May 25-June 2, 2008 NYC- Two Days at Sea - San Juan - St. Thomas - Tortola - Two Days at Sea - NYC Debbie and Mike - in our early 40s we are from Central NJ
I have posted over 300 photos also from the trip:
Embarkation: We got picked up at our house in NJ around 10:15 a.m. and we were in the city by noon. It took nearly another 90 minutes to make it the last two city blocks to the ship. There were three ships in port that day and we found out later on that the Norwegian Spirit had hit the dock that the Miracle was at. The pier was closed and debarkation stopped while they deemed the dock to be safe after the hit. Folks were still debarking after 12:30 pm. They didn't start our embarkation till after 1 pm and took a while to get on and we were Group 3. I seen Group 9 so who knows how long it took them to get onboard.
Due to the late debarkation the cabins were not ready till 2:30 p.m. but our cabin steward let us store our carry on bags in the room as soon as we got onboard. Next stop was Nick and Nora's where I confirmed our online reservation. I didn't get a confirmation back but they had the reservation. (I did have my printed request with me).
Had our Meet and Greet at the Orpheus Aft Bar at 3 pm. Met DJwood24 (Darren and JoAnne) and Fire LT (Alan). Some of the other folks didn't make it. Alan had his dinner table right across from ours and we hung out all week with Darren and JoAnne.
NOTE: IF YOU BUY THE SODA CARD WHILE DOCKED IN NY, YOU WILL PAY NY SALES TAX ON IT.
After a very painless muster drill (we were at the end of the line near the door so we had an easy escape at the end and were not completely surrounded by people), we sailed from NY almost an hour late.
Gambling: The casino for most of the cruise was not my friend. I lost overall but had fun. Hubby won quite a bit in the beginning of the cruise and gave some back later on but still ended up ahead. There were quite a few big winners on the slots all week long. They had a VIP group from Harrah's/Showboat in Atlantic City onboard so they were giving away raffle tickets on certain days to win prizes if you had certain hands at the tables or points on the slots (free rooms, meals and shopping credit). Unfortunately didn't win them.
Dining/Food: We had table 338 in Bacchus the early seating. Our waiter was Kervach from India and assistant waiter was Bambang (honest that was his name) from Indonesia. They were pretty good all week long. We showed the drink server our fountain cards the first night and he asked if that was what we wanted all week long to drink. We said yes and each night within two minutes of sitting down we had our drinks (we gave him an extra tip at the end of the week for taking care of us). He even gave our tablemates free soda during the week based on our soda cards.
The food was good in the dining room. They have made some changes to the menus. The twin lobster tails is now one tail with grilled shrimp. I am glad that Carnival now had alternate items on their daily menu. I am an extremely picky eater (I eat no red meat) and had no problems. One night I tried a vegetarian entrEe and didn't enjoy it. I had a chicken breast in front of me in about three minutes once I told the waiter.
The Warm Chocolate Melting Cake is to die for. I had it for dessert about four times. We started to ask for more ice cream for it too. Yum yum. They didn't have orange sherbert during our cruise which disappointed my hubby and our tablemate. After each port of call he asked if it was brought on board. The waiter eventually came up and said no orange sherbert tonight (LOL) when it was time to order dessert.
I had some sushi a few nights around dinner time and it was good. We also had some milkshakes from Fountainhead and they were yummy. The coffee at Fountainhead is not Starbucks as previously reported. The room service was good and was delivered promptly after calling. I think the longest wait was 20 minutes. I tipped them $1/$2 each time I ordered.
The food on the buffet was good. I am personally not a huge buffet fan but I always managed to find something to eat. I like the layout with the different stations (Chinese, Deli, Pizza, Rotisserie, Burgers and Hot Dogs, and Main Buffet Line) so unlike Princess you didn't have everyone crammed into a very small badly laid out space. However, I did like the late night buffet better on Princess. There were more choices offered on their buffet where Carnival mainly offered burgers, hot dogs and chicken sandwiches. Princess had chips, salsa, cold cuts, and salads.
