A look at the Carnival Elation as she leaves San Diego bay.
Larger versions of this photo (suitable for use as your computer desktop background) are available here
Ever since we took our very first cruise in 1996, we were looking forward to cruise #2. It took us 12 years to get all of our ducks in a row for another cruise, but we finally did it in January of 2008. While raising two kids, it seemed like there were always better ways to spend our money. But once our kids were grown, we were able to cruise much more frequently.
I took this photo of the Elation as we headed back to her after a day in Cabo San Lucas
For our second cruise, we elected to stick with Carnival Cruise Lines... the same line we sailed with in 1996. There were many things we liked about Carnival the first time around, but the primary reason we chose Carnival for this cruise was that they had a five day cruise sailing out of San Diego. With our son attending San Diego State University, this made San Diego the perfect departure point for us. There are other lines besides Carnival that sail out of San Diego, of course, but it was the length of this particular cruise and the attractive pricing that sealed the deal for us. Five days fit in to our schedules perfectly, and the price was pretty hard to beat since this was a time of the year where demand for cruise travel is a bit lower so the cruise lines price their cabins attractively.
Kellyn and I in San Diego, with the Elation in the distance
I shot this photo of the San Diego skyline from the deck of the ship, just before departure
As you can see, Kel was pretty darned happy as the ship prepared to leave the dock in San Diego
I handed the camera over to Kellyn so she could get a photo of me while we were still docked in San Diego
One more shot of a happy Kellyn, with the San Diego skyline in the background
As we pulled away from the dock in San Diego, this view reminded me of photos I have seen of New York harbor.
On the right, you can see the USS Midway aircraft carrier, which is now a museum.
Upon our return to San Diego, Kel and I toured the Midway... which was a fascinating look at naval history.
The Midway went in to service in 1945 (right after World War II) and served our country all the way until 1992.
She made major contributions to the Vietnam war and to Operation Desert Storm in the Persian Gulf.
A view from the bow of the Elation as she heads out of San Diego harbor at sunset.
A few minutes out of the harbor, we entered a fog bank.
At the moment we entered the fog bank, I happened to be standing underneath the ship's fog horn.
I probably jumped about a foot in to the air in my shock and surprise at the noise!
About a year after our cruise on the Elation, I was in San Diego for something else
and made a point to position myself in the hills at Point Loma to get this picture
of the Elation as she left San Diego bay for a cruise.
In the foreground you can see Shelter Island and in the background you can see
the naval air station as well as the Coronado bridge.
Larger versions of this photo (suitable for use as your computer desktop background) are available here
Onboard a modern cruise ship, it is practically obligatory for everyone to take a photo of the "grand atrium".
This is my version of the atrium shot.
In the lower left, what you see is a photo backdrop set up by one of the ship's professional photographers.
A slightly different spin on the atrium photo...
I was standing in between the glass elevators and shooting in the other direction
Everyone who cruises with Carnival loves the towel animals that the room stewards leave in your cabin each evening while you are at dinner.
Each night a different towel animal... this one was my favorite!
The day after leaving San Diego, we experienced the best weather of our cruise.
The pool, water slide, and sun deck were busy that day!
One of my favorite moments of the cruise happened up on the deck near the pool. There was this moment, after we had all had a wonderful day in Cabo San Lucas, when the ship was just pulling out of Cabo and everyone was in one of those great vacation moods. We were up on the deck enjoying the views, and there was a Caribbean band playing on the stage near the pool. When the band starting playing "Red, Red Wine", the song that UB40 took to #1 on the charts in 1988... people started dancing, and it was one of those magical moments where all was right with the world. I was right where I wanted to be... I had experienced an almost perfect day... I had the love of my life at my side... and in the background, the band was playing a fun little tune that was just perfect for the festive mood. It was one of those moments that you picture in your mind when you think of a cruise ship vacation.
Trivia fact about the song Red, Red Wine... do you know who wrote it and first made it a hit in 1968? Neil Diamond, believe it or not!
