This was the first cruise for my husband and 2 teenage sons. It was my third cruise, but first with Carnival. We flew into Tampa from Michigan the day before the cruise, and stayed at an absolutely terrible motel. We were hoping that this would not set the tone for the rest of the vacation. Fortunately, it did not.
Embarkation was a little lengthy. The Miracle could not return to her regular port, as there was a vessel impeding entry, so we all had to be bussed to a different port. The lines were long, as was the wait, but we were very excited about the cruise, so none of us let it ruin our day.
When we made it onto the ship, we checked out our cabin first. It was much bigger than we expected, and there was plenty of room for all four of us. The bed was comfortable, and the bedding was very nice.
We chose late seating for dinner, which we really liked. However, our boys only joined us for dinner one time, as they had too much going on with the other teens on board. We learned that early seating is probably better if you are traveling with kids, but late seating worked out very well for the two of us. The food was awesome. Both our waiter and assistant waiter were great.
We never ran out of things to do on the ship. We made it to most of the shows,and although they weren't perfect, they kept us entertained.
The boys went to a couple of the activities put on by Carnival, but most of the time they just 'hung out' with the new friends they made on board. We saw them sitting in Horatio's, visiting with their friends, a number of times.
The service overall was very good. The golf pro that was on board, we found to be rude and inconsiderate. The other staff was usually friendly and helpful.
We did not book any of our shore excursions through Carnival, thanks to the advise of many members on these boards. Our first port was Grand Cayman, and we did a snorkel/stingray adventure with Captain Bryan. It was excellent. There was a small group of us on a 50ft catamaran. We saw the bigger groups from the cruise ships, and were very glad to be in our much smaller, more personalized group. I am so glad that we swam with the stingrays. It is something we will never forget.
In Cozumel we did not participate in any excursions. We walked all day, and visited the shops. We bought several items, and picked up Kahlua for $9 for the large bottles. We had a lot of fun.
In Belize we did the Xtreme cave tubing. It was a blast. Once again, we were in a much smaller group than the people with the cruise lines. We had an excellent meal after tubing, at a little shack that was located right at the tubing site. The food was excellent.
In Costa Maya, we didn't do any excursions. We rented golf carts for a couple of hours and drove down to a fishing village where we bought a few things and did some sight-seeing. When we got back to the port area, we sat around the swim-up bar, had a couple of beers, and relaxed in the sun. Overall, we had a great day.
Disembarkation was fast and easy. We found our bags, got through customs very quickly, and boarded a bus to the airport without any problems.
We had a wonderful time, and would recommend the Miracle to anyone. We had so much fun that we have already booked another cruise for next January, and are hoping to take at least one a year! It was the best vacation we have had. We were able to totally relax, and we didn't worry about anything at home. I think we forget there even was a 'home'.