We are a gold level member of Carnival and had completely STOPPED using them after 2 bad experiences back to back in 2017. We decided to give them another try on our honeymoon cruise this week (currently writing this while on the ship, last day) and honestly it was a mistake to even entertain the thought of coming back. For the last 2 years we have been using Norwegian and LOVE it. Much higher class, much better service and better maintained.
First, I want to state that we are in our 30's and 40's and are generally easy going and RARELY complain. (We are not the typical nagging customer "looking for a handout" complainers) so please know that everything I put here is the truth and not exaggerated: (see pics as well)
The hallways and stateroom areas are not patrolled and quiet time or rules are not enforced, at all... period. Ever. We have had to call security 3 of the 5 nights of this cruise due to EXTREME noise from drunk, loud groups congregating and socializing in the hallways at 1 and 2AM. I recorded videos on 2 of the nights just to show security and guest services. Literally groups of 4-7 people were allowed to stay in the hallways just outside staterooms and LOUDLY socialize, yell, laugh and drink. A dozen different bars upstairs but they were on deck 6 which is ALL staterooms acting out. In speaking with the people at our dining table we learned that this was also the case on other decks and one couple even demanded another room after calling security and guest services didn't correct the issue. You can hear every noise through the walls on the Elation as well. The guests next door to us had 2 children, with names I could not pronounce but I knew their names... How? Because you could clearly hear them through the walls.
The ship is VERY dirty and no rules are enforced on dishes, food and towels... As you can see from the pics, mounds of plates with half eaten food and glasses of cocktails are left all down the halls (pics taken on several decks). Half eaten food even tossed on the floor and left?! And not for short periods. This stuff is left for hours upon hours. A piece of glass is currently in my right foot from a broken wine glass left in the hallway by the drunken group that we had to complain about on multiple nights. Mounds of towels were tossed into the hallways and left for many hours. I had to assist a disabled guest with her wheelchair more than once when she was unable to get down the hallway due to towels on one side and 2 full trays of dishes and half eaten food on the other (surprise!)
The dress code in the dining room isn't enforced, ever. Never. Again as you can see from the pics, half naked, soaking wet swimmers are allowed to walk into the dining room and eat, without shoes and all right in front of staff. We watched as pool water dripped off a ladies head and breasts into food and silverware baskets. Carnival staff standing FEET away and nothing is ever said or enforced (so why do you even advertise your "Dress code rule" .. Answer: to make customers believe it will be possible to have a decent meal without seeing thongs and butts or without eating pool water that has rolled off someone's head). The elevators were always dirty and had vomit in them two times that we used them (avoid pics if you have a weak stomach) Dishes left in the elevators just like the hallways. (See pics)
The Elation is horribly maintained and "feels" like a badly managed rental apartment. Repairs are sub-par, walls are damaged all over the ship, paint doesn't match, an elevator in the atrium doesn't work so they block it off with a table and display boards. The same guests allowed to come into the dining room from the pool are also in the atriums and interior areas congregating and sitting on furniture, soaking it, and then the furniture stays wet for hours and you cannot sit down to enjoy shows or to have a drink.
As you can see in the pics, trying to avoid the buffet and go to the dining room is useless. The tables are literally 6 inches apart. You are basically sitting on top of the people beside you, there is no one on one service, just one overworked waiter who works his way down the line taking EVERYONE'S order at one time. Our waiter actually took orders from 6 tables at once. 6! Due to that we waited on drinks for 23 mins (screenshot of times available) and what felt like longer for food (was too aggravated to time or worry about it by that point).
