This is a ship that isn’t a big topic on the boards (unless there was something to complain about it seemed) so I am happy to add some information to future cruisers considering the Elation or some info for those of you already booked!
To give some context for my review – on this cruise it was myself and husband (both 45) and our 16 yo daughter. This was our 6th Carnival and 7th cruise. We are big fans of travel – multiple All-Inclusive trips throughout Mexico, Cuba, VRBOs in Mexico and 20+ trips to Las Vegas filling our cold Canadian passports.
We booked this trip to follow our 5 Day adventure in Disneyworld. The ship and itinerary were the only ones that worked into the schedule so that was the one and only reason we booked this ship. We booked directly with Carnival via the website – no PVP or other agent used for our planning.
We travelled on our 5 Day from Port Canaveral to Amber Cove and Grand Turk. We stayed in cabin U243 – an extended Aft Balcony, our first in this category. We normally stay in a regular balcony.
Over All Impressions (as it is pretty long below):
· Staff were fantastic, super engaging, hard working and always had a “Good Morning” or “Good Evening” as we walked by
· The ship is clean, sure its older and ready for dry dock to tighten up a few things but no complaints at all on the cleanliness or the state of the public areas or staterooms
· Food and drink were awesome and plentiful – YTD worked great
· Casino was fun but smoky
· Didn’t attend any big shows – but everywhere we looked people seemed entertained and happy 😊
Embarkation & Debarkation:
We had Zone 1A arriving between 11:30-12:00 – I had checked in online on the first available day at 6:00 am and was able to get this sweet time. We typically have purchased FTTF but with this boarding group I did not purchase -I only regretted not having FTTF for the 2 hours we had to hang onto our carry-on luggage while we waited for our rooms. I did miss not being able to walk right into our cabins, but for this trip I was okay without it. We left Disneyworld in an Uber ($112+ tip for a Suburban) around 10:15 and arrived right for 11:30, we dropped our bags with the Porter and started the walk onto the ship and other than showing our passports and boarding passes kept on walking right on board!! We were on board in the sun having lunch in no time. Cabins were ready right at 1:30 and we had all our luggage before Muster.
A key note about debarkation – it had been 3 years since our last cruise, we were used to our cabin stewards leaving zone tags in our room the day before. We totally missed info that we had to pick up our zone tags from a kiosk on a deck that I can’t recall right now LOL – but by the time we saw it all were gone for early debarkation – all that were left were later ones. We picked up tags for Zone 17 that afternoon.
Debarkation day we were up and out of the cabin before 8:00 and went to the dining room for a nice sit-down breakfast. I thought the menu for debarkation had some better options than the Sea Day Bunch. It was a nice relaxing way to end the trip. We couldn’t hear any announcements about boarding zones in there however, so after a couple of coffees it was close to 8:30 so we left the restaurant to see what zone they were on. We ended up being able to just get in the lonnggg line for leaving and we headed on our way out and off the ship. We had a porter help us with our bags which sped up the process of customs which was a quick wave after review of our Canadian passports. We were out on the curb and hailing our next ride home by 9:00 am. This was our one misstep – we knew going from Disney was going to be a pain so used an Uber for ease, but holiday brain prevented us from considering and lining up a bus or cheaper transport to the airport after the cruise. Oh well – I do hate the big busses or waiting for other people, so we paid another $100+ for the Uber back to the airport. We didn’t rent a car, so it was nice to avoid all the logistics of a rental this trip. We were at the airport 45 minutes after pickup.
We had an extended aft balcony which was lovely – cabin U243. I absolutely loved the view from the back of the ship. In port we saw dolphins swimming between the ships – so cool to see! We had a king bed with an upper pullman that was right overtop the head of the king bed. I was nervous about the comfort and ability for my daughter to sleep in this but she found it super comfy and we only cracked our heads and arms a few times in the night (😉) It took some getting used to having the bed overtop of us… and I didn’t love that it stayed out the whole trip. This makes sitting on the bed to watch TV (there is no couch as we have had in other cabins) less than ideal. But if it was the only option, we would book a similar cabin again in the future.
The bathroom had less shelving than we have had on previous cruises so used the shelves in main cabin to store some of the toiletries and make up. But overall, we had enough space for all our clothes, shoes and still space to move around in the cabin.
