Carnival Elation - Western Caribbean: Carnival Elation Cruise Review by bjr928

Carnival Elation 5
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Carnival Elation - Western Caribbean

Sail Date: January 2006
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Galveston
Background: I booked this cruise as a 30th b-day present for my DH. This was his first cruise and my 3rd cruise. We were originally booked on the Ecstasy for the week of Jan 14  19, 2006. After Hurricane Katrina, we were switched over to the Elation, after the Ecstasy was sent to help with FEMA relief efforts. Mid-September, we were informed that our particular sailing was being chartered. (I later found out it was being chartered by this group : For the inconvenience, Carnival gave us a NICE discount when we rebooked  so we decided to just go a week earlier  Jan 9-14, 2006. The cruise was from Galveston, TX and had ports in Cozumel, Mexico and Progreso, Mexico (originally scheduled to port in Playa del Carmen). There were 2 days at sea.

Pre-cruise: We drove from our home in Missouri to Galveston, Texas. We stayed the night prior to our cruise at the Holiday Inn on the Beach. We had an oceanview room with a balcony that overlooked the Gulf of Mexico. More Some perks of staying here are that we were allowed to leave our car in a back parking lot for the duration of the cruise at no additional cost and a free shuttle to the pier. It is a great hotel and I would definitely stay here again.

Embarkation: We took the 11:30 shuttle from the hotel to the pier arriving at the pier approx around 11:50 (it took a while to get all the luggage loaded onto the shuttle). Once we were at the pier, it took maybe 10 minutes to get checked in. About 5 minutes later, they started calling for boarding with people in the back, left-side of the room. We were standing in the front, right-side  so it took us a little while but it wasnt bad at all. We were on board around 12:40 and were told to not go to our rooms until at least 1:00 p.m. Since our room was on the empress deck, I decided to go take a peak. But our room steward was in our room and I didnt want to disturb him, so we took our carry-on stuff with us. To pass the time, we went to the aft verandah deck pool and met up with one of my friends from roll call. It was so nice to finally put a face with a name! She and her husband are very nice people  and somehow we managed to completely miss each other the rest of the week.

Room: We had a 6D oceanview room on the Empress Deck. We were just a few doors off of the Atrium area  an excellent location, IMHO. I have only had balcony rooms before and I will admit I felt a little claustrophobic in the room. However, my husband liked the room and it didnt feel too small to him. There was ample closet space and a good sized bathroom (larger than I remember on the other cruises).

Room Steward: Our room steward was Constantin (I am not sure where he is from). He did a good job, but I think he is probably newer. He did not go above and beyond like other room stewards in the past have done. Our room was always clean and he made cute towel animals. But in the evenings, he would often forget our dining time and knock on the door several times asking when we would be leaving. It didnt bother me and I actually felt kinda sorry for him because he seemed like he was a very shy person. The only thing I requested (and didnt get) was a room service menu (because it was torn out of our book). Actually, I think it was a misunderstanding on his part because he brought us a bunch of door hangers for breakfast. It made me laugh and I didnt care because I knew I probably wouldnt order room service anyways.

Dining Room: We had the best waiters EVER here! We ate in the dining room every night just so we could see them. Our team head waiter was Slobodan (Slobo) Cvetkovski from Macedonia and our team waiter was Georgi Petrov from Bulgaria. Slobos recommendations for dinner every night were right on target. Actually, one of my favorite dishes (smoked turkey farfalle) ended up being something that I didnt order, but the Slobo brought and told me to try! Georgi made sure that we had everything we needed (wanted) and always had our water glass full or our plate full of bread. They also made fine entertainers  there was one evening where they made the ladies get up and dance the cha-cha slide with the waiter and then the next night they made the guys get up dance  it was so funny! My poor DH hated it  but I loved it. Also, one night, we received a Congratulations chocolate layer cake and got a rousing rendition of Hoppy Ken u late a ju (Happy Congratulations to You! sung to the tune of Happy B-day to you). It cracked me up and the cake was delicious! It was so hard to say goodbye to these fine gentlemen. As far as food goes, we both enjoyed all our dinners  there were some things I wouldnt order again but there are other things that I absolutely loved. Our table mates were great  we sat at 10-top and there were 6 of us there the first 2 nights and just 4 for the remaining nights. My DH liked these because he can be quiet until he gets to know people and only having one other couple at the table really gave us a chance to get to know them. The only meal we ate in the dining room was dinner  we ate breakfast and lunch at the Lido deck buffet.

