Background: This was a 60th birthday present for my mother and a 67th birthday present for my father. I traveled with my husband, my sister and her husband, and my brother and his wife. There were 8 of us all together. This was my parent's 3 cruise and the rest of us had never cruised before.
Embarkation: We left from my parents house in Northern NJ at 11:00. We arrived at the pier in New York around 12:15. Traffic right by the pier was awful, but that's New York for you. When we got into the terminal there were several lines of people waiting to get onto the ship. Apparently there was a computer glitch and we wound up waiting longer than average. While I understand that technology can fail, there was very little information given to the travelers, and people were standing for over an hour. Not a problem for me, but for people who have physical limitations, this was not the best beginning. We finally got on the ship around 1:30 and all was great.
The ship: When I first got on the ship I was immediately impressed with the decor. I had read previously that some people thought the decor was tacky, but I thought it was great. The Bacchus Dining Room kind of looked like purple threw up in it, but it was fun to be in. The Lido Deck was carefully laid out and it was easy to find the various stations you might be looking for. The Phantom Lounge was very cozy and fun to watch shows in. The casino was nicely laid out as well, but a little smokey and cold. Apparently many of the AC vents are in the ceiling above the casino. Nick and Nora's Supper Club is at the top of the ship, and is beautiful.
Dining: I really liked the Lido Deck. I ate there everyday for breakfast/lunch. I found something(s) everyday that I wanted to eat. I never ordered room service, but my sister and brother in-law did, and they said the selection wasn't the best, but the sandwiches they ordered were pretty good. We ate dinner during the late seating every night. I found the menu to be pretty good. I wouldn't say the food was the best I have ever had, but the food was definitely good. On the last night we ate at Nick and Nora's. The food here was EXCELLENT!! I highly recommend going here and paying the $30 fee, it is completely worth it!!
Service: The service on the Miracle was excellent. I found that everyone from the sushi server, to the bartenders, casino dealers, room stewards and the waitstaff were extremely attentive, helpful and friendly.
Cabin: We were on the 1st deck of the ship. At first I wasn't too happy with this but when I walked into the room, my negativity towards it disappeared. The room was very spacious. There was plenty of closet space for both my and my husband's clothes and shoes. The bathroom was also larger than expected and had plenty of storage space for all of our toiletries.
Our first stop was in San Juan. My husband and I did the horse back riding near the El Yunque Rainforest. It was beautiful! We booked the excursion through Carnival and it wasn't too expensive.
Our next stop was in St. Thomas. This island is gorgeous!! I wanted to spend more time here but sadly we couldn't do this. We didn't book any excursions this day, but the rest of my family did the snorkeling at Trunk Bay. They wound up going on a tour of the island and also went to St. John. They said it as gorgeous and that they got to see lots of fish. My husband and I went to Magen's Beach. We got a cab right off the pier for $9 and spent a delightful afternoon swimming and shopping.
Our last stop was at Grand Turk. Originally were supposed to go to Tortola, but Carnival changed their route a few weeks before we left. Excursions weren't posted on the website so we didn't get a chance to book anything in advance. We decided to see what the pier was like and then decide what we wanted to do. We wound up going to the beach right off the pier. If you go here, go to the beach to the left of the pier. The one to the right is much rockier and still have cuts healing on my feet. The beach was still beautiful and the water was heavenly. We walked around the pier here and wound up going to Margaritaville Bar right on the pier. It seemed as if everyone on the ship had the same idea and a good time was had by all.
Entertainment: The shows I went to were great. The entertainment staff is clearly dedicated to providing a worthwhile experience for all cruisers. I really loved the comedian, Marvin Bell. There was also Bingo in the Phantom Lounge daily and it was always fun.
Debarkation: The debarkation process went very smoothly. It was very organized and it seemed as if everyone knew what to do and there wasn't any confusion.
Overall: I had a great time. As a first time cruiser, this has set the bar high, and I can't wait to cruise again to have something to compare this experience with.