I had read some things on the Internet from people who criticized the styling of the Elation's interiors.
I think she's a beautiful ship, and took this photo to show off some of her beautiful earth tones.
There are three restaurants onboard the Elation: two formal restaurants where you sit at large tables with a bunch of other passengers, and one casual restaurant (Tiffany's, shown in the picture above) with smaller tables where you can eat with whoever you'd like to eat with. Kellyn and I are very casual people and enjoy dining by ourselves, not at a large table of strangers. Therefore (and I know experienced cruisers will gasp at this!) we ate every one of our meals in the casual restaurant and never once set foot in the ship's formal restaurants during our entire cruise.
The food in Tiffany's is served "buffet style"... in other words you do not order from a waiter, you just grab a plate and fill your plate with whatever you want from the cafeteria-style serving areas. The food is, of course, way better than cafeteria food... even way better than most buffet restaurants you may have visited. Also, no one is paying attention to how much you eat or how often you eat. You can eat as little or as much as you want, as little or as often as you want. Most days onboard the ship I was a good boy and just ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner... but I have to admit that there were a couple of days when (because I'm an early riser and a breakfast lover) I got up at sunrise, had breakfast by myself and let Kellyn sleep in. Then, a couple of hours later after Kellyn had woken up and had a shower and enjoyed a nice lazy morning, Kellyn and I enjoyed breakfast together... my second breakfast, her first! Which explains why Kellyn did not gain a single pound on this cruise, and why I was smart enough not to weigh myself before or after the cruise!!!
A look at the bar tucked in the back corner of the ship's casual restaurant.
Our cruise was during the NFL playoffs, and even though we were out at sea there was no problem viewing the games via satellite.
In the picture, you may notice the 1990's era televisions. I think those have now been replaced.
On February 26, 2009, the ship went out of service for a few weeks for refurbishment.
I read somewhere that they put flat screen LCD TVs throughout the ship, and that they re-decorated each of the cabins.
I think they may have made some changes to the pool area, too.
I'm planning to cruise on the Elation again in August of 2009, and am looking forward to seeing what differences I can notice.
In another corner of the casual restaurant is a 24 hour pizza bar, where you can also get deli-style sandwiches.
At the height of the lunch hour, the folks on the left are waiting for sandwiches and the folks on the right for pizza.
I'm a pizza fan myself, and would rate the ship's pizza a "5" on a 10-scale... not great, but definitely not bad.
The closest thing I might compare it to would be a pizza you would get from the Papa John's pizza chain.
At sunrise, a couple of hours prior to arriving in Cabo San Lucas, I was one of only a few passengers that saw this beautiful view.
Most everyone else was enjoying a lazy morning in their cabin. I'm an early riser, so I enjoyed seeing the sun rise.
As you can see, it was starting to cloud up a little bit outside at this point.
One other thing I saw that a lot of passengers missed that morning... whales!
Everyone always takes a photo of the ship's tail fin, and I could not resist it either.
The color of the sky at dawn gave it a beautiful backdrop!
As our cruise was in January, the 2008 sign was still up from what I assume was a wild New Year's party!
Something else that has been photographed a million times before is the rock formation at "Land's End" at the tip of Baja California.
When you get around those rocks and turn left, you are at the entrance to the harbor at Cabo San Lucas.
At anchor just off the beach is the Holland America Line cruise liner, the Oosterdam.
The Oosterdam must be just a little bit faster than the Elation. We left San Diego before she did, saw her pass us the next day,
and she was at anchor off Cabo San Lucas when we arrived the next morning.
A funny story about Kellyn...
At home, before our cruise, we were watching The Discovery Channel on TV and saw a show about an Iguana sanctuary, where people could visit and see all sorts of Iguanas. As we watched, Kellyn made several comments about how much she disliked Iguanas and how uncomfortable they made her. She said she would never ever want to visit an Iguana sanctuary. She made such a big deal about it, that it made an impression on me and I filed that little fact away in the back of my mind.
