We are just off the Elation. Here are my impressions.
Typically, we cruise Holland America. No, we are not old. We just enjoy the elegance and service.
We'd sailed the Elation before, and the first time we sailed her, we experienced some culture shock. Carnival simply does not have the same elegance that Holland America has. It is a very different cruiseline. It is more of a college-party-like atmosphere. In fact, our first time aboard her, we got stuck with loud, falling down, obnoxious drunks for dinner. I remember that I was about to deck a guy at dinner after he tried to stick his tongue in my wife's ear.
We thought that we'd never sail Carnival again. However, we got a gonga of a deal. That was how we came to sail the Elation a second time.
This time, we got room E126, a window room, right by the elevators, and very close to the atrium bar. This was a great location. The room was much like I remembered: orange and gray. I think that that has to be the oddest color combination very obnoxious. It also has this large box that holds the life-jackets in the corner by the bed. It is a bit awkward because whoever sleeps by the window has to climb over it in the middle of the night when nature calls. But, since we'd been on the ship before, all this was no surprise.
My wife and I have a tradition of drinking champagne for sail-away. We grabbed a bottle and two glasses and headed for the new, adults only, Serenity Deck. There we found a couple of deck chairs overlooking the back of the ship, and opened the bottle, and watched San Diego harbor go by and eventually disappear. One thing that I should note, however, is that the Serenity Deck is supposed to be adults only no kids. However, as we sailed away, there were plenty of kids there. I am not sure how well this in enforced.
The atrium bar is one of my favorite places on the ship. It was good that it was so close to our room. The bar sits at the bottom of a six story atrium, with a piano straddled by two curved staircases, between two glass elevators. After sail away, and before dinner, we spent some time there.
We were crossing our fingers at dinner the first night. Please no obnoxious drunks. Please no obnoxious drunks. To our pleasant surprise, our tables mates were quite nice. There were two younger couples, 20-somethings, and an older retired couple. And, thank God, none of them tried to stick their tongue in my wife's ear.
Dinner was quite like I remembered. No, it was not as good as Holland America, but it was not bad by any means. For instance, I remember having prime rib on board our last Holland America cruise aboard the Oosterdam. I remember thinking, this is so incredible! The Elation also had prime rib one night, too. It was good, but not incredible. I'm not sure what made it different. Was it the quality of meat, the marbling perhaps? Maybe, it was the was it was prepared. I simply do not know.
The one thing that Carnival has over Holland America, however, is the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake. That is awesome. I had it for dessert every night. I was told that if you ask for the recipe, they will give it to you. I tried twice throughout the trip, however, without any luck.
The day after sail-away, we went to Catalina. We took the tender into Avalon. Upon arriving, we made our way to a booth where we could rent golf carts. After renting the cart we took all over the hills surrounding Avalon. It was quite nice, and there were some incredible views.
The next day, we arrived at Ensenada. Of course, we could not get off the ship because of swine flu. That day, my wife and I went out on deck, on the second level, found some lounge chairs, and caught some rays. In fact, it was nice to see the sun. Most of the trip, the weather was quite hazy and gray.
That night, we saw the blues band on board. Really, in many ways, this was the highlight of the trip. It was a packed house in the Romeo and Juliet lounge standing room only. I guess that this is where Carnival and Holland America really differ. I mean, who would of thought that you could see a New Orleans style show on a ship. On Holland America, there are soft Jazz standards played for ballroom dancing. Here it was dark, smoky, and horns blaring, guitar and bass jamming, all character night and day, really. They did say, however, that the blues show was unique to the Elation, that no other Carnival ships have it. Too bad, because it really was something.
The last day aboard, we befriended a nice couple from California. We hung out with them all day, spending some time at the Drama Bar, and the Serenity Deck, in the hot tub. At night, we decided that we would like to have dinner with them rather than our regular table mates (not that we had anything against our regular table mates). The dining room staff was more than accommodating, finding us a table for four, even though we all had fixed dining at other tables.
Debarkation was easy. They had called our group before we even left our cabin. We did not even have breakfast. We just got right off the ship.
In the end, I have to say that this trip was much better than our first one aboard the Elation. We knew what to expect no surprises. Not to mention, we had much better table mates. All it all, it was a good time.