A Review of the Carnival Elation
Hey, y’all! You know, it has been awhile since I have done a Travel Tuesday post. At the beginning of the month, we went on a short cruise to The Bahamas. We cruised on the Carnival Elation which just so happens to sail out of my home town of Jacksonville. The cruise port is less than 15 minutes away from my house, so it was really nice to be able to board the ship without having to travel anywhere. Typically, when we cruise we go out of Port Canaveral or Tampa, which both require driving a couple hours to get there.
I’ve been on countless cruises, seriously, I’m not even sure how many I’ve been on at this point. I think I’m somewhere between the 15 and 20 range. I’ve cruised all throughout The Caribbean from Aruba to Nassau, and from Belize to Tortola. We’ve even done an incredible Alaskan cruise that sailed out of Seattle. I thought it might be cool if I started to review the ships I’ve been on, rather than just share port information.
About The Elation
The Elation is a Fantasy-class cruise ship that was named as the “Best Refurbished Cruise Ship” in 2018 at the TravelAgeWest WAVE Awards. The ship itself was built over 20 years ago. It is noticeably smaller than the newer ships, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. The ship is large enough so that it doesn't feel too crowded yet small enough that it is easy to navigate. The ship went into dry dock in 2017 for a face lift where it received new amenities such as a new dining room, bar and entertainment areas and recreation spaces.
The Elation features Guy’s Burger Joint, The BlueIguana Cantina, and poolside bar options like the BlueIguana Tequila Bar and RedFrog Rum Bar.
The ship has a great golf course, bocce ball court as well as Carnival’s WaterWorks.
The ship has one main pool.
What I Liked
Ship Size- I’ve never been on a ship quite this small before and to be honest, it was quite the adjustment. Once you’ve sailed mega ships like The Magic other ships just seem so small. But for real, The Elation is tiny…well as tiny as a 72 ton vessel can be. To some people, this might be a deterrent, especially if you cruise just for the ship amenities but for me this was a plus. We were able to easily navigate the ship and get from bow (the front) to aft (the back) in like 4 minutes flat.
The Crew- Veteran cruisers will tell you that the crew makes your trip. If you sail with a great crew, you are sure to have a wonderful time. If the crew is meh, your trip will be meh. I have to admit, this is true. Fortunately, The Elation has a fantastic crew. Some of my favorite crew members were Lucky Lizzie (the bingo gal), Liam (a guitarist), and Ronald (the casino bar tender). The performers were also great.
The Food Options- While the food options are a little more limited on this ship than on others, I liked the options that were available. We ate at The Blue Iguana and Guy’s Burger Joint every day. Okay…we may have also eaten at Pizza Pirate every day as well, don’t judge us. The ship also offers 3 of my favorite events: Tea Time (on Sea Days in the Piano Bar), Sea Day Brunch (on Sea Days in the mid-ship Main Dining Room) and the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast (the 2nd sea day in the mid-ship Main Dining Room).
What I Didn’t Like
Serenity- For those of you that are unfamiliar with Serenity, it is the adult-only deck area on the ship. It is typically sectioned off with a wood paneled partition and features hot tubs, a bar and wicker lounge chairs with comfy cushioned (as opposed to the generic cushionless loungers elsewhere). On The Elation, Serenity is located at the aft and is super easy to find. It is located conveniently near Pizza Pirate, the salad bar and buffet lines so you won’t have to wander too far to fill your belly.
It sounds pretty great, right? What I didn’t love about Elation’s Serenity the fact it is located right under the smoke stack. As I sat on my lounger, sipping on my Miami Vice and reading my book I was bombarded with all kinds of soot/ash. It was almost as if I was sitting under a n erupting volcano. Ash got in my drink, in my hair and all over the deck area. The bar waiter quickly got me another drink and the crew removed all of the cushions from the loungers to prevent them from getting damaged. We moved our belongings to a covered portion of Serenity where we were able to dodge the ash. Did it ruin my cruise? No… it just ruined my sunning.
I also felt the Serenity area was too small. There are usually large clamshell loungers and hammocks in this section, which were greatly missed. The hot tubs are always super crowded as well, if sitting in a small tank of water with strangers is your thing, I could see how this might be annoying.
Shops- Many people rely on the ship’s shops for picking up gifts for loved ones and purchasing any items that they may have forgotten at home. This ship has very few options as far as shopping is concerned. There’s a general gift shop, a jewelry store which has perfume, and skin care items and a very small liquor store.
Where’s the Sports Bar?- The sports bar has always been one of my family’s favorite place to hang out on the ship, especially during football season. This is the only ship I have ever been on that didn’t have a sports bar, which sucked since it is playoff season. Don’t worry sports fans, the games are typically shown at the casino bar and the bar just outside of the Cole Porter Lounge. Just make sure you get there well before game time to reserve your seat.
Ugh, The Smoke!- Non-smokers will tell you that the smoking areas on the ship are always the worst. This isn’t limited to The Elation, this is on all ships. The fact that you have to pass through the smoky casino to get anywhere is a huge negative.
Storage in the Cabin- The layout of the cabins were different than any other cabin I stayed in. There was very little storage in the bathroom and by the vanity. Make sure to pack organizers to help maximize what space you do have.
Where Does The Elation Sail
Elation sails to various ports throughout The Bahamas including Nassau, Half Moon Cay, Freeport and Princess Cays. When the ship moves to Port Canaveral it will also offer itineraries to Grand Turk and Amber Cove.
As I mentioned, I’ve never sailed on a ship quite this small. To be honest, I didn’t think that I would like it. Although the ship doesn’t offer as many amenities as some of the larger ships, the amenities that they do offer are done well. Personally, I enjoyed being on a smaller ship but it isn’t for everyone. My brother and his wife sailed on the same ship 2 weeks later and didn’t enjoy it quite as much. However, they tend to go to the bars and clubs and like having countless amenities. If you give me a comfortable loungers, cozy sheets and a good bartender, I’m a happy girl.
I give the ship itself 3 out of 5 anchors.
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