Many of you are like me! We book our cruise vacation based on a couple different factors: Price, Date, Departure location, Port Itinerary and SHIP! If the price is right, everything falls into place even if it means sailing on the same ship as I did before BUT since cruise ships tend to (thankfully) re-position guests have the opportunity to experience a new (to them) ship every few years.
For the last few years Carnival Elation has been operating from the Port of Orleans (about 40 mins away from my house) and will re-position to Jacksonville, Florida this spring. This was the perfect opportunity to sail aboard before she left New Orleans and replaced by Carnival Triumph. Completed in 1998, Carnival Elation is part of the Carnival Fantasy class ships which over 2K passengers.
We sailed aboard Carnival Elation for a Mardi Gras cruise so I expected a busy (maybe crowded) ship. In reality, the ship was intimate without “feeling small”. due to the new staggered boarding times at the Port of Orleans (loving the new system ) we boarded Carnival Elation right at Noon and were one of the 1st passengers on board. Can you imagine an empty pool/hot tub and no one on the lido deck? It was SO nice!
We do what everyone does when they first board a cruise ship: EAT! We took advantage of the empty ship and went straight to the Pizza Pirate for a couple of slices to fill our bellies before checking out the common areas and getting straight. Tip for cruise newbies: Check out the cruise deck places prior to boarding the ship. This helps guests become familiar with the layout of a new ship and speeds the transition along. You don’t want to ‘feel lost” the first few days on your vacation.
I heard mixed reviews about Carnival Elation prior to my own experience. It boils down to preference! Having 3,4 and 7 day cruises in the past, time was not a factor for my family. We loved the intimacy with Carnival Elation! We found seating plentiful and always had decent seat in the Mikado theater, Cole Porter Club (Punchliner shows) and Duke’s Bar (piano bar).
I’ll have more on dining and the menu in another post, but the dining room staff is performs a tremendous job every evening! We ate at the Inspiration Dining Room every morning for brunch and every evening at 6p.m sharp. If you have dietary restrictions, mention them to your head waiter.
One of my favorite things aboard any cruise ship is the live entertainment. Duke’s Bar, the piano bar, is the perfect place to unwind, have a drink and listen to some of my favorite songs. You won’t have to stand at the bar and wait for a drink because the waitstaff is always checking on tables and allowing you to place new drink orders from the comfort of your seat.
Tea time is also served at Duke’s Piano Bar. The location is (in my opinion) too small for that size of an event. We got there a few minutes after 3p.m on our last sea day and couldn’t find a seat. We waited outside until room became available but by then, the sandwiches were gone and were served tea only. Cruise Newbies: Always arrive before the designated activity time for seating purposes.
Our family tends to eat breakfast and dinner in the dining room and eat at Tiffany’s Bar & Grill on the Lido deck for lunch. Finding a seat and short buffet line is all about timing. I don’t care what cruise ship you on, the line at the buffet will be much longer if you plan on eating anywhere between 11a.m-1p.m.
We tend to eat a bowl a fruit at that time and then have pizza or eat a salad and sandwich from the deli after 1p.m when the chow line is dwindling down. We eat very light & simple for lunch and save our calories for dinner at the dining room. Cruise Newbie tip: Take the stairs and enjoy a piece of pie with your meal!
Although Carnival Elation has not had the 2.0 Fun Ship upgrades like Guy’s Burger or BlueIguana Cantina, you can still enjoy the Mongolian Wok, a sushi bar and of course, in-room dining.
The Mark Twain Library is not just for book lovers! Aside from the fun Riverboat theme, you can find a large (very large) assortment of games that suits everyone’s taste. We are early risers so our family would play a quick card game or board game while waiting for breakfast to be served in the dining room.
I also saw families playing games prior to their dining time which keeps the little ones entertained and creates additional family bonding time that your looking for in a family cruise.
I didn’t include a photograph but as I mentioned in the past, the Children’s programs aboard Carnival Cruise Lines can’t be beat! Age-appropriate planned activities and enthusiastic camp directors entertain young cruisers throughout their cruise experience. My son LOVES the youth program!
Thank you Carnival Elation for the fabulous experience! Next up: Triumph, I’m looking at you.