Fast forward the story several weeks to our arrival in Cabo San Lucas. We're off the ship for maybe five minutes, walking through the marina area of Cabo San Lucas... and I happened to see a guy with a big Iguana sitting on his shoulders. Kellyn was looking in the opposite direction, and I'm thinking to myself "Kel is absolutely going to FREAK OUT when she sees this!" So, I point at the guy with the Iguana and say "Kel, look at that!... and I'm waiting to hear her scream and run in the opposite direction. But go figure... she does the exact opposite! She walks over to the Iguana with a big smile on her face, oohs and aahs over it, and even asks the guy if she can hold it! I was so surprised, and a little disappointed that I didn't get the pleasure of hearing her squeal and freak out over a harmless Iguana. Looking back at it now, I think it can be explained by the simple fact that she was in full vacation mode and had a pretty good attitude about the world that day!
Kel poses with the famous Cabo San Lucas Iguana
I happily paid the owner of the Iguana $2 for the "rental" of his Iguana for this picture!
Tip for tourists: every non-tourist at the Cabo marina wants your money, one way or the other!
This is where our ship dropped anchor, just outside the entrance to the Cabo marina.
As you can see, by the time we arrived here the skies had clouded over. It was actually a bit on the cool side.
As there is no dock large enough to handle a cruise ship in Cabo San Lucas, all the big ships anchor off shore and send their passengers ashore in smaller boats. I found it quite interesting that the Elation anchored so close to the harbor entrance. It was incredibly close to shore, and to the rock formations at "Lands End". A traditional cruise ship would not be able to get in and out of this particular spot without the help of a couple of tugboats to turn her around. The Elation was only able to do it thanks to her unusual maneuvering system. She is outfitted with what is known as an Azipod propulsion system. It is quite literally a couple of independent propellers that can be pointed in any direction. If you imagine a conventional ocean liner (think of the propeller scenes from the movie Titanic) you know that a traditional propeller is permanently mounted at the back of the ship and propels the ship by pushing the water in a backwards direction. An azipod system (and the Elation was the very first passenger ship to have one, when she debuted in 1998) can be turned so that it doesn't always have to point backwards. The captain can literally make the ship go sideways by turning the azipod and making the propeller face sideways instead of backwards. In addition to the azipod system, the Elation also has thrusters... which makes turning and maneuvering even easier. She can literally get in and out of any space, no matter how tight, as long as there is enough water below her. She is way more maneuverable than just about any other vessel her size, and never needs a tugboat to help her out of a tight spot. The Elation was able to anchor extremely close to the harbor entrance because her azipod system allows her to practically turn on a dime. It was impressive, at the end of the day, to see the Elation just spin herself around 180 degrees and head back out of Cabo San Lucas without any difficulty at all. The azipod system is very impressive technology!
The highlight of our vacation was swimming with dolphins at a facility in Cabo San Lucas.
We expected that our "swim with dolphins" experience would be a quick five minute photo opportunity and then they would shuffle us out of the pool and bring in the next set of tourists. Quite the contrary, we ended up having about an hour with our dolphin. We not only got to pet our dolphin about a million times, we got to hang on to his fins and ride him around the tank, we got to feed him some fish, and do some tricks with him. In the photo above, you can see us raising a pole while he jumped over it.
It was interesting that most of the adult tourists sat in the bleachers and just watched while their kids swam and played with the dolphins. Kellyn and I were literally the only adults in a group of about a dozen people that were in the tank with this particular dolphin. We had a heck of a great time, and wouldn't have missed it for the world! I think all those parents in the bleachers should have been in the tank having fun with us!
In Ensenada, Mexico, there is a GIGANTIC flag at the marina. Notice the people in the plaza, for size comparison. We walked around the Marina a bit and explored the area along the water's edge in the general area seen in this photo. The local authorities were clearly attempting to create a tourist-friendly zone in the vicinity of the marina. There were even security guards on patrol, to keep everyone safe, and a set of rules posted for the locals explaining that they were not allowed to beg for money or offer anything for sale in this area. So, unlike Cabo San Lucas, you could walk around without a dozen people offering to sell you something. Twelve years ago, during a previous visit to Ensenada, it made our hearts ache to see children begging for money from the tourists. It was a different scene this time around. There were also several large buildings under construction in the marina area and it looked like maybe in a year or two there were going to be even nicer shops and restaurants for the tourists that visit the area.
