Carnival Elation: 'Dramatic, Not Overpowering'

MIAMI -- With their flashing neon lights, vibrant palette and special effects, Carnival's Fantasy-class ships -- a series introduced beginning with the Fantasy in 1990 -- usually cause passengers to drop their jaws and say "Wow!"

The Elation may elicit this response, but at the same time it takes the tone of its siblings down a bit.

The change is evident upon entering the atrium of the latest "Fun Ship."

Here passengers will find a richly decorated setting with lots of copper panels and inlaid wood. There are plenty of lights, but, unlike earlier vessels, the Elation's lights are designed more to ping than to pong. And there is no giant sculpture dominating the atrium space here, but rather a lobby bar with a white piano.

Carnival's Elation

This newest Carnival ship, the line's interior design architect Joe Farcus said, is meant to be "quite dramatic but not overpowering."

Farcus said the toned-down nature reflects a change in how he personally looks at designing rather than any sort of dictation by the line.

He was 32, he explained, when he started designing for Carnival. He's now 53. "Experience gives one a certain kind of basis to move from," he said.

The Elation becomes the largest ship to be home-ported in Los Angeles.

Those who fear crowds will be pleased to find the megaship offers its 2,000-plus passengers a variety of spaces, including quiet nooks and crannies. Still, the ship is geared toward the mass market and will not be everyone's cup of tea.

Farcus uses "expensive materials." But he uses so many of them and in such a big way it's sometimes hard to tell.

His basic theme for the decor of the Elation is the muses of Greek and Roman myth-ology, with rooms and accouterments paying tribute to creators and their creations.

The ship introduces several design changes from the earlier Fantasy-class ships -- the Fantasy, Inspiration, Imagination, Fascination, Sensation and Ecstacy. Some, like the lobby bar, are inspired by offerings on the larger (100,000 tons) and well-received Carnival Destiny, introduced in 1996.

The Elation adds to the earlier design of the Fantasy-class ships a longer bar area near the casino, featuring a "street performer" on an elevated stage; an expanded Promenade cafe, called the Musical Cafe, which serves speciality coffees, pastries and ice cream, and a Virtual Reality World game area.

And in a nod to the West Coast crowd, Farcus also added a small food-service area next to the atrium that serves as a sushi bar.

Children's World on the Elation also was inspired by the popularity of that expanded offering on the Destiny.

As on the larger ship, it is located here in a prominent space on the Sports Deck, where the kids get a great view of the main swimming pool and a whole wall of computers to play with.

The area that houses the children's playroom on the earlier ships, located off the dining room, is used on the Elation to introduce Carnival's first dedicated conference space.

As on its sibling ships, the standard cabins on the Elation are a good size but are very simple in their design, appearing to be more of a place to sleep than to hang out. Suites are spacious, and 54 suites and demi-suites include balconies.

On the engineering front, the Elation boasts a new propulsion system, Azipod, that among other things cuts down on noise and vibration.

The Elation is not without some of Carnival's trademark "Wow!" rooms, the most obvious being the Jekyll & Hyde Dance Club. Farcus said the design of the disco reflects "dark and light, good and evil."

The room is decorated with eight-foot-tall red and white robot-like sculptures with glowing eyes and swiveling heads that move in unison to the music's tempo. They blow puffs of smoke from their mouths and have monitors in their bellies that display music videos.

The room's tables are shaped like faces, and the chairs look like giant, red tongues.It's a space clearly designed for serious partying.

A room of a different sort is the delightful Duke's, a piano bar designed to tickle the funny bone with its bar made to look like piano keys and New York icons, including the Statue of Liberty, Empire State Building and Brooklyn Bridge.

The main lounge on the Elation is Japanese-inspired, simply because Farcus said he has never done a room like that.

The Mikado lounge takes its name from the Gilbert and Sullivan play. The room features screens of handmade rice paper, Japanese fabric and black marble with gold inlay, all adding to an environment that's very elegant and understated.

Featured in the Mikado are two original shows: "Spin!," a tour of musical genres across the U.S., and "Rhythm!," a tribute to diverse musical styles, including George Gershwin, Cole Porter and Sergio Mendes.

Like its sister ships, the Elation features plenty of wooden deck space and a large outdoor entertainment area that includes three pools, a spiral water slide and six whirlpools. And the large Nautica Spa offers here, like on the other ships, state-of-the-art exercise equipment and Steiner beauty services.

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI