October 2007 Destination:
Eastern Caribbean Embarkation:
New York (Manhattan)
Myself, my husband, our 24 year old daughter and her fiance all arrived at the NY port at about 11am. This was our 5th cruise, second Carnival. We are all from the NY metro area so it was relatively quick and painless, traffic notwithstanding. We showed our ID documents upon entering the terminal and proceeded to the check in (showed our documents again)then to the waiting area. The area does have a limited number of seats so if you get there early enough you can sit down, otherwise you stand in a line. After about 45 minutes we were lined up and proceeded to the gangway where we had our photos for our sail and sign taken and wheee !!!! we were on board. Our first stop was the pursers desk to put cash on our sail and sign, but the computers weren't ready yet so we opted for lunch on the Lido. My family all had something different but the one thing in common was that everything was tasty and fresh. The buffet area has 5 stations, grill, taste of nations that changes daily, Chinese, More
rotisserie, salad bar, pizza, and dessert. Okay that's seven but who's counting. The Lido buffet staff were friendly and efficient. The tables were cleaned promptly and free drink (iced tea, punch, lemonade) carts were everywhere. There were short lines on some stations, some of the time, but no real waits anywhere all week. After our first drinks of the day it was off to the cabin for a little R and R. We had a balcony cabin on the veranda deck. It was clean and spacious. Plenty of storage was available, we didn't need it all. The bathroom was roomy enough and the shower had great water pressure. Our balcony was right below and to the right of the bridge so I spent many a moment outside waving at pretty young men in crisp white uniforms, sigh. Our room steward Johanie was there to greet us and he went out of his way to make sure we had the new dark blue mesh balcony furniture, that was being put in place of the old beige plastic lawn chairs, right away instead of after his dinner. All week long he and his assistant provided that kind of "exceeded our expectations" service. Next up ...The dreaded muster drill. It was over very quickly and we were up on the Lido for sail away. Watching Lady Liberty fade into the distance while the steel drums are playing and the people are cheering really gives you the feeling that you are going somewhere very special. After sail away we had a few minutes to gather ourselves together and take care of the unfinished business of getting money on that sail and sign account. This time they were more than ready to take my cash lol. We wandered about a bit to get the feel of the ship. The first thing that struck me was the prettiness of this ship. It still has all the funky touches that make a Carnival ship, a Carnival ship but the colors go together sweeter if that makes any sense. The crew was constantly cleaning and polishing and it showed. The ship was immaculate all week long. The spirit class of ships have a very easy lay out and it takes no time to figure out all the paths to the fun. Soon enough it was time for our first of 8 delicious dinners on board the Miracle. We were in the lower Bacchus dining room, table 195. It was a booth with two chairs right on the alley leading from the galley. At first glance I thought this would be a terrible table but I was soon proven wrong. Our food was delivered very quickly, hot when it was supposed to be and cold when it should be cold. Our waitstaff Bruno and Lerlak were absolutely wonderful. They remembered we liked iced tea with dinner and our coffee orders after the first day. The lamb dishes and starters were all stand outs for me with the NY strip steak from the alternative menu not so much. It was tough every time one of us ordered it. There was plenty of variety, chicken, turkey, seafood, vegetarian, beef, and pasta. Most dishes are prepared with a gourmet touch. If you are a regular meat and potatoes type of person they have an alternative menu that includes shrimp cocktail, steak, chicken filet, salmon, veggies, baked potato and fries available nightly. All in all the food on this cruise was as good as, if not better than all of my other cruises on Carnival and other lines. I do have one caveat... I did not particularly enjoy the warm melting chocolate cake ( from the alternative menu ). I have had the same type of dessert before and it was done much better, but to each his own. There were plenty of desserts that were wonderful. We finished up the evening (and all the rest of the evenings) at the show and the casino. Where hubby and I insured Carnival stockholders will continue to receive dividend checks for the near future at least. This was the last Carnival cruise to the Caribbean from NY for 2007. This particular itinerary has 2 1/2 sea days down and 2 1/2 sea days back. I love the ship and the activities so I was in cruise heaven. If you are all about the ports this may be a little monotonous for you. I relaxed on deck by the Sirens pool, swam a little, hot tubbed a little, watched and played games like match game and trivia, played mini golf, read poolside, and thoroughly enjoyed myself. For those who enjoy it they have the usual Carnival poolside activities, survivor, hairy chest contest, belly flop contest etc. For the more sedate there are galley tours, backstage tours, napkin folding, daily arts and crafts, art auctions and quite a few demos. The kids went to a wine and food pairing demo they loved. The was a small fee ($10 pp) but they said it was well worth it as they learned a lot. Check your capers for the days and the times. The first sea day is formal day. The captains reception is held in the Phantom lounge which is the huge show lounge all the way in the front of the ship. During this, the ship provides small hors