Encompassing two decks (8 and 9) at the front of the ship, The Mikado Lounge is home to two of Carnival's most popular entertainment options: Playlist Productions song and dance performances and Hasbro, The Game Show. It's also home to the Welcome Aboard Show, Seuss-a-Palooza: Story Time, and the fun Love and Marriage show. As such, it fills up fast as soon as the doors open. On the main floor, the majority of seating provides a good view of the stage, though seats in the far corners or back are partially blocked by columns between them and the stage. On the second floor, the seating is theater-style, with tiered rows but there are columns that can block sight lines, as well as sound and lighting booths on both sides of the aisle, which are both distracting and can block the view.
During our five-night cruise, three Playlist Productions shows were staged: "Heart of Soul," "Divas" and "Epic Rock." Although each show was featured just one night during the cruise, there were two show times for each so cruisers could catch a performance regardless of their dining time. Some featured more elaborate choreography, sets and costume changes than others, but as a whole they were entertaining. Passengers always seemed to be loving the performances, singing along when they recognized favorite tunes.
A variety of games, seminars, karaoke and other entertainment take place around the ship throughout the day. One look at the Fun Times schedule of events, and you'll find there is too much to do on just one cruise. These include health seminars, art classes, Yahtzee sessions led by the entertainment staff, trivia, master mixologist competitions and more.
Many of activities occur on the Lido Deck near the swimming pool. These include the beanbag toss, ice carving and the Miss Carnival Elation contest.
Even after a full day of action, passengers can keep going for hours after the sun sets. Live music is available around the ship, including in the atrium, at the Drama Bar, in the Romeo & Juliet Lounge, in Duke's Piano Bar and at the Jeykll & Hyde Nightclub. The atrium also plays hosts to trivia several nights during the cruise.
While somewhat busy during the day, the Casablanca Casino really kicks into high gear in the evening. Passengers enjoy games of chance at the card tables and slot machines. The casino also hosts a number of tournaments and competitions, such as the Three Card Prime Showdown, Scratch & Win, Spin & Win and a blackjack tournament.
Atrium Bar (Deck 7): This small bar in the center of the atrium is a favorite spot to grab a drink. There's not much seating at the bar, but there are seating areas nearby. Drinks range from beer and wine to frozen cocktails. Lines at the bar tend to pick up before dinner as passengers mill about.
Duke's Piano Bar (Deck 8): As the name implies, a piano is the focal point of this bar, with seating all around. The decor is New York City-inspired, complete with a giant Statue of Liberty head, skyscraper cutouts on the walls and what appears to be the George Washington Bridge. Passengers can enjoy their favorite drink as they listen to live music late into the night.
Cole Porter Club (Deck 9): Reminiscent of a 1970s lounge, the Cole Porter Club is another busy gathering place in the evening. With a blue tile dance floor and stage at the center, this lounge features booth seating on three sides. On most nights of our cruise, the club hosted family- and adult-oriented comedy shows as part of the Punchliner Comedy Club. When comedy is not center stage, the club hosts movies, karaoke and an adult game night known as Carnival Quest.
Drama Bar (Deck 9): Located along the promenade, this is a good spot to grab a drink in the evening and enjoy some people-watching. You'll find all the standards on the bar's menu.
Romeo & Juliet Lounge (Deck 9): This blue and gold lounge is an interesting mix of tables with chairs and booth seating situated under arched "porticos." There's also a stage in the back that hosts live music with a band and karaoke. A bar with barstools sits opposite the stage.
Jekyll & Hyde Nightclub (Deck 9): What better place to dance the night away than this glitter-inspired nightclub with its eclectic collection of statues of dancers? Usually opening its doors at 10 p.m., the lounge contains plenty of dance floor space, as well as seating along the perimeter for those who want to catch their breath or have a drink.
Gatsby's Great Bar (Deck 9): A more low-key area, this bar features lots of tables and chairs where passengers can enjoy a pre-dinner cocktail (the Inspiration main dining room is right downstairs) or pre-Comedy show drink (the Cole Porter lounge is just behind the bar).
