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Old 01-09-2003, 01:57 PM
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Review of cruise on MS Elation
Carnival Cruise Lines
Port of Departure: Lost Angeles
Ports of Call: Puerto Vallarta, Manzatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Departure Date: 12/22/02
“Christmas Cruise”

Let’s premise this review with some background. We are a couple in our early 40’s. This was a special treat for both of us, having not cruised before and looking forward to a relaxing, warm, romantic get away to escape the noise and stress of the holidays. We left our kids with our ex-spouse’s, in exchange for watching the kids the following week while they go on their vacations.

We booked our trip over the internet through Ultimate Destinations and were happy with the reservation process and price. We took an upgraded cabin on the Riviera Deck (lowest deck) with a port hole.

As this was the “Christmas Cruise” as we were told by our travel agent and read on the Carnival web site, we were expecting holiday decorations, singing, Santa Claus, Christmas lights, a tree in the lobby, etc. Aside from some tinsel on the banisters in the atrium, there were no decorations at all. In fact, there was almost no sign of the holidays at all. Most of the people we met were very disappointed about this, as were we. We expected a holiday cruise and got something much less.

The boarding process was long and arduous. We checked our bags with the porter at the curb at 1:30pm and then got in line. 2 hours later we arrived at the head of the line, filled out our paperwork and boarded the ship. The paperwork was nothing more than signing a credit application and picking up a “sail and sign” charge/room key. Carnival should have this reduced to simply picking up your id card and showing your passport. All the credit arrangements could be made on board at a later time or during the booking process well in advance. No reason to wait for 2 hours to board.

The ship sailed out of LA several hours late in a strong wind and cold weather. It was not raining. The weather would remain cold and crappy until we hit Cabo San Lucas. This made the lack of activities on board the ship even more evident. Sitting on the deck in the sun during the day was not an option.

Our cabin steward did a great job. Our room was always clean and well attended to. The one area in which we were impressed with service on the ship.

Our first meal in the dining room was another ordeal. The entire late seating stood in the lobby of the dining room for 1 hour waiting to be seated. It was hot, uncomfortable and wholly unnecessary. A simple announcement over the PA system would have been sufficient to alert everyone that dinner was late.

The food at dinner was ok. Not astounding. Something like a good $20 dinner at a moderate restaurant. We were expecting to be wowed by the food. Suffice to say that all the meals in the dining room were good, but not great, nor memorable.

Our servers were polite, capable and attentive. Not very friendly. Little chit chat.

Breakfast in the dining room was plain, unimaginative and fine, for what it was. Again, we expected lots of exotic, delicious food. We got Dennys.

We usually ate lunch at the Tiffany’s buffet. This was generally simple food, but good. Had to get there during lunch hours of 12-1:30, otherwise the food was gone.

We were disappointed about the lack of food choices throughout the day. There were no buffets of seafood, fresh fruit was limited to apples and bananas (why no mango, papaya or other fresh Mexican fruit which was readily available on shore) which again we expected. Except at regular meal time (breakfast, lunch and dinner) the food was limited to cakes, cheese, hamburgers and hot dogs. Definitely not the “24 hour a day gourmet dining” that was advertised.

On Christmas day there was a “special dinner” in the dining room, which was wholly ordinary. Nothing to make one think that it was Christmas other than the menu saying so.

Our greatest complaint was the complete lack of activities during the day. Unless you were interested in gambling, there were virtually no activities. We spent our days working out in the gym, sleeping in our cabin and wondering around the ship, looking for something to do. This is completely the opposite of comments we have heard from others who have gone on similar cruises. We expected to have sports activities, crafts, games, and other activities. Instead we were dreadfully bored. We were not alone. Everyone at our table shared this feeling.

The entertainment was awful. We went to see the “magician” on the first night. He was lousy. On the second night we missed the show, but were told that it was pretty bad by the people at our table. It was supposed to be Las Vegas Review but we think they meant Las Vegas High School. The third night we went to see a comedian, who was actually not too bad, but he was followed by a fiddle player who was, again, extremely dull. The next night we wanted to go out dancing. We went from bar to bar looking for a venue that played jazz, 70’s or 80’s light rock, salsa, reggae, or anything other than the 60’s or techno which seemed to be our only choices. The band in the Romeo and Juliet lounge was ok, but their sets lasted 2 songs and they stopped playing at 12am, just when we wanted to dance.

