We welcomed the New Year on the Carnival Miracle and loved it!
We arrived in Fort Lauderdale the same day the ship left, Dec 30th. We prefer going the day before but with Christmas and visits to family, we needed the extra day. Two of the couples did go down the day before and were already on board when we arrived at the pier. Everything went right on schedule..got luggage and transfer to ship in just a few minutes. Embarkation took about 45 min but was painless.
CABIN: We had an extended balcony on deck 8, right under the midship pool. Our group of 6 cabins were fairly close together as requested. However, that wasn't the best location because of some noise with chairs above us. Other than that, we loved being one floor down from the lido and near the elevators. Extremely convenient. Our cabin steward, Arif and his asst Ricardo were exceptional. We never had to ask for anything and our room was always spotless!
SHIP: The ship itself was clean and did not look 5 years old. However, we have been on nicer ships as far as decor. We just didn't like the low ceilings and the theme..whatever it was suppose to be. This is just personal taste in decor.
STAFF: The entire staff was friendly and happy. One bartender at the aft pool, Anak, was so friendly and took great care of us. He was always attentive and good natured. The dining room team of Luciano and Rex was exceptional! We had two tables of 6 on the first floor in the center at late seating. Food was very good and served promptly. Our entire group loved both waiters and thought that they were one of the best teams ever. Food on the lido deck was typical buffet food with some things being better than others. Breakfast omelets were good, deli sandwiches were good as well as hamburgers and hot dogs. The biggest surprise was the tastless desserts. Most of our group said the same thing..they just didn't have much flavor. However, the desserts in the dining room were really tasty. Don't understand why the ones on the buffet were bland. They looked beautiful but were a big disappointment..not worth the calories! Pizza was just ok; but, the calzones were better.
ENTERTAINMENT: We loved the Generations show -very energetic. The show highlighting the Beatles -Ticket to Ride-was great..don't miss it. The adult comedy was funny but some might get offended. We thought he was good. We saw the Juggler and he was good..not great. Overall, we enjoyed the shows and thought the dancers/singers were talented. The cruise director, Malcom Burns, did a good job.
EXCRUSIONS: We did a Carnival excursion (with 2 couples in our group)in Costa Rica "Off Road Adventure" and would highly recommend it. The team of Eric and Jose did a super job. We thought the excursion to be intersting and fun. In Panama we booked thru myfriendmario.com. They were very reliable but the beach part of our excursion was a big disappointment. It was on Saturday during the holiday and there were too many locals..bathrooms were so dirty as was the area. However, the trip to the Gatun Locks was interesting. Overall, I would recommend Mario's group just not the beach on a Saturday when all the locals are there and it's too crowded. In Belize we booked with CoralBreeze to do the Manatee watch, snorkeling and beach break. Unfortunately, the weather in Belize that day was chilly and overcast. We had 2 people who were not feeling well and one who had hurt his back right before we left for the cruise. We all decided to go to our assigned meeting place for the trip and cancel the excursion. They couldn't have been nicer about it. We had made a deposit prior to the cruise which we thought we would just forfeit. However, when I returned there was an email from Mark, the contact person staying he was sorry we had to cancel and would refund our deposit! Wow, was that ever nice of them to do! Both myfiendmario and Coralbreeze were found on CruiseCritic..and our entire group would recommend them. We did make a deposit in the Casino most nights. Didn't have much luck this cruise. However, one man in our group did win $500 towards his bar bill the last night. He had played some lottery scratch offs. That was exciting! As far as the casino, I hated the smoke filled room and would have enjoyed the casino more if it was non smoking.
DEBARKATION: We all did luggage express. They pick up your luggage from the hallway and you don't see it until you get to your final destination/airport. Also, your boarding pass arrives in your cabin the night before. It was $20 per person and well worth it. We loved not having to mess with luggage or having to check it at the airport. OVERALL: We loved being on a cruise for New Year's. It was a fun, relaxing trip. Carnival did a great job and we would sail them again. They give the best value for the money. Anyone sailing on the Miracle will appreciate the professional and friendly staff, entertainment and food.