Carnival Sparkles with Nighttime Fun
By Jane Cassie
Contributor to Travelink Publishing

Sunshine glistens off waves like strands of precious gems, and I shade my eyes from their blinding reflection until the sun melts into the horizon.

Salty breezes brush my face but they don't force me to retreat into the interior of our cruising oasis. In fact, I am rooted to the deck rail while my husband lovingly wraps his arms around me. No, it's not a scene out of The Titanic or anything close to the academy award-winning love story that sailed into the heart of many a moviegoer. But after each day of fun-filled activity with our five children, we cherish these precious moments, together and alone, as a prelude to the nighttime entertainment on Carnival's cruiser, the Elation.

After sharing time with the vast surrounding Pacific, we retreat to the Mark Twain Library where, from within its steamboat motif, richly upholstered settees and cherry wood furnishings offer places to enjoy a game of scrabble. Glass and brass light fixtures atop Victorian-style pillars are reminiscent of the gaslight era and they cast a soft illumination while others read.

After departing this sanctuary, we peer down from within the magnificent seven-deck-high atrium to see our eldest son, Kyle, socializing with other passengers at the lower level piano bar over a pre-theatre cocktail, where classical music sophisticates the setting. Our twenty-one year old daughter will be joining him or will be trying her hand at 'Lady Luck,' in the Moroccan-inspired Casablanca casino on a neighboring deck. And the others are undoubtedly at their favourite haunt, Virtual World, challenging each other at the latest virtual reality games.

When it's show time, our family regroups to enjoy some fabulous evening entertainment in the elegant Mikado theatre. Decked out with oversized fans and rice paper walls, the effective décor pays homage to Gilbert and Sullivan's popular operetta set in Imperial Japan. We have our choice of comfy booths and cushy chairs where views are provided, thanks to its multi-leveled layout.

In addition to well-known comedians and musicians during the week, we see two exceptional high-energy Las Vegas-style revues, complete with a cast of talented singers and dancers. Our youngest, Dan, is held spellbound by glitzy elaborate sets, special effects and glamorous gals in both the Rhythm and Spin shows.

Following the performance, the night is still young, and we are directed to various themed lounges and live entertainment venues by detailed torched wall sconces that ignite Elation's Way on the Promenade Deck.

Before heading off in different directions, we stop for a drink at Duke's funky piano bar. In honor of renowned jazz musician, Duke Ellington, this scaled down model of New York sparkles in architectural creativity. Twinkling lights illuminate the Brooklyn Bridge as it stretches from skyscrapers and the Empire State Building to the floor-to-ceiling model of the Statue of Liberty. And a circular keyboard wraps around the live pianist as he plays all of our requests.

Jekyll and Hyde Dance Club, offers state-of-the-art sound system and special lighting effects that later attract our younger dancing denizens. Inspired from the famous one hundred and twelve-year-old tale, it also hosts a parade of eight-foot tall sculptures that convey good and evil aspects of their dual personalities. Split faces, ever-shifting eyes and occasional puffs of smoke from their mouths combine with flashing neon colours and a glittering dance floor to keep this a hopping happening spot. While our teenagers finish off their day here (or start their night) the others are just around the corner, pulled up to the Drama bar, where guitarist 'David' shares his renditions of favourite pop hits. From his massive repertoire of tunes, he can pick a pretty mean guitar to just about any request.

Before retiring to spacious quarters where gently rocking waves lull us into heavenly slumber, we gravitate to Cole Porter's and take in the midnight adult-oriented comedy special. En route, we stop in at Romeo and Juliet's where, from within its medieval setting, we waltz to a love song. Then we feel like Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet as we head back to our deck rail for one last look at the moon.

Photos: Andy Newman, Carnival Cruise Line

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