I booked this cruise for my husband and I for our Honeymoon. It will be memorable to say the least. Everything started out pretty well with our embarkation. Everyone but the porters seemed to be pretty friendly. I was eager to get to our ... Read More
I booked this cruise for my husband and I for our Honeymoon. It will be memorable to say the least. Everything started out pretty well with our embarkation. Everyone but the porters seemed to be pretty friendly. I was eager to get to our stateroom, since I had ordered a surprise for my husband. Much to our dismay there would be no surprise waiting for us, and the purser's desk was not too happy to help me find out why it was not. No big deal, I would just explore our home for the next week. What a grand ship it was, and I was ready to set sail. It would be several hours before my surprise would be waiting in our cabin. The cake looked absolutely nothing like the image online, nor the image in the display case on the ship. Also there were no plates, no forms, no knives, nothing to eat our cake with. It seemed to be too much trouble to ask room service to get us anything we needed. They opted to provide one plate, 2 forks, no knives. Our sheets had holes in them, stains were on our bathrobes. I mentioned this to our cabin steward, one of the few times were actually able to see him. He stated that sometimes these things happen, and did nothing to fix it. We had to hunt him down to get him to convert our bed for us. Yet I was determined to have fun on my Honeymoon. How could I let this affect a very romantic week. Just give the staff of the Miracle enough time, and they will find a way to ruin a vacation. We had problems with our bill on several occasions, and it was a pain to get them taken care of. They would tell us to come down to the pursers desk, we would, it would not get corrected, so we would have to go back down there to get it corrected again. The icing on the cake was when we got back from our last port of call, exhausted from all the fun we had while away from the nightmare ship, we made the mistake of ordering room service. We got the wrong food, and the sandwich that I had ordered came with another something special that I did not order HAIR!! That's right, a long piece of black hair that was all up in my sandwich, and another strand underneath my sandwich. I was quite furious and upset. I called the pursers desk to inform them of the problem. Of course I was told that "I" needed to come down, they would not send someone to my room to come talk to me. I ventured downstairs and was given the response "What do you want me to do about it?" What I wanted them to do about it was not ask me in the rude way that they did, but for them to just tell me what they were going to do to fix it. 10% off my next cruise was their solution. The only problem with that is that they would have to get me to actually board another one of their ships. That is not likely. I asked to speak to the room service manager, I was told that he was unavailable right now but he would give me a call shortly. I took my hair infested food back to my room and waited for my call. Over an 1 1/2 hours had passed, still no call. I call down to the pursers desk asking to speak to the room service manager. I was told he would not be available for another 45 mins to an hour as he was not on shift yet. This information would have been helpful beforehand, as I would not have been waiting in my room waiting for him to call me back. He does show up, and was the only nice person in regards to this hair incident. He apologized and almost sounded like he meant it. He stated that this had never happened before, but he had only been on the ship for 2 weeks. I now wished I had brought some food with me in my suitcase because I had to live on this boat another 2 days & nights eating food from their unsanitary kitchen. I am only glad that I found out after I was in the airport on my way home, that the mascot of the boat let me know that one of the employees had a cockroach in her food. Another passenger informed me on the plane ride that she too had a hair in her food. Her friend also experienced a flooded suite due to the fact that toilet was broken. I was told by Carnival and my travel agent before I booked my cruise, that I should pre-pay my tips to make things easier, but I could adjust my tips up or down based on service. I prepaid, and was upset to find out that they would not adjust them and I would have to wait until I got off the boat, I did and called the number that they gave me and was told that I needed to do it while I was on the boat. Carnival has still done nothing to fix this problem. There were charges that were incorrect on my bill, that took them forever to correct. One of the many times I was at the pursers desk fighting bad charges, another gentlemen was down there stating that he had this same incorrect charge go on his account 3 times now and he was livid. The staff seemed to not care about it. I would highly recommend that anyone think twice about boarding the Miracle. I will never go on Carnival again, and will be reporting Carnival to the BBB and to the board of health. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2000
Review of the Carnival Miracle, January 1, 2006 Traveling on this cruise: My husband, a 43 year old executive and me, a 35 year old home maker. It was his 7th cruise and my 12th, 2nd on Carnival for him and 4th on Carnival for me. First ... Read More
Review of the Carnival Miracle, January 1, 2006 Traveling on this cruise: My husband, a 43 year old executive and me, a 35 year old home maker. It was his 7th cruise and my 12th, 2nd on Carnival for him and 4th on Carnival for me. First time for both of us on a newer larger ship though. Due to January 1 being a black out date, we flew from BWI to Tampa on the 31st and stayed at the Doubletree Westshore Airport hotel. Flight was delayed slightly due to an aircraft change out but uneventful. Ran into some trouble getting the hotel shuttle to show up at the airport and pick us up but finally after about an hour the manager said she would personally ride with the driver and even offered to buy us dinner. This seemed like a bit of overkill for a relatively minor offense but was a nice gesture (we declined her offer but did enjoy a nice meal in the hotel restaurant at our own expense - HUGE portions). The room was nicely appointed, the pool was heated and the hot tub was HOT. Not a bad way to spend New Years Eve. Our room rate of $139 included breakfast the next morning. The Doubletree also offered a free shuttle to the cruise port which we used the day of departure around 11:15am. I would have to say embarkation at Tampa is not my personal favorite. We arrived somewhere around 11:45 and found the ship was not docked at the check in area (from reading the CC boards I see this is common at the Tampa port). The line to check in moved quickly but we then had to wait about an hour until they called our group (#8) to board buses to get to the ship. The bus was nice and at least they did not stuff them to the gills but still, I would have preferred just getting on the ship. I do understand this was beyond Carnivals control. We were on board by 1pm and although we had been given a paper at check in saying staterooms would be ready at 2pm, the person on board calling the elevators for boarding passengers said 1:30 (it ended up being 2pm after all). We nosed around the ship a bit and went to Horatios for a bite to eat. Had heard the dEcor of this room was frightening but I did not mind it as much. I thought the mosaic tiles were gorgeous and while I might not have paired it with the other colors in the room in my own home, it did not ruin the experience for me. On the whole we found Horatios to be a good dining experience each day we went there. The Asian buffet line left something to be desired to our taste buds but we have excellent Chinese, Japanese and Thai food near our home. The burgers were always fresh and tasty and the fries were excellent. Horatios was very clean and well kept and someone pushes a drink cart around to refill your beverage as needed. ***I must apologize to my fellow CC folks who were on the roll call with me. Matt and I went to the pool bar about 10 after 3 and saw a bunch of people in yellow tee shirts (for a family reunion I think) and figured everyone had left already or we got blown off. It was not until Thursday or Friday of the cruise that I realized we went to the ULYSSES pool bar looking for people and not ORPHEUS! I am so sorry I missed the opportunity to meet everyone and hope you all enjoyed your cruise as much as we did!*** One nice note about embarkation: plenty of waiters milling about with lots of freely flowing champagne. This is a very classy touch and one we found sorely lacking on a recent RCCL cruise (you can see my review of that cruise on the CC member review page). Finally it was time to enter the stateroom and we could not have been more pleased. We were booked in a category 8G extended balcony, cabin #7186, a little more forward of mid ship on the port side. The cabin was quite spacious and beautiful. Lovely wood tones on the closet and storage, nice lighting options, large sofa, the upgraded bedding everyone else has mentioned, robes in the closet. Nice sized bathroom with a wrap around curtain that gave you enough space to turn around, shave your legs, etc. As on our recent Imagination cruise, the shower had dispensers for Dove shower gel and shampoo. There was a basket of misc toiletries on the sink which I find to be a classy touch. Also, ladies pay attention, there is a hair dryer in the top drawer of the vanity and it actually WORKS! First time ever on a cruise ship I was able to use the dryer provided and have it actually dry my hair!!! Those of you who have used those provided in the bathroom on some other lines/ships know what I mean. There has been some talk on the CC boards that the extended balconies are not worth it since you look straight down on the life boats and cannot see the bow or stern of the ship. Looking at our balcony and looking at the regular sized balconies the extended balcony offers one thing that is very important to us. We were able to