May 24, 2009
For my wife and I, our first cruise was on the Carnival Elation out of San Diego. We had booked a 4 night cruise with a stop in Catalina island and then Ensenada, Mexico; however, due to swine flu concerns Carnival canceled the Ensenada stop. They refunded the port fees for this stop in the form of shipboard credits. This was fine for us, as we didn't have any excursions planned in Ensenada and the extra day at sea with shipboard credits was great.
Getting on the ship was much easier than we thought it would be. We arrived at 11:15 and got checked in and waited until they started boarding around noon. Our room wasn't ready until 1:30, so we had to lug around our carry on bags until then, but it was worth it to have the time to explore the ship.
We had a wonderful time on this cruise. Our cabin was very comfortable and our steward was wonderful.
For dining we chose the Your Time dining and loved it. We were able to get a table for just the two of us each evening and only once did we have to wait, and that was only about 10 minutes. Even that wasn't bad, as they gave us a pager and we went to the Atrium bar and had a drink as we waited. Once in the dining room the service was excellent. Even though we did have different wait staff on some of the nights, the waiters from previous nights would come over and say hello and ask how things were going. Service and the food were excellent in the dining room. The buffet food was just that, buffet food. The breakfasts were marginal at best and lunches were ok. Sticking to the pizza for lunch was the best choice.
Overall the shows were just ok. The showroom layout had very poor sightlines if you were in the balcony or further back. It is worthwhile to get to the showroom early to get a main floor seat. The best show we saw was Seth, the comedian. He had a "family friendly" bit on the first night, then had the full adults only show in the lounge in the back of the ship the next night. Both were very good.
Getting off the ship took awhile. We had one of the last numbers to be called, but this just gave us more time to relax on the ship. Once our number was called it was less than 10 minutes and we were through customs and back in the real world.
Overall we had a great time and will definitely consider Carnival again.