Embarkation: We drove from Louisiana and arrived at around 10:30 a.m. We literally drove straight up to the parking garage and were third in line at that time. I noticed a dog sniffing cars in the second line, but not in ours there was also security with a metal detector. I thought they would check all the cars but they did not. Our car didn't get checked at all. We proceeded to unload our luggage and parked. There was no line at this point until we got in the terminal. The wait was minimal and we were issued a zone ticket. Cruisers were welcomed by a woman who called out zones at about 11:20 by 11:30 were in Tiffany's eating our first of 21+ meals. Rooms were ready at exactly 1:30 p.m.
Word to travelers who have been on bigger and newer ships Elation is a beautiful ship BUT it is showing its age in certain areas. For the price we paid for three people for seven days I think we got our money's worth. Carnival better not charge any more for Elation until they refurbish.
Stateroom: We love Empress level on the Fantasy class ships because you have the grand staircase, guest services and piano bar right there. We were in the front of the boat and did notice rocking, but we noticed rocking all over the boat especially in Tiffany's at night. Our cabin was very spacious for three people. We separated the beds to have more room. This gave everyone a place to sit or stand comfortably. This is where I know the ship is aging. Everything was very clean 24/7 but it's an older room that needs updating. We did have a flat screen TV. Bathroom tile was clean but is showing its age. Bring your own TP if you want something soft. We saw our cabin steward every day and he called us by name a few minutes after boarding. We tipped him extra just for doing that. Our only complaint was the lighting. It was ocean view but at night when you wanted light the entire cabin lit up with the main switch which was too much light but the individual lamps did not give enough light. This was a minor inconvenience. When we arrived our cabin was humid. We told the cabin steward and by the time we got back from exploring the ship it was freezing. Thanks Darwin.
Food: I personally thought the food was excellent. We are from Louisiana but found the food to be quite good. We spoke with a lot of people on the ship but did not feel like being bothered with dining with strangers so we opted not to eat in the main dining room. Some people like it and that's cool we don't like it so we didn't. The buffet, lido deck grill and room service were all we needed. My husband found the Mongolian grill to be just what he wanted so we added that to our selections. We didn't eat any hamburgers, hot dogs or pizza because we can get that at home. The Black forest cake and key lime pie were excellent. Shrimp and crab cakes rounded out the end of the trip. There was a chocolate buffet one day which was good for those of us who love chocolate. There was a Mexican buffet one night. I think this took the place of the traditional midnight buffet. So much food to choose from and all prepared well. Room service was fast and the people were very courteous.
Entertainment/Activities: The entertainment by the Carnival dancers/singers was okay, nothing better than we had seen on previous ships. I thought the Fantasy had a better show. The singers needed work. Husband and daughter took in the hypnotist act. I didn't because I don't like hypnotist routines. Comedic Juggler was funny and Marcus Anthony's sets were very good. He is a good singer who took us back to the days of Motown. The last night was the Carnival Legends. Passengers auditioned early in the week to portray Aretha Franklin, Elvis, Garth Brooks and others with a Frank Sinatra finale. I loved it. Some of them sang better than the hired singers. Past guest party was good. Free drinks were plentiful but snacks were scarce. There were also free drinks for the farewell party but no snacks at all. We went to the art auction for the first time. Last time we just did the preview but this time we actually attended. My daughter won a five dollar casino credit which we used to play one hand of black jack with and won the five dollars back in cash.
Children on the Ship: I know its summer and kids are out but Carnival HAS GOT TO DO SOMETHING about kids running around 24/7 UNATTENDED. Parents today will not do it so somebody has to say something. My husband and I are both teachers and we have worked with students for over 20 years so we know kids want to have fun but I know parents reading this need to know that you are on your vacation just like me. Mothers, how can you have your 8-14 year olds running around the ship day and night unsupervised? We overheard one little girl say that her mother was "knocked out" in the cabin. If you are not afraid of would be perverts taking your kids then you will just have to live with what happens, oh yeah you are the type who thinks that it will never happen to them huh. I am not the only one who feels this way I saw many strangers disciplining other people's children for being too loud while we were trying to enjoy an activity. One little boy's foot got caught on the back of my chair and he fell right next to me. I gave him my teacher's glare that could cut glass and he stopped running. This was in the buffet area. I can't wait until we retire so we can cruise when the kids are in school. Camp Carnival seemed well organized but the other Carnival Club activities pre teens and teens seemed to have them all on scavenger hunts 24/7 and the kids seemed to be in groups but unattended.
Ports: Jamaica was beautiful. We ate breakfast outside on the ship. Clear weather, cool and breeze. We chose not to venture beyond the port area. For those who love Jamaica more power to you but we heard far too many negative stories and decided not to go past the terminal. When we were leaving one woman said that she had been to Jamaica four times twice by plane and twice by boat but this would be her last time getting off the ship. The begging has gotten out of control and that this time there was a desperation in the begging that unnerved her. It unnerved me just hearing her recount her experience. Grand Cayman was extraordinarily beautiful and felt safe. 7 mile beach was good. We were going to go by taxi but chickened out and at midnight went to guest services and booked the beach excursion. First time tendering was nerve wracking. Water was the bluest blue I had ever seen. The excursion was not worth the money, but for the peace of mind I won't complain. The "cool drink" that's advertised in the excursion description is actually a cool can of soda or a cool bottle of water. The beach area was packed but the tour company was good at helping get lounge chairs and umbrellas set up which is included in the price. We were supposed to get a ticket and get one cool drink, but someone lost track of giving tickets and the tour helpers were so busy that as long as you had a yellow wrist bracelet you could help yourself to what you wanted. It was storming when we got to Cozumel and had had enough of the beach for one day so we waked around the port area in the drizzling rain. Next time we go I want to try Paradise beach we did Playa Mia (which my family has playfully nicknamed Flya Mia) last time.
Fitness and Recreation: We used the fitness are for the first time on any vacation ever. The equipment was great. All in working condition. We went at odd times to avoid having to wait. A variety of machines are available. There is a free sauna/steam room but we did not use it, nor did we have any of the spa services. We are saving that for next time.
Disembarkation: We did not self assist. There was no rush to get back to Louisiana. And, after seven days we were too tired to carry so much stuff ourselves. We ate a leisurely breakfast and then went back up to get our few carry offs. We stayed in the Empress level elevator area until our section was called to disembark. That was smooth sailing until we hit the Mobile Terminal. Mobile I love your city but your terminal leaves a lot to be desired. Why is there NO air conditioning in a southern U.S. terminal? I know we weren't in there for long time but it was sweltering in there. Everyone had to travel down one slow escalator and then the real confusion started. Imagine hundred of people trying to all get luggage at the same time, sweating. Not a good sight. Once you grabbed your luggage there were directions on what to do next. We then moved to customs in what would have been a long winding line until my husband caught the attention of a terminal employee who looked like he knew what he was doing, told the employee that we were a family of there and got him to let us through. I don't know why this worked, but it did. From there we went on an unorganized elevator wait to level 2 found our vehicle and headed home. Elation is a good ship. Great trip for the price, but I would have hated to have paid a dime more without it being updated. Next time I will do early saver and try to rack enough onboard credits to at least pay for the gratuities on the Sail and Sign card. I didn't learn about this until after I had booked as a past guest.