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Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Elation

Carnival Elation Cruise Review

Insider Take

Best For People Who Want

Non-stop entertainment, lively casinos, extensive deck space for sunning, large, if very pink, facilities for fitness/spa and children's activities, large cabins, good food, and very informal service. Especially recommended for families, singles in groups and first time cruisers.

Public Rooms

The ship consist of 10 decks with most of the public rooms concentrated on Atlantic, Promenade and Lido decks (decks 5, 6 and 7). The cabins are mostly concentrated on decks one through four; Riviera, Main, Upper (which is actually a lower deck 3) and Empress decks.

You can stroll down Elation Way, or plop down into a soft banquette to ogle passing strollers. The two-level, 1300-set show lounge The Mikado at the front of the promenade presents live production shows, comedians, magicians, and passenger talent shows, with exemplary sight lines and good seating throughout.

The ships' most fanciful decor is in such entertainment venues as the popular piano bars. In one of Elation's, an enormous circular piano doubles as a bar for those who like to sing along. You'll also find a vibrant disco and cabaret lounge along the boulevard.

Other public areas include the Galleria shopping mall, the Virtual World arcade, and the ship's photo gallery. The Internet cafe offers access for 75 cents per minute; for those who plan to spend more time on the computer, there are 100 minute packages available for $50 (50 cents per minute) and 250 minute packages for $100 (40 cents per minute).

All of the public rooms recently received new sound and light systems to add a touch of excitement. Flat-screen televisions have been added to many lounges to keep up with sports and other events. The ship now has a specialty coffee bar, new art and photo galleries and purpose-built conference facilities.


From the best pizza afloat (available 24 hours per day) to haute cuisine in the main dining room, Carnival really delivers on the food front.


Total Choice Dining provides for four dinner seatings in the main dining rooms, alternative Bistro dining every evening, and an increased number of service staff. Passengers are assigned a table for dinner in one of the two main dining rooms - The Imagination on Atlantic Deck, mid-ship, or the Inspiration on Atlantic Deck, aft - at one of four seatings; 5:45 p.m. or 6:15 p.m. and 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. There are very few tables for two in either of the two main dining rooms; expect to dine with four, six, or eight fellow voyagers.

You typically have a choice of six starters, a couple of salads, and six or seven main courses (pan-fried fillet of red snapper, sweet and sour shrimp, rack of New Zealand lamb and Beef Wellington). The menu also includes Spa Carnival selections for those trying to reduce their intake of calories, sodium, cholesterol, fat, or meat.

Additionally, the poolside Lido eateries are converted into Seaview Bistros between 6:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. each evening, offering buffet dinner with no reservations or advance notice required. The informal Tiffany (T-shirts and shorts are OK) Restaurant on the Lido Deck offers both inside and poolside seating. All meals here are served buffet style, with open seating for all three meals.

Other alternative eating options include a 24-hour pizzeria, a complimentary sushi bar and 24 hour room service. The "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades started in 2007 will eventually add a coffee bar in the atrium and New York-style deli in the Lido restaurants, if they are not there already.


Don't expect formality. Indeed, expect wacky dances after dessert - and then to come back to your cabin to find that your cabin steward, cut up that he or she is, has left a towel folded to resemble a dog on your bed. The hi-jinx never stop!


The prime entertainment venue is the 1,300 seat Mikado, a Japanese-inspired theater, but karaoke draws big crowds to the Romeo and Juliet Lounge, while the Cole Porter Lounge, incongruously, seems to be the favorite venue of folk and country musicians. A variety of live bands and individual performers entertain nightly along with its elaborate stage shows. Regardless of what sort of music you like most, you're pretty much assured of hearing it.

In Duke's piano bar on Elation you'll finds replicas of New York's Empire State Building and other metropolitan scenes. Such "entertainment architecture" significantly enhances Carnival's nightlife. There are quiet bars for those seeking to muse melancholy about the one who got away, as well as vibrant discos. The casinos are some of the biggest and most clamorous on the high seas.

By day, there are bingo and Trivial Pursuit contests, not to mention such highbrow events poolside as the men's hairy chest contest.


Because they were built just before the shift toward lots of verandahs, just the 26 demi-suites (250 square feet) and 28 full suites (400 square feet) have balconies.

