|Roast lamb at the carving station on Lido Deck.|
I took a second cruise, this time aboard the Carnival Elation, the week of October 28 through November 2, 2013. This time, I chronicled not just what I ate but what my friends consumed and what was offered throughout the ship. I hope it's of value to you!
Do note: There are ~230 images in this article... so it may take a little time to load them all.
|Gluten-free bread made from grits. I was surprised to|
discover gluten-free offerings among the first food items I saw
on the ship.
|Dill pickle spears, sandwich station, Lido Deck.|
|Creamy Coleslaw, salad bar, Lido Deck.|
|Potato salad, salad bar, Lido Deck.|
|Ratattouille, Hot Buffet, Lido Deck, Embarkation Day.|
|Sugar cookies, dessert bar, Lido Deck.|
|Marinated eggplant (Lido Deck)|
|Ham at carving station (Lido Deck).|
|Roasted chickens at carving station (Lido Deck).|
|A chef handles a custom dish in a wok at the Mongolian Grill. I'm told the|
Mongolian Grill will be replaced by the BlueIguana Cantina -- a build-your-
own burrito and taco shop (Lido Deck).
|Grilled fish (healthy option) on the hot buffet (Lido Deck).|
|Penne ham on the hot buffet (Lido Deck).|
|Rosemary potatoes (Lido Deck).|
|Eggplant Mozzarella (Lido Deck).|
|Breadsticks (Lido Deck).|
|Cups on the Lido Deck.|
|Mango cheesecake on the dessert bar (Lido Deck).|
|Chocolate cake (Lido Deck).|
|Apple crumble (Lido Deck).|
|Pumpkin cupcake (Lido Deck).|
|Smoked salmon on bagel from the sandwich station. This is essentially|
the constructed form of ordering a double order of salmon and cream cheese
and a bagel from room service -- but grilled like a panini.
|The Elation has a Taste Bar, which features flavors from|
upcoming Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades. This was a tortilla
soup and pulled pork combination that will be featured
at the BlueIguana Cantina.
|Yay for the Taste Bar crew!|
|Soft drinks and juices can be purchased for consuming in the main dining|
room, along with alcoholic beverages. Hot or iced tea, water and coffee are
complimentary. I was very ready for this hot cup of orange tea with dinner.
|Lasagna Bolognese from the main dining room. There are two dining rooms|
aboard Elation -- the Inspiration and the Imagination. My friends and I dined
in the latter on Your Time Dining.
|Cream of Garden Fresh Broccoli soup with aged white Cheddar.|
|Spinach and artichoke dip.|
|The dip is served with thin tortilla chips.|
|Smoked Hudson Valley Duck Breast, served on Thai glass noodle salad.|
The noodles were great -- the grapefruit was a little odd but fresh.
|Beef and barley soup with diced root vegetables.|
|Chicken a la grecque... a pesto-broiled chicken breast served atop pasta|
in tomato sauce.
|One of my favorites from the Triumph, the Cinnamon Pumpkin, Squash, Yam|
and Cheddar Pie, was on the first night's menu. Still a winner, too.
|An inside view of the pie.|
|One of my dining companions loves escargot. That'd be Grav Weldon, my|
photographer. He ordered and consumed four dishes of escargot.
|Tender braised beef brisket in gravy served with roasted vegetables and|
|The famed Chocolate Melting Cake, served with ice cream and a chocolate|
|The cheese plate is offered as a finishing dish to all evening dining room|
meals. The cheeses include port salut, brie, gouda, swiss and Danish bleu
cheeses served with fresh seasonal fruits.
|Black forest gateaux -- one of my favorites, chocolate cake and cherry cream.|
|The bucket may not be fancy, but champagne on ice with glasses is|
a welcome gift. It can be ordered when you get on the ship or before. You
can even order it for someone else -- even if you're not on the cruise -- through
the Carnival.com website.
|The crew was already putting out breakfast. Here are individual ramekins|
of butter and strawberry butter.
|The cereal line.|
|A poached egg.|
|The overall breakfast with toast, coffee and tomato juice.|
|While Grav and I don't drink, our companions do, and|
this is a traditional strawberry daiquiri.
|Fresh hot bread is offered at each lunch and dinner in the dining room,|
usually baguettes like these, sometimes studded with caraway seeds.