One last picture...
Here's an early-morning photo of the Carnival Elation docked in San Diego.
I snapped this photo about a year after most of the other photos on this page.
It was shot from the deck of the Carnival Spirit as we were returning to San Diego after an 8-day cruise.
It was a beautiful scene, just before sunrise.
You can read about our 8-day cruise on the Carnival Spirit here.
Summarizing our 5 nights and six days on the Elation... we enjoyed it a lot. Our 1996 cruise was a lot of fun, and we enjoyed our 2008 cruise even more! Carnival does a great job of keeping you entertained during your cruise, and we like that a lot. We don't get out much at home, so when we're on a cruise ship it's a real treat to see a show by a funny comedian (there was not one, but TWO on our cruise!) or to be entertained by a Las Vegas style show.
People always have expectations on a vacation, and the bottom line is the question of whether ours were met on this vacation or not. The answer is a definite yes. Of course, some things were better than we expected, some things were exactly what we expected, and a few things were worse than expected. Here's a quick look at our list:
Better than expected:
Some of the meals in the casual restaurant. For example, I had a prime rib dinner that knocked my socks off!
The opportunity to be casual at all times, if we wanted to. On our 1996 cruise, there was no alternative to the formal dinner on "formal night". This time around, we wore jeans and ate in the casual restaurant while the majority of the passengers dressed up for a fancy dinner in the main dining room on formal night. We're just not formal, so we really appreciated not having to be!
The size of the bathroom and especially the shower. The shower actually fit two people fairly comfortably. (Do I need to explain how I know this?) Also, there was plenty of storage in our cabin. We completely unpacked four suitcases in to the various drawers and closets in our cabin.
The "swim with dolphins" program in Cabo San Lucas. We loved it, and it was way more than the quick photo op that we expected it would be.
The roving drink servers were a LOT less pushy this time around. On our 1996 cruise, a major turn-off were all the drink servers roaming around the public areas of the ship trying to get you to buy drinks from them. Having to constantly tell someone that you didn't want a drink got old after a while. They were real pushy about it on our 1996 cruise... but not this time! We were offered drinks, but politely and not in a pushy manner.
A smooth ride aboard a nice modern ship. On our 1996 cruise aboard a smaller older ship, I did get a little seasick at times. This time around, on a much larger and newer ship, I never got seasick.
Internet access. When you think about the technology involved, it's absolutely amazing that you can get Internet access while cruising on the Pacific ocean. It cost me about fifty cents a minute, and it was worth every penny.
The past-guest party. Several days in to the cruise, we got an invitation to a special party thrown exclusively for people who had sailed with Carnival before. It was a nice party, and they had drink servers bringing free drinks around to all the guests... and not just one free drink at the beginning of the party, but they kept bringing more and more. I could have had five or six free drinks at that party if I had wanted to!
A nice bed, and a quieter cabin. I remember having trouble sleeping in our cabin in 1996 due to excessive mechanical noise coming through the walls and also due to a poor quality bed. This time around, the bed was very nice and the various mechanical noises in the cabin were not as bad. Part of the improvement in the noise factor is due to the Azipod system, which actually puts the electrical motors OUTSIDE of the hull of the ship.
Cell phone access. Yes, your cell phone will work on the ship, even when
you're at sea. I haven't seen the bill yet, so I don't know how much that cost me... but I do know that
international roaming rates were in effect. In any case, if you need to make or receive calls on your cell phone
while you're on the ship... it definitely works.
Pretty much as expected:
The "fun" factor onboard the ship. We had a lot of fun! Laughed ourselves silly at the comedy show and several of the game shows! Based on our first cruise, this was what we expected, and they did indeed deliver it again this time.