On Christmas day there was a “party” outside on the lido deck with the Calypso band that normally plays during the day. This band is really awful. You could barely tell who they were covering when they sang, they were usually flat and were painful to listen to. They played some reggae songs (for Christmas???), there was an ice sculpture of Santa and a buffet of cakes…that was it…the whole Christmas extravaganza? Blah

The shore tours were good. We went horseback riding in Puerto Vallarta (excellent), Kayaking in Mazatlan (good), and shopping in Cabo (on our own).

Getting on and off the ship, particularly in Cabo, was an overly painful experience. In Cabo, we had to wait in the sun for 2 hours to board the tenders to get on board the ship. It took way too long. The cruise line should have scheduled people for particular tender rides, instead of having the entire ship trying to board at one time.

When we finally arrived at San Pedro, the disembarkation process was not well conceived at all. We were asked to clear out of our cabin by 8am and wait on the Lido deck until our group was called to clear Customs. There was no room in the Tiffiany dining room, so we tried to sit on the deck. It was cold and windy, so we ended up sitting on the floor in one of the hallways for over 2 hours. It would have been much easier and more comfortable if we could have waited in our cabins and then just had someone walk the hall to tell you when it was your turn to disembark. Not customer focused at all.

Overall, we were completely disappointed. What could have been a wonderful trip of a lifetime, ended up being boring, tedious and an ordeal we will never repeat. Carnival could have made this a great holiday trip, by doing some simple thing:
Holiday decorations
Holiday music
Holiday oriented activities
Holiday oriented entertainment
Holiday oriented meals

We heard that four couples left the cruise in disgust at Puerto Vallarta and that there was a policy to refund the unused portion of your cruise if you are not satisfied. Had we known about this program in advance, we definitely would have taken advantage of it, as would most of the people at our table.

Even if this were not the Holidays, we would have been disappointed. But we were particularly disappointed because of the lost opportunity to seize the Holiday theme.

Carnival obviously is moving in the same direction as airlines: cut costs, cut service. Couples don’t pay $2500 a week for mediocre service, food and entertainment. We will not be back and will warn everyone that we know to avoid “The Fun Ships” (ha, what irony), and probably will never go on a cruise again. Thanks Carnival…you take the fun out of cruising.
  #2 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2003, 01:57 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: San Luis Obispo, CA USA
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Review of cruise on MS Elation
Carnival Cruise Lines
Port of Departure: Lost Angeles
Ports of Call: Puerto Vallarta, Manzatlan, Cabo San Lucas
Departure Date: 12/22/02
“Christmas Cruise”

Let’s premise this review with some background. We are a couple in our early 40’s. This was a special treat for both of us, having not cruised before and looking forward to a relaxing, warm, romantic get away to escape the noise and stress of the holidays. We left our kids with our ex-spouse’s, in exchange for watching the kids the following week while they go on their vacations.

We booked our trip over the internet through Ultimate Destinations and were happy with the reservation process and price. We took an upgraded cabin on the Riviera Deck (lowest deck) with a port hole.

As this was the “Christmas Cruise” as we were told by our travel agent and read on the Carnival web site, we were expecting holiday decorations, singing, Santa Claus, Christmas lights, a tree in the lobby, etc. Aside from some tinsel on the banisters in the atrium, there were no decorations at all. In fact, there was almost no sign of the holidays at all. Most of the people we met were very disappointed about this, as were we. We expected a holiday cruise and got something much less.

The boarding process was long and arduous. We checked our bags with the porter at the curb at 1:30pm and then got in line. 2 hours later we arrived at the head of the line, filled out our paperwork and boarded the ship. The paperwork was nothing more than signing a credit application and picking up a “sail and sign” charge/room key. Carnival should have this reduced to simply picking up your id card and showing your passport. All the credit arrangements could be made on board at a later time or during the booking process well in advance. No reason to wait for 2 hours to board.

The ship sailed out of LA several hours late in a strong wind and cold weather. It was not raining. The weather would remain cold and crappy until we hit Cabo San Lucas. This made the lack of activities on board the ship even more evident. Sitting on the deck in the sun during the day was not an option.

Our cabin steward did a great job. Our room was always clean and well attended to. The one area in which we were impressed with service on the ship.

Our first meal in the dining room was another ordeal. The entire late seating stood in the lobby of the dining room for 1 hour waiting to be seated. It was hot, uncomfortable and wholly unnecessary. A simple announcement over the PA system would have been sufficient to alert everyone that dinner was late.

The food at dinner was ok. Not astounding. Something like a good $20 dinner at a moderate restaurant. We were expecting to be wowed by the food. Suffice to say that all the meals in the dining room were good, but not great, nor memorable.

Our servers were polite, capable and attentive. Not very friendly. Little chit chat.

