Occupation:Senior Office Assistant
Number of Cruises: 3
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Elation
Sailing Date: December 7th, 2003
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
We arrived at the pier around 11:00a.m. The pier is still being built up, but the interior of the building was very nice and clean. It didn't take very long for my husband to park the car at the Galveston Port Authority lot. He dropped me off with the luggage at the door of the terminal. We went upstairs and got our cabin assignment (we were on a guarantee) and had been upgraded from a porthole to a regular window. The were already letting people go through the metal detectors and check in. Check in was very smooth and attendants were very friendly. We then took a seat and waited for them to let us board. It only took about 30 minutes before they let us on the ship. It wasn't very crowded at this time, so if you can get to the port early, I think you're better off. Heard other people say it was terrible getting on, but they arrived later in the afternoon.
Once on the ship, we immediately went to the shore excursion desk and filled out our forms. We had researched in advance which tours we wanted, so it was easy to finish. Computers were down, but they just handwrote the receipts so we were able to get something to drink. We then had lunch at the buffet in the Tiffany Grill. Food was just OK. It did improve over the course of the cruise. We then walked around the ship. Everything was clean, though the carpet was a bit worn in spots.
Our head waiter & assistant waiters were excellent. They remembered our likes and dislikes through out the cruise. The food in the dining room for dinner time was absolutely incredible! The best I've had. The lunches and breakfasts were great, but not as good as dinner. While service for dinner was excellent, the service at lunch & breakfast time was not as good, though not bad by any means. I think since the lunch and breakfast seatings are open, some of the wait staff doesn't try as hard as they do at dinner. Some of the wait staff is great all of the time though.
Our room was nice, Riviera 187. Our cabin steward was fantastic. Our room was always clean, and we rarely saw him! Bar drinks were all made well. We also tried the sushi bar, which was good. The majority of staff we encountered were wonderful. The one exception was when we went to have afternoon tea at Duke's Piano Bar. The waiters basically ignored us, kept walking by. My husband had to ask three times for us to get some service. The waiters' boss came in after a while and all of a sudden they were very attentive. My husband did speak with the manager about the situation, but this experience was definitely the exception, not the rule.
The pool decks were not too crowded. We usually chose to use the aft pool and hot tubs, because very few people were back there. Never more then 3 or 4 in a hot tub at a time, and it was usually only 1 or 2. Pool never had more than 3 people in it.
I had my hair & make up done for formal night and I also had a pedicure & facial on other days. Staff there were good, not too pushy about trying to get you to buy extra stuff. They'd tell you about it, but not be pushy. I went to a line dance lesson which was fun, though the teacher, one of the dancers, didn't really seem all that happy to be there. We were always in port early, and we were let off a bit early in two of the ports.
The excursions we took through the ship were good ones. Lounges were clean and not overly crowded. Shows were good. Casino was nice. I only play slots (occasionally) and there were always some to choose from. Midnight Gala Buffet was excellent, other buffets were good, but not great. Only the Gala Buffet was held in the dining room. The others were in the Tiffany Bistro. Pizza was good. Hamburgers at the grill on the Lido deck were fantastic.
Overall, food, service, activities and shows were all a 10 in my book. I would definitely sail on the Elation again.