Oct. 31st, 2008 Elation 6 day sailing. Cabo San Lucas, La Paz, Ensenada. A bit of background, my husband and I are in our mid-40's, live in San Diego, so it's an easy and quick vacation get away. Embarkation was a piece of cake, we got there about 12:30...took about 10 minutes from the time the parking lot shuttle dropped us off, to having our first drink on Lido Deck. Very, Very quick and easy. Our room was ready by 1:30 and our luggage was outside our door before muster drill. This is our second sailing on Elation, our first one was August 07, which was also our very first cruise, so it was nice to come back to Elation.
The ship is indeed an older vessel, but once again I was very impressed with how sparkling clean and well maintained she was. I think it looked better than it did when we first sailed her last year. We had an oceanview room on Empress deck and loved the location. Right by the Atrium, yet amazingly quiet, which was a pleasant surprise. Our room was spotless and very welcoming, and our room steward was amazingly efficient, keeping our room well stocked with ice and fresh towels and towel animals every night. Sailing on Halloween was a total kick, the people watching was outstanding and the costume contest that evening had us all laughing. Very creative costumes! I thought we had an excellent mix of passengers on board, old, young, in-between and yes, many tattoos on the younger crowd, but everyone seemed to have fun without being obnoxious about it. There was a very good "vibe" on this sailing, people were friendly and talkative and I had many fun conversations with fellow passengers.
As for activities, Stewart Dunn did a GREAT job as cruise director. He was funny and seemed to really enjoy his job, and there was always something to do, if you wanted to. One thing we really enjoyed about Elation last time we were on her was all the excellent live music on board. Elation did not disappoint in that department, the Pure band in the Romeo and Juliet lounge was excellent, and we loved listening to them play. There was a New Orleans style blues band playing one night that was incredibly good, and we enjoyed Michael in the Dukes Piano bar, and the Atrium piano player was also excellent. The Hypnotist was REALLY funny and we caught both the "Family" show and the "R" rated show and really enjoyed him. The juggler/comedian one night was also very, very funny, and we enjoyed all the shows. Did not make it to any of the Cabaret style shows, but we saw them last time and they were ok, so passed on them for this cruise. The service, in my opinion was very good, you could always find a drink server poolside and the Dining room service was excellent. Kate and Ruslan were our servers and they were friendly, funny and very efficient. They took good care of us and we looked forward to seeing them every night in the Dining Room. I must also give major kudos to the Lido deck servers and staff. They kept the tables spotless and were constantly cleaning and tidying up. All the crew members work so hard, and I noticed and appreciated their efforts. The crew was also friendly and always had a smile for us.
Shore Excursions...We booked an independent tour in Cabo. I booked a snorkeling excursion thru Cabo San Lucas Tours, (Johann and Sandra), and once again, they came thru with flying colors, (I used them last year in Cabo and was very impressed with their service). We ended up with a "private" excursion, so there were 4 of us on this huge catamaran with open bar and lunch, and we had the whole boat to ourselves. It was truly a great tour, and we saw lots of fish when we snorkeled, which was cool. Definitely recommend using Johanna and Sandra's tour service, excellent communication and great value for the money. :) La Paz was gorgeous, love the "vibe" there, very laid back, no vendors bothering you and friendly, helpful people. We did a taxi tour of the city, but didn't have time to go to one of the resorts to snorkel or kayak which was a bummer. I really wish we had more time there, as it's a lovely port of call. Ensenada was "meh". We did an independent tour to La Bufadora (the blowhole) and we expected aggressive vendors and indeed the vendors were quite aggressive and actually turned us off to browsing in their shops, so we didn't buy anything, and just said "no gracias" to them all. The best part of Ensenada was the Mojito I had at Habana Bananas, now that was EXCELLENT! Otherwise Ensenada was pretty worthless as a port of call, in my opinion, and I"m very bummed that Elation's itinerary will be changing to Ensenada/Catalina in Feb. 09. Because of that change, we will probably never sail Elation again, which is a bummer. Carnival if you're reading this, know that for us "locals" in San Diego, (and pax from Arizona, Nevada and northern California feel the same way), that this is not a good itinerary change, and everyone I"ve spoken to thinks it's not a change for the better. As for the gym, I worked out one day, (meant to do more, but you know how that goes, lol)I also booked the Aroma Spa massage, which is a seaweed "detox" wrap with a foot, head and back massage and it was truly excellent and relaxing, and I was glad I did it. :)
Disembarkation was again quick and easy. We were #10 and were off the ship and thru customs in no time and on the dock waiting for our parking shuttle by 9:15 or so. In summary, I was definitely not disappointed with this cruise, the ship looks great, the crew is outstanding and the food overall was very good. It was a fantastic value for the money, and a fun, relaxing vacation.