On the balcony it was quite loud from the water going by – but I loved it. You can even feel the spray (this is on deck 6) more of a light mist at times, not a lot of water. It was never super sunny out there, lots of shade so I enjoyed reading and napping out on the balcony on the sea days.
Our room steward gave us the option of service in the morning, evening or both. We chose both and he was fantastic – it was like he was our personal room ninja! Our rooms would be serviced immediately after we left both in the morning (out usually by 9 am) and evenings (after 7pm). We had a towel animal each day as well 😊 We didn’t request ice or anything else from him. Also used the fridge to keep our bottles of water cold. It worked great.
Food & Drinks
We always choose YTD. I like to be able to go for dinner when it works for our family and also eat at table with just our family. We met in the atrium lounge each night around 7 pm – husband would head to the casino while my daughter and I got ready. When we arrived, we never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a table (when there was a wait). We had a different team of servers each night and they were all fantastic. From start to finish each night was round an hour or so. The food always started coming out quickly and our meals were what we ordered and really quite good. Only one night my husband’s flat iron was a bit overdone, but he still enjoyed it. On our last night we ordered off the Steakhouse menus – a surf & turn, a 14 oz and the filet. All three were delicious. It was a nice way to end the trip!
My husband and I purchased the Cheers package – I love not having to think about how much I am spending on drinks throughout the cruise. Some days I didn’t make it worthwhile (less than 5 drinks over the day) and others I did 😊 We had good bar service throughout the trip and I enjoyed the wines available in the dining room. Only wish I could have had the J.Lohr throughout the ship, not just in the dining room. The coffee bar was great – love that it was included in the Cheers program – iced coffees, milk shakes and water bottles made up for when I had less than the “number” of alcoholic beverages throughout the day.
I hated the sugar straws and avoided ordering slushy drinks to avoid them – I meant to purchase some reusable plastic straws but never got around to it.
This was our first time visiting the Dominican Republic and Turks and Caicos.
For Amber Cove we booked our very first Carnival excursion. Typically, we get out hail a taxi and find a cool local beach. Based on travel warnings and travelling with our daughter we decided to take the more secure route and book with Carnival. I am so glad we did – we spent most of the day (11 – 3) at the Serenity VIP Lifestyle’s Resort. It was beautiful all-inclusive resort. It was easy, so many gorgeous day beds throughout the resort with fantastic drink and food service. They talk about the buffet being included but all the offerings were included – we had the beach menu and ice cream on the beach. We liked this spot so much we are looking at booking it in the future for our next All-Inclusive getaway!
For Grand Turk we were up and off the ship after the first rush of folks and marched down the beach to Jack’s Shack for the day. Best of all the beach worlds – great chairs and umbrellas in the sun (chairs were free but umbrellas were $10) and a fantastic lunch spot. We enjoyed some rum punch, local beers and the special of the day – jerk chicken with cracked conch and fries! Along with an extra order of conch fritters. All were delish! The food and drinks were pricier than we are used to for an island, but it is T&C and we expected it to be a bit more. It was the perfect spot for the day in the sun. We were hot and lazy when it was time to head back so instead of the walk we went out behind the Shack and hopped into a taxi – I think it was $15 for the three of us.
As mentioned, we didn’t hit any big shows but did check out the piano bar three nights. It wasn’t 18+ until after 10/11 so we all enjoyed it in there for an hour or so. Martin was fantastic – although the first night was the best crowd which makes a world of difference.
Alex the Cruise Director seemed great – always out and about keeping people entertained.
The Casino was a fun vibe – busy in the evenings and very smoky which I hated. Enjoyed the slots and some card games. Left up a few bucks so that is always a happy way to leave!
Serenity Deck was lovely – very sunny very hot. But they have about 10 chairs too many. They are wedged in as many as they can. Not very relaxing to feel right up next to you neighbor. But we did enjoy one morning out there. The hot tub – were actually HOT -most ships we find them lukewarm, but these were actually hot. We didn’t go in the pool – it was pretty crowded most of the time. The waterworks area was smaller but fun for smaller (3-10 yo) kids.
Yes the ship moved a bit in and out of Florida but the comments about stabilizers not working is BS (IMO). It is a smaller ship; you are in the Atlantic what do you expect. For a shorter cruise the Elation was the right size. I would sail on her again if the dates, location and price were right!
Anyone reading all the negative review and feel concerned about booking, you should know that there is a lot of great things on board, you just need a positive attitude and you will have a wonderful time.