We just returned from the 2/23 sailing of the Miracle to the Southern Caribbean. We had a great time, and will probably do this itinerary again sometime.
Background: DH (59) and I (57) along with my brother (60) and sister in law (57) took this cruise. This was our 7th Carnival cruise, 2nd time on the Miracle. I won't go into a lot of detail, just a things we noticed, liked and or disliked. We had an aft cabin, 5270.
*I had ordered tequila from Bon Voyage, and it was delivered as we got to our room at 1:45. I brought the single serving powdered Margarita Mix from Baja Bob's and it made for an excellent drink! ($40 for the tequila)
*There was definitely an 'older' demographic on this cruise. I think the fact that it is an eight day cruise and left Wednesday was a factor in this.
*Seas were very bumpy. Nothing that a few doses of ginger couldn't handle, though.
*We thought the beds were hard, but slept well with the rocking and rolling each night.
*Embarkation: Arrived at the cruise terminal at 11:30 and spent about 45 minutes in line(s). We found a table for four on the Lido with no problem.
*No fish and chips or Mongolian Wok, although the Asian selections were very good.
*Chocolate buffet on the last sea day along with the ice cream 'swans'.
*MDR we had late seating which was well attended. The usual singing/dancing (which we do enjoy), although I will ask someone at corporate if the wait staff is required to participate, as there were a few waiters that looked very uncomfortable in the Conga Line.
*MDR food was good to very good. (Try the warm melting chocolate cake with butter pecan ice cream!) We had great tablemates at a table for six.
*Had lunch in the MDR and on the 2nd to last sea day and the captain was there going to each table to visit and ask how things were.
*Just do it. We will do this again on our next cruise. The food/wine/'surprises' were well worth the price. I don't want to give away any info, but I will say that you should probably be a
'foodie' to truly enjoy this. Some rather unusual pairings and ingredients. It was so much fun to interact with the Chef de Cuisine and find out how things function, AND let him run with his imagination (the usual recipes have no flexibility)!
*We saw a ventriloquist (who I had seen on another cruise so I knew his entire routine), and "Ticket To Ride". We learned from Behind the Fun tour that the lead singer from Ticket had lost his voice that day, so was lip syncing, and one of the dancers in the early show had broken a bone in her foot so there was some scurrying around to replace her for the late
show. The near-crisis was not noticeable by the audience.
*Went one night, the pianist is talented (Greg G...), but not a great entertainer....didn't seem to have a show ready....just asked for requests and then entered them into his Mac to find the lyrics. Because of the internet connection, he couldn't perform a few songs. Also, sang a few from Counting Crows and Barenaked Ladies, that this older crowd couldn't really get into. Not a whole bunch of people stayed after the first fifteen minutes the night we were there. The good news is that the piano bar is non-smoking. Greg did say he appreciated that fact, too.
*Again, minimal attendance. The music scheduled was 50's and 60's, but the music the DJ chose was closer to 40's, and rather oddly, even some classical? Country that was played was also the really old stuff.....Conway Twitty?
*We did the catamaran sail/snorkel through Carnival (they'd locked up all the local vendors) and it was great. The crew was wonderful, the water and reefs were outstanding, and the rum punch good and potent! Highly recommend. Brother and sister in law walked into town and looked around, but not much of interest there.
Catalina Island, Dominican Republic:
*Beach stop. Tendered in and Carnival had a BBQ set up on the beach. Plenty of chairs, and organized games of volleyball, sand castle competition and tug of war. The water and beach were excellent. What a great stop! The water was really rough getting on/off the tenders, quite tricky to not fall, but it was an adventure!
*Well, the weather was awful, and it was a Sunday. Shops were closed up tight, and it was raining, so most excursions on the water were cancelled. This made a very dull day, especially since we were there from noon-ten. We walked around the town for about an hour. The city had prepared for their Carnivale's children's parade, but that also had to be cancelled. I was
surprised at how trashy this town was. There was garbage everywhere...bottles/papers/cans and debris in lots of vacant lots. Empty storefronts with graffiti, and a couple of packs of mal-nourished dogs walking around. I will give Aruba another chance another time.
*We loved this stop. Walked through the town and saw the floating market, where Venezuelan fishermen dock their boats and sell their fresh catch. Fruit and vegetable stands and lots of people on the streets. The town is beautiful. Make sure you cross the floating bridge to see both sides of this town.
*We rented a car from Avis and drove to Playa Porto Mari. It's about a 30 minute drive and well worth it. The beach is gorgeous with great snorkeling off the shore. The beach is primarily coral, though, so make sure you bring water shoes for easy entry/exit. Mostly locals, with a dive shop and bar/restaurant on the premises. Clean restrooms and parking is free.
*Brother and sister in law asked for an early Zone as they had a lot of driving to do. They were given Zone 2 and were on the road by 8:15. We chose Luggage Express and were one of the last people off the ship, about 10:30. Cabs were plentiful, and our trip to the airport was quick and painless, especially without big luggage.
*When leaving the cabin, I forgot to pick up my RX and a pair of earrings from the glass shelf in the bathroom. I realized it after about an hour and DH went down to the cabin to see if he could find them (the earrings, especially). He found one of our room steward's assistants who said he hadn't found anything. We stopped at the Guest Services desk and asked if they had been turned in when we were leaving the ship, about two hours later. They radioed our steward who said he'd not found anything. They were not terribly expensive, I just find it odd that the crew would throw away something that had some value. Oh well, I learned a lesson! Double check every surface before you leave.
We are definitely Carnival cheerleaders. We love the value we get for our money and enjoy the people we meet.