We just did a B2B on the Elation (January 1 and 6th).
The Elation is indeed the sister ship to the Fascination ... so the layout will be the same.
However, I felt like the Elation was a prettier ship. It has an extra long bar on the Promenade and some seating around the coffee shop that I really liked.
I does have the Adult Serenity Area...but it does not have the waterpark on the back yet.
(I believe they are adding that the end of 2011.) It was in California, so Carnival waited until it was back on this side of the country to finish the Evolutions of Fun (waterpark etc).
Food and service were on par with Carnival.
As for the back to back experience....we have done several back to backs at other ports like New Orleans, Port Canaveral and Miami .....
this back to back was ok...but it wasn't handled as efficiently as I have seen others handled.
Since you have the same room...no packing up required...
they will place a letter in your cabin with detailed instructions to meet at a certain time (ours was 10AM) at Guest Services. You will need your Customs card completed, your Fun Pass for the second cruise and your Passports (or birth certificate/drivers license).
The Purser will walk you off the ship. USUALLY....they will walk you past any passengers still standing in line at Customs and go straight to the front of the Customs line.
However, this Purser did not seem to really know what to do since there were still cruisers in the Custom line. She took us to the PORTER line (which is faster) but we did have to stand for awhile. She seemed to be afraid to take us to the front of the line. Finally, she flagged us to the front of the Porters Line and the Custom Agent took our Custom Card, looked at our Passports and said have a nice day.
The Purser then walked us back onto the ship. You will get NEW Sail and Sign cards for the second sailing. On this ship, they already had our cards ready and we got our picture imprinted on them when we got back on the ship and then walked over to Guest Services to set up our Sail and Sign account with our credit card.
On other ships, after you go through Customs and they have brought you back onto the ship...they just tell you to come to Guest Services after 12 noon to pick up your new cards and set up your Sail and Sign account. Then you step over to the "ding" machine to have your picture imprinted.
You have a couple of hours before the ship has people on it again and it is kinda neat to walk through the ship without other passengers onboard.
Just remember to eat breakfast, because the food services are closed from 9AM - 11:30am.
Once they shut down the Lido and Main Dining Room for breakfast...the Lido is not up and running again until around 11:15am. They don't open the Main Dining Room for lunch on Embarkation Day.
Also IF you collect the 8 x 10 Embarkation pictures like we do....you have to wait until around 1:30pm and "ding out" ....walk back to the terminal and get your picture made and then walk back on and "ding back in".
Btw, hubby was born and raised in Long Beach (MS) and I lived in Biloxi for about 10 years... so we know where Ocean Springs is....