The saddest day of our cruise on the Carnival Elation is here, our last sea day and time to pack. Last time to talk to all of the new friends that we’ve made, and time to say goodbye.
Finally, some much needed sleep
I do have to admit that the Carnival Elation, especially near the front of the ship, makes a lot of noise on port days. Note to myself, no more porthole cabins. But this was a sea day, and I finally got some quiet and some needed sleep. There’s not been any noise from adjoining cabins, but this cabin is close to the steward’s closet, so we do get some hallway noises as they get ready for their day. Our cabin steward, I Nyoman, has been wonderful, and the floor manager Harish, has been great too.
Sea Day Brunch
We made a habit of going to the Imagination Dining room for breakfast, since the buffet really doesn’t have a lot of selection. On Sea Days there is always a Sea Day Brunch, and we’ve always loved it. The selections have changed in the last few years though, and not for the better. You do have to make reservations on the Hub app to eat at the Sea Day Brunch.
I ordered my favorite, the Huevos Rancheros, but it no longer comes with the good salsa’s that it used to. I really miss them. It’s still good, but not as good as it used to be. I also got a yogurt/granola parfait, which was good. He likes the steak and eggs, but it’s no where near as good as it was years ago.
After we ate, I decided to go to the Debarkation show. We had been offered Priority Debarkation and since I’d never done that, we wanted to see if we could learn more about it. Our Cruise Director Neil was in charge. We really didn’t learn anything new to us that helped but Neil did spend some time afterwards meeting us and answering a few questions. I believe that this show was shown on the cabin TV afterwards, so if you want to miss the show, you can probably watch it later. There was also a parade of some of the crew.
Lunch and then the Q&A with Neil show
We walked around a while and did a bit more exploring then had lunch. I wanted one last Guy’s Burger so that’s what I got. While eating the Maitre’ d’, Haris, stopped by to say hi. The crew on this ship is exceptional. I hate to leave them.
Then it was time to go to the Q&A with Neil. I always enjoy hearing the questions people ask the Cruise Director, and their answers. Neil has been a good Cruise Director, and is always friendly. I did get a picture with him, but it didn’t come out. But first there was a show where they show you how to fold the towel animals.
Other pictures of the ship
Our last evening on the ship
After I wrote my blog for the day and we got ready for dinner, we headed down to the Main Dining Room. I had the Fried Chicken with mashed potatoes, which was okay, just a bit dry. I said goodbye to our wait staff and gave them each a tip. I hope that we get to see Nyoman again. I am still amazed that he remembered us from four years ago. We watched their last show, which is a sad version of “Leaving on a Jet Plane”. As we left I got to talk to Hengky, and also say goodbye to Haris, the Maitre’ d’. I honestly miss these people when we leave a ship. And Guest Services had gifted us with a bottle of wine, so we shared that with the other four people at the table.
The last show of the cruise
After we ate we ran over to the theater to see the last show. We got out of the dining room a bit late so we had a bit of a problem finding a seat. We finally found a seat on the balcony. It wasn’t the greatest seat but we could see some and hear everything. I’d advise getting to the theater early and sitting on the main floor. It is a small theater.
The entertainment on this ship has been so much better than our previous two Carnival cruises post-Covid. It’s been so nice to actually see a production show instead of singers sitting on benches in front of the curtains. The sets have been amazing, and the entertainers wonderful. And we didn’t see the same shows that all the other ships seem to be using. It was so nice to see some variety for a change. Thank you Elation for all the hard work your entertainers have done on this ship.
I guess that I should also mention that Carnival is no longer doing masks or any sort of social distancing. It’s basically back to normal, finally. I’m really glad to be back to normal, but if that bothers you, you probably should not cruise right now. The ship was full.
After that we got our free VIFP club drink at the pool bar and called it a day. We knew that we’d be woken up very early as we came back into the port of Jacksonville in the morning.
Breakfast and Debarkation
We had been given Priority Debarkation for the first time, so we weren’t sure what to expect. As predicted, we were up by 6 am with the sounds of the ship docking in Jacksonville. We decided we may as well get up and get a good breakfast since we couldn’t disembark for quite a while. We got reservations and ended up going to the Imagination Dining Room. We got in pretty quickly, but the service was kind of slow. I’d have thought that on this last day they’d want us fed and out of there as soon as possible. We were hungry, but not in a hurry, so that was fine.
I ended up with a Yogurt Parfait. They are really good with yogurt, granola, and fruit. I also had two eggs, toast, and bacon. And it was good to start out with some coffee and OJ. At least we got to start out the day with a filling breakfast.
Priority Debarkation – is it better?
We went to the theater at 8 am to meet the rest of the Priority Debarkation group. A crowd was leaving as we got there, they were those who were taking off their own luggage. We had checked our luggage with a #2 luggage tag. Those are supposed to be put off the ship first.
We were told that the luggage was not off the ship and to wait in the theater. Well, we waited quite a while, all the while being told that the luggage was not yet off the ship. We decided to take our chances and leave the ship with those who had their luggage. We got in line, and the line went from the atrium all the way down the deck 7 hallway and then back to the atrium. That was not a quick process. And then when we finally checked out and got onto the gangway, it still kept going slowly. The gangway in Jacksonville is very long and winds back and forth a few times. It was raining outside. There is a canvas roof above the gangway, but the rain was coming in. When we finally got into the terminal, we saw that everyone’s luggage was already in the terminal, so we were happy we didn’t wait any longer.
But then, we had another long line to Customs. I guess that if you have a passport, which we did, you can go into a shorter line, but we were not told that. I was also told that if you use a Porter to take your luggage off, you go straight through to Customs. Remember that if you go. It’s worth tipping a porter to skip that long line.
All in all, it took us an hour and a half from the time we got in line on the ship till the time we got through Customs. This has got to be one of the worst debarkations we’ve ever had. But normally we don’t go out of such a small port. After that we used the restroom outside the terminal and then got to our car and drove away. I was so glad that we had parked at the port. So many people were waiting for rides outside the terminal.
My thoughts on this cruise
I have mixed thoughts on Carnival Elation. First of all, it’s a small ship with a big heart. The crew is exceptional and I’d love to cruise with them again. But on a different ship.
The ship is beautiful, but very small with a confusing layout. The food in the buffet is just so-so, but the food in the dining room is very good. The entertainment was exceptional.
My cabin was spacious enough, and the bathroom and shower are good. The shower is so much bigger than a normal cruise shower and I liked that. I missed the magnifying mirror in the bathroom, and there’s not a lot of space in the sink area. What I didn’t like is how noisy the cabin was during port stops. I will never book a port hole cabin again, or anything towards the front or back of the ship. It’s going to be mid-ship for me from now on.
Debarkation needs work. If you’re in Priority Debarkation, you need to actually get off the ship first. The bags should go first, and they should be off the ship early. I saw no reason to use Priority Debarkation when I could have gotten off the ship earlier if I carried off my own bags.
And our next cruise is on Carnival Freedom in January. Don’t forget to watch for my blogs!