I cruised with my wife on the Elation this past weekend, from 9/27-10/01. We are both in our early-mid 20's, with two kids that stayed with my mother-in-law for the weekend. I am a full-time student and work part-time, and my wife also works part-time. We chose this particular cruise because it fit our difficult schedules, and it leaves from San Diego, which happens to be where we live. This is our second cruise, and our first with Carnival. We cruised this past January on RCL, a 4-night SD-Catalina-Ensenada trip on the Monarch of the Seas.
This was a breeze, apart from the fact that I forgot my garment bag with my tux and suit in it, and had to run back home to get it. We had originally arrived at about 11:45, and there were people already boarding. When we got back at about 1:30, we expected more crowds, but we were in and on the ship in about 15 minutes total. One of our suitcases was at our cabin by about 2:30, and the rest arrived at about 4:00. Overall, easy and no problems.
We booked an inside guarantee because of how little time we spent in our room last time (although that will come up later), plus the total darkness is great for restful sleep. Our room was bigger than the RCL cruise we took, and that was great. The only real complaint I can make was that the paint on the closet door was scratched up, but that is such a petty grievance it doesn't even matter. There was plenty of space, tons of closet room, and the bathroom was just fine. Other reviews have criticized the shower curtain arrangement, but if you put the provided bathmat on the floor outside of the shower, the rest of the bathroom floor stays bone dry, and after the shower, roll up the bathmat and theres no water at all on the floor. The steward replaced the bathmats as many times as we used them. Overall, great room.
Here is the first complaint of this review: the food. I am a food guy, so this is important to me. The first meal we had, lunch on the Lido deck, was disappointing to say the least. The food was really generic, and some of it I couldn't eat. The breakfast on the Lido deck was identical every morning, which bugs me. I didn't realize that it wouldn't change, so I took what I liked the first day, and unfortunately that was what I had every day, which was boring by day 3. Lunch was better, and the Lido restaurant had a different national food theme each day. Unfortunately, they were Mexican, French, and American. The French food was good, but I was hoping for something a little more exotic than Mexican and American. Dinner in the dining room was good, but not great. The service was good, and our waiter was funny, but the food was lackluster. We ate at the late seating, and it seemed like the food was tired. I'm no stranger to banquet cooking, but it seemed phoned in. Not to mention the substitutions that weren't mentioned. Maybe most people don't know the difference between bernaise sauce and bordelaise sauce, but I do, and I ordered filet with bernaise. Disappointing. The pizza, calzones, and deli were great, the grill was so-so, and the sushi was terrible. All the fish was cooked, and not cooked very well.
This was hit-or-miss. Our waiter was great, our steward was great, our dining room bar server looked like he wanted to punch someone, the bartenders were terrible conversationalists, the Lido drink servers were great, the Lido restaurant stewards were great, and the omelet guy looked like he really hated his job and everyone on board.
Cabo was great. Perfect weather, tenders were fast, and the lines moved quickly. As usual, more time in port would be good, but that's the only problem we had.
The showers in the locker rooms are great. Multiple shower heads, but the controls are a bit confusing. Didn't use anything else.
We used the pool on Saturday after Cabo. Cold and salt-water, but that's no big deal for me. We went on the waterslide probably 25 times. It was fun, but the pool is too small for anything else. It's best used for cooling off periodically while hanging out drinking on deck. If you like that sort of thing. There is a smaller pool and two jacuzzis on deck 11 aft, but we didn't use these.
Boring. The adults-only comic was funny, but that's it. The shows were boring, the talks were boring, and there didn't seem like there was much to do. During the sea days, the pool was semi-crowded, but the rest of the ship was deserted. We went on to find (by asking around) that a lot of people were just hanging out in their rooms because they were bored. We did that a fair amount too, which means that inside room came back to bite us in the end. The bars were boring, and the only time I saw people in the disco was during a kids-only event.
I loved it. It was a little flashy, but that's fine on a cruise. I thought the look was great, and some of the art and decor was amazingly well-crafted.
No problems at all. We took our luggage out by hand, because I had an exam to take at 11, and didn't want to have to wait for my luggage, but I don't think it would have been a problem anyway. We were off the ship by 9AM, with maybe 10 minutes total spent in line.
I can't recommend this cruise to anyone. It seemed like the older crowd resented the younger party people, and the younger crowd was forced to drink and be loud to entertain themselves. Even though the Monarch was an older ship, we had a MUCH better time on our RCCL cruise. If we could take a cruise with the same itinerary, from San Diego, on the Monarch, I would do it again in a heartbeat. As it it, there was no aspect of the cruise, except embarkation/debarkation, that was better on the Elation. I'll give Carnival another chance, maybe, but just one more. I don't expect a refund or anything from Carnival, but I was terribly unsatisfied with this cruise. So, if you're on the fence about this cruise, I say look elsewhere.