Ranked #21 Carnival fleet
Ranked #109 among all ships
One of the oldest "Fantasy-class" Carnival ships (1991), fine for short inexpensive getaways but the age shows in ...Read the CruiseMates report
Ranked #21 Carnival fleet
Ranked #109 among all ships
One of the oldest "Fantasy-class" Carnival ships (1991), fine for short inexpensive getaways but the age shows in ...Read the CruiseMates report
Well, here is my review of the Carnival Elation. I sailed on her as part of a singles group cruise leaving, Long Beach, California on April 27, 2003. The group was coordinated by www.singlescruise.com, which does about one cruise a month, mostly on Carnival. This travel agency was just awarded Carnival's Travel Agent of the Year for 2002.
I flew into Los Angeles (LAX) on Saturday, April 26, 2003 from Denver. I met a friend there who flew in from Portland, Oregon and another friend from Hermosa Beach, California. The three of us drove down to the Renaissance Hotel in Long Beach. As we were driving down, we were taking I-405 and planning to get on I-710. However, the southbound ramp from I-405 to southbound I-710 was closed for construction. The only warning of this were two electronic signs just before the I-110 interchange, which we missed seeing. We got off the freeway at the next exit, and wound our way onto Long Beach Blvd. which took us to where we needed to go, although it was a little longer than we expected. After we checked into the hotel, we metup with another group and went to Busters at Alhambra Bay. It was an interesting bar, but they had a live band going which made it hard for us to talk. We then decided to head back to the hotel and had a wonderful time chatting in the hotel bar. The next morning, I took the Blue Line train towards downtown LA. I got off at a station to go to a McDonalds for breakfast and had a yogurt parfait. After that, I checked out of my hotel and another friend took me to the terminal.
Recommendations: If you can, by all means go to the port city the day before the cruise. It will get your vacation started that much earlier, and you don't have the stress that air travel has become on the first day of your cruise.
I arrived at the Long Beach cruise ship terminal at about 10:45 a.m.. Passengers from the last cruise were still disembarking so it was a little hectic around the loading and unloading area. If you arrive early, they request that you check-in on board the Queen Mary. This wasn't bad, but it is a bit of a walk from where you park. This port is where the porters definitely earn their tips. After I checked in, they had us wait outside the dome until they began boarding passengers. This occurred around noon, but it could have occurred sooner. There was a wedding on the ship that day while it was still in port (it was held in the Romeo and Juliet Lounge) so they had them board before anyone else. At about noon, they let people board the ship. The man in front of me going through the metal detectors tried to get on board with a pocket knife. Carnival security made him check it at the pier. I was a little frazzled when they took my welcome aboard picture before the security photo. I thought I had missed a step since I was used to the procedure at the Port of Miami where the welcome aboard photo is the last thing you do before you head onto the ship. At any rate, I was on board the ship and chowing down on pizza by 12:30 p.m. or so.
Recommendations: Be sure to wear good walking shoes. You will definitely need them at the terminal. They could have more signage near the parking structure on where to go.
THE SHIP: B-
While showing some wear, the ship was excellent. The carpet in the halls could used to be replaced, but that was the only place that I noticed carpet stains (or could it have been the lighting?). There were a few burned out light bulbs here and there, but nothing major to report. A couple toilets flooded in the public men's rooms, and maintenance could have taken better care of the mess (like turning off the auto-flush on the flooding urinal!) Also, there are no paper towels in the public restrooms, and the hand dryers sounded very sickly. In the main show lounge, sight lines are horrible from most of the seats. and there are obstructing polls just about everywhere you turn.
Enough of the gripes, and on to the good points. The rooms are quite spacious considering all you do in them is sleep, shower, change clothes, and, well, you know. Carnival now has shampoo and shower gel dispensers in the showers. The public rooms were well decorated. This is when Joe Farcus was entering his "toned down" phase. Although there still is neon in the casino and disco, this is the only place on the ship where it is evident. Most other lighting is either indirect or recessed. However, the ship does have a slight purple hew, especially at night. The piano bar also had a neat black light effect, and everything was fairly easy to find (especially if you are used to Carnival's Fantasy-class ships)
My dining room staff was excellent. I ordered a Coke one night using a "fountain fun card" and never had to order one again in the dining room. I never had any problem getting an extra roll, which were usually warm. In fact, I had to shoe them away several times trying to give me an extra slice of tomato bread. My dining staff was always friendly and seemed to love their jobs. I rarely saw my cabin steward, but when I had to call him on a leaky shower head, it was taken care of immediately.
This was definitely the weak point on the cruise. While food in the lido deck cafe was good, the dining room food was disappointing. On the first night, I ordered a steak medium, and it came back medium-well On the second night, I ordered my prime rib medium. It came back mooing. In hindsight, I should have returned that to the kitchen so they could finish cooking it. The lobster bisque had almost no lobster in it. Several of us at our table thought we were served bean soup by mistake. When they served soufflé and the baked Alaska, they just gave it to us without asking, although we could have requested another selection then. That said, they were pretty good.
PORTS OF CALL:
PUERTO VILLARTA, JALISCO, MEXICO: B
This is an attractive port city with the mountains rising up just past the city. There is a Sam's Club right across the street from the cruise ship terminal in case you forgot something important. I took the countryside adventure and then the beach party tours, and was mildly disappointed in both. The countryside adventure was boring, and it ran late so I almost missed my beach excursion. At the beach, there was no locker room to change in, so we appropriated a restroom for our needs. The water was warm, but the current was strong that day so playing in the surf was challenging. I gave up when I was pushed under by a wave and drug almonds the seafloor for about five feet. Also, Mexican authorities have a bad habit of dumping raw sewage into their oceans. My swim clothes smelled of raw sewage the rest of the cruise.
[Pastor Mitch, please skip ahead to the next paragraph.] After the beach party, a group of us went over to Senor Frogs for drinks. The cruise director actually recommend we avoid going to Senior Frogs despite that it is one of Carnival's "recommended stores and restaurants". The restaurant was about 90% cruise passengers that day. I had two pina coladas in the yard-long glasses, and the bar had a conga line going with free tequila shots for everyone in line. Needless to say, I was bombed worse than Baghdad when I returned to the ship. I have no clue how I made it to dinner that night, but I could have sworn that the ship was rocking, even though we were still tied to the pier. I heard that some people in our group were having much difficulty returning to the ship. I won't go into details, but there are a few taxis in Puerto Villarta that were in need of cleaning that night.
Recommendations: [Welcome back, Pastor Mitch.] Next time, go to the jungle. There were several people in my group who did that and loved it. Also, the symbol for the United States Dollar and the Mexican Peso are both "$". Most places were giving an exchange rate of US$1.00 = MEX$10.00, or MEX$1.00 = US$0.10
MAZATLAN, SINALOA, MEXICO: B-
In this port I did the Sierra Madre tour. It was an excellent chance to get away from the resort properties and see the real Mexico. We stopped at a factory where they make adobe, a craft shop (I picked up an onyx dominoes set for US$20), a Church and canteen for a soda in the town of Concordia (about 40 km or 28 mi east of Mazatlan) and a canteen for lunch in Colima, Mexico (about 70 km or 40 mi east of Mazatlan). We were on a 40-foot bus going up and down streets that were better navigated by burros. At the end, they let us loose in Mazatlan's Golden Zone for shopping. Since all the stores are jewelry stores, I just wandered around for an hour and went back to the ship. Several second-class taxi drivers (second-class taxis are about like golf carts) offered me a ride, which I politely refused every time.
Recommendations: There really isn't much to do in this port. If you do go to a beach, stay out of the ocean! Local authorities dump raw sewage straight into the ocean, and the smell is horrendous.
CABO SAN LUCAS, BAJA CALIFORNIA SUR, MEXICO: A-
My only gripe with this port is that we were there for way too little time. Fortunately, Carnival will fix this problem when they introduce the Carnival Pride to this route in September. Until then, this is by far the most attractive port on this itinerary. I did the Land's End and beach party excursion. The Land's End tour was interesting, but the beach party was fabulous. The water was cool, but clear. I had a lot of fun playing in the surf. The beach had a very sharp drop when you got into the water so you could stay close to shore and still be able to jump around up to your neck.
Recommendations: If you want to go to the beach, this is the place to do it! If I could, I would hold off on taking this cruise just so you can spend more time in port until the Carnival Pride makes its first run on this itinerary on September 21, 2003.
SHIPBOARD EXPERIENCE: A+
I love sea days, and these were by far the highlight of the cruise. Carnival really kept the fun flowing. I never got bored at any one time. The shows were good, if you like Las Vegas revue type shows. The live bands were good, and I especially loved hanging out in the piano bar after the late night show. at about 6:30 p.m. PDT on Monday, April 28, a pod of Orcas breached near the ship giving everyone who saw them a thrill. I even got the courage to do the hairy chest contest which, considering you can count the hairs on my chest with one hand, took some guts. Needless to say, I didn't win (I thought it was the scary men's chest contest!). I had a great time bonding with my fellow passengers.
