Carnival Miracle Cruise Review by NoobCroozer: Friendly Ship!
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Please don't mind the intro, it has a bearing on my experience with the people I have met during my cruise ..... In June of 08, my wife bought me a surprise gift for my 40th birthday. It was for the 8 day Carnival Miracle cruise on 09/14/2008. I was floored. As soon as we got home from dinner, I immediately ran to the computer and started investigating this whole "cruise thing". That's when I found the terrific resource which I now know and love as CruiseCritic.com. As a first time cruiser, I was on here several times a day for months gathering info and communicating with many of you who have been the most helpful people that I have found on any forum on the internet.
My wife and I live in upstate NY and drove to the pier, which is a 50 minute drive. We got to the pier and dropped off our bags with the porters and proceeded to the parking area...$240 for the week....OUCH (we knew ahead of time of the cost). While parking the car, we observed the More Miracle in all her glory, she looked majestic! Nice and clean. We worked our way down the escalators to the line to board, proceeded to wait in one of 3 monstrous lines for a little over an hour. For the longest time we just stood in 1 spot, which was brutal. The three lines were broke down into a lane on the right (which we were in), a lane on the left and one in the center of the pier, which was the only line which had seats. I would say to get to the pier a little earlier to grab those seats, but I don't think that I would want to get their an hour earlier just for the luxury. While waiting on line my wife and I were your average up-tight New Yorkers, barely cracking a smile with anyone around us....Then something uncanny happened. There was a couple in line directly in front of us. The man was wearing a Washington Redskins jersey. My wife (clueless to football) asked him "Are you guys from Ohio" thinking the indian represented the Cleveland Indians...they got quite a laugh from that, and after a couple minutes of conversing with them, I discovered that the woman was in fact lollyRN from the boards on CruiseCritic.com, with whom I had been conversing with last several months.....unbelievable. In a crowd of 2,000+ and talking with someone online for months whom I knew nothing about on a website with over 300,000 and to have her standing directly in front of us in line was insane. Needless to say, the four of us immediately hit it off, and they were our buds the rest of the trip (we even got the Maitre D to seat us for dinner every night).
We were visited by the upgrade fairy on this one, as my wife booked an 8A. The room was fabulous, spacious and laid out well. The large balcony was a definite plus. My only complaint is that being on the 8th deck right below the Lido, we were routinely woken around 4am by ungodly banging right above us. Sounded like people were dropping bowling balls on the ceiling. I don't know what the noise was from, but was annoying. Another small annoyance was when we pulled into St Thomas I think....we were woken to an unnerving grinding sound and vibration that I presume was the screws turning in opposite directions...I guess that's the price you pay for being in the back of the ship....although it was only one night we felt this.
For a ship that is 4 years old without being refurbished, I was amazed in the cleanliness of the ship. The crew did a great job cleaning and painting constantly, even at sea. No strange odors that I have read about on other reviews of other ships. All of the bars, restaurants were also very clean, and I found the themes of all to be quite fun (even the dreaded grape room...Bacchus). I liked the way that the ship flowed easily from one end to the other....the only time I got lost was trying to locate the arcade in the front of the ship, which was weird. I think its on the third deck, but you could only access it from decks 2/4...nestled within the Phantom Lounge or Mad Hatter I presume.
One word...OUTSTANDING. EVERY single person on the ship treated my wife and I like ROYALTY. Our Steward Leo was very attentive and always checking to see if we needed anything...a pleasure! Our waiter Marc in the Bacchus Room was also very good and a joy to converse with. Iketut was the man for drinks on the deck near the back pool....always right there when the drinks were low....great guy! I didn't get the name of the staff in Nick and Noras, but they were great as well. My wife and I eat out at least 2 times a week here in New York, and have stayed at some pretty ritzy places (The Plaza, Waldorf etc). I have never received the level of service that I received on the Miracle. The guys we hung around on this cruise all had the same great experience (like 10 of us). I don't know where the folks on here get off rating the service as 2 or less on these reviews.....unless the entire crew was recently replaced which I doubt.
The ONE thing that I think theres room for improvement onboard. The buffet was just that ... a buffet. Aside from the Deli station and the Pizza ship, its pretty much like cafeteria food. It was clean and all and the food was fresh, it was nothing to write home about (except the deli/pizza were good).
Bacchus (the GRAPE)...the food was ok....some nights some things were ok, but for the most part it was like food at a catered event like a wedding. We had great company (Lori and Paul)so the sub par food didn't really matter. I really liked the atmosphere of the Grape ...yeah its a little over the top, but it was great fun!
