A group of 6 of us ladies left a cold snowy Kansas City at 7:15 AM on Sunday 01-09-11. Actually, we started out at 4:30 AM since we didn't know where we were going...but we found the house ok and soon we were driving to Mobile Alabama to get on the Elation. Our plan was to stop in Jackson Mississippi to sleep and then drive the rest of the way into Mobile in the morning. We had just entered Arkansas about 2:30 PM when we heard that the weather was bad in Jackson and on. The guy at the rest stop asked where we were going and he told us we would never make it! He told us that it was icy and snowy in Memphis and worse past there. We made it to Memphis (and crossed over the Tallahatchie bridge! I thought that was too cool!!) and there was no bad weather. But not to far outside of Memphis it started sleeting a little. Once it started snowing, it wasn't too bad but the other people around us were driving like idiots so we chose to stay in a motel in Grenada, Mississippi. It snowed quite a bit that evening and on the weather channel the next day, they had a reporter in Grenada, saying that the whole county had one snow plow! But after a nice free breakfast, we got going and it wasn't too bad.
We arrived at the pier about 12:30 I think(and of course it took a while to unload everyone and everything). We had one lady in the group that was platinum, so all six of us got to go through with her on the priority boarding thing, but then had to get in the long line for the check in after that. It was maybe a half hour wait or so. We were on the ship at 1:30 so it wasn't too bad at the pier. We were able to go right to our rooms and set our stuff down and then explored a little and ate lunch on the lido deck.
I guess I should tell you a little about our group we were 30-74 years old. 3 of us had cruised before and three had not. We had a blast! Anyway, back on the ship. We waited till it was time for our Muster Drill in the Cole Porter Lounge. We did not take our life jackets and did not go to our lifeboat stations. The muster drill was great, short and sweet, and I liked not having to lug our life jackets around with us! Then we went out through the back door to the Serenity area to watch the sail away. It was about 40 degrees or so that afternoon and we waited and waited and waited for sail away. About 4:30 they made an announcement that they were doing some routine maintenance and safety checks and we would be sailing soon, and the guys down on the dock waiting to undo the ropes all shook their heads at us. I assumed we were late because of the weather causing problems with people getting there on time, and I heard that is what Guest relations told some people. And I have heard that it was because they knew about the propulsion problem at that time. But I guess we will never know the real reason we didn't sail till about 5 PM. And it was COLD! But fun watching the sail away. Though I still have not seen any dolphins while on a ship yet.
We had late seating dining in the Inspiration dining room and our waiters Ahmnot and his assistant Chai were the best ever! They completely made this trip so memorable! I have been on three cruises and always thought that we had great waiters, but these two went above and beyond to keep us entertained and happy. People at other tables around us wanted our waiters! We all even started going to the Imagination dining room for breakfast and lunch just to have them serve us. I was exhausted after getting up at 3:45 Sunday morning and not sleeping well in the motel Sunday night so I went back to the room and went to bed after dinner. We had a bunk bed in our room that didn't really work for my roommate to sleep on so the next morning I suggested she talk to the room steward or Guest relations about getting a roll away bed, which she did and by Tuesday evening she had a roll away bed.
Tuesday was a fun day at sea, and elegant night. We watched a line dance class and played in the casino and sat on the deck and just enjoyed the day. The food was delicious that evening, and after dinner I did karaoke which was fun. During that time is when they made the announcement that there was a problem with the propulsion system and we would be late getting in to Cozumel the next day. Now, about all the panic and stuff, I was in the drama bar area which is open, very close to the casino and very very loud, I barely heard the announcement and no one quieted down so we could hear it, so people that panicked and acted all stupid about this probably did not hear the original announcement and you all know how rumors spread! That is all I am going to say on this matter other than it was a disappointment to not get to go to Calica, but I was fine to not go.
We arrived in Cozumel about 1 the next day and were told we did not have to be back till 9:30 PM, but who wants to be in Mexico after dark? The walk to the end of the pier is pretty far and I was glad my mom did not go this time as she would not have been able to walk that far. We did a little shopping and then went back to the ship and sat in the hot tub. It rained while we were there and it was fairly warm. We heard while we were in the hot tub that Calica was out and we got our letter after dinner explaining it and telling us we would get our $72.50 back. Dinner was good that night too and the next two days were sea days and they were a little boring though on Friday I did win the scavenger hunt so I now own a coveted 24 kt gold plastic ship on a stick! I was thrilled!
The shows I saw were Just Rock and Win and they were both FABULOUS! The main singer (I think his name was Jason) resembles Donny Osmond. The entertainment staff were great and poor Steve the cruise director tried his hardest to keep us going and informed.
Debarkation scared me because it was the first time I was doing the carry your own suitcase off the ship thing. But after breakfast I was heading back to the room when they announced that the Empress deck could leave if they were doing the self service or whatever that was called. I got my suitcase and got in line. I would say that was about 7:40 and I was walking to our van at 8. The other 3 ladies in our group (the first two were already at the van when I got there) were just heading back to the rooms when I was going to get in line so we expected a long wait. We were on the road outside of the pier at 8:30 so other than hard because my suitcase was too heavy, it was a relatively painless process.
Will I sail again? YES! With Carnival? Of Course!!!! On the Elation? Maybe! But it does need a face lift I think. Our room was always clean, the food was good and I enjoyed it. And all three of the ladies who never sailed before all said they would sail again! So it was a great cruise and even though there were a few problems, it still was 5 days at sea and not at work! Oh one more thing, the only shore excursion I signed up for was the behind the fun tour and they cancelled it because of the engine and weather problems. That was probably the biggest disappointment for me.