This may be long and boring to many, but I receive a great deal of information from these boards and reviews before a cruise and want to do whatever I can to contribute and reciprocate.
My wife and I were cruising to celebrate our 20th Anniversary. This was her 4th cruise and my 3rd (all on Carnival) and our first trip on the Elation.
We arrived at the parking garage around 11AM and only had to wait in line a short time before proceeding into the luggage drop off area. This is where extra caution on my part got me in trouble.
I had placed luggage tags on my carry-ons just in case I accidentally became separated from them on the ship. So when I pointed out my two suitcases to the porter, I went to get a garment bag to pass to him without noticing that he also took the largest of my carry-on bags. I did not become aware until after I had parked and looked for it; naturally it was the bag that contained our passports and boarding pass, all conveniently located in an outside zipper for quick access.
We returned to the baggage area and explained our plight. I saw the bins with our cabin group listed but was not allowed access to search. It was just as well because it had apparently already gone back. A supervisor/manager took all of the information (sure, it's a black carry on bag) and in this case, I was saved by having the luggage tag on it. He was able to retrieve it and return it to us with only a short worrisome delay. I was prepared to give a generous tip but he refused it.
From there, we stood in the slow moving lines until being processed to board the ship. My first pleasant surprise was that we were able to find an empty table on deck. We grabbed some burgers from the lido deck buffet and sat among our bags, already much relaxed. In almost no time, our rooms were ready and we unpacked before exploring the ship.
We had an oceanview room on the Main deck located mid ship and only a few steps to the elevator. I could not have asked for anything better; there was plenty of room for the two of us. We especially enjoyed the shower which had plenty of pressure and hot water.
Our steward, Anak, was friendly and greeted us in the hallway whenever he saw us. He was one of those magical stewards who seem to rush in whenever you leave the room and gets everything in order before you return. There were always mints and a towel animal waiting on a turned down bed each evening. Our ice bucket was filled each evening but there were two occasions where I had to ask for some during the day. Both times I had hardly hung up the phone before he was there for it.
We learned he is from Indonesia and has a 10 month old son that he keeps up with on Facebook.
We loved the Elation. We have sailed on the Miracle and the Holiday and were very pleased with this ship. It was small enough to see the same people over and over and exchange greetings, but it never felt crowded. It was also very easy to navigate.
We also discovered that the decorations weren't quite as garish as I've come to expect. The dining rooms, including Tiffany's on Lido deck, were appealing to the eye and the themes found in Duke's Piano Bar, Romeo and Juliet Lounge, the Mark Twain Library and the Atrium were a lot of fun.
We were disappointed that the new shows were not prepared for this voyage. We did attend the farewell performance of the Vegas style song and dance review which was probably the most "spectacular" but was looking long in the tooth.
The other acts were flown in. We enjoyed the one man Motown tribute. Other acts were a juggler, ventriloquist (his comedy was quite good, but then his act, like his partner, was a little wooden) and another comedian so bad that I walked out - something I've never done before. He wasn't offensive, just not funny. We have never attended a "Legends" show, so I can't give any input there.
Steve, the CD was also more understated than expected. He was friendly enough, but never really made himself known and served more as an Emcee than anything else. We did see one dancing interaction he hosted which was quite funny, but for the most part, he was too low key and his daily show was painful to try to watch. Perhaps we caught him on an off week
We did not bring our children on this cruise but Camp Carnival and the teen clubs seemed to be well attended and they looked like they were having fun.
There were all the usual games and activities that we either participated in or saw from the sidelines. I did not see any of the Lido Deck games but did win my first ship on a stick in Name that Tune.
The buffet on the deck and the dining in Tiffany's (both on Lido) seemed to get us through quickly and we never had problems finding a seat. The food was plentiful and good and there was always ice cream.
Our evening meals (and breakfast when we could) were always taken in the main dining room. We had early dining in the Imagination Dining Room which worked well for us.
We were a bit surprised to find ourselves at a table for two. We enjoy meeting new people, but decided not to request a change. After all, it was an anniversary cruise and the setting gave us opportunity for many unrushed and uninterrupted conversations. Our headwaiter was Hector and he was very attentive and friendly.
I'm a notoriously picky eater with an uncultured palate, and I had no problems finding a starter and main course each evening. There was one evening that I chose a flat iron steak off the "classic" menu, but otherwise, I got to sample a lot of different meals. Yes, some were better than others, but I was always rewarded with Chocolate Melting Cake at the end.
We wanted this cruise to relax and my wife always looks forward to a meal where someone places a napkin in her lap, brushes away any crumbs, and does not expect her to prepare food or wash dishes, so it certainly fit the bill.
I'll admit, I was grateful that the dining room "shows" were all by the servers and they did not expect us to participate, although it can be fun to watch. I'm far too much of a wallflower, myself.
PORTS OF CALL
This was our first opportunity to visit Progreso and we booked a tour of Uxmal through Autoprogreso before the cruise. After going over the four mile pier, we were deposited into a shopping area where the vendors were persistent, but did accept a polite "No, thank you". We looked at a few items and my wife picked up an embroidered blouse for herself before time for us to leave on the excursion.
There were only twelve in our group and our guide gave us insight into the Mayan culture and information about the pyramids before we arrived. Once on site, she gave us a tour of all the main structures and then provided ample time for touring on our own.
It was an incredible place and we were happy to have an opportunity to see it in person.
Unfortunately we were racing Hurricane Paula to Cozumel. We were told in advance that we would arrive and depart an hour earlier than originally planned. The skies were clouding up and there was some light rain that morning.
We had booked a day at Playa Uvas and were looking forward to it since we had never been before. I knew that my snorkeling would be unavailable since a few Carnival excursions had already been canceled by that time, but thought we may still enjoy a few hours in the loungers and have a good meal. Unfortunately, when we arrived we were told that the club was preparing for the storm and was not even going to open the kitchen that day. So our excursion in Cozumel consisted of round trip cab fare.
However, we made the best of it. I walked from Puerto Maya to a nearby geocache so that I could claim a find in Mexico and then we spent some time in the shopping area. True, I spent more money in Del Sol than I would have otherwise, but still not as much as we would have at the beach club. We spent most of the day relaxing on the ship. I enjoyed a round of miniature golf that afternoon.
Ironically, the weather cleared and the afternoon was sunny but we did not leave the ship again.
That night was the only time the ships rocking was really noticeable, but it really wasn't bad at all. Overall, the voyage was a very smooth one.
We were only going about an hour away to spend the day with relatives so we were in no hurry to disembark. We set our luggage out the night before and were in one of the last zones to be called. Unlike previous cruises, we did not see passengers crowding the stairwells and getting in the way of everyone. It looked like Carnival did a smooth job of getting passengers off the ship.
We grabbed a porter in Mobile and were quickly taken through customs and back to our vehicle. It was all very easy and painless.
We participated in a Roll Call thread for several weeks prior to our cruise and looked forward to meeting the people we had been talking to for so long. We had arranged a meet and greet on the Serenity deck the first day and it was a pleasure to bump into them during the week so that we already had friends on the ship.
There were times we were in an area where someone had drank too much but didn't run into it too much and thankfully were not forced to go through the casino or other smoking areas to move from point to point on the ship, so we were always comfortable and never felt rushed for any schedule.
I'm sure there were things that could have been better, but our whole point of this cruise was to take some time to ourselves and just be able to relax. In that regard, we could not have been more pleased and will likely sail on the Elation again.