This was my husband and my first cruise ever and it was a wonderful experience. We were celebrating our 5 year anniversary and I have to say it was a good choice. We drove over night from Northern Indiana to New Orleans and stayed the ... Read More
This was my husband and my first cruise ever and it was a wonderful experience. We were celebrating our 5 year anniversary and I have to say it was a good choice. We drove over night from Northern Indiana to New Orleans and stayed the day and night there and explored the city since it was our first time there as well.
Check-in at the port was super quick and easy since we got there around 11am and there were no lines at all to wait in. We bought the Faster to the Fun package, which is listed under shore excursions, for $50 and it was so nice to be able to board early, after wedding parties and suites, and have our rooms ready as soon as we boarded. This also gave us priority at the customer service desk, and a dedicated line in our cabin for customer service, which we never actually needed this time, but it's nice to have the option. We took our things to our carry on to our room then headed to the lido for lunch.
OMG, I cannot convey how amazing the food was the entire time! There are buffet's everywhere and when they're closed between meals, the deli and pizza place is open 24 hours a day. I was never ever hungry. The servers were amazing and several knew us by name by the end of the cruise. On a ship with thousands of people, I found that to be so impressive and just made my experience that much better.
Dress code for dining, depending on where you were dining, which day, and time of day. The lido deck is casual 24/7. No worries there. The main dining rooms are a little more dressy, especially at dinner, where they don't allow flip flops, cut offs, hats. A nice pair of khakis or jeans and a nice shirt for both genders, or maybe a skirt or dress for the ladies is recommended at dinner. We never made it to the dining rooms for lunch so I'm not really sure how the dress code was. Our cruise was a 5 day, so there was 1 "Cruise Elegant" night, which is on a Sea day, where everyone dressed up, in varying levels. The men wore from dress shirt and pants with a tie, to a tuxedo. The ladies wore slacks with a nice blouse, to short cocktail dresses, to long formal gowns. I personally loved having the chance to dress up, so i wore a floor length gown. But as long as you're dressed up, it's whatever you want!
We did buy an unlimited internet package on the first day. We went for the middle tier which offered Facebook and messenger, as well as web browsing. It is satellite internet, so it wasn't super fast, but I was able to keep in contact with my family members and send photos back home easily. I only seemed to actually have problems when we were at the aft or the bow of the ship where I'm sure the signal was weakest, and was understandable.
We also purchased the Cheers! beverage program, which was $50/person/day, and had to be bought the first day of the cruise, for everyone in our cabin. The program gives you 15 alcoholic drinks a day (my husband and I never made it past 12) and unlimited pop as well. Drinks on the ship range from $6-10, so if you think you might exceed $50 in a day on alcohol, I would definitely suggest this for you. Keep in mind, it must be purchased on the 1st day, except when sailing from Texas, it can't be bought til the next day due to regulations.
Our cabin was an oceanview room, nothing to fancy. They weren't the most beautiful rooms, with their orange/pink early 90's paint scheme. The magnet on the door that kept it open was broken, so it didn't stay open with the sway of the boat. But for a ship as old as the Elation, that's to be expected. The rest of the ship was slightly dated but well kept, and still breathtaking for first time cruisers like ourselves.
Our first port was Cozumel. And it was raining. Which was slightly annoying, but since we didn't book any excursions, we weren't too put out by it. We had fun shopping at the main port, then went to the outdoor mall, which was pretty dead due to the weather. We stopped at a small tequila shop and bought a couple bottles of tequila to bring back home, which had to be turned over to crew members and were held til we returned to the States. On our way back to the ship, we stopped at Marguaritaville which was a very fun experience. They sang and danced and the food was great.
Our second stop was Progresso, Yucatan. We didn't book any excursions through Carnival for this one either and when we got to shore, we found one provided by locals for way less than we'd have paid if we'd gone through Carnival. This one was a 45 minute bus ride to the Dzibilchaltun Ruins. Our guide was very knowledgeable and funny and we learned a lot about the ruins. Then we had another 30 minute bus ride to Merida City and ate lunch at Yum Ixpu, which was also amazing, before heading back to the ship.
They have professional photographers every where all the time and you'll have your picture taken so much, you'll have plenty of chances to get great photos with your friends and family. As the days go by, they will display your photos for review for you to choose and purchase. I waited the last day so that I had all of my options to choose from. Just make sure you don't wait too late as they may not be able to get them done on time if you have special orders like souvenirs or special prints.
The crew on our ship were wonderful and I can't say enough good things about them. Every day, we returned to our cabin to find an animal made out of towels and our room tidied up, which was a feet in itself, because I am so messy in rooms like that haha. Our room was also close the the atrium bar, and the ladies there were so attentive. They knew our names by the 2nd night, and knew our drink preferences. We made sure we tipped them well as well as our steward since they did such an amazing job.
Debarkation couldn't have been simpler. Since we'd bought the Faster to the Fun pass, we were called to debark right after suites. They had given us the option to check our luggage to leave, or carry it ourselves. We decided to just keep a backpack for each of us, and check the rest so we wouldn't have to carry our 4 other bags while leaving the ship. Once we were back at port, on our way through, we grabbed our bags and on our way we went. Completely effortless.
I can't say it enough, this was a wonderful time and we had so much fun. The Faster to the Fun made it so effortless and I can't recommend it enough. Definitely consider the Cheers! program too. My husband and I have decided we will not cruise without them! Read Less