After a 7 hour drive to Mobile Alabama, from Nashville Tn, we arrived at the Port Terminal around 11:30am for Embarkation. Found the Cruise Line Parking Signs very helpful that were posted on the route in! After a long process to get on the ship, which I have described in my "port" review, we settled in on the Lido deck, for our first DOD! Found the service, food and drink all exceptional!! Hooked up with a waiter, Ras, who remained our favorite waiter on the Lido deck for the entire cruise! Seating was usually available, if you were patient. Seemed to always be plenty of seats on the port or Non Smoking side.
Found the ship in fairly good shape, seemed clean, but in need of some updating. I must add that last year we cruised on the Dream for it's 1 yr anniv, so I may be being a little too hard on the Elation. (I'm a little spoiled)Heard that Elation goes into Dry Dock for refurb very soon, and as a seasoned cruiser, I think it is time!!
Our cabin was on the Main Deck, Starboard side, very near the front. We were allowed in the cabin area right around 1:00pm, and found the cabin clean and ready for our arrival. We were immediately greeted by our Cabin Stewards, Efnul & Gus. We couldn't have asked for any better!!
Muster drill went smooth, no longer have to carry life vest with you, but have broken it into a two part deal, where you meet at the muster station area first, then proceed out to the lifeboats.
After completing the muster drill and heading back into the cabin area, was hit in the face with a terrible odor. Smelled like RAID to me, and was offensive. However, the smell soon dissipated.
We had late dining, that was confirmed as early dining, but we were able to change times after the first night. The food and the service in the dining room were great, always love the entertainment provided by the servers! Mostly did lunches at the cafe and always enjoyed the usual, pizza, deli and ice cream!
There was plenty of opportunity for entertainment on the ship, with shows, Karaoke, Marriage game, Match game, Comedians (were funny!)and all the usual offerings, enjoyed the Activities on the Lido deck also, Hairy chest contest, etc.! Even the Casino was good to us! The ping pong tables and putt putt golf areas were popular spots too!
The Serenity deck was also a popular spot, rarely a comfy spot available. Guess you needed to get there early.
I want to remark about the hot-tubs/children issue. The tubs on Elation state that only toilet trained children, with an adult should enter. Found the tubs on the Lido deck always crowded full of kids...never got it one. The slide was fun for children and adult alike! With the exception of a few children running thru the Lido deck area, there were no issues there. Always enjoyed the Caribbean/cruise music playing in the background! Had complained of that on other cruises!
Had no small children, so no comments regarding the kid camps.
Disembarkation and Embarkation at the ports was a simple non eventful process.
We ported at Cozumel (our 3rd time there), and we were very pleased to find the port we visited just last year had completed the construction it was under and is now a lovely clean air conditioned welcome center/shopping area. As we proceeded thru the building we exited into a lovely shopping area that wound you thru to the main streets of Cozumel. We took a cab to NACHI COCUM beach resort,(Limits number of guests, so reserve a spot prior to the cruise!) it's all inclusive, food and drink, with a beautiful beach, pool, swim-up bar, hot tub,(that wasn't hot) hammocks, chairs & umbrella's, floats & snorkels were for rent ($7), a souvenir shop, clean restrooms and other extras for charge-para sailing, wave runners, etc. Met up with several others from our ship and also from the Disney ship.
Enjoyed our time there so much, we only had time to get back to the ship, and did not venture out into Cozumel, tho this was our 3rd visit here, and in the past have wandered all over the town.
On Thurs, day 4, we ported at Playa Del Carmen. Again no issues departing or embarking~Hopped a cab to Grand Coco Bay Hotel, for an all inclusive package, that we had reserved prior to the cruise. This place was beautiful! We arrived at 9:30am only to find out that the food and drink portion of the package were not available until 11am...So we entertained ourselves at the beach, then moved to the pool for Volleyball and other directed activities they had available to us. Once it was finally available, the food and drink were awesome!! All beach amenities were available and tho the beach was small, it was beautiful. I think there were 2 other families from the ship, but most were Europeans that were staying at the hotel. Again, spent the day there, and did not venture out, found a little souvenir area near the port gate, for a quick hammock purchase, that turned out to be a swing! haha No problem with that either, it will do! (No wonder I got it for 20 bucks!)
Our last Sea Day, we encountered some huge waves, 10-12 ft swells, that caused a lot of motion sickness on the ship. It got to me bad, and as a seasoned cruiser, had never experienced this before...:( So it was literally a blur to me, hubby packed us up and set our luggage out.
The next morn, we waited until almost 9:30 to be called off. Found our luggage waiting for us in the terminal, and after getting a porter, made our way off the ship and back to reality. No problems or issues there.
It seems much more relaxed on the Fantasy Class size ships and the food & service is definitely better!
All in all, it was a great cruise, with great times!! Met some GREAT people, who will continue to be friends, THROUGH our thread on the CRUISE CRITIC BOARD!
*As stated earlier, I think it will only serve to help Carnival to refurbish/update the Elation. I also think moving out of Mobile is a good move.
I only hope they keep the same personnel, because we did not encounter one problem with any of the staff!!! EXCEPTIONAL!