One of my concerns with booking with Carnival was the ship would be overrun with noisy and unruly children and annoying college or high school age partiers. Thankfully, there weren't many children and no unruly people that we noticed. Briefly, I'll review some of the pros and cons of our trip.
Embarkation: It went really smoothly and we didn't wait nearly as long as I expected to. It was great to get to the ship early and get lunch at the buffet. We were exhausted from our wedding the day before so after lunch we took a very long and restful nap. When we woke up, our bags were delivered to our door.
Rooms: To save money, we booked and interior room. We loved it! The beds were SO comfortable and the room spacious. Because there were no windows, we slept like rocks and would wake up really refreshed. The steward did a nice job of keeping the room clean. However, she messed up every night on our flyer with the next days events. We either didn't get it our it was for the previous day. We complained but it never got better. We would have to go down to the pursers office to get the correct one every evening. It was our stewards last week on the ship before going home, so that might have been part of the problem, too. My only other issue with the room was there was no alarm clock. I know you can call for a wake up call, but it would have been nice to see the time without having to turn on the TV.
Food: The food was really good. If you are a fine dining snob, then most likely you'll find issue with some of the meals. However, for us, the food was wonderful and we really enjoyed trying new things. The buffet on the Lido deck was really good, even if it was really busy at times. The pizza is okay also but not to die for like other reviews have said.
Decor: I thought the decor was a little over the top. If you love Vegas and bright lights and loud colors, then you will love it. I was more in the mood for classical elegance and relaxation. My husband loved the Bacchus dining room with all of the purple lights, not because he thought they looked nice, but because he can't get over how hard it would have been to wire them all. In the stairwells, there are beautiful glass sculptures that you should definitely see.
Entertainment: We attended all of the shows that we could. For the most part, we really enjoyed them. The comedians were pretty good and the "Adults Only" comedy hour in the Mad Hatter was really funny. The dancing and singing shows were also better than expected. My only complaint is with the Cruise Director and his staff (Mark, Karl with a K, and Sam). They were over the top annoying. If the cruise was full of 8 year olds, then they would have been wonderful. However, it wasn't and I felt like they were insulting our intelligence by trying to get us to laugh at tripping on the stage and falling down.
Ports of Call and Excursions: We only booked 2 excursions during our trip. In Grand Cayman we booked the Carnival shore snorkel which was actually pretty good. My husband had never snorkeled before and it was a good training run. We snorkeled off the shore of a restaurant and swam out about 100 feet to a ship wreck. The guides were feeding the fish so there were tons of them swimming into you. The excursion was in the morning so we had time afterwards to eat lunch on the ship and shop the rest of the afternoon.
In Costa Maya we stayed at the port. We got off the boat early so we were able to get a cabana on the beach for free. We sat there all day and drank margaritas. It was very relaxing. We also did some shopping and got some nice trinkets.
In Cozumel, we took a cab ride to a free beach and spent the day there. Be warned, the cab drivers are crazy and drive REALLY dangerously. I don't think I will take a cab there again.
In Belize, we booked a cave tubing excursion with another company, Xtreme Cave Tubing. The excursion itself was wonderful, but we cut it really close to missing the last tender back to the ship. Had we broken a tire or axle for that matter (the road to the caves was the bumpiest and rockiest I have ever been on and the driver went 30 mph the whole time) we would not have made the ship. For some reason, the Miracle stays in Belize port the shortest amount of time which makes this excursion a little tight on time. I was told that other ships that stay in the port 2-3 hours longer allow plenty of time and less stress when booking with an non-Carnival excursion vendor.
Debarkation: Unfortunately, the trip did not end on a good note. The night before we went to a meeting telling us the custom regulations and what we had to do to re-enter the country. We were told by the Cruise Director that we had to meet the customs officials at 6 am in the morning to pay our duty on any alcohol we purchased. So, I crawled out of bed and waited in an enormous line to pay my dollar for 3 bottles of alcohol. Well, the customs officials were unsure on the rules and some were telling people you only had to pay if you had more than 6 bottles and others were saying you had to pay if you had more than 2 bottles. Finally after some passengers became upset over this lack of direction, the head custom guy said you only had to stay if you had more than 6 bottles. So, I got up early on my last day of vacation for nothing. Also, the at the meeting the night before, the cruise director informed us that we would be debarking at a different dock and would require a short bus ride back to the terminal to go through customs and retrieve our luggage. Well, the short bus ride ordeal turned into about an hour and a half delay in getting off of the ship and getting our bags. They had no organization at the terminal for the incoming buses from the ship and outgoing busses to the airport. The ride was no more than 15 minutes, but we were on the bus for an hour due to the traffic jam. For us it wasn't a big deal because our flight was in the afternoon, but I bet some people had to hustle to the airport. Then, to top it off, the customs officials never looked at anything and stood in a corner and drank coffee. For that huge hassle, I at least wanted it to be for a reason.
Overall, we had a very nice time on the Miracle. We will sail Carnival again, but probably not the Miracle as we want to explore other boats and ports of call.