Whew, what a trip! There were 4 of us traveling on this Cruise. 2 lived in Tampa and my husband John and myself (Dottie), we live in Illinois. On June 2, 2006, we flew out of St. Louis to Tampa International. We left 2 days in advance because I had the fear that the airlines were going to misplace my luggage and I would be walking around on this cruise with the same outfit on. But, thankfully that didn't happen. We arrived in Tampa safe and sound with every bag intact.
On June 4, 2006, the 4 of us took off for the Port of Tampa. It was a beautiful sunny day. Open getting to the port we stood in line maybe 20 minutes. Now they say you are to start the boarding process at 1:30 but...... we got there at 10:30 and by by 11:15 we were on the lido deck eating lunch. We were not allowed to our staterooms until 1:30 but that was fine as there was so much to see and try to figure out how to get from point A to point B that the time flew by.
The Carnival Miracle is, simply put, a beautiful ship. Very very clean and well maintained. The staff were great. We only saw 1 gal that didn't seem to like her job very much and she was in the cake shop. Our stewards where Amira and Romero and they were the greatest. Both went above and beyond what they needed to do to make everyone's stay great. The first night, I being the hot natured one, needed a fan. I ask Amiro if that was possible and she said she would check on it. When we got back from dinner we had a portable fan plugged in and running. The tips that are included in the package seemed a little steep before we got on here, but after cruising it was money well spent. They are at your beck and call.
Activities: We were involved in everything that we could fit time for. First off I was picked for the trivia in the Phantom Lounge. Got second for that. My husband was in the belly flop and got 2nd, I played the trivia on tv and got 1st and my husband got 1st in the corn roll contest. We ended up with 3 medals and 1 ship on a stick. My advice on the games is enter as many as you can. They are fun and who cares what anyone thinks. Remember what goes on in Mexico stays in Mexico. lol
Service: The food is unbelievable. The choices that you have on dining is unreal. We did go to formal nights but on 2 nights we decided to eat on the Lido deck in the pick what you want to eat areas. Formal night, I expected everyone to be in their finest. We saw it all..... Formal long dresses, cocktail dresses, tuxes, suits and BLUE JEANS! They, of course, say you will be asked to leave but the ones we saw stayed at their seats chowing down. Our waiter in the Bacchus restaurant was a little stuffy, but not over bearing. I had read where some of the food would arrive cold but that was not in our case. It was sometimes just warm but never cold cold. The one person who stood out and shined was Junnel in Frankie and Johnny's. He was GREAT! After asking our names we were addressed by our names each time he saw us, no matter where he saw us. I can't say enough good about this gentleman.
Shore Excursions: Carnival posts that it's in your best interest to buy excursions through them. However, we chose not to do this and go it alone. In Grand Cayman they had a tour though town. Carnival price was 89.00 and booked on your own was 20.00. Very same one, with people on the van that had booked though Carnival. You will save yourself lots of money booking your own. We never worried about getting back to port on time to make the tenders. There is lots of time to do everything.
In Cozumel we rented a Jeep for 11.00 a person. Drove into town and did some heavy duty shopping. Cozumel was the best shopping! In Costa Maya we took a taxi (5.00 round trip) to the back roads flea market type area. Got great deals here also and got to see how they live. (Makes you appreciate your own home). Cayman Islands were the most expensive. Nothing was cheap in this area. But still glad we saw it.
Traveling to Ports: We went to 4 ports and all but 1 we had to take tenders in. The tenders were nice clean boats and it did not take much time at all to get in or to get back. The hurricanes did a number on many of the ports and towns for that matter.
Stateroom: Since this was our first cruise and we really didn't know what to expect, we choose an inside stateroom and ended up with 7315 on the Verandah deck which is on the 7th deck. What very little time you spend in your room from my point it would be a total waste of money to get a balcony. We literally changed and slept in this room. We were too busy doing everything else. The room was a very nice size and the bathroom was plenty big. The shower is wonderful and well the beds....... I wish I could of packed it home with me. They are great.
Dining: The dining I have kind of hit on before now but the one thing that struck me was you receive a envelope at the end to tip the Maitre D. Well that would of been all find and dandy but we never seen the maitre D in the 7 days we were there. Granted, he takes care of the dining room, but as far as I was concerned.......the waiter took care of me. The food was above excellent with the exception of the desserts on the Lido deck. Beautiful pieces of desserts (right out of a magazine) but when you took a bite, it was like having nothing in your mouth. They had very little taste.
Now in the dining room that was another story. They were melt in your mouth pieces. We did order room service twice. The first time it was Johnny on the spot and exactly what we ordered. The second time we wondered after a hour half what happened when it finally showed up and the guy told us that the cook dropped the whole order. But hey, they are only human. Room service is just as good as any of the dining rooms.
Entertainment: We went to as much as we could. The Phantom Lounge has some wonderful entertainment. I personally think that 20.00 for 1 bingo game is a bit much though. The only show that I think they should back up and punt on is the hypnotist one. The man was overbearing. I was picked to go up on the stage and well, it just didn't happen. I think that the balloon boy was prompted before the show. No one that I talked to that was up there said that they were really hypnotized. This man that was doing this show would get right down mad if someone laughed or didn't do what he said. I saw him kick people off the stage for saying they were sorry. But one out of the bunch isn't bad. The late night Adult only comedian is down right funny. He is the true meaning of that's funny.
Disembarking: This was a complete nightmare. They say not to leave till they announce your area. We did not. I went to customs early and stood in line for a hour and half (ok I wanted to be the first one in and out of there) and then we waited. And we waited. Finally about 10 they called our area to go. We got to the Atruim and it was a nightmare. People standing shoulder to shoulder trying to get off, nowhere to go. They need to come up with a system and let people off by colors or something. Customs after we got off wasn't bad. We had sent 8 bags out and did not have any trouble finding ours or a porter to help get them to the curb.
This was just a great week. We met lots of new people that we plan on staying in contact with. Would we do it again? Yes, in a heartbeat! Carnival Miracle ...... we have some great memories!