This is a review of our trip on the Carnival Cruise Ship Elation from 11 April to 18 April also known as the Easter Cruise. My wife Jennifer and I have been on four other cruises, two of those were also on Carnival Ships (Jubilee, Triumph). The reason I write a review is so I can briefly relive the cruise and so that my family and friends can see what we did during our cruise. This review is based on my opinion and that's not to say that every one of the 2200+ people also on board had the same GREAT TIME that we did. If you have any questions, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
EARLY MORNING DEPARTURE -
On 11 April, Departure Day, we had a 630 flight from St Louis, Missouri so that meant we were up long before that to drive there, nearly 2 hours. We had previously always flown in the day prior, but due to work constraints it was not possible this time. We arrived at the airport and had coordinated for Extreme Elegance (a limo company in Houston) to pick us up and transport us to the Port. Extreme Elegance did a good job on THIS end of the transportation; we were at the Port in no time at all. More on Extreme Elegance's performance on the last day of the cruise.
For us, embarkation was extremely smooth. Due to our early flight, we were at the terminal by 1015 and were the first ones there. They don't start doing anything til 1100, so we had some time to relax in the terminal. As soon as 1100 hit, we were walking through security and right to the FunPass Check In Counter. A few minutes later, we were directed to have a seat in the 'waiting to board' area. They weren't going to board til noon, so had some more time to relax in the terminal. By about 1130, there were a few hundred people in the terminal and it was starting to get busy, but it was an organized busy. At noon, we boarded. The neat thing I liked about that was, they boarded you in order of when you got there, so since we were early, we boarded nearly first. By 1215, we were on the Lido Deck having a Burger and some Fries.
We took advantage of Room Service plenty of times, mainly after the shows, right before bed. They always said it would take about 40 minutes, but there was always a knock on my door in about 5 minutes. Great room service menu.
OUR CABIN - Empress Deck 229
We had an ocean view cabin on the Empress Deck. Very clean cabin, beds were comfortable and our Cabin Steward - Widonna - was great. Everytime we stepped out of the room, he seemed to pop in the room, and make the beds, clean the room, and leave us another towel animal.
We ate in the dining room for all but one of the Dinner Meals. I thought the food was really good. And the service was good also. The 24 hour Pizzeria was great and very popular. The breakfast and the lunch buffets on the Lido Deck were always fast and very little lines. The food in Tiffany's Restaurant was really good. They have the buffet lines with an assortment of food and they also make fresh sandwiches and salads. At night time, they have an variety of snacks, including crepes (mmm). And of course they have the 24 hour ice cream machines.....
The SPA/GYM was pretty good. Lots of weight equipment and plenty of treadmills. They also have a running track on the top deck of the ship. The good thing about the Gym is it owns the only 2 hot tubs that the kids couldn't get too. Very peaceful Hot Tub, with a huge skylight.
OVERALL CONDITION OF THE SHIP
I think the ship looks great. Nothing stood out as in need of repair or painting. As usual, maintenance is always ongoing as with painting. But the ship looks great and is in top condition.
We attended all the shows, with exception of the midnight comedy shows. The Elation Dancers and Singers did a good job. We enjoyed all the shows. "LUBO" the balancer was great, balanced all kinds of things, and unfortunately for him it was the rockiest day we were traveling. He was balancing all sorts of things, with the ship rocking back and forth. He was good. The comedians on board were all pretty funny. Even the cruise director Larry Garlutzo did some singing. Overall some great entertainment! The Mikado Lounge was always crowded, but we always able to get a good seat if we went to get a seat about 10 minutes prior to the start of the show.
Nonstop activities. Each night we would look at the Carnival Capers and highlight what we wanted to do the next day. I'd say on average, we actually only did about half of what we highlighted; mainly because we became involved in something else going on. We took some golf lessons, played some trivia games, played some Bingo, took some tours of the ship and enjoyed the sun.
Let's not fool ourselves, the kids run the ship. It didn't bother us, some people were pretty annoyed about this on our trip. We think it's okay to get into an elevator with 3 or 4 kids (8 or 9 yrs old) who are running the elevator, all you do is tell them where you want to go and they'll get you to the right floor. That's harmless. The kids were always doing activities around the ship. Yes kids are loud and they do run down the hallway. The kids own the pools and hot tubs. We just don't see the problem with it.
