Carnival Miracle - Western Caribbean: Carnival Miracle Cruise Review by Newcruiser
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Miracle - Western Caribbean
Destination: Western Caribbean
Travel To Port of Embarkation -- The Port of Tampa is very easy to navigate. I drove from Orlando, and I had no difficulties finding the port. Once you arrive at the Port, you will be greeted by porters who will take your bags through security. This is the last time you will see your bags for many hours so make certain that you pack a carry-on bag with swimsuits, medications, and essential toiletries. The porters in Tampa are a bit pushy, and even though they were given a tip consistent with tipping guidelines, they facially expressed their displeasure, which was an irritating way to start the cruising process. After the porters took our bags, we proceeded to the check-in More desk. The line was very short (less than a few minutes), and the staff at the check-in desk was very helpful. Then, we waited about ten minutes for our boarding group to be called. Once we boarded the ship, we immediately went to Horatios on Deck 9 for the buffet, which lasts until 3:30pm. It was a madhouse in Horatios as everyone who just boarded attempted to have lunch. I suggest arriving earlier than the 1:30pm time listed as the start of embarkation as many fellow cruisers reported that they were able to board the ship much earlier. Plus, many of the activities begin before 1:30pm.
Stateroom -- After eating lunch, we headed to our cabin. The cabin, though small, was bigger than I had expected. It was tastefully decorated, and it was always clean. Throughout our trip, our cabin steward changed our towels twice a day, and almost every night, we had some sort of towel creation on our bed. Be mindful of the warnings regarding the water temperature in the shower as it is easy to scald yourself. Hot water was almost always available for a shower, but there were a couple instances in which I was forced to wait five to ten minutes for warm water. My only complaint about the stateroom was the noise in the morning. We were located on the Riviera deck near the middle set of elevators. We must have been located next to a crew service area as every morning I awoke to loud talking and banging. However, I was never awoken by the anchor being lowered on port days. Also, if you are prone to sea sicknesses, the rocking on this deck was much less than the rocking on the upper decks. Ship Info -- As stated in other reviews, the ships decor is very loud and tacky. It is overwhelming visually and made it very difficult to get your bearings on the ship. The dining room is especially hideous with many pink bulbs, which are supposed to be grapes. I heard that the ship is smaller than other Carnival Ships, but I think that made it easier to maneuver. It was very easy to navigate the decks and find where you were heading. The wait for the elevators was long on embarkation day and following any shows.
Dining -- I was looking forward to the dining the most, and I was most disappointed with the food. The food at dinner was always presented beautifully, but it was hit or miss regarding whether the food actually tasted good. My best meal was the night I ordered a filet. You always have the option of ordering a filet or chicken if you do not like the entrees on the menu. I did that one night, and the filet was delicious. I wish I would have ordered the filet more often. Cappuccinos and espresso drinks are free at dinner so I suggest avoiding the charge at the coffee bar by waiting until dinner to have an espresso drink. The buffet at Horatios for breakfast and lunch was okay. There was plenty of variety, but the food was often bland. The crowds from the first day die down so it is now to chaotic when you eat at Horatios buffet. There is also a buffet grill at the pool if you want to stay outside. It appeared that this buffet typically hand hamburgers, hot dogs, and salad. A sushi bar is offered every evening from around 5pm to 8pm. The sushi was fantastic as Chef Larry always did a superb job. You can get as much as you want so I suggest loading up if you have a late dinner seating. This reminds of one last thing about dining. We chose the late dinner seating, and we were sat at a large round table. We met some wonderful people at this table, but because of the size of the table, dinner typically lasted for two hours.
Activities -- True to its name, Carnival is really the fun ship. There are numerous activities each day something different for everyones tastes. As a single person looking for fun people to enjoy the cruise with, my favorite activities were: The World Tour Pub Crawl Monday night The Beer and Bathrobes party Thursday night The comedy shows Daily performances by the band If you are single, I heard the speed dating on the first night was lame. We were exhausted so we did not go, but we were still able to meet the other singles on the cruise. Children's Clubs -- I do not have any children, but I heard from fellow cruisers that Camp Carnival ended at 12pm each day which made it difficult for the parents to go on shore excursions.