When we were at sea, the weather was relatively cool. I was used to the Caribbean where it is down right hot. Here, the temperature never really got out of the 60s on sea days, so I felt like I couldn't enjoy the pools.
As for the cruise director, Simon Pendergast. To me, a good cruise director is one who is out there without dominating the show. I felt Simon did a good job as the cruise director. He was good at getting the crowd to join him in loosening up a little without being obnoxious.
One thing to note on this cruise; the ship changes to Mountain Time after you go to bed on Monday and converts back to Pacific Time after you retire on Friday. This must be heck on the crew, but Puerto Villarta is on Central Time, and Mazatlan and Cabo San Lucas are on Mountain Time. The rule of thumb is that if it is formal night, you change your clocks before you go to bed.
Recommendations: If anyone is bored on a ship it is because they actually tried to be bored. There was so much I wanted to do but I really didn't have the time or energy to do it! Be sure to read your "Carnival Capers" every night before going to bed and plan out your next day,
They got this part right! You don't have to wait for hours on end while the cruse staff hunts down that one person who doesn't think they have to report to immigration before they get off the ship. You now clear customs on the pier. That said, they had two lines accepting passports, and one of the scanners was balky, so this process took longer than it needed to. I made it off the ship and to my bus to LAX in plenty of time. While we did have to wait until the bus filled up, I was off the ship, through immigration and customs, and on the way to the airport in about an hour. While a cab might have been quicker, it would have been much more expensive since the Long Beach pier is about a 45-minute freeway ride from LAX. After I checked my bags, the ticket agent recommended I head over to the Bradley International Terminal and eat at the food court there. This turned out to be a good idea since the selection there is much better than at the terminal I was at. I went back to the terminal and made it in plenty of time for my flight home.
Recommendations: Cruise lines (and the INS) don't need to hold passengers hostage while they hunt down a wayward passenger. It would be easier for everyone involved to do the immigration process on land since everyone has to get off the ship anyway. Port of Miami, did you see this?
I had an excellent time. While I may prefer the Caribbean, I could do another cruise to the Mexican Riviera. I would hold out until they spend longer in Cabo San Lucas, though.
Embarkation - this process was utterly disorganized. People were all over the outside area. You had to find the porters to drop off the baggage and then try to figure out where the end of the line was. God forbid you cut in front of anyone. It took us 2 1/2 hours to get on the ship. This was the longest I've ever waited. Good thing the weather was nice. However, once we got inside the building the process was very quick.
The ship itself is not the prettiest Carnival ship I have been on. I felt it was too dark and dull. I dress in those tones but I don't want to cruise in them! The ship is showing it's wear as after all it is 4 years old. We heard that she is going into dry dock for renovation. Hopefully they will breathe some color and life into her.
The service was good. Our waiter on a couple of occasions messed up our orders and sometimes if we ordered extra he forgot to bring it. But he did have several huge tables of folks to accomodate. We never hadto wait for our water to be refilled. I have to say here that as good as these folks are the dining room service could be improved upon. Sometimes for breakfast the waiters were rather slow and acted like they did not really want to serve us. by all means do eat lunch and dinner in the dining room. The food and choices are much better. Breakfast is the same every day at the Lido deck and dining room. One thing we did not care for is that breakfast in the dining room is served at 9am. Early seating lunch is at noon and then dinner at 5:45 or 6:15. by the time we finished breakfast it was time for lunch. I have been on other ships that started breakfast earlier than that. The food was very good, no complaints at all.
The cabin steward always kept our room clean and we rarely ever saw him.
Ports of call - Puerto Vallerta - is the most quaint village of the 3 visited. They have cobblestone streets and LOTS of shops and flea markets. If you go on the beach be prepared to be hawked by vendor after vendor. We rented a car here and drove to the Predator set. I don't know what this costs for the tour but I'm sure it's not worth it. It is a dusty and bumpy ride. I could not believe that tour buses go there, I would be fearing for my life driving to get there. The set consists of the burnt out helicopter, eatery, and booths of merchandise. There is a nice lagoon area to swim in with a rope swing and natural rock slide. Driving along the coastline and stopping for pictures was the best bet then back into town for shopping. You need to haggle with the people. Offer them 75% below what they are asking and then meet somewhere in the middle. It is guarenteed that you will find it cheaper in the next area!
Mazatlan - we rented some little "glorified" golf cart type cars called "zini". They were right off from the trolley that you must ride from the ship. There are only 2 in the whole city and went for $25 1st hour and $50 for 3. We asked to use them for the whole day and rented both. We offered $60 each. We had a blast, especially the guys driving. We drove all over in the old Mazatlan area. We went to the golden cathedral. There is a flea market here and the prices were even better than in PV. So do the rest of your shopping here! We then drove along the coast to shop in the Golden Zone area. Mazatlan I thought was just as scenic and a little bit cleaner but it lacked the charm of PV.
Cabo San Lucas - you only have about 4 hours here. Take a tour! We heard the whale sight seeing and snorkeling was good. This is the 1st place in MX I have ever been to that when the ship comes in at 7 the shops are not open. Some opened at 9 but most at 10. They did not want to haggle and the prices were highest here. Again take a tour, then before you leave you must go to Cabowabo cantina and get yourself a Waborita (margarita). They are excellent! Have several while you walk back to the ship. This is also a tender port. They say the last tender leaves at 11:30. We were there before then but did not actually get on one til noon.
As for the shows on the ship, I think they could have been better. We have seen some excellant shows and comedians on other cruises and this was about as bad as it gets. I was disappointed in the shows to say the least.
Debarkation - took us 3 hours from when they 1st starting calling the color tags. We were early flighers so we got off the ship 1st. Now I don't know if this process is because of the port but this was my 3rd cruise since 9/11, yet the 1st time that every individual had to punch in their sign and sail cards and go to immigrations/customs. Usually you went to customs if you were over the amounts allowed. Oh, they only allow 1 liter of alcohol per person. As for getting the baggage it was no worse then any other place.
Another disappointment was for past carnival cruisers they usually have a cocktail party before dinner. Not here, it was scheduled right in the middle of our dinner so we did not attend! While we still enjoyed this cruise I don't think I would do this iten or ship again. Since this was my fourth CCL cruise I will take this with a grain of salt but they need to do better on this one. Please though don't let me sway you against this as the ports where nice. Oh and one thing I almost forgot, be sure to watch for whales starting The Tuesday morn til you leave Cabo. We saw many whales and I even heard them singing early in the morning, now that was worth it all!
This is my review of the Dec.22-29th sailing of the Elation from L.A. to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. My husband and I were on our honeymoon. We had never cruised before.
Embarkation: We got there at 12:30 for a 1:30 "official" embarkation. The line was already moving, but slowly. The ticket agent who signed us in was very friendly. Finally, we boarded the ship and found our cabin. After embarkation, we had a couple of hours before the muster drill, which went smoothly. It's dull, but after that the fun starts!
Cabin: We were thrilled by our cabin! We had booked our trip through Priceline.com (great price!), so we were a little nervous about what we were getting into. It was an outside cabin with portholes, right up near the front of the ship, on the Empress deck. It rocked quite a bit, but we liked that. The portholes let in tons of light, which was good because I tend to be claustrophobic. The cabin itself was much larger that I expected (even the shower's big enough for two), and we even got bathrobes and toiletries. There was plentyof drawer and closet space, and I didn't even use the hanging shoe bag and hanging sweater bag I had brought (as recommended on the message boards). Our steward was nice, but I guess I was expecting more of him. We asked him for four drinking glasses, for instance, and most days only got two. Also, dirty glasses were never taken from our room.after awhile we had to take them up to the lido deck ourselves just to get them out of there. We were also supposed to get beach towels brought to us each day for our excursions, but one night he forgot them and we had to hunt him down the next day so we could have some. He did occasionally fold towel animals for us, and every morning and evening we got fresh bath towels, which was nice.
Dinner: We had the 8:30 late seating in the Imagination dining room. 8:30 is a little TOO late, in my opinion, but 5:00 is too early, so I guess I prefer 8:30. The dining room is COLD! We were seated at a rectangular table with four other couples. That meant 10 of us at a table that was designed to seat 8. They had placed a second small table with ours, which meant the couple arriving last had to sit across from each other instead of next to each other. Needless to say, they were very unhappy about this! One of the other couples at our table was very grouchy and unfriendly, but fortunately, they went straight to the maitre'd after dinner to be moved to an earlier seating. We were glad to see them go. Besides, then there was room for each person to sit next to his/her spouse.
