR. Other than that, we found the found the food to be quite good.
We had the early seating in the MDR and our wait staff was the best. Maria, Sanjin, and Raul did a fantastic job. They new our dinning routine after the first seating and were organized, efficient, and very friendly. They made sure we were 100% satisfied with out dinning experience. One night, one of our table mates did not care for the seared redfish she was served. Maria brought out another entree for her straight away. Overall, we found the meals in the MDR to be very good. There was always something that we liked.
On three mornings we had breakfast in the MDR. It was not as crowded as on the Lido deck and service was very good. The Sea Day Brunch was excellent. Breakfast at Tiffany's (no pun intended) was fair. the food was good but the long lines made it a chore.
The Mongolian Wok and the Deli was also very good. Carnivals famed Chocolate Extravaganza was somewhat disappointing due to the fact that there was not much of a spread as we have found on other Carnival ships.
Our two ports of call were Progreso and Cozumel. In Progreso, we took the Salsa and Salsa tour to Merida. Our tour guide, Casandra, really did a great job. She was very informative and made sure our trip was memorable. We toured historic Merida with stops at the Cathedral of San Ilfanso and the Governors Palace. We went to a local hotel where we taught how to make several different kinds of salsa (which we were able to enjoy eating) and washed them down with complimentary drinks. Later we were taught a basic salsa dance step which was very fun. In Cozumel, we went on a helmet dive at Sea Trek Blue Water dive and snorkel. My wife and I were the only two on the dive at that particular time and were given the royal treatment. We definitely got our monies worth. We also purchased a CD with many still shots of our dive along with a 6 minute video.
We were pleasantly surprised by the entertainment on the cruise. We enjoyed a band called the Crescent City Swingers several times. Susan, in Duke's piano bar, was great. She had us all singing along and and having a grand time. Edd played acoustic guitar in the Atrium bar. He was extremely talented on the 7 string acoustic guitar. On the last night he had a guitar legends show in the main show room. He was backed by the Swingers and they all put on the best show I have ever seen on a Carnival cruise. Edd covered guitar greats like Eric Clapton, George Benson, and BB King. We saw two other shows in the Mikado. Just Rock was very good and Win was ok.
We were late getting into New Orleans on the last day due to inclement weather. We chose self assist debarkation and, once our floor was called, we were off the ship and through Customs in less than 10 minutes.
Overall, we considered this one of the best cruises we have been on in quite a while. There were many young cruisers on their graduation trip and there were some complaints about rowdy behavior but we didn't personally witness much of that. I would certainly take another cruise on the Elation again and would recommend it to anyone.