We try to take a family cruise once a year. This week when we went, it was the 11th cruise for my husband and I, and the 10th for our kids. This time around, we were on the Carnival Cruise ship called Elation, and we had stops in Dominican Republic (Amber Cove) and Turks & Caicos (Grand Turk). This was a five night cruise out of Port Canaveral.
This was our 7th cruise with Carnival, and the ship that we liked the least. The ship itself is not old, so it looks nice. We liked the ship decor, and thought everything looked nice. However, it was missing some key amenities we have come to enjoy and didn't think to check for them when booking. The things it was missing for us included a basketball court (our son loves to spend many hours playing it while on a cruise), an outdoor movie theater (we love to sit on the deck and watch a movie under the stars), and a running track (we usually run the track to keep up with our routine).
What I love about cruising with Carnival is that they have the most affordable rates. We've been on Princess, Royal, and Disney, but Carnival is by far the most affordable for a family. We also love that they have a lot going on. Our favorite things to do are to go to the comedy club and watch karaoke. The comedy on Elation was great. We also enjoyed the karaoke, but the room they held it in each night was too small and could not accommodate the number of people who wanted to be in there. We also enjoyed the production shows they put on each night. During the days at sea, we relax on the deck, reading and enjoying watching the ocean view.
Our stops were great! This was our first time going to the Dominican Republic. We took an excursion that included mountain and city views. It was around four hours long. It took us high up in the mountains, where we had awesome views, took a walk through the rainforest, and looked about some local customs and history. We then went down to the city and saw things there and walked around a bit. We also visited a Cathedral that was built in 1502.
This was our 3rd or 4th time going to Grand Turk (can't remember which). We always enjoy it there. We took our snorkel gear and set up at the beach, snorkeling right near the cruise terminal area. There were tons of fish! The snorkeling right there was surprisingly really good. We also took a walk around, grabbed some lunch at Margaritaville, and took a dip in the Margaritaville pool. It was a great day that was very relaxing.
The food on this ship was, and I hate to say it, not good. It had the worse food of any cruise we've ever been on. I say this as a vegetarian though, maybe it was better for meat eaters. The vegetarian options beyond salad were extremely limited. The food they did have didn't taste good. I saw tons of food being wasted by people each day. I think that's due to a combination of people taking more than they can eat, and because it looks way better than it tastes. The only food I actually liked on this cruise was the oatmeal (hard to mess that up), hashbrowns, and the chia seed pudding. My husband liked the food slightly better than I did, because he can eat spicy foods and loves Mexican food, so he went to Blue Iguana daily for a burrito (I can only eat so many burritos in a row).
Overall, we had a great time. We adjusted to missing those amenities, although we will be sure to check for them in the future. We are used to places not having great vegetarian options, so that was not a surprise, although it was disappointing. We really liked the two places we had stops at, and we enjoyed relaxing on the two days at sea. We had room M143, which was on the main floor.