dourves, free drinks, and you meet the Captain and see the officers as they are introduced and parade on stage. The vast majority of the passengers were all decked out in their formal wear and looking forward to their lobster dinner. For the first time in my cruise history the lobster was large and cooked perfectly. I could hardly eat the prime rib that I also ordered (but I did heehee). On the 13th we arrived in San Juan at 3 pm. My husband (who is ill) was not up to any excursions so we stayed on the ship. I went to the Lido to enjoy the quiet when a tropical shower began. As the sun started to come back out a beautiful double rainbow formed right before my eyes. I was in awe of natures beauty and almost forgot to take pictures. I did gather my wits and got two great shots. My daughter and her fiance got off the ship and rented a scooter for an hour and a half, toured the area and then went on the bio bay excursion from Carnival. They said this is a very active but amazing experience, not to be missed if you are able to kayak for a couple of hours. That night they held the midnight deck party. It had a Mexican theme? All in all the food was very good the entertainment fun and the drinks were flowing. The next morning found us pulling in to beautiful St. Thomas. We were there on a Sunday so the shops in town were closing early. We opted to look around in the port area as we were not in the market for anything in particular. after a little shopping we took an open air taxi to Coki beach. We had been there before so we knew what to expect. The beach is small but beautiful. The snorkeling is amazing. You can rent chairs , umbrellas, and water toys. The prices are very reasonable. There are food and beverage vendors right on the beach and they will treat you like visiting royalty. We enjoyed our bushwackers and BBC's and delicious Mahi Mahi sandwiches. After we left the beach we went to Paradise Point. Since we arrived later in the day it was almost empty. The tram ride is a lot of fun and the views are spectacular. Back to the ship for hubby and I. He was totally done in by this time. The kids did a little more shopping. It was a long day but totally wonderful. Finally our favorite stop... Tortola. We planned to revisit Cane Garden Bay, and so we did. but not until after another brief shower and gorgeous rainbow. This one was a circle that surrounded the ship. This is a very short stop so we hurried off the ship, hopped on a taxi for the hair raising trip over the mountains, to the prettiest beach I have ever seen. No snorkeling but crystal clear water, powder soft sand, and some of the best drinks I have had the pleasure to sip. All too soon the day was at an end. A quick trip through the local flea market at the pier and back on board. That night we had reservations for Nick and Nora's supper club to celebrate DD's fiances' birthday. It was also the day they held the past guest party, in the Phantom lounge. Nice but nothing to write home about. You get very nice hors dourves, free drinks and watch a video about Carnival. I liked the pins better than the party. The dinner at Nick and Nora's was one of the highlights of the trip for all of us. The price is $30 pp and it includes gratuities. Wine and all other alcohol are extra of course. If you enjoy real fine dining this is the place for you. I had the beef carpaccio, lobster bisque, a tossed salad, 24oz. porterhouse steak and the trio of chocolate dessert. All of it wonderfully prepared and exquisitely presented. I could not finish it all. We were more than pleased, in fact the kids were so delighted they made a second reservation for the last night of the cruise for a romantic dinner for two. If you intend to avail yourself of this marvelous treat make your reservations early as the peak days and times fill up. The following two and a half days are a blur of fun and games and swimming and relaxing on the deck and balcony. Our cruise director was Brent Mitchell. He did an okay job. We sailed with him before on the legend. He knows all the typical CD jokes and delivers them well. However, his team of entertainment staffers are just great. I honestly don't remember their real names but they go by Big Sexy, Fuzzy, PeeWee and Beef. Once you see them and meet them the names all make perfect sense. I have never taken notice of the entertainment staff before on a cruise, this time I couldn't help it. They were so friendly , open, and down to earth you couldn't help but enjoy their company and the activities they ran. A few mentions of the nightly shows is in order. The two production shows are respectively Generations and Ticket to Ride. The first is a retrospective of music through the generations. It is on the first formal night. It was well done, colorful and lots of fun. The second is a great Beatles tribute. The sets are funky and fun and the music.. well it's the Beatles what else can you ask for, it's a great show. The other nightly shows were a couple of comedians, a hypnotist (DD's fiance participated), a very good singer who does a Sammy Davis Jr, Frank Sinatra tribute, a guest talent show, jugglers, and the Carnival Legends show which has guests imitating famous singers. They were given full costumes and have full production back up. all of them were great. It always amazes me the talent ( and courage ) my fellow passengers possess. Sadly the last day dawned and we had to leave my now favorite ship. We opted for full service disembarkation. Our luggage was put out the night before. We had a leisurely breakfast and waited on the Lido deck for about three hours until our number was called. we were off the ship and in a cab in a half hour. I was home in the Bronx at 12:15pm. I would recommend this ship to everyone. This was by far my favorite cruise of the 5 I have taken. Less
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