Lido Deck Buffet: For breakfast  scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, oatmeal, dry cereal, made to order omelets, fresh fruit and rotation between pancakes and French toast. For lunch  hamburgers, cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, hot dogs, potato salad, pasta salad, etc. Even though it was all standard buffet items, they all tasted so good on the cruise. For drinks, there was water, tea, fruit punch, lemonade, apple juice, and orange juice. One day, we had pizza from the pizzeria. I thought was good  but nothing out of this world. We finished lunch most days with an ice cream cone. I really wanted twist  but there was only vanilla during the cruise and on the last day, the ice cream machine was broken. This actually made me sad because I had skipped having one the previous day and was REALLY looking forward to it. I know  I have issues! For the record, we never ate at the buffet in Tiffanys  it always looked good, we just chose not to eat there for some reason.

Room Service: Like I said earlier, we did not have a room service menu  so we didnt order room service. However, the evening we left Progreso as we were getting ready for dinner, there was a knock on the door. When I opened the door, there was a room server person (surely they have a name) with a tray of stuff. I immediately thought it was at the wrong room and tried to send him away saying we didnt order anything. He kept insisting it was for me and I kept trying to send him away until he picked up the card with my name and said is this you? Oh well, I guess that is my name! So he brought in the tray and I scrounged around for a couple bucks. Once he left, I lifted the lid off the plate and it was a plate of chocolate covered strawberries dipped in white and brown chocolate and decorated to look like a tuxedo. There was also a bottle of Robert Mondavi wine. It was an awesome surprise from someone special!

Entertainment: First off, I want to say that Jorge Solano is an EXCELLENT cruise director. I loved him  he made me laugh harder than I have in I dont know how long. I will definitely attempt to cruise with him again in the future. I believe he will be on the Elation until Feb 23 and then hes going on vacation for a while.

Secondly, my DH is not into going to shows  however, I did manage to get him to the Welcome Aboard Show, Not-So-Newlywed Game and the Talent Show. We did not go to any of the other productions or midnight comedians (sorry!). The Welcome Aboard Show was okay  I didnt really appreciate the dancing or the comedian, though I did like Jorges part. This is when I found out I wanted to go to a couple of things just to hear him. The Not-So-Newlywed Game was hilarious as always. The married-over-50-years couple was the best  the poor husband had a hard time following directions and answering the right part of the question  but the best part was for the question was is the most annoying thing about your wife? His answer: No way Everyone died laughing! The Talent Show was great  I didnt realize there are so many talented people in the world. The last girl sang At Last and it took my breath away. The best part was the crew skit  If I Were Not Upon the Sea  the whole skit was hilarious  but the best part was when Jorge came out at the end dressed as a ballerina. You had to be there!! Other entertainment on the ship included the reggae band that played by the pool and all the games played all over the ship. The band was very good. And we did not participate in any of the games, such as Survivor or the limbo contest, but I plan on playing next time.

Crew: Everyone on the ship had a smile on their face and was always willing to help. It was one of my best experiences as far as the crew is concerned. The only we experience that I have never had before was our original captain got off at Progreso to go on vacation and we got a new captain. I couldnt tell a difference, I just had never heard of it happening before.

Sea Days: On these days, we pretty much just lounged by the pool  sipping foo foo drinks and reading books. I never get to relax like this at home and I really look forward to it. My DH look a turn down the water slide at the pool and I didnt  though I cant remember why and wish I would have. The last day at sea as we were headed back to Galveston a cold front moved in and it got cold and windy around the pool about mid-day. So we went inside and found a quiet corner and played cards for the rest of the day. We did not go to the casino  we are not big gamblers unless we go to the casino with a big group of friends. Were social gamblers! I dont think we missed out on much, though.

