We arrived early in the morning to MIA on the day of our 7/2/06 cruise on Elation. My advice is to skip the shuttle that Carnival runs and just take a taxi to the port. It was a set fare of $24 and we arrived ahead of all the big groups. We were among the first 20 people in line to board the ship. Check in was easy and we waited for about an hour and a half before they let us on the boat. We got on at around noon I believe, which was way earlier than the expected 1:30 embarkation.
I have cruised many times before on a number of cruise lines. This was my 3rd time with Carnival. From what I had encountered prior to the Elation sailing, I did not have high expectations for cruises in general. I think the quality and value for your money has decreased dramatically over the years.
We ate lunch at Tiffany's and then went to our room, which was on the Empress Deck. The room was a nice size with a comfortable bed and linens. The main thing that annoyed me was the smell of SEWAGE. I had read other passenger's reviews about Elation and they mentioned the same thing. It was not very fun to come back to your room every night and smell this. I also noticed that other parts of the ship smelled bad. For those of you booking rooms under the galley--ours was underneath and the noise was only really loud at about 5am when you could hear loud carts rolling and pots clanging. I slept pretty well even with this. The down comforters and feather pillows are very nice!