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Trip details: This was our third cruise on a Carnival Fantasy-class ship and we will likely do it again. Despite their age, Carnival’s refurbishment program has done a good job at maintaining and updating these vessels. Having done our pre-cruise homework, we knew exactly what to expect and were not surprised by anything. Getting to the port terminal: We stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach the night before sailing, which is about one-mile from the cruise terminal. Thus getting to the terminal was a breeze. Signage at the Port Canaveral terminal is excellent in directing you to your ship, luggage drop-off and parking – traffic was very light at 11:00 AM. Embarkation: We were dropped off in the covered luggage area at 11:06 AM and drug our bags up a short ramp (100 feet away) into the terminal facility. We were immediately greeted and directed to an empty security line. After clearing security, we were likewise directed to a check-in station with no line. Our documents were scanned and Carnival pulled our photos from our embedded passport RFID – no photos to take. We were then directed to the waiting area and found seats proximately adjacent to the boarding gate. There were several hundred guests already waiting and Platinum/FTTF boarding was underway. With an 11:30 – 12:00 check-in appointment, and boarding group A01, they called us to board at 11:26 AM. 20 minutes from arriving to boarding – UNBELIEVABLE! Needless to say, embarkation was the best we have ever experienced for any ship at any port. FTTF would have been a complete waste of money for this cruise given the ease of access at Port Canaveral and both of our Ports of Call. Settling-in: Once onboard, we found seats in an air-conditioned area near Blue Iguana/Guy’s Burgers and enjoyed our leisurely Mexican food lunch. Lines were short to non-existent and food was good/plentiful. After lunch we casually strolled around the atrium decks and ended up next to the Coffee Shop on Deck 9, where comfortable seating was plentiful. Cabins were available at 1:30 PM as advertised and we were fully moved in prior to the obligatory safety briefing. Underway: We were underway on time and all of the cruise was so smooth (typically Beaufort 4) that it was hard to know you were moving at 19+ knots unless you were up on an open deck. Elation was the first cruise ship to be equipped with an Azipod propulsion system. The pods give Elation better maneuverability compared with her sister ships. Our course was direct to Amber Cove and Grand Turk, making each right on time. The weather was excellent and rain virtually non-existent; we had headwinds heading south and quartering tailwinds returning. One should be so lucky every cruise. Port & shore excursion reviews: Our first port was Amber Cove, DR. The 25 acre port complex developed by Carnival is secure and quite comfortable. We did not plan an outside excursion, opting to stay in the Amber Cove Aqua Zone, with swim-up bar and lazy river. Being one of the first to disembark, we found loungers in the shade of a palm tree. Umbrellas were available to rent for $20, but if you are early, you can find shaded seating. There is the usual port shopping, but the nice thing is there are no ‘locals’ trying to get you to but their T-shirts or take a tour to see their cousin’s chicken farm. We were the only ship in Grand Turk on the day we ported there and thus it did not feel crowded. The Grand Turk Cruise Center is a world-class, beach front cruise facility nestled among nearly 18 acres of landscaped grounds. The beaches are public, and the clamshells, beach chairs and umbrellas at the Grand Turk cruise center are free to use, so a beach tour, to us, seemed superfluous. Following the guidance of past visitors, upon entering the center, we went to the beach on the right and had our choice of clamshells in which to relax. The water was semi cloudy from swirling sand, but you could still see a few fish and swimming was easy. Hint: Get off the ship early for best seating and wear water-shoes at the beach. Food: We selected early dining and had the same table-for-two for the full cruise. Because we did our homework, we knew what the Main Dining Room (MDR) would offer and were again not surprised. There was always an entrée we wanted and multiple appetizers. Staff were OK, but not top-shelf. A few mistakes were made in our orders, but always corrected. Hint: About two weeks before you cruise, send an email to the Maître’d with any seating requests. As to Blue Iguana and Guy’s Burgers, the food was good, but be ready for lines at peak times that can move a bit slow. We timed our visits to be while others were ashore when lines were short. Tiffany’s is a small buffet, but the deli toward the back was quite efficient. Chris Anne (from St. Lucia) was wonderful at the coffee shop and we visited her often for iced tea and cappuccino. Entertainment: The stage shows were disappointing and we elected not to attend the last one. The comedians were a bit repetitive and the late shows laced with lots of unnecessary profanity. Because we have enjoyed the dueling pianos on NCL we hoped that Duke’s Piano Bar would offer something similar. Regrettably, it is not scheduled to open until 10:00 PM and even by 11:00 PM, we never saw a pianist in the bar. I think he missed the cruise. The Elation has a cute mini-golf course up on Deck 14, but was closed for high wind on our southern sailing. When we found it open, it was typically busy. There is a club and ball rack as you enter, but it was always empty. We came to learn that you had to check these out at the towel station on the Lido deck. Final Notes: One of the Atrium elevators was non-functional for the entirety of our cruise. The other had to be repaired mid-cruise. This was a minor inconvenience as there are forward elevators nearby. Finally, we had a pool towel fiasco as we were preparing to disembark. Upon boarding, our room steward provided two pool/beach towels. We turned in the dirty ones to him after Amber Cove, but only got one clean towel back. We borrowed two from the pool for Grand Turk and informed her of the situation. Again our steward collected the dirty towels upon our return. Minutes before disembarking, I got an alert from my bank that Carnival was charging us $44 for two missing towels. No one on the ship had bothered to inquire of us about the towels; just billed us minutes before leaving. It took 45 minutes with Guest Services to challenge this charge, who refused to issue an immediate credit. It took a call to my bank from Guest Services to dispute the charge, where they finally relented and agreed to take it off my final bill. Lesson to the wise – review your account right up to the final minutes on-board lest you get stung with an improper charge as you leave.

