Cruise June 28-July 3. This is our 5th cruise, 4 with Carnival and one with RCCL. This is our second time to sail with the Elation, the first one about 6 years ago. This is the first time we cruised with the rest of the family besides my DH and 2 kids. It was a family reunion and by far the best and most enjoyable family reunion so far. There were 24 of us ranging from 8 months - 73 years old.
We drove from Vegas the day before and stayed at my mother's house which is about a 2 ½ - hour drive to San Diego. We left early around 8 am on sail day to drive down to San Diego thinking about the horror stories I heard about the traffic that you encounter driving down there etc.
We reached San Diego at 10:30, which tells me I am officially on vacation because of the "no stress" factor driving down the California highway. We parked our car at the Park N Go lot (I went online 3 days before and found out they were offering an online coupon of $2.50 which brought down the per day parking fee to $7.50). Waited for the free shuttle bus to take us to the port and was ready to board the ship by 11:45. It would have taken less time only because there were 17 of us who drove down together to San Diego and it took 2 shuttle busses to haul everybody to the port. Whew...Just make sure you have your funpass done beforehand and you won't have any problem.
The 4 of us got a VIP boarding pass since we cruised with Carnival before. I thought you only get the VIP when you have a higher category cabin booked...not so. I don't know why we got VIP, but I am not about to complain. So off we went to Lido deck to eat our first supper. Got our luggage before we even set sail. Got to see the ship sail during/right after the muster drill, how's that for timing.
I'm not going to comment much about the ship because I'm sure everybody read most of the member reviews which amount to almost the same comments with slight variations on their opinions, but nevertheless you get the gist of it. I didn't see anything different from when we cruised with this ship 6 years ago. Carnival did a great job in maintaining this almost 10 year old ship. The bed is very comfortable, I just want to point that out. Our room steward Marlon did a great job. We were on the Main deck aft - expect heavy vibrations when they're anchoring at Cabo. If you're not awake already, this would be your wake up call.
Entertainment- coming from Vegas, I'm kind of biased about their Vegas style shows. For me it was ok. The 2nd show actually bordered on being boring. It might be the sound system, but the woman singer (I forgot her name) was either screaming or can't hear some of the notes she's singing. Course that's just my opinion. The hypnotist was funny, but his late night show the 2nd night was a disaster. There were some drunk audiences that just ruined the show for him.
Cruise Director - Tina Noble has only been with the Elation ship for 3 weeks. She tried her best, but nobody can compare with John Heald. I'm just jaded I guess.
Food - Melting chocolate cake, double yum, Tiramisu...to die for, but alas it was only on the menu for one night. Everything else was ok, had seconds on lobster night. Short ribs was good. Our head waiter Janell and his assistant Joel were great. Try working from 7 am - midnight everyday for 7 months and they still make you feel like you're the only passenger they're serving...I give them a big round of applause and a pat on the back. Our last supper was happy and sad at the same time.
Cabo San Lucas- booked my DH and son an ATV tour through cabosanlucastours.net. Saved 50 % off the price compared to ship price. The only advice, book the early tour 0930 because their ride to pick them up from the meeting place ran late (11:40 became 12:05), hence the tour ran late. Gave my DH heart palpitations for a while there thinking they won't make the embarkation at 4:15 pm after the tour. He made sure they got dropped off first before the other passengers. All in all it was fun. There were a lot of tours being offered from vendors right when you get off the tender boat. One man offered a glass bottom boat tour for 45 minutes for $10 a person, some offered water taxis to Medano beach. I opted to just shop since I've been to Cabo before. Had the usual full head braid done on my daughter for $10. I know I'm robbing this people off their livelihood.
Ensenada- watch out for those chicklet boys. Found this restaurant that offered $1 fish taco and $1 beer. Fish taco was good. Fresh Sea bass, battered and fried. It's an actual restaurant with clean restroom. It's a Brazilian restaurant called Puntacan or something and you even get a waiter imported from East L.A. named Hector. If you're really insisting on seeing the blowhole, they offer a tour for $15 to take you there and give you time to shop and take you back to downtown Ensenada afterwards. Just a thought.
Sea days- the usual hairy chest contest. It was just nice to lay out and relax. Water was ok the first day, 2nd sea day was windy and water really cold. DH went for Karaoke one night, alas was not picked for the talent show as Ricky Martin :) Stayed away from the casino (needed a break from the cha-ching cha-ching).
Debarkation - had the luggage out the night before. Had our breakfast at 830. They had numbered tags for people who didn't have an early flight. We were #19 out of 25 or 30 I think. Was out of there at 915-930. Customs was a joke, they just looked at our passport, made sure our pictures matched our faces, took our customs form and off we went (took about 30 seconds for the 4 of us to go through). Then viola we went to #19 slot and all our luggage were there. Took the shuttle back to the parking lot, and our vacation was over.
Overall it was a fun vacation. A great way to be with your family you haven't seen in months. I always had a great time with Carnival. It's really up to a person to make their vacation as enjoyable as possible. Nothing is perfect and if you're a nitpicking type of person, this cruise is not for you. If you're looking for a bargain, spur of the moment vacation plan, this is for you.