In June, I went on a girls trip to the Bahamas on the Carnival Elation. I’ve been on 2 Carnival cruises as a child, but I felt like this was my first Carnival Cruise. The Carnival Elation is smaller and older than some of the other boats we were looking at, but when it came to the convenience of port, the date, and the length of trip, it was the best option for the majority of the girls going on the trip. We went on a 4-day cruise out of Jacksonville to Nassau and Freeport, Bahamas. We had a day at each island, and one full day at sea.
Carnival Elation Review
Size: Because of the size of the Carnival Elation, it was easy to find everything and to walk the entire boat. I get motion sick very easily, so when I first saw the boat I worried the size would make my sensitivity worse, but I luckily had no issues. I took a Dramamine daily to be safe. You can feel it sway from time to time, more so during dinner when you’re sitting for a period of time.
Aesthetic: The decor is outdated and is similar to a Vegas casino with loud colors and geometric patterns.
Gratuity: At the end of the trip I paid $51 for gratuity to cover the housekeepers, entertainers, and wait staff. A 15% tip was added to each drink from the bar. In total, I spent an extra $102 on the trip including drinks and gratuity.
Carnival Elation App: There is an app you can download that will tell you a detailed schedule of events and happenings on the ship. Download it before you get on the ship.
WiFi: Two girls in our group purchased the social wifi, which I would recommend at least a person from each group buys for communication between rooms. I didn’t purchase the package, but I know apps like Instagram and Twitter didn’t really work well. It worked best for Facebook messenger. It’s cheaper to purchase the plan before you get on the boat, so plan ahead! It was actually nice to disconnect from social media for the majority of the trip. Both beaches we went to in the Bahamas had free wifi with a drink purchase.
Travel, boarding, parking, etc
Parking is expensive, but when you drive from out of town you really don’t have another option. My group paid $17/day for parking ($68 total). The other group of girls parked across the street from the port and paid significantly less to walk about .25 miles across the street.
Boarding Carnival Elation was pretty painless. I would recommend getting an earlier time to get on the boat earlier. The other group of girls picked a later boarding time, but they didn’t have issues getting on earlier with us. The line was long but it stayed moving. Make sure to have proper documentation with you before checking your bag.
** I legally changed my last name but didn’t want to pay for a new passport until it expired. I brought my marriage license on the trip and the staff changed my Carnival card to my maiden name to match my passport. If you’re booking the trip, use the name that matches your passport or birth certificate. You need proper identification to get back on the ship in the Bahamas.
Checked Luggage: My luggage was pretty damaged by the checking process; however, I know it is a downfall of hard plastic suitcases. It had two large scratches along both sides of the suitcase. It wasn’t the first time I checked it on a trip, but it was the first time it was damaged. I used this very large suitcase, and it fits under my bed just fine. Everyone in our group got their luggage just fine, but I did get a notice on the door to check for a misplaced bag so I know some people on the boat weren’t as lucky. You always risk a misplaced bag when checking it in. If you’re bringing on soda or one bottle of wine you have to carry it on with you.
Leaving: If you want to get on the road back home early, skip checking your luggage and get off as early as you can. The longer you wait to get off, the longer the line will be when going through customs. We got off the boat around 8:15am and it took under 10 minutes to get off the boat and through customs. We had trouble finding an elevator that went to the floor to leave, so we had to carry our heavy luggage down the stairs. Our friends were about 20 minutes behind us and they had to wait significantly longer to get through customs.
Carnival Elation Rooms
There were three girls in my interior room and we surprisingly had enough space and didn’t feel like we were crawling on each other. There were two normal twin beds and another twin trundle bed on the floor. The beds were surprisingly very comfortable. I was expecting a firm, camper style mattress but it was actually soft and the sheets were comfortable. I normally always pack my own pillow, but I didn’t for this trip and didn’t have any regrets. I think it’s a misconception to get a balcony or window room if you get motion sick easily. I think it’s better to not look out or see the water moving outside the boat.
The bathroom, on the other hand, was definitely the tiny, camper styled bathroom. Everything was small scaled and I kept everything but my toothbrush outside in the closet because there was no counter space. The water pressure in the shower was good, which is more important to me than the size.
There are only two outlets in the room, so plan accordingly if you need to plug in hair dryers and hot tools while getting ready. There were two USB plugs we could use to charge all three of our phones at night. There is a mini fridge in the room for a small number of beverages.
Carnival Elation Entertainment
Shows: We went to the show every night right after dinner. We were all very entertained by their performances. Some were actually into it and others had fun laughing at the show, lol. I do remember there being some sight issues because of columns throughout the auditorium.
Late night comedy: We went to two of the late night shows. Some comedians are better than others so it depends on who you get, but we enjoyed the show.
Music: The live band playing near the casino was very good and the location was convenient to the bar and casino. The DJ played good millennial throwbacks (early 2000’s) that we were all into. He stuck with the same playlist each night so they eventually lost their excitement, but we had fun on the dance floor every night. The last night on the cruise is more chill and not as lively because people are prepping to go back to reality.
