This was my fifth cruise, my partner and my adult daughter's second cruises and 4 1/2 year old grandson's first cruise and our first cruise with Carnival. My partner and I had a standard balcony cabin on deck 6 very near the front of the ship and daughter and grandson had an inside cabin directly across from ours. Both rooms were spacious, the beds and pillows were very, very comfortable making for a great night's sleep every night. We had much more than enough closet and storage space for our over abundance of clothing etc. that we brought and never even used. Our room steward Waynan was very friendly (getting to know us all by first name immediately) and did a great job keeping our rooms in tip top shape and frequently entertained the 4 1/2 year old. We chose the dine on your own time option, which was convenient. We were seated immediately when we arrived each evening, never having to wait on any of the 7 out of 8 nights we ate in the Bacchus Dining Room (upper level only is available for those on this plan). My only complaint is that I would have enjoyed eating and talking with other cruisers, but that only happened one night. On the other nights our family ate alone as there were no "shared" tables available. That also might have been because we ate fairly late, so fewer people were coming in even after we were seated at a "shared" table. With this dining option, you do not really get to know your waiter as you sit in a different place each time. The food itself was delicious, more than ample as on any cruise, and pretty much available from early morning up to 1 AM!
I can't say enough about Camp Carnival which our 4 1/2 year old loved. I think he would have preferred to be with his new "friends" during the whole trip! He was in the 2-5 year old group. I was very impressed with the security used to sign the kids in and out of program and we could see how he was doing any time we wanted. Their afterhours (after 10 PM) program was also conveniently held in the same area at a reasonable price of $6/hour broken down to 15 minute segments so you were not charged the full hour if you only stayed 15 minutes. They even had a dinner time in the Horatio's Restaurant blocked off separately for the children who chose to eat with them at 6 PM and then they would take the children back to the playroom together. My only complaint is that they really are kept inside in a room (although a large, fun room) for the whole time the child is in program. The staff is not permitted to take this age group out on deck or to the pool, so they are pretty much inside when they take part in the camp. Our practice was to make sure we did lots of outside activities swimming, mini-golf, and lunch etc during most of the day and then bring him to camp while the adults enjoyed the evenings. Camp Carnival (a free service) it is something I would highly recommend for any children on board; even the teens seemed to be having a great time.
I must have misunderstood or misread, but there were really plenty of pool areas (3 pools) and lounge chairs available, although you might not always get a chair in the area you wanted. We did not get to go on the waterslide as all three times we attempted to go, the slide was closed due to high winds. I had previously read a lot of complaints about loud, rude people from the New York/New Jersey area. I did not find this to be the case at all. Everyone was very friendly and courteous and yes, most were from NY and NJ. As school is already in progress, there were fewer families and definitely more seniors on board.
I had previously read lots of complaints about smoking on board and none of us smoke so I had my concerns here too. We did not have any issues in the dining rooms, or our cabins or hallways,one side of the Lido deck is smoking and one side is for non-smokers and it seemed to work. Of course, we almost had to hold our breath going through the Casino or the bar areas - luckily that is not our area of choice. We thoroughly enjoy dancing, so we were at Dr. Frankenstein's Lab every night and it did get pretty smokey in there as the evening wore on. But, the DJ played great music and kept us all up on the dance floor way into the night.
We saw four evening shows and one adult comedy show and they were all excellent. Karaoke was very popular on board this cruise and people tried out and were selected to be in the show on the final evening. We did not partake in any professional photos, but there certainly were lots of styles available.
We did not take part in any purchased off shore excursions. Half Moon Cay was beautiful, the sand was the whitest and softest I have ever seen. Get there early if you want to rent a Clamshell ($17/day) and keep out of the sun which was wicked hot. The kid's area is small, but makes for nice entertainment for them. The beach and Margaritaville pool at Turks and Caicos were also very nice so wear your swimsuit. Find something else to do on Nassau unless you like shopping in overpriced tourist stores. There were five cruise ships anchored in Nassau on this same day, so it was very busy here. I am sorry we did not get to Atlantis, as someone suggested to us a bit late, instead.
Disembarking from the Carnival Miracle was a breeze. We put our luggage out before midnight the night before, enabling us to have a leisurely breakfast and then leave the ship when our Zone 17 was called at about 10:15 AM. This was quite a difference from our experience to get on the ship which was absolutely the worst part of our whole trip. We drove to NYC (only a 3 1/2 hour trip - no traffic either way). We parked on the pier in their long term parking ($30/day) and that too was a simple on and off experience. But, once we got into the terminal to get on the ship the whole process and wait was a nightmare. The staff kept asking people to sit down and wait until their "zone" was called. But people kept crowding the line-up area to be the "first" in line when their "zone" was called. We arrive at the terminal about 12:30 PM with the thought that we would get right on and have lunch. We did not get on the ship until almost 3 PM. I would say that the majority (if not all) of the people who were waiting (some even longer than us) were not happy campers. Still not sure what all the hold up was about, but I heard they were trying some new embarking and photo process. Hopefully, they will have it all ironed out by the time the next ship is heading out. The odd thing too is that we had to have our photos retaken the next day on the ship due to some problem that they had. This took just a few minutes to redo.
All and all, with the exception of getting on the ship, we had a great trip - at a very reasonable price for a vacation for four. I hope our information is of some benefit to anyone looking at this cruise.