Breakfast in the dining room was plain, unimaginative and fine, for what it was. Again, we expected lots of exotic, delicious food. We got Dennys.

We usually ate lunch at the Tiffany’s buffet. This was generally simple food, but good. Had to get there during lunch hours of 12-1:30, otherwise the food was gone.

We were disappointed about the lack of food choices throughout the day. There were no buffets of seafood, fresh fruit was limited to apples and bananas (why no mango, papaya or other fresh Mexican fruit which was readily available on shore) which again we expected. Except at regular meal time (breakfast, lunch and dinner) the food was limited to cakes, cheese, hamburgers and hot dogs. Definitely not the “24 hour a day gourmet dining” that was advertised.

On Christmas day there was a “special dinner” in the dining room, which was wholly ordinary. Nothing to make one think that it was Christmas other than the menu saying so.

Our greatest complaint was the complete lack of activities during the day. Unless you were interested in gambling, there were virtually no activities. We spent our days working out in the gym, sleeping in our cabin and wondering around the ship, looking for something to do. This is completely the opposite of comments we have heard from others who have gone on similar cruises. We expected to have sports activities, crafts, games, and other activities. Instead we were dreadfully bored. We were not alone. Everyone at our table shared this feeling.

The entertainment was awful. We went to see the “magician” on the first night. He was lousy. On the second night we missed the show, but were told that it was pretty bad by the people at our table. It was supposed to be Las Vegas Review but we think they meant Las Vegas High School. The third night we went to see a comedian, who was actually not too bad, but he was followed by a fiddle player who was, again, extremely dull. The next night we wanted to go out dancing. We went from bar to bar looking for a venue that played jazz, 70’s or 80’s light rock, salsa, reggae, or anything other than the 60’s or techno which seemed to be our only choices. The band in the Romeo and Juliet lounge was ok, but their sets lasted 2 songs and they stopped playing at 12am, just when we wanted to dance.

On Christmas day there was a “party” outside on the lido deck with the Calypso band that normally plays during the day. This band is really awful. You could barely tell who they were covering when they sang, they were usually flat and were painful to listen to. They played some reggae songs (for Christmas???), there was an ice sculpture of Santa and a buffet of cakes…that was it…the whole Christmas extravaganza? Blah

The shore tours were good. We went horseback riding in Puerto Vallarta (excellent), Kayaking in Mazatlan (good), and shopping in Cabo (on our own).

Getting on and off the ship, particularly in Cabo, was an overly painful experience. In Cabo, we had to wait in the sun for 2 hours to board the tenders to get on board the ship. It took way too long. The cruise line should have scheduled people for particular tender rides, instead of having the entire ship trying to board at one time.

When we finally arrived at San Pedro, the disembarkation process was not well conceived at all. We were asked to clear out of our cabin by 8am and wait on the Lido deck until our group was called to clear Customs. There was no room in the Tiffiany dining room, so we tried to sit on the deck. It was cold and windy, so we ended up sitting on the floor in one of the hallways for over 2 hours. It would have been much easier and more comfortable if we could have waited in our cabins and then just had someone walk the hall to tell you when it was your turn to disembark. Not customer focused at all.

Overall, we were completely disappointed. What could have been a wonderful trip of a lifetime, ended up being boring, tedious and an ordeal we will never repeat. Carnival could have made this a great holiday trip, by doing some simple thing:
Holiday decorations
Holiday music
Holiday oriented activities
Holiday oriented entertainment
Holiday oriented meals

We heard that four couples left the cruise in disgust at Puerto Vallarta and that there was a policy to refund the unused portion of your cruise if you are not satisfied. Had we known about this program in advance, we definitely would have taken advantage of it, as would most of the people at our table.

Even if this were not the Holidays, we would have been disappointed. But we were particularly disappointed because of the lost opportunity to seize the Holiday theme.

Carnival obviously is moving in the same direction as airlines: cut costs, cut service. Couples don’t pay $2500 a week for mediocre service, food and entertainment. We will not be back and will warn everyone that we know to avoid “The Fun Ships” (ha, what irony), and probably will never go on a cruise again. Thanks Carnival…you take the fun out of cruising.
  #3 (permalink)  
Old 01-09-2003, 06:13 PM
hghrlr1's Avatar
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: fenton mo 63026
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well, so much for that cruise line, me and my fiance almost booked that cruise line.and there rates are higher than the royal caribbean. We are going on a honeymoon cruise in june. well im glad i read your story.
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Old 01-10-2003, 09:57 PM
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For a honeymoon, I would recommend Princess (the love boat). They cater to honeymooners, and the larger ships have beautiful wedding chapels. We've renewed our vows twice on Princess cruises, and they know how to get things done. They are also far more organized than Carnival. Congratulations on your wedding. Anything you decide to do will be wonderful, as you'll be doing it together.
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Old 01-12-2003, 12:31 PM
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Location: ravenna, OH, USA
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Nothing personal, but with all of your complaignts, I thing you decided not to like the cruise the first 5 minutes after you stood in line then noticed the lack of x-mas decorations.

