Carnival Elation Cruise Review by slincoln
- Sail Date: December 2014
- Destination: Western Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Interior
We decided to stay overnight in New Orleans prior to embarkation so we could get on the ship a bit quicker. We also planned to make our purchases in Mexico with pesos due to the very favorable exchange rate, but had not dealt with Mexican banks before. We didn't plan any shore excursions for this trip; we just planned to do our shopping for souvenirs in Progreso and planned to spend most of the day at a new beach in Cozumel.
We left our hotel via taxi and got to the pier about 12:30pm. The embarkation process was generally pretty quick. Lots of standing in line, but lines moved fairly quickly because we all of our boarding documents ready to go.
Since our last trip in 2012, the Elation didn't seem to have changed by much. At one point the Elation was scheduled for "Funship 2.0 upgrades" during the 2014 drydock but that was canceled. We didn't notice much of anything different about the ship other than some areas where maybe the carpet had been replaced. We also noticed that the children's pools behind the funnel were in working order this time. The staterooms were basically the same as we remember, outdated but comfortable, and the staff on the ship was very friendly. We noticed that the entertainment seemed to have changed a bit away from the big auditorium shows and with more trivia and scavenger hunt activities. We were a bit disappointed by the long waits every night for dinner for those of us on the Anytime Dinner option. Back in 2012, we only had a wait for one of our nights. The final sea day was probably the most memorable on the ship as we participated in almost every trivia round from late morning through evening. We were able to accumulate a couple more "24 carat plastic ships on a stick" for our souvenir collection at home.
All in all we would do this cruise again. Although we were disappointed in a few things we still got a good value for our money. We are also considering taking a trip or two to the ports via plane so we can stay for a few days rather than a few hours.
Last cruise we took all of our bags with us rather than having them dropped off to the port, which meant we were getting off the ship around 8am. This time we had our big bags left outside the night prior to disembarkation which gave us a bit more time for breakfast. Unfortunately this seemed to add quite a bit more time and standing in line than we were expecting. It was like going through a maze before they finally got us to our bags, which were basically just sitting in a warehouse in different zones. The port staff was not always friendly ordering people around into different lines. It took almost 45 minutes to even get to customs, which was just as simple as them looking at our declaration form and saying thank you. It seemed to be a much bigger, longer process than it needed to be. And by the time we reached the main entrance to the port, it was crowded with people trying to get buses and be picked up by private vehicles. The traffic was seriously jammed up not only with people trying to pick up passengers, but some people were already trying to get dropped off. Having the arrivals and departures overlapping in this way definitely added to the confusion and congestion.
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
CozumelSummary: Get away from the cruise terminals to find lower prices and fewer crowds.We rented a taxi for 6hrs from the taxi stand behind the Punta Langosta mall. Online we saw a 5hr tour of the island listed for 1100 pesos, but it included very specific stops. We asked what it would be if we chose all the stops and they quoted $40/person or 2200 pesos. We told the taxi director that we thought that was too high but he indicated that there had been a rate increase recently. When asked if it could have gone from 1100 to 2200 in just a year or two, he just nodded and said yes (we didn't believe that). He eventually offered 2000 pesos and we accepted; we thought it still might have been higher than it should have been, but probably a fare rate for the entire day and we got an air conditioned van. He told us that our cab driver spoke some english, but that wasn't really true.First stop was to a bank to withdraw more pesos from an ATM. The ATM was entirely in spanish so we made some good use of Google Translate to figure out how to use the machine. The fee was 80 pesos (about $6) and VISA charged another 1% for the conversion. This worked out to about 13.9:1 (compared to the 14.5:1 bank rate). We then went to Playa Palancar beach club on the southwest side of the island. Last visit we tried San Francisco beach closer to San Miguel. Of the two, we liked Palancar better because there were fewer people and less noise. We also were not bothered by vendors nearly as much as in Progreso. The water was very clear and fairly warm for winter. In waist deep water we were surrounded by all kinds of fish which was a little weird. The food was similar in price to what we'd expect in the U.S. By paying in pesos, we saved a bit of money, although on Cozumel they seemed a bit more "caught up" to the exchange rate than in other places; Palancar used a 12.5:1 rate.We left the beach club with about an hour and a half to get back to the ship. We had our cab driver take us along the eastern coast for the scenic way back to San Miguel. This is when we heard her few words of English when she would every-so-often pull over and say "Stop? Photographs?" The water on the east side of the island was darker blue and had bigger waves. The shoreline alternated between rocks and sand. It was almost empty of people between the few bars and shops, and we found it to be very scenic. With about 30 minutes left we just started to enter San Miguel and came across an accident on the roadway. Two other cruise ship passengers from another ship had been thrown from their scooter rental and had road rash. Our taxi driver stopped and helped them out of the roadway, then called for police and an ambulance (which arrived in less than 5 minutes). We tried to have those people come in our cab so our driver could get them to their ship on time, but our driver refused; our best guess from her spanish was that she said she had a responsibility only to us, and that there were legal obligations the other people had. We gave them some water and some clothing, then returned to the cruise port right at 3:30pm.View All 6,685 Cozumel Cruise Port Reviews
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ProgresoSummary: If you don't mind being bothered on the beach to buy something numerous times throughout the day, Progreso really isn't such a bad spot. Food, drinks, and souvenirs are all cheaper in Progreso than other big ports like Cozumel.We took the free AutoProgreso shuttle from the cruise terminal into the city. They drop you off at the Bazar de Artesanias between Calle 80 and Calle 78, about 2 block from the beach. We didn't feel like buying anything from the vendors when we first arrived, so we left the shuttle stop the same way the buses enter/exit. Right across the street we found a CI Banco where we exchanged our US dollars for pesos. The exchange rate for that day was about 14.5:1, but the bank offered 13.1:1 when they were selling pesos and 13.6:1 when they were buying back pesos. We then walked about a block up to Calle 25 to a corner grocery where we bought some inexpensive drinks. From there we headed toward the Malecon, the roadway running along the beach. We were immediately asked if we wanted to purchase things like massages and food. We followed a waiter from a nearby restaurant (we think Restaurante El Viejo y el Mar) who seated us on the beach and brought us menus. The menus were in dollars but when asked about pesos, he said to just "add a zero," which meant that they were using a 10:1 exchange rate and we saved a decent amount of money by converting. We were frequently asked to purchase all kinds of things from cotton candy to cigars to bracelots to wicker baskets to donations for charity. We typically responded with "no, gracias" to most vendors but did purchase a hand made basket from another.View All 460 Progreso Cruise Port Reviews
One vendor in particular was a little pushier when we did not purchase, and told us that we were rich because we came off of those cruise ships, we were using a free public beach that his town paid for, and if we wanted to see what being broke was like he could take us to his neighborhood where some people had to drink water from troughs on the floor. It wasn't particularly pleasant, but we didn't feel threatened or unsafe. After paying for our food we went to use their bathroom but it is hard to call it such. It was basically a concrete walled in area outdoors with toilets that did not flush, and no soap. Next we went to a massage tent on the beach. They offered $15/person (about $11 when paying in pesos) for a group of 3, for 30 minutes. That seemed too low for us so we ended up rounding up to $20 equivalent per person. Not quite the same as from a licensed massage therapist, but probably some of the best you can get. Quiet with only the sound of the surf and children playing.We walked up to a wifi cafe called Restaurante Naked Frog near the shuttle stop, uploaded some pictures, ordered some more chips and guacamole, saw the biggest avocados ever, then headed back to the ship. Not the greatest place but definitely a port where you can stretch your dollar even when you tip big.
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