We started our road trip from MN and headed for Fairhope, AL where we stayed at the Holiday Inn Express. We booked this hotel through Stay123.com. We paid $130 for a very large suite and this included a shuttle ride to the ship in Mobile and our van stayed at the hotel. It was a great deal.
Getting On Board: Very organized and we didn't have any problems. From the time we got dropped off to when we boarded the ship was less than 1 hour.
Dining: The first night we ate in the dining room and it was nice, but the kids preferred the buffet for the rest of our meals which was fine with me. I thought the food was very good and there was a good variety. A good salad bar and lots of fresh fruit. Each night there were different meats/fish. My son loved the 24 hour Pizzaria and it was very good pizza. There was a sushi bar, but we never went to it because each night they had sushi at the buffet. It was very good. They usually had two different kinds. The kids had lots of ice cream too as that was also 24 hours. I enjoyed the Mongolian Wok. The grill on the Lido Deck was good too. The kids enjoyed burgers and chicken strips. Breakfast was good too. I regret I didn't have an omelet, but there was always so many choices. The buffet was never crowded except for Sunday at lunch they had fried chicken and a chocolate buffet. I don't know where everyone came from!
Swimming: It was a bit cool, but my kids are from MN so they enjoyed the pool and the waterslide.
Cabin: Yes you can fit 5 people in one cabin and it is comfortable. One of our younger kids slept with us in the king bed and then there were two upper berths. When we first arrived they had a rollaway in our room too, but we asked them to take it because there wouldn't have been enough space for all of our luggage. we weren't in our room much so it was just fine. I did bring the shoe organizer for the bathroom door that someone suggested and that was a great idea. There was a lot of closet space. The bedding was very nice and the bed was comfortable. we also brought an electrical strip for charging ipods and the kids DS. I really liked having the ocean view so we could look out. the bathroom was plenty big enough too.
Excursion: My oldest son and I did the Cozumel Amazing Race. We had a great time and were able to see the back roads of Cozumel and also the downtown area. Then we ended with a nice lunch and a couple of beers for me. It was a lot of fun!
Entertainment: Absolutely great shows. Very professional. On the last night we saw their new production "Win" and it was very good. we also went to a couple comedy shows and they were good two. The kids enjoyed playing ping pong, basketball and miniature golf. My daughter went to Camp Carnival once and had a good time, but one boy kept staring at her and stuck his tongue out at her so that was the end of it for her. My sons had no interest in going to Camp Carnival or Club O2.We loved getting the Fun Times each night to see all the activities we could do the next day. The kids also like the towel creatures.
Cleanliness: I thought the ship was very clean and the staff was constantly cleaning the entire ship. They even polished the metal strips of the steps!
Debarkation:We originally planned to do self assist, but changed our minds the night before as we thought it might be too hard for the kids. We just took our time and had breakfast and enjoyed our last couple of hours on the ship. Keep in mind that even if you do self assist you can still take your time and enjoy breakfast. You can go off when you are ready as long as they have already called your deck. Some people were ahead of me in the breakfast buffet and the Riviera deck was called and they were all bummed and put their plates down and took off.
Overall: This was a fantastic vacation! We loved the Elation and will go again.
We never felt crowded except for fried chicken at Tiffany's. Food was great! They also were aware we were traveling with 2 special needs kids and called us to make sure everything was okay and to contact them if we needed anything. When we left Cozumel it was very windy so it got pretty rocky. It was kind of hard to walk around and they put barf bags by all of the elevators. My daughter got a bit of a headache at bedtime and it rocked us to sleep and was fine by morning. Don't miss the Farewell Party. We went and didn't realize they passed out free drinks and kept coming around with more.