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ELATION Review - 10/31-11/07 - Long, Pt 2


bh2359

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LIFEBOAT DRILL: Here is something that drastically needs attention and might possibly be a

violation of the Coast Guard rules. Our cruise is over and we are back home and we STILL do not

know which lifeboat had been designated for us in case of an emergency. We sailed from Galveston

at 4:00 p.m. and lifeboat drill was called at the same time which deprived new cruisers from

watching sailaway which is always a favorite time to see the ship undock itself and leave the pier.

The problem is that our muster station was inside the theater, inside the ship. If the ship was on fire,

or was capsizing for any reason, there is no way that we would go INSIDE to muster with a crowd

of frantic people. No way. We’d head for the outside deck as many others would do. While in the

theater, wearing our life jackets, we noticed a lot of people did not have theirs on. We watched as

a person in charge went to one after the other and asked them to put on their life jacket and were told

“It’ll muss my hair” (really!), “I’m too big, it doesn’t fit”, and other excuses. Very few of them ever

put their life jacket on. If there had been a real emergency and they ended up in the water, who do

you think would be suing if they survived? To further this situation, we then were told to go outside

on deck in a particular order. We were in the balcony and last to get out. Another bad feeling. Then,

when on deck, we had no particular lifeboat to go to (none was posted on the inside cabin door

either) and we all simply stood in a group on deck while listening to a recorded announcement. None

of the crew in special hats guiding us to our muster stations ever spoke with any direction unless we

asked a question first. All in all, very poor and downright dangerous.

 

MEDICAL EMERGENCY: On Monday about 4:40 in the afternoon, the Captain announced we

were turning around and heading back to Texas. A passenger had fallen and broken his hip and the

situation had gotten worse. We were going to get within range of a Coast Guard helicopter that

would come out and pick him up. He said this would take place late at night. He also said that the

next port, Progresso, was cancelled. More on that below under ports. After dinner that evening, we

went on deck and found it very crowded as everyone was waiting to watch the helicopter arrive.

About 1:00 a.m., a security officer came to our part of the deck and said that the helicopter would

arrive at 3:00 in the morning. I asked if he was sure of that time and was told yes. We’d been out

there since 10:30 the night before so we went back to our cabin for a couple drinks and spruce up.

We went back on deck at 2:45 a.m. only to find all the outside deck barriers they had erected were

gone. A deck hand said the helicopter was there at 2:00 a.m. and had left. We had been lied to. The

next day, it was announced from the bridge that the helicopter had arrived on schedule at 3:00 a.m.

and the evacuation had gone smoothly. Another lie, we were on deck fifteen minutes before that and

it had taken place. Eventually, Progresso was put back as a port for the following day, Belize was

cancelled, and Calica, Mexico was added. Reviews of those ports are below. We had two cruises in

two weeks and neither got us out of North America! (Personal note. I in no way fault the Captain for

turning the ship around. If it was me, I’d want them to do the same thing.) A bad joke was making

the rounds while this was taking place. Someone asked, “What if someone fell overboard. Would

the Captain turn around again to find and rescue that person or continue with the first emergency?

It does make for a hard decision and I’m glad I wouldn’t have to make it.

 

DINING ROOM: The first night, our waiter was Norris and he was pretty good. The asst was lacking

and it was 22 minutes before any bread/rolls was brought to the table (they only had three tables to

manage and ten people total). Same for drinks and water, 22 minutes from sitting down. The next

night, he and the asst were gone and had been replaced by a new waitress, Nicoletta, and our asst,

Adriana, both from Romania. They were both extremely good, always had a smile, and we had a

good time. One item I noticed, again, was that rolls/bread were no longer put on the table for you.

The asst. waitress would come around periodically and ask what you wanted. We eat a lot of bread

before a meal so, Carnival, put the bread plates back on the tables! We asked for a table for ten, got

a table for six and one couple never materialized. The one other couple there, Willy and Elaine, were

from Pennsylvania and very pleasant. We had a good time. Carnival is one of those that puts your

“voluntary” tips on your statement automatically. We went to the purser’s office (again) and had

them removed as we want to tip personally and adjust up or down depending. In the case of the

dining room, we added extra to both as they certainly deserved it. Carnival also closes the buffet

restaurant that last night so if you want to eat, you are forced to go to the dining room so as not to

stiff your wait staff on tips. Pretty shabby idea if you ask me. If someone is going to stiff someone,

they will do it no matter what. Also, Carnival made a big deal in both their daily newspaper and one

the intercom that on that final night, you should tip your maitre’D. Oh really! We never saw him on

any other night and we asked for him twice on Monday night and Tuesday daytime. On Monday we

were refused (?) and Tuesday, someone else asked what we wanted and then answered the question.

