BACKGROUND - We've taken 25+ cruises, mainly with Celebrity and Holland America, and several with Princess and NCL. We cruise 2-3 times a year. This was our second Carnival cruise, having enjoyed sailing on the larger Carnival Glory in June 2010. This was a family cruise for eight people, ranging in age from 6 to 82. We booked the Carnival Miracle because of the ports and because we thought it would provide a better fun cruising experience for the younger family members.
It was very disappointing that we didn't stop in Half Moon Cay due to Hurricane Irene - as Half Moon Cay is the best port! - so we ended up spending five days at sea and two days in Grand Turks and Nassau. We tried to make the best of it but the sea days were not a lot of fun.
We generally agree with Dr Jimmy515's comments on the "Hurricane Irene" Carnival Miracle cruise - with the following personal comments:
- EMBARKATION - a lot of time sitting and waiting but OK; to be expected as there were so many people showing up at the same time (noon). Very long hunt for tables at lunch.
- BUFFET (Horatio's) - Food quality was average to poor. Very long lines at all lunch food stations on embarkation day; long lines daily at breakfast omelet stations. I think they try to wear you down so you just grab a box of cereal. Very good pizza at the pizza station. Fatty corned beef and pastrami meats at the deli station but the sandwich choices and presentation were good otherwise. Fried foods were inconsistent - sometimes delicious and sometimes so oily and undrained that people ended up throwing out the food. Suspected packaged (vs baked on ship) cookies, banana bread, muffins, etc. Limited selection of breakfast foods that did not vary; frozen waffles served at breakfast. Limited buffet dinner food was available until 9:30pm, with the deli open til 11pm and pizza around the clock - very limited compared to other cruise lines. For the most part, wait staff were not friendly and did not seem to enjoy their jobs - maybe because there were always frustrated diners looking for tables and food. Also, tables were left unwiped leaving the impression that the area was not as clean as it should've been.
- MDR (Bacchus) - Food quality was inconsistent - ranging from very good to poor. Portion sizes in the MDR were inconsistent - very small to very large - so it was difficult to know how to order. Food choices available every day were limited to cheaper selections, e.g., flat iron steak (vs strip steak on other ships), no salmon. Food choices on the changing daily menu were better and tasted very good, e.g., lamb chops, short ribs, pork steak, maine lobster tail w/shrimp. Poor quality breads and (?)butter. Cappuccino and espresso were available but not that good-tasting. We were asked if we enjoyed the entrees and when we reported problems, we were not asked if we wanted something else. We were more assertive later on but it did delay dinner for the rest of our party.
We were on a Princess cruise and a Holland America cruise earlier this year, and the service and attitudes were very different from our Carnival Miracle experience. The Maitre D's need to notice bad service and understaffing of tables under his watch, and not just make jokes and announcements at dinner time. Can't believe anyone would tip the Maitre D's.
In contrast, we had a better dining experience on the Carnival Glory with higher quality of food but poorer service as they assigned too many diners (about 30) to our waiter.
- SUSHI BAR - 5pm on deck 2 - good sushi selections but serving staff was not friendly.
- CAFE on deck 2 - $4 for a poor-tasting cappuccino - due to poor quality coffee beans? Princess's International Cafe serves the most delicious cappuccino.
- ROOM STEWARDS - friendly and excellent.
- GUEST SERVICES STAFF - helpful, solicitous, friendly.
- CRUISE DIRECTOR STAFF - friendly and enthusiastic. Entertainment was good, including the production shows (very energetic and enthusiastic), Miracle band, other guest entertainers were ok. Music was ok but too loud especially on the pool deck.
- POOL DECK - need more shaded areas for lounging. Very hard to find lounge chairs on pool deck.
SUMMARY - Like DrJimmy515, we had a good time on this cruise because our family got to spend time together. We enjoyed the excursions - the Aquaventure water park in Atlantis and horseback ride and swim in Grand Turks. The younger family members enjoyed themselves, but said that they enjoyed the Celebrity cruises more. They were disappointed in the food also. We did not take advantage of the kids club although some of the ships' activities were restricted to adults, e.g., bean bag toss.