One Last Elated Day at Sea

Heading back to Jacksonville. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

At Sea, Friday, January 26, 2018

It’s a quiet, relaxing day at sea aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Elation as we make our way back to Jacksonville, Florida, where our voyage began on Monday.

Carnival Elation’s refit is easily the most sweeping and dramatic afforded to a Fantasy Class ship to-date. By the time you read this, her sister, Carnival Paradise, will be going under the knife for a similar sprucing up before she resumes her Caribbean and Cuba cruises from the port of Tampa.

Click here to read our Carnival Paradise Voyage Report in Cuba!

After five days onboard, I can confidently say that this is a comfortable, well-run older ship that still has plenty to offer cruisers. Everything about Carnival Elation is more manageable than today’s newbuilds: she’s easier to get around, has less queues overall, and shorter wait times for elevators and the like. Even the dual panoramic glass elevators that whoosh up and down the ship’s striking central atrium are easy to hop aboard.

Evening tunes in the Piano Bar aboard Carnival Elation. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

By refitting Carnival Elation, Carnival has instantly wiped out a swath of criticisms that are typically leveled at older ships. Her décor is new and modern, yet still retains its distinctive styling introduced by longtime Carnival designer Joe Farcus. Staterooms have been thoroughly updated and modernized, and now sport an abundance of power and USB charging outlets. The ship’s two dining rooms now look stylish and modern, and new furniture (or newly-upholstered furniture) is present throughout the vessel.

Are there dings and dents? Of course; the ship is, after all, celebrating its twentieth anniversary this year. Thanks to her refit, however, this is a ship that could easily operate weeklong cruises once again, without any discomfort. In some ways, these short four-and-five-day runs do the ship a disservice. I’d like to take Carnival Elation somewhere more interesting than the Bahamas – if the line offered it.

Joe Farcus’s whismical designs are still present throughout much of the ship.

That day may be closer at hand than you think. Already, Carnival has deployed Carnival Paradise on groundbreaking cruises to Cuba; an itinerary that would be ill-suited for a larger Carnival vessel for a number of reasons. With these refurbishments to Carnival Elation making her more desirable than ever before, perhaps the time is right for Carnival to deploy some of its Fantasy Class ships on more exotic runs as part of the line’s Carnival Journeys program of voyages.

Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Carnival Elation is a ship that, while immensely fun, still offers plenty of cozy, relaxing places. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Another thing Carnival Elation has working in its favor is the Port of Jacksonville. On my first visit to the city (and its port), I found Jacksonville to be a breath of fresh air in Florida. Less crowded than Fort Lauderdale and less chaotic than Miami, sailing out of Jacksonville is like sailing out of San Diego: quiet, unassuming and oh-so-easy. That the city has a fantastic airport and super-friendly people doesn’t hurt either.

Elevator Lobby, Carnival Elation. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

At the moment, Carnival Elation is the only vessel operating from Jacksonville. Perhaps that will change, too, someday down the road. But for now, Jacksonville serves Carnival with a great “drive-up” port that is easily accessible for folks from numerous States who make the long drive and park their cars at the pier. Relatively few, like yours truly, flew to embark Carnival Elation in Jacksonville.

Regardless of how you get here, you should. If you’re a fan of Carnival, have fond memories of the Fantasy Class, or are just looking for a quick break to the Bahamas, Carnival Elation is the way to go. This venerable ship is back in a big way, and she’s looking better than ever.

Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Our Voyage Report onboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Elation has sadly come to a close, but follow along with our latest cruise adventures on twitter: @deckchairblog.

Carnival Elation to the Bahamas

January 22, 2018Jacksonville, FLEmbark4:00pm
January 23At Sea
January 24Half Moon Cay, Bahamas9:00am5:00pm
January 25Nassau, Bahamas8:00am5:00pm
January 26At Sea
January 27Jacksonville, FL8:00amDisembark

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