|Caribbean Pepper Pot soup.|
|This is a lunch portion, Mongolian Steak Salad.|
|I was surprised that the vegetable fajitas came already assembled.|
|Another view of the veggie fajitas.|
|Back on the Lido Deck: Stuffed Cornbread.|
|Baked fish on the hot buffet (Lido Deck).|
|Cheese pizza from the 24 hour pizza station.|
|Key lime pies.|
|When we returned to our room, we discovered these chocolate covered|
"tuxedo" strawberries waiting for us.
|Our dapper maitre d' on formal night.|
|With 10,000 meals served each day on the ship, there's always fresh bread|
and butter. It's a small thing, but a wonderful thing, too.
|The Didja Ever dish on formal night was spicy alligator fritters -- I|
happened to catch the wrong side of the plate for this one. That's a
fritter on the left side. Kinda like hush puppies.
|Grav got a better shot of the Alligator Fritters.|
|I was far more about the baked stuffed wild mushrooms with spinach, romano|
cheese and herbs. Served up similarly to the previous night's escargot,
these are tasty little morsels in a sea of CHEESE.
|Strawberry bisque -- a chilled creamy strawberry soup with just a touch of|
mint. I love the chilled soups served on Carnival ships.
|But I preferred this -- the delectable West Indian roasted pumpkin soup.|
It has a chicken base and a delicious swig of cinnamon and cumin throughout.
This is comfort food.
|The star of the night, though, was the lobster tail atop roasted shrimp. I was|
going to abstain, but I was talked into it. The group of four at the table next to
ours ordered and consumed 11 tails.
|That's all fine and good, but this was my favorite of the night: zucchini and|
eggplant parmigiana. Then again, I am always a sucker for any dish that
combines my favorite fruit (tomatoes) and vegetables.
|My companions look forward to formal night just for this:|
Bitter and Blanc. It's a black and white bread pudding that's
rich and full of texture, which comes with its own custard.
|I would love the recipe for this fantastic creation.|
|Did I mention that the wait staff dances? There's a new dance every night.|
|The cherries jubilee are fired before they come to the table. This cuts down|
on fire risk. But there's a distinct temperature difference.
|A poached herbed tuna hor d'oerve.|
|A tiny ham sandwich.|
|This is a Yellowbird... a combination of rum,|
Galliano, creme de banana, pineapple juice
and orange juice.
|Not all of the delights on the menu come with the cruise. This Swedish Apple|
Cake is one of the featured premium pastries at the coffee bar.
|These large soft chocolate chip cookies are also among the offerings.|
|Roast turkey on the Lido Deck.|
|Tiramisu, as presented on the Lido Deck. This is my favorite Lido Deck|
|Baked redfish (Lido Deck).|
|I discovered that most of the chefs and wait staff|
aboard the Elation loved mugging for the camera.
|Cheesecake (Lido Deck).|
|Black Cherry Crumble (Lido Deck).|
|Coconut cake (Lido Deck).|
|Turkey dressing (Lido Deck).|
|A whole sheet of cheesecake (Lido Deck).|
|Grav captured this shot of Lido chef Arnauhd when he|
came out to speak to us on the back deck. He's been a
chef for 32 years -- 11 of those years with Carnival.
|American Navy Bean Soup in the Imagination Dining Room.|
|Fantasy of fresh tropical fruit and berries.|
|There are two versions of shrimp and fries on this evening's menu... one|
is an appetizer served with plum sauce, the other is this. The panko-style
breading tastes a bit like Doritos.
|A dish I first encountered on the Triumph: cured salmon|
and candied tomatoes, served with cheese crackers.
|Another view. It's an interesting dish, and pretty to photograph.|
|I decided to try something from the everyday menu and went with the flat-|
iron steak. Served with root vegetables and mashed potatoes, this is a
fine hunk of meat.
|See what I mean?|
|The grilled chicken served over fettuccine with mushroom|
cream. As you can see, the extra cheese is liberally applied.
|Grav thought this jerked pork loin was incredible. That's a fried plantain|
chip on top. The coconut fried rice is also supposed to be extraordinary.
|Seared fillet of redfish with yam and pumpkin hash and green beans.|
|This is the largest Chile Relleno I have ever seen. It bore the appearance of|
a battered and fried Chihuahua... it was huge!
|And it was quite tasty.|
|And then there's the Indian Vegetarian -- which is a huge presentation of three|
pots of curried vegetables, a couple of chutneys, raita and rice with a papadum.
|Tiramisu is also served in the dining rooms in its more traditional form. One|
of my dining companions said this was the best thing she'd ever put in her
mouth... though I may be taking a little liberty with that quote.
