Embarkation process - Long lines but did not take all that long to get through, perhaps a little over an hour. Our cabin, a regular balcony room, was much smaller than the category 9A we had had previously on the Triumph. We were disappointed at how tiny the balcony was and the chairs were not lounge chairs but upright chairs that my husband could not even fit in comfortably. Also, the design of the Miracle has several zig-zags where the ship juts out and in on the side. We were at the indentation of one of those and felt our view was greatly obstructed. We couldn't see forward at all because the cabin next to us jutted out several feet beyond our balcony. We much prefered the aft cabin we had on the Triumph with the spacious wrap-balcony where we had an expansive view. So for the increase in price, we spent very little time on our own balcony and were resigned to hunt for a lounge chair on the lido or sun decks in order to be comfortable. On our previous cruises, we loved having our own private space (space is the operative word here) to hang out in. The bathroom was also smaller than in our previous cabin. It was okay for our needs, but the other cabin had two medicine chests on either side of the sink. This bathroom had open shelves where items could fall off if there was much movement of the ship. Again, not something that ruined the experience for us, but the other cabin was much nicer, and we will seek similar or better accommodations for future cruises. I loved the citrus shampoo and body wash they supplied. It was a nice clean scent without being overpowering. The bed and pillows were very comfortable. A minor issue with the layout is that the TV (not a flat panel) was up high and my neck hurt from tilting my head back to watch the TV. Not that we watched a lot, but we'd check the news and the position of the ship, etc. The TV in our other cabin was on the counter so that you didn't have to tilt your head back to see the screen. But of course we don't cruise to sit in our cabins and watch TV so it's only a minor issue. And it was nice to have the refrigerator to keep drinks cold. My husband and I both felt that we had more counter and drawer space in our previous cabins as well. We barely saw our cabin attendant, but he was always courteous when we did see and speak to him and our cabin was kept clean.
Ship's dEcor/layout - I was looking forward to sailing on the Miracle because I read lots of reviews about this class of ship being so nice and easy to get around. I did not find it that easy. The lobby was much smaller than the Triumph's lobby and the Lido dining options were very confusing for me. I never did get the hang of where everything was. The buffet area was so much smaller and the areas were not clearly labeled. That said, I loved that there were 3 pools on the Lido deck. We loved the intimate seating areas on decks 2 & 3, particularly Kane's Way and Gatsby's Garden. With the exception of the main dining room, which was the gaudiest thing I've ever seen, the ship's dEcor was great. I loved the old pictures around the Gotham Lounge and all the literary characters in the hallways. The Mad Hatter Lounge was cute, too. The pools were nicer than those on the other ships we've sailed on. I liked that they had the shallow area for just cooling off all around the pool and the depth of the main part of the pool was just right for me. I did some water aerobics and some swimming.
Food - We had a couple of room service breakfasts and ate other breakfasts and lunches on the Lido deck. The food was typical of what we've experienced on previous cruises. We were satisfied. We ate dinner every night in the main dining room. Our servers were pleasant, but not overly attentive. We felt the dining staff on our previous cruises went out of their way to get us anything we wanted or refill water glasses and bring rolls to the table. I'm wondering if budget cuts have kept the staff from offering extras since I've seen lots of comments on the lack of attentiveness of the wait staff on all the ships lately. Our waiter did offer to bring me two desserts on the last night when I was having trouble making up my mind between the two. Carnival seated us with another couple that was around our age and we found we had many other things in common as well so we had a very pleasant dining experience. We did not eat at Nick and Nora's. I have a gastric lap band and did not want to pay the extra money as beef is difficult for me to digest and we were happy with the dining room menu.
Spa - I had several nice treatments in the spa. When I cruise, the treatments are a luxury for me, and I don't like the pressure to purchase the expensive products. One gal tried to charge me for over $2000 worth of products and then seemed insulted when I told her I could not afford it. I'm sure there are people who can afford these things, but the cruise itself is a stretch for us. I enjoy being pampered at the spa and don't care for the automatic assumption that I want to, even HAVE to, spend additional money on products.
Entertainment - We attended the welcome show (typical) and "Ticket to Ride." I did not much care for the main female singer (personal taste) but the shows were well done and it was fun to hear (and sing along with) all the old Beatles' songs again. We skipped the Legends show as we had just seen that in December 2008 on the Triumph and my husband even portrayed Frank Sinatra in that one. The comedians were so-so. I'm sure the material is a lot funnier if you've had a lot to drink. The cruise director and his assistant were very much people persons. They were fun and you could tell they loved what they were doing.
One big gripe - My husband and I paid over $100 for 2 soda cards. After a few days I learned to ask for very little ice so I actually got something to drink in the glass. My biggest gripe was that the bar staff in the main show lounge would take my order and then not bring me a drink. I guess they didn't feel they had to wait on me because there would not be an additional tip. I'm going to address this with Carnival. I had heard that you could not ask a waiter on the Lido deck to bring you a soda with the card, but there is a bar nearby for that. I can't get up during the show to get drinks and there is no bar close to the main lounge. I think for $56 a piece, they could have brought us a stinking Coke during the show. I did order other drinks from time to time, but at no time did a waiter tell me he could not bring me a Coke on the soda card. He'd just take my order and never come back. By the end of the cruise we learned to stop in at a bar and bring a drink in with us to the show. Shore excursions - I will cover this under the destination/shore excursion heading.
Disembarkation - This was a breeze. We did the self-disembark thing and were off the ship in no time. We never had to wait in line anywhere and customs didn't even ask us to open a single bag. We chose to park our car at the hotel we stayed at the night before departure. It was cheaper than the port parking rate and it was a breeze to get there by shuttle afterward. The unfortunate thing was that we had a flat tire when we got back to our car and lost two hours waiting on our auto club. We finally drove the car down the street to a Tire Kingdom since the tow truck never showed. But none of that was Carnival's fault. Just one of those things.
Overall, I liked the Miracle, but would prefer a different cabin. On this class of ship, I'm afraid we'd have to go with a suite or pay less for an ocean view room and just use the Lido and Sun decks for our outside seating. It just isn't right to pay for a balcony you can't really use. I've heard complaints about Carnival's balconies being small, but in other ports we were docked next to ships from other lines and their balconies seemed to be about the same size as ours. And although I liked the length of this cruise, I would not care to visit some of these destinations again. More on that under the destination reviews. I still remain loyal to Carnival and even purchased a certificate for a future cruise while onboard.