Our waiter was named Sabby, and he was very rude the first night. He argued with pretty much everyone at the table when they placed their order. Most of us were new to cruising, and we didn't know the system of ordering the appetizer (AND soup.I thought you could have either appetizer OR soup), plus the entree and sometimes even dessert all at once. That first night, I made the mistake of looking at the "chef recommends" section to order my entree.turns out I was ordering another appetizer instead of the entree. It was confusing that first night and he acted all put out that we didn't know what we were doing. In addition, he never once offered seconds to anyone, and was annoyed on following nights when some of the men ordered two entrees right out of the gate. On the third night, a second couple from our table asked to be seated at another table because of Sabby. I think the maitre'd must have spoken to him after that, because he did get better. Not great.just better.
On one night, they brought a cake to our table to celebrate our honeymoon. It was a pretty big cake, big enough to share with our tablemates. The funny thing was that they brought a cake to another couple at our table too, who weren't even married. I guess it was a mistake, but Sabby wouldn't listen when they tried to tell him. Oh, well, they sang "Happy Honeymoon to You" to all four of us.
Food: The food was okay, but nothing to write home about. Most of the food was served lukewarm. We always had LOTS to eat, though. The portions were not as small as I had heard. The pizzeria is always open, with a few gourmet varieties as well as pepperoni or cheese pizza, or Caesar salad. The Lido deck serves yummy (and big!) cheeseburgers all afternoon. The breakfast buffet runs late, if you're a late sleeper like I am. The desserts in Tiffany's are pretty to look at, but flavorless. The soft-serve ice cream is good. The lobster in the dining room was a little tough, but my husband was always pleased with the steaks and prime rib. The grilled salmon on my last night was yummy. There is a sushi bar open in the early evenings, but we never tried it. Our tablemates said it was good.
As for beverages, I tried the iced tea in Tiffany's and the Cappuccino in the dining room. I didn't like them. Mostly I drank the diet coke I brought. (We hand-carried two 12-packs of diet coke and two bottles of wine onboard.we also smuggled in a fifth of vodka in Dasani water bottles.) The martinis in Gatsby's Great Bar were good, and a great price considering we ordered them with Bombay Blue Sapphire Gin.
Formal nights: I really loved the formal nights. I had bought two formals and couldn't wait to wear them, and I couldn't wait to see my husband in his tux. Most of the ladies were dressed to the nines, while the men wore dark suits (very few tuxes). It was wonderful to see everyone looking so nice! On non-formal nights, the dining room was full of blue jeans (and baseball caps and cowboy hats.a huge pet peeve of mine, even at McDonalds), and even men who hadn't shaved that day. I realize it's everyone's vacation, but there are always alternatives other than the dining room if you don't feel like shaving that night. JMHO.
There were lots of picture opportunities that night, with different backgrounds and photographers set up in several locations. I recommend having your pictures taken at lots of different locations on formal night, to make sure you have lots to choose from. We bought lots of pictures, because they turned out nice.
Night life: We are real night-owls, and were very excited about having a non-stop nightlife. However, on the first night the ship was DEAD. I guess everyone was tired from traveling to the ship, because after that it got much livelier at night. The dance clubs were not very good, though. Romeo and Juliet had a live band (not very good) that didn't draw very many listeners (I wanted to spend a little more time in there, but the room was so cold I couldn't stay). Jekyll and Hyde had dance music playing, but it drew mostly teenagers and they didn't dance much. The music in there was not very good for dancing at all, in fact. Even on Disco night they didn't play disco songs. The DJ (named Colin) was young and inexperienced and wasn't even familiar with most of the songs that are perennially popular for dancing. He played a few (not all) of our requests, and when he actually did play our requests, people would come dance until the songs were over and he went back to playing what he wanted. Then people would leave in droves. It was amazing. We enjoyed the casino a lot, and spent a lot of time just hanging out with a couple from our table.
Entertainment: The live shows were pretty good. The comedians were funny (Cameron on two nights, and another guy on a couple of other nights). The dance shows were called "Rhythm" and "Spin". We liked "Spin" best. We skipped the talent show (they showed video of the talent show later on the cabin TV and it looked pretty lame), and we skipped the kids' Christmas show.
Workout room: We went to the workout room every day except for two. Often we found the bikes all taken (our preferred form of exercise) so we would walk/jog around the track on the top deck. One day it was so windy up there, my husband's glasses blew off his face and almost off the deck! It was fun to play up there in the wind, where we were shoved around so much by it. Also, the view up there was always fantastic, especially in Mazatlan.
Puerto Vallarta: We took a two-hour excursion called "Mayan Beach Party." We just wanted a chance to play in the ocean. It was a 25 minute drive to the resort where they had a nice pool and some lounge chairs on the beach. The weather was overcast and I was cold, but the surf was nice and the water was warm.
Mazatlan: We didn't really want to shop, so we didn't go to the "Golden Zone." We were virtually accosted by taxi drivers who wanted to take us there, though. In fact, for a little while we didn't think we'd even be able to walk out of the passenger terminal because it seemed to be blocked off to all but taxi passengers. The taxi drivers would not help us find the way out. Finally, we just opened a huge gate that led out to the street and walked for awhile. It was a nice walk, but very hilly. We walked along the BEAUTIFUL shore and enjoyed the first sunshine we'd had the whole trip. The scenery here is much lovelier than what we saw in Puerto Vallarta. Then I got blisters and we decided to head back to the ship and maybe grab a taxi to the swimming beach. However, the weather turned cloudy and chilly just then so we stayed on the ship for the rest of the day. We enjoyed having the water slide, pool and hot tub mostly to ourselves.
Cabo San Lucas: Finally the weather was warm! We took a two-hour snorkel and sail cruise to Land's End. The water was COLD and there weren't many fish to see. My husband got stung by a jellyfish or something. He got some little welts, but they weren't much worse than a bee sting. The rock formations there are AWESOME and we had a great time despite the cold water. The only way to get back on the ship in Cabo is to take tendering boats. We were told the last tendering boat would leave for the ship at 11:30, but at 12:00 the line for tendering was still REALLY long, and by the time we got to the ship it was 12:50!
In conclusion: I would definitely recommend cruising to anyone! The weather on our trip was crummy, but there's no way to control that. Most of the public rooms on the ship were COLD, which was somewhat disappointing because we had planned the trip to Mexico so we could be warm for a change! The weather was finally sunny on the sail back home, and the Lido deck was then really full of deck chairs with people so glad to finally see some sun. We had such a fabulous time, though, staying up late, sleeping in late, getting waited on, and just having time for ourselves. We got to meet friendly people and eat all day (tee hee). We will definitely cruise again. Next time, we hope to take our kids with us (my husband has two and I have three, all aged between 8-15 years old.)
We left on a one week to Mexico aboard the Elation. The cruise was wonderful. The ship was great, the food was great and the service was excellent. We would definately go again. The shore excursions were all great with the exception of Deer Island at Mazatlan. Save your money.
It was a tent on a barren island. We were able to Kayak but not go into the water because of the Jelly fish. One man in our party didn't heed the warnings and got stung 3 times. I also did not like Mazatlan. Too many vendors and not my idea of a vacation destination. Loved Puerto Vallarta and Cabo. Would HIGHLY recommend the Los Caletas Shore Excusion in Puerto Vallarta. Paradise. Relaxing. Wonderful.
Our cruise ship, the Carnival 'Elation', was to leave port from Los Angeles and set sail down to Mexico. The orginal itinerary had us going to Puerto Vallarta first, then Mazatlan, and finally Cabo San Lucas. However, due to a problem with too many cruise ships being in port at once, our itinerary was reversed, which meant that we sailed all the way down to Cabo San Lucas first, and headed back towards Puerto Vallarta.
Our cruise director, Greg, assured us this was a good thing, as it meant more time for us in Cabo San Lucas, which he claimed as being the best port. However, to leave port, you should first have your luggage, and unfortunately not all our luggage made it to Los Angeles at the same time as us. When we were leaving Calgary, they informed us there was a problem with one of the cargo bays on the airplane, and that approximately 60 pieces of luggage would be left behind. United Airlines assured us the luggage would be sent out on the next available flight, and that our luggage would arrive by 5:30 p.m. One problem however,the cruise ship was leaving at 4:00 p.m. so we wouldn't have time to stick around. Fortunately most of our luggage made it, and we were only missing two suitcases, one belonging to Melanie and the other to Sheryl. (Luckily, being women, they had multiple suitcases, most of which did indeed arrive).
