This was our second cruise on the Elation, last year we cruised out of Mobile, AL, this year out of NOLA. We went down a day early and stayed in the Sheraton Hotel in Metarie. Since it was the week before Mardi Gras, downtown and French Quarter rooms were very very expensive. The hotel offered a shuttle to Bourbon Street, and catch a cab to return, but we declined. Bad mistake, we ended up paying $38 to park down near the quarter. I would definitely take a cab, or park close to the trolley line and take the trolley around the Quarter.
We got to the Erato St. parking garage around 11:15 or so. Be careful, there were people holding signs all around directing you to cruise ship parking, offering cheaper parking, but it may not be as secure and they would have to shuttle you and your luggage to the port. We were not sure it was as secure as the garage right at the Port. For a 5 night cruise we paid $80. They don't accept reservations in advance. We did have to carry our luggage up the escalator and then went through a security scanner. I had boots on so was asked to remove them. People wearing tennis shoes, etc did not have to remove their shoes.
When you go to check in, you have your carry on bag with you. They have different stations depending on which level of the ship your state room is on, and we did not have to stand in line over 3 minutes. Then they take your embarkation picture and you go to a huge seating area with chairs. You are given a zone number and that is how they board the ship, by zone, so people are not knocking each other over to get on the ship. Things were very smooth.
We went up to the Lido deck and got an endless soda card sticker since we are Coke drinkers. and headed to the buffet. It was quite windy outside, but the sun was shining so that was nice. At 1:30 p.m. the rooms were available so we went and put our carry on luggage away. We explored the ship and just relaxed.
There were lots of things going on alot of the time. The biggest shows were at night. The welcome aboard show introduces you to the singers, dancers, band, comedians, etc. Kind of a variety show. It started at 10:30.
The first day at sea it was very cloudy and windy and water was choppy. made for a very rough ride for several hours, but we were both taking Bonine and Scopalomine patch behind the ear, so we were fine. We went to the show Rock, featuring rock music and dance on the stage. It was very good. We saw the family friendly comedians, they were too funny as well.
We went to Progresso, and I had heard that it was really a slum there, but was pleasently surprized that there are free air conditioned buses that take you all the way up the 6 mile pier into the market place. It was an open air market with tents set up all around. We bought lots of goodies and never paid full asking price. 2 of the people in our party got one hour massages right there under a tent on the beach for $15. They loved it. We went to the seaside and the beach there was beautiful, well maintained, and the shops on this strip were a little nicer than the flea market. I will say that the salepeople were a little pushy, and if you say no, they may even come out of the store trying to bargain with you some more. If you do buy something they almost all asked for a tip.
Had another fun evening on the boat, enjoying Duke's Piano Bar. Tommy G was playing and singing and we loved it. We went every night he was playing (4 of 5 nights).
We woke the next morning in Cozumel and were docked at the international pier right next to the Carnival Paradise. it was cool seeing them side by side. We found that the shops in Cozumel did not want to bargain as much for prices, but we had bought pretty much everything we wanted in Progresso. The beaches here were more rock and coral....great for snorkeling, but not so good if you want to just lay on the sand, you must take a cab to one of the beaches and pay an entrance fee.
On that note, we have been to Paradise beach and paid $2 entrance ($14 cab fare) and then paid the extra $12 or so for the use of their equipment (chair, umbrella, snorkeling equipment, toys, etc) and the water was WAY too cold in mid february to enjoy it. we finally went back to the boat and laid out on the serenity deck in the peace and quiet.
We did sing Kareoke one night......It was awful.....glad I am able to mark that off of my bucket list.
The gift shop had a table set up with Tshirts 2 for $20.....the last day of the cruise a flyer was slipped under our door that said "big blowout sale at 4 p.m.", we ran down there and it was the exact same prices as had been there all week. oh well, who needs another T-shirt.
We enjoyed the little coffee/snack bar in the Musical Cafe. Being valentines, they had lots of chocolate covered strawberries. we also got huge chocolate chip cookies. There is a fee for this as well as specialty coffees from the Musical Cafe, or from the Sushi bar. Well worth it, just use your sign and sail card.
One day the spa offered a 20/20/20 promotion and you could choose from different things, I chose a 20 minute scalp massage, 20 minute foot and ankle massage and 20 minute hand and arm massage. I was a little disappointed that these were done in the hair salon, not in the massage rooms in the back. Therefore I was sitting upright in a hair styling chair. Also was a little disappointed that the entire process took less than 40 minutes. Next time I spend that much money, I will either do it in Progresso on the beach, or schedule a full body massage in the spa that will hit the points I was focused on and have the relaxation of the quiet dark massage room with soothing music, etc.
We had watched Karaoke several times and knew that they were going to have a show at the end of the cruise with the best of the Karaoke singers. It did not start till 10:30 the last night and there was only 1 showing, there fore it was PACKED. I guess my biggest pet peeves is people saving seats. during one of the comedian performances a guy reserved the very first booth (could seat 8-10 easily) right to the left of the stage and sat there all alone for the entire show, turning people away because his friends were coming. They never showed up. Then a booth next to us was full but the little 2 seat chair at the opening of the round booth was empty, they saved it and turned people away, then I overheard the man say that he was not even gonna try to look over someone else's head, people could just stand for all he cared. The same thing happens with people saving deck chairs, but that is another story. It is just rude, people should be more considerate than that. We all paid the same money and we all want to see the shows. My momma use to say we all lived by the "firehouse rules, if you a$$ is up, your time is up" Now I will get off of my soap box.
The food was good. Ate breakfast in the dining room once, the rest of the time we ate at Tiffany's. We ate lunch in the dining room once, the rest at Tiffany's. We ate all of our suppers in the Imagination using Your Own Time Dining. Our head waiter was Poli and his assistant was Joel. They were great and we asked for them each time and never had to wait to be seated in their area. They always called us by name, and on the second night Joel knew what we wanted to drink before asking.
We did go to the Jekyll and Hyde a couple times to listen to 80's music. There was hardly ever anyone on the dance floor, but it was relaxing to just be there singing along.
Of course we had bunches and bunches of pictures made and ended up buying just 2. Would have loved to buy more, but they are $22 each and they were not having any specials on the photos. You could get albums on sale, but not the actual pictures.
I thought I would tell you some of the food that we loved........Salmon, Tilapia, jerk pork, bacon mac n cheese, fried chicken, chateaubriand, bourbon honey chicken, fish and chips, veal parmesan. For desserts my favorite was the chocolate melting cake, the others like the baked Alaska, cheese cake, apple pie, and my husband loved the regular ole sherbet and ice cream.
Our room was always clean, people were always cleaning and vacuuming all of the time. We were very cautions to use the hand sanitizers. I even bought a couple to keep in our pockets to use just before picking up the fork. No one wants to get a virus and be sick the entire vacation.
I am including a link to some of my pictures of the room and food. I know when I was looking at reviews, I wanted to see actual pictures.....not publicity pictures put out by the cruise lines. Hope you enjoy:
I hope you will find this helpful, and good luck as you cruise along.