EMBARKATION The embarkation on most cruise lines has definitely gotten much better over the years, but this was definitely the best embarkation we've ever had. Our ship was set to leave at 4:00 pm and we arrived at the cruise terminal a little before 2. There was not a single person waiting in line. We walked right up to the counter, checked in, and boarded. It was just that easy.
FIRST DAY When we got onto the ship we were welcomed by a somewhat a mediocre atrium. It was very nice, but being on 18 cruises, we've seen much better. We headed to our room, which was the average cruise ship room. We didn't have a window, but we didn't go too insane from the claustrophobia.
After a quick nap, we decided we'd look around the ship. The theme of the ship is fictional characters, so the walls are covered with pictures of various people such as Don Quixote and the Phantom of the Opera. There is a nice area with tables and chairs resembled to look like Gatsby's Garden, which is a good place if you like quiet because we never saw one person in there. The Phantom show room is a bit overdone with its plastic statues of Greek gods holding up the ceiling. There is two Starbucks-esque coffee shops on board (one in the Jeeve's Lounge and the other at the lido). I highly recommend you get one of the massive pieces of chocolate cake at the coffee shop, priced at an oddly low $2.00.
The Raven Library which is also the internet cafe is pretty small and cramped. The library is only open about an hour day so it's almost impossible to check out a book or a game.
DINING We were early seating so our dinner was at 6:00 pm. Our waiters gave us great service and were friendly, but seemed very young and inexperienced. The dining room was called the Bacchus, and was filled with grapes as wall decorations and wine chalis's as pillars. My father had pledged that he would never go on another Carnival again, until last fall when we coaxed him into going on the Carnival Spirit with us. He loved this ship, and most likely had the best food on any cruise we've ever been on! After that, we had no trouble deciding whether or not to go on Carnival again. Unfortunately, the food on the Miracle was not at all up to par with the food we had on the Spirit. It was still quite good, but we were expecting much better. We did enjoy the free cappuccinos that Carnival offers with dessert, but the dessert choices were terrible. They were always things like bread pudding and one night there was actually something called "Succulent Apple and Nuts Baked in a Phyllo Pouch". What an unappetizing mouthful!
Besides the extremely efficient service, the lido was your typical Carnival lido: a mess! Unlike most of the Carnival ships we have been on, the lines were not as bad and there was almost always an open table. This was due to the quick lido workers, who could clean up a table faster than you can say "There's no clean tables". The lido food was pretty typical, but not that bad. Carnival needs to learn a lesson from the amazing lidos on Royal Caribbean, which always have a great variety of food, and stations which are set up to eliminate lines. The 24-hour pizza was a nice to have, except for the fact the pizza crust was was soggy and the cheese was crusty. The 24-hour ice cream was great and indulging. The best place at the lido was the sandwich place, which made great sandwiches, but sadly always had a very long line. Overall, the lido was one of the best I've seen on Carnival, which isn't saying much once you've been to a Royal Caribbean lido.
ENTERTAINMENT The entertainment was great. There were two dancing/singing shows, one being A Ticket to Ride, which is a Beatles tribute. A Ticket to Ride was one of the best shows we've seen on any cruise ship by far. It was so much fun, even if you're not a fan of The Beatles. We also had two funny comedians and a singer for our main shows. The only problem was it seems Carnival didn't have enough shows for eight nights, so two of the nights they didn't have anything.
Carnival always has plenty to do on their ships, but seems to never change anything. After being on 18 cruises, this does get quite dull. I can't tell you how many times I've seen the "Newlywed Not So Newlywed Game" or the hairy chest competition.
The entertainment staff was great. The people running all the activities were funny as was our cruise director, Lenny, and the dancers and singers were all very talented. I recommend that people check out the Filipino cover band that usually plays in various lounges in the evenings. They always sound exactly like whoever they are playing. It's amazing.
PORTS We had two days at sea, then we went to St. Maarten, St. Lucia, and St. Kitts. In St. Maarten and St. Kitts we took tours booked online that took us around the island and to various beaches. In St. Lucia we booked the bike and waterfall hike tour through the ship. All of our tours were fun.
DEBARKATION We chose to do the "walk off with your luggage" debarkation. Everything went smooth. We went up to the lido for breakfast at about 8 and then wheeled our bags off the ship around 8:50. No waiting! It was great. Also, this was the first ship we'd been on where they don't, blast music and call out the numbers to depart, in your stateroom.
OVERALL This was not the best cruise we've been on, but it was still very enjoyable. Anyone who has only been on a few cruises will love this ship, but experienced cruisers will not call this ship a "Miracle".