Carnival Miracle Review Nov. 23-Dec. 1, 2007
First, let me give a little background. I am 40+ years old & this was my 7th cruise and my 4th on Carnival. And the majority of my group had cruised before. One of them having done 13+ cruises. We were coming from California & New Jersey, thus meeting in Ft. Lauderdale to cruise. We were part of the Scuba Cruise group.
All but 2 of us flew on Thanksgiving Day. I have to say, I was shocked. I knew parking would be a bear. These flights were full. I thought everyone would be at their destinations. I used the Van Nuys Flyaway in California as did several of my friends. I've used it for years. It's a central parking structure with security and then you board a greyhound type bus for the ride to LAX. The parking is $4 per day, the cheapest around. And the bus fare is $8 r/t. I arrived later than my friends and ended up missing the 0400 bus. I caught the 0430 and within 15 minutes of the ride, our bus was involved in an auto accident. There was an abandoned car in the fast lane, no occupant & no hazard lights on. Thank God no one was hurt but needless to say, we all missed our flights. They got another bus, I got to the airport and was able to book a later flight using my cell phone while waiting for the new bus. I arrived to Ft. Lauderdale 3 ½ hours behind my friends but none the worse for wear.
Pre-Cruise Hotel- I used the Sleep Inn Suites Ft. Lauderdale Airport. It definitely did the job. They have mini suite type rooms. Very spacious. Positives- Spacious room, mini suite type. Clean. Fridge in room. Cost effective. Shuttle from airport to hotel and from hotel to cruise dock. Walgreens right next door. Two miles from the beach. Negatives- No in house restaurant. They told me there was one next door. Only small mom/pop restaurants. And anything else, is a definite hike to get to. And being Thanksgiving Day, most places were closed. This wasn't the hotels fault, just something to consider. Some of our group were treated rudely, myself, I was treated fine. My only other issue is that they have a small breakfast buffet of pastries, oatmeal, eggs, coffee and such. Well we had 8 people wanting breakfast and we were told the wrong time by the nightshift front desk person. We were there before that time but the gal was literally taking stuff away as we wanted to eat. Rather rude I thought.
Embarkation/Disembarkation- Each was very easy. We took the shuttle to the pier. It was set up a little different than when we embarked in April for Princess but still easy. They tell you the line, move people through. No problems. Disembarking, easy as well. The lines can be long but they move quickly. Found our luggage quite easy. Found a shuttle for all of us rather easily. Negatives- On Dec. 1, there was a horrible smell right outside the cruise ship terminal. Don't know what it was and I don't vomit easily but it was all I could do to not lose my cookies. It was rancid. The other neg. was the guy who "found" us the shuttle. All he did was organize. He didn't load the luggage, drive the shuttle or unload the shuttle. And when one of us tipped him $1 as she had 1 bag, he was angry with her. He literally said, "come on, $1 isn't enough, I want more". She refused and he still gave her a hard time. Very annoying.
Ship- First off, I have to say, this was the easiest ship I've ever been on to navigate and learn where everything was. We originally were supposed to be in cabin 5199 but there was a mix up with our agent/Carnival. We ended up in cabin 5134. In hindsight, it was great to be there. It was central to many things. Directly below us on deck 2 & 3 was the Phantom theatre. On decks 2 & 3 were the Bacchus dining room and then on deck 2, midship, was the purser desk/atrium. On deck 3 aft was the gift shops and photo area. Above us & aft on deck 9 was the Lido deck and the Horatio's buffet. It was very easy.
Cabin- We had a balcony stateroom. It was fine for the 3 of us. Tight at times but we're accommodating. Plenty of room for clothes and things in the bathroom. It was adequate.
Room Steward- Our room steward was Stefiana (sp) and she was adequate. She kept the room clean, even cleaning around our messes. Always plenty of white towels. And she was pleasant. Negatives- She only filled the ice container once a day. We are a bunch of water drinkers and always wanting ice. Had to call for ice in the evening many times. After the first day, never had the blue towels for the ports the night before. And twice I had to call in the morning as I was diving and left early. Otherwise, she was fine.
Entertainment- I loved the variety shows. The first one was Generations and it was Excellent. Clint Butler can sing his tush off. The 2nd variety show was Ticket to Ride. Same singers and dancers. It was good but I thought Generations was better. I didn't watch Legends this year. Too Tired. And watched part of the Talent show which was ok. Did not see any comedy shows. Did go to Frankie & Johnnies which had Music Manila. They were very good. Now I didn't keep my capers from last year on the Valor but I swear this was the same group as on the Valor in Dec. last year. We went dancing a couple of times and really enjoyed them. I didn't specifically go to the bar or to watch the piano singers but when I passed by them, they were sounding good.
Dining/Food- The Main Dining- room had good food. I can't say great as to me, the Valor had great food. That Chef was awesome. But on the Miracle it was always good to me. The only thing I didn't like in the main dining was the grouper. It was flavorless. And the first 2 nights of the cruise, the Ceasar salad was "fishy". I tried it night 4 and after, it was better. Our waiter, Richard, was hysterical. He had a different mind game or trick each night. Truly a pleasure and entertaining. Horatio's Buffet- What can I say, it's a buffet. And it's catering to many different food likes/dislikes. I really didn't have many complaints, except for the eggs. They always seemed "too moist" to me. The Pizza was good and the sandwiches were good. My friend tried the Indian food on that day and said it was the worst she's ever had. I don't like it, so did not partake. I continued to enjoy the free ice cream. It's always a hit. And on the aft end, in the adult only area, are the toppings. Loved them.
