Carnival Elation Cruise Review by spotsandfriday: Carnival Elation - Mexican Riviera
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Elation - Mexican Riviera
Destination: Mexican Riviera
Embarkation: San Diego
We traveled on the Elation 3-night itinerary that was originally scheduled to go to Ensenada. The itinerary changed a couple times due to the swine flu, resulting in a final itinerary of Ensenada one day and Catalina one day. This itinerary actually was better for us since we like to visit different ports.
The food on the Elation was good. Portions in the main dining room are small. Many passengers ordered two entrees, two appetizers, etc. Some dishes were very good, others just okay. The buffet dishes were good and consistent overall. My family liked the pizza at the 24-hour pizzeria. One thing we learned - when you first arrive in the dining room, the waiter asks if you want bottled water or sparkling water. These cost extra. You should ask for tap water if you don't want to pay the extra money.
Our room was on the Riviera Deck toward the back of the ship. When the ship was moving, it was pretty noisy. There was a loud hum and lots of vibration the whole time. For some More reason, when the ship was docking, we could hear other loud mechanical noises as well. But the room itself was decent. The televisions were old and had poor resolution. There were plenty of towels and bedding. There is no hair dryer in the room, so you'll need to bring your own if you need one. Amenities included soap, shampoo, and body wash. Each night we had a towel "animal" and piece of chocolate in our room.
My sixteen-year-old son and his friend who came along on this trip were not impressed at all with Club O2. We met a couple other families on the ship whose teenagers said the same thing about the teen clubs. Many of the teens hung out together in the public areas (hot tub, lounges).
The ship does rock back and forth when cruising. None of us got sick, but I can see where someone who is motion-sensitive might want to take some medication for the cruise.
Overall the entertainment was okay. A comedian one night, and Las Vegas-style revues the other two nights. It's worth sitting through after dinner.
Drinks (sodas, beer, wine, mixed drinks, juice) are expensive when you order them at any of the lounges. Drink what you can at the buffet. Purchase other drinks in port to bring back with you. And bring an initial stash of drinks with you when you board. Carnival allows a small cooler carry-on for this purpose. Less
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Port and Shore Excursions
Half of us went on the golf excursion through Carnival; the other half booked our own parasailing tour. When you arrive on the pier in Avalon, Catalina's main city, you can book all the same tours that are available via Carnival. The parasailing activity takes only 20-30 minutes and you're only actually in the air about 8 minutes. It's expensive - two parasailers plus one person riding along cost $150 plus tip.
The golf excursion is led by a Nike golf "pro" that Carnival has on each of its ships. The pro discusses equipment and instruction needs with the golfers so that everyone is well-prepared. He also offers tips and advice while out on the golf course. The excursion itself was $70 per person, plus another $35 per person for clubs, glove, and shoes. The excursion lasted about 6 hours.
Outside of the excursions, Avalon offers a three-block area of small shops and eateries. It is quaint and charming, but one would find it difficult to spend the entire day on Catalina.
We took the shuttle into town, but decided to take the tour out to La Bufadora, Ensenada's blowhole. It takes about 45 minutes just to get to the blowhole, and you'll spend a few minutes marveling at it. The rest of the time, you'll walk through a half mile of flea-market style shops. The whole trip took four hours, in spite of the promoters saying it was a two-and-a-half hour tour. We booked this tour on our own in Ensenada for ten dollars less per person than it was offered through Carnival.
Sellers are very aggressive and come out to the street to try to pull you in. We found this somewhat uncomfortable.
A word to the wise - bargain hard for anything you buy at the La Bufadora shops. Aim to pay 20% of the original price they quote you. For some reason, they throw out some really outrageous numbers ($43 for a plain leather belt), and it's up to you to stick to your guns and pay what you think it's worth ($13 in our case).
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