BlueIguana Tequila Bar (Deck 10): Adding during a 2017 refurb, this Mexican-themed bar is a festive place to enjoy a tequila-based beverage. The wood counters are accented with colorful Mexican tile and include a row of barstools. Drink selections include margaritas, Mexican beer and tequila. Thanks to its poolside location, BlueIguana Tequila Bar is popular all day long.
RedFrog Rum Bar (Deck 10): Boasting a "quintessential Caribbean vacation vibe," this poolside bar includes the main bar as well as two "satellite" bars, all with barstools. The rum-inspired menu includes Red's Rum Treasure, mojitos, daiquiris and beer, including Carnival's own private brew, ThirstyFrog Red. Like its counterpart across the deck, RedFrog Rum Bar stays busy all day and night.
Lido Aft Bar (Deck 10): Located at the back of Tiffany's Restaurant, this small bar serves up beer, wine, frozen cocktails and soft drinks to those dining at the buffet. It also is popular with adults lounging on the Serenity Deck one deck down.
Elation has one main pool, which is on the Lido Deck, and is accompanied by hot tubs on each end. As such, this is one busy place. Deck chairs and loungers surround the pool and also cover the perimeter on the next deck up. There are two additional hot tubs located on the adults-only Serenity Deck at the back of the ship.
Located on the rear of the ship on Deck 11, the WaterWorks water park features an enclosed 300-foot-long Twister water slide, two 82-foot-long racing slides and a splash zone for kids. There also are two smaller racing slides for the little kids. While this spot is popular every day, it's especially crowded on sea days. The deck is covered with lounge chairs so parents have a good view of their kids splashing around.
On Decks 12 and 14, passengers can share some friendly competition at bocce ball, Ping-Pong, mini-golf, an oversized chess set and shuffleboard. During our cruise, most of these games were in full swing at all times, although the mini-golf course was shut down one day due to high winds.
The most popular sun decks are those located near and around the main pool, although not on the same deck as the pool. Lounge chairs are everywhere and do fill up fast. There didn't seem to be much in the way of "saving" chairs with towels; most chairs we saw were always occupied.
At the back of the ship on Deck 9, the adults-only Serenity Deck remained full on sea days. The space includes lounge chairs out in the sun, and chairs and love seats in the shade under a roof. There are a few umbrellas in the front row of loungers, but not many. There are also two hot tubs, one on each side of the deck. Towel and bar service are available.
Two of the busiest places we saw all cruise long were the Guest Services and Shore Excursions desks in the atrium on Deck 7. Just down from these hot spots is the Internet Cafe. We never saw anyone using the computers here, which is not to say passengers weren't taking advantage of Carnival's Wi-Fi services.
The cruise line offers three internet packages: The Social Wi-Fi Plan provides access to most social networking sites as well as many airline sites. The cost is $4 per day if booked pre-cruise or $5 per day once onboard. The Value Wi-Fi Plan includes access to most social networks, many airline sites and sites for news, entertainment, weather, sports, banking and finance. The cost is $10.25 per day if booked pre-cruise or $12 per day once onboard. A 24-hour Value Plan is available for $16 once onboard. The Premium Wi-Fi Plan includes access to all sites listed under the other plans but at a faster rate than the other plans. While Skype is supported whenever coverage allows, other video and music streaming services are not supported. The cost is $14.88 per day if booked pre-cruise or $17.70 per day once onboard. A 24-hour Premium Plan for $25 is available once onboard.
Passengers using the Carnival HUB app can pay a one-time $5 fee to utilize the app's chat feature to text other friends and family onboard.
On Deck 8, the Mark Twain Library is a popular spot, offering passengers a place to read, play cards or board games, or hang out with family and friends. Passengers will find plenty of games and books in the library, which they can borrow and return after they finish.
