I just booked my second and third Carnival cruises...a back-to-back on the Elation out of Mobile (since I live in Ocean Springs Mississippi which is only 45 minutes from the port) and was wondering about the ship.
I was on the Fascination out of Jacksonville in November and really enjoyed it. I am under the impression that these two are sister ships and was wondering just how similar they really are. After speaking with the Carnival representative on the phone, it sounds like both ships have been through the most recent upgrades, but I figured that one of the experts on here might have a little more information.
The other questions I have are regarding the whole process of doing a back-to-back. How exactly does it work? will we have to get off the ship to go through customs? Will we already have our sea pass cards for both trips or will we have to go through the line to check in again? How much time will we have on our port day in Mobile?
Since we have been to Mobile many times, I suggested that we may be able to drive home to check on the house and do some basic laundry to help save on packing, but it seems that I am being overruled on that one. Just curious...would that seem weird to be home for a few hours in the middle of your cruise?
We were on the Elation last summer with Lisa P and her family. It was a 7 night cruise. The Elation has not received all the upgrades and still has the original pools and water slide. It does have the (not much) serenity area for adults. My favorite place to get lunch was the Mongolian stir fry station on the pool deck. The ship appeared to be in great condition although the decor dates it.
I don't know how Carnival handles back-to-back passengers in Mobile when it comes to Customs and Immigration. I suspect Carnival will have the b2b guests meet up at a designated location and they'll usher you through the process and issue your cruise cards for the 2nd segment, and you do not go through the terminal for check-in again. Thus, making a run home will probably not be doable.
As Dave noted the main difference is the Fascination has had all the Evolutions additions while the Elation has not. The two main areas you will notice is the Lido Deck pool area and the Waterworks on the aft Verandah deck. Another difference in the two ships is the Fascination has had new balconies added. Where on the Elation you will have to book a Suite to get a balcony.
For the second half of the B2B you will be instructed to gather in a designated area without luggage. A Guest Service Rep will escort the B2B guests off as the last debarking group for customs and immigration. The Guest Service Rep will then escort the group back on board the ship to check in at the Guest Services Desk and issue a new S&S card. Once you have the new card you can come and go just as if you were at a port of call.
If you have the same cabin for the second cruise you can leave your luggage in the cabin. If you don't they will send someone to move it to the new cabin for you.
Now these are the normal procedures, but they can vary between the embarkation ports. I think (not positive) that LHP recently did a B2B on the Elation. Maybe she will know for sure how it works specifically for Mobile.
Thanks for the information guys. We are definitely staying in the same cabin for both trips, so it should be pretty easy.
That's too bad about the waterslide not being updated yet. When I was on the Fascination in November, I really liked the looks of that one and imagined my three daughters enjoying it, but I'm sure the current setup on Elation will still be wonderful.
We always go to Panama City, FL for five days in the summer and just decided to go on the cruise instead. I don't know why I didn't think of doing it before. My whole family is addicted to cruising.
Thanks again and I look forward to hearing any advice from LHP.
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....
I have been on both ships (before the evolutions of fun upgrades)
There are some subtle differences between the Elation and Fascination. The Fascination has been retrofitted with balconies, while the Elation is still more or less the original configuration.
Secondly the last 2 of the Fantasy Class - Elation and Paradise had some minor changes as new builds. They had the lobby bar as a new build, when the rest of the class had some sort of sculpture that was several decks high (these have since been removed). In addition The first six ships were equipped with owners' suites at the end of sports deck (there are 2 doors marked "private", and do not show up on the deck plans. I guess the Carnival executives needed a place to say when they tried their own product)
The owners' suites were removed and that is where Camp Carnival was placed on the Elation and Paradise.