My family of four had two rooms on the ship, midship balcony 7215 for myself and my wife and midship inside 4129 for my two sons. I had read about complaints about vibration complaints in the back of the ship, so we tried to pick rooms a ... Read More
My family of four had two rooms on the ship, midship balcony 7215 for myself and my wife and midship inside 4129 for my two sons. I had read about complaints about vibration complaints in the back of the ship, so we tried to pick rooms a little bit forward. No issue with vibration for us. We all were happy with our rooms, no problems, very clean, and as on practically every cruise and cruise line I have ever been on, the room attendants were great. Always have to give them the extra tip, besides what they get from the built-in tips, as they outshine everybody else on the crew.The room was clean, comfortable, and had enough storage. The bathroom was a typical ship bathroom, small but adequate.Carnival has changed the room cleaning from twice a day to once a day, a little disheartening, but I had read about it on these boards before hand, so I was prepared for it. We adapted to the change.On the first day my cabin steward asked me which I preferred, so we went with the morning cleaning. I suppose you could throw a few extra bucks at the cabin stewards and get them to come twice a day If that is a deal breaker for you, but as I say, we adapted.
This is an older ship, so very few bells and whistles. There is a slide at the back of the ship, but my family never experienced it. Despite its age, the ship is in good condition and kept up well. Library is practically nonexistent, so if you're thinking Holland America library, you will not be happy. Internet was abysmal, don't pay for it unless you absolutely, positively have to have it ( I do, because I own my own business and have to be in contact with my employees even on vacation). Wasn't really impressed with the casino or its service either, but those were the only two negatives about the whole cruise.I'm not really sure if the casino staff works for Carnival, or if they are contractors, but they're not the friendliest bunch. I was in the casino almost every day, but still not impressed. Maybe I'm spoiled by Mohegan Sun!
I see a lot of criticism about Carnival food when I read the reviews on CC, but we found the food very good to excellent. Went to the Statehouse twice, definitely worth the $35 it cost. Ate in the main dining room several times, we could not get an early fixed seating time, so we did the flexible time dining, first time for us. Basically they seat fixed dining on the second deck, and flexible dining on the third deck, as the restaurant has a two-story design over those two decks. No problem getting seated quickly, the only night that would have been a problem was the formal night, there was a wait that night, but we ate in the steakhouse that night anyway, so were not affected. We always were served in a prompt manner and the food was hot and good. Usual dining time from start to finish was about an hour and a half. Dining begins at 5:45, and we usually ate at right about that time, if that helps you decide when to go. Lido was a typical cruise buffet, often busy and sometimes hard to get a table, but relatively clean and the food was good and hot. We did not experience room service, since we found all of the dining venues to be just fine. Bottom line was no complaints about any of the dining.
The "vibe" of the ship is a little more subdued than your typical Carnival cruise. This is probably a result of this ship being older without the newer style toys/amenities that cruise lines are adding to their ships. My youngest son is 15, and I was a little worried about him missing the things that are on a Royal Caribbean ship, as an example (rock walls, Flo Rider, etc.). He adapted just fine, spending a lot of time in the teen club, making friends, staying up late, raising Cain with all of his buddies. The other three of us were perfectly happy with an older boat, and the more relaxed and subdued atmosphere. If you are a big time Carnival party animal, this might not be your boat. Some people have commented on the decor of the ship being kind of weird. I would have to concur with this, but I'm not a person who spends a lot of time looking at or thinking about the decor, so it did not affect our cruise. I would say the decor is not for everyone, and not really for us. Just ignore it.
We experienced the nightly entertainment and the comedy club. Both were adequate, not great, not terrible. If you want to go to the adult shows at the comedy club, you better get there early as it was always packed.
Of the four ports, we enjoyed Cozumel the most, then Roatan, with Belize and Grand Cayman taking up the rear. Still, a good time was had in all four ports, just that we felt the two beach days in Cozumel and Roatan were the highlights. we will one of the lucky ones to be able to get a cabana in Roatan, which I highly recommend. The latter two destinations are tender ports If that matters to you.
Embarkation in Tampa was easy and fast, debarkation was slower and a little bit more of a pain in the neck. Carnival is using a reservation system for embarkation, they give you a time they want you to arrive at. It seems as if that smooths things out. Rooms are not ready on the ship until 1:30, so keep that in mind if you are scheduling your embarkation time on their website. As far as debarkation, if you can get off the boat late, the later the better. I would say 10 AM would be a good time if you can do it. We had a late flight and had to kill time anyway, so we walked next door to the aquarium. I had pre-purchased tickets online, saving me a few bucks. The aquarium is not that impressive, average at best, that it will chew up two hours. They can store your luggage for you, which was a help.
Despite some of my nitpicking at the beginning of this review, I would rate this cruise as a great value for the money. It's not Celebrity, it's not a high-end type of cruise or cruise ship, but it is very enjoyable, especially when you factor in the cost. Maybe it's just because I like cruising, but having been on Holland America, Royal Caribbean, Disney, Celebrity, and Norwegian, I find that every cruise line has its own personality, its own pluses and minuses. The trick for me to a great cruise is to figure out what the cruise line and the specific boat does well, and stay close to those things, and avoid the things that are negatives because they will sink your vacation if you dwell on them. The Carnival Miracle has plenty of pluses, you should have no problem finding things that make you happy on this ship. Read Less