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4 things I loved about Carnival Elation (and 4 I didn’t)


I recently returned from a 5-night cruise onboard Carnival Elation, Carnival's smallest ship at sea. 

After cruising on three other classes of ships, I wanted to see what made their Fantasy Class ships so appealing, especially considering they're rather tiny in terms of modern-day cruise ships. Plus, I was interested in sailing out of Jacksonville, as it's just a little over five hours from Charlotte, making it an easy port to access. 

While I wouldn't say that Carnival Elation was my favorite ship, it was a fun cruise that helped me experience more of the Carnival brand, especially since it was a spring break cruise filled with families and college students alike. 

Here are 4 things I loved (and hated) about Carnival's oldest cruise ship

Read more: Carnival Cruise Line Guide & Review

I loved how updated the ship felt


While some areas definitely felt dated (i.e., the cabin's bathroom), the ship was more modern than others I've sailed on, namely Carnival Conquest. Rather than dark dining rooms, it was evident that they had been updated to feature lighter and more trendy decor. 

The atrium was my favorite area onboard, as it was filled with natural light during the day thanks to the large skylight. It was especially beautiful at night, too, as the skylight was illuminated with orange lights. 

Of course, it's not hard to guess that Carnival Elation is an older vessel, though I do admire how much time and effort Carnival has put into keeping it as updated as possible. 

I hated my interior cabin's bathroom


If there was a single aspect of the ship that couldn't mask its true age, it was the staterooms' bathrooms. From the clingy shower curtain that barely kept water inside to the lack of storage and faded flooring, it was easily my least favorite cruise ship bathroom I've ever had. 

I had quite a few issues with its functionality, too. The shower head actually broke on the second day of our 5-night cruise. The small attachment that held it up fell off. We were unable to get in contact with our cabin steward, so it remained broken well into the next afternoon. Additionally, the toilet had some plumbing issues, and we couldn't flush it for a while. 


Overall, the stateroom didn't feel overly dated. In fact, I was impressed by how large my standard interior cabin was. It was a comfortable place to return to each evening, though, there were certainly some parts that could be improved upon, namely the bathroom. The mini-fridge was also more of just a place to store our water bottles, rather than keep anything cool. 

I appreciated the large flat-screen televisions, as the TV in my stateroom on Carnival Conquest was rather tiny. Moreover, the large mirror was illuminated by LED lights, which was useful when getting ready each day. 

I loved Duke's


Carnival's piano bar has never disappointed me, and Duke's on Carnival Elation was no exception. It's always fun to sing along with other cruisers, and I love to hear my requests fulfilled. 

It fills up pretty quickly, particularly at the piano itself. Those wanting a prime seat will want to arrive a little before the showtime begins. If, for instance, the HUB app indicates that the performance begins at 11:00pm, I'd recommend heading to the piano bar around 10:45pm. This was a theme for many onboard activities, as venues often became crowded with limited seating available closer to the start time. 

While not the fault of Carnival, there was one instance in the piano bar that reminded me of the rowdy reputation that's often associated with the cruise line. My partner and I were enjoying the lively atmosphere of the piano bar one evening when an intoxicated individual presumably got angry over something. He smashed a glass on the piano, which resulted in a pause in the performance while security came in to ask questions and clean up the glass. 

Read more: 18 Carnival Cruises Tips & Tricks (2024)

I hated the tendering process to Half Moon Cay


The evening before we arrived at Half Moon Cay, we received a sheet of information about the tendering process. I was a bit shocked to learn that rather than having to wake up and claim a tender group number, it was more of a free-for-all. 

My partner and I got in line around 8:40am, as the informational sheet indicated that 9:00am - 10:00am would be the busiest time, with waits exceeding 30 minutes. Truthfully, it was pure chaos. What started as two lines (one for the midship tender and one for the forward one) ended up turning into a mosh pit. People from the elevators kept trying to cut in front of those who had been in line for some time, which led to heightened tensions. 

The crew member kept telling us that it would be five or ten minutes before we'd be able to board, but that turned into about an hour. We ended up not getting to the island until close to 10:00am. I cannot imagine arriving any later, as there were already limited beach chairs available when we arrived. 

I loved the onboard activities


Perhaps it was the time of year, but I really enjoyed the onboard activities. From the silent disco to lively deck parties underneath the stars, the evening events were my favorite. 

A good crowd always showed up. It was a mix of families with younger children, as well as college students. Thankfully, the latter were tame and seemed to be relishing in the moment, rather than obnoxiously intoxicated. My guess is that the college students who really wanted to party were in the ship's nightclub or already in bed after a long day of drinking. 

That being said, there was a lack of organization, particularly at the silent disco, as the line to collect headphones was in the middle of the dance floor. We got there about twenty minutes after it started and had to wait around fifteen minutes before being able to join in on the fun. Once we had the headphones, though, we had a blast! 


If you plan on attending, I'd recommend arriving a couple minutes before it's scheduled to begin. Moreover, you'll want to return your headphones during the final song. Otherwise, there will be a lot of waiting involved. 

I hated the lido deck


Our first full day onboard was a sea day. After sailing on other Carnival ships, I figured I wouldn't have to fight for a pool chair, as there was always a surplus on ships like Celebration. I couldn't have been more wrong. 

My partner and I enjoyed a leisurely Sea Day brunch before making our way to the lido deck around 12:30pm. We had to circle the entire deck for around 20 minutes before we were able to find two chairs next to each other. 

There weren't any available in the adults-only Serenity area, either, which we also felt was too small to handle the ship's capacity comfortably. We went to the hot tubs on embarkation day as we sailed from Jacksonville and were able to find seats. After visiting on the first sea day, we didn't bother to go back. 


On the final sea day, we learned from our previous mistake and woke up earlier to secure two chairs. At 9:30am, the majority of chairs had already been claimed, though the lido deck itself was relatively empty. There definitely needs to be more seating available for guests sailing onboard Carnival Elation, as options become scarce quickly due to chair hogs

Additionally, after dangling our legs into the singular pool onboard, both my partner and I experienced an itchy and burning sensation. It was rather odd and made returning to the pool offputting. 

Read more: 15 things I wish I knew before setting foot on a Carnival ship

I loved the Playlist Production cast


On the fourth evening of our 5-night cruise, we decided to watch one of the Playlist Productions in the theater. Normally, Carnival's entertainment neither wows me nor bores me; however, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the Epic Rock show. 

The 30-minute production featured infamous songs like Don't Stop Believin', I Love Rock ’n’ Roll, and Dream On. By the end, the entire crowd was singing along! The lack of props and minimalistic costumes didn't detract from the talent of the cast. Plus, they genuinely seemed as though they were having fun performing. 

On the final evening, we attended The World Works Here, which I had previously seen on Carnival Vista. While the Playlist cast isn't the main focus, they did perform a few songs at the end. I regret not going to one of the other shows earlier on! 

I hated the gross Serenity chairs


On the final evening, my partner and I decided to watch the sunset while relaxing in the Serenity adults-only area. There weren't too many people present, so there was an abundance of chairs to choose from, unlike when we tried to visit on the first sea day. After sitting down, however, we realized that the chairs were covered with black marks that easily transferred onto clothing. 

Unfortunately, my partner was wearing white pants, so the marks were clearly visible. I was lucky because I was wearing a black jumpsuit. By that time, we had everything packed up for disembarkation the next morning, so she decided to stick it out for the remainder of the evening. 

Ideally, though, this would have never been an issue. While the occasional spill may happen, stained clothing as a result of dirty furniture isn't how anyone wants to end their time onboard. 

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