Service -- Overall, the service was stellar. However, many of the staff do not speak English well so sometimes they may not fully understand your request. The only really poor service that I received was Dr. Frankensteins club. The DJ was very rude, and he would not play requests. Plus, he played a horrible mix of music that typically left the dance floor empty.
Shore Excursions -- The shore excursions were my favorite part of the cruise. Although Carnival says that you should take their excursions so you will not be left behind, we never had any problems using private vendors. Grand Cayman we took Nativeways rays, reef, and rum point excursion and had a blast. There were about 30 people on our boat (more than expected), but the guides still managed to give personal attention. They made certain that we all had an opportunity to fold the stingrays and feed them. Then, we went on to snorkeling, which was a bit difficult because the water was rough that day. Rum Point was beautiful (maybe my favorite spot on the cruise). There are hammocks to use, and we received a tasty lunch as part of the excursion. It was a great way to wind down the day. One warning about the excursion you may get really wet on the way to stingray city. Make sure you put money and cameras in watersafe containers.
Cozumel Once again, the water was very rough so snorkeling excursions were cancelled. We went to Paradise Beach ($5 per person via shuttle), which was gorgeous. The water was too rough to use the water toys, but we enjoyed the lounge chairs and umbrellas. Servers will come around to take your drink orders. Although it is expected that you will buy something, no one is pushy. From there, we took a cab to downtown Cozumel. You can negotiate taxi prices (which wait at the beach) so bargain away! Shopping was a bit hectic as many people try to sell their wares. We found some good deals, but you will only be able to truly bargain with the street vendors. When buying in shops, be sure to ask about the cruise discount. After shopping, we headed to Carlos and Charlies, which was wild! I definitely recommend it, but not for children.
Belize In Belize, we used Greenwood Adventures (Major Tom) for our cave tubing. Apparently, Major Tom has an agreement with Dennis from Explore Cavetubing Belize so Dennis was our guide. He was great! He took us on a tour of the city while we waited for the other members of our tour. It was an hour out the caves, but a pretty drive. Once at the caves, we were able to quickly get around the Carnival tours as there were only six people on our tour. Dennis pulled us through the water when the current became slow, and he told us about local flora. After the tour, four people went to the zip lining, but my sister and I went for our included lunch at Xibalba (café located next to the cave tubing in Jaguar Paw resort). My meal included jerk chicken, rice and beans, plantains, garlic bread, and the best banana muffin I have ever eaten. Our meal was included with the tour, but I checked the price, and it only costs $5. Order early as they were running out of food later in the day. After the excursion, we had about 30 minutes to shop in the city before returning for the last tender. The Clip and Sip internet café is very expensive ($4 for 15 minutes) for Belize.
Costa Maya the prettiest port, but I would never return. The people in this port were horribly rude, which I will get to in a moment. When you get off the ship, walk through the port and then turn left. There will be a shuttle stand selling $3 tickets to the fishing village. The fishing village is gorgeous, but you cannot walk a step without multiple people harassing you to buy. Beware they charge to use the lounge chairs even if they initially say the chairs are free. We had a bad experience with this. The vendor said the chairs were free, and then he charged my sister $5 a piece for the chair. After much arguing in my limited Spanish, I was able to get our money back, and he made us leave the beach. After that, we headed back to the pool in the cruise terminal. It was filthy. We ended up going back to the ship because the water was so dirty. Another warning you will see many policeman with M-16s walking around, which makes the experience a bit uncomfortable. We heard from many people that they had similar bad experiences in Costa Maya.
Disembarkation -- Disembarkation was a stressful process as my sister had to make a flight in Orlando at 12pm. If you need to catch an early flight, my suggestion is that you self-assist rather than wait for the VIP disembarkation. The order of disembarkation is self-assist, platinum, and then VIP. Thus, we did not get to leave the ship until almost 9am when the self-assist people started leaving the ship around 7:45am. I suggest putting something bright on your luggage as you must walk through aisles of luggage to find yours.
Summary -- Overall, it was a great trip. However, I think I would try either Norwegian or Royal Caribbean to see which line I liked best. Less
Cruise that created lasting li...
Hidden Room Service Fees, Terr...
Fun cruise / horrible food