This was our first cruise with Carnival, and months before we sailed we started hearing bad things about Carnival. It was a terrible cruise line some friends said and nothing would go right. (None of them had ever been on board a Carnival ship.) A relative told me the guests were much younger than we are, and we would be kept up all night by their partying. (However, that relative had never been on Carnival.) And everybody reminded us of the two Carnival ships that needed to be towed back to port in recent years.
Then I looked at the Cruise Critic reviews of the Miracle. They said the food was uninteresting, the shows were amateurish, and the crew was not polite. Many of the reviewers were never sailing on Carnival again; it was just too dreadful!
Our experience was completely different. We found a ship with the best crew we have encountered, we enjoyed excellent food in the Bacchus dining room, and we saw interesting entertainment.
The worst part of the trip was the embarkation and disembarcation, which each took about two hours. But once we were on the ship we had a great time. Part of the problem may have been that the Long Beach cruise terminal isn't large enough or modern enough for this type of ship.
We ate at Bacchus every night, except for one, and found a substantial and creative menu. It was a five-star experience for us because of the excellent food preparation and service. One night we went to the Chef's Table and had an eight-course dinner under the guidance of Wellington Dias, the head chef. The Chef's Table includes a tour of the galley at 6:30, when it is at the height of its activity.
Thanks to an article on Cruise Critic about freebies, we got free champagne at the art auction, and a free liquor tasting at the shops on the second deck.
The entertainment included the ship's band, Tommy the singer at the Atrium bar, and Troy Linton, the master of ceremonies for most of the events. All of it was very good.
I had a great time on the Salsa and Salsa shore excursion in Cabo, where we went to a restaurant and learned how to make Salsa and how to dance the Salsa. We started out by making a margarita or two, which got us in shape for the dancing. Suzanne was a great hostess and teacher.
It was interesting to note that Carnival had installed an emergency generator on the 10th deck, to prevent electrical failures that resulted in the ships being towed back to port. One of our fellow passengers said it was a 660 KW generator, which sounds large enough to do the job.
The bottom line was that we got a great cruise for less than $1,500 (including taxes), and it was equal to, or better than, other cruises we have taken. But what about all of the negative reviews of the same ship? I suppose some cruisers are looking for a five-star experience for a two or three star price. Life and sailing don't work that way.