However, during 2008 all of the staterooms in the class of smaller Carnival ships will receive a facelift including new flat screen televisions, for example, a subtle change but one that lends a significantly different feel to the room while also adding a little extra space - which never hurts.

The cabins on these older ships always appeared spartan compared to the newer Carnival ships due to their lack of wooden desks and cabinetry. The colors, fabrics and linens will be upgraded, but they are still light on amenities (a color TV with CNN, telephone, radio, no hair dryer, and a basket of "free-sample" toiletries). They are roomy, however, among the largest in the cruise industry: inside measure 185 sq. ft, outside 190 sq. feet. Even in the minimum category inside or outside stateroom you'll still enjoy ample space. Cabins for four and five are understandably popular with families, and go fast.

Oceanview staterooms and suites offer a mini bar, bathrobes, and fairly large bathrooms with a shower (with wand) and medicine cabinet. There are also 26 mini-suites (226 sq. feet plus 36 square foot private veranda) and 28 suites measuring 350 sq. feet with 71 sq. foot balconies.


With no fewer than 12,000 sq. ft. devoted to fitness and spa facilities, these ships are a dream come true for those who like to keep in shape during their cruise. The "Evolutions of Fun" upgrades scheduled for 2008 will pay particular attention to the spa area by adding more elegance and amenities.

The gyms have a private trainer and 35 state-of-the-art exercise machines. There's a day-long schedule of aerobics, and stretching yoga, and Pilates classes (usually around $10 each), as well as body composition analysis and personal training sessions, $75 for 60 minutes. There's a fully jogging track and a volleyball court. Women who want to sunbathe topless will find secluded areas in which to do so.

Those who prefer to skip shore excursions and snorkel on their own can rent equipment for $26 for three days. The inescapable Steiner's of London operates the ship's spa, which offers lots of different kinds of massage - and pushes its beauty products rather more zealously than most passengers would prefer.


On the two "formal" nights per week, most men wear a dark suit instead of tux. By day, nearly everyone wears shorts, T-shirt, sneakers/sandals, bathing suit, and a hat.


One of the oldest "Fantasy-class" Carnival ships (1991), fine for short inexpensive getaways but the age shows in decor.

Should Be Avoided By People Who Prefer

Sophisticated "seen but not heard" service people; cabins with private verandas; mega-ship action; understated elegance in a low-key environment; no children; dozens of varieties of food.

Onboard Experience

Identical in all but decor, Carnival Elation is the seventh of the eight Fantasy-class sister ships (Ecstasy, Fantasy, Fascination, Imagination, Inspiration, Paradise, Sensation). These ships always seem to have something of interest going on, and thus are ideal for the up-and-at-'em style cruiser. Carrying 2,052 passengers, the ships are big enough to provide diverse entertainment, ample deck space for those whose idea of being entertained is basking in a warm sunshine glow, and separate facilities for children of all ages.

The unifying theme of Carnival Elation's interior decor are famous literary authors and their works. You'll find the the Romeo and Juliet Lounge, the Cole Porter Club, Gatsby's Great Bar, the Mark Twain Library, and the Jekyll & Hyde Disco. They are all more or less connected by the generous Elation Way on Promenade Deck. As the evening crowds bustle from the Mikado Theater, through the Casablanca Casino (with a theme based on the movie of the same name) to the Cole Porter Club the ship soars with activity as nearly every chair and barstool becomes occupied.

Ideal as it is for the sort of person who likes to have loads of activities planned, Elation also offers lots of out-of-the-way places to read or just contemplate the sea. During summer cruises, however, when there are hundreds of kiddies aboard, quiet contemplation might become a luxury reserved for another ship.

An upgrade scheduled for 2008 involves upgrades to the pool area, staterooms and some public rooms. Some of the following are complete: a snazzy new pool area with teak decking, new umbrellas, a tile "beach" for the pool water to lap against and a new thatched roof for the hot tub. The kids will rave about "Carnival waterworks," the new water park featuring a 4-story tall and 300 foot long "Twister Water Slide." Another slide is three side-by-side tubes 82 feet long. This is all part of a waterpark with all kinds of sprays and other devices to keep the kiddies cool and fresh. There's also a new nine-hole miniature golf course. As of January 2008, this is almost complete.

As if that isn't enough for the kids, "Camp Carnival" received a makeover, and the ship has new interconnecting staterooms for families.

