Well, first of all let me preface all of this with "we had a good time" but we had to make it so.
We left from Colorado Springs and I had not purchased ground bus transfers prior to leaving because the carnival folks said "no prob" look for the folks in the striped vests or go to the Carnival desk in LAX. NOT! We finally found a man in a suit carrying a clip board with Carnival bumper sticker on the back. This was the only clue. We boarded the bus and it cost us $38.00 pp round trip a great deal. We were given a voucher to use on the return trip (something else to keep track of).
Got to the terminal at Long Beach to begin the arduious "cattle call". Carnival really shoots themselves in the foot by not doing most of their paper work on line. We filled out our SARS questionaire and stood and stood and stood. Probably in line about 1 hour. Found our cabin with out a problem. Have sailed Carnival in the past.
The food and the service was on again and off again. The first night buffet in Tiffanys looked and tasted like left overs and would not have been something I would have thrown together at home out of the fridge. The dining room food too was on again and off again. When it was good it was excellent.....all other times just ok. You can make anything taste great with enough champagne! :0)
We found Dukes bar to be the hot spot after 11:00. We called him "racy Randy". He can get pretty raw but then only adults were supposed to be there at that time. Ventilation in this club is really terrible so if you don't smoke "be ware". The shows were good but then I wouldn't call them broadway productions. The comedian was awful and we left after about 30 minutes of comedy abuse. There is a teen club, "Jeckle and Hyde" and no one is allowed in there over 18. The Romeo and Juliet club is techno and we did go in there during a band break and found it very dark with a pretty small dance floor. Mostly the young 20-30 group. The Elation Way promenade had a singer playing the guitar and sounded good but out in the open entertainment hard to really enjoy with people constantly walking in front of you. Lots of goofy pool games for which Carnival is notorious. Things that you would probably expect from a college pool party. We didn't attend the theatre couples acts.....couldn't stand much more goofy stuff by that time.
Our cabin was M21 in the bow and had two portholes. Our cabin steward was Putu and he was the best of the best. If he was in the hall and saw us coming he would run to open the door for us and always kept our cabin spotless and always with a smile and a good morning! He was handsomely compensated at the end of the cruise. I found the cabin to be quiet considering how far forward we were but you do know when you get into port as you hear the anchor dropping and during the cruise we could hear the water hitting the bow. Not alot of rocking and rolling though I might add and I am very sensitive to that sort of thing.
Ports of Call:
We signed up for the Yelapa snorkeling 7 hour day trip in Puerto Villarta and we were not dissappointed AT ALL. We were on a scooner named the Elias Mann and the crew and captain went out of their way to make our trip a memorable one. We were out 9 hours of a 7 hour tour and saw everything imaginable for sea life. Spotted manta, giant mantas, dolphins, flying fish, mackeral etc. The cost of the day trip is $85 dollars and included two snorkeling stops and lunch in Yelapa. Excellent lunch and salsa to die for! This is a tiny village which only got electricity 3 years ago and there is only about 10 or so buildings on the beach. It is not excessible by any other means than water. There are no roads in or out. Shopping is done by having the people come by your tables and hawk their wares. Good prices and a lot to choose from. We had such a good time on this day trip we gave the Elias Mann a $50.00 tip. Highly recommend.
Our second port of call was Mazatlan and we decided that we would do alittle shopping and then meet some folks from the ship at the El Shrimp Bucket. Shopping is the same stuff that you see everywhere but the El Shrimp Bucket was the best lunch. My hunsband and I ordered the lunch for 2 which had all the different kinds of shrimp in one. More than we could eat! He had the bucket of beer and I had margarita. They are potent.....nurse them if you want to have your wits about you. We got around Mazatlan by pulmania's which is a remodeled golf cart open air. Make sure to ask price for transportation prior to getting in. They do vary ALOT! We paid anywhere from 6-12 dollars depending.
Cabo San Lucas:
We scheduled ourselves on the Encore scooner for our last port of call. She was not the Elias Mann but a nice boat none the less. The crew were very nice and took us to a place to snorkel. The water was murky and VERY COLD! I think most of the folks behind me decided not to get into the water when I couldn't even scream it was so cold. They had sent one of the crew into the water to check for "yelly fish" (jelly fish) and he came back with a all clear.......wrong. I wasn't in the water 15 minutes and came out with 6 stings and a welted calf. Still to this day am sporting my scars. I think that was the worst i have ever been stung and I have been stung a lot. They seem to love me.
We had a great time, but as I said in the beginning we made a great time. We met a lot of great people, saw some great sea life and ate and shopped our way through the cruise. But I have to tell you, Carnival isn't going to be seeing us ever again (this was our second Carnival cruise in a year). The Elation sure isn't the Inspiration by any means. We are really spoiled by the attitude and graciousness of Royal Caribbean and the caribbean water. We are in our 50's and don't act like it ever so crazy stunts is us but some of this really pushed boundaries in the name of "fun" and sometimes bordered on unsafe. If you like drinking at outragous prices( 7-9 dollars each), watching people eat crackers after sliding down the water slide to blow up baloons and pop them for time, if you want closed pools and hot tubs in port, just ok food most of the time but great cabin service, then this cruise if for you.