April 2015 - 4 Night Western Caribbean (New Orleans Roundtrip) Cruise on Carnival Elation
What we liked:
The food was great. Not only was there plenty, but the quality was great too. The service in the Inspiration was just about the best I've experienced anywhere. The maitre d was very considerate and even helped us get something off the menu. Our waiter was always prompt and seemed to be able to know exactly what we wanted before we did.
The highlight of our cruise experience was the Chef's Table. The food was beautiful and delicious. About the only think I would change is that people should know up front that it is a loooong dinner (2.5-3 hours). We didn't mind the length, but it would be been more enjoyable if we had been mentally prepared for the duration.
We enjoyed the jazz music when we could find it. We also enjoyed the PG comedy shows.
We loved seeing the paintings on the cruise.
What we would change:
The guitarist who played at the Atrium Bar got annoying quickly. While he played plenty of crowd pleasers and was very personable, his music was repetitive and boring and his pitch was flat. We had enough of him after a couple of hours, but because he was in the middle of the ship we couldn't avoid him. It was especially jarring to hear his racket while we were at the Chef's table, which took place in the Library.
While there were good musicians on the cruise, it was hard to find. Because the first (and loudest) exposure to music on the cruise was the Atrium guitarist, we mistakenly assumed that most of the music on the ship would be of a similar low quality. The itineraries and schedules didn't help to determine where jazz would be played, so it wasn't until the end of the cruise that we found and heard some good sets by a quintet and the pianist in the piano bar.
The art auction was annoying, probably because it was dumbed down to make it "fun" for the low brow.
The arcade was lame. I don't know why they even bothered to leave it on the boat. There was also no laser tag.
Most of the Promenade reeked of cigarette smoke.
Booze and gambling don't interest us, so it was disappointing that so much of the ship's focus was on those activities. I'm sure many people come on the boat specifically for these things. They probably loved it. Not for us, and that's probably the biggest reason we most likely won't go with Carnival again.