sit in the chairs with our feet on the table and still have room to move around on the balcony. My husband and I are quite tall (65 and 58, well HES tall anyway&.) On a regular sized balcony we would have had to put the chairs all the way back to the wall/corner and the put the table against the plexi-glass and we still would not have been able to extend our legs fully. Plus, we spend a lot of time on our balcony sitting down, reading and watching the world sail by and our view was not obstructed in any way by lifeboats or other cabins. But if standing at the railing and looking down or to your left or right is important to you&. Muster drill was relatively painless, necessary evil and then sail away which we watched from our balcony. We went under the bridge around 6:30 and man did it look CLOSE to us, half expected the whale tail to get knocked off! We had late seating dinner at a booth for 4 people. Enjoyed our table mates from Tennessee very much. Everything you have heard about the dining room is true. The food and service were both good, above average in most cases but the decor&. The purple neon piping was not bad BUT the giant pink mentos?!?!??! I cant even begin to describe the degree of blindness required to decorate a room this way. In this dining room it seemed like if there was a blank space, they filled it. The ceiling tiles were patterned with a lattice and grapevine motif. There were silver spray painted plastic pillars through out. The rest of the ship is a little more ornate than I might decorate my own home but okay  this room needs to be redone ASAP. First full day was at sea and pretty non-eventful for us. We cruise to relax so this trip included a lot of time sitting on the balcony reading and a lot of mid afternoon naps! First formal night was also Monday. Captains Cocktail party, etc, etc. Surprised at how young Captain is, his English is excellent. Dinner in main dining room. Prime rib and lobster. Prime rib was very good, the lobster was a little chewy. Tuesday was Grand Cayman. We booked all of our excursions through the ship this trip and went on the Reef and Ray tour with Kellys Water Sports. This was the first time to the stingrays for my husband so it was fun to watch him interact with them. The reef part of the trip was jut eh in my book. We have done better snorkeling in Cayman just walking into the water near the tender pier! This tour was okay, but we have definitely had tours that were a little more professional. I cant really put my finger on it but something felt sort of shady about this operation. Tuesday evening we dined at Nick and Noras, the supper club on the Miracle. The decor of this room is much classier and much more attractive. We had a nice quiet table for 2 on the balcony level. The service was very elegant and on the ball. My husband had the porterhouse and I had the surf and turf. The lobster was okay, not the best I have had but still better than most other places. They have live entertainment of a vocalist and pianist. I felt as though the volume of this music could have been a little lower to be more conducive to conversation. They told us dinner would take about 2 to 2.5 hours but we felt there was a little too much time between the courses. I suppose this may be to allow people to dance between courses but it got a little uncomfortable sitting in those chairs for that long. The escargot three ways was very good and the lobster bisque is maybe one of the best tasting things I have ever put in my mouth. My husbands spinach salad looked very good too. My only complaint about the supper club honestly was the price. $60 per couple plus we added 20% gratuity plus another $50 for wine. Considering we have already paid for food in our cruise fare and can get this quality of food on other lines (HAL and Celebrity come to mind) I felt the price a little too high for what we got. HALs specialty restaurant was not as pricey and the food in their main dining room was just as good&. Next day was Cozumel which for me was very very sad. We were there on our Imagination cruise in March of 2005 and to see the devastation is just heartbreaking. The people of Cozumel are in good spirits and they want to work and rebuild their island which is encouraging. We did the Fury Catamaran Sail, Snorkel and Beach Party on this trip and it was a very well run, organized tour. Not too many people and the snorkeling was very good. On Thursday we went to Belize. We did a snorkel trip to Goffs Caye which picked us up right at the boat. The weather was rainy and a little overcast most of the day but the water was fairly warm. My husband snorkeled off the boat while I did the snorkeling from the beach. When he came in he then snorkeled from the beach and said it was better than what he saw from the boat. He said it was a little too deep from the boat and being overcast not enough light penetrated the water and it was hard to see anything. I realize this is just a tiny (1 acre) island but some places to sit would have been nice. Friday was Costa Maya, a new port for us. We were booked on the Jungle Beach Break excursion but when we went out on the balcony to drink coffee and eat Danish and we saw folks getting off the ship in jeans and long sleeves and we felt the cool breeze blowing we thought maybe a beach excursion was not the best idea so we skipped it. Costa Maya was a very nice port. Honestly, if you are cruising on a budget and dont want to spend a lot of money on excursions this is one port you can just get off the boat and have fun. Lots of shops with the basic Mexico stuff. Two or three restaurants/bars a salt water pool, plenty of lounge chairs and hammocks. Some people got into the ocean but my husband said he saw signs saying not to. The water was gorgeous here, we could look down from the pier and see tons of coral and colorful fish, I bet the snorkeling was great. One thing about Costa Maya, the pier is LOOOOONG. They have a trolley but give yourself plenty of time if you have a tour that meets on the end of the pier. Final day of cruise was a sea day. Played Scene It and won a ship on a stick (yeah!) and then at dinner found out I had been selected as a semifinalist for a contest I didnt even know I had entered. Apparently by ordering a certain bottle of Shiraz with dinner I was put in a ship wide drawing and my name was picked. This is apparently a promotion they are running on 4 ships for 4 weeks (not sure which ships or which weeks though). I now have a 1 in 16 chance of winning a cruise for two including airfare on any carnival itinerary! My mind immediately went to Alaska or the Southern Caribbean because honestly it is the airfare that keeps us from doing that, but my Dad said what about Europe. Also not sure what class of stateroom they give you, but free is free is free. I will definitely have a lot of questions for them if I win! Overall this was a very good cruise. The cabin was perfect for us, the food overall was very good. We had breakfast in our stateroom most days but did make it to Horatios for breakfast once and to Bacchus on the last day and found those to be very good as well. Lunched in Bacchus one day but hit Horatios most of the other times and both were also very good. On the 2 sea days they offered tea in Jeeves lounge around 3:30pm with music by the Chamber trio and we are sorry we missed the first one as we thoroughly enjoyed the one on Saturday. We tendered in 2 of the 4 ports but did not find it to be a problem in any of them. Cozumel was probably the easiest with huge boats with airplane type seats and rest rooms. Three ships including us in both Cozumel and Cayman. One other ship in Belize with us. Since our Belize excursion was directly from the ship, I cannot speak to what tendering was like in that port. We only made one show in the main lounge and that was Ticket to Ride and it was very very good. The male singer is better than the female by far but it was an enjoyable show. My husband went to one late night comedy show and found it to be raunchy for the sake of raunchiness and not very funny and we were both under whelmed by the late night comedy hypnosis show. Overall the musical talent was quite good on this ship and I commented to my husband the number of live music acts they have on board. There is a full orchestra/band in the main show lounge. A piano player/singer in the piano bar. Music Unlimited who does your basic rock and pop cover tunes. A guy in the Casino playing guitar. Glenn in Jeeves and sometimes on deck playing guitar. The duo in Nick & Noras. The Chamber Trio. And the reggae band on the lido deck. Staff and crew were very friendly and helpful. I would advise the cruise director Steve Knisley to SLOW DOWN. He talks way way way too fast. Being from NYC originally I know about fast talkers but he is just a blur sometimes, especially over the loudspeaker. Disembarkation was probably the easiest and least stressful of any ship we have ever sailed. We were able to pull into the port which was nice, no buses. After putting our luggage outside the previous evening, Matt and I awoke at 7am, got showered and dressed and took my purse and one carry on to Bacchus for breakfast. We had a very relaxed leisurely breakfast with plenty of coffee and good conversation with our table mates. While we were eating they called for self-disembark. When we finished eating we went out to Jeeves and found a comfortable place to sit. I dont think we sat down for more than 10-15 minutes before they called the general disembarkation. We got up walk to the atrium, gave them our sign and sails to swipe and were off the ship. NO LINE! Walked downstairs and got our luggage, went outside and got into a taxi. We were at the airport, checked into our flight and waiting in line at Starbuck's by 10am. I wish EVERY disembarkation could be like that. We really enjoyed this cruise and will continue to cruise Carnival when the dates and ports appeal to us. They offer a very good product at an excellent value. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
We flew from Philadelphia on Monday morning and arrived in JAX at around 10am. We left the baggage claim and boarded a van on the sidewalk right outside to take us to the ship. It was $20 per person one way. The van driver took us on a 15 ... Read More
