We drove to Mobile and spent the night at the Renaissance with the drive/park cruise package. I believe parking at the port for a week is $125. Our room for the night with parking included for the week was $149 and they shuttled us to and from the port. It was handy. The Renaissance is a lovely hotel and we had a high room on the port side, so we got to watch the ship dock in the morning. A great start to our vacation. Had dinner at Wintzell's and it was tasty.
After being shuttled to the port with our bags, we went through the embarkation process which was somewhat chaotic, but we were on the ship in about an hour.
Our room was ready so we dropped off our bags and went to get a bite to eat. We had an oceanview cabin on the main deck. For myself, husband and 10 yr old the room was fine. It is kind of fun to be on a smaller ship.
What we liked-Grand Cayman and Cozumel. In Grand Cayman we booked a stingray city tour with Moby Dick tours and they were every bit as good as the reviews said. We had an exceptional day. In town we went to Guy Harvey's grill for a delicious lunch-highly recommend. In Cozumel we just shopped and went to Carlos and Charlies at the beach. A fun day. The chef's table on the ship was fantastic. Very tasty 7 course meal with wine, kitchen tour and lesson on making chocolate melting cakes.
What we didn't like-Slow service, non-engaged staff and very mediocre food. Menu was exactly the same as the year before on the Triumph (new menu not yet available on the Elation) but was not nearly as well executed. The staff with a couple of real standout exceptions didn't smile in the hallways or greet anyone etc. Eddie the bartender in the Atrium lounge was super personable and helpful when we had questions. That is the kind of employee that makes Carnival proud. Our room steward was slow to get our room cleaned every day and it took forever to get a coke in the main dining room. Our wait staff in the dining room were friendly, but slow as well. We didn't like Jamaica at all and I wouldn't get off the ship if we cruise there again.
Was the cruise terrible? No, but we likely won't cruise Carnival again.