The food is nothing special and basically the same every night. The food is very cold, not exaggerating, literally cold.. some was Luke warm but nothing has been "hot" The menu is slightly rearranged each night but it's generally the same. There are no displays or information readily available of what will be served for each meal (besides very vague details in Hub app Ex: Tonight is Caribbean night) The areas and boards where the "menu" or info would normally be were always blank or missing. The burger restaurant has a "menu" but you can't "order" ...they literally line you up and hand out exactly the same thing to every guest - a burger on a bun with cheese (you get to get your own toppings on a separate bar) so there's no choice for the doneness of your burger and to get one without cheese you have to literally yell and stop the "assembly line" process and then the service people just seem annoyed. The Mexican cantina is also an "assembly" line. The tacos were actually pretty good, the tortillas were fresh but the taco salad shells are left sitting out and are very stale, not crispy at all. The toppings for the cantina are on a separate bar but they were not well stocked and were empty most of the times. They were also "contaminated" with other items, cheese in the salsa, habanero in the cheese, sour cream all over the bar and mixed up. Wasn't clean or well cared for at all. Staff also let very very young children "serve" themselves from the buffet, 6 to 7 year old children "playing" in the food and unattended. Running through the dining room and around tables. The cleanliness and temperature of food is a great concern for us due to the recent news of Carnival Ships failing CDC inspections. Beware.
Cabins were ok, showers are small and typical, doors and walls are very thin. No exaggerating. You will NOT get a peaceful night on this ship. The staff does not enforce any sort of rules or quiet time and you can hear everything, literally. The queen bed is 2 twins pushed together and they slide apart all night. You cannot hold onto your wife or husband without falling into the crack of the beds splitting. Have to push them together multiple times a night. When we told our room steward he said he would fix but never did. TV remote batteries were dead there's no table or night stand close to the bed for your phone or a drink to sit on.
Public areas are not well maintained like the rest of the ship, pics provided of the public bathroom on deck 9 show examples. At least one stall was always out of order but no sign used to communicate, the toilet brush is simply laid on top of the toilet to signal that it doesn't work. Trash and urine left in the floors for at least 2 consecutive days that we are aware of, we did notice someone cleaning them today (last day). Very poor caulking and mismatched paint and repairs. On several occasions the "crew doors" were left swinging open and not closed, ceiling tiles were damaged and AC vents bent, damaged and held on the ceiling by tape.
The ports of call on this cruise were Grand Turk and a strictly Carnival "owned" port called Amber Cove in the Dominican republic. Grand Turk was great, the excursions were crowded and overpriced as they always are so we opted to explore the island ourselves. The Amber Cove stop was super disappointing. Since it's owned by Carnival, it's basically all the same shops and merchandise as you find on the ship. Everything, literally everything is owned and controlled by Carnival. There's nothing "local" about the port. Nothing. It really takes away the point of traveling. The only way to see or do anything local is to find a way to get to the closest town of Puerta Plata. You have to force your way away from Carnivals influence and control. Locate a taxi which is a long walk away from the Port (Carnival wants to force you to stay there and spend your money there). The time in Port is very short and doesn't allow for you to really do much. (Except spend your money on Carnivals "stuff") speaking of money do not be fooled by the "cheers" package, you are limited to 15 drinks, still charged gratuity and limited to a time limit on how soon you can order one. To us it didn't matter but they fail to communicate that when they are collecting the crazy amount from you. (Check out Norwegians deals, truly unlimited drinks and even INCLUDED in Sky and Sun cruises...just FYI)*** I am not a Norwegian rep and I am not being paid in any way ... Seriously just a fan and happy customer****
Overall this cruise has the same issues that the other Carnival cruises have had that made us leave the brand. Carnival is basically the "Walmart" of cruising and they do great at making you feel exactly like "walmart". Get on board, spend your money, you do not matter, and get off so they can get the next group on. That's it. You spend over $1000 just to get on board then there's no peace and quiet, everything is dirty, no rules enforced, cold food, loud obnoxious people, vomit in elevators and bathrooms, dishes, food and trash tossed and left everywhere. Even when you call guest services for issues they aren't fixed and the ship is very old and in poor shape. ** I will also add that I have given Carnival proper notice of the extreme issues and have even sent this review and pics to their customer relations team and have yet to get a response.**
Loud, small and typical. Not relaxing