Carnival Cruise line couldn't have been more accomodating, and they had the delayed luggage routed to Cabo San Lucas, our first stop. So in 2 day's time, Melanie & Sheryl would be able to pick up the rest of their luggage, which was delivered right to our cabin. Carnival Cruise also gave them $100 credit to buy anything they couldn't live without for the first 2 days. Once again, being women, they bought shoes. Just kidding. Another couple from Calgary who were in the same situation told us that Carnival couldn't help them, because they had won their cruise, but had booked their own flight. To make matters worse, not a single piece of their luggage had arrived, so they had nothing for their first 2 days on board. This is something to think about for those of you who are thinking about booking your cruise & flight separately. If anything goes wrong, i.e. delayed flight, lost luggage, Carnival won't be held responsible.'The Elation' Despite being well aware of the scientific principles behind buoyancy, one is still amazed that such a huge structure can float. How big is the Elation? It's actually of comparable size to the Titanic, I did some quick research:
The porters brought all our luggage to our room, which was located on U deck, near the rear of the ship. It certainly wasn't the quietest room, you could hear a lot of noise at night, but it didn't bother me. The room was about 100 square feet, which for 4 adults isn't a lot of space. Somehow 4 beds were squeezed into this tiny area, 2 bunkbeds, a regular bed, and a bed on the floor. Once you throw a dresser and a bathroom in there, and unpack all your luggage, there's about 2 feet of actual walking space.
In general, all the food is located on the rear end of the ship, and all the entertainment is near the front end. The place where you end up eating the most is called 'Tiffany's', and can best be described as a cafeteria-style dining room that's open 24 hours a day. In the morning they have eggs, pancakes, bacon, etc, all served buffet style. For lunch they have hamburgers, chicken, steak, etc. For their midnight buffet, they have a chef preparing giant crepes, and of course the pizzeria is open 24 hours a day! In short, if you go hungry on a cruise ship, you've got a problem. They say the average weight gain on a 7 day cruise is 5 pounds and I believe it. I found the food to be delicious, but the cruise booking agent said if we had ever been on a Royal Carribean Cruise (supposedly the best food of all the cruise lines) we would find a huge difference in food quality. However, talking to people who had been on both Royal Carribean, and Carnival, those claims are unfounded.
'Tiffany's' is just ONE of the dining rooms available to you. The main dining room, the one where everybody goes to for dinner, serves breakfast & lunch as well. In addition, there is also a sushi bar, and a large buffet available on the main outside deck (Lido deck). Conceivably, you could stuff yourself 24 hours a day on the cruise ship.
There are 2 formal nights where everyone dresses to impress, but the rest of the time you're just expected to wear decent casual clothes in the dining room. Hopefully you will be seated with some great dinner companions like we were, because you'll be spending 7 dinner nights with them! If you can tell right off the bat you're not going to 'mesh well' with your dinner guests, politely take the maitre d' aside and ask to be moved.
Our maitre d', Merwyn from India, was superb, and catered to our every whim, he even brought me gourmet macaroni & cheese. His assistant, Victor from Russia, was also great, and both of them chatted with us quite a bit during the cruise. One note, you are expected to tip your table staff, which was no surprise to us, but what did surprise us was learning that these guys are paid absolutely no wages. They are not American citizens, and thus are not required to be paid any minimum wage. This is the way it is on all cruise lines, not just Carnival. Merwyn & Victor pointed out that Carnival treats them very well, and of course they can live & eat for free, but their wages are based entirely on tips. The 'suggested tip' is $25 per person for your maitre d' (for the entire week) and $14.50 for the assistant waiter. They have 4 tables (2 tables at the early seating, 2 at the late), with approximately 10 people per table, which means conceivably they could earn $1000 in a week, if everyone pays the recommended amount. However, many tables are full of kids, and I guarantee most parents won't be shelling out $25/kid, and some people are just jerks and don't tip. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if the head waiter takes a percentage of the tip. These guys also seem to work 18 hours a day, I see them working bright & early in the morning, all the way into the dead of the night. Your cabin attendant will also be expecting a $25 tip from each person, so when you book your cruise, tack another $100 on to it in your head.
When you book your cruise, you'll have a choice of being seated for the early dinner (5:30ish) or the late dinner (8:00ish). Personally, we liked the late dinner, because all the entertainment starts right after the late dinner. With the early dinner, you'd be sitting around bored, waiting for the late dinner folks to finish. Plus, when you're at port in Mexico, you can stay longer without worrying about coming back on time for dinner.
We didn't see much of our cabin attendant, Yul, in person, but it is their job to be discrete. You could certainly see his effects though. If you leave your cabin for more than a half-hour, expect to come back to find it all tidied up. Once a day Yul would leave chocolates on our pillows, and make animals out of our towels. Overall, I thought he did an excellent job, and the general consensus on the ship seemed to be everyone was pleased with their cabin attendants.
Our cruise director, Greg, was excellent. The cruise director is basically your M.C. for the entertainment in the theatre (Mikado Lounge), and he did a great job. Greg was very funny, and really seemed to get involved with the crowd. The rest of the staff was excellent as well, and were 100% courteous and considerate at all times. According to Greg, 'The Elation' has been rated #1 in the Carnival fleet via the passenger feeback forms you receive at the end of the cruise. Apparently 'The Elation' was rated #1 in cleanliness, entertainment, staff, and food, although I have no way of verifying this. Greg really did seem to be proud of his crew though.
Each night, in the Mikado Lounge, you are treated to at least one entertaining show. There were 2 Las Vegas-style revue shows that were pretty decent. Obviously this isn't Broadway, so don't expect too much and you won't be dissapointed. In the Mikado Lounge there are quite a few seats that have views obstructed by poles, so get there early if you want a good seat. Often times there will be a bingo game before a show, so sit through the bingo game, and acquire yourself a good spot.
There were a few comedians, each of which had a regular show, and then an 'adults only' show later on around midnight. I found the comedians to be really good, especially 'Jarome'. Jarome is a young black guy who I thought was really talented, and made fun of all the quirky experiences you'll find on the cruise ship. Jarome also gave a bonus show in the Mikado Lounge during the entire debarkation process (end of the cruise), which as experienced cruisers will tell you, can be the most boring part of the cruise.
There was also a talent show, which was alright (every 'talent' was singing), some funny audience-participation skits, and of course a world-famous fiddler! I'm not sure if they're on 'The Elation' all the time, but if the classical music girls are performing, be sure to check them out. They are 3 blonde girls from Poland, who play wonderful classical music, and are very easy on the eye. If I had my way they would have their own show in the Mikado Lounge!
There were a few 'party nights' on the main deck, outside, but it wasn't used as often as I imagined it would be. I always pictured everyone using the pool a lot, but hardly anyone did at all, except for little kids. Mind you, the weather wasn't the greatest coming out of Los Angeles, and when you're at sea it can get pretty windy. Unless you're a sucker, don't buy the drinks on board. They're $7.50 a pop ($10 Canadian!) and they are watered down. Do what we did, and sneak your alcohol on board in your suitcase (they don't check luggage). Sneaking alcohol on after this point is much trickier, when you come back on board after a day in Mexico, they scan your stuff and 'hold your alcohol for you' until you disembark. Just bring a few bottles of Vodka, and make your own drinks with the free orange juice & lemonade!
Our first stop, on our reverse itinerary, was Cabo San Lucas, which is apparently the nicest port of the three. It definitely seemed nice enough, but looked a lot like the other two ports to me. I swear the same litle girl sells chicklets in all 3 ports. We just walked around the Cabo San Lucas boardwalk, there really wasn't much to see besides a few stores. Cabo seems to be the most modernized of the 3 ports, and the cleanest. It might be a good idea to look up some highlights of the city first, so you don't end up just walking around all day like we did.
The second stop was Mazatlan. You'll want to take a taxi from port, otherwise it's a long walk to anything worth seeing. Don't worry about there being a shortage of taxis. You'll see many glorified golf carts zooming around dangerously, those are the taxis. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, negotiate a price with the driver before you get in the taxi. Point to a spot on your map, ask how much, and then offer him half.
We had our driver take us to the Mazatlan beach boardwalk, and started near the cliff divers, and worked our way towards Senor Frogs. We never made it all the way to the so-called 'Golden Zone', but I don't know why you'd want to go there anyways. Ask any local about The Golden Zone and they'll just laugh. They'll tell you that the Golden Zone is for suckers, and if you want any sort of real deal on jewelery, you need to go to the less touristy areas. Senor Frogs was fun, but pretty pricey.
Our last stop was Puerto Vallarta, and was the stop I was looking the most forward to, because we had reserved ourselves a spot on the 'Unimog Outback Adventure' tour. It's $80 a person, but it's about 7 hours, and in my opinion well worth it. If you don't know what a Unimog is, they're very powerful off-road vehicles designed for the German army. The tour takes you deep into a Mexican Jungle, and you stop off at a small village that gives you a true sense of what most Mexicans live like. You are also given a lot of information the the plants & trees in the jungle. Along the way you're fed all the alcohol you want, and at the end there is a buffet, with more alcohol, and a very nice beach to swim at. At $80 it's one of the pricier tours offered by Carnival (although not by much), but everyone who goes on it says it's worth it. Until the Unimogs came up, I had planned on renting dune buggies, which would have been a blast as well.
