October 22, 2007 Southern Caribbean Cruise Carnival Miracle
This eight-day cruise exceeded our expectations. We have sailed on fourteen cruises, and only one on Carnival previous to this cruise. We had traveled previously on the older Carnival Jubilee about 10 years ago. Previous cruises were mostly on RCCL and Celebrity.
Embarkation was very smooth in Port Everglades. Lines were short, and we were on the ship shortly after arriving at the pier about 12:30 p.m. We found the Miracle to be very clean, well-organized, and our accommodations were comfortable. The cabin beds have been upgraded, and the amenities provided have greatly improved. Our cabin steward, Chantai, was always on-time and efficient.
Our itinerary took us to St. Maarten, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts. We enjoyed each island greatly, and took tours off the ship which were all very well organized and well-worth the cost.
Ship activities on the Miracle were many and varied. Probably more activities than on most ships we have cruised on. Evening entertainment was not a highlight of this cruise, however. Two of the eight nights included passenger-provided entertainment, and only two or three of the other nights featured "name" entertainers. Singers and dancers, in my estimation, were average. One irritation for us was that nearly every evening, prior to the entertainment starting in the theater, there was a bingo game and/or trivia game going. If you went early to the theater to get a good seat, you had to sit through the games. Swimming pools were difficult to use because we had a great deal of rain during the cruise. One pool has a retractable roof; however, the roof was closed on only one day of the cruise.
Dining on the Miracle was a very good experience. The dining room service by Yulia from Russia was very good. The dining room food quality was on par with or better than most ships we have cruised on. Desserts in the dining room did not include a great variety and were about average. We were pleasantly surprised, however, at the quality and variety of foods in Horatio's Buffet Restaurant. Main courses, sandwiches, pizzas, desserts and grill foods were all a "cut above" those of most cruise ship buffets we have experienced. The only problem with the buffet restaurant was the physical layout. Food stations are laid out in a somewhat confusing manner. We did not try the specialty supper club restaurant. The table-mates that were assigned to our table were in our age-range, and had similar backgrounds and interests to us. We enjoyed them very much.
Crew, Cruise Director, and Cruise Staff were exceptionally friendly. We rarely passed a crew member on the ship when he or she did not smile and go out of the way to greet us. We are not used to that much attention from the crew. The Cruise Director was very good. I have to give mixed-reviews to the Cruise Director's staff. "Big sexy, Curly, and Beef," as they preferred to be known, were personable, but often seemed to be hurried, unprepared, and unorganized. In my opinion, they make too much fun of the game prizes. The prize jokes were funny at first, but got old by the second or third day of the cruise.
On the negative side, I must mention the exorbitant prices for internet services. The greatest negative though was the "Library" experience. To say that the ship has a library is an overstatement. The 150 or so books are only available for checkout for one hour twice a day. The internet stations have completely taken up the library space, with even the easy chairs/couches being used by persons who were connected via WIFI. The books are in a couple of cabinets on one wall of the internet area. I am sure that a good share of passengers have a much larger "library" in their homes than the Miracle does. Carnival needs to look at library services, the costs, benefits, efficiencies, effectiveness, etc. and make a decision whether to have a library or not. On this ship, it appears they have made a decision not to have good library services.
Debarkation was fairly smooth but a lengthy process in Port Everglades. It was apparent that most of the passengers opted for early debarkation and to take their own luggage off the ship. Long lines resulted and caused great confusion for all passengers trying to cue up for debarkation. After the early debarkation group left the ship, the rest of the passengers were able to get off the ship by about 10:30 a.m