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 didn't 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. I'd read a lot of 'horror stories' about the long lines and often rude CSR's 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.
Cabins: We were on Main deck, cabin M18 - a forward, ocean view cabin with 2 portholes rather than one large window. The twin beds had already been converted to a king when we arrived and there was ice in the bucket. We are light travelers anyhow (our summer vacation is always a week on the Harley so we are use to packing light), so there was ample closet and drawer space for 2 people. There were 2 of the big blue Carnival beach towels neatly folded on the chair and 2 terry robes hanging in the closet. We were impressed with the size of the cabin and the bathroom- we thought it would be much smaller. The bed was wonderful!!! It was soooo comfortable!!! The only thing that we can really complain about in the cabin was the shower. We had a hard time getting the water to stay a constant temperature. It would alternate between cold, perfect and YOUZA!!! with no warning at all. We headed off to find some lunch and be ready on deck when we set sail. By the time we got back to the cabin after leaving port our luggage was in front of our door. We didn't meet our cabin steward until day 3 because we spent little time in the room. Each evening though we had fresh towels, our bed turned down, ice bucket refilled, chocolates and a cute towel animal when we returned from dinner and the shows. We didn't hear a lot of noise from the cabins on either side of us or from above or below. We could hear the forward anchor(s) being lowered and lifted when we docked or left port, but that wasn't a nuisance except for the day we returned and they docked at 4:50am and lowered the anchor. It sounded like a jackhammer.