Trivia Games: There were multiple trivia games during the day at sea (Friends, Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Hunger Games were the games we stuck around for.
Ship Photographers: There are photographers everywhere on the cruise and multiple areas for backdrops and props if that’s what you’re into. There is a photographer taking pictures as you get off and on the ship, and also each night towards the end of dinner. All pictures are printed and hung around the ship so you can buy them. My friends and I decided to have a little more fun with our photo ops and had a competition to see who could make the funniest face in the photos taken at dinner. It was so entertaining finding them printed the next morning, I wish I could show you but I didn’t buy any.
Carnival Elation Food and Drink
Casual Food: The buffet hall was good for breakfast but for lunch and dinner, I would recommend looking elsewhere. The taco and burger restaurants were really good. I wish I didn’t wait until the last day to try them out! If you’re in no rush to get the day moving, I recommend enjoying at least one breakfast in the breakfast hall. It was the best meal of the trip!
Dinner Service: I looked forward to dinner every day. We picked a later dinner time (8:15) which I would recommend if you’re in a younger crowd. We didn’t have to worry about rushing to get ready each night for dinner. There was always a good selection of appetizers, entrees, sides, and desserts. You could order as much or as little as you wanted.
Room Service: Pretty subpar. I only ordered once after the beach the first day and wasn’t too impressed. I got a PBJ but it didn’t have enough PB or J. We requested cookies, but they were out at the time. Most of the selection was an additional charge so I didn’t try anything else. The food was always delivered in a timely manner.
Water: I can be a water snob. I bought bottled water throughout the two years I lived in Savannah because I couldn’t deal with Savannah water. The first taste of water on Carnival Elation was a little worrying, but it was fine to drink the rest of the trip. A big plus was the crunchy ice! I’m not a soda drinker so I didn’t purchase the soda packages offered on the cruise. I highly recommend bringing an empty cup with you on the trip to fill up and bring with you to the beaches to stay hydrated.
Alcohol: My friends easily snuck on their drink of choice and carried on mixers but to me, it wasn’t worth the inconvenience. I knew I would just go to the bar and order something frozen 😉 Drinks were about $10 each on the boat, with some as low as $8.50. I’m not a big drinker, so there was no way I would get my money worth from buying the alcohol package at around $55/day. All the girls brought one bottle of wine, which we opened prior to dinner. If you bring your unopened bottle to dinner they will charge you a corking fee, but you can bring your glass with you.
Carnival Elation Pools
There was only one pool on the ship and I was never tempted to get in it. It looked like a warm bathtub filled with kids. For the day at the sea, we went to the top deck where the breeze was the best. If you don’t worship the sun (like me!) there is a small number of chairs under a shaded portion of the boat that I sat at. The girls in the sun would sit back there with us to cool down.
Serenity Deck: This was always quiet and had chairs available. We only hung around there one morning before it got too hot. It’s on the back of the boat with two hot tubs, but the breeze was pretty limited there. The third night was an adult only DJ party on the deck and although we had fun dancing, it was uncomfortably warm.
Freeport: Tanio Beach
We took a taxi ride for $7 each way to Taino beach and this was my favorite spot on the trip. It was secluded, had a tiki bar and music blasting, and the water was crystal clear. They also had free paddle boarding and offered jet ski and banana boat rides. It was a $5 fee to enter (which they definitely don’t tell you until you arrive), but it was worth it! You also get free wifi. If you want to take cute pictures, take them as soon as you get there because it does get crowded.
You can see all of my Bahama beach outfits here!
Nassau: Junkanoo Beach
Was… definitely junk. After walking 15-20 minutes in the blazing sun you arrive at a heckling spot where locals are fighting for your money to get you a beach chair. One was trying to get us to pay $60 for drinks, wifi, and a chair. We ended up doing none of the above and laying on the sand with our cruise towels. It was right next to construction and the beach itself was more on an inlet. I didn’t trust the sand enough to walk around barefoot for long. The pina colada, however, was one of the best I’ve ever had.
Our group didn’t want to pay $166 for 4 hours at the Atlantis. A work friend recommended taking a bus towards the end of the island for a nice, secluded beach, which I would probably do next time around.
Cruise Packing + General Tips
- Bring a tumblr for water to bring with you to the beaches and around the ship.
- Don’t forget a bag for the excursions or beach
- We had a person from each group purchase the social wifi, so we had no problem finding each other/communicating.
- Bring an extension outlet if you have a lot of devices or girls getting ready in your room. There were only two regular outlets and two USB outlets.
- Don’t rush to the Muster station. You will be waiting for the people hiding in their rooms (guilty).
- Towels are provided by Carnival
- To avoid delaying your travel home and waiting in lines, don’t check your bag and get off the cruise ship no later than 8:10 on embarkation day.
- The only thing you need to keep up with on the boat is your cruise card. Bring something to hold this so you know exactly where it is.
Have you been on a Carnival cruise? It was nice to have almost everything paid for upfront and just sit back and relax.
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xo Amanda John