My wife and I have cruised over 10 times. Our favorite lines are Disney and Celebrity.
Embarkation: We arrived about 11:30AM and were onboard within 55 minutes. We were through security and check-in within 15 minutes. The rest of the time was spent waiting to board. They started boarding around 12:00PM. We were given zone 13 to board. We boarded by 12:30PM. If we would have showed up a little later we would have been on in no more than 30 minutes. I noticed during the lifeboat drill at 3:30PM passengers were boarding very quickly. We sailed promptly at 4:00PM. The rooms were ready at 1:30PM. They keep the doors from the stairwells to your rooms closed until 1:30PM. Horatio's was crowded during that first meal but that is to be expected since everyone is stuck there waiting for their rooms to be ready.
Food: We were assigned the 8:15PM seating in the MDR. We went to the 3rd floor Matre d to ask for your time dining (YTD) and he switched us immediately. It was wonderful since we were a party of 2. We went 4 nights to dinner in the MDR and showed up between 5:45 and 6:00PM. We were seated immediately at a table for two. Service was the best we have ever had on any cruise line. Dinner was almost exactly one hour long. Very efficient and the waiters are not too busy if you show up early. I am guessing that it would be longer at 7PM when the YTD area is full. We really enjoyed the lobster and prime rib on the first formal night. Other favorites were the filet mignon, tiger shrimp, and chocolate melting cake. My wife enjoyed the soups also. I have never done YTD dining before but will definitely do it again unless I have a group larger than 4.
Horatio's was comparable to most cruise lines for a buffet on the Lido deck. We really enjoyed the deli sandwiches, especially the reuben. The Chinese was good and we had no problem finding something to eat. We did not have the pizza or do the steakhouse. I really like that they do their chocolate buffet during the day. I remember having to wake the kids up at midnight to take them to the chocolate buffet. This is much better.
Cabin: We had an extended deck balcony 7227. James, our cabin steward, did a fine job keeping the room clean and well stocked. The only issue with the cabin is that it was cold the first and the last sea day. I asked the cabin steward what we can do about it and he offered blankets. He said there was no heat and I believe him. My wife likes a warm room so I put towels in the air conditioning vents to reduce the breeze. I also used a piece of tape to hold the hair dryer switch to the on position. I would run the hair dryer every so often to help warm up the room.
Weather: We cruised 17 Jan 2013 out of New York. I expected cold weather. The first day at sea was quite cold. We like to walk for about an hour each day. We had hat, gloves and sweat shirts on to keep warm. We went down to deck three and used the outside area to walk. It is protected more than deck 10 from the wind when it is windy and cold. Day 2 at sea was much milder. Maybe 65 degrees. The three ports were 70 to 80. Day 6 at sea was colder than day 2. We were cruising into the wind and a major cold front had hit the East Coast. The Captain said it was 59 degrees but it felt a lot colder due to the wind chill. The Day 7 at sea was very bitter. 40 knot winds and spitting snow. No one wanted to go outside. We used the treadmills in the gym to walk. The Miracle rides remarkably well even in high seas. Even with 40 knot winds the ship barely moves. It was quite smooth the entire cruise.
Entertainment: We enjoyed the entertainment. The main shows were well done. We enjoyed the guitar players and bands around the ship. Cory is a great cruise director-- one of the best we have experienced. One strange thing is they had the same three movies playing all week on your TV. They changed them on Friday our last day at sea. So we had 7 days to watch "The Three Stooges" if we wanted. I can see them leaving the same movie on two days at the most. The comedy club is enjoyable. We especially enjoyed the family comedy. One of the 4 comedians was not very funny.
Free Internet: I was able to get free internet in Nassau at the port. The Festival Place shopping place you are forced to walk through after leaving the ship has a decent speed free connection.
In Freeport there is a bar in the port called Sparky's. I bought a coke for $2.00 and they give you a password on the receipt for free internet. It has decent speed.
Disembarkation: We used the self-assist disembarkation. We were off in 45 minutes with long lines for customs on and off the ship. There were two chances to meet with customs. We were off by 9am caught a cab to LGA and were to the airport by 9:30am.
Overall Impression: We really enjoyed sailing on the Miracle. It is a well-run ship. The crew is friendly and hard working. It was very rare to see dishes left on the tables at Horatio's. They are always cleaning and fixing things out on the decks. It looks well- worn in some areas; our room had the curtains not hanging correctly--hanging off of the curtain rod. Leather couches in the rooms and shower curtains also are worn. The main passenger areas still look good. They washed our balcony twice during an 8 day cruise. We sailed on the Splendor last September and enjoyed the Miracle much more. The Miracle is a much better design. You can go front to back on floors 2 & 3 without the issue of a restaurant in the middle. The number of passengers is perfect so it only feels crowded on the Miracle in Horatio's at certain times. The Splendor has long lines for many things due to the larger number of passengers. We live in Denver, so we are excited that the Miracle is coming to the West Coast. My wife has not been a big fan of Carnival but is coming around. They are not Disney but a good product for the price.
We would definitely sail on the Miracle again