Getting to Ft. Lauderdale: We live in Tampa, so we had a 250+ mile drive ahead of us. Most of us rented cars (from Tampa Int Airport) the day before, we met up at a local gas station and made sure everyone had gas, snacks and everything we needed before hitting the road. We were on the road and on our way to our cruise around 5:30am! The drive was quick and easy, not much traffic since it was Sunday morning! We arrived in the Ft. Lauderdale area about 10am. The port was a mess, there were 6 ships in port and it was CROWDED! Most of us opted to drop our luggage, the kids & older family members off at the port while we returned the cars. All of the rental car agencies were packed! Once the cars were returned we hopped on a shuttle that quickly took us back to the port. By the time we all returned to the port it was about 11:00am.
Embarkation: The line moved fairly quickly but it was mass confusion. We were a wedding group and were suppose to have priority boarding so that we would have time to prepare for the wedding. That didn't happen and every person we talked to gave us a different answer. Our group ended up being separated and no one knew what was going on or where the rest of the wedding party was. Eventually we all boarded around 11:45a and met up at our rooms, which were available to us early, for the wedding.
Cabin & Room Steward: We were in cabin M4104, our family had rooms M4102, M4101 & M4103 as well. These were located all the way forward near the stairs, elevators and right near the entrance to the Phantom lounge, we literally walked out of our cabin, took a few steps and we were in the theater! I loved this location! We were worried about noise and such but that was never an issue and it was really nice to be so close to our cabins after a long day and show at the theater! I don't recall the name of our cabin Steward, he was OK. The room was kept tidy and clean. Our only complaint was that our cabin was HOT the entire cruise, maintenance came and did something but the air never got very cold.
Pursers Desk, Photo Gallery & Staff: This is where we were really unimpressed...the Pursers staff were not very knowledgeable. A few of us should have had on board credits but they were not in our accounts, they were clueless about the whole thing but the ships group coordinator contacted Carnival for us. The issue was not resolved until about a week after or return and they refunded the money to my credit card. I was just happy to get my money (it was over $200)! The photo gallery staff is another area lacking. I tend to be very picky when it comes to photos, comes with being a photographer I guess, and was shocked to see the awful wedding photos they presented my cousin with! Almost every photo in the album was bad, even basic photo techniques were lacking and even the focus was just not there! The posed, studio work was a bit better though. On one occasion while looking through my stack of images from the week trying to decide on which pictures I was going to buy, one of the staff accused me of photographing the actual pictures. I had my camera next to me on the table, I was shocked to be accused of something like that. I told her how I felt and showed her it would be quite impossible to photograph pictures with my lens cap on!! She never apologized and it still irks me, I highly value copyright laws since I make a portion of my income from photography. I would never violate that. That wasn't the only run in with them though, at another time I was with my cousin who was asking questions about buying the video that runs continuously in the cabins and the guy behind the counter kept making snide comments & rolling his eyes to his buddy. I surely hope these workers are removed from the ships because they are AWFUL!! Food & Dining: We had the late seating for dinner, which is perfect for us. Our group was seated at 6 tables of 6 all near each other like we had requested. Our wait staff was very friendly, service was a bit slow but it was ok. The food was great, I ate some sort of steak every night...and each and every one was perfect!! The buffet food was always good, I loved the lido deck burgers & the sandwiches! We only ordered room service once, for a quick snack. It came fairly quickly and was good!
Entertainment: I've mentioned in other reviews, I'm not really into the shows they have, so take my opinion with a grain of salt:)! The shows are well done, and seem good, everyone looks like they enjoy them. They are just not cup of tea, although the Beatles tribute was kind of fun, my kids really liked it!! I always look forward to the adult comedy shows, but on this particular cruise our comedian was just ok. We had a few laughs but nothing really stands out about his performance. The Christmas show they do was cute, my daughter participated and had a lot of fun singing on stage. Of course the highlight for the kids was when Santa arrives and he even brought small gifts for each kid, that was a nice touch! The grandparents were brought to tears and I took many pictures I will cherish forever!
Ports of call: St Maarten nice place to see, we did an island tour. We saw all the highlights and stopped a few times to buy souvenirs at a little flea market. Be leery when shopping, we would ask a price, they would tell us the amount then when we went to pay they would switch the price and try to keep our change. The locals here were friendly enough although all they wanted was our money; we weren't overly impressed with this port.
St Lucia stay on board the ship or book an excursion! We made the mistake of hiring a driver to take us to a local beach. He promised paradise, but we were dropped off at a tiny spot of beach between resorts and were harassed all day! We had to pay to rent the chairs & umbrellas, the price kept changing and we had to practically beg them for our change back. The locals here were RIDICULOUS!! I mean I have been to quite a few ports and seen the beggars but they just don't give up here!! ALL day it was a continuous stream of people trying to sell us something. We could not relax for one minute and finally some of us had had it. One guy tried selling my cousins' wife a necklace, they agreed on a price, she gave him the money but he wanted more. So she gave him the necklace back and he threatened to call the police because she would not buy the necklace!!! It turned into a fiasco with a few of our guys about to fight with them, luckily we were able to calm our guys down and we left. But never in my life have I seen such rude people. If they want tourists to come and buy from them they should treat us with some respect! And it wasn't just us, there were many people complaining about this island once we got back on board, One couple were on a snorkel excursion and the locals were in boats trying to sell them stuff while they were trying to enjoy their excursion!! I will never set foot on that island again!
St. Kitts BEAUTIFUL Island and nice people everywhere we went. This was by far our favorite island of the 3!! We took an island tour with Royston; he was excellent, very friendly and knowledgeable! We paid about $20 per person (half for kids) and spent about 4 hours touring the island. We were able to see a bit of everything and even stopped for drinks and snacks! The Ship Overall: This was our first time on the Miracle, it's a beautiful ship and in great condition! The layout was quite easy to master and I liked the decor. I was especially fond of the Mad Hatter's Lounge...that is an Alice in Wonderland lovers dream come true!! There were lots of places to relax and have quiet time which is nice. I don't know all the details or technical info...but there was something wrong with the stabilizers while we were sailing. There was mention that the ship was only using one engine and there were propulsion issues? I don't know much about that, but I do know that was the rockiest cruise I have ever been on. We were going side to side all the time, at one point the water was coming over the sides of the pool! Lots of people were feeling queasy and swaying all over the place while walking...it made people watching quite fun actually!! But everyone still seemed to enjoy themselves, which is good!
So, that about sums it up. We had a great time, even though there were quite a few let downs, but that won't change our feelings towards cruising. I guess every cruise can't be perfect right, lol?!!