The adults haven't been left out; there will be a new "adults-only" area called "Serenity" with a deck of solid teak panels for soft cushioned loungers in sun or shady areas and two hot tubs.

New enhancements indoors include a coffee cafe with specialty coffees (for a price) but free pastries. A new art & photo gallery and the atrium bar will be in place. New sound and lighting systems have been installed in every public room, and the ship now has flat screen televisions in several places to keep up with sports and other vital information.

It bears noting that Carnival Elation was the first cruise ship equipped with Azipods, a now industry-standard propulsion system that makes for very smooth sailing.


Every Carnival ship, designed by fanciful designer Joe Farcus, has a unifying theme for the decor. From the first ship of these seven ships known as the Fantasy-class christened in 1990, to the last (Paradise) launched in 1998, these ships got progressively less flamboyant. Though each was state of the art in its day, today these ships are considered small and modest. In her day, (1990) Fantasy tried to be bigger in life by adding lots of glitz in the form of neon, chrome & mirrors. But Elation's theme (1998) is much more subdued.


Carnival automatically adds $10.00 per person per day in gratuities to your Sail & Sign card unless you're under two years old, and if you're reading this, you're probably not. This includes $3.60 for the stateroom steward; $5.50 for the Dining Room team, and $.90 for service in the alternative dining rooms. Visit the purser's desk during the cruise to raise or lower this amount.

You may also prepay gratuities for all service personnel at a rate of $10.00 per person per day. On Cruises-to-Nowhere, gratuities of $10 per person per day must be prepaid.

A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to all beverage tabs. Tip the maitre d', room service, spa, casino and other staff as you deem fitting.

Children's Facilities

Carnival's celebrated Camp Carnival program offers a full schedule of supervised activities, from finger painting and singalongs for younger children to photography workshops, late-night movies, and pool parties for their older siblings. The ships' 2,400-square foot "Children's World" play areas are stocked with a computer lab, a climbing maze, an activity wall, and an assortment of toys, games and puzzles.

Ship Overview

The seventh ship in Carnival’s eight-ship Fantasy-class, Carnival Elation entered service in 1998. Carnival Elation has received numerous upgrades since then and features a secluded adults-only Serenity Deck. The ship is scheduled for a major refurbishment in 2014, when it will receive Carnival’s "Fun Ship 2.0" upgrades with new casual dining options, poolside bars, and more. Carnival Elation calls the “Big Easy” her home port and sails four- and five-night itineraries down the Mississippi River from New Orleans to call on Mexico’s Cozumel and Progreso on the Yucatán Peninsula, depending on the date of sailing.

Bathed in fiber-optic light, glitzy Fantasy-class interiors added expansive six-deck atriums and a new dimension to the original superliner concept. To keep the fun going, these ships offer an almost wearying assortment of places to have a good time. As times and tastes have changed, the ships have evolved as well, with new lobby bars, dedicated club spaces for teens and tweens, miniature golf, and Internet centers. Even newer are Carnival’s WaterWorks water park and the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat, which increase the appeal of the older Fantasy-class vessels.

Only one level below the Lido deck, the indoor promenade connects major public rooms on a single deck, with only formal dining rooms, shops, and other small spaces one deck below. Large in size and ideal for a short itinerary, these ships have sprawling outdoor pool and sunning areas, but they can feel cramped when sailing at maximum capacity. Cabins provide calm oases from sensory overload. With the exception of Carnival Sensation, Carnival Fascination, and Carnival Ecstasy, to which balconies were added to existing cabins, you'll have to book a suite if you want the solitude of a private balcony.

The world's largest cruise line—and one of the most widely recognized—originated its "Fun Ship" concept in 1972 and has been launching party-packed superliners with signature red funnels ever since. The line's ever-growing fleet features entertainment and activities designed for passengers of all ages, from game shows and lip sync competitions to twisting waterslides and mini golf. These ships are a reliable choice for families as well as young singles and couples who want a vacation that won’t break the bank.

Nearly all onboard dining options are included in the fare, as are comedy and production shows, children’s programs, and use of state-of-the-art fitness centers. With some of the most comfortable accommodations at sea, large new ships are continuously added to the fleet and rarely deviate from a successful pattern, while older vessels are updated with popular features, such as the poolside BlueIguana Tequila Bar with an adjacent burrito cantina, the Red Frog Rum Bar that also serves Carnival’s own brand of Thirsty Frog Red beer, and Guy’s Burger Joint, created with Food Network star Guy Fieri.