Things I'm Glad I Brought My own alcohol An alarm clock Multiple electrical outlet adapter (there's only one plugin in your cabin) A video camera Photo ID
Overall, I think Carnival is a great way to go, althought it's the only cruise line I've been on so I really can't compare. I would definitely cruise on Carnival again, and I really can't think of any complaints. If you have any questions feel free to give me a shout.
We had a wonderful time on The Elation to Mexico. This is our third cruise on Carnival and I am anxious for more.
Boarding on this cruise went very smoothly for us - we got to the pier about an hour and a half before the stated boarding time and there were already tons of people there. There were a lot of Carnival reps availabe to direct us to the correct areas and the only confusion was that there was no clear indication that you had to check your bags with the porter before you entered the terminal. I think we were on the ship within half an hour of arriving. We had the same experience on two San Jaun sailings with Carnival. Other cruises we have been on have taken up to two hours. Note that carry on baggage is checked very carefully and if you have any liquor with you it will be taken away and returned to you on the last day of the cruise. (This goes for any liquor purchase in ports). We do not drink but fair warning for those of you who do- drinks are about 5$ apiece.
Our Cabin (we received an upgrade from 1C to 4C) was fairly plain but had more space than many cruise lines. We were eating on the Lido deck by 12:30.
The ship has beautiful public rooms, my favourite was the inside boulevard or promenade that ran the length of the ship. A great place for people watching and eating sushi. You can even sit in the massage chairs although be prepared for quite a rigorous workout - not recommended if you have back problems.
The food in the dining rooms was excellent, with lots of seafood and capuccinos and espressos served without additional charge! I didn't care for their desserts but then I am extremely fussy in this area and prefer rich, moist desserts, Carnivals seem to be dry and they all taste diet. We had most of our meals in the dining room because of the availability of the espressos and capuccinos so we can't comment on the buffet meals in the Lido. It was always packed with people so that is probably a good sign.
Entertainment was adequate - the stage area appears slightly worn and the quality of the revues is not as good as on some other lines. They did have an excellent comedian on one night. One thing to make note of is that the show lounge fills up quite early and the seats in the balcony do not have good sight lines so you need to get in there about a half hour before the show starts to get a seat on the main floor.
We went on tours in Mazatlan (Sierra Madre tour- 7 hours)which was excellent and in Puerto Vallarta (countryside adventure) which was also good. The Carnival tours seem to be more reasonably priced than many of the other cruise lines. I would recommend a tour in Mazatlan since the city is not very attractive and the shopping is very kitschy and overpriced.
The ship is four years old and is kept very clean but is does show some signs of wear - nothing that will affect your enjoyment. My one gripe is that the bathrooms could have received a bit more attention.
Disembarkation was a nightmare but the blame for this could be Immigration and not Carnival. If you are planning flights home after the cruise I would definately suggest you not book a flight before 3:00 P.M.
This was a most enjoyable cruise and worth taking a second time.ehogan
I know everyone is curious as to what security changes have been made. We truley lucked out at the airport ( Mc Carren Las Vegas). When we arrrived we saw lines that looped around and around for what seemed like miles. We asked for the line to American Airlines. There wasnt one. American Airlines also had curb side checkin. Nothing was different about them taking our bags. They asked the usual questions. asked for ID. Gave us boarding passes and pointed us to the gate. It went so smoothly.You do need to show ID 3 times before getting on the plane. Flight was on time. All our luggage came thru the carrosel. Carnival reps were waiting for us. THEN my husband discovered he was missing his wallet. He had left it on the plane. We were lucky once again... someone had turned it into lost and found. Whew!
OK so about 30 min later we arrived at the pier. Around 2pm. Lines were soooo long. I found a Carnival rep and asked where the skippers club cat 12 people go. I was told there was no skippers club at the LosAngeles pier. I said so we are to wait in line for hrs, even tho Im cat 12? They took me to the front of the line and processed us.Teehee... Make sure you ask. Saved us from waiting in line for hrs.
The Elation is the cleanest Carnival ship ive been on.The staff is so good. I have not one complaint about the ship or its staff. We found our cabin and met our cabin steward. His name was Miguel and he was from Nicuraga(sp) BEST cabin steward we have ever had. He made our bed up with king size sheets and kept not one, but2 buckets of ice full for us at all times. The sea days were chilly. The Mexican Rivera is NOT the Caribbean. Doesnt compare as far as shopping, weather, sites. ect. We had 2 sea days filled with the normal bingo, shopping talks, tour talks, activities ect. The Captains dinner was Monday nite. Lobster was awful! In fact all the seafood on this trip was bad. But the rest of the food was great. The menu was slightly different than the other ships.
Wed- Puerto Vallarta... We took the tequilla tour. At 9am mind you *LOL* First we went to a shopping place, lots of crap. Nothing really to buy. We noticed a HUGE difference in jewelry prices. Mainly diamonds,than in the Caribbean. I dont know whos dumb enough to buy in this part of Mexico, but It wasnt us. Then we went to 2 tequilla factories. The first they showed how to make it the old fashioned way. Lots of free samples. They had flavored tequillas here. Was pretty interesting. Then we went to the modern factory. The tequilla was litterally running out of faucets into buckets. You could have as much as you could drink. People were filling water bottles full!
We passed on the sampling here because we had enough at the first place. The tour was interesting but a little too long. 5 1/2 hrs is too much tequilla for me.
Thurs- Mazatlan... We took a cab to the Golden Zone for shopping. I expected shopping to be like in the Caribbean. Nope. It seems the big attraction is Senior frogs. If you dont mind paying $8 for a beer and $12 for a margarita then have fun! We passed. But it was fun watching the people coming back on ship from Senior Frogs.. with thier balloon hats and drunken funny selves.
Fri- Cabo San Lucas... We took the Ecological snorkling tour. 3 zodiac boats filled with people set out for our first snorkling spot. Cabo has alot of hurricane damage to thier port. The water was clearer than its been for weeks according to the guide. The snorkling was great! They took us to a spot by Lovers beach were sea lions were resting on rocks. We snorkled there for a while. I got stung by the tiniest jellyfish about 5 times. Flet like an electric shock. Left a trail of red dots on my face and arms. Then we got back into the zodiacs and headed for a dif snorkle spot. We saw a huge manta ray jump out of the water. That was cool. The next snorkling spot had no jellyfish thank goodness and lots of really neet fish. Was a great tour.
Fri nite is also the last formal dress nite.The Gala Buffet ect..
Saturday was another sea day. Cold and windy at sea.
Sunday getting off the ship was painless. Off by 10am. We even declared all of our alcohal purchases and had to go thru customs to pay. They waved us. That was a nice surprise too. Flight home was on time. All in all it was a great trip. I wouldnt do the Mexican Riv again tho. I will stick to the Caribbean. They have a lot more to offer.
***** For people with questions about taking your own alcohal on board. Here is my experiance on this trip. We packed our Irish creme and 151 Rum in bubble wrap and them put between clothes inour checked suit cases. I also took a 12 pack of diet Dr pepper. No trouble with any of those items.
Alcohal purchased in ports you were told to leave at the desk and it would be delivered to your cabin. No one made sure you lfet it at the desk so people just walked right on by. They are so worried about other security issues they dont care much about the alcohal now. I guess I should mention the cruise director. Mark Price. He was really funny and talented. I hope I didnt leave out anything. If you have any specific questions, feel free to email me.
This was a wonderful cruise for myself and my 15 year old son. Although this was our fourth cruise, it was our first time with Carnival. We had such a great time and will definitely sail with Carnival again!
PREPARATION Some people will call me an organizational freak, but the following items worked very well for me:
Dinner Clothes: Plan out ALL your dinner clothes well in advance and write down each item for each day. Take them all to the cleaners and when you get them back, sort each outfit by day and leave them in the plastic. The morning you leave just place them all in a garment bag. Unpacking is a breeze (just hang them in the closet). I had NO wrinkles.
Envelopes / Cash: Prepare your own envelopes ahead of time. In each one I had money set aside for certain things. Parking ($70), Porter ($5), Room Service ($26), Cabin Steward ($50) Waiter ($50), Busboy ($30), Head Waiter ($10), Maitre D ($5), PV Shops ($40), Mazatlan Shops ($40), Cabo Shops ($20), Bingo ($130), Horseracing ($12), Slot Tournaments ($30), Raffles ($5), and don't forget the Casino (this was the thickestenvelope).
Sail & Sign Card: I used my ATM Bank Card. No problem what-so-ever. I figured out ahead of time what I thought I would spent on it. I came pretty close-within $40.00 but made sure I had about $200 extra in there. Pictures, Kid's Coke Card, Gift Shop, Ship Tours, Cook Books, Internet Cafe, Drinks from lounges and bars.
I did find out while on board that Bingo can be put on the Sail & Sign card or you may pay cash.
