My husband (same-sex, we are a gay couple), my mother, and I cruised on the Miracle out of New York, bound for three ports of call in the Eastern Caribbean: San Juan, St. Thomas, and Grand Turk. We stayed in an Ocean Suite on the Empress Deck.
This was my third Carnival cruise and I must say, the Miracle was noticeably classier in its decor and easier to navigate than my past ships (Fantasy and Fascination). One of Carnival's greatest assets is its dedicated crew, who worked non-stop meeting all guests' needs without hesitation.
The Ocean Suite was fabulous with lots of space, a private balcony with chairs, a whirlpool tub, and vanity area.
Neither the crew nor the fellow passengers cared one bit that my husband and I were traveling together, that we were gay, etc. We felt totally safe and at ease with regard to this issue.
I spent an entire day at sea in the spa. The services were very good (teeth whitening, facial, and manicure), but somewhat overpriced. Every service also included a salespitch of this or that beauty product.
In fact, this is my only real issue with Carnival: every event turns into a salespitch. Alcohol is pushed in your face wherever you go (and this was very irritating to me since I don't drink). Bingo cards are $20 each. The Art auction is really a salespitch in disguise. Photos are taken every 5 seconds and then offered to you for sale. I understand that this whole cruise thing is a business, but my husband and I already paid thousands of dollars for our suite and shore excursions, and it just felt like too much at times. I spent a lot of time in the cabin and ordered room service for the first couple of days.
Nick and Nora's Steakhouse is EXCELLENT and well worth the $30 per passenger charge. I recommend the Surf and Turf.
Shopping is decent. There are two main stores, one upscale and one so-so. At the nicer store I got a few cute things, including a watch and lotions that I treasure as mementos from the trip. The other store basically peddles Carnival logo this-and-that.
All three ports of al call were beautiful: San Juan, St. Thomas, amd Grand Turk. But the people in St. Thomas generally had a "couldn't be bothered" attitude, and Grand Turk was much more charming and friendly. At least I thought so. San Juan was classically elegant and pleasant. We went on the walking tour.
Fellow cruisers were iffy. We met some nice people on the ship, but there were also some odd ones, and just plain dirty ones. Some people took the time to look nice, but there were others who rolled out of bed each morning and strolled into Horatio's Dining Room still clad in their PJs and bedroom slippers. That was just inexcusable to me. There was also a crazy old lady who gave our family a lot of trouble, but I won't get into that. Talk about uncomfortable. Beyond. The "saving" of deck chairs was also a real issue and although signs were posted against the practice, Carnival did not enforce their policy of "no saving seats."
The comedians were absolutely terrible. Terrible to the point of uncomfortable. Terrible to the point that I donned sunglasses indoors out of embarrassment for everyone present. The ship is trying this new thing called a "comedy brunch," with George Lopez photos plastered here and there, but to be honest, the brunch would be better sans "comedy."
The DJs for bingo, games shows, and entertainment, however, were beyond amazing. One of the staff I found to be very witty and fun, and I ended up writing a customer compliment for him at the end of the cruise.
Nothing is perfect, and overall, the cruise was delightful and relaxing. I would travel the same route again with Carnival. They really make an effort to please, and it shows.