We flew from Philadelphia on Monday morning and arrived in JAX at around 10am. We left the baggage claim and boarded a van on the sidewalk right outside to take us to the ship. It was $20 per person one way. The van driver took us on a 15 minute drive to the Miracle and dropped us off right in front of the cruise terminal. A porter took our bags right from the van and when given his tip, told us not to worry, we would next see our luggage in our cabin. We proceeded into the terminal and were checked in and given our sign and sail cards within 10 minutes. We were directed to a sitting area and told they would begin boarding around noon. We only waited about 25 minutes and they started boarding by zones. As we had gotten through the check in so quickly, we were able to board with the zone one passengers. We were told that since the boarding was taking place early to feel free to walk around the ship, but to please not go to the cabins as they were still being cleaned. We did however stop by the cabin to see if we could drop off our carry on bags and our steward Jamie was in the room and happily left us drop off whatever we needed to. The Miracle is a beautiful ship. It is obviously very well kept because it is brand new. Some of the decor can boarder on the verge of what some people would consider tacky, but I thought overall it was quite nice. Let me put it this way, I would not decorate my house like some of the rooms I saw on the ship. But, I would not take a 5 day cruise in my livingroom either. Some passengers were complaining and making comments on the diningroom lighting, ect. But, Mike and I viewed things like this, we left snowy Philadelphia and our 4 children and were headed to Key West and Nassau on a brand new cruise ship. What could we possibly complain about? The lighting in the Diningroom was hot pink, yeah, so what! Speaking of the diningroom, the meals were wonderful and the service was great. We did not have one meal that we did not enjoy very much. If we had trouble making up our minds our waiter let us try more than one thing. He was excellent! The food on the Lido deck was not as good as the food in the diningroom, but it was still good. The one thing that is a must do is book a night at Nick and Nora's Supper Club. We think it was the best meal we have ever experienced. For a nominal charge of $25 each (plus tip) we dined on the best Filet Mignon we ever had. It was a romantic and wonderful experience. It was a 5 course meal that we probably would have paid $250 or more for back home. In the morning we ordered room service so that we would have coffee when we were showering and getting dressed for the day. We would leave the card on our door the night before letting them know what we wanted and at what time. They were always right on time and everything was fresh and hot. As for our ports of call. We went to Key West and Nassau. We did not book any shore excursions as we have been to Nassau three times and we had read that it was fun just to walk around Key West. We just shopped and hit the beach in both ports and had a relaxing week. The shows on the ship were excellent. We really enjoyed the juggler and the comedian Tony Esposito was hysterical. We went to his midnight show in the Mad Hatter lounge too. Todd was our cruise director and he did a fantastic job keeping everyone entertained and getting people to participate in the various activities planned around the ship every day. We also each had a spa treatment our last morning at sea and enjoyed the services very much. The gym on the Miracle is very nice and there were never any lines our crowds to the point that you could not do a good workout. Our fellow passengers were a very friendly group of people. They ranged in age from 6 months to 90 years with every age in between represented. There were a lot of college students on Spring Break and a large number of families with children on school vacation. The only small complaint that I had is that there were some children that were not put in the Camp Carnival program that were all over the ship running around and playing tag on the elevators, etc. They at one point even asked us for money for the gameroom. Who knows where their parents were all week. Because we saw these boys a dozen times a day, but never saw a parent with them. But, I must say that Todd told us that there were over 600 children on the ship that week and if these small group of 10 preteen boys were causing all of the ruckus, then camp carnival did a great job keeping the other 590 children entertained. We must have been struck by mother luck the minute we got on the ship because we hit at Bingo the second night for $600. Then on Thursday night we put a $20 in one of the slots and hit for $250. Then on Friday morning we played bingo one more time to win the free cruise and I don't know how it happened, but we won that too! I am so sure we will never have a winning streak like the one we had on the Miracle again. But, we did enjoy it while it lasted. usually I go to bingo with my mother-in-law at home and I don't even win the 50/50 raffle for $44! I know this is a rather long review, but I also know that there are a lot of people waiting anxiously for some kind of word about the Miracle. Believe me, I checked all the messages boards I could find for information before we left and I could hardly find anything. If anyone has any questions please feel free to email me at annshep87@msn.com. I will be happy to answer any questions that I can. Bottom line though........this was our first cruise on Carnival and we have cruised before (RCCL). Would I take Carnival again....obviously yes, I won a free cruise, but that aside, yes, we enjoyed the ship, the service, and our fellow passengers very much. Even if we hadn't won anything, we would have had a very nice time on our cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: March 2004
This was a great ship, the embarkation took 1 hour, and we had our picture taken on the way onto the ship. The service was wonderful, the rooms are exceptionally clean. We had cool windy weather, but there was enough to entertain ... Read More
This was a great ship, the embarkation took 1 hour, and we had our picture taken on the way onto the ship. The service was wonderful, the rooms are exceptionally clean. We had cool windy weather, but there was enough to entertain yourself. The entertainment was super. They had an american idol contest on board, and we were hooked. We followed 3 nights in a row, and the passengers were really, really talented. We had a balcony, and had our breakfast delivered every morning on time. They gave us plush bathrobes to wear while we were aboard, they had blowdryers, and lovely welcome aboard baskets, with razors and rolaids, shampoo, and bath gel. The food was excellent, and so were the waiters. The decor was done in a crazy carnivale theme, a little overdone, but, our money was well spent. They had great deli sandwiches at the pool, and the grilled rubens were the best ever. They also had sushi bars. It was a wonderful trip. This was our first cruise on carnival, and we usually use the Royal Caribbean line. This was our 5th cruise and it was everything we could have asked for. The ship was a little rocky, but with all the fun we had we hardly felt the rocking. The ports of call were great too. Cozumel, Costa Maya, Freeport. Get your pool chairs early because they go fast, and plan to have the time of your life. On the way out, you could use the express method, if you could carry all your own bags, and you can get off the ship right away. This saves much time for the disembarkation process, which can be timely. I rate this ship a definite 10. If I could go again tomorrow, it would be on the Carnivla Miracle. We loved everything about it. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
I anxiously checked the boards daily waiting for reviews so now that my cruise is over, here's mine on Carnival Miracle. We went with our friends who had 2 kids like we do. The kids entertained themselves (ages 9-12). We were upgraded ... Read More
I anxiously checked the boards daily waiting for reviews so now that my cruise is over, here's mine on Carnival Miracle. We went with our friends who had 2 kids like we do. The kids entertained themselves (ages 9-12). We were upgraded from 8A to 8H. Only bad thing is if you are on the 8th deck (highest floor with rooms). You will wake up to the crew putting down deck chairs or kids running. Embark and Debark were very easy but we got there at 11:00 AM on 1st day and we were on the ship by 12:15 (pictures are the hold up). Leaving we waited in our room until they called our tag color (around 9:30) and we were off and in our car in less than 45 minutes. If you choose to carry all your luggage off, you can get off first. The ship is great and easy to get around after the first couple days. Food was very good in both the buffet and dining room. Prime rib in the buffet line the last night was very chewy but other than that great. Deli sandwiches are the best. Pizza was great, they had salads and fruit, Italian buffet, burgers, dogs, steak sandwiches, and Chinese everyday. In the morning, you can get fried eggs in the omelet line but you have to ask. Surprising the lines in the buffet or other dining areas were not long and the ship was full. Just like last year's cruise, they don't have enough bartenders in the dining room so if you need a drink, order 2 at one time because they don't come back and ½ the time didn't show up. In the buffet area, they need to clear tables quicker. If you notice one side of the ship real windy, check the other side. We went out the first morning to save our chairs (we stay at them because it's rude just to put the towel down) and it was chilly. We walked to the other side of the ship and the wind was not as bad, kinda weird, but true!!! We had no problem getting chairs. We went down at 8:00 AM on both sea days there they were plentiful. Didn't really fill up until after 10:30. Watch out, the pool in the aft section is only for adults, no kids. Todd, the cruise director and his staff were TOP NOTCH. Best I've seen afloat. The second night on the