Embarkation/debarkation. Carnival has perfected the process for getting large numbers of people on and off a ship in a short time. It went quickly and easily. Regarding the debarkation process: Carnival asks you in advance about your travel plans after you get off the ship. In other words, you tell them if you are catching a plane home, driving yourself home, or what. If you are catching a plane, you tell them what time the flight is scheduled to leave. Based on all the data collected, they figure out who needs to get off the ship earliest, and who does not. For example, those with the earliest flights get to leave the ship first. They break it in to 25 groups. Group #1 is the folks with the earliest flights, and they get to disembark first. Since we were driving ourselves home and had no deadline to meet, we were in group #23 of 25. Knowing this made it easy on us, because it allowed us to just take it easy and to not be in a rush once the ship docked. We knew we would be among the last off the ship, so we just relaxed and enjoyed ourselves.
Worse than expected:
Dessert choices. Maybe it was because we only ate in the casual restaurant and never ate in the formal dining rooms... but we thought the desserts left a lot to be desired. We would have liked to have seen a wider variety of dessert choices at every meal. Also, I've read that some cruise ships have an actual ice cream shop onboard... where you can get a real ice cream cone just like you would be able to find on land. There was a soft-serve ice cream machine available 24 hours a day in the casual restaurant, and I appreciated that, but I really would have enjoyed being able to get a real ice cream cone with real scoops of ice cream on it... even if I would have had to pay a little extra for it. There was a little shop where you could buy cookies, cake slices, and even milk shakes for an extra fee... but they didn't have ice cream or ice cream cones on the menu.
Is it too much to ask for a little Mexican food on a cruise to Mexico? There was a Mexican buffet at 11:30 PM on one night of the cruise, and they had tacos in the casual restaurant one night for dinner... but that was it. I would have loved to have seen a much more extensive availability of burritos, enchiladas, chimichangas, tacquitos, nachos, etc. The majority of the ships crew appeared to be European and Asian, so I think that had something to do with the menu choices and the lack of Mexican food. I live in California, and there are a dozen great places to get Mexican food within ten minutes of my house. That's just the food culture in California right now. Especially on a cruise to Mexico... I expected to see much more Mexican food.
The karaoke experience. Partly due to American Idol and partly due to a fun Karaoke bar in our area, I was really looking forward to being entertained by Karaoke onboard the ship. I knew that it was a nightly part of the ship's entertainment plan. It ended up being a big disappointment! The part that I blame on Carnival is that their Karaoke setup really sucks! At least the one on the Elation does! The words are projected on a screen BEHIND the singers. In other words, the singers can not look towards the audience while they sing, they have to turn around and face away from the audience to read the lyrics to the songs. Awkward! The other thing that ruined the Karaoke experience for me (and I realize this is not Carnival's fault) is the total and complete lack of singing ability of everyone that sang Karaoke on that ship! It was like watching the worst of the American Idol auditions. Painful, and NOT entertaining! Do you remember Roseanne Barr screeching the National Anthem? She sings well compared to some of the ones I heard in the Karaoke bar on the Elation. And as the night goes on and people get drunker, it just gets WORSE! You have not experienced true entertainment pain until you watch five drunk guys get on stage and try to sing a Garth Brooks song together. Ouch!
Please don't get me wrong... I loved our cruise and would do it again in a heartbeat! But there is always room for improvement!
Tips For People New To Cruising
On the chance that you've found this page because you are looking for information prior to taking your very first cruise... let me tell you a few things that you might not know about cruising with Carnival.
First off, I can definitely say that you're going to love cruising. I've talked to LOTS of people about cruising, and I've never heard from a single one who didn't enjoy it! There's great food and entertainment, and a huge staff to do all the chores for you! You don't have to cook or clean up a thing... all you have to do is have fun.
But there are a few things someone should clue you in on before your first cruise! For example, did you know that there is only ONE electrical outlet in each cabin? If you are bringing several electrical devices with you, be sure to bring a 6-outlet power strip. For example, this will allow you to charge the batteries on your digital camera, cell phone, and laptop computer overnight.
