Carnival Miracle - Western Caribbean: Carnival Miracle Cruise Review by Sassy American Bird
Overall Member Rating
Carnival Miracle - Western Caribbean
Destination: Western Caribbean
We traveled to Tampa via car and made the 10 hour journey in two legs. The embarkation process was very eye-opening for me as in my Royal Caribbean cruises; we had minimal waiting time and virtually immediate embarking. I was surprised to be herded onto the ship like cattle.
Room - Our group had balcony rooms next to each other 7158 and 7160. The rooms were nice and spacious even with the portable crib they supplied for my toddler. I was impressed with the welcome goody basket More razors, lotion, dental floss, etc. a very nice touch. We requested that the barrier be removed from between the two balconies to create one big one and we were accommodated the next day.
After viewing our room, we explored the ship. While I commend Carnival for trying to create a homier atmosphere, the dEcor was not my cup of tea. I found it over bearing and a bit dark. There didnt seem to be any open, bright, cheery spaces anywhere indoors. I understand that the ships theme is fictional characters but it just came off a bit mish mash in my opinion. Perhaps I just believe that less is more.
Dining - Overall, I was disappointed in the dining options available. The station set up of Horatios on the Lido deck was very frustrating. You have to wander around the whole restaurant to see what is available at each station and then back track to stand in line once you make your selection. Between the scavenger hunt set up and the lines, it took a long time to get something to eat. Once you did score something, you had to search for seating.
We ate in the dining room only twice. We went only twice because it of the timing hard to make a toddler seat through dinner at her normal bedtime (late seating) and the early seating didnt give us enough time to get back from excursions and clean up. I dont fault Carnival for this; the more casual dining was just more conducive to our situation. The two meals we had in the dining room were good but were pretty standard fare chicken, beef, pork. I was disappointed that there were no unusual seafood dishes. The desserts and chilled soup starters were fantastic!
Activities This is where I saw the most difference between Carnival and Royal Caribbean. Most of the activities I felt were geared toward the single party animal crowd, with the exception of bingo, with a LOT of emphasis on drinking. Reading the Cruise Critic editorial on this ship, there was a reference made to the fraternity feel of the old Carnival. This is the image I had in mind wild college types on spring break - when booking the cruise but thought I would give it a chance. Unfortunately, I found this stereotype to be alive and well. Carnival seems to encourage the alcohol overindulgence. At one point, when playing bingo, a cruise staff member took the microphone to recruit folks to participate in the pub crawl. He stated that if you wanted to bar hop, drink a lot, get rowdy and annoy everyone on the ship then come with him. Another cruise activity was bathrobes and beer donning your bathrobe and drinking. If you dont want to drink, I think youll find little to do in the evenings on this ship. Yes, there were movies on board, but during the day when you were on an excursion. On my other cruises, Royal Caribbean had a small theatre onboard and we enjoyed a relaxing evening of watching a movie after a day in the sun. My daughter is only 1 and too young to participate in the Camp Carnival childrens activities but it did look like the kids onboard were having fun.
Service The service of the Carnival staff really made the cruise enjoyable. Everyone from our cabin stewards, to the bar staff, the photographers, and dining room staff were superb! Both the Horatios and Bacchuss dining room staff were VERY accommodating concerning our daughter. One Horatios server offered to entertain our daughter while we finished our meal. Earl and Jose in the Bacchus dining room played peek a boo with napkins and even helped clean her up after a messy meal of THE best macaroni and cheese. Jia, our cabin steward, brought her a cookie every night. The bartenders in the main lobby area were so outgoing and funny that we felt as if we had made new friends. Carnival definitely hires good people!
Entertainment with a small one, we werent able to take in many of the shows. We would watch them replayed via the television broadcast and enjoyed what we saw. Glenn Miller the hypnotist was entertaining. The musicians found throughout the ship were talented with the exception of the poor man in the casino area. Boy, he couldnt carry a tune in a bucket!
Grand Cayman We went on the Butterfly Farm and Beach Break through Carnival. We loved the Butterfly Farm! It was a nice, low key activity for the whole family to enjoy. The Beach Break was all right. We went to Sea Grape Beach for 1 ½ hours. The beach was a narrow strip of sand right next to the main road. You could literally hear traffic rushing by not a peaceful tropical setting. We were told to regroup at 11:50 a.m. for a 12:00 p.m. departure. At 12:35 p.m. were finally boarded the bus back to the ship. Maddening that we stood in line waiting for over 30 minutes when we could have been on the beach poor communication!
Cozumel Sad to see the way the hurricane devastated the pier and beach front. My husband went on the two tank scuba dive through Carnival and really enjoyed it. Good diving outfit and nice dive area. The rest of us shopped and walked around the pier area. We ate at a fabulous restaurant towards the far end of the shopping area excellent authentic food!
Belize My husband was booked for the two tank dive and was looking forward to some of the best diving in the world. His ultimate dive dreams were dashed by Carnival that cancelled this tour at the last minute due to not enough people. The crappy thing about this was they notified him AFTER the shore excursion desk was closed and he had no opportunity to book something else. VERY DISAPPOINTED! We walked around the pier terminal and shopped as the area outside the gate looked ominous. This is a very impoverish area and a bit shocking to be honest. We heard others who were coming off the city tour that echoed how poor the city is. There are security guards that man the gates to the city to protect tourists from the incessant pan handling and hustling for tours. We enjoyed the local shop owned by a German woman who gets native crafts and sells them in her art gallery. Also LOVED the food at the Harbor View Restaurant. One of the best meals I have had in a long time! Rated highly by Frommer's!
Costa Maya This was my favorite port. The beach is pristine and the shopping area had a very relaxed feel to it. My husband took in the diving here and said it was beautiful virgin coral, unspoiled. This is the gem of Mexico which I hope doesnt get overdeveloped any time soon. Sadly we had to pull away early due to impending storms. We will definitely be coming back to Costa Maya! Getting on and off the ship took a long time with long lines in the sweltering heat. I think there were just too many people on the ship! De-embarkation went fairly smoothly considering the long lines that snaked through the entire ship. While Carnival insists that the general disembarkation call is a smoother method, I have to say I like some order and system like the color system.
Overall, I enjoyed the cruise but not the cruise line. The ships staff and the ports of call made the holiday fun. The cruise ship clientele was not what I was used to based on my previous cruise experiences. For example, lots of drunken adults and one group that even allowed their 16 year to drink and get drunk with them! If you are single and/or ready to party, I think this is the ship for you. Lastly, I must say I am surprised to see how loyal some cruisers are to a particular cruise line. We were almost publicly stoned by a few frequent Carnival cruisers for making disparaging remarks about Carnival. It was as if I had insulted a family member. So I wont criticize Carnival, I will simply say, it wasnt a good fit for us and will cruise in the future on Royal Caribbean, the higher class Carnival owned Princess line, Holland America, or Norwegian. Less
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