Let me start by saying that this was my 7th Carnival Cruise. If this had been my first, it would have also been my last. I have had nothing but good things to say about Carnival in the past, but this Cruise did not meet my expectations.
The room had a very musty smell, and the bathroom had mold everywhere. When our luggage arrived, we stored our clothes and left. When we came back that night everything smelled noticeably sour. For some reason, taking a shower caused the entire bathroom to become drenched. I usually take my nice shirts in the bathroom to steam out during my cruise showers (who irons on a cruise?) and my shirt was wet afterward. When we left the cabin our clothes still smelled sour. Our sink drain was clogged and would not drain at all. The cabin stewards were nice though, and constantly refilled our ice bucket and even got us another bigger bucket for more ice. They were always asking if everything was OK.
Tiffany's is the standard cruise buffet food. Even though there were supposed to be different themed days, (Moroccan, Mexican, etc) it was hamburgers and hot-dogs mostly. The panini station is totally worth the wait. The 24 hour pizza was good as well, and the pizza cook was actually really funny for not speaking much English.
Dinner was amazing as usual. All the food was delicious, and the servers were quick to fill our drinks and get our food out to us. My only complaint was that we were eating at 8:15 which made us miss a couple of one time only shows. I talked to the Maitre d about switching us to 6 and it couldn't be done. He wouldn't even let us do the dine anytime. Eating this late meant we had to eat before we even went to dinner.
Room service took about 45 minutes each time which is expected on a cruise ship of 2000+ people. The hot food was hot and the cold food was cold.
This is the first cruise I have not had something to do during the evening. It seemed like they crammed everything into a few nights and then left the other couple of nights open for you to wander around the ship. I overheard numerous other guests saying the same thing. One guy was complaining that his kids were in Club O2/Circle C and they were out till 3 am and he was in his room at 12 since there were no adult events going on.
The shows were entertaining as usual, but we missed a part of one because of our dinner schedule. The main shows and the comedy shows are at the same time, so you have to pick which one you want to see. The comedy show is in the smaller showroom, and it was so packed that people were standing in the aisles and doorway. If they would have planned it better they could have had the comedy show on the main stage, and everyone could have actually sat down.
The piano bar is nice, especially since it is not smoking now. The Scottish(?) guy is a fun relaxing host. I wish there was more of this available.
The nightclub Jekyll and Hide was fun the first night, but it seemed like the DJ played the same play-list in the same order each night. We aren't big clubbers, but we noticed the same songs were played a lot. Another reviewer said that on the last night they played bad music to make people leave, and I agree.
Karaoke was fun as usual. The host could have been a little more enthusiastic.
The Gym/Spa guys/gals were probably the nicest people on the boat. They always greeted me and asked how I was. The gym itself is big enough to get a good workout, and the gym guy was very helpful when people had questions.
As others have said, the ship is definitely older. The crew does a good enough job of maintaining it, although the glass elevators were off for 4 of the 5 days. The main elevators were fast and clean. The hallways and stairwells were clean as well. The decorations were darker, and at night there wasn't the normal vibrant ambiance I've seen on other boats.
Most of the employees on this boat were nice, but as others have stated they try hard to not make eye contact. I would have to say hi to them first.
I HOPE CARNIVAL READS THIS PART!!!!
Every 15 minutes the cruise director would make an announcement! It didn't matter where on the boat you were, you would hear it. We were sleeping in our cabin and every morning these announcements would wake us up. We were in Serenity trying to relax, and there would be another one. Almost every announcement was pointless. Just trying to get people to spend more money. I have never had this on any other cruise. Yes I know they make announcements to tell you about shows or ports, but these were about nothing, "Spend your money!!!!!" I could not relax anywhere on the boat.
I hope this has been informative and that I didn't ramble too much. I will still Cruise Carnival, just never the Elation. If you are a first time Carnival Cruiser, I recommend the Legend or the Freedom.
Thanks for reading.