|Still, there is something to be said for the perfection of warm apple pie|
served with ice cream. I've eaten my share of pie, and this was divine.
|On the Lido Deck, there was this -- apple panetone. I was shocked Grav|
has never encountered this delight before. Unlike the tall ones Giada
DeLaurentis shows off on Food Network, this was a traditional
version in a big flat disk.
|A cross-cut shot of apple panetone.|
|Cinnamon rolls made from thinly rolled buttery pastry.|
|The peanut butter and jelly station. The Triumph had this out all the time|
at the sandwich station, even when said station was closed. This one only
appeared when the hot buffet was open on the Elation.
|Lido Deck breakfast food. This one's sausages and onions.|
|Miniature breakfast quiche.|
|Another coffee bar creation -- a premium cupcake. Wow.|
|I have been dreaming of this chilled creamy bing cherry soup ever since|
I got off the boat.
|Part of the everyday menu, the shrimp cocktail comes with a dollop of|
cocktail sauce, lemon and vegetable garnishes. I have seen someone sit
down and eat six of these in one sitting.
|I was happily pleased by the Chicken Tenders in Thai Spices. Just a touch|
spicy... and perfect with that little curl of cucumber.
|And this is a potato.|
|Potatoes come to the table baked and unopened. A steward will come with|
all the necessary additions you'd like -- sour cream, cheese, chives, and
plenty of bacon. Butter is of course already on the table.
|From the everyday menu -- southern fried chicken with mashed potatoes,|
gravy and the steamed vegetables of the day -- in this case, broccoli. Eka,
my waitress for the night, also brought ketchup.
|Couldn't you just put her in your pocket and take her|
home? She was precious.
|The comfort food item of the day, bacon mac and cheese. It's macaroni|
tossed with aged cheddar cheese and bacon, topped with a grilled
chicken breast and more bacon.
|And the blackened supreme of spring chicken, complete with the same|
potatoes and spinach souffle as came with the chateaubriand.
|Since we were dining on Halloween, different dishes were served for|
dessert. This was a pumpkin cheesecake. A chocolate rum ball is under that
|And this murder of a dish is a cinnamon and chili infused chocolate cake.|
Other options included the chocolate melting cake and ice cream.
|On the Lido Deck, Pasta Eggplant.|
|Several of the dishes on the main menu are separately interpreted in Lido|
dining each evening. Here, fried fish.
|Steak, medium rare.|
|And lamb roast at the carving station.|
|On the dessert bar, caramelized banana cake...|
|and pumpkin pie.|
|Chocolate cookie cake (I am assuming chocolate cake with cookies rather|
than a chocolate cookie-filled cake).
|Cappuccino cream. In the main dining rooms they offer a cappuccino pie|
the same night.
|From Lido's salad bar: tomato pepper relish. This is yummy.|
|Rice and tofu lemon pepper.|
|Grits capers and gramflour bread, gluten-free.|
|Marvelous cupcakes from the coffee bar.|
|Turkey and cheese panini from the sandwich station.|
|Carnival still does some midnight buffets on the Lido deck. On Halloween.|
there was a great Mexican fiesta buffet to celebrate Dios de la Mort. Here's
the avocado salsa.
|Pickled jalapeno peppers.|
|Mango pineapple salsa.|
|Fresh tomato salsa.|
|Sour cream "salsa."|
|Vegetable chimichangas -- these were excellent!|
|Crispy potato sopes with goat cheese and herb salad. I could|
eat 20 of these.
|Creamy enchiladas with salmon, tomatoes and green chiles.|
|Black bean and chicken tostada with salsa and romaine.|
|This would qualify as an "assorted|
dessert" -- three layers of gelatin.
|Two layers of chocolate and cherry|
|A colossal strawberry stack cake.|
|The full Mexican buffet was something incredible to behold -- not just for|
the variety of color and selection, but for the carved fruits. Melons and
pumpkins were carved into all sorts of crazy things.
|This one was my favorite -- a massive ceremonial head with headdress.|
|English trifle in a handy cup.|
|After the Mexican Fiesta at midnight, I decided to sleep in and instead get|
room service. My companion wanted cheesecake -- and this is what it
|Vegetable sticks and dip, room service.|
|Cookies from room service.|
|Tuna salad sandwich and potato salad.|
|On the fun day at sea coming back from Cozumel, a chocolate buffet was|
advertised for lunch for the Lido Deck. The first item I found was this:
sugar rocks. Well, go big or go home, right?
