As the parade of new ships continues and major cruise lines construct increasingly grandiose vessels each year, there is the tendency to neglect attractive ships that are not among the most recent to enter the market. A case in point is Carnival's Elation, still a relative "youngster," yet with years of cruising under her belt and plenty of years of smooth sailing ahead.
Debuting in March 1998, Elation is the seventh of Carnival's eight Fantasy-class vessels (which began with the debut of Fantasy in 1991 and concluded with the launch of Paradise in 1998).
But Carnival has not neglected Elation -- or the ship's Fantasy-class sisters for that matter. All eight of Carnival's Fantasy-class ships are receiving extensive upgrades as part of Carnival's $350 million "Evolutions of Fun" program. Carnival Elation received part one of the upgrades in 2009 when Serenity, the adults-only deck, Circle "C," a club geared to 12- to 14-year-olds, and expanded buffet options, including a new Mongolian Wok stir-fry station, were added. Part two of the refurb, which will focus on the addition of a resort-style pool and a Carnival WaterWorks water park, has yet to be scheduled.
Elation also has the distinction of being the first cruise ship equipped with Azipod Propulsion, the state-of-the art system that greatly enhances the ship's maneuverability in addition to saving space inside the vessel hull and has since been installed on many of the newest mega-liners. Elation was also the first Carnival ship to feature a dedicated conference center, geared toward accommodating small meetings and incentive groups.
Carnival Elation Fellow Passengers
Demographically speaking there is no "typical" Carnival passenger in terms of age or income, although many fall in the middle income range and are attracted to the reasonable rates. The mix of passengers on my Elation cruise ran the gamut from 20-something honeymooners to 70-something grandmothers, and there were also a number of families with children; the largest concentration of children tends to sail during holidays and over the summer. While there were some single passengers onboard, the vast majority were couples and around half of those I met had previously sailed on at least one previous Carnival cruise; in addition, many were celebrating either wedding anniversaries or birthdays (or both!).
Carnival Elation Dress Code
There is one formal night (called "cruise elegant") on each of the four- and five-night cruises and two formal nights on the seven-night sailings. Otherwise, dress is casual during the day and a trifle dressier at night. Carnival's material asks for "resort casual" for dinner in the dining rooms, and most people comply. If you look presentable, jeans are not an issue. No tank tops or shorts allowed in the main restaurants for any meal.
Carnival Elation Gratuity
Carnival recommends $12.00 per person, per day. The guidelines allocate $6.10 to dining room services, $3.90 to cabin services and $2 per day for alternative services, which include kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members. The amount is automatically added to your shipboard account, but it can be adjusted in either direction at the guest services desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping a couple dollars for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff. Note: On sailings departing September 1, 2016, or later, gratuities will increase to $12.95 per person, per day ($13.95 for those in suites).
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