I loved my first cruise experience and hope to go on another soon. As a first time cruiser, I had no idea what to expect, whether I would get sick, or what surprises would await me.
Below are a few tips for cruisers to the Bahamas on Carnival Elation:
First of all, I'm prone to motion sickness, so I used the Transderm-Scop 1.5 MG/3 Day patch. I was fine, although I felt like I was still on the ship two days after disembarking. My children used Dramamine a few times when they didn't feel well.
Ocean View Room
Pay the extra money for ocean view. The window is about 3'x4' and we enjoyed looking out at the open ocean as well as when we arrived to port. If you are budget conscious and you won't spend much time in your stateroom, I'm sure an interior room would be sufficient.
Get a travel package that offers the free dining option and buffet. Every evening we dressed up and ate in the Imagination Dining Room. We ate during the early dining (6 p.m.) time slot. I found this to be difficult to get ready for after excursions at the ports, but we made it work. For our children, the (8:15 p.m.) time slot probably would have been a little late for us. The food was great. I tried things I normally don't have the option to eat at home like duck, rabbit, and lamb. I also have a new favorite appetizer, calamari (squid). The desserts are heavenly. Our favorite was the Carnival Chocolate Melting Cake.
Wear slides or flip flops versus going barefoot. The decks are HOT!
Ports and Excursions
When booking shore excursions, research options before you leave. Booking through Carnival does cost more, but they GUARANTEE you will be back in time to reboard the ship before it leaves port. The cabs and tour groups on the island cannot 100 percent guarantee the same. Our experience with a local group was wonderful. Our guide, "Dr. Phil", took great care of us and drove us around in a 12 passenger van. He took us around the city of Nassau located on the island of New Providence. He also took us to Paradise Island and to Atlantis. I was $15 at the casino there so I was pumped.
We also enjoyed our excursion at Freeport. While I felt Freeport was more impoverished, Carnival took us to a private beach. As we docked, Carnival announced they had an additional excursion to offer. This excursion was a 12-mile bus ride through Freeport to a private Carnival beach for $19.95/person. It also included beach chairs and umbrella. We were at the beach a total of two hours.
I enjoyed both ports (Nassau and Freeport), but liked Nassau more. I think I liked Nassau more due to the proximity of the port. In Nassau, we docked in the downtown area where there was plenty of shopping, food and a public beach. Where in Freeport, we docked near an industrial area with little shopping and eating.
At every port, I felt safe due to the safe guards put into place for accurate identification as well as Coast Guard escorts as we entered and excited the ports. Locals couldn't gain access to the tourists without a permit within a secure area around the ship. The locals at the ports in the Bahamas will bargain with you. Caution: they will start with a high price, but will often come down.
There was plenty to do on the ship. The entertainment ranged from game shows, comedy shows, 80s rock sing-a-longs, Karaoke and a piano bar. Carnival provided options for our children to attend programs throughout the day and into the night.
No Cash Needed
While on the boat, no cash is needed. Everything you purchase is billed to your room via you Sail and Ship card. Lemonade, Water, Tea and Coffee are free, but alcohol and soda cost extra. You can buy a daily drink car for $49.99, but are limited to 15 alcoholic drinks a day. NOTE: It is my understanding you had to buy two cards one for each person over 21 so you couldn't cheat the system. I never verified this from a Carnival employee, but heard several people talking about it.
I was impressed by the great and helpful staff on the Carnival Elation. If I had any complaints it would be they expected a tip for EVERYTHING. For example, I bought a beer for $5.95 and the total bill was $6.48. It had a 15 percent gratuity already added to the bill. They also added gratuity for the water we had ordered to our room since we couldn't bring any aboard. NOTE: Carnival adds a per person rate for gratuity on your room bill. We were surprised by a $51.80 charge per person. We were tipping waiters, etc throughout our trip and only found this out the day before we got off the ship. We were told this is a charge we wouldn't have to pay. We paid some of the charge, but guest services were happy to reduce it for us.
The ocean is a beautiful place and I feel Carnival does have a responsibility and genuine care for the environment. General reminders through the loud speaker reminded guests not to litter into the ocean and the recommended the reuse of towels in the staterooms.
I will cruise again with Carnival, hopefully sooner than later. It was an enjoyable experience and a lot of fun. Bon Voyage!
is an English Teacher, Registered Yoga Teacher, writer, journalist, former Scholastic Inc. Blogger, aspiring entrepreneur, and founder of The Writers App.