ship they had a "bar crawl" wherein you start at one bar and go to 4-5 other bars and end up in the Disco so you can see what each of them offer. We had the best time doing this activity and it helps you decide where to lounge at night. Our favorite was the Piano bar with "Cam." It's a sing along bar and he sings based on requests. GREAT TIME. Shows were good, don't miss them. Comedian on board was funny too. Cozumel - We did Dolphin Discovery and booked direct back in Jan. It was worth every penny including the $50 video and $16 pictures! They actually redid some of the stunts because they didn't get us on video like they wanted. The dolphins swim right next to you and you can touch and pet them, etc. Stopped at Carlos and Charlie's, it was hopping but didn't stay because we had kids with us. After this port, they have a big party on deck that looked entertaining. We were tired and didn't stay but looked like a lot of fun. Cab rides are another excursion as they drive fast and not cautiously! Costa Maya - Nothing to write home about, didn't do a tour just went to the beach. Beers were only $2.00 and we had plenty. Our daughters had their hair braided. As soon as they take you in town where they drop you off they are right there. $20.00 for the whole head, but after us, she was telling other people $1.00/braid. Always negotiate. Be careful what lounge chairs you pick - if they are beside a bar, you may need to pay $3.00. We had some we dragged down and didn't' pay for but the other 2 we did! The band comes up and plays music and then expects a tip. Freeport - Only went shopping for junk and didn't make to the beach. Buy extra booze - we went to claim duty on the extra 4 bottles and they didn't charge anyone except the guy who bought 18 bottles had to pay but not the couple extra. If you reorder pictures make sure you check them out. I was in a hurry and didn't check mine and paid for an 8X10 and didn't get it. Called Carnival and they have an inquiry out, but who knows if I'll ever hear back. Picture costs - 5X7 - $7; 6X9 - $8; 8X10 - $20. They can add up!!! Kids did not do anything with Camp Carnival as they chose to spend their time in the Arcade but we signed them up wherein they could come and go as they pleased. I wish they would have done something but they had a great time anyway. Hope this helps any future cruisers. Read Less
Sail Date: April 2004
The Miracle was truly a fabulous ship!! The food was delicious and always available! The rooms were roomy anc comfortable. The entertainment was fabulous. We especially liked the band that played in Frankie and Johnnie's Club!! They ... Read More
The Miracle was truly a fabulous ship!! The food was delicious and always available! The rooms were roomy anc comfortable. The entertainment was fabulous. We especially liked the band that played in Frankie and Johnnie's Club!! They were awesome and never took a break! Cozumel was fun. We rented a jeep for $55 dollars for 5 hours at Executive car rental. We went to the National park and into the shopping district with a stop at Carlos & Charlies. It was a fun time and sorry we didn't have the jeep longer. We got back to the port and Fat Tuesdays was in full swing. So we had a few drinks until it was time to board the ship. Costa Maya was my favorite port....just pristine and everything at the port was free. Swimming and beach available for free. We went Jet skiing for a half hour ( 45 min really) for $45 thru Lets Go Snorkeling. The Jet skis were fantastic and I highly recommend it. It was just beautiful here and very serene. Got some great deals in the little fishing village, just haggle until you get your price. I heard you can get an hour massage on the beach for $20 and wished I had know before getting there!!! Freeport Bahamas didn't impress me much. We took a taxi Van to Paradise Cove beach resort and cost $15 per person round trip ( there were 5 of us). It was a beautiful beach and we went snorkeling there. We had to snorkel from the beach shore out very very far and back. I'd prefer not to do it here again because I was pretty tired by the time I got out to where the beautiful fish were and it started getting more wavy. It was a long way back. Anyway, if you go to Paradise Cove be prepared to Pay for all the extra's. $10 snorkel fee includes beach access. $3 beach access, ski belt $3/per day,towel $2 per day, beach Chair $2/per day, Float $2/day, wet suit $5/hour, Kayaks- one man $15 per hour, 2 man $20 per hour, spy cat $30 per hour. The service on the ship was excellent and I didn't want to go home!! Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
Overall, great cruise. The itinerary was just O.K. but we knew that before hand. The Miracle is a brand new boat and it is beautiful in an odd sort of way. You can look at pictures online and form your own opinion. Back to the ... Read More
Overall, great cruise. The itinerary was just O.K. but we knew that before hand. The Miracle is a brand new boat and it is beautiful in an odd sort of way. You can look at pictures online and form your own opinion. Back to the cruise...we left from NYC and the embarkation was not too bad. I thought the Carnival lady at the check-in desk was pretty cranky. We accidently leaned on her desk and it slid and she was visibly annoyed...sorry...we didn't realize it moved when you put your hands on it! Got on board by 2:00 PM. Found our balcony room to be very clean and ready for us. There were nine of us (4 were young men 20-24) and 5 middle aged adults. We had early dinner. I'll summarize the good things: - Weather was perfect for our departure through New York Harbor and for the entire week. - The food was excellent, varied choices each night and our waiter Mikey was great. - Didn't make any shows but people were raving about the "Beatles" show...so catch it if you can. - Crew was generally friendly. - Buffet food was good, hot and varied. - Casino was fun...but not too generous. Didn't hear of anyone coming home a winner. - "Adults Only" pool aft deck 9. They strictly enforced this. It was nice as the other two pools were pretty crowded and noisy (fun noise but if you wanted more quiet the aft pool was a nice change). - Water slide was fun even for middle aged people. - Had fun on snorkeling trip in Freeport and had a long hot walk for Atlantis tour in Nassau. Nice, but take a cab on your own if you don't like to walk in the heat. - Had a delicious dinner in the special Nick and Nora's restaurant. Try it one night, it is well worth the extra $. Now for the not so good. -One morning I went up to the track walk and it was strewn with plates, pizza, broken glass (on the track), garbage etc. It was windy up there and I guess some people had a party there the night before but the crew should of had it cleaned up by mid morning. It was a nasty mess. - Getting off in Nassau was a disaster. Everyone getting off at the same time...very bad situation if an emergency were to arise in the middle of this. They should stagger the excursion times to avoid this. - Some of the crew seemed oblivious to guests. Example, my husband was holding the door for me and some crew members jumped in front of me and squeezed through the door he was holding opened for me. No "excuse me", no nothing. They should have held the door for us...not the other way around. - Debarkation was pretty chaotic, but there were 4 or 5 cruise boats in port that morning. There were Carnival people around to point you to your bags...pretty typical situation. No worse than any other cruise line. Overall, it was a very nice cruise, very nice boat, nice crew. Don't hesitate to go...you will have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date: June 2004
I was a bit uncertain of my first cruise on Carnival. I have have cruised many times on Celebrity Cruise Lines and found the service to be impeccable. I did find out later that there was no need to be uncertain and my worries were ... Read More
I was a bit uncertain of my first cruise on Carnival. I have have cruised many times on Celebrity Cruise Lines and found the service to be impeccable. I did find out later that there was no need to be uncertain and my worries were unfounded. From the moment we arrived in Tampa the embarkation went so smoothly and quickly and we were on the gangway in no time at all. The embarkation staff greeted myself and my husband with smiles and polite conversation. I was not really sure what to expect on the ship and to my amazement the ship was beautiful. I was expecting flashing lights and loud print fabrics everywhere as this is what I was told from a friend who had cruised on Carnival before. The decor was very tasteful in bold but beautiful colors and furnishings. Food - I found the food to be of excellent quality. We dined at every eatery on the ship form the formal dining in the main dining room to the casual dining on Lido deck to the the wonderful "Nick and Nora's" supper club where the staff are friendly and very attentive. Entertainment - The cruise director "Mark Hawkins" was hilarious and kept us entertained at every turn. He always made himself available to answer questions and he was very informative. As I said before I have taken numerous cruises before and I have to say that the onboard Las Vegas Style shows were a credit to the young people who made them sparkle. "Generations" a, journey though the decades was superb and was followed by a second show "Ticket To Ride" which was based on music by The Beatles. The young talented energetic cast were a joy to watch and topped off by two of the best singers I have ever heard on a ship. These shows were definitely the highlight of the cruise and Carnival should be congratulated. Cabin - We had booked an outside cabin with a balcony and it was well worth the extra cost. Our room steward Alfonso catered to our every whim with a smile. He should be given a raise and promotion. Ports - All the ports were beautiful with maybe the exception of Belize. We made the mistake on not booking a tour for that day and there really is nothing much else to do there if you do not go on a tour. All in all the whole thing completely exceeded our expectations. This was a quick last minute booking and we scored a home run. My husband and I are already looking at Carnival brochures to plan our next vacation. Well done Carnival MIracle, Celebrity Cruise Lines, we still love you but you definitely have competition now. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
