By Jodi Thompson
Cruise Critic Contributor
3.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Dining

On Carnival Elation, there are two options for dinner. You can either opt for set seating (choices are 6 or 8:15 p.m.) or go with a flexible option (Carnival's "Your Time Dining"). With the flexible choice, you can have dinner in the main dining room anytime they like between 5:45 and 9:30 p.m. (times may vary). Dining assignments -- which you select before the cruise -- are made on a first come, first served basis, so if you have your heart set on one or the other, consider booking earlier rather than later.

Imagination is located on Atlantic Deck, midship, and Inspiration is on Atlantic Deck aft. There is open seating in the restaurants for breakfast and lunch.

Each menu features six starters, a couple of salads, and six or seven main courses (with choices including pan-fried fillet of red snapper, sweet and sour shrimp, rack of New Zealand lamb, and beef Wellington). There are also several Spa Carnival selections on each menu -- dishes that are lower in calories, sodium, cholesterol and fat. A vegetarian selection is also available.

Service is cordial and professional.

Beyond Inspiration and Imagination, the ship's other main dining venue is the informal Tiffany's Bar and Grill on the Lido Deck, which offers both inside and poolside seating. All meals here are served buffet style, and there is open seating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Other alternative eating options include a 24-hour pizzeria, a complimentary sushi bar and 24-hour room service. Carnival is one of the few lines to still offer midnight buffets; themes varied, from a Mexican night to a gala "anything goes" spread.

Caveat #1: Tiffany's gets especially crowded at breakfast and congestion often builds up near the omelet station due to a slow-moving line. So you may want to get up early and eat breakfast sooner rather than later if you want to avoid delays here.

Caveat #2: The dinner buffet offerings in Tiffany's are very limited compared to the extensive choices on the menu in the main dining rooms; there may be only one or two main courses to choose from and the choice of appetizers, salads and desserts is also less than what is available in the restaurants.

Caveat #3: There are very few tables for two in either Inspiration or Imagination with most tables accommodating 6, 8 and 10 people. Those who want to dine with only their spouse or significant other would have to eat either in Tiffany's, which has many tables accommodating couples, or order room service.

Also available on all of Carnival's ships is The Chef's Table dining experience, which affords a dozen passengers a multicourse dinner with a master chef, a private cocktail reception and a tour of the galley and its operations. This dining option usually takes place in a nontraditional venue, such as the galley or library, and can be booked onboard at the information desk for a per-person cost of $75.

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