This was our 8th cruise, 7th with Carnival. My husband and I are in our late 40's and traveled with our 14 year old son who was on spring break. We wanted a short cruise to ports we have never been to and this itinerary fit what we were looking for.
We flew into San Diego the morning of our cruise arriving before 10:00 AM. The airport is only two miles from the port, we hopped onto our hotel shuttle which is across the street from the cruise terminal, since we were early we had time to check out the Holiday Inn where we had a room reservation when we returned from our cruise. We noticed many people who were checking out were also going on the same cruise as us. It was convenient to simply walk across the street to the terminal. We arrived at 11:30 and they were already allowing guest to board the ship, we traveled light, each having only a carry on. It was a easy embarkation and were on the ship before noon, we arrived just in time because I noticed the line quickly grew. We found a table in the corner on the Lido deck so we had a place to put our three carry on bags and enjoy our lunch from the Lido Grill. At 1:30 our cabin was ready.
We had a ocean view cabin on the main deck towards the AFT of the ship. The location was fine since we didn't have many ocean views to choose from. I rather stay towards the AFT of the ship rather than the front. It was a good cabin for the three of us. We had a king size bed which was very comfortable and our son had a bunk which could be folded back into the wall. Plenty of storage room. Our cabin stewart did a great job keeping our cabin clean and our ice bucket filled, we only saw him the first day.
The only complaint I would have is they didn't give us our requested early dining time, instead they had us at the 8:15 PM late dining, other cruises when this happened it never was a problem, I would go and speak to the the maitre d' and they would take care of it. Not this cruise, he would not change it for us or anyone else. It's take what you get, if you don't like it go eat at the buffet. Eating in the dining room is a big part of the cruise that I enjoy but eating so late and with our time zone change it was like eating at midnight by the time you got your food. The food in the dining room in the evening was average, I noticed with Carnival every year the dining room food served in the evening the quality of food isn't as good. That is our only two letdowns, everything else was great on this cruise. Our waiter Juan did a excellent job serving us. For breakfast each morning we ate in the dining room and the service and food were great. Never had to wait. For lunch we ate at the Lido Grill, Mongolian, sandwich station, pizza or at the buffet. Everything was good with so many foods to choose from. Our day at sea they had a chocolate buffet which was excellent. Other cruises they would always have this while we were at a port. Don't forget their soft serve ice cream it's the best for a anytime treat.
Because of our late dining time we missed the "Welcome Aboard Show" the first night and "Rhythm" show the second night. But we were able to enjoy the third nights show "The Magic of Bobby Borgia" and comedian "Seth Buchwald" which were both great. The forth night "Spin" was a great show as well. It was nice that the last two nights they have the late dining shows at 7:00PM so we were able to enjoy them. As for other entertainment on the ship we never had a chance to listen to any of the bands, yet they had plenty of entertainment going on. We didn't participate in any of the games on this cruise. Instead we enjoyed relaxing in the sun.
Catalina Island is a beautiful island which we tender to. We didn't book any excursions through the ship instead we did our own thing. We rented a golf cart for three hours (third hour is free) to explore the beautiful area. We also visited Wrigley Memorial & Botanical Garden on our golf cart tour. After we returned the golf cart we still had plenty of time to visit many of the shops in town.
Ensenada, Mexico we booked a tour through the ship, there were not many tours to chose from but we chose the Wine Country Tour which lasted 5 hours. We boarded a nice coach bus which took us through the country side to the beautiful wine country. We visited two different wineries: Casa Pedro Domecq and L.A. Cetto. At both wineries we were given a tour and enjoyed wine tasting along with delicious cheese and bread. Included with this tour each guest receives a bottle of wine. Our tour guide Selene was very knowledgeable and was able to answer any questions we had about the wine tour and her country.
Since we only had our carry on bags we didn't need to set them outside of our cabin door at night. We were given a number and when they called our group number that was when we were to disembark. Our number was 21 so it was 9:30 AM when our number was called, it would of been nice if we could of just stayed in our cabin till our number was called but by 8:30 they wanted us out so they could get the cabin ready for the next group of cruisers. That hour of standing around waiting for our number seemed like forever. But once it was called we walked right off the ship in a matter of minutes across the street to our hotel the Holiday Inn which we were able to check in right away and also they have a computer to use to check in and print out airline tickets for our next morning flight, which we conveniently took their shuttle back to the airport. Enjoyed this clean hotel and the employees were friendly and helpful.
If you are looking for a short inexpensive cruise you will be happy sailing with the Elation. San Diego is a great port city to cruise from.