Progreso, Mexico: We were at port at 7 am and got off the ship around 8 am. We were able to immediately get on the shuttle down the 4 mi long pier. Before they would let us off the shuttle, the driver told us about all the tours his company offered. One of them was a trip into Merida City (which I believe the oldest city in North America?help?) for $25 per person. I had done some research before the cruise and knew I wanted to go here, but I had just planned on going to the bus station on our own. My DH decided this would probably be safer, so we went with the tour. It didnt leave until 10:45 so this gave us 2 hours to explore Progreso. I studied in Mexico for one summer during college, so I found this to be a very charming town that hasnt been Americanized yet. For those expecting, Cancun  you will be disappointed. We walked down Corona Beach and all over town. I even took my DH by the outdoor meat market  but he got grossed out about 200 feet away and we had to go back. If you have never seen one of these, its definitely something you have to do in your lifetime. Just hold your nose!

We took the tour into Merida City and got to walk around and shop for about an hour. Again, I really enjoyed this and loved being submersed into the Mexican culture (which I have a true fondness and appreciation for). I loved speaking Spanish with the locals and hearing their stories. My DH kept laughing because I would get double takes from them when they realized a blond American girl was speaking in their language. Merida is definitely more Americanized than Progreso. On the way into downtown, we passed Sears, Chilis, Subway, etc. But the downtown area is still very true to its roots.

Cozumel, Mexico: My DH and I decided that we are definitely retiring here! We had to tender into shore because all the piers were destroyed in mid-October by Hurricane Wilma. The devastation to the island is immediately noticeable. But you also notice all the hard work going on by the people of Cozumel to rebuild and restore their beautiful island.

We chose to go to Paradise Beach (mainly because of all the positive things I have heard about it on this board) and we were NOT disappointed. We got the beach around 9:15 or so and virtually had our choice of chairs. We bought the wristbands for $8 each to use all the water toys  iceberg, water trampoline, kayaks and snorkeling. We had a blast playing in the water (my DH eventually made it to the top of the iceberg) and then laid on our chairs and was waited on hand and foot by Chai  an excellent server. I found a new favorite drink here  melon ball  yum! We also had their chicken quesadilla  which was excellent as well.

A major highlight of this day was getting to meet PB Tom, his wife, and son, Host Randy, Laura S, Host Anne, Host Graham, and a few other CCers! I love you guys! We had a wonderful day at Paradise Beach  it truly was paradise  and I will not hesitate going back there in the future or recommending to everyone else to at least give it a try! Unfortunately, our last tender was at 3:15, so we did not have time to make it into downtown Cozumel for shopping. But I can wait until next time!

Also, I cannot forget about the poor drunk girl at the pier. She was obviously overserved and had passed out. The people at the pier sat her in a wheelchair and when it came time to get on the tender, they tried to get her to stand up and onto the boat - but none of that was going to happen. So they had to roll her on the tender in the wheelchair - she just sat there the entire ride back with her eyes rolled back into her head. She kept being heckeled (by other drunks), but she had a couple of good friends taking care of her and holding her head up for her. It was very entertaining at the time, but now thinking back I feel bad for her. I was actually worried - because I had never seen anyone that bad before. However, I saw her the next day around the pool and she was fine!

Debarkation: I had read on here about the ease of doing self-debarkation, so I packed with that in mind to make sure we take everything off ourselves. I am so glad I did! The ship was late getting back into Galveston, but was docked by 7:10. Around approximately 7:20, they called our floor to self-debark. We were off the ship, though customs, got a taxi back across the island and were putting luggage in our car by 7:45  Im serious! It was that easy! I will only self-debark from now on. I have never experienced anything that easy before when getting off the ship. It was worth for just not having to dig through all the luggage to find yours.

Overall: We had an excellent cruise. Though it was my husbands first cruise, it wont be his last (especially if I have any say in it). Not everything was on the cruise, but I didnt expect it or want it to be perfect. Its those little imperfections that make things realistic. As long as nothing major goes wrong, I am a happy camper. I would sail the Elation again in a heartbeat (though I want to try all the ships in Carnivals fleet) and I will DEFINITELY be sailing again with Carnival. I had a great vacation for an even better price. It took me away to a place of peace and tranquility, something I was so desperately needing. I cant wait until I get to cruise again! Happy cruising everybody! Less

Published 02/27/06

Cabin review: 6DE43 Ocean View

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