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- #1Carnival Cruise Line#1 in Best Cruises from Jacksonville
Introduced in 1998 and most recently updated in 2017, Carnival Elation holds 2,130 passengers and 920 crew members. Cruisers can choose from Interior, Ocean View, Balcony and Suite category rooms, all of which offer flat-screen TVs and 24-hour room service. Recent passengers said that while the ship is clearly older, rooms are clean and well-maintained.
Beyond the cabins, entertainment options now include the WaterWorks water park, as well as 2014 updates like the Punchliner Comedy Club, a piano bar and the Seuss at Sea program. Kids can take part in one of the ships age-appropriate youth clubs, while grown-ups can head to the adults-only Serenity Retreat or sip a cocktail at one of the ship's bars or lounges. Guests aged 21 and older can even pour their own beers at any time of the day at the Beer Station.
When it's time to eat, passengers have multiple dining options to choose from, including Lido Restaurant, BlueIguana Cantina, Guy's Burger Joint and a three-course main dining room. Although Carnival Elation is by no means intimate, past cruisers agree that the crew members – from the wait staff to the room stewards – are especially friendly and accommodating.
- #2Carnival Cruise Line#2 in Best Cruises from Jacksonville
Built in 1991, the Carnival Ecstasy is one of Carnival's oldest and smallest ships, carrying 2,056 passengers and 920 staff. The ship's most recent dry dock in 2017 updated the carpeting and wall coverings in a number of public spaces. The renovation prior to that gave the ship some "Fun Ship 2.0" upgrades, such as an onboard water park and the Punchliner Comedy Club. Other interactive and family-friendly entertainment options include Hasbro, The Game Show and a mini-golf course. While parents can enjoy the Serenity Adult-Only Retreat and the piano bar, children ages 2 to 17 can participate in programs specialized for their ages. Recent guests note that the pool is pretty small, so it can be difficult to find a spot unless you head out early.
When it's time to eat, guests can choose from a variety of options, including the new-for-2017 Guy's Burger Joint, BlueIguana Cantina and more. Lodging choices range from Interior staterooms (185 square feet) to Grand Suites with extended balconies (445 square feet). No matter which stateroom you choose, all accommodations offer flat-screen TVs and 24-hour room service. Those who splurge on Suites will find extra perks, such as VIP check-in, minibars and large balconies.
Disclaimers about ship ratings: A ship’s Health Rating is based on vessel inspection scores published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If a ship did not receive a CDC score within 22 months prior to the calculation of its Overall Rating, its Health Rating appears as N/A; in such a case, the ship’s Overall Rating is calculated using the average Health Rating of all CDC-rated ships within the cruise line. All ship Traveler Ratings are based on ratings provided under license by Cruiseline.com.