Smooth Sailing on Fantasy Class

Carnival Elation Cruise Review by HuliHuli

4 people found this helpful
Trip Details
  • Sail Date: June 2019
  • Destination: Eastern Caribbean
  • Cabin Type: Aft-View Extended Balcony
Trip details: This was our third cruise on a Carnival Fantasy-class ship and we will likely do it again. Despite their age, Carnival’s refurbishment program has done a good job at maintaining and updating these vessels. Having done our pre-cruise homework, we knew exactly what to expect and were not surprised by anything.

Getting to the port terminal: We stayed at the Residence Inn by Marriott Cape Canaveral Cocoa Beach the night before sailing, which is about one-mile from the cruise terminal. Thus getting to the terminal was a breeze. Signage at the Port Canaveral terminal is excellent in directing you to your ship, luggage drop-off and parking – traffic was very light at 11:00 AM.

Embarkation: We were dropped off in the covered luggage area at 11:06 AM and drug our bags up a short ramp (100 feet away) into the terminal facility. We were immediately greeted and directed to an empty security line. After clearing security, we were likewise directed to a check-in station with no line. Our documents were scanned and Carnival pulled our photos from our embedded passport RFID – no photos to take. We were then directed to the waiting area and found seats proximately adjacent to the boarding gate. There were several hundred guests already waiting and Platinum/FTTF boarding was underway. With an 11:30 – 12:00 check-in appointment, and boarding group A01, they called us to board at 11:26 AM. 20 minutes from arriving to boarding – UNBELIEVABLE! Needless to say, embarkation was the best we have ever experienced for any ship at any port. FTTF would have been a complete waste of money for this cruise given the ease of access at Port Canaveral and both of our Ports of Call.

Settling-in: Once onboard, we found seats in an air-conditioned area near Blue Iguana/Guy’s Burgers and enjoyed our leisurely Mexican food lunch. Lines were short to non-existent and food was good/plentiful. After lunch we casually strolled around the atrium decks and ended up next to the Coffee Shop on Deck 9, where comfortable seating was plentiful. Cabins were available at 1:30 PM as advertised and we were fully moved in prior to the obligatory safety briefing.

Underway: We were underway on time and all of the cruise was so smooth (typically Beaufort 4) that it was hard to know you were moving at 19+ knots unless you were up on an open deck. Elation was the first cruise ship to be equipped with an Azipod propulsion system. The pods give Elation better maneuverability compared with her sister ships. Our course was direct to Amber Cove and Grand Turk, making each right on time. The weather was excellent and rain virtually non-existent; we had headwinds heading south and quartering tailwinds returning. One should be so lucky every cruise.

Port & shore excursion reviews:

Our first port was Amber Cove, DR. The 25 acre port complex developed by Carnival is secure and quite comfortable. We did not plan an outside excursion, opting to stay in the Amber Cove Aqua Zone, with swim-up bar and lazy river. Being one of the first to disembark, we found loungers in the shade of a palm tree. Umbrellas were available to rent for $20, but if you are early, you can find shaded seating. There is the usual port shopping, but the nice thing is there are no ‘locals’ trying to get you to but their T-shirts or take a tour to see their cousin’s chicken farm.

We were the only ship in Grand Turk on the day we ported there and thus it did not feel crowded. The Grand Turk Cruise Center is a world-class, beach front cruise facility nestled among nearly 18 acres of landscaped grounds. The beaches are public, and the clamshells, beach chairs and umbrellas at the Grand Turk cruise center are free to use, so a beach tour, to us, seemed superfluous. Following the guidance of past visitors, upon entering the center, we went to the beach on the right and had our choice of clamshells in which to relax. The water was semi cloudy from swirling sand, but you could still see a few fish and swimming was easy. Hint: Get off the ship early for best seating and wear water-shoes at the beach.