i am 18 now but i was 17 when i went on the Miracle last summer. I went with my 15 year old sister (she is now 16) and my parents. I live in California and this was my first time to New York. I really enjoyed it. My sister and I had ... Read More
i am 18 now but i was 17 when i went on the Miracle last summer. I went with my 15 year old sister (she is now 16) and my parents. I live in California and this was my first time to New York. I really enjoyed it. My sister and I had our own cabin, which was supposed to be an inside one but Carnival upgraded our cabin and my parents cabin to balcony rooms because we were past guests.  I have been on the Sensation before and it was really nice too but, the Miracle was a lot bigger and newer, but both had a lot of things to do for teenagers. The food was good but not as good as the food on the Sensation. I am a picky eater, I do not like to eat some meat and I found a lot of vegetarian options on all the menus. The formal dinners were really fun but they seemed to take forever. I asked my waiter why and he said that since there is only one formal restaurant, the galley (the kitchen) is two stories down and all the waiters and waitresses have to take an escalator up to the dinning room, and it takes longer for those seated on the top level. I didn't really like the buffet restaurant, it was good for some things but it was gross watching people stuff their faces with food and then going back for more. And I also really liked the captains cocktail party, FREE COCKTAILS and they didn't check my ID! I really enjoyed ordering room service, the BLT sandwiches and the fajitas were my favorite, especially at 3 a.m. The formal dinning room as REALLY UGLY!!! I don't know who designed it but it is COMPLETELY UGLY. It is supposed to be decorated in grapes, but it does NOT look like grapes at all, there are huge hot pink round lights stuck all over the room, they look like those button candies that you peel off paper! The walls look more like a nightclub than a formal dinning room. I really liked all the entertainment, I was never bored! My favorite part of the ship was the nightclub, Dr. Frankenstein's Lab. It is a good place to go late at night and meet young people. After 11 the club is 16+, and i was able to get in but you have to have a photo ID and your sail and sign card, my sister who was 15 but almost 16 at the time, was not able to get in the first night, but she found a way to sneak past the security all of the other nights, since the club has a circular door that spins. I thought that the security at the door of the club was way too strict, they even had a list of all the people on the cruise and their ages and they would check it when you showed them your ID. It was not like this when i was on the Sensation, i was able to get in the nightclub easily and their was no security at the door. We met a lot of people from New Jersey and the rest of the east coast, which was really fun.  I also really liked the shows, especially the hypnotism show, which was really funny! The Mad Hatters ball was a really cool room, it was decorated like the movie "Alice in Wonderland!" they had Karaoke in there at night which was really fun and comedy shows. I also really liked playing bingo even though i didn't win. I also tried to play in the casino a few times but i got kicked out. I really liked Port Canaveral. I went surfing there at Cocoa Beach which was really nice and the water was warm. Ron Jon's Surf Shop is really cool. Nassau was ok. The people who live there are really annoying, they kept asking me if i wanted my hair braided which I didn't and I was probably asked about 30 times, they were really pushy and seemed to rip off Americans for their money. We went to Paradise Island on a water taxi and but when we got there we had to walk about 20 minutes to get to the Atlantis hotel. After we got really tired and went back to the ship. I didn't get off the ship at the other stop in the Bahamas because it was only there from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and i liked to sleep in, but my parents went and shopped and liked it much better than Nassau. I loved this cruise and I was really sad when it was over! I could be entertained for days on this ship and never get bored. If you are considering going on the Miracle i would definitely recommend it, especially to families with teenagers because there is something for everyone! Have fun cruising. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
This was my second cruise. I am actually 14 but i have a say here... I went with my friend and my mother, and it was amazing. The cruise was perfect, and it couldn't get much better. The service was pretty nice. The live ... Read More
This was my second cruise. I am actually 14 but i have a say here... I went with my friend and my mother, and it was amazing. The cruise was perfect, and it couldn't get much better. The service was pretty nice. The live entertainment on the pool deck was a little loud. The food wasn't what is was hyped up to be, but it was still very good. We liked the pizza and the ice cream. I really liked how the kids could go to the dance club and then you wouldn't get yelled at for being loud after we weren't allowed in anymore. It was a very nice cruise. The ports of call were pretty nice and i enjoyed all of the excursions that I went on. I think that however, you should make the stop at Paradise Island longer because it was about 5 hours, and that was the best island. Same with Freeport. Overall, the cruise was amazing, and there are plenty of things to do with the younger children. They didn't really seem to be bored at all. I will travel on the Miracle again, and I'm planning on going on the Legend next summer. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
Excellent ship! I've travelled with Carnival before and was only half looking forward to the trip. Perhaps my diminished expectations made the trip seem better than it was. But, my family and I thoroughly enjoyed the vacation. ... Read More
Excellent ship! I've travelled with Carnival before and was only half looking forward to the trip. Perhaps my diminished expectations made the trip seem better than it was. But, my family and I thoroughly enjoyed the vacation. Embarkation in NY was kind of a hassle. We had a category 11 cabin which allows for express check in. After a long wait to go through security, we were practically able to walk right on. Well worth the price just to avoid the check in lines in NY. The category 11 suite was very comfortable and was perfect for a family of four. The first night we were not thrilled with our table or our waiter. I mentioned this to the Maitre 'D on the way out. When we got back to the room later in the evening, we had a card announcing our new table. What impressed me was that I had not demanded to be moved and that the Maitre 'D followed up with us at the next meal to make sure we were happy. Further, the service staff for breakfast and lunch in the main dining room was more friendly and attentive than other ships. The biggest surprise was the food. They really got it right. The meat and poultry dishes were superb. The seafood was just good. The desserts blew me away. If you are a first time cruiser or if you never really thought about it, keep this in mind when ordering food. Some foods just don't lend themselves to banquet preparation. Any fish after the first night was probably frozen. But most important... never eat a bad meal. If you don't like what you got, order something else. Every ship and line experiences problems. What differentiates the Miracle Staff from other ships I've been on is that they truly seemed interested in resolving problems. The entertainment was typical. If this was your first cruise, you would probably think wow. As my seventh, I thought ho-hum. The ship itself was beautiful and well decored with a few exceptions. If you have young kids, they may be offended by numerous nude frescos and sculptures. My six year old called it the naked ship. The main dining room is a tribute to the Greek God of Wine. The hundreds of lights which are supposed to be grapes look more like pink m & m's. Overall, this was a wonderful experience and had me wondering if I was really on Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date: August 2004
August arrived and the hurricanes were raging. We had been looking forward to the Carnival Miracle because my wife of 25 years had surprised the family with an aft balcony. Naturally, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when we ... Read More