However, on that last night, the maitre’D (am I spelling that correctly?) was stationed right at the

entrance with his hand out. I shook it as we went past.

 

TIFFANY’S: This was the buffet-style restaurant which is always informal, and this was one of the

places that the Elation starred! The buffet food was great, and it seemed that when prime rib was

served in the main restaurant, they had it also. There was always something being carved and the

selection varied from night to night. Salads, drinks, and desserts were located in other places so the

lines for food were never that long. This is something the other ships can take note of. There was a

deli, a sandwich deli, where you could have sandwiches made to order from a list of ingredients

posted. I saw one sandwich being made that was about two inches high, really! The person asking

for it had just about every meat and cheese offered in it. I didn’t get to see him eat it, unfortunately.

I think that could have been in the talent show! Tiffany’s also had a pizza bar that was open till early

hours of the morning and the pizzas were pretty good. You could also get coffee, lemonade, punch,

and ice cream 24 hours per day there. As for the desserts, they had things I didn’t recognize, the

selection was so large. Many of the items were made from sugar so the kids on board were happy,

and their dentists, but there was a nice variety. One of my favorites places was the grill located on

deck just outside of Tiffany’s. During the day, you could get hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, and

other snacks anytime you wanted. In the morning, it was a breakfast bar with Reyman of the

Philippines making custom omelettes for you. I had him make one for me each morning (well done

with ham and cheese). By the third day, we walked up and he knew what we wanted. We also tipped

him special at the end of the week. At first, he tried to give it back saying that the food was free. We

said, “We know, this is for you. Put it in your pocket”. He smiled and said thank you.

 

THE CASINO: The Elation had one of the roomiest casinos at sea that we’ve seen, and it was laid

out nicely. You could sit at a slot machine or a card table and others could walk behind you without

knocking you out of your chair as on some other ships. This was really nice. But then they spoiled

it. I stated in the other review that I don’t know why they do this but they played modern music

extremely loud all the time which was giving me a headache as we also had the sounds of all the slot

machines. When shipboard announcements were made, we could hardly hear what was being said.

(It is my belief that the slot machines make all that ringing etc. for a reason, so you can hear if you

have “hit” something, and to hear whether someone near you has hit some sort of jackpot. There is

no need, in my opinion, for that very loud music that is played over the ringing of the slot machines.)

To further this problem, there was a country band next door without any wall separating and when

they were playing live, it REALLY got loud in there. Can you imagine the slot machines bells, the

loud music next door, the loud music (different) being piped in, and shipboard announcements?

Keep the headache medicine ready. You can also add the “extra” music being played during the slot

tournaments as the person in charge had his CD player with him and asked for requests. Now, here

is a suggestion. That “club next door contained a bar and no smoking was allowed (?) although there

was no wall and the casino next door had smoke pouring out of it as all casinos do. I never saw many

people frequenting that room. Dump that small club, keep the bar, and expand that casino because,

big as it was, it was also always full. Carnival, you could have the biggest casino at sea, keep it busy

(making you money) and have a bar there for your patrons. If you do this and put in more slot

machines, put in a couple 25 cent Wheel Of Fortune machines. Those were missed. Just a

suggestion, no need to pay me a consulting fee (tongue in cheek). Another BIG annoyance was the

people coming to us VERY often asking if we wanted a drink from the bar. I counted six people

asking us within five minutes one time. There were always about three people in the casino at any

one time taking drink orders.

 

(Continued)

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Just one comment on the "lie" about when the chopper came for the passenger. We had a similar situation on the Legend of the Seas last year. We had a passenger injured, had to turn the ship around to meet a helicopter. They absolutely did not want ANY passengers around when that chopper came. They even requested people evacuate cabins on higher decks. Since the chopper came in the middle of the night in your case, they may have intentionally given the wrong time to avoid having passengers going up there to watch. Keep in mind, this wasn't a scheduled event for the passengers enjoyment. What time they came is of no real concern to you. I wouldn't think that it would matter if the next day they said they came at 3:00 when they really came at 2:00. I'm sure the injured passenger and his family where thrilled that it was early!

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There is no requirement for assignment to a certain boat in SOLAS. On Princess, we never even left the lounge. And yes, you will go back inside if there is an emergency, or you will be put back as you would just be in the way of the people working. Please don't assume because it is one way on RCI that it is wrong to do it another way.

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As for the lifeboat drill, I wonder if it changes from ship to ship...b/c on the Paradise both times it was VERY strict. They made everyone put on their lifejackets, the people leading it were very stern and very informative, and they did trot us out into the hot sun and tell us which boats were ours...

 

With the Casino, i would WELCOME overly aggressive drink people...better than NOT seeing them :)

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There is no requirement for assignment to a certain boat in SOLAS. On Princess, we never even left the lounge. And yes, you will go back inside if there is an emergency, or you will be put back as you would just be in the way of the people working. Please don't assume because it is one way on RCI that it is wrong to do it another way.

 

Hi. Here is what I found at the following site pertaining to the Coast Guard and SOLAS - http://www.uscg.mil/hq/g-m/cruiseship.htm - pertaining to lifeboat drill. Notice the words “assigned” as pertaining to the lifeboats and passengers.

 

 

Emergency Drills. Coast Guard regulations and SOLAS require that the master of an ocean cruise ship periodically hold fire and lifeboat drills. They are intended not only to give the crew practice, but also to show the passengers how to act in the event of an emergency at sea. Passengers should participate fully in these drills. The timing and frequency of the drills depends

in large part on the length of the voyage. On voyages that will last more than one week, the first drill will be held before the ship gets underway (passengers who embark at the last minute sometimes miss this drill), with additional drills at least once a week thereafter. On voyages of one week or less, the drills must be held within 24 hours after leaving port.

 

Coast Guard and international regulations also require a notice to be posted conspicuously in each passenger cabin or stateroom. The notice explains the following: How to recognize the ship's emergency signals (alarm bells and whistle signals are normally supplemented by announcements made over the ship's public address system); the location of life preservers provided for passengers in that stateroom (special life preservers for children will be provided, if necessary, by the room steward); instructions and pictures explaining how to put on the life preserver; and the lifeboat to which passengers in that stateroom are assigned. (Note: Passengers need not be alarmed if they discover that the total number of person's on board a cruise ship (passengers + crew) exceeds the total capacity of the ship's lifeboats. Modern cruise ships carry a variety of survival craft. Passengers are invariably assigned to lifeboats or similar survival craft.

 

The total capacity of all the survival craft on board will exceed the total number of persons on the vessel). When fire and lifeboat drills are held, crew members from the stewards department are generally responsible for assisting and directing passengers in the drill. Direction signs showing the path to

reach lifeboats are posted in passageways and stairways throughout the ship. The crewmember in charge of each lifeboat will muster the passengers assigned to that lifeboat, and give passengers any final instructions necessary in the proper method of donning and adjusting their life preservers. If there is any portion of the emergency procedures the passenger doesn't understand, they should question the crew until the instructions are clear and completely understood.

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On the INspiration we were assigned the Lido deck by the pool as our muster station. I do not believe that you are given a particular life boat at your muster station, just need to be at the correct location as a group. There were a few elderly passengers that either needed assistance to put on, or had put on life jackets incorrectly. The attendants made sure that EVERYBODY had on their life jackets & that they were put on properly. They were very efficient, & therefore the drill did not extend too long, but it appeared to me they handled it properly.

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So sorry you missed the helicopter evacuation.

 

I'm sure the injured passenger and family appreciated your demonstration of compassion and thoughtfulness shown by your getting spruced up, rested and out there in the middle of the night to be there with them for support. Shame on them for not holding the helicopter to the original schedule they told you!!!

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I have to agree with BH2359 about the muster drill being important--although I do not know all the rules and regulations pertaining to it, I am constantly amazed at the people who simply blow it off and refuse to listen/put on their life vests. I have been in drills where the staff in charge handled the drill in a very businesslike way and gained quick compliance and I have been to a couple of drills where a MUCH more casual attitude was shown. Sounds like the one BH experienced was a little too casual, and as for the timing-- I would not have wanted to be inside a lounge during sailaway, either! IMO, both are valid points and I probably would have noted them on my comment card.

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Im sure with the helicopter landing they just didn't want people around...safety reasons I'm sure. It would have been neat to see though, that's for sure.

 

What are you doing up at 3am anyway?? LOL. Im 24 and I can NEVER make it up that late :-Þ

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Hi all,

 

I'd like to explain a bit more about the helicopter pickup from the Elation. Both outer decks on the port and starboard sides and the stern were roped off from about 8:00 p.m. the evening before with notes stating an emergency evacuation would be taking place. There was a fairly large crowd gathered (100 or so) for those very early morning hours and most of us were gathered just above the pool where you could see past the stack to the rear of the ship. We were not in the way and we had been told earlier by another security person that it was fine to watch from there but please do not use flash if taking photos. All we wanted was to watch our illustrious Coast Guard at their best, making a rescue at sea by chopper.

 

Since we had previously been told is was okay to watch from that area, THAT is why I was upset at being lied to. We were not in the way at all and I did not see anyone going beyond those roped off areas.

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