Embarking the New Carnival Elation in Jacksonville

Carnival Elation, at anchor off Half Moon Cay, Bahamas, later on in our cruise. Note the new superstructure additions above the gymnasium, one deck above the bridge. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Monday, January 22, 2018
This afternoon, I stepped aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s 2,130-guest Carnival Elation in the Port of Jacksonville, Florida, for a five-night cruise to the Bahamas, with calls on Nassau and the private island paradise that is Half Moon Cay.
Embarkation was quick, efficient, and most importantly, friendly. Kudos to JAXPORT for their fantastic staff. Between the smiles and the speed with which I embarked (a mere 26 minutes from curb-to-ship), my first embarkation in Jacksonville is one I’d gladly repeat.

Downtown Jacksonville, Florida. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

I’ve come here to experience the “new” Carnival Elation, which went through a massive drydock last fall that gave this classic FunShip new balcony staterooms, more FunShip 2.0 features, and an entirely new look for every guest corridor and all 1065 existing staterooms onboard.
Of course, some fun in the sun at the same time is never a bad thing. A look at our quick trip aboard Carnival Elation:

Carnival Elation to the Bahamas

January 22, 2018 Jacksonville, FL Embark 4:00pm
January 23 At Sea
January 24 Half Moon Cay, Bahamas 9:00am 5:00pm
January 25 Nassau, Bahamas 8:00am 5:00pm
January 26 At Sea
January 27 Jacksonville, FL 8:00am Disembark

Reasons to Be Elated

The second-last Fantasy Class ship to enter service for Carnival, Carnival Elation made her debut on March 20, 1998. She was christened by Shari Arison, daughter of Carnival founder Ted Arison and sister to Carnival Corporation & plc Chairman, Micky Arison. Carnival Elation is also noteworthy, together with sister Carnival Paradise, for having the first azimuthing propulsion systems fitted to a cruise ship.
Flash-forward twenty years and Carnival Elation is now as trendy as ever following a fall 2017 refit that added the features, amenities and décor of Carnival’s newest ships, like Carnival Vista, while still retaining much of her classic Joe Farcus décor.

Atrium Frenzy. The six-story atrium aboard Carnival Elation, designed by Joe Farcus, is classic Carnival, and Farcus at his most restrained. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Despite suffering a weeklong setback as the result of Hurricane Irma, Carnival Elation emerged from a stay at the Grand Bahama Shipyard in Freeport on October 7, 2017 with a new exterior profile, and all-new features for guests to look forward to.
What I like about this refit is that Carnival was mindful about the ship’s exterior profile. The new deck installed high atop the Fitness Center (which used to house a small observation area and mini-golf) has decks that cascade back attractively. Balconies have been added below deck areas that, for the most part, also extended out over the side of the ship. A new transom stern, added for stability and fuel economy, actually helps to give the ship a more modern appearance.

One of the new sections of balcony cabins added to the ship during her fall 2017 drydock. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

A total of 98 balconies were added to existing oceanview cabins, appearing on both port and starboard sides of the ship, and at the stern. Carnival added another 38 cabins to a new deck on Deck 14, built in prefabricated blocks by ALMACO. The company built all cabins, bathrooms, corridors, elevator lobbies and stairwells off-site and then installed them aboard the ship – a process that became infinitely complicated when Hurricane Irma developed, resulting in cabins being temporarily offloaded and secured while Carnival Elation set out to sea for safety. Following the Hurricane, these were reinstalled and work was completed on the ship’s exterior.

A pretty ship by day, Carnival Elation looks best by night, when the full glamour of her interior decor can best be seen. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Walking through the ship today, it’s easy to see how sweeping these changes have been. Throughout, Carnival Elation sports all-new décor in every passenger corridor that mimics the “Cool Caribbean” vibe introduced aboard Carnival Breeze. The Fantasy Class used to have dark, dimly-lit corridors with pop-art style paintings of old ocean liners. Now, for the first time, corridors feel light, bright and airy.

Fantasy-class corridors, pre-refit. As seen aboard Carnival Paradise, August 2017. Carnival Paradise will go through her own sweeping refit in February. Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

Refreshed corridors aboard Carnival Elation: a world of difference! Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Another area of the ship that benefited heavily from these refits are the ship’s two dining rooms, which have been completely redone with newer and more modern décor. Carniavl Elation also received Guy’s Burger Joint, the BlueIguana Cantina & Tequila Bar, the RedFrog Rum Bar, a new WaterWorks aqua park and Twister slide, a mini-golf course and refurbished Camp Ocean kids clubs – all of which help transform this venerable twenty year old into a thoroughly modern cruise experience.

My Stateroom: A New Category 8B Balcony

I finally stopped marveling at the new corridors and made my way to my cabin, located on the port side of Upper Deck 6. This used to be a Category 6C Oceanview Stateroom; after the refit, it is now a Category 8B Balcony Stateroom.
Here’s a look at how these rooms used to appear, as seen on Carnival Paradise last summer.

Oceanview Stateroom, Carnival Paradise. August 2017.  Photo © 2017 Aaron Saunders

The new look on Carnival Elation today:

My Category 8B Balcony Stateroom: a former oceanview room turned balcony paradise. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

Staterooms now boast new wall treatments, desks, closets, flat-panel televisions, switches, and even lighting. Photo © 2018 Aaron Saunders

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