|Chocolate orange peel.|
|A trio of mousse in cups.|
|Delicate swans packed with scoops of ice cream -- this one is vanilla|
with chocolate sauce.
|And this one's vanilla with strawberries.|
|Somehow I missed out on the name of this pretty salad on the salad|
bar. I'm sure someone will let me know.
|Apple pecan spinach salad.|
|Another apple pecan salad.|
|Cheese and onion rolls.|
|Hot dogs are available for any breakfast and lunch.|
|Lunch on our sea day in the dining room -- antipasto plate with ham, salmon,|
tomatoes and olives plus buffalo mozzarella.
|Chilled orange sory with tapioca beads.|
|A typical dinner salad with blue cheese dressing.|
|This one's a real hit -- it's called Hay and Straw and it's egg fettuccine and|
spinach fettuccine in a simple tomato and herb sauce.
|The real winner at lunch? Chinese pepper steak with a dumpling.|
|The delightful Apple Hollander.|
We had great tour guides...
|Frank. He's from Georgia.|
|Barbi. She actually took our companions off and back|
on the ship for their back-to-back cruises. Sweet lady!
|Trepan is the master pastry chef on board.|
|Govino is the marvelous executive chef.|
|Catalin showed us the galley and answered our questions.|
We had a LOT of questions.
|This is a virgin pina colada. I am all|
about an alcohol-free fun drink!
|Our final night at sea started with soups. Two of my companions chose|
BOTH of the soups to start with -- including the gratinated onion soup,
which comes topped with a slice of fresh bread and both gruyere and
|This lead to a lot of "pull" shots. Grav loves these.|
|I chose to stick with the wild mushroom cream soup with fresh herbs.|
I chose wisely. I love this soup.
|A Study in Sushi. This is the only dish I had aboard the Elation that I|
preferred on the Triumph. But the tuna was marvelous.
|The penne mariscos -- shrimp, scallops and calamari in tomato sauce over|
|Vine ripe beefsteak tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella.|
|Try the veal. The veal parmigiana with tomato sauce was served with sliced|
zucchini and delicately gratin'd potatoes. We all ordered this.
|One more from the everyday menu -- the meatloaf, served with roasted|
onions, seasonal vegetables, mashed potatoes and gravy. A classic.
|And finally, the bourbon and honey glazed roasted spring chicken. Just|
look at that. Isn't that gorgeous?
|I remember when Baked Alaska was such an exotic and rare treat. You don't|
see it much these days, but the Carnival Elation has a wonderful version.
Strangely, it comes topped with chipped melon garnish.
|I chose the simple beauty of Amaretto cake for the last night's fare. This|
rich and nutty chocolate cake is just... perfect.
|Of course, the sweet fun was still going on up on Lido Deck -- with chocolate|
|There were even a few slices of random cheesecake to enjoy.|
|One offering we missed in main dining, the crab cake, was also offered|
at the hot buffet.
|As the night waned and the hour got late, a line formed at the 24 hour pizza|
station. Here's a mushroom pizza...
|and pepperoni, too.|
|The coffee bar still offered big soft cookies, like these chocolate chip ones|
|and soft white chocolate Macadamia ones, too.|
|A few more delights to share. If you have a sweet tooth that can't be|
satisfied anywhere else, there's candy in the provision shop.
|That's also where you order anniversary and birthday cakes, if you didn't|
order them before the cruise.
|And in case you were wondering, this is the full selection found behind|
The Drama Bar.
One more observation to share. Everywhere we went on the Elation, we were greeted by name by the crew. Moreso, the crew all seems to know each other and get along fantastically. Elation is a Fantasy class ship, which is one of the smaller ships Carnival sails these days -- but its crew is tight-knit and friendly. And they're fun. Look for this guy in the Imagination Dining Room during the dance numbers -- he's the one doing the pole dancing.
|That's my friend Terri posting with our|
Full disclosure: I paid for this trip... and for that of my companion. Carnival did provide me with internet time and with a tour of the ship's galley. We were surprised with a fruit basket, champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries during the trip that were placed in our room on various occasions. We were traveling with our friends who are Platinum status members, and were allowed to attend the Past Guest party as their guests. This piece is not an endorsement of Carnival Cruise Lines or the Carnival Elation but an honest article about what was encountered aboard. Any questions may be added to the comments below or sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.