Nick and Nora's Supper Club: The supper club is a must dining experience. I booked it online and confirmed it once we got onboard. I made it for 6 p.m. our first night at sea back to NY. The service and food were superb. They placed us right at a window and we watched and absolutely amazing sunset while enjoying our wonderful meal. We had lobster bisque, French onion soup, Spinach Salad, 24 oz porterhouse steak, grilled lobster tail, and apple tartan. They had a pair of singers to entertain you during dinner and a small dance floor if you wanted to dance. What a wonderful evening.
Entertainment: Missed a few shows but we seen the two comedians, Happy Cole and Marvin Bell. We liked Happy more than Marvin. During Ticket to Ride the Beatles tribute there were technical difficulties that caused a 20 minute interruption. The Carnival Legends show was pretty good as it was our fellow cruisers entertaining us.
Ports of Call:
San Juan: It was overcast and raining on and off as we arrived. We didn't do a ship's tour since were there in July 07 with the Crown Princess. We arrived shortly before 3 p.m. and went to the Coach Factory Outlet as soon as we got off the ship. Walked around and shopped and then had dinner in Senor Frogs. They were giving away shots if you knew the song title and artist when they played it. One lady ran up there with one kid in her arm and then by her fifth time she had two kids in her arms. The guy had to hold her drink for her. After dinner we went to the Sheraton and played Three Card Poker for a bit.
St. Thomas: We were booked for the Mini Boat Adventure through Carnival but it was cancelled due to operational issues. None of the other tours thrilled us since it was our fourth time there (second year in a year also). We walked to the taxi stand and took an island tour. It was $25 a person and there were 8 of us in the open air taxi. Was interesting, we rode all over the island and went to Mountaintop and Drake's Seat. The weather once again was overcast and very rainy on the rainy side of the island. After the tour we went downtown, had lunch at Cuzzins (nothing much just sandwiches) and shopped. After shopping we went back to the ship and did laundry. Departing St. Thomas was beautiful. The sun was coming out and there were lots of seagulls around the ship. I got some beautiful pictures from our balcony. You can see them online.
Tortola: We took a ship's tour over to Virgin Gorda to the Baths. We took the fast ferry over to the Island that took about 30 minutes. Then a 15 minute open air taxi to the Top of The Baths. The island is covered in cactus and boulders. After a briefing from our tour guides we took the 1,000 foot walk down to the Baths. It is a pretty long and sometimes tricky trail. We passed some amazing boulders on the way down with even more amazing ones down on the beach. After exploring the beach the guides began taking folks through the caves which are some formations of the boulders that take you over to another beach. We chose not to do it due to a bad back and some bad knees. We got back to the pier and just went back on to the ship and didn't go out in town at all.
Sea Day: The days at sea were very cloudy and overcast on the way down and the final sea day back. The seas were pretty smooth except for the second sea day down it got a bit rough for a bit. On the way back the final day at sea it got extremely rough. We went to lunch in the dining room and left before dessert was served. We went to the art auction in the Mad Hatter's Lounge all the way forward and I was flung about five feet when I was leaving the room by the ship lurching. We went to our room and took a nap till the seas calmed down.
Friends: I think the folks on this cruise were amongst the friendliest we have ever met on our cruises. Darren and JoAnne it was great meeting you after months of talking to you online. Can't wait for Miracle May 2010. Candie and Eric it was great hanging out with in the casino all week, I know you seen Mike more than me but that was because the casino was friendlier to him than me. Sorry you didn't win the free cruise. So close.
Debarkation: We sailed into Manhattan a bit after 8. We were assisted into the pier by a tug. I believe that this was a change after the Norwegian Spirit hit the pier the day we sailed. They began self-debarkation around 9:15 by deck. I believe more than 50% of the passengers did that. Regular debarkation began at 10:15. They called groups 1-5 at the same time. We had number 9 and were off the ship by 10:30. Customs was quick and painless. We met our driver and were home by noon.
Final Thoughts, Comments, and Observations: Our first four cruises were on Carnival, then we took two Princess, and this was our first cruise back on Carnival. Carnival's dEcor is a bit louder than Princess but I felt more relaxed on Carnival. Princess wins on the buffet but Carnival wins on the pizza and free ice cream (always available). Sailing out of Manhattan was a wonderful experience and I can't wait to do it again. The Miracle is a wonderful well designed ship and I really enjoyed the open feeling of the ship and all the seating areas, quiet spaces, and lounges you can go to.