Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Elation
Sailing Date: September 29th, 2002
Itinerary: Mexican Riviera
This was our third cruise, and the second on
Carnival. It started out a little rough with the embarkation process. When the
ship arrived not everyone showed up to clear immigration, and they lost a few
hours chasing down those bozos. Nobody can get off until everyone clears. We
arrived at the pier at 11:45 and got on the boat at 2:30. No signage at the pier
to tell you where to go – just find the longest line and get in it. There were a
few Carnival employees who came by once in a while shouting about having coupons
1 & 2 filled out. Once we got inside the terminal, the in processing went
We found our rooms, stashed our carry-ons, and had lunch at Tiffany’s. We pushed away from the dock at about 5:30, about 1 ½ hrs late. All went well – the first two days are at sea, so we spent most of the time eating.
We got to Puerto Vallarta Wednesday morning on time. Weather was good, as it was for the entire cruise. We did the Eden Jungle tour – I wouldn’t recommend it. They take you into the Jungle to the “Predator Set” where the movie “Predator” was filmed. It consists of a restaurant next to a river with a natural water slide and swimming hole with a rope swing. The way it’s set up, you have to go through the restaurant to get to the river. The tour guide explains that it is best to order your food before you go play in the water, as it takes about 35 minutes to get your food. Since it was only 10 am, we weren’t hungry and skipped the whole restaurant scene. We were there about 2 hours. The kids had fun on the water slide and rope swing, but the water was too cold for Mom & Dad.
Mazatlan was next. We took the Sierra Madre tour, which was about 7 ½ hours. We went through the city, stopped at a brick factory, furniture factory, the little town of Concordia with an interesting 18th century church, and a small mining town in the mountains where we had lunch (included). On the way back, we stopped at the “Golden Zone” shopping district, mercifully for only 30 minutes, since we were running late. Got back to the boat 10 min before the deadline.
Saturday was Cabo San Lucas. Got there at 7 am and we were only there until noon, not really enough time to do a whole lot. At Cabo, the ship has to drop anchor and shuttle passengers ashore in tenders. The tenders are small and it’s a slow process.
We left Cabo and got to LA about 6:45 Sunday morning. On Saturday, they have a presentation in the Mikado Lounge about the debarkation process, but you don’t really need to go. Just read the directions in the “Carnival Capers” newsletter and do what it says. We had an early flight, so we were in the first group to get off, which was 10:00. The debarkation process was smooth.
Some overall thoughts about the cruise. It seemed like there was no escape from cigarette smoke. Smoking was not allowed in the dining areas or the Mikado Lounge, but just about everywhere else on the ship was fair game. Carnival’s smoking policy is way too liberal. For this reason we won’t do another Carnival cruise except possibly on the Paradise (smoke free ship). Smokers liked to congregate around the elevators for some reason, so we usually held our breath and headed for the stairs. You’d be at the rail watching the ship dock, and somebody would stand next to you and start puffing away.
The entertainment on this ship was below average. There were no shows at all on three nights. The dancers only performed on two nights. Contrary to what they advertise, the early show is not kid-appropriate due to the dancer’s exposed butt cheeks.
The food was excellent. We think the food on Carnival is better than Royal Caribbean, but the opposite in the entertainment department.
Service from our waiters and cabin steward was outstanding.
We witnessed some disturbing examples of extreme drunkenness while waiting in line to re-board the ship in Mazatlan. The cruise director, Greg, spends a good bit of time promoting “Senor Frog’s” and cheap tequila in his little “what to do in port” chats, and it is apparently effective.
It was definitely a Jerry Springer type of crowd on this ship, something we did not notice on our previous Carnival or RCCL cruises, both of which were out of Miami.
We won’t be doing this one again, but if you’re a pierced and tattooed party animal, leave the kids at home with grandma and have at it!