Other things to bring:
A 6-pack of your favorite beverage, so you don't have to pay ship prices for it.
Two large plastic drink cups. (One for you, one for your roommate.) The drinking glasses that are provided in the cabins and in the Lido restaurant are frustratingly small! They don't even come close to holding the contents of one can of Coke. We always bring a couple of large plastic drinking cups along with us... to use when drinking our favorite beverage on our balcony, on the Serenity deck, or even at the Lido restaurant. Once I'm comfortable, I don't like having to get up to refill my beverage.
A watch or a travel clock. Activities start at certain times, so you will frequently want to know the current time.
A highlighter pen, to mark activities on the daily schedule that you are interested in.
A small flashlight, so you can stumble to the bathroom in the middle of the night without disturbing your roommate by turning on all the lights in the room. It's also a handy thing to have with you in the unlikely event of an emergency.
Your MP3 player, so you can listen to your favorite music while you relax in the sun on deck. I'd also recommend noise-cancelling headphones for use with your MP3 player. There have been many times when I've been trying to relax on The Serenity Deck of a Carnival cruise ship when someone nearby was talking so loudly that all serenity had vanished. Noise-cancelling headphones and your favorite music on your MP3 player will bring the serenity back. Noise-cancelling headphones are also great if you are taking an airline flight to get to and from your cruise. They block out all the engine noise while you are watching the movie or listening to music.
>Some $1 and $5 bills. Very handy for tipping the people who handle your luggage on embarkation day, and also for making small purchases in Mexico. Using American money in Mexican ports is almost never a problem, but using a large bill to make a small purchase can be a problem.
If you're in a full-time relationship with your laptop computer or iPad... be sure to bring it along! There's wi-fi available throughout the ship, even in your cabin. Internet service is slow and expensive, but it's worth it if you're one of those people that needs/likes to be connected to the net every day.
And I think this last one goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: DON'T FORGET TO BRING A SWIM SUIT!
One thing that takes a little getting used to on a cruise is having cabin stewards coming in and out of your room. Your cabin steward (and his assistant) are in charge of keeping your room clean, and keeping it stocked with everything you need from towels to ice. Most people quickly learn to love having someone clean up after them... but some people get a little annoyed at the interruptions. It helps to understand your cabin steward's schedule, so you can adjust your schedule accordingly.
The cabin stewards will clean your room twice each day... once in the morning (usually sometime between 8 AM and Noon) and once in the evening (usually between 6 PM and 9 PM). If you don't want to be interrupted (for example, if you would like a nap... or some "afternoon delight") there are a couple of things you can do to ensure your privacy. The first and most important is proper use of the "cruisin'/snoozin'" door hanger. This is like a "do not disturb" sign at a hotel... but since this is a Fun Ship, the sign says SNOOZIN' on one side and CRUISIN' on the other. Not only is it important to put the snoozin' sign out when you don't want to be disturbed... but it's also important to put the cruisin' sign out when you're going to be away from your cabin for long periods of time. It's a polite way of telling the cabin steward "this is your big chance to get in and clean up the room without having anybody in your way." And by giving them that opportunity once each morning and once each evening, you'll keep them from interrupting you later when you want some privacy.
Also note the little mailbox next to the door...
where your friends and family can leave you notes if they can't find you.
If you have any trouble remembering your cabin number,
place something unique in here to help you figure out which cabin is yours.
