We took two Elation cruises (back to back) on January 9th and January 16th. We had an outside (porthole) cabin on the "Upper" deck.
First a little background. My wife and I are in our early 50s. We have cruised 16 times; and we often cruise back-to-back. We prefer Carnival, RCI and Celebrity. We prefer inside cabins. We're scuba divers. We almost always do our own excursions.
Bottom Line. The Elation cruise out of Galveston is an excellent value. It was a very enjoyable cruise for these reasons: a fine ship, good food, decent entertainment, three fun ports of call and good passenger demographics.
Galveston. This is a fun departure port and embarkation was very smooth. Plan to spend an evening in Galveston; it's a neat town. Most hotels offer free parking for cruisers. If you drive there like we did it's easy to get around town and very easy to do a drop-off at the pier while you go park the car.
The ship. The Elation is a well-laid out ship and in decent shape for its age. Cabins are very roomy (a Carnival standard). The ship was generally clean and in good repair, a great gym with good equipment, and lots of stuff to do onboard. Lots of nice warm hot tubs. Restaurants were nice and the food in the restaurants and the buffet area was good (not great, but good). We felt pushed by the waiter staff to finish at the late seating; I would opt for the 8 p.m. seating next time instead of the 830 p.m. Good 24-hour pizza and a great sandwich deli also. Lunches and breakfasts were good in both the buffet and the restaurant. Really enjoyed the sushi bar.
Service was good; on par with most cruise ships. If you have a lower forward cabin you will definitely hear the roar of the bow thrusters going in and out of port. Ship has stabilizers and azipods; handled rough seas very well. Cabin service was good and room service was excellent. My wireless laptop worked great; but access fees are absurdly expensive so I did most of my work in internet cafes at the ports.
The entertainment was OK; the production shows were good, the comedy acts and jugglers were so-so. The trio of ladies who played classical were great.
I loved the passenger demographics; very few kids but all ages of adults. Mostly Texans and folks from the Midwest; nice, friendly folks.
Progresso, MX. You can take a local taxi to Merida for just 16 pesos. ($1.50). Definitely go see this beautiful proud city with its outdoor cafes and mixture of new/modern and very old Spanish architecture. It is a jewel; and it is true Mexico, not the touristy junk you see in Cozumel and Cancun. Back in Progresso you can take a fun open-bus tour for a few bucks, walk the beach and get cold cans of Tecate for 7 pesos (65 cents!).
Cozumel. We scuba dive here and nothing else, so if you want to know a good dive shop send me an email.
Belize. Cave tubing and scuba diving are both a blast here; although the diving is so expensive I could gag. Also the wood carvings from the "Ziricote" wood are just beautiful; the hammerhead shark and the stingray I bought are spectacular. The local brew is called Belikan; not too bad. This is a tender port; so allow yourself an extra 30 minutes on both ends.
If you have any questions, I love to talk cruising, so feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org