Hi All, following is a review of a four night cruise from SD with stops in Catalina and Ensenada. This is my 8th cruise, 6th with Carnival and second time on the Elation. Please don't get me wrong, I enjoyed this cruise, but have noticed a sharp drop in customer service and quality that I want to mention so that repeat cruisers will no what to expect. Also I must point out the extremely low rate I paid for this cruise, last minute at $129 plus tax and gratuities, I still feel I got a bargain for my vacation.
I took my Mother and 9 year old son on this one. For those with children, here is a run down on Camp Carnival. This was the first time my son wanted to spend more time with us and actually eat with us instead of the kids camp. On previous cruises, he spent most of his free time with the camp. This is probably just because he is older now. He liked some of the organized activities and pick and chose what he wanted to see. He stayed one night for the late night program which cost $12.00 for two hours. Money well spent to know he was supervised and in a safe environment. This ship was filled with groups of roving kids from 9 - Teens. Most of the time they were well behaved, but the Mom in me came out a few times and they responded well to requests to behave.
We chose anytime dining for the first time. It worked well, if you went when either the early or late dining was starting. When we went in between the two meals it seemed the staff couldn't handle bringing us appetizers while serving others deserts. First time my order was messed up more than once on Carnival. I missed the interaction with my nightly wait staff. You can request a certain waiter for anytime dining, but the good one we had was always full and we didn't want to wait. We probably should have for the better service. Adrian from Peru was the best.
As for food quality, this is where I notice a big difference in Carnival. Again, they are suffering in this economy like everyone else and this is one area where it showed. No creme brulee offered ever, the Grand Marnier Souffle was awful, no escargot, only flank steak and a lot of pathetic dried out food that I did not eat. The soups are all still good. The tiramisu, though not a proper tiramisu was the best desert I had.
The lido buffet was very hit and miss. The Mongolian Grill is a nice addition and tasty, but made to order and the lines were long. No smoked salmon on Lido for breakfast anymore, just some cheap lunch meat.
The entertainment was as expected. The shows were o.k. Only saw the family version of the comedian and thought he was funny. Heard many people walked out during the adult version because it was too adult. Lonnie in the Piano Bar was excellent as was the dance band in Romeo and Juliet. Unless you love rap music, skip the disco.
Cabin was fine. Had a roll away for my son for the first time, worked well. Our T.V. remote did not work, after five phone calls and asking my room stewart I finally took it to guest services and would not leave until they got me a new one. This was disappointing. I know it is only a remote, but I asked for three days and it was never taken care of.
Guest services also kept messing up our credit account and we kept having to bring our credit cards to the front desk to get re swiped. We both carry large limits on the cards so it was carnival's problem. It was embarrassing to have the dinner drink server ask for your card to pay for a glass of wine and it wouldn't work. Then try and use my Mom's card and it wouldn't work.
The ship itself is holding up well. They were usually cleaning it, and except for having to tell the spa staff to get their bathrooms clean, most of the ship was well kept. I especially appreciated the decor as I was on the Splendor last month and that ship looks like Liberace threw up pink zebra stripe everywhere. It is truly awful.
Disembark was fine as we have learned to grab coffee and sit on the Lido deck until everyone has been called and wonder off without the crowds at the end.