Just Returned from The Carnival Elation. While it was a good Cruise, I am not sure we would sail on this ship again.
Embarkation: Mobile's embarkation port was one of the smoothest I have ever experienced. I advise everyone to do as much online as possible before arriving. The porters were immediately available and the check in was effortless. Though the schedule said that they would not begin boarding until 12:30, we were on the ship by 11AM
First stop.....Soda Cards. It was painless, though many were lamenting the fact that they no longer give the cold cup with the sticker. At $ 30 for an adult and $24 for a kid, what is the big difference.
The Lido Deck served a light lunch and was fully open. Very busy, but the hot food was hot and the cold, cold.
First concern was at 1:30. I think it reflects the general lack of respect that people have, but, rather than waiting for the floors to open, people started opening the sea doors and going to their rooms at 1pm. I am sure that the stewards did not appreciate this, but they never showed it.
I had 6 kids with me for the first time. Carnival has three levels of kid programs, and I had 2 for each. The organizational meeting was very disorganized. Again, register ahead of time, if possible. I cannot say that I was particularly impressed with the kid program though. I would have anticipated that they would have them outside and in, exploring the ship and all. But essentially, the little kids are in a playroom on the 12th floor, and the older kids have rooms dominated by game systems. The activities were very unimaginative. However, the youngest kids (9 and 11) had a great time at the night parties that were held.
The ship is relatively small as ships go, and is purposely overcrowded. The deck chairs are squeezed together like sardine cans. This is likely due to the presence of a large stage in the middle of the deck....better to see the various outdoor activities and competitions. The stage was also the home of the first electronic steel band I have ever seen....it was loud...and I missed the real thing.
Food: Contrary to precious postings, We enjoyed all of the food options. The pizzeria takes 10-15 minutes to make a pizza or calzone, and is not really worth the wait. The Mongolian grill and the hamburgers, hot dogs , chicken and all were good, as was the food at Tiffany's. One must understand before boarding the ship that the food is at the level of an Applebees or some other mid level family restaurant. There is no "fine dining" on the ship. The service in the main dining room is good , but spotty, but the food was hot, and the chilled soups were excellent.
Entertainment: This was a challenge. They now have a comedy club set up a couple of nights on the ship, rather than having a comedy show......they certainly have the time. The comedy is a little racy, even by family standards, but funny.
The production shows get worse every time I cruise. There were two. The First, just Rock, was a decent show, but the show lacks the energy and drive....they look like they are just going through the motions.
The second, Win, has some significant problems. It was debuting on the elation, and moving to the Magic. The show has no direction, and the use of a goofy contestant as the tying piece does not work.....though the main voices are pretty talented, it was a pure waste of time.
Win can also be a word to describe the most irritating of the events on the ship. At every turn, the incessant pushing for the purchase of strip cards, even with a chance at a free cruise, was ridiculous. In the lounge, on deck, at every show, was just a little too much
On the last day, they started doing 60 second challenges....these were fun, and they should do more of these.
The Ports: My wife and I don't really excursion anymore, but we never had been to Progreso. All that is there beyond the port is beach, and beautiful water.
Cozumel just keeps getting more interesting....the kids went on an excursion with snorkeling and a sea lion show in place of a glass bottom boat. They enjoyed it immensely.
The skinny though, was obtained by my wife in the spa during a beautiful haircut. The elation is a training ship, where most of the crew are working on their first contract. If you apply this standard to most of the reviews, you can probably see the reason for the up and down on the reviews.
Overall, probably the best opportunity for the kids first cruise (though I had two that were in their cabins as much as out....a shame that the kids program could not come up with activities that would be more attractive to a 15 and 17 year old)