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Are we there yet? The Elation Neverending Cruise Review


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Elation – The Neverending 5 Night Cruise



We were originally booked for our 1st cruise on the Ecstasy – a 5 nighter out of Galveston with stops in Cozumel and Calica / Playa del Carmen. Then we were switched to the Elation. I have to say, although I felt really guilty at the circumstances under which we were switched, I was excited to have the opportunity to sail on a newer ship.



The day we sailed, we heard about Tropical Storm Rita, all the way to the east of the Bahamas. The media was predicting a Texas landfall, but it seemed like media hype. The storm was very far away, I felt, and hurricanes are unpredictable.



From the first day, the Cruise Director David Holt mentioned that we might be out longer than 5 days, but again, I did not feel like it was something to worry about.



Overall, the Elation was beautiful. I had been a little worried about the Carnival “tacky” décor, but did not feel the décor was tacky. Yes, it was ornate, and decorated. Yes, if someone had told me that my room would be orange, peach and gray, I would have said that was ugly, but it just felt like a cruise ship should feel. Nothing was garish or ugly, it was cruise-y but nice. The little girl’s face all over the stairwells was kind of freaky, but I could handle it. I was amazed that the ship did not look worn at all. The carpet looked like the carpet in an average new-ish hotel. There was always someone vaccuming, polishing, mopping and keeping things looking fresh and clean.

The service was wonderful. Our steward was great, kept our cabin very clean, kept ice in the ice bucket and was always nearby. The waitstaff and bartenders were attentive and friendly. The CD and “Dream Team” seemed approachable and fun. People were always smiling.



We had a porthole cabin on starboard side on Upper Deck. I won’t give out the exact number for reasons that will become apparent later. We agreed that we would definitely book a similar cabin again. There was plenty of room, Upper Deck was a great location, the portholes gave us the natural light we like, the little porthole nook was nice for storing a suitcase. I would not book a forward cabin if you like to sleep in on port days. There was a strong vibration and loud noise when docking that lasted for over 20 minutes. I had been afraid of the motion in the forward cabins, but it was only a problem the first two nights, when we had rocky seas (thanks Rita). After that, I loved being rocked to sleep at night.



Onboard activities were good. We participated in a few trivia contests, and tried to do a little of everything. We’re not the typical super-outgoing party-hard Carnival “type” but we still found things to do and fun to be had. We went to a lot of the shows. I thought they were just ok – I think the dancers during sorority rush in my college years were better than the Elation dancers – but they are what they are. We laughed, we were entertained, it’s something to do. Karaoke, Monday Night Football, dancing, casino, were other options at night. I didn’t use the spa, but I used the lockers, gym, showers, steam room and sauna. There is a co-ed whirlpool next to the gym, with stacks of towels, but there are separate sauna and steam rooms for men and women. The showers (in the cabins and in the gym) had soap and shampoos and in the gym they had rainfall-type shower heads and side sprayers, too. We took advantage of the track and loved exercising with a 360 degree view of the ocean.



Chair hogs were not a problem. Things got crowded around the main pool on the first sea day, but as the week wore on, people found their own spaces. The slide was very fun. I loved the aft pools. Lunch time in Tiffany’s was extremely crowded on sea days.



Dining was limitless, just as any cruiseline promises. We found the food good, but not too much really stood out. The fried shrimp were awesome. I don’t think many people tried them in the dining room because the description was really weird (like “Ebi-Fried Shrimp with wasabi pea sauce” or something). I loved the wild mushroom ragout, Japanese day at the buffet, the pizza, the Martinis poured through the ice block at the drama bar and some of the desserts. For some reason the bread tasted awesome, too. I probably gained 10 pounds just on rolls at dinner and croissants at breakfast. Breakfast is the exact same in the dining room as it is on the Lido deck, but you can get espressos and cappuccinos and lox in the dining room. We tried room service twice, once for dinner and once for breakfast, which was fine and fast. We tried 2 midnight buffets which weren’t very crowded and hit-or-miss.



In Cozumel we booked the dune buggy tour independently and in Playa del Carmen we booked the Fat Cat sail independently. On our second day in Cozumel, we shopped and went to Paradise Beach where we had the BEST guacamole and chips (with a couple of margaritas for me, and a few cold beers for DH). We would recommend any of these excursions and I will post reviews for them in the appropriate forums.



I drove myself mad trying to read all the packing tips here and on other sites. I would definitely recommend insulated mugs. The shoe holder was not necessary for 2 adults, neither was a power strip. Things could be unplugged as needed. I brought along an OUST fan because I was paranoid about cigarette smell. That wasn’t a problem in our cabin, but the bathrooms are small and unventilated and there was sometimes a slight odor which the fan helped to take care of. The alarm clock was good, even though we discovered the alarm was broken, because without it, we would not have known when it was time for dinner! (horror, I know)



Because of Rita, the captain announced on Thursday (after we had boarded from Calica) that we were going back to Cozumel for an extra day, and we would get back to Galveston on Monday. We thought that would probably be changed to Sunday, knowing that Carnival would do everything it could to get the next Elation sailing. However, Friday afternoon, the captain announced that we would be spending Saturday in Cozumel as well, and be docking in Galveston on Tuesday, provided that the port was safe and open. I know we won’t get a lot of sympathy for 3 extra days of cruising, but it was stressful. A lot of people didn’t have the money or vacation time for 3 extra days, but it was better than being taken to Florida, and I really did feel the whole time that the captain wanted to keep us out of rough seas for our own safety and comfort. The only thing I would have requested would have been a 10 minute internet credit so that we could contact our families, neighbors or airlines. Our assistant waiter told us that the ships are always stocked with enough food and supplies for a 7 day cruise. All in all, Captain Donato and Carnival treated us very well and gave us 3 extra days! I can’t decide whether I’ve used up all my bad luck and should always travel during hurricane season, or whether I’ve used up all my good luck and should never travel during hurricane season.



