by Patrick E. Robinson
October 31, 2008
This was a second chance for Carnival, after the terrible 4-day cruise we did in 2003 on the Ecstasy. We said we would never take CCL again. We had heard that the line had made many positive changes in the food and service in the past few years. So we got a great deal from our travel club and gave them a 2nd chance.
Embarkation was smooth enough, with some waiting in lines there in the port in San Diego. Other than that it was fine. Cabins were ready at 1:30 pm.
The ship was in much better shape as far as upkeep than was the case with the last ship. The Fantasy class ships will be around a long time.
The crew was much better than the last voyage also, not a single negative look or comment. And unlike the Ecstasy in '03 every crew member had a hello and a happy greeting if eye contact was made, and even sometimes when no eye contact was made. That was a great improvement. I do have to sympathize with cruise crew folks though. It must be hard to stay positive with some of the folks they have to deal with. Always there are a few passengers on the Fun Ships that ruin the moment all to often as they make drunken fools of themselves, which has not been as bad on the HAL, RCCL, and Celebrity cruises we have taken.
The food in both the main dining rooms and the informal buffet was really much better than in 2003. The pizza was not that good for my family. The goat cheese we do not like at all. The grill burgers were good. The fries and onion rings you better get just as soon as they are out of the grease as possible. Not good at all if they sit for a while. The one thing in the buffet that was bad is the running out of coffee in the morning rush times -- lots of grumbling folks then on more than a couple of mornings.
The cruise this trip for the Elation was a one only six day trip that included ports of call: Cabo, La Paz and Ensenada, having been to all but La Paz before we tried this trip. La Paz city is so far from the place where the ships dock that it is a real problem. So really you are pretty much tied into taking an excusion with the ship and this was the very first time we paid for a port trip with a cruise ship. The snorkeling with the Los Islotes sea lions was amazing, and worth the cost we paid. But the worst thing anyone can do is use a snorkel from another source than your very own. So many people get sick from the badly cleaned snorkels, and even the water used is suspect for GI viruses. Take your OWN snorkle people, period! Oh and don`t try to get too close to the male sea lions. Also do not touch a reef in any manner. Some idiots actually stand on them to get a breather or adjust their masks. You are the reason half the reefs are dying -- well along with global warming and sewage flow into the oceans.
We did our own excusion in Cabo san Lucas. We spent $51US only to snorkel for 4-1/2 hours in Chileano Bay, and we watched eight cruise tour boats come and go during our stay. Forty-five minutes to an hour of snorkeling just is a ripoff for a snorkle dive. The beach is free and taxi was 44 bucks for the three of us back and forth to the ship. My son Sean (13) will remember this trip for the snorkeling we did here. He said this was the best part of the whole cruise. This was Sean`s fifth cruise to date with us.The ship was fine, the food was good, and the ports were great. The only thing we would change if we could is some of the people that take Carnival cruises. Really disappointing the few that screw up things for the rest. With not having nearly as many of these types on the other cruise lines, we will stear clear of Carnival. Or maybe the more expensive, longer trips with the larger ships will be better. It will be a few years from now, but we might try that plan.
For sure a cruise is the best holiday you can take for the money you spend. You unpack once and you always come back to the ship for meals. You can even take a sandwich off the ship for lunch. Why not? So do it people, take a cruise.