August arrived and the hurricanes were raging. We had been looking forward to the Carnival Miracle because my wife of 25 years had surprised the family with an aft balcony. Naturally, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when we sailed in between hurricanes. This cruise was our second on Carnival. The first was the Victory to Canada in August of 2001. We sailed on the Norwegian Dawn in February of this year and were expecting the same "new ship experience". This is not a comparison study of two cruise lines. Freestyle cruising only works on NCL's newer ships. Carnival still has the traditional seating arrangements, We picked late seating and didn't feel rushed. As a family of four we also didn't sit with strangers. The embarkation, as usual and expected, is not the smoothest nor efficient because of the New York security issues and crumbling infrastructure of the piers. I cannot blame the cruise lines. They are working with what they have. As the popularity of cruises increase and I have witnessed this over the course of six cruises, some solution will have to be found to accommodate all the overcrowding. We pre-registered over the internet and it does save time. You are in the system and gives you an opportunity to spend less time with the boarding agents who are always polite and cordial. After the "fun cruise" boarding picture and then the required ship picture, we boarded the most beautiful,ornate,detailed and slightly funky ship we have ever seen. Before I forget, my children ,a 24 year old girl and 16 year old boy, were impressed. They had sailed on other cruise ships but this was a sight. We were on the ship in a reasonable amount of time. Post 9/11 security is a reality we cannot avoid nor change so just grin and bear it. It was going to be awhile for the luggage to get to the room but we wanted to see the room first. I missed getting the expression on my children's faces when they realized they were in the correct room with a balcony. I was equally surprised. Complain all you want about Carnival they do have the largest rooms around. Has anyone been on the NCL Sea? You will agree. We ran to a very satisfying lunch before walking around the ship and booking my massage. The Steiner company runs the spa and they remain one of the best at sea. I opted for the seaweed wrap and full body massage. My daughter picked a facial, pedicure and back massage. My wife wanted to try a facial. If anybody is counting, the the credit card was already starting to wear out and we haven't left NYC! To my surprise the room had a mini fridge and it does come in handy and the drinks with shacks is a great touch for those who need a cosy nightcap on the balcony. This review is long and I must apologize, I'll go faster through the week. The cabin was very clean. The stewards and room staff were polite, efficient and available. We did get room service and it was on time. I enjoyed coffee on the balcony before we went to the early excursions. The beds were made every day and then turned down always with a towel animal and a piece of chocolate on the pillow. On one of the boards it was remarked that the tv was limited. I disagree. We had enough to fulfill the news requirement and background music when needed. You don't go on a cruise to watch tv. A great innovation is the ability to access your bill on TV and watch it balloon out of control right before your eyes. The dinners were well prepared. A decent variety on the menu. They were hot when served. Didn't go to Nick and Noras but the reviews are good to great. A wonderful idea to include those on the "Atkins" or "South Beach" diets respectively. Carnival is not the best nor the worst in the choice of cuisine. Norwegian gets more points for the food and desserts. We avoided the midnight buffets. Been there done that. My son and the friends he made went to those. I am pleased that the mixed drinks were less expensive on Carnival than any other line. The cruise director was a funny guy and kept everyone informed. Our waitress, waiters and head waiter were accommodating, friendly and attentive to our needs. My son is allergic to dairy and a shopping list of other things and was treated to his favorite foods without bringing any undo attention or embarrassment. I have to say this is what impressed me the most and am thankful to them. All you need to do is warn them ahead of time and they will be cooperative. Surprisingly, the entertainment was livelier and more enjoyable than I can remember.They dancers were more energetic than the audience. Veteran sailors can be a tough crowd to please. I enjoyed the pool in the back of the ship because it was adults only. A small secret that will catch on. The common pools were great but too crowded for my wife and I. We tried the many bars on board. I liked the sports bar off the casino.The ladies preferred the metropolitan one. It had a better view. This cruise, the picture taking was not obnoxious. We had many a family portrait taken. I should have been more attentive to the cost factor however. The shore excursions were ok. We went to the beaches on both occasions and skipped the shopping. My daughter wished she had a little more time to shop in Nassau. We did go to Kennedy Space Center. My wife and I had been there in February via the Dawn. This was the kids first. We also took a ride to Coco Beach to have lunch on the boardwalk. Freeport..., well, what can I say that hasn't already been said time and time again. (I won't go into it.) We opted for the beach party. We did go to the Art auction this year and came away with some interesting pieces. The week went too quickly. The money went even faster. We laughed. We cried. We swam. Finally, we ate and ate and ate once more. A cruise is what you make it and we made it memorable. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2004
My husband and I have become cruising addicts thanks to Carnival Cruise Lines. Our first experience was a two day "cruise to nowhere" and our second cruise was to Bermuda (on the Legend and Victory). Being that we live in ... Read More
My husband and I have become cruising addicts thanks to Carnival Cruise Lines. Our first experience was a two day "cruise to nowhere" and our second cruise was to Bermuda (on the Legend and Victory). Being that we live in Maryland we were very pleased to see that a number of cruise lines were beginning to use the Port of Baltimore for embarkation in 2003 and 2004. Unfortunately, now there are only one to two cruise ships leaving from our area. The cruise to the Bahamas aboard the Miracle was nothing short of miraculous. We arrived at the Port of Baltimore around 11:00 a.m., the ship was already there and had been cleared from the previous sailing. We drove through the secured terminal area to a warehouse, there a porter unloaded our luggage and we proceeded to park our car in a gated lot. A shuttle bus took us to the terminal where we waited a short while to meet with an agent that issued our Sail and Sign cards and checked our documents. From luggage drop off to walking onto the boat the whole process was 30 - 45 minutes. We immediately went to see our room which was an inside on deck 7. Since we spend little "awake" time in our room we have always opted for an interior cabin. The room was what we expected- although the beds were separated into two twins instead of one king. I requested the change from our cabin steward- and he had the adjustments made prior to us returning. Unlike some other responders we saw our room steward quite often, I found him very friendly, accessible and attentive (we found he had been with CCL for 13 years). One thing I liked was always having fresh ice in our ice bucket. I swear he changed the ice a few times a day because I never found small ice cubes just floating in melted ice. After we checked out the room it was onto the Lido deck for some food. The buffet line was comparable to that of the other two cruises. I enjoyed the deli sandwiches and the fresh salads. The presentation, while not fancy, was adequate (clean serving areas and filled trays). The free beverage selection was ample with juices, tea and hot drinks. I purchased a soda-card for $30 or so dollars, if you drink two or more sodas a day then it is well worth the price. The boat left port on time and we sailed down the Chesapeake Bay. The weather was gorgeous (although a little chilly toward the evening on the deck). The first evening was a casual dinner. We had a late seating (which we prefer) and found we were seated with a larger group from our area (24 in all). First day at sea was wonderful. I ordered room service of bagels and juice. It arrived on time (which also served as our wake-up call). After getting dressed in our bathing suits we headed up to the Lido deck for our second breakfast, which we ate in a lounge chair while we watched the beautiful ocean pass by. We pretty much stayed camped out in those lounge chairs for the entire day. Occasionally we would get up to get a drink or get in the pool. After the sun was setting we checked out the fitness center. The equipment was in good working order and equivocal to that of our local gym. I think there might have been 10 people in the whole place. This was the first formal night, so we got ready and went down towards the restaurant. Of course CCL had their entire photo stations set up. We had our pictures taken (I found the price to be reasonable and the quality to be above average). The dinner menu offered a large selection for everybody. This was "lobster" night, and my husband being a seafood eater asked for two entrees- a lobster and steak. The food was presented nicely and came to the table quickly. The drink server seemed overwhelmed but seemed to get to the table twice during our dinner. The head waiter and assistant waiter were excellent. After dinner we went to the show which was a Las Vegas style musical. Following the show we decided to go to the dance club. We were disappointed to see that it was empty and the music selection was rap or hip-hop. This was the case the entire cruise. I would have liked some musical variety at the dance club. So, we ventured into another bar that had a live band playing, here people were dancing and the band sounded pretty good, so, we stayed. Day two at sea pretty much followed the schedule of the previous day. I enjoy just laying in the sun, so I had no complaints being left out on the deck. I did notice that finding a "prime" chair may be difficult because there are a lot of towel chair-holders out there. I personally did not leave my towel lying around since CCL checks the towels out under your cabin number and then you are held financially responsible for that towel. On a previous cruise two passengers got into an argument over a towel and who it belonged to. Late in the afternoon we sailed near Miami- we could see the coast well. This position enabled us to use our cell phones and call home to check on our kids. That evening there was a complimentary cocktail hour for "repeaters" which was nice. Another nice dinner and show followed by waking around the decks (which are nearly empty late in the night). Key West: We docked in Key West early in the morning ate breakfast and got off the boat to walk around the city before our excursion (which we booked through Carnival). Come to find out that right off the dock was the outfit Carnival contracted with offering the same excursion for less. I think we paid maybe $20-30 more to book it though CCL rather then through them directly. Nonetheless, we took a catamaran out to a coral reef about 30 minutes from shore. Here we jumped in and snorkeled. The snorkeling was not