Although our very first cruise did not start out well, we ended up having an amazing time! It took us three hours to board the ship. Apparently, due to another ship disembarking at the same time as the Elation, and a ceremony celebrating the inaugural cruise for the Elation from Mobile, embarkation was a nightmare. Several hundred of us drew the short straw, I suppose, and were automatically routed to off site parking on arrival at the port. After parking we had to lug our luggage and stand in line waiting for a bus to take us to the dock. It was a very long process, from that line, to the numerous other lines to get on the ship. Fellow cruisers who had cruised several times before were extremely upset with the situation, although they said it was an exception and embarkation has not been a problem in the past. The port of Mobile and Carnival were both blamed. I do not know who was responsible but it was bad enough that for our first time we considered turning around and going home, had it not been for the amount of money we had spent!
Thankfully, our experience got better. As first time cruisers, we were in awe of the ship. The atrium is beautiful. Our cabin had more room than I expected. We were able to unpack and put all the suitcases under the bed and have sufficient room, even though there is not much counter space. The bathroom cabinet has plenty of space for your necessities. It was great having nice fresh beach towels and robes in the room every day. The bed and pillows are very comfortable and will spoil you! With the exception of the shopping area being right outside the Mikado Lounge, which is the main entertainment area, which causes some crowding, all of the areas were in a good location and easy to get to. The Mikado Lounge is set up very nicely, with good views of the stage no matter where you sit.
The crew on the ship was outstanding. We were very well taken care of. Dinner was a great experience every night with wonderful, entertaining dining staff. The food was incredible. I tried to keep a journal and write down everything I tried but never had the time. Everything on the menu was great and the fresh bread was very good. Tiffany's, the regular buffet, was usually pretty crowded but the lines would move pretty fast. The food there was also very good. Tiffany's was adjacent to the pool area, which stayed pretty busy on sea days. We enjoyed the Serenity deck and hot tubs and did not go to the pool so I could not comment on the "chair hog" status. The Serenity deck is very relaxing and a great place for adult only time.
We found our cabin to be better than we expected. With 3 of us, they set up two twin beds as one king and there was a fold down bunk bed for our son. The beds and pillows were so comfortable. We found we had plenty of room to unpack and put away our clothes and stuff and had plenty of room to put the luggage under the bed. The bathroom has lots of space in the mirrored cabinet to hold toiletries and lots of bars to hold towels and wet clothes. The only noise we heard were noises of the ship itself. On the up side, we found the cabin to be quite comfortable, roomy and convenient. On the down side, the temperature/air was difficult to set, it sometimes felt "damp", and the t.v. isn't worth watching!