Photo dept.-What can I say. Many know how vocal I am on the photo dept. and they haven't changed a thing. I think it truly needs to be revamped. They should make more sizes available without having to buy the original 8X10. They would sell more. I can't tell you how many people passed on photos due to price/size. They didn't want 8X10's and certainly weren't going to buy one just to get a 5X7. It's ridiculous. Had a few vocal matches with the photo folks. The first time over our embarkation photo. They never printed it. When we asked if they could go back to the computer for our group and look us up, then print it. They would only do that if we paid for it. Their nuts. I'm not paying for what I can't see. They even looked themselves, it was never printed. They finally agreed and as it was, I bought it. The 2nd time was when I wanted a re-print of a photo that more than one person wanted. I already had some photos held that I wanted but forgot my photo coupon in the room. I had the photo there but Stellan refused to print it without me paying for it. Even though I had others held aside. And he got into a rude vocal confrontation. Most standing there were shocked. I will be reporting him to Carnival later.
Gift shops-Fine as usual. Some good sales. Spent some $$ but not much.
Internet Cafe-Located on deck 3 midship to forward. It was the easiest thing to get to and didn't have to go through the smokers to get to it. It's not cheap and often very slow. But it keeps you connected.
Ports- St. Maarten- I've been here before and love this Island. We decided to rent a car and drive around the Island. It's not that easy to get around. We took a wrong turn, which was in our best interest. We ended up, in a round/about way, at Mullet Bay. It was lovely. Nice little beach, fair snorkeling area. Nothing to write home about in that area but saw some cute fish. For $10 per person, you could get a lounge chair/umbrella. They also had a lunch shack there which was a great deal. We got a cheeseburger & fries for $5.50 & a medium/large bottle of water for a $1.00. Some of my other friends went to some private Island with family for beach/snorkeling and they paid $17.00 for a hamburger. But there was only one food thing on the little Island. So we were advised by the locals to leave early due to traffic on the Island. Thank God they did. We got back, couldn't find the guy to give the car back & drove around in circles for about 30 minutes. Finally we got him, gave the car back and headed to the pier area to shop and then wait for the water taxi. Word of advice, double check what time the last water taxi is. We didn't think of it and thought we had good leeway on time. Not so. We got to the pier at 4:20 p.m. and they security guy scared us to death. He thought the last water taxi had already come/gone. We panicked. Luckily, he was wrong. There was one left but we got the last one and almost missed the ship. That was a scary thought of how to get to St. Lucia (our next port) to join the cruise ship. Taught us all a very valuable lesson. As it was, we were chastised as we boarded. Rightly so. We had to laugh too once we were on the ship. It's a lovely Island and would go again.
St. Lucia-This was a port where I was to dive. We had dives booked privately with Dive Fair Helen. They picked us up at the dock, took us to where their shop was and then we boarded our dive boat, the Denise. It's always interesting going to dive shops outside the U.S. We have big, supplied shops. These are often huts. Just different. The equipment looked good. No complaints from those who had to rent equipment. I brought my own. All I needed was weights. We went to 2 dive sites. One was a reef and the other, a ship wreck. First time on a wreck but absolutely loved it. So much marine life variety. They also fed us on our surface interval. We also had snorkelers. They first dive they dropped off the snorkelers with a guide. And then the 2nd dive, the snorkelers stayed with us also observing the wreck. Very cool. We got back to the dock and did some shopping. No one bothered us like some ports. Fair to high prices. St. Kitts-We also booked our dives privately with Kenneth Dive Center. They came with all the supplies so as to save time. They also had advanced divers getting certified and snorkelers. Our first dive was a reef again and then a wreck again. It was great diving, but visibility was a little less than St. Lucia. They did not feed us on this dive but did provide water/juice. We got back to the dock very timely. I was able to drop off the dive gear, rinse it, shower and go back out to shop. They have many great little shops in there. Got my Christmas shopping done as well.
Our last 2 days were spent at sea. For some, they didn't like the 2 sea days before ports and 2 sea days after the ports but I loved it. I like sea days so that's fine with me. Most of it spent poolside in the adult area. And it was here that I was able to finally meet up with our Cruise Critic roll call group. We'd missed each other all week only to find out, they were right next to us at dinner. It was great meeting them. I used the slide, which was fun until I slipped on the deck. All I knew is I slipped going one direction & ended up facing the other, which if I kept going, was right out to sea. Luckily, that's what the ships railings are for. To prevent that. And I was caught/picked up by one of the officers in a white uniform. Not too shabby. But the bruises have yet to leave. I would think that Carnival would make that deck area around the slide, textured or slip proof. It's a smooth surface and when wet, is dangerous.
Overall, we all had a blast. I loved the Miracle. Had a great time. Great diving and great friends to enjoy it with. I think that's all.. Or at least enough. Any questions, please ask.