A cruise vacation is usually what you make of it. I have traveled almost every cruise line. They are all very simular. You really should be mad at your travel agent. The (Gormet buffets all over the ship) is something they lead you to believe. No real cruise ship does this. Next time, if you cruise, keep an open mind and just enjoy the experience.

Next time, I recommend a land based vacation. Also... If you paid $2500 for a week cruise on their lowest deck... You WAY over paid. However, keep in mind, on a land vacation, for $2500, to get the luxury you are looking for, you might get the room paid for, let alone meals and entertainment, and travel.
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Old 01-15-2003, 06:34 PM
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Our first cruise was one of the Carnival Millenium Cruises in the Paradise. We paid top-dollar for the worst room on the ship (inside, riviera, with a post in the middle of the stateroom, right behind the elevators!!!). The ship's Azipod system broke the first night aboard, and they completely rerouted the cruise to fix the propusion system, and because of that, we ended up going to 3 totally different ports than were originally planned. People were understandably upset, and spent the entire cruise complaining about absolutely everything?

My husband and me? We had a blast! We threw the hours of careful port planning out the window, rolled with the punches, and had the best vacation of our lives! We were constantly busy with dancing, tours, shows, on-ship activities, and so on. Even when I stepped on glass right after the midnight celebration on New Year's and was leaving a trail of blood back to the room, I still didn't get upset. Since then, cruising has become our vacation of choice, and I'm going on my 8th cruise at the end of the month (most of them on Carnival)! So I totally agree that it is all what you make of it, and am so sorry you had a bad experience!
  #7 (permalink)  
Old 01-15-2003, 06:36 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by NancyT:
Our first cruise was one of the Carnival Millenium Cruises in the Paradise. We paid top-dollar for the worst room on the ship (inside, riviera, with a post in the middle of the stateroom, right behind the elevators!!!). The ship's Azipod system broke the first night aboard, and they completely rerouted the cruise to fix the propusion system, and because of that, we ended up going to 3 totally different ports than were originally planned. People were understandably upset, and spent the entire cruise complaining about absolutely everything!

My husband and me? We had a blast! We threw the hours of careful port planning out the window, rolled with the punches, and had the best vacation of our lives! We were constantly busy with dancing, tours, shows, on-ship activities, and so on. Even when I stepped on glass right after the midnight celebration on New Year's and was leaving a trail of blood back to the room, I still didn't get upset. Since then, cruising has become our vacation of choice, and I'm going on my 8th cruise at the end of the month (most of them on Carnival)! So I totally agree that it is all what you make of it, and am so sorry you had a bad experience!
  #8 (permalink)  
Old 01-15-2003, 06:37 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by NancyT:
quote:
Originally posted by NancyT:
Our first cruise was one of the Carnival Millenium Cruises o n the Paradise. We paid top-dollar for the worst room on the ship (inside, riviera, with a post in the middle of the stateroom, right behind the elevators!!!). The ship's Azipod system broke the first night aboard, and they completely rerouted the cruise to fix the propusion system, and because of that, we ended up going to 3 totally different ports than were originally planned. People were understandably upset, and spent the entire cruise complaining about absolutely everything!
My husband and me? We had a blast! We threw the hours of careful port planning out the window, rolled with the punches, and had the best vacation of our lives! We were constantly busy with dancing, tours, shows, on-ship activities, and so on. Even when I stepped on glass right after the midnight celebration on New Year's and was leaving a trail of blood back to the room, I still didn't get upset. Since then, cruising has become our vacation of choice, and I'm going on my 8th cruise at the end of the month (most of them on Carnival)! So I totally agree that it is all what you make of it, and am so sorry you had a bad experience!

  #9 (permalink)  
Old 01-21-2003, 02:37 PM
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Location: Stockton, California USA
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I cruised on my own April 2002 on board the Elation. It was my first cruise and I had a BLAST!
  #10 (permalink)  
Old 01-22-2003, 10:31 PM
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I think you should have done your research regarding cruises. You don't seem the cruise type of people.
 
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