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Carnival Elation Review

4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating
1094 reviews

Economically Elated

Review for Carnival Elation to the Mexican Riviera
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First Time Cruiser • Age 40s

Rating by category

Value for Money
Public Rooms
Fitness & Recreation

Additional details

Sail Date: May 2009

Four of us in our mid twenties took this cruise over Memorial Day. Expecting to see a plethora of freshly graduated high schoolers, we were pleasantly surprised when this cruise tended to be more young couples and young families, a far cry from a spring break cruise or an Alaskan cruise complete with oxygen tanks for Grandma and Grandpa!Cost:It seems that Carnival is willing to give away their cruises with the knowledge that they will take an arm, a leg and your first born child on ship in terms of overpriced drinks, photos, etc. Some were able to book their cruise a day or two beforehand for as low as $120. As an experienced cruiser on my eighth cruise I expected this and was pleasantly surprised to find our bill at the end of the cruise ran about $250 per person for each of us. A good 80 percent of that was drinks, as no cruise is complete without a bucket of bud light ($19 for four 16 oz aluminum bottles) and the daily blended special ($7.50 with their crappy collectable cup or $4.75 in a regular plastic cup). Of course, add 15 percent for gratuity to everything and the tax rate for wherever you are at (in Catalina or San Diego) and it adds up pretty quick. Avoid the $25 4" x 6" photos and be sure to take advantage of Carnival's policy that allows a bottle of wine per person to be brought on board at embarkation to save a few additional bucks.Embark/Debark:Quick and easy. Nothing to note here.Port:Catalina was our only port this time, though we have been to Ensenada twice before on similar cruises. (In Ensenada, do the wine tour). We used Catalina as a good opportunity to stock up on soda's, bottled water, etc for about 10% of what we would have paid on board. Save your money, avoid the golf carts, you can walk the island easily unless you are an aforementioned oxygen tank carrying grandma or grandpa. Do visit the Descanso Beach Club, it's a nice little private sandy beach where you can have a few cocktails and lunch and relax with the people that paid $80 round trip to get there on the ferry from LA...suckers! This is really the only opportunity to see the beach on this cruise, as Ensenada is not very beachy either.Stateroom:Go for the window upgrade. This added maybe an extra five feet of length, but was worth it, as we did spend a few minutes in our room enjoying a glass of wine before dinner. The $750 per person balcony was out of our price range. Beds were comfy, shower was spacious but leaky, closets were plentiful, but all in all this was one of the better cruise rooms I have been in.Food:Dinner in the dining room was acceptable. I had the double lobster on lobster night and it was pretty darn good. The other nights were mediocre, but the starters and soups were always outstanding. By the end of the cruise, we were ordering four starters each and splitting entrees. Tiffany's was typical buffet style food-we used it mostly for appetizers to get cheese to go with our wine before dinner. For breakfast-do the fresh omelettes and for lunch do the sandwiches or the fresh wok. These were all pretty good.Service:Service was also only mediocre. Maybe it was because I was accustomed to cruising Royal Carribean and Princess where you were treated like Royalty or a Princess. The Carnival staff was nice enough, but it was clear that many hated their jobs (Tiffanys employees, especially). The room steward barely acknowledged us, but did bring us an extra ice bucket each night for our wine. DInner waiters Rafael and Roberto took excellent care of us and "Double Trouble" was the man on the pool deck. Sushi was also delicious for being free!Casino:Lost about $100 total, but didnt spend much time here. I like that you can get cash out and charge it to your sail and sign card for a 3% fee (more frequent flyer miles!). I did find it amusing that a new dealer somehow managed to launch about 15 cards off the table in my direction. That would never happen in Reno or Vegas!MusicWIld Bill, the cowboy guitarist was pretty good, as was the hip hop/funk band. The reggae band played about three songs total and played them each about 3 times a day by the pool. The same can be said for the pianist, though he had a slightly bigger selection and actually had some piano playing talent. As for the pool, we found that live music was in short supply. Instead of bands playing they had some absolutely awful music. It went from the Nine Inch Nails hit "I wanna blank you like an animal" to some cheeky 30's show tune. We also heard Montell Jordan "this is how we do it" which is a hot new song from 1996, followed by Boyz II Men's "On Bended Knee", nothing like some good baby making music at poolside!Lounges/ClubsThe Romeo and Juliet lounge is a nice alternative to the Jekyll and Hyde dance club. The dance club made us feel quite old (and creepy) to be hanging out with the young 18 (ok, 16) year olds who were in the club. The club did stay open until at least 3 am each night, so it is a nice late night spot.ShowsThe entertainment was by far some of the worst I have ever seen on a cruise. The shows were absolutely painful in their choreography. The icing on the cake was a good ole farm boy performer (or maybe he was Russian) attempting a Ricky Martin-esque Puerto Rico tribute on their "around the world" show. At that point, I walked out of the Mikado lounge. There was however one highlight-the carrot top look alike comic who delivered a spot on "adults only" comedy show. He instantly became a superstar aboard the ship as people stopped him everywhere they went, thanking him. The lady who did the adults only show was not on the same level and spent most of her act poking fun of where people were from (I get enough of that when I see my family at Christmas!)Pool Deck:We spent most of our cruise here, since we had two days at sea. The main deck is the place to be, the second level is a bit quieter, and the first level is more of a romper room atmosphere. The water slide was awesome for kids and those who still believe they are. Hot tubs were nice, but were filled with kids. The adults only hot tub was a joke, as there were kids in there constantly. In the later afternoon, the kids seemed to be back in their rooms preparing for dinner, so you can have some adult time in the hot tub. (Do note that the ship has cameras with the hot tub in view that are broadcast on the tv in your cabin-so take heed of whom you converse with while your other half is in the room preparing herself for dinner!) The highlight of our cruise was our pool server "Double Trouble". His name was actually Mirdog or something similar in Serbian, but he went by the aforementioned moniker. Our glasses were never empty, but he wasn't pushy either...(think of a party hosted by a close friend where they want you to be a happy drinker, but not too drunk to drive home!) He was the best server I have had on a cruise before.All in all, we knew what to expect on this cruise and for that reason it met our expectations. Don't expect luxury as Carnival is the Southwest Airlines of the cruising world. But if you are looking for a quick, cheap getaway...this is the cruise for you!

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