We sailed on the Elation out of Galveston Feb 20-25, 2006. We made our reservations directly though Carnival on January 5th, 2006, so between the last minute pricing and our Interline discount for airline/air cargo employees we paid a ridiculously low rate. We flew into Houston Sunday morning from Chicago (where it was 2 degrees when we got on the plane) and rented a car rather than take shuttle service to Galveston. We headed out I-10 to Bay City and then south along the coast to Galveston. Wish the weather was warmer (it was 37 in Galveston), but it was a lot warmer than in Chicago! We stayed at the Mariner Inn on Seawall Blvd. What a dump. It was relatively clean however and it was only one night so we paid our $42 and headed next door for dinner. Monday morning we toured along the coast and visited SeaWolf Park before heading for the ship.
Embarkation: DH dropped me and the luggage off at the pier about 1:15pm while he took the rental car back to Enterprise. I checked all our luggage and settled in on a bench to wait for the shuttle to bring him back from the rental agency, knowing it would be at least half an hour to 45 minutes. If you like people watching the pier is a great place for this. The shuttle dropped him of just before 2 and we headed in. Our first hurrah of the trip was when DH reported that the rental agency didnt charge us the $40 drop off fee for returning the car in Galveston rather than Houston. There were customers waiting for cars so the fee was waived. Cool - $40 more to spend at the bars lol. Id read a lot of horror stories about the long lines and often rude CSRs at embarkation. Maybe waiting until 2 to board was a good thing because we breezed through security and straight up to present our ID, proof of citizenship and of course our credit card for the Sail and Sign account. From door to gangway took no more than 10 minutes and our CSR was very friendly.
Entertainment: Jorge, the cruise director was GREAT! He had us in stitches the whole time. This was his last cruise for 8 weeks as he was going home on vacation. He was funnier than either comic they had although we only saw the family early show. We were just too tired (or tipsy) by midnight to go to a show. We did see both vegas style productions Rhythm and Spin - and enjoyed them both, although they were not of the caliber that one would pay money to see. We also saw the guest talent show which was very good. We attended the Captains Cocktail party on Tuesday and even made it into the video they were shooting of it. We also went to the reception for past guests on Thursday night. We played bingo a couple of times, just to get out of the sun. We did partake in some of the deck games. The Hairy Chest contest on the Lido deck was a riot to watch, we played the name that tune trivia and watched the not-so-newlywed game. There were plenty of activities going on all day and it was not hard to find something to do if you became tired of enjoying the sun. We reserved our casino time until the last day of trip. I dont play slots much- $20 and Im done. I didnt see any big wins being paid out. I did enjoy the table games and spent about 4 hours Friday afternoon playing blackjack and Let It Ride. The dealers were friendly and talkative. Bar service was a little slow. We tried all the lounges and found them to be very under-utilized. Many of them there was nothing going on in. Even someone playing piano or guitar would have been better than an almost empty lounge. I know we would have had many more drinks (and thus had a bigger Sign and Sail bill) if there was some background music or low key musical entertainment. Also, they had the same band on the Lido deck every day doing calypso music. Whereas it set the mood for a Caribbean cruise and was quite enjoyable, it got tiring hearing the same sound all day, every day. A bit more variety would be nice.