What You Should Know


  • Central atriums are stunning when sunlight streams in through skylights
  • Surprisingly large libraries are ideal retreats for reading or playing board games
  • Freshly made pizza and calzones are available around the clock


  • Despite upgrades, the decor is still pretty gaudy
  • These are ships designed for partying, so quiet spots can be difficult to find
  • Sushi bars earn high marks for their complimentary creations, but sake costs extra
Ship Stats
  • Crew Members 920
  • Entered Service 1998
  • Gross Tons 70,367
  • Length 855 feet
  • Number of Cabins 1,028
  • Passenger Capacity 2,056 (2,610 max)
  • Width 103 feet
  • New

Oct 17, 2015

Cosmel and Progresso

I enjoyed our cruise to Mexico.. My husband, son, his wife, and brother were with me. The service was and is always great but it seems like there were less servers in the dining room making us wait a long time for food and refills of drinks.The waiters seems over extended. There wasn't enough to serve the tables well. Our biggest disappointment concerning the dinners were the lack of the lobster meal without paying. We have always enjoyed that

night. We didn't like the idea of having to pay for it. The entertainment was also very disappointing. The music shows were very poor class and too loud. Nothing has to be so loud to be enjoyed. May I suggest family movies on the fun days at sea? It would cost the cruise very little and would be something to do. Popcorn and drinks could be offered. I know the ice cream is a pain for your servers, but is enjoyed by everyone. One of my family's big joke when planning a cruise is how much ice cream we will eat. It is fun! The ship was very clean and once again the workers work tirelessly to make the guests comfortable. Another thing that really bothered us was people smoking on ship! As nonsmokers, we hated walking through the ship and being greeted by the awful smell of cigarette smoke. My family has gone on 5 carnival cruises and will probably return in a few years. Please don't cut corners so much that you lose all the things that make cruising fun. Thank You

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  • New

Jun 23, 2014


Just got back from the 4 day Cozumel cruise. Let me start by saying that I have traveled a good bit in my life and experienced various resorts. Etc. This cruise Is mediocre at best. Not worth the money at all! You would be better served visiting Disney World or renting a room at a resort. They will price gouge the heck out of you. I'm not exaggerating! They charge you for everything. Some of the workers are pleasant but the majority are not very friendly.

I've never seen anything like this in my life. I can't caution you enough to do your research before taking a cruise. This is such a waste of money!!! Average food at best. Very bland and taste like something at Golden Corrall Small and hot cabin. Shower was nice Seriously lacking entertainment. I was bored after the first day. A lot of potential but for some reason lacks any excitement Shopping in Mexico was great

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  • New

Jun 18, 2013


The Wal-Mart crowd on the Wal-Mart of cruise lines. There is no better way to describe it. Budget restaurant food served in a nice dining room. You won't go hungry, but don't think you're going to experience 4-star dining. The variety of food offered was very good. Even the pickiest eater should be able to find something they like. However, the best entree I had on the cruise wasn't even on the ship. It was the Grouper entree I prepared

for lunch as part of a shore excursion Mexican food cooking class. We had cabin E-2. Cheap wood furnishings similar to what one would find in a cramped college dorm room. We were part of a group of 17 and pretty much created our own activities so I don't have a relevant comment. The Mexican Cuisine shore excursion was the highlight of our trip. It was well-run and worth the $90. We cruised with four of my wife's college girlfriends for their 35th reunion. The group included families for a total of 17 people. The ship was a good venue for the primary mission of their annual reunion: eating and talking. We always seemed to be able to find an area- day and night- to accommodate all of us when we wanted to gather as a group. We took in one show on the last night and it was entertaining. I grew tired of the constant effort to get you to buy overpriced alcohol, goods, photography and personal services. It was the height of hokey on the first night to have a person dressed as a pirate visit each and every dining guest and pretend to cut the diner's throat with an over-sized plastic dagger while a ship's photographer snapped their picture. A completely bush league attempt to make a few bucks off the "guests".

