Carnival Elation, 4 night, San Diego - Cabo San Lucas
This was our first Carnival cruise. We selected this cruise for a quick getaway and on the departure port. We live in Tucson, and it is a quick 5 hour drive to San Diego. We drove in the day before to avoid rushing around like idiots the day of departure. We stayed in the Comfort Inn at Mission Bay, which was fine. We drove to the parking lot around 10:30 a.m. and parked at Park & Save Lot 7. They had a free shuttle to the pier. We dropped off our luggage with the porter and checked in, which was super quick. We left the pier to meet a friend and returned around 1:30 p.m. There was quite a long line at that time, but it was no problem boarding.
CABIN We went directly to our cabin to settle in. We were in cabin U61, which is on deck 6 and a little forward. We had a lovely window and the bed was really comfortable. Frankly, the cabin was ugly. Ugly colors (red, gray, and peach), and the dEcor was pretty dated. What was weird though, was the lifejacket box was situated in such a way that the person sleeping closest to the window would have to crawl over the other person sleeping, because that stupid box was blocking the way. My husband stepped on me a few times in the middle of the night. The cabin was clean and had plenty of storage. The shower had body gel and shampoo. There was also a dish with random stuff in it...disposable razors, soap, Pepcid, and Metamucil chews. Bring your own hairdryer. We had towel animals and turndown service every night, with the exception of the last night. We did receive our luggage tags, but no other information was provided regarding debarkation. We figured it out though. There was some hallway noise, but nothing too bad. We were near the elevators, which was nice, but probably added to the hallway noise.
POOLS This ship has 3 pools. A main pool on Lido deck, a kiddie-pool (we didn't check that out), and an aft pool. The aft pool and hot-tub seemed nice and quiet. The main pool was a total zoo on sea day 1. The weather was beautiful and the water was warm enough. My husband and I went on the waterslide several times, which was fun! The water is salt water, so close your eyes before going under. Ouch...It sure did burn. There was loud music and a lot of people were pretty drunk. We were unable to find 2 deck chairs together, so we sat at one of the bars, instead. We tried to go to the aft pool on the 2nd sea day, but the weather had turned and it was too windy and cold, so we bundled up by the main pool for awhile, which was pretty quiet due to the lousy weather.
BAR This ship has plenty of bars. The bartenders were great and I felt poured a fair drink. My husband was happy with the beer selection - he is a homebrewer, so good ol' American style (rice & corn) beers just won't cut it for him. He enjoyed Pilsner Urquel, Sam Adams, and Boddington's. We were able to bring some wine on-board with us, as well. One night, we were charged a $10 corkage fee in the dining room, and another night we were not charged the fee.
FOOD This ship has 2 main dining rooms on deck 8, one forward, and one aft, the Lido Grill (outside), and the Tiffany Bar & Grill (buffet). There was also a sushi bar available from 5-8p.m. and High Tea on sea days. I did not expect anything wonderful food wise on this cruise and I did not get anything wonderful food wise on this cruise, either. I did not go hungry, but I thought the food left something to be desired. I felt that the food on Royal Caribbean was better and the food on Holland America was WAY better.
The Lido Grill has good hamburgers and veggie burgers. The Tiffany buffet is huge. The layout of the food is scattered, so best to check everything out first. There was 24-hour soft serve ice cream/frozen yogurt, which I enjoyed. There is a pizza station as well. I have yet to find good pizza on a cruise ship, and again, this was no exception. That being said…My husband and I had a slice every afternoon around 4 p.m. anyway. We did not eat breakfast here. We ate lunch here only 1 day, and found it just o.k. I thought the sushi bar was a nice thing, but my husband didn't think too much of the sushi. The tea was very crowded, loud, and NOT elegant at all. But, I did get my husband to go with me, and maybe he'll go to another afternoon tea.
Imagination Dining Room… We ate breakfast in the dining room daily. We found the food and service to be good for breakfast. We had the late 8:15 seating. We were at a table for 10. The first night, there was only 1 other couple. The second night (elegant) the couple from the first night weren't there, and 2 other couples (who were travelling together) were there. This evening was a bit tough for us. One of the gentlemen (I use that term very, very loosely) was really drunk/obnoxious and insisted on buying shots of liquor for the entire table and poured wine that we didn't want either. He kept joking about how we weren't going to come back to the table the next night, and he was right. We didn't. Our waiter was helpful and re-seated us the following 2 nights. We enjoyed our new table mates and had interesting conversations about travel and art. Overall, the service was attentive and good, although it would have been nice to see the sommelier. Perhaps there isn't one onboard.
There was a nice selection on the menu. I opted for vegetarian dinners twice (I'm not a vegetarian) and thought the best meal I had on board was the Indian Dinner. The pumpkin soup was really good and of course, the chocolate melting cake. YUMM-O!
SPA/GYM The spa rooms looked nice. We did not get any spa treatments this time. The gym had nice, new equipment. I took an early morning stretching class after working out which was nice. I was the only one there! My husband and I participated in the On Deck for the Cure walk. There was a great turnout and we had fun too.
ENTERTAINMENT Stu was the cruise director and I am pretty sure that he doesn't ever sleep! He was out late and up early. He has a fun and engaging personality and seems to really enjoy his job. There were the regular cruise ship activities - art auction, trivia, bingo, mixology, dance classes, and the hairy chest contest. There were the big production shows (didn't see any of them), comedian, and hypnotist. We enjoyed the hypnotist show. Our absolute favorite though…the Blue's Show. This was in the Drama bar and was great live music. Overall, it seemed that people were having a good time.
CABO SAN LUCAS Cabo is a tendered port. We got into line for the tender around 9:00 a.m. and were on the tender in about 20 minutes. It was a beautiful ride to the pier. It was extremely hot and humid. There is a nice boardwalk, but as usual in Mexico, plenty of street peddlers with their junk! I just say No Gracias and move on. I've been to Mexico so many times that I don't even need to look anymore. We actually missed our privately booked shore excursion because of the time difference. We weren't aware of the time change and when we got back to the ship, we scoured the printed info and found nothing that indicated that there was a time change. It's my own fault for not checking ahead of time, but I think that the ship should provide easy access (like in a Caper) to local port time. We were so disappointed and didn't have enough cash on hand to pay a local for another excursion. We made our way to Cabo Wabo and had a few drinks. We then walked back to the pier, got on the tender (no waiting) and enjoyed the views of Cabo from the ship. We'll be going back in a few months, so we'll do some of the water activities then.
DEBARKATION Very fast. Very Easy. We were group 8, but didn't get off until group 12 was being called. It was a few minutes in a line on deck 3 to get off the ship. We handed our Immigration slip to the Border Security and that was it. No passports were shown, no questions asked. You can make up your own mind about Homeland Security. We were in the car and on the freeway at 9:30 a.m.