Next, I'd like to tell you about one of the most useful things we've learned after many cruises. When you share a cruise ship with 3000 other passengers, you have to come up with ways to avoid the crowds. I really don't think it's fun to share a hot tub with a bunch of strangers, so I make an effort to get to the hot tubs at times when the other passengers won't be there. So, here's a trick that we use to have the hot tubs all to ourselves:
Most people pack their swimsuit in their suitcase, which they hand over to a porter on embarkation day so that the suitcase can be delivered to their cabin. And the suitcases generally don't arrive at the cabins until late in the afternoon on embarkation day... which means that most people can't get to their swimsuits on the afternoon of embarkation. And that means that the hot tubs and swimming pools are fairly empty on embarkation day. It presents a perfect opportunity! What we do is wear our swimsuits under our clothes on embarkation day. The first thing we do when we get on board the ship is have some lunch, and then after lunch we strip down to our swim suits and enjoy the hot tubs without anyone else being in them. It works every time, and it's one of the few times during the week that you see the hot tubs without anyone else in them. By the way, before you get in the hot tub, grab a towel up on the Lido deck by the main pool... so that you can dry off when you're all done.
Here's another method we use to have the hot tubs all to ourselves: 6 PM is the most popular dinner time... and most people are getting ready for dinner at 5:30 PM... so that's a great time to head to the hot tubs. If you have "your time dining" you can eat a little later, after you're done with the hot tubs.
While we're talking about beating the crowds... remember that if you try to eat a meal at the same time everybody else does, you're going to find the buffet very crowded. So, try to adjust your schedule a little off-peak to avoid the crowds. Get up a little earlier than everybody else to avoid the breakfast crowds. Or eat lunch a little later than everybody else to avoid the lunch crowds. The buffet is really crowded at 8 AM, but usually not at 7 AM. And the lunch crowd is huge at 12:30 but not bad at all at 1:30 or 2 PM.
While all the larger Carnival ships have blow dryers and small refrigerators in the cabins, be aware that the Carnival Elation does not. I assume this is true for the other ships in Carnival's Fantasy-class, too. The room steward will fill up your ice bucket twice a day, though.
You don't need to bring shampoo or soap... it is provided. But if you like to use conditioner on your hair, be sure to bring your own.
Clarification to what I said about there not being refrigerators or hair dryers in
I was speaking of ocean-view cabins as well as interior cabins. That's the vast majority of the cabins on the ship. If you are fortunate enough to be staying in one of the category 11 or 12 suites, you will have a refrigerator and a blow dryer in your cabin... and your bathroom will have a combination bath tub and shower. All of the other cabins have showers, but not tubs. Another nice perk for passengers who have booked a suite: priority embarkation. In other words, you get to bypass some of the lines in the check-in process... which will allow you to get on the ship much quicker. However, you have to be sure to get in the "VIP" line in the terminal to take advantage of this!
How To Smuggle Booze Onboard
The cruise lines are expecting to make some serious money from you at the bars onboard the ship. The cost of one drink is typically over $10, and most people don't drink alone... so that's over $20 just to share one nice drink with your sweetie. After that first one, how about another? And hey, this is not just a one day cruise... well, you can see how the cost of liquor can really add up by the end of your cruise.
You can save a LOT of money by bringing your own liquor aboard. However, the cruise line wants a monopoly on liquor sales, so they generally do not allow you to bring your own liquor aboard! Every piece of luggage that is brought onboard is x-rayed, and if they spot something in the shape of a bottle... they will open the bag and confiscate any alcohol. (Soft drinks like Pepsi and Coke are OK to bring onboard in your luggage, and will not be confiscated.)
To get around the high price of booze on a cruise, a lot of people DO bring their own liquor onboard. The smart ones will disguise it so that it does not show up on the x-ray machine. An easy way to do this is to use a "ShampBooze" flask...
Each day of the cruise, they publish a little newsletter that tells you information about what will be happening on the ship that day. These days, it's called the "Fun Times", but back in 1998 they used to call it the"Carnival Capers". If you've never cruised before, you'll find looking at a copy of Carnival Capers to be a great way to see the kinds of activities available onboard the ship. I've scanned the Carnival Capers from each day of my cruise, as well as a few other interesting documents. All are in .pdf format.