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  • New

Mar 11, 2013


Went for an onboard family reunion. Had a very large group. I will have to say, with very little cruising experience, the Port of New Orleans was by far the best experience. The staff was incredible, very friendly, and since we were dealing with a young child, they did their best at getting us on and off of the ship in a very quick and efficient manner. The cruise itself was okay. We had several extremely friendly staff members assist us, including

our room steward; but overall the staff seemed very gruff and abrasive, and very overwhelming almost harassing bar staff on the lido deck. Ports of call were great, had a great time off the boat. But not being experience cruisers we were not prepared for things like set dinner times and lengthy waits for food. Food in the dining rooms were good. Variety was excellent. Service here was decent and they did do a very good job of catering to the younger kids. Lunch time? Forget about it! You better get in line before you even get hungry, because the minimum time we waited in line was 30 minutes (try doing that with a two year old). All that wait was for mediocre food at that. On the culinary side the highlight of the trip was the Warm Chocolate Melting Cake served in the dining room at dinner! Staterooms were fine, a little cramped with kids, but our steward did such a good job making sure our 8 and 2 year olds were comfortable. Water pressure in the shower was surprisingly good, but be sure to pack conditioner if you use it, because it is not offered on the ship. Beds were comfortable. Overall rooms were decently cleaned. Activities were okay. A lot of them were inside the ship, and when you are cruising to a tropical destination who wants to be sitting inside for a good portion of the day? The activities on the Lido deck were great if you are a twenty something. Less than to be desired if you have children. Kids activities seemed to all be inside, or I just wasn't in the right place, because I never saw anything geared for the kids outside at all. We did not do any excursions that Carnival offered. Best part of the trip was the family we were with. Overall not a terrible experience, a few bumps along the way, but not a stellar enough experience to want to do it again.

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  • New

Feb 3, 2013

Saturday to Thursday

Fair to good cruise, maybe. Outside of the restaurants the food was poor. On Lido and rear of Lido, the food was less than acceptable as a whole. We did enjoy the buffet of pork steak and beef steak but most of the rest was bland and some vegetables had a fowl taste of rot. The most disappointing thing to me was how bad the pizza turned out to be. In my past cruises, the pizza was always top notch with great flavor but on this trip that was

lost. The salad bar was great and always full, we did enjoy it very much. The room was perfect except for a faulty smoke alarm. On my first shower it sounded and brought to our room a couple of employees. We were advised to close the bathroom door while showering but that failed to fix the problem as it sounded two more times during the cruise. After the second and third alarm, I requested it to be fixed or have us moved to another room. After a disgusted look neither of the maintenance workers responding said a word, they simply turned and walked away. No resolution was made and no answer given when I asked if any other passengers had this issue. Blank looks with no response, I was not at all impressed. All of the activities we participated in were wonderful. Stay away from Progresso, it is a waste!!!!!!!!! Passion Island by Catamaran was fantastic and worth the $70 per person cost. The sad part was not having enough time to see Cozumel as the excursion was 5hrs. Of all my Carnival trips, this was the worst by far. Aside from what was mentioned above, the cost to drink on ship was way over board. $7.50 for a beer and $10 to $14 for drinks. I find it sad that such prices exist when we spend so much on other area's of the cruise. Progresso was truly a nasty place to visit. From the time you are off the dock until you are back, there is a constant nag of people trying to sell. Transportation was to town was nice with air-conditioning and no smell, however, after your money is spent the ride back is old, worn out and stinky. Very sad part of the trip but it equaled the vision of Progresso. As most people use coffee to exercise nature in the morning, I use grape juice, which brings in my final thought. I packed a bottle of Walmart juice in my luggage but had forgotten it needed to be in my carry on bag. This of course is my fault and I accept that fault. When my luggage arrived the juice was of course gone but a cute note was left accusing me of smuggling. At guest services I requested to have it returned but got no answer, I must assume denied. On my second request, I was informed an email was created and I would be notified later. Upon entering my room a call came in where I was asked the brand and then informed it was an open container and would not be returned. My reply was simple, if it was opened then someone on your ship opened it. No reply, no sorry, no anything. Was there a real need to have the juice as a whole? No, it was purely a matter of principle to me and simply has cemented the overall dissatisfaction for this cruise while all the others had been perfect in every way. One bad trip out of five will not ruin my desire but it will likely push me to Mobile Alabama away from Elation and New Orleans.

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