great- apparently because of the recent hurricanes. I began to feel kind of sea sick which swimming in the ocean (which I found to be quite odd), so I went back on the boat and waited to leave. One of the people running the tour said I was probably feeling sick from drinking salt water which snorkeling. I am not sure if that is what caused it, but I was glad to be back at shore. After the boat ride we walked about a mile through Key West to the Southern most point in the United States buoy. It was extremely hot, but we enjoyed stopping in the shops to look around and cool down as we strolled. Then, it was back to the boat and off to the Bahamas. If I were to go to Key West again I would rent one of these two person "golf-cart" like cars. Companies will meet you at the cruise ship and drop you back off again. Bahamas- Since we felt we overpaid on the catamaran excursion, we decided to go out on our own in Nassau. I had read up a good bit and thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong- now I know why in some cases it is better to just pay the extra and book the tour. We got off the boat and were immediately attacked by the vendors. If you just keep walking and don't make eye-contact they will move onto the next person. I am sure the locals think we are all rude Americans, but if I want to buy something I will let the person know. We proceeded to walk toward Paradise Island- our intent was to take a tour to Blue Lagoon. After walking for about 10 minutes we got a taxi and he took us the rest of the way. We made it the Blue Lagoon ticket counter only to find the one shuttle to the beach had left with the boat passengers (which they picked up right at the dock). Since I had been misinformed that the boat left on the hour (which it does during the summer) we did not get to go to Blue Lagoon. So, we walked to the public beach and took some back way through the "public access" to get onto the beach. Walking through some trees up a hill there were a number of locals just hanging out. I am not sure why they were there, and we quickly went by them. The beach was nice- the ocean was quite rough, but the sand was clean and there was plenty of places to sit. Leaving the beach we decided to attempt to walk through Atlantis' pool area to avoid the public access and the people. Somehow we got into the pool area- which was very nice- and made our way out through their lobby. We shared a cab with another couple and went back to the boat. We did go to the straw market - I was not impressed and did not buy anything. I was more than happy to get back on the boat and wait for our departure. In hindsight I should have booked the Blue Lagoon excursion (fellow cruisers raved about their experience there) through the ship- lesson learned. Port Canaveral Florida- since Freeport was still without electricity we bypassed Freeport and went to Port Canaveral. After being disappointed with Nassau I was glad to skip Freeport. We booked an excursion to Universal Studios. This was pricey- double the park admission- but did include bus transportation (one hour each way). Passengers with a booked excursion were first to disembark. Since we were back in the United States we had to go through Immigrations first. The process was quick and we were on our way to Universal by 9:00. The trip was worth the money- since there is nothing immediately available in port. I heard some people took a bus ($10.00) and went to a local shopping mall. Last day at sea- Another gorgeous day. The sun was shining the weather was warm and the ocean was calm. I could not have asked for anything better. My husband and I booked the supper club for this night. We had done this on the last cruise. The food is excellent and service superb; the atmosphere is quiet, relaxed and very romantic. This is well worth the nominal fee. Home in Baltimore- Since we opted to self disembark we did not put our luggage out the night before. We were the first passengers called to get off the boat. I think we were walking down the gangway at 9:00 and we were home by 10:15. I cannot say enough about cruising with Carnival; we are three for three and looking forward to our fourth in January 2006. Read Less
Sail Date: October 2004
We had a big group going (about 120 people) and our TA rented a coach bus to take us from Centreville and Sterling. We arrived at the dock around 10:15 to find out that the ship had just arrived... We were able to drive around and unload ... Read More
We had a big group going (about 120 people) and our TA rented a coach bus to take us from Centreville and Sterling. We arrived at the dock around 10:15 to find out that the ship had just arrived... We were able to drive around and unload our luggage into these big containers and then walked into the facility where we were herded into a section and given a zone number. We received zone #1. At about 11:30am we then got herded to the ticketing agents and received our sail and sign boarding cards....then we went back and sat in different chairs. Carnival gave no information, only that there were still well over 1,000 people on the ship...and that we would have to wait. That was ok...however, I wish they had given any estimated time frame....each carnival representative had different information...and dear husband and I hated that they were selling hot dogs for $3 and $4 a pop when we knew we were just feet away from the "free" food on board. By 1:30pm we were turning into very hungry people... I think we were finally called around 2:15pm to board...and that was a fairly simple process. I think Carnival did a good job in getting folks on board quickly when they finally could. (However, I don't know how the people who had driven themselves felt....we saw long lines of cars just waiting and waiting to be able to drop off their luggage). We were at the front of the pack so we probably didn't experience what other folks did. When we got on board we went right to our cabin...#8235, cat. 9. Lo and behold I forgot to take a picture of it....there was a small foyer when you walked in....a big closet on the left and wall on the right....walk a little further and there was the sofa, coffee table, and tv set high up. Then the room opened up where there was a huge mirror both on the wall over the bed and above the dressing table.... The dressing table was huge and they had a place where they had all kinds of different glasses for drinks and a "bar" area for alcohol. It was pretty darn nice. The bathroom was your regular rinky dink size and so was the shower....no complaints, the shower was great! The balcony was huge! It was very long and wide....could have fit four chairs with room for more on it. The one complaint I did have about this room was that there were always weird smells in it....sometimes it smelled like garbage...sometimes it smelled like food being cooked, etc. We then went up to the lido...I have never been there on embarkation day and experienced it practically empty...the food was great though I can't remember what I had...I'm a big salad person so I would appreciate the salad bar having more variety but it was still very good. I think dear husband had some kind of fish... Of course they asked you every few seconds if you wanted the drink of the day... It was cold out and the band was playing but we didn't hang out....we just went to explore the ship. Franksteins Lab was pretty cool! Since we had sailed the Pride almost two years ago we really had no problem finding our way around the ship...it was nice to know where we were going the majority of the time. We had late seating and we wanted to have a light snack ahead of time but were disappointed to see that they had not changed the food. I'm sure this was because everyone had arrived very late. Our waiters for our table were awesome....we were supposed to have two other couples at our table but one couple cancelled out at the last minute and one gentleman decided not to come because his mother was very ill....so the other gentleman decided to switch to an earlier seating....so we were at a huge table by ourselves with two of our friends down the way....we ran back and forth between tables Omur the maitre'd said that we could have everyone at our table....but then we all loved our waiters so much we didn't want to change. Our waiters were Wayan and Nengah...loved them!!! The food was excellent every night....never had a bad meal.... More often than not dear husband either had two entrees or two appetizers....sometimes three....whatever we wanted, they were more than happy to bring. We went to the Welcome Show which was pretty funny! Dear husband and I loved Mark Hawkins....he was fabulous! He called up for five folks who had been in the armed forces so I told dear husband to run up....it was hilarious...when Mark asked what branch he had served in he didn't say a word until I yelled ARMY...so Mark teased him....he was funny with everyone! ...and we got a free bottle of champagne. The next day was a sea day and I thought it was too chilly to catch any rays though lots of people were....dear husband wanted to play Fear Factor but didn't get his name drawn so we went to the Art Auction....could not stand the auctioneer. We go to auctions (antique ones and are used to a certain way) and I know the art auction is different but I thought the guy talked way, way too much between items. Plus I'm not a fan of the majority of art they had. So after about 45 minutes we skipped out on that and went to the Lido to find that we had missed lunch....aaahhhhh... I was not a happy camper. So we went to the guessing faces and names game which was ok. We got three sheets of paper and tried to figure out who the people were....we did terrible and when Karl asked who thought they did the worst dear husband yelled that he had so for being honest he got a ship on a stick....you have no idea how happy he was. That was his goal....he got one from the Pride and now he has one from the Miracle. Then we went to shipboard trivia which was a blast though it was too short. Mark had trivia questions and the first person to raise their hand who got the answer right got a prize. dear husband got me a free drink of the day.... They also had folks call in from their rooms which was great