Gone Cruising: Taking a Cruise on Carnival Elation
We needed to see water, walk along the beach, and smell the ocean. With all the good deals around we were certain we could find something, and a cruise seemed to be a good place for good deals.
So, we made arrangements for a 4-day cruise on the Carnival Elation out of San Diego.
The Carnival ElationThe Elation is a large ship. Although I have no idea how it compares in size with other ocean cruisers, it is certainly large enough for me, and provided many opportunities for me to get lost searching for the dining room.
It boasts 10 decks, the Grand Atrium (a spacious area with a charming bar with a pianist or guitarist playing regularly) and small nooks and areas tucked into corners. There's the Mark Twain Library, Elation-style with touches of Victorian style, wood bookcases, tables and wainscoting. The extensive use of glass walls makes it a mix of contemporary and Victorian. The quirky Jekyll & Hyde Dance Club with red and white two-sided figures, the Mikado showroom. The decor of Duke's a New York jazz era themed piano bar named after Duke Ellington was another fun cozy area.
Time is measured differently on a cruise. There’s the day that’s in Avalon, and the day that’s in Ensenada, and the day at sea. And hours are measured by where to find the food. The deli opens, the pizza place is always open. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in the dining room have their own hours, as does the buffet.
Activities come and go. The Lido deck rocks with music, hot tubs, the pool, and easy access to food. But the aft of the ship is quiet and a great place to sit with a cup of coffee and watch the ocean. There is entertainment every night, but also spaces and places to sit and listen to music at a bar, or stroll the ship, or sit with a glass of wine or a tropical drink.
Overall the food was quite good, but quite mainstream. Even the “foods of the world” tended to be Americanized. Cruises are not places for truly diverse ethnic dining.
There’s also a great deal of hyping of things to buy – gift shops galore, tours in all ports, extra fee activities such as wine tastings, even bingo is apparently a money-maker for the cruise line.
The Elation made two stops - in Avalon, on Catalina Island , and in Ensenada, Mexico. Since we went on the cruise to relax and do nothing, we didn't sign up for tours. But, there are generally cheaper ways of seeing the area, if you look into the places you'll be visiting. The only tricky part is that the ship will sail without you, if you're late on a non-Elation tour.
What’s the best part? It’s a kind of free form vacation which can be tailored to the whims and wants of the individual.
Melting Chocolate Cake: An Elation dessert