Got to terminal about 11:30am. WATCH OUT FOR THE PEOPLE THAT ARE JUST RETURNING. We got in the wrong line and wasted about half an hour only to realize that we were in the passenger pick-up line and not the luggage drop-off line. Make sure you stay in the furthest line to the right. Ask one of the parking people if you are unsure.
After dropping off luggage we went to park the car. Again, ask for directions. You do NOT pay for parking until you get back so make sure you don't spend that parking envelope. ($10.00 day = $70.00 total)
Went thru Security and Check-In...very painless...took about 10 minutes. They gave us a paper with Boarding Group #12 on it. Again, about 10 minutes until our group was called. We headed up and got our picture taken and then received our Sail & Sign card. As you board the ship, they have you put your card in this machine and they snap your picture. Whenever you return to the ship after port, you insert this card and your picture appears on the screen. This is also a tracking device on who is still out at port.
We boarded the ship at 12:45pm. We went immediately to our cabin. (U153) The cabin was much larger than any ship I've been on. What a nice surprise! (Now, if they could just do something about the size of the showers.) We unpacked our carry-ons (including the MUST HAVE closet sweater organizer and the over-the-door plastic organizer that actually fit better over-the-towel-rack.) I will never cruise again without those two items.
We went to Tiffany's for lunch. They had the hot food line and salad bar open, but we had the pizza and caesar salad instead. Both were very good.
When we went back to our cabin, lo and behold all 4 pieces of our luggage were outside our door. We had everything unpacked by 3:00pm. As we unpacked, we could see lines and lines of people trying to get on. Trust me, the earlier you get there the better!
We explored the ship until the life-boat drill at 4:15pm. We were at the front of the ship for "take-off", this was pretty cool. The ship actually left at 5:00pm instead of the 4:00pm sailing time. The Crystal Harmony was docked next to us. Beautiful ship but appeared much smaller than ours.
There are now four dining times. We had the earliest, which I didn't like at first but got used to it quickly. (5:45 - 6:15 - 8:00 - 8:30)
We had a booth that sat 6 people. We had the most fantastic waiter named Amin and our busboy was Oswald. This is the only cruise I've been on where the headwaiter spent so much time at our table. He was wonderful also.
Food: The food was excellent everywhere! Dining Room, Tiffany's, Pool Grill, Room Service. Every morning we had coffee and danish brought to our room. If you do call in your order, have your tip ready as they will be at your door just as soon as you hang up the phone. (I still don't know how they do this!)
Shows: Don't miss any of the comedy shows. We saw 3 and they were all so funny! They had 2 different Vegas Style shows that fill up quickly. Also, plan to attend any game shows they offer. They are a lot of fun to watch.
Activities: So many to chose from. Slot tournaments, survivor game, bingo, horseracing, guest talent show, ice carving demonstration, and the not to be missed Galley Tour. Bring your Sail & Sign card because you can buy cookbooks and Carnival items after the tour. (I regret not buying the bathrobe for $39)
Weather: Sunday-warm Monday-At Sea - cool, windy & overcast till 1pm then sunny & warm. Tuesday-At Sea - Sunny & warm Wednesday-Puerto Vallarta - very hot and humid, but windy on ship at night Thursday-Mazatlan - raining but humid, rained cleared up early, beautiful Friday-Cabo San Lucas - hottest port Saturday-At Sea - cool and windy
Puerto Vallarta: We took the Mayan Beach Party ($16.00 per person) Carnival Tour I liked the tour but it was much too short. (8:00am - 1:00pm) A bus took you on a 20 minute ride to the Paradise Village Resort-it was located on the beach and was beautiful. There were fun activities that you could either participate in or watch, as we did. You could swim in the warm ocean water (but there are a lot of vendors selling things here) ,take a leisurely walk or lay out by the magnificent pool (no vendors allowed). If you're hungry, they have the best nachos right there on the beach for $6.50. Remember, lunch is not provided. Unfortunately, the day was over before we were ready to leave.
We were back on the ship by 1:40pm and had lunch at Tiffany's. We braved the heat again and went out to the "Flea Market" at the dock. We didn't buy a thing. Every shop was the same and every vendor was very pushy.
Mazatlan: A few months prior to sailing, we booked a private tour over the internet with Randi's Happy Horses. She can be reached at: Randi@mazinfo.com Or if you'd like to preview her tour: www.mazinfo.com/hordebackride
This was such a beautiful ride! It's amazing how far away you feel from reality when you are on this tour. It's a must do!
Randi met us at the ship at 8:30am - even though it was raining. She had two helpers with her, Chris and Miguel. Between the three of them they were very organized in getting all of us (about 16) to our final destination on Stone Island. First was the tram to the pier, then the taxi to the water, then the boat to the island and finally a tractor wagon (yes, a tractor wagon) to the horses. Do not let any of this scare you. It was fun to try all the modes of transportation and it is all included in the $40 per person price. I had only ridden a horse once and I had the best time. It was very peaceful and the scenery was beautiful. On the way back we rode the horses on the beach and even stopped to take pictures. Once we brought the horses home, we walked a short distance to Victor's, where we ate lunch. (Our bill for two people including tip was $18.00) My son swam in the ocean and loved it. My first impression of Victor's reminded me of the outside cafes I've eaten at in Greece. It shocked me a little at first, but was soon very homey and welcoming. The only complaint I had was the constant vendors that approached you. If you need to do any shopping however, this is the place. Randi and her helpers were like old friends. Very funny and very polite. I am very glad we decided to take this tour!
Cabo San Lucas: Since the ship is only there from 7:00am - 12:30pm we did not book a tour. We did however take the tender to the pier and spent an hour or so at the nice shopping area there. Although it was extremely hot, the shops are located outside under tarps. I found the vendors here to be the nicest of all the ports. People say the prices are higher and they don't bargain as much...this may be true. But, I'll take nice people over pushy people any day. The water is SO blue and the port the nicest also. Like everyone else, I wish we had more time here. Be sure to get in line for the tender by 11:30 am as it took us about 30 minutes to get back on the ship.
Debarkation: Arrived in San Pedro at 7:00am. Ordered room service and was out of cabin by 9:15am. Went to Tiffany's for breakfast and hung out there until our luggage color was called. The first color was called at 10:10am. We were the fifth color called at 10:37am. It took us about 15 minutes to get down to our luggage. (PLEASE people, enjoy your last morning on the ship. Hang out anywhere EXCEPT the hallways) We found 3 of our 4 pieces immediately as they were right next to each other. A few moments later we were in our car for our 30 mile drive home. Debarkation was NOT a problem.
I'm Glad I Brought: Coffee Mug with Lid Lightweight Windbreaker (the air conditioner works everywhere!) Over-The-Door-Organizer Sweater Size Closet Organizer Highlighter Pen (to mark Carnival Capers activities) Small Notebook (for travel diary) 1" Binder with plastic inserts (to keep Carnival Capers, Photos, etc. in)
I hope anyone that reads this finds it helpful! Bon Voyage!JHJULINATOR@aol.com
I just returned from the July 8 sailing on the Elation. Overall the cruise was great. The ship is amazingly very clean. The cruise director, Mark Price is awesome!!
I traveled in from Newark NJ and used the Carnival Air/Sea program. I arrived at the pier at about 12:05 and was on the ship by 12:40. Apparently I beat the rush. Note - there are 2 sides to the pier one for air passengers and one for car passengers (this side was packed). Overall Embarkation was no problem.
The ship set sail at about 4:30 - be sure to be at the front of the ship for sail away - awesome views - be warned though, the Captain sounds the ships horn as you sail out of the harbor and it is LOD (awesome to)! Monday day at sea - The Pacific at this location is kind of cloudy and cool - like 65 degrees, yes in July. However, you can use the indoor Jacuzzi/whirlpool located in the gym area to warm up. They also have an excellent sauna/steam room.
Tuesday another fun day at sea - warmer today. During thedays at sea there are many on board activities going on ranging from pool games, to Bingo, to casino fun, to just simply relaxing.
Wednesday - Puerto Vallarta. Here I took the Beach Party Tour. This was great! They took us to a first class resort - Paradise Village where you had full access to all the facilities - pool, nice beach, lounges, etc… In the afternoon I went to Krystal Village Resort - it costs $6 to get in and is a short walk from the pier (This is not a Carnival Tour, you just show proof that you are from the ship and pay the entrance fee) This to was a first class resort. If you like swimming pools go here the pool is huge and awesome - It ranges from at spots 2” (yes inches) to 10' deep. In the 2” area you can lay down in the water and work on your tan - real nice. The beach here is nice to.
Thursday we were in Mazaltan. Here I took the Stone Island Tour. This was very good nice beach, good size waves. If you like to shop, however, do not take this tour, as there is no shopping. Prepare yourself, as Mazaltan is very primitive, though it is still very nice and hot 95 degrees.