Those looking for onboard souvenirs can pop into The Fun Shops, as well as the Swarovski Boutique. We had hoped to enjoy a bit more shopping onboard, the selection of shops was small. There were also some "sidewalk" sales during the week, but still not much of an overall shopping selection.
On Deck 9, the Pixels Gallery encompasses the wall space all around the atrium on the forward side. In addition to your favorite photos of your cruise, picture frames, photo albums and other photo-related materials are available for purchase.
Self-service launderettes are found on all stateroom decks, and contain washers, dryers, an iron and ironing board. Washers and dryers are coin-operated, so bring lots of quarters. The cost is $3.25 per washer load and $3.25 per dryer load. Laundry detergent is available for purchase.
Those in need of medical attention will find a medical center on Deck 3.
Open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Spa Carnival provides massage and body therapy treatments plus facials and acupuncture. Sample services include hot stone massages, seaweed wraps with massage and deep-cleansing facials. The spa also offers men's services like the Elemis Pro-Collagen Grooming Treatment with Shave and the Elemis Skin IQ Facial. There's also a medi-spa offering cosmetic services, including dermal filler and wrinkle treatments.
In the adjacent salon, cruisers can book such services as a blow out, a deep conditioning treatment, a manicure and pedicure, and even teeth whitening.
Overlooking the ocean below, the fitness center is outfitted with cardiovascular equipment (treadmills, ellipticals, exercise bikes), free weight machines, hand weights and exercise balls. In addition, fitness classes are available for a fee; for a free option check out the early morning or evening stretch classes offered on various days during the cruise. Open to passengers ages 18 and older, gym hours are 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Well-known as a family-friendly cruise line, Carnival offers plenty for families to enjoy on all its ships, and Elation is no different. The Carnival WaterWorks water park is a kid magnet for kids of all ages and the Dr. Seuss-themed offerings -- Seuss-A-Palooza Parade & Story Time and the Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast -- as well as Hasbro, The Game Show certainly attract a lot of families, as well.
Another attraction for kids is the arcade, where kids can while away the hours (and your money, so remember to set a limit) on racing games, games of skill and air hockey.
Camp Ocean has an updated marine-inspired decor and program names designed for kids ages 2 through 11. The aim is to showcase the wonders of the sea through arts and crafts, more than 200 ocean-themed activities, science-oriented programming, and more.
Penguins (ages 2 to 5), Sting Rays (ages 6 to 8) and Sharks (ages 9 to 11) all participate in such activities as musical chairs, arts and crafts, games, and kids' choice, where the kids choose what they want to do from a group of preset stations. Activities do vary by age group.
Camp Ocean is open daily from morning to night (while in port and at sea), although there can be some breaks in the late afternoon on some days. On embarkation day, the camp usually doesn't open until evening. Kids can enjoy dinner with their new friends at Camp Ocean, as well. Menu items include pasta, chicken nuggets, mac 'n' cheese, grilled cheese, hot dogs, hamburgers and other kid-friendly dishes.
Children ages 2 to 8 must be signed in and signed out by an authorized adult age 18 or older. Children ages 9 to 11 may sign themselves in and out if parents provide permission. Parents must provide diapers and toiletries for any child not potty-trained. Also, any child not potty-trained is prohibited from all water facilities on board.
While attending Camp Ocean is free for all children throughout the day, there is a paid option (called Night Owls) from 10 p.m. to 1 a.m. The cost is $6.75 per hour, per child plus a 15 percent gratuity per child.
Preteens and teens each have their own club as well. Circle C is for children ages 12 to 14, while Club O2 is for teens ages 15 to 17. At both, they are invited to make new friends as they play video or board games, hit the floor at a dance party, compete in a scavenger hunt or Capture the Flag, or attend the Elation Prom.
Unlike Camp Ocean, Circle C and Club O2 activities don't start until lunchtime and operate with a break. A sea day schedule, for instance, may be from noon to 5 p.m., and then from 8:30 p.m. to 1 a.m. While kids must be registered to participate in Circle C and Club O2, they are not required to sign in or out.