Carnival Cruise Lines

Carnival Elation
by Erik Haglund
Transatlantic Crossing
September 17, 2008

This was our third long, 11-nights, cruise with NCL. We have cruised with the Dawn in Western Caribbean and the Wind around Hawaii before.

Pre cruise:
We have been in London many times before so we went there just two days before our cruise. The hotel we stayed at was Days Inn Westminster and the standard on that is lower than we normally choose but this time the location of the hotel was the most important thing, we wanted to stay close to Victoria Station, and it was okay.

On the day of the cruise we took a train from Victoria to Dover and we arrived in Dover around 10.30. We took a cab from the train station and arrived at the terminal just before 11.

Embarkation:
We used the Latitudes check-inn but there were no lines anywhere so that made no difference. The ship wasn't ready for embarkation so we had to wait for a short while but we were on the ship before noon. We got the bubbly welcome, ate lunch on The Great Outdoors and drank a glass of Taittinger on Magnum's before they announced that the cabins were ready, 1.30.

The Cabin:

We had an BA Balcony Stateroom on deck 10, number 10034. The cabin is located close to the stairs in the front of the ship and that location was good for us. The cabin isn't very big but it's okay and we had enough room for our things. The bathroom was very nice, small of course! We really loved the bed, it was so comfortable, and whatever they have done to the beds, Freestyle 2.0 rules when it comes to the beds! The balcony wasn't used very much on this cruise but every second on it counts and in my opinion, it's worth to pay extra for a balcony.

The restaurants and the food:

We ate at Tsar's Palace, Azura, Le Bistro, Blue Lagoon, Cagney's, Mama's and Garden Café.

Tsar's Palace and Azura are the main restaurants and all the food we had there was very good. We liked the interior in Tsar's Palace more than in Azura but the service and the food (obviously since they have the same menu and the food is from the same kitchen) was equal. We also had breakfast at Tsar's a few times and that was very good too.

Le Bistro, great service and great food! We ate at Le Bistro twice and I can definitely recommend it to everyone. The second time I had Moules Anisette (steamed clams) as starter and Crème Brule as dessert and both were great. We also liked our waitress, Svitlana from Ukraine, very much.

We didn't liked the Blue Lagoon on the Dawn but this was very nice, the interior, the food and the service. Fish & Chips for lunch there was very nice.

Cagney's had the best the dessert I ever has eaten, Cagney's Banana Foster Flambé, and that alone was worth the extra 20$!

Mama's had very good pasta but the Cannoli I had for dessert there was one of very few things I didn't really liked on the ship. It was nothing wrong with it, I just didn't liked it!

Garden Café had a very large selection of dishes and the breakfast there was much better than the breakfast in Garden Café on the Dawn. As for the quality on the food served as lunch and dinner, it was okay but not much more. Buffet food is seldom great but sometimes it's nice to avoid all the attention you get in the other restaurants and then it's okay that the food isn't 100% perfect!

(we ate at The Great Outdoors too but I don't consider that to be a separate restaurant, it's more like a part of Garden Café)

Our overall opinion about the food is that it was better now then on our previous NCL-cruises. Because of Freestyle 2.0?

The bars and the beverages:

Magnum's Champagne & wine bar, Shaker's Martini & cocktail bar and Maltings beer and whiskey bar were located together in something they called Bar city. They were all nice to sit in and have a drink and look at all people passing by. We did liked Pearly Kings on the Dawn better than Maltings, because we just love an English pub!

Star bar was one of our favourites on the Dawn but we didn't really liked it on the Jewel. The second evening we ordered a drink which we had ordered on Spinnaker lounge the evening before and it was far from the same standard. It was messy and they also tried to charge us for a souvenir drink, I told them when I ordered it that I wanted a regular drink and not a souvenir drink. They apologized and it was no problem to pay the correct price but I guess they had ruined the magic, we didn't went there again! The Spinnaker lounge was the best place to get a drink, especially in the evening when 60280 played/singed.

The selection of drinks was good but we missed the beer menu they had on the Dawn with more than 40 kinds of beer. We don't know how many kinds of beer they had on the Jewel since we never saw a beer menu. Maltings had a menu with lots of whiskeys but not a menu with beer.

We also didn't liked that they didn't had the cheapest Champagne they had in the menu. The cheapest Champagne they had by the glass was Taittinger for a little more than $15. Taittinger is one of our favourites and we had it a few times but they should have had something around $10 too. A regular cocktail costed around $7,50 and a little more simple, for example a Gin & Tonic (a favourite for us) costed around $6.

As for wine we ordered NCLs anniversary wine for $34,50/bottle a few times and that was okay.

Entertainment:
We didn't really liked any of the "big" shows we saw in Stardust, the theatre. We loved 60280 which played in Spinnaker every evening and we also loved Izabella Zebrowska a violinist we saw in Spinnaker. (She also played in Stardust but we missed that, unfortunately)

Overall we thought that the entertainment had been better before but maybe that's just our personal taste.

The Ports:

The ship stopped in Lerwick, Shetland Islands, Reykjavik, Iceland, St. John's, New Foundland and Halifax, Nova Scotia.

We tendered in Lerwick, no problems with that. In Reykjavik the ship docked rather far from the town centre but NCL had a shuttle bus to the centre, I think the cost was $5 one way.

We liked all the ports and had excursions booked with NCL in Lerwick, Reykjavik and Halifax. The cost for a excursion booked through the ship is higher but in all nontendering ports we saw buses come late to the ship, since they were NCL-booked tours the ship waited for them, otherwise they might have missed the ship…. The total cost for our vacation was around $10000 so if we paid a few dollars extra to bath in the Blue Lagoon that's really no problem!

What could have been better?:

The weather! It's not NCLs fault and we knew when we booked the cruise that the weather on the Atlantic ocean can be bad in September but it was a little too windy some days! The movement didn't bothered me much but there was a lots of strange noises because of the wind!

One evening we had a very loud noise in our cabin and it took almost two hours before someone fixed it for us. I went to the reception twice and called once before anyone came. The problem was that the door didn't closed properly and they "fixed" it with a wooden stick!

They were less pushy trying to sell drinks than they have been before, good. Sometimes we even had to ask for the wine list at dinner, not so good!

I don't like that every time you order a drink, you have to specify that you don't want a souvenir glass, of course it should be the other way! If I ever become a real VIP, like booking a Garden Villa or cruising with them for the 100th time, I will talk to the captain and tell him that every time they try to sell me a souvenir drink without asking me first, I will drink it but not pay for it!

Less "free" sparkling wine than before! On our previous cruises they have given away sparkling wine on the formal night (which they now just call "dress up or not", not good either) and they didn't now. At many kinds of presentations they have served sparkling wine before and now they first had the presentation and afterwards they might serve sparkling wine, sometimes in the shop after the presentation. I understand why they do it that way but I don't like it!

Maybe six seadays was a little too much when the weather wasn't very good but it's not very easy to find any port to add on the Atlantic ocean!

Post cruise:
Debarkation in New York was very quick and less than half an hour after we left the ship we sat in a cab on our way to the airport.

It's always easy to check in at the airport when flying with British Airways, the worlds best airline! Our plane left JFK almost two hours late so we missed our connection to Stockholm at Heathrow so we had to wait there for a few hours before we could fly home.

Our overall experience was great! The ship was great, the crew was great, the food was great and the ports were great! Some things have been better before but some things were better now.

We can absolutely recommend NCL to anyone and the Norwegian Jewel is a great ship.