Number of Cruises: First Cruise
Cruise Line: Carnival
Ship: Carnival Elation
Sailing Date: March 11th, 2006
Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Carnival Cruise Line
Elation Cruise Review
This was the first cruise I have ever been on. I am a college student in Houston, and decided to take a cruise for Spring Break with my girlfriend. I booked the cruise about six months in advance, to get the best price. We originally booked a cruise leaving from Alabama, deciding that driving there would be cheaper than taking a cruise out of Galveston. Due to the hurricanes, the cruise was cancelled, so Carnival moved our cruise to the Elation, leaving from Galveston, and gave us a $50 ship credit. Be advised: if you don't use the $50 on the ship, it's not refundable. I prepaid my tips, which came to $50, and the travel agent told me the ship credit would cover it anyway. If I hadn't used the $50 credit, it would not have covered it, so there's a little sneaky thing Carnival does. It's better to not prepay if you have a credit so the tips will be billed to you, and then the credit will cover it.
We got to the port at 11:30am, and boarded in 10 minutes!! We then made our way to Tiffany's on the lido deck to eat the buffet that was set up. They had an army of servers offering the "drink of the day", which is $6.95, and refills are $5.95. But, on all drink purchases, alcoholic or not, they had 15% gratuity, so basically it's a forced tip on everything.
The ship definitely has a lot to do, so you can make your cruise as fun as you want. I enjoyed the casino, probably too much, definitely didn't make any money. The drinks are way overpriced, a Bud Light is $4.50, plus 15%, so actually it's $5.18. The happy hours are around 50 cents cheaper, and they water everything down, so don't get excited.
Cozumel was great, we did the Catamaran excursion that took us to a snorkeling spot and a private beach with awesome burgers, although they cost $8. Progresso was not fun at all, it's basically a small town with a nice beach, but it's impossible to enjoy with a local coming by every 5 minutes asking for money or for you to buy something. The locals also like to stare if you have a girl with you, unfortunately my girlfriend has blond hair, and that seems to attract large groups of guys, which can be a little scary by yourself. A little tip: use the free shuttle at the port, there are cab drivers everywhere offering rides, but just walk past them and find the bus. It was air conditioned and comfortable.
Back on the ship, room service is free, so take advantage of that. I had four turkey sandwiches at 1am for nights in a row, and the server was very polite. The only rude people I encountered the whole time were the people working the information desk. Try calling them from the room if possible, they are MEAN!
All in all, I enjoyed Carnival, the only two negatives I have are how everything is set up to get more money out of you (I paid $600 for the cruise, but ended up paying about $900), and the other negative is the kids. There are little children everywhere, but what's worse, it seemed the median age on the ship was about 17. There were millions of high school aged kids running around everywhere, and they are all DRUNK. I went out to watch the ocean at midnight on one night, but was surrounded by high schoolers smoking and drinking and cussing and yelling and fighting.
I've been told Royal Caribbean and Princess are geared for a higher age group, so maybe I'll try them next. I do intend on becoming a regular cruiser, although there are some negatives, it was an amazing trip that I will always remember. Just make sure to take someone special with you!