Friday was Cabo San Luca. I took the Snorkeling Expedition Tour, which overall was ok because: 1) the water was cold; 2) the water was very choppy. However, it was still cool as we saw lots of colorful fish. Be care in Cabo, stay with the Carnival Tours. About 20 people went out on a water taxi (not Carnival operated) and the driver of the boat went to close to the Arches and an 8' wave overturned the small boat - 3 died - 7 went to the hospital - there we believe were no lifejackets. If you go out on the water wear a life jacket - it is choppy. As the ship departs Cabo, the Captain sounded the horn several times - be sure to be at the front of the ship if you want to hear it LOUD!
Saturday - A day at sea. Today it was cloudy and cold like 60 degrees. I heard that it is normally quite cool on Saturday returning to Los Angeles. As you can image the gym area, steam room/sauna were quite crowed. We arrived back in Los Angeles early at about 7am. Disembarkation was not to bad. I was off the ship at about 10 - got my luggage and was on the bus to the airport by 10:30.
The food on the ship was very good both in the restaurants and Lido buffets. The 24-hour pizzeria was excellent. The only downside if you can call it that was at dinner in the restaurant, some of the nites it took 1 hour from the time you ordered until the appetizer was served - kind of long for me.
The cruise was great. I would do it again in a heartbeat. Please feel free to e-mail me with any questions you may have.
The most overriding pro is that the ship was very clean and inviting and that the crew members were continually cleaning to keep it that way. My room steward, Pak, and the dining room service team, Romeo and Attila, could not have been any more professional and congenial. They were excellent in every respect.
The floor plan of the ship is very easy to understand and the lighted signs at almost every entryway made it easy to find your way around the ship from the very first day. There were few lines anywhere on the ship except at every embarkation and debarkation. The Lido deck food service area is well planned to avoid lines and a pleasant place to eat. The addition of a stack of trays to carry your meal to the table would be a helpful item. Although there were several hundred children aboard, they were usually well behaved and supervised. The 24 hour pizza was tasty and always available when I was hungry hours before the appointed 8:00 PM dining hour. The library was well stocked with a variety of reading material and quite comfortable. The Mozart Triowas by far my favorite music although I enjoyed Ted at the Piano and James at the Drama bar also. Although it was not a tour provided by the ship, the highlight of my cruise was the horseback riding in Mazatlan with Randi's Happy Horses which I found on the internet through some of the cruise reviews.
The cons from my point of view: The emergency drill was next to useless and very uncomfortable. The food in the dining room was quite variable from very good to fair at different meals. There was an extreme shortage of fruits and vegetables served and none were available in the dining room even if you asked for them. The meat course at dinner was generally well prepared with a garnish of vegetable and a tiny serving of rice or other grain. If a sauce, even cocktail sauce for shrimps, was listed on the menu it was just a dime size decoration on the plate. More was available if you asked for it.
All of the hot tubs were always full of young children playing without supervision. Never did I find one available for adult relaxation. This may have been because the pool water was always very cold.
Although this ship has a deck called the promenade, it does not really have a promenade deck where you can walk around the ship and enjoy the sea air. The ship is predominantly an indoor resort which floats and includes a few short decks outside filled with smokers. Most of the music in the evening was too loud to sit and enjoy. The lounges were small and did not need so much amplification.
For anyone who might be interested here is my daily journal of observations in chronological order, not in order of importance.
I had an easy flight into LAX where I was met by friendly Carnival staff who passed us from one to another as we picked up luggage, put it into the designated truck, and were put on a bus to transfer us to the pier. One lady said she felt like cattle at a round up; I felt secure that I was on the correct path to my adventure.
This efficiency ended when we got to the pier. The ship was very late arriving at the pier so that they were not ready for us yet. We were kept in a large holding room for our processing where there were four different long lines. The employees were friendly and the lines each moved fairly quickly. First there was document control to check paperwork and take tickets, then on to a group of chairs to wait for a bus to take us back to the correct terminal for the Elation. After the line to get on a bus we got in another line at the terminal to check our tickets again and go through the security check like the one at an airport. The last line was an extremely long one to actually get our ID cards and get onto the ship. Luckily the weather was very pleasant or it would have been a miserable experience. It took 2.5 hours from airport arrival to buffet line on the ship. I was allowed to leave my carry on luggage in my cabin.
The lunch was quite good with lots of choices from hamburgers with french fries to fresh pizza or a cafeteria style buffet of salads, hot dishes, and desserts. Overall it was of medium quality with great variety. The turkey roast was juicy and the french fries hot and fresh so I was happy. I immediately bought the $30 card for unlimited soft drinks during the week. I was never pressured to order drinks and the card was honored in a friendly manner at all bars all week. The only problem was that room temperature soda from a can was poured over ice so that all drinks ended up being quickly watered down.
The ship is not as garish as the Celebration on which I have previously cruised with my teen aged daughter, but still much too overdone for my taste. Any one of the decor elements in any spot might be beautiful, but too many at once were just gaudy. The atrium was most beautiful at night when only the lights and the copper coloring were featured.
My travel agent had told me that I would have twin beds with a roommate to be assigned or a single cabin by myself as I had paid over $900 for the fare. This was much higher than anyone else I talked with if the mention of the fare came up. My roommate had been sent an email with a picture of a twin bed cabin and told she would have a private room for her $1000. Instead the two of us are in the smallest inside cabin on the ship with two bunk beds and very little floor space. The bathroom is adequate and there is plenty of closet and drawer space. When we went down to the purser we were told that the travel agents are supposed to have checked the final fare before sailing day as Carnival will refund the difference between the fare we paid and the final fare charged if the agent checks before sailing. Since ours didn't there was nothing they could do at this time. I mentioned that it was too late for the travel agent to help us as we were now in the hands of the Carnival staff. I asked that we at least be given a decent sized cabin for the exorbitant amount we were paying compared to others who had made reservations even later. They said there was nothing they could do as the ship was full; a roll away bed would be put into the room. I later found out that rooms were available and my roommate, by being consistent in her daily requests, finally got a cabin to herself on the third day. This gave me a cabin to myself too. The cabin which had been so completely inadequate for two was just fine for one person. I still do not understand why my travel agent did not look out better for my interests and why Carnival treated us so shabbily in the first place. I had tried using a travel agent who specializes in vacations for single persons. I was hoping to avoid the usual single supplement and other overcharges commonly charged to single travelers. I had thought that the guaranteed share meant that I would pay the same and get the same treatment as two people traveling together. This was not the case. After I realized that Carnival had no intention of treating us fairly, I decided to ignore the problem and enjoy the cruise. I have found that you can always focus on the bad aspects if you want to; and I prefer not to do this.
After the time at the purser's desk I headed off to see the Maitre D to change my 8:45 PM late dinner seating. I was informed there was no space at 8:00 PM.
Before we left the dock it was time for the emergency lifeboat drill. I have been on several cruises so I thought I knew approximately what to expect. Wrong! The most complete lifeboat drill was on the Universe Explorer in Vancouver where roll was taken at each muster station and the crew went to find any missing person. After all were accounted for, the captain checked each group to make sure all life vests fit properly and were tightened properly. His attitude about the seriousness of this drill was clearly transmitted to us. After this we were told where to go and what to do in an emergency. We were shown two routes to our muster station, one using back stairs in case the emergency blocked the main stairway. I can understand that the Elation carries more passengers so that the captain could not personally check every passenger, but we had the complete opposite extreme. I was assigned to gather in the Mikado lounge as my muster station. We were supposed to keep our uncomfortable vests on the whole time. We waited nearly an hour in the lounge, most of the time spent waiting for stragglers who kept arriving. There were two young people in charge of the whole group who were very friendly about helping people get their vests on. After waiting for the hour we were escorted as a huge mob up the stairs to the place where the life boats would be. We stood there wedged together very tightly for awhile, then we were excused. There was no explanation of what we would actually do in an emergency situation or of how the lifeboats would get to us. I could not believe that this met the Coast Guard Requirement.
After the drill I read for awhile in the Mark Twain library, one of the most tastefully decorated rooms I have seen so far. The chairs looked good, but were not comfortable to curl up in with a good book. I later found that the most comfortable chairs were on the Promenade deck forward of the Atrium. Large black leather chairs facing the sea, perfect for relaxing and reading.
Dinner was delicious; a lot of variety of choices, good service and excellently prepared entrees. The spring lamb was perfectly cooked. There were ten at our table and all but two found their entree choice to be delicious. The mushroom soup was also very good as I had read in a review that it would be. Desserts were pretty, but not especially tasty. Black Forest cake is a favorite of mine. What they called Black Forest cake was layers of chocolate cake alternated with layers of whipped cream. There were a few cherries baked into the cake batter. A poor relative of the real thing.
The people at our table were a diverse and friendly group. I was looking forward to meals with them, but my table was changed the next morning to the 8:00 PM sitting that I had requested. My new table mates were a family of five at a table for six so I was given the extra seat. They also turned out to be extremely nice people with whom I enjoyed sharing many meals. They ate many of their meals elsewhere so I often ate at a table for one.