Now – two more helpful points. One, the walls of your cabin are thin. Very thin. So thin that we heard much more of our neighbors than we wanted to at 3 am, 11 pm, 5 am, and so forth. Sounds, exclamations, moans… apparently the woman staying in that cabin was a “bad girl.” It got to be very embarrassing seeing them around the ship.



Two, your bags are scanned coming back from port, but they were not interested in the several liters of tequila we had with us. Our rum also made it safely on board when we embarked, and made some nice rum punch enjoyed in our room.



Those two points are why I will not divulge our cabin number – for the privacy of others, and ours! ;-)



I would sail the Elation again, and I am sad that they are moving her to Florida. She is a fun, cozy ship and we will definitely cruise again someday.


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Now – two more helpful points. One, the walls of your cabin are thin. Very thin. So thin that we heard much more of our neighbors than we wanted to at 3 am, 11 pm, 5 am, and so forth. Sounds, exclamations, moans… apparently the woman staying in that cabin was a “bad girl.” It got to be very embarrassing seeing them around the ship.



Who's your daddy? :eek:

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Who did you use for your Dune Buggy tour and did you like it. We were also a cancellation of Katrina and had to change our time, we would have gone to Playa and did have an excursion with Fat Cat booked, really looked forward to that as much as anything but not going there now.. How did you like that excursion? I would have liked the extra days out too but probably would have worried about running out of money to "enjoy" Cozumel with..

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We booked through Cozumelhomes.com. They were great to work with, the guides were fun, courteous and spoke good English. We picked up the buggies, drove across the island (there were only 8 on the tour, in 3 buggies) and went up the deserted, East side. We stopped at one beach to just explore, another beach to see a Mayan lighthouse, then a third beach to snorkle and for lunch. Then on the way back we stopped at a store for a quick shopping stop. DH had a blast driving the buggy and it was nice to get off the beaten path on the other side of the island. The only thing is, if you want awesome snorkeling, this trip ain't it. You have to swim pretty far out and I wouldn't take weak swimmers or young children. But the water was pretty rough the day we were there, due to Rita.


We loved the Fat Cat as well, I'm sorry you won't be able to go out with Kimba!

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Now – two more helpful points. One, the walls of your cabin are thin. Very thin. So thin that we heard much more of our neighbors than we wanted to at 3 am, 11 pm, 5 am, and so forth. Sounds, exclamations, moans… apparently the woman staying in that cabin was a “bad girl.” It got to be very embarrassing seeing them around the ship.



I guess if you sail with kidlettes that might pose a problem but since I don't it doesn't for me. :D


Did you bang on the wall and tell them to keep it down?

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Thanks for a great review. We're going on the Elation 11-28 and I was glad to hear that the ship is in such good shape and that you were apparently well cared for by the crew.

You pointed out that the ship always has enough food for a 7 day cruise. You were out 8 days. Just curious: Did it appear at anytime that they were running low on food? Did they repeat menus in the dining room? Did the level of service from the crew seem to diminish after day 6 or day 7?

I also wonder how many folks adjusted their tips on their S&S to account for the extra days at sea. I would want to do this. But when I consider as you mentioned, the fact that 3 extra days at sea probably had alot of folks counting their money, What I would want to do, and what I would be able to do might not jive.

Again, thanks for a great review.

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To reply above, yes, the dining room started repeating menus. We were out 8 nights, but I didn't notice a decline in food quality or quantity and I was watching for it!! The repeating menus was ok, too, since there's always something you might want to try the second time, that you didn't get to the first time, or because you skipped dinner one of the other nights. They upped the automatic gratuity on the S&S cards to include the extra 3 days, which is fine, since we were going to do it, if they didn't. The service remained exemplary, even though a lot of the staff hadn't had a day off in a while. A lot of them got some time off the 2nd day in Cozumel, but the 3rd day in Cozumel they didn't, because there were many more guests on board that day. The main "problem" for me was I ran out of clothes because obviously I packed for 5.5 days. The casual stuff was fine, since you can rewear bathing suits, shorts, etc. but I didn't have enough "nice" dining room worthy clothes (I had 5 "nice" outfits total) and that's why we skipped dinner the last night.

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Who the heck is seaturtletattoo??? :p Are you stalking me?? Just kidding - you're part of the reason I cruised - your and Christy's pictures.... so I blame you now! :)


I *am* stalking you. Every breath you take, every move you make...


I hope you have some pictures soon. I can add them to my collection.

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