Im a 49 year old male traveling with my 19 year old nephew. I choose the Elation because of its itinerary. I had already been to St Thomas, but not the other ports. My parents had been to Half Moon Cay several times and raved about it. San Juan appealed to me because of the history and Grand Turk because of the snorkeling.
We flew to Miami on the Friday before embarkation, rented a car, and stayed with a family friend. On Saturday we went to Shark Valley. Its part of the Everglades National Park and has nothing to do with sharks. Valley is a relative term as we learned on the tram tour. I had taken this tour before, but it is always interesting. We saw few birds this time and fewer alligators. Being the end of September its apparently too hot for most of the wild life and they either go elsewhere or take shelter. We did, however, see a number of deer, something that I hadnt previously encountered. The Shark Valley tram tour is a favorite of mine. If you like birds, alligators, or nature in general I highly recommend the trip.
On Sunday we dropped off the car and took the rental agencys shuttle to the port. It dropped us off right in front of the Elation. Driving in we saw the Freedom of the Seas, a beautiful but big ship. The Carnival Valor was docked nose to nose with the Elation. I tipped the baggage handler and we headed to the embarkation hall. This was around 12:10 PM, a little later than I had hoped.