We flew in the day before and stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in Ft. Lauderdale. Coming from the Chicagoland area in February, one never knows about the weather and we did not want to take a chance of missing this cruise by flying in the same day.
The hotel was a short walking distawnce from a Bass Pro Shop and attached to that was a restaurant called Ismorelda's. Good seafood and it had a unique HUGE fish tank in the middle of the restaurant, which was amazing.
We scheduled a 10am pick-up from the hotel to the ship and it was right on time and took no more than 15 min tops to get to the ship. Seeing her in the distance when we pulled up was awesome. Since we were in a Suite, we had VIP boarding. No line at the port, just checked our luggage with the porters and walked over to the VIP line, which was well marked. All we did was show our print-out from Carnival showing VIP and we were in. We were taken to a waiting area that offered cookies and lemonade and water while we waited to board. We were delayed a bit for boarding as the coast guard did a surprise inspection. No matter, DH and I enjoyed the area we were in and we even sat next to one of our cruise critic members and did not know it until we got onto the ship
After boarding the ship, we were advised to go up to the lido deck 9 for lunch. Since were were some of the first people on board, we could roam the ship and have lunch and just enjoy and marvel. A little bit later we met some of our cruise critic members as we were wearing Mardi Gras beads. It was great to do that.
Around 1:30pm we were allowed to go to our cabin. OMG, I was stunned. We had a vista suite wrap-around aft balcony. The balcony was HUGE! Our cabin was also very very nice. It was like 3 different rooms, one living room, one changing and make-up are and the bedroom. I can't say enough about this cabin. I would book it again in a heart beat.
Muster drill was about 3:30 and was quite painless. We did not have to take the life vests, which was great. Then back to the cabin to prepare for the sail away. As noted by Demon in her review, we had about 18 cruise critic members on the balcony. Yes, that's right, 18 people and there was room for probably at least that many more. We all had some wine, etc. and watched as the ship sailed away leaving Ft. Lauderdale in her wake. One of the members talked to a friend as we left the port and they saw the ship leave via the web cam that is near the entry to the port.
We had early seating for dinner at a table for 6. Had very enjoyable dinner companions. Food in the dining room was generally good, but you can tell that the quality is not the same as it used to be. But, hey, were were on a cruise, I did not have to cook or clean the tables, so I was happy. We did breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck and it was good. Crowded sometimes, but that's to be expected.
On the first sea day, we met up with other cruise critic members that were not able to make it to our balcony for the sail away and that was great. It's so nice to finally meet the people you talk with for months online.
We had seen the shows on our prior cruise on the Miracle, so did not see them this time around. With the huge balcony we had, we spent a lot of time just staring out to sea and umm other things on the balcony.
Our first port was Panama. We did the Panama Canal Tour and that was fun. We had never seen the canal before, and this gave us a chance to go thru 3 of the locks. We also saw where they are making a new canal for the super huge mega ships. It's was amazing. The temp was in the 90's
Second port was Costa Rica. I was not feeling up to going into Costa Rica, so we just stayed on the ship and played some games, laid out and tanned on the balcony, etc. Nice and relaxing day.
Third port was Belize. We tendered in and did shopping. We had been there 3 previous times, so no need to do excursions. I had my usual 190 proof margarita. It sure goes down smooth when it's in the 90's.
After Belize, we then had 1 1/2 days at sea heading back to Ft. Lauderdale. Just hung out and relaxed, knowing those last 1 1/2 days would be over very soon.
Debarkation went smoothly. We put our luggage out the night before and we were in group 5 to disembark. This was the smoothest I have ever gotten off of any ship, it took maybe 5 minutes start to finish. It was sad knowing that I had to leave this beautiful ship behind for somebody else.
All in all, I will be sailing on the Miracle again and making sure I do it in the same cabin as it was AWSOME. If you can book either cabin 4228 or cabin 4237, you will not be disappointed.