Carnival Capers - Saturday, January 12th - Setting Sail
Carnival Capers - Sunday, January 13th - At Sea
Carnival Capers - Monday, January 14th - Cabo San Lucas
Carnival Capers - Tuesday, January 15th - At Sea
Carnival Capers - Wednesday, January 16th - Ensenada
Thursday, January 17th - Debarkation Information
Cabo San Lucas Shopping Guide
Ensenada Shopping Guide
Please be aware that the activities listed in these scanned documents reflect the activities offered during our 2008 cruise, but you will find that several improvements have been made in the activities offered onboard these days. For example, there are more comedy shows offered these days than there used to be.
Azipod Propulsion System
The Elation was a big deal when she made her debut in 1998, because she was the first passenger cruise liner to feature the Azipod propulsion system. The Azipod system (which stands for AZImuthing POdded Drive units) is a revolutionary concept in ship propulsion. Instead of having a big propeller at the rear of the ship which pushes the water straight behind the ship, there are two propeller/motor pods mounted underneath the ship which can be pointed in any direction... which makes the ship extremely maneuverable. With the combination of the Azipods at the rear of the ship and the thrusters further forward, the Elation can move in any direction (even sideways) without the help of tugboats.
Another big difference between the Azipod system and conventional propulsion systems is that instead of pushing water, the Azipods pull it. And instead of using a drive shaft to connect to a motor within the ship, the motor is in the pod outside the ship and connects directly to the propeller. This makes less noise and vibration within the ship, saves fuel, and also frees up more space inside the ship. The Azipod propulsion system was developed by Kvaerner Masa-Yards and ABB Marine, who also provided the picture of the Elation's Azipod units which you see here. All of the other pictures on this page are my original photos... most were taken with my Canon Digital Rebel XTi camera.
High Resolution Photos For Use As
Computer Desktop Wallpaper
Here are a few of my best high-resolution cruise photos, in sizes that make them perfect for use as background images on your computer desktop. Just pick one of the pictures below, click on the number below the photo that matches your desktop resolution... and when the picture comes up on your screen, just right-click on it and choose "Set As Background". If you do not know what resolution your computer desktop is set to... go to your desktop and right-click on an empty part of the desktop (in other words, don't right-click where there is an icon). Select "properties", and then click the tab that says "settings". Your desktop resolution is listed under the slider that says "screen resolution".
These photos are here for private non-commercial use as your computer's desktop background, only. DO NOT post these pictures to other web sites and DO NOT use these pictures for any commercial use without first making licensing arrangements with me. Contact me first for permission to use these photos for anything other than your personal, non-profit use as your computer desktop background. All of these photos are the original work of Jim Zimmerlin and are copyrighted under international law.
The Carnival Elation sailing out of San Diego Bay
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The Carnival Elation at dawn at the San Diego Pier
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Sunrise Over The Caribbean
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A Spectacular Sunrise Over The Pacific Ocean
By the way, this looks really great as the background for an iPad!
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Several good high-resolution photos of the Carnival Elation are available directly from Carnival. I don't want to run afoul of their copyright by posting the pictures here. Just follow the following links, and you'll see these great photos:
Carnival Elation docked at Grand Turk in the Caribbean
Carnival Elation passing the Point Loma lighthouse in San Diego
Carnival Cruise Sounds
Have some fun with these! Listen to the Carnival Cruise theme, or play the sound of a Carnival ship horn.
If you're a true cruise junkie, download the audio files (by right-clicking, and saving) and then set your computer to play the ship horn when you get a new email, and to play the theme song when the computer boots up and/or shuts down!
The Cruise Ships We've Been On
If you've enjoyed this page, you would probably also enjoy reading my web pages about:
Our April 2013 cruise on the newest ship in the fleet... the Carnival Breeze
Our first cruise with Princess! January 2014 Sapphire Princess
Our December 2013 cruise on the newly remodeled Carnival Sunshine
Our August 2012 cruise on the Carnival Magic
Our Caribbean cruise on the Carnival Glory
Our many cruises on the Carnival Spirit
Our February 2010 cruise on the Carnival Splendor
Our April 2009 Carnival Paradise cruise
Our April 2008 cruise on the Norwegian Star
Our 1996 cruise on Carnival Cruise Line's MS Holiday
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