Nick and Noras....DO yourself a favor and spend the extra $30pp. This supper club was outstanding! The atmosphere and staff were excellent. The last time I experienced dining like this was at Tavern on the Green in NYC. My wife's lobster was succulent, and my 24oz porterhouse steak was the best I ever had (Paul said the same...he had one too). I also liked the fact that you could order multiple things on the menu like in Bacchus of the buffet...but hey....your also paying $30 extra too, so.
Nothing really appealed to us, not into bingo or ring tosses.....I guess some improvement needed. Dint mind though, we loved to be poolside in the off-times.
I was pleasantly surprised at the entertainment. I expected the shows to be tacky, and was dragged against my will by Lori/Paul to the talent show, which was provided by fellow cruisers...it was fun! The comedian was funny too after the talent show.
Phill and Linda dragged us to the Beatles show (I cant stand the Beatles). I couldn't believe the show that they put on...It was very well done, and professional. The special effects (lasers, etc) were better than some of the big time concerts Ive been to over the years...The best part of the show was the ending, where the band that we grew to love in the Franky and Johnnie lounge played. They were "Music Unlimited", a group of Filipino guys that can play everything from Elvis to Led Zeppelin. Every night they played in the lounge we were there...they were OUT OF THIS WORLD! When they were dressed up and playing as the Beatles at the end of the show, they really pulled it off....sounded and looked just like them! It was really outstanding. The same comedian did an adults only show after the Beatles, and he was great.
San Juan.....not much to do, don't know why this is even a port of call. Alot of folks said the same thing. We walked around old San Juan, and while much of it was beautiful, just as much of it was dirty and down right scary....like being in some of the worst parts of NYC. We did make the best of it, and took a horse and buggy ride outside of Carnival, which was ok. But we got right back on the ship as soon a night fell (as most of the passengers did). Alot of people just stayed on board. Heres food for thought....the police ride around wearing FLAK jackets. Not just bullet proof vests. FLAK jackets...to stop rifle rounds....has to tell you something.
St. Thomas....was alot of fun, did the St.Johns Champagne Catamaran sailaway, which I HIGHLY recommend. Was outstanding. Booked through Carnival. Good snorkeling to (if you wanted to...or you could stay on the ship or go to the beach). The crew were great, entertaining and attentive. The snorkel/beach area was pristine. Only downside was it seemed like we were only at the beach for like 45 minutes. But heres how good it was....after spending $198 per couple, most people at the end of the trip threw an extra $20 tip to the crew. AWESOME!
Tortola...The Baths...the excursion started off as a nightmare. First off, the bus to the marina was broken, and the ferry didn't come to the pier to get us for like 40 minutes INTO the excursion time. It took forever for the ferry to tie off in the chop, and once on board the ferry was dirty, smelly, hot, AC was broken, etc etc etc. There was no refreshments provided for the 35 minute ride through 8 foot swells which many got sick from. We were already like 1 hour into the excursion time before we even got to the Baths, but this is when things started to lighten up.....the crew advised that Carnival was going to honor our full time on the island and would leave the port of Tortola when our time was up....nice touch. Main reason to book through Carnival and not the little guy....its well worth the extra 20-50 to go with a Carnival excursion for this reason. The Miracle actually left port 35 minutes behind schedule just so we could get our time in. The Baths were absolutely worth all the trouble getting to. Beautiful and clean, nice snorkeling. The ride back to the ship was smooth, not choppy like described before....so in all, a great time. I would highly recommend this excursion....however, Carnival may want to rethink how to get the people there in a better way than that broken down dirty ferry.
We did the aided disembark. Put our luggage outside our room at 12am the night before. By 9:45am the next morning we were up on Lido eating, and waiting to be called to disembark. We were called by the tag number we were issued for the luggage, and we lucked out with #5. The first group to be called were groups 1-5, so we were first to get off. I think we waited probably 1 hour and 15 minutes to be called. Once called, we were off the ship, with luggage in hand in probably 30 minutes....a total breeze.
Although this was our first cruise, my wife and I were blown away by how friendly everyone was on board. From our new found friends (Lori, Paul, Phill, Linda, Julian and Briety) to the crew and staff....we had the time of our lives!
We are the type of people that like to try new things, so the thought occurred to us to try another line. But since we were treated so well by Carnival, were going to sail them again for the NEXT cruise (hopefully with our new friends =) ). Less
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