My husband and I took a cruise on the Elation in January 2010. We are both in our early 50's and traveled without children. This was my ninth cruise with Carnival, fourth ship.
Embarkation was so much easier with this cruise. We stayed at the Admiral Semmes in Mobile, using the park and cruise package, so we were dropped off at the entrance by the hotel shuttle. We progressed through security, check in and then sat and waited on our section number to be called. This took about fifteen minutes and we were onboard by noon and having lunch on the Lido deck. We learned not to carry a lot of baggage with us through the embarkation process. We each checked one bag, and my husband carried on one backpack with our meds, my Kindle, sunglasses, and our paperwork, passports, etc. We saw so many people carrying around loads of stuff who wished they had less. We each wore a lanyard/badge holder, and quickly slipped our sail and sign cards in them, so they were always within easy reach anytime we left the stateroom or needed them onboard. To check in you will need your passport, boarding pass, and the credit card you set up your fun pass with online. You also will fill out a health form for each person while you are in line.
Ok, so once on the ship, I was looking forward to the mongolian grill. The first day it was excellent. I like beef or chicken with black bean sauce and a touch of barbeque sauce. For some reason, after the first day, they stopped carrying the noodles to go in it, and they got very skimpy on meat, but the first day it was great. Note: If this had been our first experience onboard with staff, we would have been very disappointed, as these guys who cook mongolian never smile and seem very annoyed all the time. Everyone else onboard is really nice.
Our cabin was ready by 1:30, as they stated, and our luggage came soon after. The muster drill was much easier than on previous cruises. They stopped having you drag your life preservers along. We just sat through the safety/evacuation talk which only took about fifteen minutes. Everyone is required to go to muster drill.
We were happy with our state room. We had dinner with someone who felt it was beneath them to stay in an inside room, but we have stayed in both oceanview and inside rooms and find we like the inside better. For one thing, it's very dark, which is great for sleeping late. We never miss the view, because we found even when we had an ocean view, we never looked out a window, but preferred to look at the view from the deck of the ship. If you want a "view", just turn your tv on to the camera shot off the front of the ship, turn down the volume, and you have a 24 hour view. :-) We stayed very little in our room anyway, except for sleeping. As usual, carnival beds and pillows are AWESOME.
We are "foodies" and found the dining room food was very good, although not as fancy as on some previous cruises. Some of our favorites included the Chateaubriand, Lobster and Prime Rib, Warm Chocolate Melting Cake, Grand Marnier Souffle, Cream of Broccoli Soup, Wild Mushroom Soup, crab cakes, and the Lobster Bisque. For lunch, we liked the Hay and Straw pasta dish. We did take advantage of free room service for bagels, cream cheese, fruit, yogurt, coffee, etc for breakfast a couple of days. Some days we had omelets up on the Lido deck. We did have breakfast in the dining room a couple of days. I found the Eggs Benedict a little greasy tasting.
The best show was Rock On. We also really enjoy watching Karaoke, especially on the last sea days when it moves to an earlier time in the evening. We had no problem finding seats on this cruise in the main lounge for the big shows. (We actually got up and did karaoke for the first time, and it was so fun. You only live once, so go for it. You will never see those people again!)
We had problems with one of the propellers, and got into Cozumel late in the afternoon rather than early morning as planned. They did extend the time we spent there until 930 PM. However, the weather was horrible that day, so we got off the ship, took five steps, and got right back on. The wind and rain were unbelievable. Felt like a hurricane. Because of our propulsion system problems, our stop at Calica was cancelled (partial refund given) and we headed back slowly to Mobile. One sea night was extremely rough and although neither of us had ever gotten sea sick, both of us had some queasiness that night.
We enjoyed going to the trivia games, the art history lecture, the towel animal class, the wine tasting (costs 10 dollars extra per person). The only problem we had with the activities was that Carnival seemed to have planned poorly on the areas where they were held, having many in the "hallway" drama bar, which would not accomodate enough guests without most of them standing. We found plenty to do every day to keep us busy, and for the most part stayed out of the casino. We did buy the soda fountain cards, as we are big cola drinkers and find they are well worth the cost if you like several every day. The lines on this cruise were not long at any of the food lines. We learned that this ship has one of the highest health ratings in the Carnival fleet, and after watching a young man cleaning in the library one day, I am not surprised. He got under the tables and even cleaned the pedestals.
We are looking forward to another cruise on this ship.