Breakfast in the dining room was not as good as breakfast at a good coffee shop. The eggs benedict came with cold, congealed sauce, the Danish were served cold, and the orange juice was made with too much water. Another day the omelet was overcooked until completely dry although the menu said fluffy. The oatmeal was good and Romeo was very nice about bring the brown sugar I prefer for it; but after a couple of days I ate breakfast on the Lido deck. The food was no better, but it was more enjoyable eaten out on deck. Lunches in the dining room were quite good. This was the only meal with enough vegetables as salads were often featured. At dinner each evening there was a vegetable garnish, but you could not have any more unless you took a whole second entree which I did a couple of times primarily to get more vegetables.
After breakfast I went back to the library and checked out a book. $25 was charged to my ship board account to be refunded if the book was returned by Saturday. The ship is quite rocky so I had to take sea sick preventative medication the whole time. I think this is the reason that I was sleepy a lot of the time. I do not have this problem when cruising on rivers or in the Caribbean. After lunch I went to the Mikado lounge to watch a dance lesson. The two young instructors were friendly and patient. The couples on the stage ranged from about twelve to over sixty and all appeared to be having a good time. by the end of the lesson most looked quite proficient at the cha cha and could even do some step variations. After the dance lesson I stayed for the ship's version of the TV show 'What's My Line'. The audience tried to guess the vocations of fellow travelers who turned out to be a comic book salesman, a TV producer, and a pain specialist. It was a pleasant way to spend the time. After the show I grabbed a slice of hot pizza on the Lido deck to carry me over until dinner and retired to the library to read as it is too cold to read out on deck. I have found in conversations that several people booked this cruise after doing the same trip last Easter. They enjoyed it enough to do the same thing again.
Since it is Captain's welcome night the menu features lobster, prime rib, and salmon. All on one night so that you must choose. Everyone at our table chose the lobster. It was a bit tough and dry, but tasted good. I was able to get the baked potato from the prime rib dinner. This plus a couple of sprigs of broccoli made a nice dinner. Between dinner and the main show I sampled the clubs along Elation Way on the Promenade deck. They were generally nice, but again the volume took precedence over the quality of the performance, even in the intimate setting of the Romeo and Juliet lounge. The main after dinner show was a Las Vegas type review. It had colorful costumes, energetic dancing, and well done special effects; however, the music was so loud that the voices were distorted coming through the sound system. Maybe that is to be expected in a show entitled 'Rhythm'. I had arrived early enough to get a good seat in the balcony and found the show a pleasant way to end the day.
Tuesday morning I spent reading. After lunch I perused the gift shops before going to tea with live classical music. The afternoon tea was very low key and enjoyable with a selection of teas and a waiter circulating with a tray of little cakes. A piano, violin duo played light classical pieces quite competently. This has been my favorite scheduled activity so far on the cruise. Today I am trying the patch behind the ear. It seems to make me less sleepy than the pills. The weather is overcast and too cool to sit out on the deck and read so I will rest in my cabin until dinner.
Dinner tonight was several choices of routine foods presented in an elegant fashion. It was OK, but nothing special. My roommate has found that the dining selections for a vegetarian are completely inadequate; a few slices of green pepper and some pilaf or something similar. The after dinner comedian was sometimes funny, but mostly bathroom humor of the type that appeals to nine year old boys. The fiddler was good, but over loud due to excessive amplification. I left after one number as I have had enough loud music to last a long time.
Today, Wednesday, I woke up with a very upset digestive system so I stayed in the cabin until it calmed down then had a breakfast of Rice Krispies and ginger ale. We are docked in Puerto Vallarta, but I have decided to stay on the ship and read. It was also nice to get on the treadmill in the well equipped gym with no wait. The lunch buffet in the dining room was nothing special; cold cuts, salads, rolls, and overdone roast beef. I did not check out the Lido deck to see if it was better since I planned to eat a very light lunch anyway. After lunch I finished my book from the library. I ate very little for dinner even though it looked good as I still do not feel well in the tummy. I am surprised to feel so ill when I have not eaten anything ashore yet. After dinner there was folk dancing and Mariarchi music in the Mikado lounge. After the show I went to cash a travelers cheque to be ready for Mazatlan tomorrow. The Atrium is much prettier at night with just the colored lighting as the main design element.
I set my alarm for 7:00 AM so that I would be ready for my horseback ride at 8:30. by 8:00 they had told us that fog would prohibit our timely entry into the channel for the dock at Mazatlan. They finally let us off the ship at about noon and there was Randi, with her sign, who had waited for us. We were transported to Stone Island where we were given instructions and helped onto our horses. I had never been on a horse and was quite apprehensive. It did not help when I was told that the name of my horse was Lightning. Luckily it was definitely the wrong name for him as he was extremely patient. I was terrified for the first fifteen minutes and would have gotten off if I had known how to, but by the end of the ride through palm trees and along a beautiful ocean beach I was able to keep up a respectable trot and had a wonderful time. Randi and her two assistants were very encouraging and helpful. After the ride we had refreshments at a beach restaurant and some of the group played in the waves which were great for body surfing. Some of us bought souvenirs and some had a delicious late lunch. I bought two beautifully carved wooden animals for $10 apiece. It was definitely the best part of the trip so far. Randi and her assistants got us back to the ship in plenty of time for our 5:30 PM sailing. The tour was $40 for all transportation from the gangplank of the ship and back, the ride, and a soda or beer at the restaurant after the ride.
After the ride I enjoyed the music of the Mozart trio until time for dinner. I had a decent, but not great, veal entree. The best part was the small serving of cubed zucchini under the veal.
On Friday we anchored outside Cabo San Lucas on a perfectly gorgeous day. I had a pleasant breakfast sitting on the deck outside of Tiffanies on Lido deck. Again I enjoyed the gym with almost no other people. I did my mile on the treadmill with no wait. After this I lounged on the promenade in a comfortable leather chair near the atrium until time to go up on top and enjoy the perfect view as we sailed off.
The lentil soup at lunch was good, but the pepper steak, Chinese style was just OK. Next I listened to the Mozart trio for an hour on Elation way at the Musical Cafe. The ship is definitely rocking more this evening. As I got ready for the Gala evening I noticed that the little cabin is just as right for one person as it was inferior for two. I am sure glad that my roommate was able to get her own cabin so that I also have some space in this one. I had grown quite tired of bruising my shins on the roll away each time I used the bathroom or answered the phone. Tonight was one of the better dinners. Prime rib and grilled jumbo prawns were among the choices. After dinner I want to the show in the Mikado lounge. The dancers were energetic, the costumes clever, but the overall presentation was even more disjointed and amateur feeling than the Monday show. The dragon ice carving at the Gala buffet was spectacular. I enjoyed looking at the beautifully presented food, but did not stay to sample any. I sat for awhile at the Drama bar and listened to James playing guitar and singing. It was very pleasant, not over amplified as most of the music has been. The ship left Cabo over an hour late and is going quite fast with lots of rocking and creaking. The ear patch seems to be working. I am not sick and I am sure I would have been without it. Two were missing from our dinner group feeling ill. The ship rocked fairly gently all night. This is once when I am glad I have a midship cabin on the very bottom passenger deck. The upper ones will be feeling a lot more of the motion.
Today is the last day on the ship. Lunch was a beautifully prepared salmon fillet with an adequate serving of julienne vegetables. This had been one of the best meals on the ship. After lunch I packed my larger case and went up to listen to music until dinner. The ship was pitching and rolling so badly that three of our table mates could not eat dinner. I felt it even with the patch so I spent the evening on deck until show time. A lot of people were getting sick in the restrooms and they were not getting cleaned. I called the infirmary to ask a question, but there was no answer to the telephone, it just kept ringing.
I went to the show in the Mikado lounge. Both the band and the featured musician were so loud that I could not stay for the comedian. I could hear the band clear past the atrium until I was outside on the deck. So many people were sick that I decided to go to bed where the rocking of the ship soon had me sound asleep. The disembarkation went smoothly although the lines were long.
Although I had a good time on the Elation; I would not take this cruise again unless I were sailing with my grandchildren. I prefer a ship where quality is the main emphasis not quantity. Music, food, and decoration all had quantity as their main feature. I really enjoy meat at dinner, but feel that fruits and vegetables need to be an integral part of the meal, not just a garnish. On several cruises vegetables and potatoes were passed in separate bowls by the assistant waiters so that each passenger could take as much or as little as preferred. This would be a nice addition on the Elation. Also on most other cruises I have taken I have truly enjoyed just sitting and listening to the dance bands in the lounges. Almost everything on this ship was just too loud to be enjoyed just for listening and relaxation. I think it is a good vacation for families and young singles, just not for me, especially not at the price I paid.