Our group of four adults arrived in Fort Lauderdale the day before our December 9th cruise on the Miracle. This was the seventh cruise for my husband and me, our third on Carnival. Our USAirways flight actually arrived early. We stayed at a Comfort Suites that provided transportation from the airport and to the ship. Just about everyone at the hotel was cruising the next day so you had to sign up for a shuttle. We were fortunate to get a shuttle that left the hotel at 12:00. Embarkation was a breeze and we were on the Lido deck eating lunch in no time at all.
The ship was clean and the decor wasn't too bad--except for the diningroom. The grape theme was taken to extremes. There were some Christmas decorations but they didn't get carried away. Our cabin steward did a nice job throughout the cruise and was very friendly.
Our first day at sea was rather rough. It was difficult to sit on deck because it was windy and the water was sloshing out of the pools. That was nothing though as we woke up the second day amidst a tropical storm. With 20 foot waves and howling winds no one was allowed on the decks. We chose to spend the day in the atrium where you could hardly feel the rocking of the ship. The captain and cruise director did come on occasionally with updates and reassurances. By evening, the seas had calmed and we had great weather for the rest of the trip. I'm proud to say no one in our group got sick and we were able to make all of the meals.
Our first port of call was St. Maarten. We arranged private tours in all of our ports of call and we were pleased with all of them. In St. Maarten our tour was called "The Best of St. Maarten" which can be reached at Stmaartencruiseexcursions.com. We especially enjoyed the butterfly farm and Orient Beach. Orient Beach is clothing optional so you may see women who are topless.
Our second port of call was St. Kitts. We arranged a tour with Thenford Grey. Mr. Grey's tour was excellent. We got to see many interesting sights including Brimstone Hill Fortress. He also took us to a beach which was okay but not as nice as St. Maarten's beach. We enjoyed seeing the wild monkeys that roamed the island. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our final port of call was St. Lucia and we had a tour with the wonderful Cosol. Cosol loves his island and it was evident in the tour he provides. Because our ship was leaving at 2:00 he had to squeeze a lot in a short period of time and he did. We had numerous stops where we were able to sample the food of the island. The Pitons are amazing but we really enjoyed visiting the volcano. We couldn't go to the beach in St. Lucia because of our early departure.
Our final two days at sea were great. We had terrific weather and enjoyed all of the activities on board.
Overall service on the ship was good but we were somewhat disappointed in the slow service we received in the diningroom. I know it is supposed to be a leisurely experience but two and a half hours for dinner is a bit much. Part of the problem was the people who were sitting at the other tables our waiter served. The doors opened at 5:45 and they started arriving at 6:00. Some of them were still arriving at 6:20. The waiter had to keep stopping to go over and get them started. The food was good. My husband appreciates that Carnival always has "normal food" alternatives on their menu.
The entertainment was very good. We really enjoyed the Beatles show. Two of the evening performers we had seen before on a previous Carnival cruise. We thought that was quite a coincidence. As on most cruise ships there was a band from the Philippines on the ship. Unfortunately there was a private group of people who were selling trailers who met in the same lounge and always had to be asked to get out. We were pretty confused about where to find this band because they were never in the lounge when they were supposed to be. It wasn't until the last two days of the cruise that we got to see them.
Overall this was a great cruise, tropical storm and all. We like Carnival and are cruising with them again in May.