I had previously been to some of the art auctions on board, mainly because of the free champagne and its fun to watch some folks bid and spend lots of money. Same thing for this cruise, free champagne and it was fun to watch folks bid and outbid. Except this time, one thing was different - I looked to my right and it was my wife bidding and outbidding............. ? Needless to say we came home with a few pieces of art.
PORTS OF CALL / EXCURSIONS -
PROGRESO, Mexico -
This port is very underdeveloped. But I do see great potential. I think if they add a couple of water activities to their excursion list, it will be a hit. Right now, the biggest reason for going here is the ruins. LOTS of folks went on tours to the ruins and from what I heard, they loved them. Jen and I decided not to take a tour at this port. Instead, we went into Progresso, shopped a little and then took the city bus to Merida, which is a large city about 15 miles away. We stayed in Merida no longer than an hour, went to an old church and that was about it. We were back on board by about 1pm. Which was fine also.
COZUMEL, Mexico -
Cozumel started out on a bad note, Larry Garlutzo announced that nearly all water excursions had been cancelled to due wind and rough seas.... You could hear the unhappiness throughout the ship. We had booked the Powerboat and Hideaway Beach Excursion. We walked to the shore excursion desk, which had atleast 100 people in line trying to change excursions, so not wanting to wait, we grabbed our snorkel gear, caught a taxi and headed to Chankanaab Park. We'd been there before and knew that they had plenty to do there. $10 for the cab and $12 for the entry fee. The seas were pretty rough alright. But by 10am, they had settled enough for the 'red flag' to be lowered and the 'yellow flag' to be raised. Snorkelers slowly ventured into the water and before you know it, there were lots of snorkelers out there. Jen and I decided to go for a dive. $35 and we were under the water. A few things to see there, only about 25 feet deep though. We went into the caves and saw some huge fish! A very good dive. At about 1pm, we decided to head back to the ship, change clothes and then do some shopping. We arrived back at the ship about 1:30 and found that all the excursions had been given permission to go ahead now. So I quickly found our Powerboat point of contact and before you know it, we were on the way to our excursion. Powerboat and Hideaway Beach excursion is supposed to have you drive your own boat (two seater) about an hour to a private beach do some beach activities and then drive your own boat back. Well due to the rough seas, we couldn't get to the private beach, so instead we just drove the boat in the local area for an hour or so. That was awesome, the seas were 4-6 foot rolling waves, so that made for some fun boating. We went airborne several times. AWESOME! After that we had some of the Mexican Buffet that they had set up for us, good food. And then to top that off, we went sailing and we learned how to Jib and Jive. That was fun too! Back to the ship by 5:30 and on our way to Belize at 6pm.
BELIZE CITY, Belize -
Belize was a tendered port, so we opted for the ship excursion again. This time we went diving. We did 2 dives at Turneffe Atoll. A great wall dive. Saw lots of sea life, including a huge Southern Ray, his wingspan was atleast 10 feet. Dove to a depth of 70 feet on the first dive and about 60 feet on the second dive. GREAT Dives! When we got back to the ship we hurriedly jumped on a tender for Belize City and did a little shopping before heading back to the ship.
Debarkation was a breeze. On Saturday, I went to the Purser's to get some "early off the ship" luggage tags (Orange), because we had an early flight from Houston (1:10pm). We put our luggage out in the hall just before going to sleep on Saturday night. On Sunday morning, we docked about 6am and we woke up about 7am. Our luggage tag color was called about 7:30 to go to the Cole Porter Lounge for immigration, which took a few minutes to wait in line and then show the Immigration Officials our proof of citizenship. Then we went to the Dining Room to have breakfast. We finished breakfast about 8:30am, took a quick last walk around the ship and just before 9am, they called our color and off the ship we were. Getting our luggage and clearing Customs was very easy. By 9am we were on the curb waiting for our ride from Extreme Elegance. Unfortunately their philosophy was first come first serve, regardless of reservations. So needless to say, they left with out us. This is our third time out of Galveston, so we expected the madness at the Galveston port. After some scrambling to get a ride to the airport, we made it in time for our flight. BUT I recommend that you do not use Extreme Elegance Limo Services.
In CONCLUSION -
We absolutely had a great time. The price for this cruise was perfect and due to the prices dropping after we booked, we got an upgrade. The ship is in top condition and the staff was always friendly and courteous. I wouldn't hesitate to book this cruise again.