We cruised down the Mexican Riviera (Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlán, and Cabo San Lucas) the week of Nov. 1, 1998 on one of Carnival's newer ships, the Elation. As ones who are not fans of the Joe Farcus concept of cruise ship interiors, my wife and I both were very impressed with the interior of the Elation. The colors are much more subdued, and even co-ordinated, compared to, say, the Carnival Destiny, the only other newer Carnival ship that we've been on. By Carnival standards (there I go showing my prejudice again) I am willing to go so far as to say we actually thought the Elation was a beautiful ship. Eleanor, my wife, came up with "Classic Gaudy." The best I can think of is "Very Modern Art Deco." Neither one of us purport to be art experts, so we don't know what we are talking about anyway. We just know we liked it.
Getting around the ship is a little confusing at first because everywhere the decks are referred to by their names, but the elevators show only deck numbers. It takes a while to remember which number refers to which deck name.
If the ship has one real design flaw, it is the main theater, the Mikado Lounge. There are too many posts blocking a full view of the stage from many seats. In the front rows in the balcony, the top of the transparent railing is at eye level. If you are under the balcony toward the back, the balcony blocks the view of the whole stage, height-wise.
Both dining rooms seem identical in layout. Both are done in earth tones with blue color highlights in the Inspiration at the rear, and green in the Imagination in the center. South of Cabo San Lucas, the sea was so calm and the ship so vibration-free at normal speed, that you sit in the dining room and not sense that the ship was even moving; there is no crowding in there. There is about 6 or 7 feet of spacing between the tables along windows where we sat, which meant waiters never had to bump into each other or the chairs. Blessedly, the Elation either doesn't play any canned music at all or plays it so quietly that people at a table for 8 can easily carry on a conversation with each other.
Our table had a great staff. It was certainly the first time I've had a head waiter give me a card with his e-mail address. The kitchen is between the two dining rooms and is huge and very easy for the waiters to move around in at the pickup areas, making for speedy service.
The Cole Porter Club, a night club type of lounge, is above the Inspiration. Above that is Tiffany's, the lido restaurant. The 24-hour pizzeria is in there, as well as a bar. Directly forward of the Cole Porter is the center of life on the ship, Elation's Way. Here you will find the Jekyl & Hyde disco; the Music Café (where you can buy pastries and specialty coffees); Romeo & Juliet, a non-disco type dance club; the Drama Bar -- one of the best, and a great place for people watching; and the Casablanca Casino. Another interesting bar that I favored was the Plaza Bar in the atrium near the Purser's desk, another great people watching area. The shopping mall had all the usual stuff you find on any cruise ship, including the useless liquor store. I have never seen the point of buying liquor on a cruise ship if you can't take it to your cabin.
Our cabin was on Deck 7 (Empress Deck), the same deck as the Purser's Desk is on. We were in a standard outside type, which was more than adequate for us and quite roomy. With the two beds pushed together, there would have been plenty of floor space for a small sofa and coffee table, if they had provided them. By cruise ship norms, the shower stall was enormous. The largest person would have no problem moving around in there.
We'll Be Back
We had a great time. I enjoyed everything about the ship's decor, superb food, a Cruise Director who wasn't glued to the PA system's microphone, and music kept at reasonable amplification in the lounges and other public areas. This reminds me that the strangest sound to be heard was the noon signal broadcast from the bridge. It sounded like the captain was hitting a trash can lid with an empty wine bottle!
We have not been big fans of Carnival, but this is one Carnival ship that we definitely want to sail on again and will be doing so, I'm sure. We still can't get over how great the food was, a part of cruising in general that had seemed to be going downhill recently.
John Harley is a previous contributor to the SeaLetter, and a cruise sysop for the cruise sections on CompuServe's UK Travel Forum. John passed away several years ago and those of us who knew him will miss him always.
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