Food: We selected early dining and had the same table-for-two for the full cruise. Because we did our homework, we knew what the Main Dining Room (MDR) would offer and were again not surprised. There was always an entrée we wanted and multiple appetizers. Staff were OK, but not top-shelf. A few mistakes were made in our orders, but always corrected. Hint: About two weeks before you cruise, send an email to the Maître’d with any seating requests. As to Blue Iguana and Guy’s Burgers, the food was good, but be ready for lines at peak times that can move a bit slow. We timed our visits to be while others were ashore when lines were short. Tiffany’s is a small buffet, but the deli toward the back was quite efficient. Chris Anne (from St. Lucia) was wonderful at the coffee shop and we visited her often for iced tea and cappuccino.

Entertainment: The stage shows were disappointing and we elected not to attend the last one. The comedians were a bit repetitive and the late shows laced with lots of unnecessary profanity. Because we have enjoyed the dueling pianos on NCL we hoped that Duke’s Piano Bar would offer something similar. Regrettably, it is not scheduled to open until 10:00 PM and even by 11:00 PM, we never saw a pianist in the bar. I think he missed the cruise.

The Elation has a cute mini-golf course up on Deck 14, but was closed for high wind on our southern sailing. When we found it open, it was typically busy. There is a club and ball rack as you enter, but it was always empty. We came to learn that you had to check these out at the towel station on the Lido deck.

Final Notes: One of the Atrium elevators was non-functional for the entirety of our cruise. The other had to be repaired mid-cruise. This was a minor inconvenience as there are forward elevators nearby. Finally, we had a pool towel fiasco as we were preparing to disembark. Upon boarding, our room steward provided two pool/beach towels. We turned in the dirty ones to him after Amber Cove, but only got one clean towel back. We borrowed two from the pool for Grand Turk and informed her of the situation. Again our steward collected the dirty towels upon our return. Minutes before disembarking, I got an alert from my bank that Carnival was charging us $44 for two missing towels. No one on the ship had bothered to inquire of us about the towels; just billed us minutes before leaving. It took 45 minutes with Guest Services to challenge this charge, who refused to issue an immediate credit. It took a call to my bank from Guest Services to dispute the charge, where they finally relented and agreed to take it off my final bill. Lesson to the wise – review your account right up to the final minutes on-board lest you get stung with an improper charge as you leave.
HuliHuli’s Full Rating Summary
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Embarkation
Dining
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Cabin Review

Aft-View Extended Balcony
Cabin 8M U241
Ours was an aft balcony cabin on the Upper Deck #6, one of the modified cabins from the 2017 refurbishment. The cabin felt a little smaller in comparison to balcony cabins on other ships and did not have a couch on which to sit. Because of the upper Pullman bed, sitting on the bed was also uncomfortable as you could not lean back without at least 4 pillows behind you. But we had reserved this room for two reasons – a larger balcony and a wake view (our first), and were not disappointed. Our balcony came with two chairs and a table, and at our request, our room steward arranged loungers for us as well. Watching the ship’s wake was very pleasing, but being so low on the ship, there was quite a roar from the wake that made it too noisy outside at times. “Upper Deck” is an oxymoron in this case. Hint: If you want an aft balcony on a Fantasy-class ship, look to the Empress deck. In all other respects, our cabin was just fine in location to other ship’s facilities, cleanliness, storage space, etc. The bedside USB ports are convenient, but underpowered for a tablet device – phone was fine. Hint: Bring your chargers for tablets for use on the desk.
Empress Deck Inside Cabins, Outside Cabins, Balcony Cabins

Port & Shore Excursion Reviews

  • Amber Cove (Puerto Plata)
    Our first port was Amber Cove, DR. The 25 acre port complex developed by Carnival is secure and quite comfortable. We did not plan an outside excursion, opting to stay in the Amber Cove Aqua Zone, with swim-up bar and lazy river. Being one of the first to disembark, we found loungers in the shade of a palm tree. Umbrellas were available to rent for $20, but if you are early, you can find shaded seating. There is the usual port shopping, but the nice thing is there are no ‘locals’ trying to get you to but their T-shirts or take a tour to see their cousin’s chicken farm.
    View All 707 Amber Cove (Puerto Plata) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Amber Cove (Puerto Plata) Cruise Port Review
  • Grand Turk
    We were the only ship in Grand Turk on the day we ported there and thus it did not feel crowded. The Grand Turk Cruise Center is a world-class, beach front cruise facility nestled among nearly 18 acres of landscaped grounds. The beaches are public, and the clamshells, beach chairs and umbrellas at the Grand Turk cruise center are free to use, so a beach tour, to us, seemed superfluous. Following the guidance of past visitors, upon entering the center, we went to the beach to the right and had our choice of clamshells in which to relax. The water was semi cloudy from swirling sand, but you could still see a few fish and swimming was easy. Hint: Get off the ship early for best seating and wear water-shoes at the beach.
    View All 2,096 Grand Turk Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Grand Turk Cruise Port Review
  • Port Canaveral (Orlando)
    Embarkation at Port Canaveral is the most efficient port we have experienced.
    View All 2,141 Port Canaveral (Orlando) Cruise Port Reviews
    View Cruise Critic's Port Canaveral (Orlando) Cruise Port Review