We just got home from our 5 night cruise on Carnival Elation.
We flew into San Diego Monday morning and took a taxi to the ship, about 8-9$ fare for 4 of us. We arrived about 2pm, as we were taking our luggage out of our taxi, the ship's porters came right up and took our bags. There were others boarding at that time, but we never had to stand and wait, we were on the ship very quickly...I was impressed.
This was our 5th cruise, and the 3rd on Carnival. We have two daughters 17 & 20...Carnival wouldn't necessarily be our #1 choice of Cruise lines, but our girls really enjoy all the activities on the sea days. I was a bit concerned about this cruise after reading some reviews of the ship. My concerns were for naught...we had a GREAT time...I was expecting the ship to be noticeably worn out, but it looked fine. As had been mentioned, the theme of the cabins needs to be updated, but our quad-inside cabin was spacious for us, and the beds were very comfortable.
I heard the food was so-so...so I was pleasantly surprised when it was pretty good. The night before our cruise I had spent about $20 for a steak at a restaurant; the filet mignon on the first night on the ship was 100% better. Never had a bad meal once in the dining room. I think our waitress was the most friendly one we've ever had. The burgers from the grill were great, pizza was fresh and good, and they have a deli counter at the pizza grill too, you can get reuben sandwiches, turkey, etc...very nice. The buffets were pretty standard, but the omelettes to order for breakfast were really good.
Since we had only snorkeled in the Caribbean, I was concerned about the visibility of snorkeling in Cabo San Lucas. But again, I was not disappointed, we took an excursion in Cabo, and the water was so much clearer than I expected, and we saw so many different kinds of fish.
The shows were entertaining...the girls really like watching the dancers and all of their costume changes...they did a nice job.
The girls and I really enjoyed all of the on board activities, and they were excited to have won a couple of trophy's and medals...they were busy all the time!
I had read that Ensenada was dirty and gross and should be taken off the ship's itinerary, so again I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the shopping area was. We did the horseback riding excursion through the ship, and we had a lot of fun..
Some reviews complained about Carnival's photographers always trying to take your picture...they never seemed intrusive to me, and we all really liked finding our photos in the Photo gallery each day...and we purchased a very nice family photo from our formal night.
My one complaint would be that there was smoking allowed in some of the common rooms, so we didn't stay long in those areas :(
So as you can see from my review, I had very low expectations for this trip, we just thought it would be a little break from our snowy state, but in EVERY area, I was pleasantly surprised. For under $900 for the 4 of us, we definitely got our money's worth and then some! This was a great deal for the money, and we had a fabulous time!