Sunday, December 9, 2007
Well.... this is a long time coming. I've finally decided to write about our experience onboard the Carnival Elation cruise to Baja Mexico. When I initially booked the trip, I googled "carnival" "elation" "baja cruise", etc. etc., and the only reviews that came up were mostly travel guide websites that described the ships amenities, travel dates, a brief description of the food and dining areas, clubs & casino....all in the same copy and pasted paragraphs. Blah blah blah.
So I have decided to put out there on the world wide web a more detailed and in depth description of the trip in all of it's entirety.
We took the October cruise out of San Diego. Thankfully, we were gone the entire week that a natural disaster decided to hit Southern California, so we missed out on this and this.
There were a total of 12 of us in our traveling group. We returned from the cruise bearing mixed reviews about the trip. Each of us has both good and bad stories and comments, most of which I'll try to get to on here for everyone's enjoyment.
When we first arrived onboard, we were welcomed with a big and beautiful lunch buffet in a room that we would later know as the common-not-fancy-24-hour dining hall. Think of this as a mediocre high school cafeteria...dressed up with weird carved wax balls, tropical silk flowers, and cheesy Tiffany style stained glass everywhere. This was called "Tiffanys" which is just now making sense to me. They also have a 24 hour pizza bar in this room (the best food on board by far) and a 24 hour soft serve ice cream machine, which I personally wish I would've been able to utilize longer than just my first 3 days onboard. (more about why I was decommissioned by day 4 later on.)
When we were notified that our rooms were ready, we quickly rushed down to check out our cabins and collect our luggage, which didn't actually come until 4 hours later in random incrimental deliveries. The cabins were as to be expected. Small, quaint, but functional. The TV sucked, the red balance or something was warped the entire time. Each room had a romantic sheet of fogged white plastic with a silkscreened ship on it angled in the corner with a backlight that we only can assume is Carnival's way of adding "mood lighting" for those couples who wanna ber-chicka-ber-ner. Our cabin steward was such a great guy. He always spoke to us by name in the hallways, asking how our day was, how we were feeling, if Richard was still asleep next door (WTF?!). He tidied our room twice daily, gave us new bottles of water whenever our supply was depleated. He folded our towels in fun shapes like an elephant and a walrus that looked like a vagina. And he didn't complain once about having to clean the spattering backsplash of crap particles on our toilet seat everyday (after day 4). Honestly, our cabin steward was the best customer service we received onboard. We tipped him very well at the end of the cruise, above and beyond the piddly amount Carnival automatically charges you, since he really deserved it and we aren't cheap assholes. (hahah I kid, I kid... this is not intended to mean you are an asshole if you didn't tip extra, it's a joke...you're just cheap).
The onboard amenities were alright. Dance clubs, bars, casino, show rooms, spa, pool (salt water), sports deck (mini golf was great fun, and ping pong too if you can wrestle the paddles away from the snotty nosed kids hogging them). The casino was typical. There were always the dumbasses who got too drunk and were having way too much fun to know when to stop gambling when they're $1000 up. "Damn casino!" they'd say. "The ship rocked starboard and the dice tipped over from a 6 to a 7 and I lost! It's rigged!" Yet they kept on playing. I, personally, had a great experience in the casino. No bad taste in my mouth. I played craps and walked away $140 richer and I'm happy with it, daggumit! My husband got into an altercation on the last night of the cruise though. By this time, all the crew members knew us by face and charge card number, yet they decided to get frisky and card him thinking he's underage. (he's 29! not 19, 20 or 21!) But this is pretty common for him...I mean, he still gets carded for rated R movies. He's got a fresh face. :)
So Carnival as a brand prides themselves in their gay little mascot "FunShip Freddie" who we like to refer to as Exhaustie. He's the shape of the signature carnival blue and red whale fin exhaust pipe on the top deck of each ship. On the 3rd night, they get everyone on deck at 11pm for "THEparty" which was so lame. The cruise director and the crew dressed in blue and red jump suits and started dancing around like fairies, working the guests up thru cheesy antics such as loud gay jeering music, line dancing, simon says, and "team" cheers (blue team if your assigned dinner table is odd numbered, red if you're even!! So clever!) Then they lead the teams around on deck in a mambo line screaming "red team!!" or "blue team!" Literally, these guests got so into it, they probably would've gone one by one overboard like lemmings if Exhaustie had led them to the side of the ship. We sat as unparticipating wallflowers in the middle of this with our jaws hitting the ground. How could adults behave like this? It's like they'd drank the kool aid.
I did hit the spa for a day. I got the best full body massage and it was amazing. Possibly the best part of the trip. I wish I would've gone to the spa each day onboard. The best deals are when the ship is at port, so I would recommend that for sure.
One night we hit up the grand galla buffet at midnight. The food looked like old leftovers from dinner. Half eaten food scraped from plate directly into a food processor. Mashed up like paté, and then rolled up into new combos and re-served as a refreshing midnight buffet. The cruise was a lot of fat old couples wearing walking shorts, Hawaiian shirts, and fanny packs. I observed one such couple sitting across the table from each other the night we went to the buffet. They didn't speak a single word to each other the entire time. I wanted to vomit as they conveyor belted the food into their mouths, smearing on the sides of their mouths, plate after plate. Then they consumed dessert, several selections of cakes and creamy confectionary, all looking nasty. None of it looked good in texture or flavor. Needless to say, my plate remained bare and I went to get 24 hour pepperoni shortly thereafter.
And that night, the third night of our cruise, that was the end of my fun. By midnight I was in the tiny cabin crapping my ass off in 15 minute increments. Day 4, day 5, and our final day at sea, day 6, I remained shipwrecked on the toilet in our sorry little room. I only ventured out a few times. Once to the infirmary to receive a mysterious shot in my ass-cheek that minimized the extreme abdominal cramping. They quarantined me to my room because I had somehow contracted the Norovirus onboard through touching someone else's vomit or excrement. Nice, huh? Needless to say, don't touch anything if you ever go on a cruise. Bring latex gloves and wear them everywhere. I also decided to venture out a few more times, despite the rules and the excruciating stomach pain it caused just to stand up and walk. But I wanted to eat in the formal dining room with all my friends. I paid for it, why shouldn't I?! And then, just for kicks, I would lick my hands and rub them on every door knob and hand rail I could find on my way back to the cabin. I wonder if anyone got the Norovirus from me???
Overall, I would suggest that if you're planning on booking a relaxing tropical vacation to release yourself from the pressures of real life.....forget about booking yourself on an all-expenses-paid-cruise (besides alcohol which is typically the most important thing) disease infested, cheap boat trip. Since returning, I have done some extensive cruise research and the experience I had is not only on the cheaper "party" Carnival ships. Most cruises, despite high's and low's in pricing, have the same mediocre food that's dolled up with fancy plating and chintz chandeliers.
But this, of course, is just my opinion. A real experience, not some travel guide copy-and-pasted one. :)
Labels: the daily grind