Carnivals Are Fun For Everyone
By Jane Cassie
Contributor to Travelink Publishing


"Step up to the microphone. Tell us your name, then strut your wonderful stuff," broadcasts our social host over the cruise ship's palatial sun-splashed decks. His quick Brit-wit captivates the audience and our twenty-four year old son, Kyle, steps into the limelight.

The men's hairy chest competition is just one of the many antics that our show-boat offspring gets a kick out of on this holiday, although he hardly matches up to his burly competitors even after taping one of my straggly hairpieces to his very barren chest. But he gets the applause, and he has fun trying. And that's what Carnival fun ships are all about.

Coming up with vacation ideas to satisfy our family of seven is challenging, and the old familiar saying you can't please all of the people all of the time, comes to mind when looking at holiday options. Ranging in age from twelve to twenty four, our five kids rarely agree on what and where the perfect vacation would be. Or at least they hadn't until we tried Carnival's seven-day 'Elation' cruise to the Mexican Riviera!

Four hours after bidding adios to our hometown, Vancouver, we are aboard our luxurious hotel at sea and amidst numerous smiling Carnival hosts who roll out the red carpet welcome. The ship's lavish six-story atrium, boasting a Greek Mythology theme with an artistic blend of copper and glitzy gems, prompts a unanimous, "Wow," and glass enclosed elevators escalate to spacious quarters, entertainment venues, a glittery casino, and loads of activities for one glorious week.

Even before unpacking, our youngest son, Dan, is whisked away to frolic in supervised activities with other like-minded cruisers at the children's program, Camp Carnival while teen voyagers travel by the pack to organized pastimes like 'teen hang,' late-night movies, and Virtual World where they are challenged by the latest hi-tech electronic games. While Dan is scavenger hunting, and testing out his favourite pool's waterslide, his oldest brother, 'Mr. Congeniality' is participating in the various capers hosted by the jovial Cruise Director, Simon Prendergast.

And when not competing for the knobbiest knees or stringing the audience along in 'What's my Line,' he and his siblings might be found playing shuffleboard or ping-pong. In fact, during the entire seven days, we never hear, "There's nothing to do," or "Can I have more money?" It's obvious that our younger cruisers love doing as they please, without being joined at our hips. Quite frankly, we think it's pretty cool too!

While my husband, Brent, maintains his early morning jog around the Sports Deck track, I have great aspirations of 'doing' gym every day in an effort to maintain my pre-boarding body weight. Although spoiled by top of the line equipment and knowledgeable instructors who could probably climb Mount Everest, I realize after just a few Carnival meals that this goal is pretty much unattainable. The Nautica spa soon calls out my name and I head next door for some real pampering.

She knows how and where to apply each movement -along my back, up my neck and to the base of my scalp where tension resides. And as Enya melodies meld with Aromatherapy, I drift off into la-la-land, somewhere between heavenly bliss and Nirvana, hoping that this euphoria will last longer than my massage session. Its memory (and desire for more) certainly does.

The individual freedom is great but we enjoy family time too. In addition to the Mexican port stops of Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Cabo, at least three times daily we are assured to reunite. If there is one thing that our kids all have in common, it's that they never miss a meal.

Although formal seating is available, we prefer to sleep a little later and have 'breakfast at Tiffany's,' where bountiful buffets start each day. Later by the pool, the Seaview Bistro and twenty-four hour pizzeria fills the lunchtime gap, and in the evening, dressed in more elegant attire, we dine on The Imagination's exquisitely presented cuisine. Even though we keep our Indonesian server, Frangky, hopping for the entire week, a few of our family members still manage to find room for the extravagant midnight buffets!

The evening entertainment including musicians, comedians and two top-notch Vegas-style revues are highlights. As we wait patiently from our balcony viewpoint to enjoy one last performance, there is a sudden stirring in the audience from the lower level. We look over the rail just in time to see a multitude of arms rise up in row-by-row succession. In mass they follow Kyle's instructions as he walks across the stage, and the 'wave' starts to flow from one side of the Mikado Theatre to the other. That's our son, the show-boat kid, with just one last antic to finish off his fun-filled week.

Photos: Andy Newman, Carnival Cruise Line



If You Go:

Carnival Cruise Lines
For reservations call direct:
1-800-CARNIVAL
Website: www.carnival.com


Alaska Airlines:
Provides a selection of daily direct flights from Vancouver to Los Angeles.
For Reservations call direct:
1-800-252-7522
Website: www.alaskaair.com

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