For experienced cruisers, the Carnival Elation will seem like a dated ship from the time you see it in port for the first time until you disembark at the end of the cruise. It has too few balcony rooms and too many interior cabins. The ocean-view cabins seem small and in need of more amenities. Having spilled the negatives, it can be said that this is still a high quality ship that will leave positive cruise memories for the majority of its passengers.
The ship is being used for round trips across the Gulf of Mexico.
In August of 2013, the Carnival Elation was operating out of New Orleans, Louisiana, with cruises going to Progresso and Cozumel, Mexico. Since the cruises have a duration of only 4 to 5 days, the lack of verandas and amenities does not create any real lacking to the cruise experience. Sailing down the Mississippi from New Orleans is always a treat during the late afternoon departure.
Eating is always an important part of a cruise.
The Carnival Elation only offers limited choices in dining experiences. The age and size of the ship dictate that alternatives to the dining room and buffet line are few and far between. Room service is available. A couple of other venues are offered with pizza and fast food. The main dining room experience is normal cruise fair. The staff was courteous and fairly efficient. As usual, they were able to recall your name by the end of the first nights supper. During meals at other times of the day in the dining room, the staff was able to provide the great service that is expected.
Eating at the buffet is always an option.
On the Elation, choosing the buffet as your dining option works well. The selections were varied from meal to meal and from day to day. Of course, it is always an interesting experience to walk through the buffet line and see the different ways that food is presented by the staff to make it appealing. Although, it was noticed that unlike the larger ships that often have more highly skilled food artists, the Elation did not do much with carvings in melons and other food art at other than the special dessert and chocolate buffet presentation that was presented once during the cruise.
The ocean-view cabin was okay.
Having chosen the option of a veranda room on the last seven cruises, an ocean-view seemed like a definite step down. It was in good condition with a decent window (not a porthole). The service level of the cabin steward was somewhat below normal. He serviced the room twice per day, but it seemed like he was always in the room at times when he should have had time to complete his work and move on. Experiences on past cruises where the steward has been virtually invisible made this seem extremely inconvenient. Also, the hallways were frequently crowded with the stewards’ carts and other cleaning equipment. This definitely lowered the feeling of elegance on the cruise ship.
The option for buying up to get fast embarkation and debarkation was definitely worth it.
Carnival now offers a “faster to the fun” option for passengers who want to avoid the long waits to board and exit the ship at the beginning and end of the cruise. It shortened the boarding time from about 1 1/2 hours to 10 minutes. At debarkation at the end of the cruise, a special waiting area was assigned with soft drinks and snacks while waiting for immigration to finish their work. An escort led the way to the exit and helped passengers off of the ship. The process took about 15 minutes instead of the normal hour or more wait in a public area. This was very nice.
Overall the ship needs a facelift and a few more amenities.
Carnival Elation is showing its age. Although all ships are refurbished every few years, this ship is old enough that refurbishing does not make it look new. The wear and tear is obvious from the carpeting, to the railings and most public areas, and the cabins. The experience overall is positive, but cruisers who have been on several other ships will notice the dramatic difference between the newer larger ships and this aging smaller vessel. Except for the swimming pools and a few games like mini-golf and ping-pong, the Elation does not offer many perks beyond cruising for the passengers.