This was the first cruise for my family, and it will not be the last.
Our children are ages 5, 7, 11 and 12, and we all had a blast.
We flew into Tampa the morning of our departure and took the Super Shuttle directly to the Port. We were informed that you could board early so we headed straight to the ship. It took about 20 minutes to board. It really was a piece of cake. We went straight to the Lido deck for lunch. We had two rooms, one with a balcony and one interior room directly across the hall. The interior room had bunk beads to accommodate the 4 children. The rooms were ready after lunch. The luggage arrived safely shortly after 2:00 or so.
The food was wonderful both on the Lido deck and in the formal dining room. I think the pizza was some of the best that I have ever had. It was available 24 hours a day. Veronica and Wes waited on us in the formal dining room, and they were fantastic. They were so nice to the children. We all cried when we said goodbye for the last time. We loved having dinner with Wes and Veronica every afternoon at 5:45. There were two formal nights where formal attire was expected although not necessarily embraced by all. No big deal.
The service throughout the ship was superb. We found the ship to be very clean. Our room steward was wonderful. The room was always tidied up upon our return. There was tons of storage space. There was also a safe in each room which came in handy after a small run at the craps table. The kids loved the "animals" that were left in our room each evening.
I enjoyed the casino very much. I generally played blackjack, craps and roulette. The casino personnel were fantastic. The craps table took "2 times" on the odds for those that are interested.
I booked our shore excursions directly online, and we had no problems. At one port, Belize, we had to wait just a bit for the Carnival booked excursion goers to tender first as the ship understandably gave them 1st priority. No problem. We tendered in Grand Cayman and Belize, and we docked in Cozumel and Costa Maya. I believe this is the normal course. We took a speedy rib boat to Sting Ray City and additional snorkeling in Grand Cayman, went to San Francisco Beach in Cozumel, cave tubed in Belize, and toured the Mayan ruins and lunched with a Mayan family in Costa Playa. Most cave tubing outfits will not permit small children, but I found one that was great (Extreme Cave Tubing for Kids). We felt completely safe at all times on each of these excursions.
I recommend drink cards for the kids for sodas.
We never utilized Camp Carnival for any of the kids as we always had so much to do.
The only negative aspect to the cruise for me was with respect to just a few fellow cruisers. Some were very rude to the staff. A few teenagers were unsupervised and acted like idiots on occasion. I think this is par for the course no matter where you are. The staff came from about 50 different countries, and my family thoroughly enjoyed getting to know many of them. I do wish Americans would exhibit a bit more grace sometimes.
Gratuities were automatically added to your tab for the dining room personnel and the cabin stewards in the amount of $10 per person per day. This increased my tab $420. I was fine with this. In fact, I tipped our main waitress an extra $50, her assistant an extra $20, and our cabin steward and his assistant an extra $25 as I thought the service was that good. Gratuities are automatically added to any cocktails or drinks that you order. All the more reason to get the soda cards for the children. I generally tipped the casino personnel a good bit as I had a big time, and they really seemed to appreciate it.
Disembarkation was even easier than embarkation. The process was very efficient. It took about 5 minutes as we waited until about 9:30 to proceed.
While I read in reviews prior to departure that the dEcor of the ship was questionable, I found it to be very interesting and not at all offensive.
We loved the Miracle, and we loved this cruise. We highly recommend it for anyone that really wants to have a good time. There is plenty of different entertainment for cruisers of all ages. Don't worry about anything as they take care of it all. We can not wait to cruise again in the very near future.