Wanting to go to Bermuda from Florida, the only ship available was the Carnival Elation from Jacksonville, an eight day cruise beginning April 7th. My husband and I have sailed on Carnival before, the last time being in the winter of 2015. Although we do not frequent the clubs or the casino, we have always enjoyed the comfort of the cabins, the attentiveness and friendliness of the staff, the shows and the food. I am not going to make a day-by-day critique of the cruise, which in itself was fine - we got to Bermuda and back safely again - but there were highs and lows of the shipboard experience, a major part of what we go on cruises for. First the highs - the ship was very clean, the staff were very attentive and friendly as always, the bed was comfy, and I liked the well-stocked library. The main gift shop was adequate. There were ample places to hang out, both outside and in. The embarkation and disembarkation went well. The shore excursion desk was helpful, even though we decided on a last-minute tour. Now for the lows - the amenities and the food were a great disappointment from what we had previously experienced on Carnival. Our cabin (Ocean View) although adequate, was tiny and lacked even a chair on which to sit and put on our shoes. There was no place other than the bed on which to read or watch TV. (There was a little backless seat under the vanity.) While we still received the charming towel animals on our bed each day, service, which had previously been twice a day was now cut down to once a day - our choice of morning or evening -and the feeling of being pampered was lost. Well, we could live with that, although the lack of a place to sit was very uncomfortable.
The biggest negative was the food. What happened to the almost-always delicious food on Carnival? We did not have one meal in the dining room that was above average and most were below. The portions at dinner were tiny. One person at our dinner table asked if the main course was actually an appetizer. The Lido was stripped clean after the main meals and that included all the desserts that were once put out for after dinner coffee at our leisure. After dinner time, absolutely no desserts anywhere to be found! Oh yes, there is soft swirl ice cream... I understand that desserts were put out after midnight or eleven p.m. but I for one am not eating/drinking cake and coffee at that hour. Breakfast on the Lido was OK. Lunch on the Lido buffet was pretty much awful, with the exceptions of the grill and the salad bar, both very good.) The dining room for breakfast and lunch were much better than the Lido. Carnival has even cut TV. I know some are thinking, you're going on a cruise and you're watching TV? Well, yes, one time Dancing With the Stars was on...now there are no networks except news, classic movies and cartoons. OK, so that's minor, but another example of cuts in service. There were a couple other irritations, but nothing to mention, as perhaps it was just our perception at the time. All in all, a nice sail to Bermuda, but Carnival apparently is cutting our shipboard experience along with the budget and will likely be losing more than a few customers as well.