fun! We got dressed for formal night and had a group picture taken with the TA's group and then went and dear husband got some sushi and just hung out. Checked out the casino which we did not play in and took some pictures and then went to late dinner. The food was excellent again. After that we went and watched some of the Generations show which you do not want to miss and then to Sam's Piano Bar ....Duane was the pianist and he was ok but there was a gentleman whose name was Gus and he did a better job but he played at Nick & Noras and sometimes did the Piano Bar...that's where he really wants to be but he needed more people to tell Carnival that he did a good job....so at least we did. We then checked out Frankensteins Lab and that was fun depending on what the theme was for the night. Next day was another day at sea. Dear husband and I caught some rays and we like to go to the topless deck (it's very quiet up there) and all adult....but I don't know why they have the area around the top for folks to look over. I don't care so much but it does get annoying when guys are hanging over the rail just gawking. We did shipboard trivia again and dear husband won me a photo album. We went to the hypnotist show....think it was on that night...don't know what to think of it. The guy had one woman trying to kill pink spiders, another guy putting band aids all over his face....a woman running off the stage to make out with her husband...it was interesting. Then we went to the comedy show....I fell asleep. Key West...what a great day....everyone knows Key West so I don't need to say much about it....you guys know. That night we dined at Nick and Noras....for our four hour dining experience....there was a large group of us and we had a good time between our meal and running out to see the lunar eclipse....on the top deck with high wind warnings. They said the wind was keeping steady at 60mph....don't know what that was about. Anyway, I had the 24oz porterhouse which practically killed me....but my TA didn't believe I could do it so of course I had to prove her wrong. The creme brulee was fantastic!!! It really was a superb meal. Afterwards we went down to the cigar bar and the guys smoked cigars... The next day was Nassau and we ran off the ship and did some quick shopping. Dear husband got me a beautiful tanzanite ring at Tanzanite International...then we ran back to the ship, got changed for our snorkeling excursion with Stuart Cove. It was a blast....highly recommend booking this independently if you have the time...if you do it in advance it is $40/pp and they pick you up at the end of the pier. We did a couple of snorkeling sites and then watch sharks feed in the water off of chum they had lowered down....when they raised it up there were all these fins just above the surface...and one shark actually jumped up....it was great! When we got back to the ship....about 5pm we changed and went back out to find everything had closed...it was terrible. The only things open were Senor Frogs and Hard Rock....that was it. Also the Straw Market never opened that day either. It was like a ghost town and I was not happy being there until midnight with nothing to do...so we went back onboard and had dinner....and I'm glad we did it because it was good. Didn't do much after that though....I forget...I think we just went to our cabin. Freeport....we booked the Peterson Cay Kayak and Snorkel....we were supposed to meet at 7:45am but the ship didn't dock until around 8am....we didn't get going until 8:45am which was crummy because when we got back we just had to get back onto the ship. Freeport was decimated....we met our Kayak Guides and they said that Freeport did not look like it normally does. We kayaked about 1 mile to this tiny island.....the kayaking was tough because the current was so strong....dear husband and I were ready to kill each other after we finally got there but it was fun and the snorkeling was GREAT! We even got to see an octopus!!!and funny little things that change color and disguise themselves into the rocks... They provided lunch which was actually good....very fresh cold cuts and they had all the fixin's so you could make your own sandwiches...and peanut butter cookies, and water and lemonade. Then we kayaked back....dear husband and I were ready to kill each other again and then we loaded into vans and went back to the ship....a good excursion but because of the weather the kayaking was a little rough. On our last formal night we went to see Ticket to Ride which was excellent! Also if you were dressed up and got there early they offered a VIP seat...total of 6 couples. So we got to sit right up front and had free champagne. On the last sea day the weather was kind of funky...not sure if it was sunny or where quite the sun was shining on the ship but at least it got warm. Every night at dinner was great because the waiters would sing and dance with Omur leading the way....did a conga line on one of the nights... There is so much I'm leaving out now...but along with the Carnival board and other member reviews I'm sure you'll find that this is a great ship...and don't worry about the dining room decor and what others say...who cares, you're on a cruise! vermonter16 Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
This was our third cruise, all of which have been on Carnival. I will try to review under various headings and compare to our previous cruises. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkment was about the same as previous trips, not too long of ... Read More
This was our third cruise, all of which have been on Carnival. I will try to review under various headings and compare to our previous cruises. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkment was about the same as previous trips, not too long of a wait but it always seems long because you are anxious to get on the ship and start vacation. It probably took us an hour or so to get through everything. I did not see a real difference filling out and printing the funpass. Hopefully they can do something to speed along the process further when you give your information beforehand. Disembarkation was much nicer then previous cruises. In our previous cruises you were assigned a color and had to wait it a public area of the ship until you were called. This time we were able to wait in our room until we were called and this made the process less irritating. Dining: We ate each evening in the Baccaus Dining Room and ate breakfast and sometimes lunch at Horatio's (casual). We did not eat at Nick and Noras as we could not justify the extra $50.00 per couple to eat food that may have been served in the dining room. I thought that the beef entrees were better than I have had on previous cruises (not the best I had but we are from the midwest and get great steaks). My husband did not always like the selections offered so had at times gotten something he did not really want. I wish that they had something simple like grilled chicken on spaghetti with tomato sauce that was available every night and that if available it is printed on the menu. We were also upset because we asked to be seated at a large table and for the third time in a row have ended up at a table for four. We were also in a small room off the side of the main dining room so we missed some of the evening entertainment with the wait staff. (Not a big deal as we have seen it before but to me it would make sense that if they are going to have a quite room that they make that mostly tables for two or families who want things quite). In general the food was average at Horatios and average to above-average at Baccaus. The wait at Horatio's was not long when we were there. There was a slight wait for the Omelet line but not too bad and it moved quickly. Public Rooms/Area: The rooms and public areas were mostly tastefully decorated. I did think Horatios was much more attractive of a room than the regular dining room but they were all pretty nice. Some of the things that we enjoyed about the public area were that in the hallways (by the cabins) there are large pictures of characters from books (my husband works in a bookstore so he loved that). We also thought that the glass work in the stairways was lovely. One thing that was discouraging was that we noticed that some paintings that were displayed (like those in the Phantom show room) looked like some previous passengers had intentionally damaged the works (faces and eyes were scratched out with xxx's). This is in no way the fault of the cruiseline but it was disappointment that people are rude enough to purposely damage something that does not belong to them and is there for the enjoyment of all future and present passengers. Cabin/Room: Our room was cleaned daily except for our sheets. I do not know if it is Carnival's policy to not change bedsheets every day but this is one of the things that really bothered me about this trip. I believe in the past our sheets were always changed but I know that they were not this time. We did have a towel animal every day except the first and our room steward was good at keeping things cleaned without bothering us (he quickly figured out our schedule and came when we were gone). If we left a note (like we did for him to empty the fridge so we could put in our wine) he was quick to help us. Entertainment: We enjoyed the two shows (Generations and the Beatles review). We also liked the singer and comedian on the last night. My husband enjoyed another comedian that appeared earlier in the trip but he was not to my taste (a little dry humor). We did not go to a few shows as they did not appeal to us (talent show, more comedians). On previous trips there seemed to be more variety in the shows (magicians and dance companies, as well as comedians). During the days at sea there were plenty of games, contests, etc. both by the pool and in the main show room (Phantom). Spa/Gym: We used the gym a couple of times - for a step class, a general workout and my husband met with a trainer for a routine for his back/abs. He has a bad back and this helped him to feel better and get a routine he could do when we got home to help him strengthen the muscles in his core and therefore have less back pain. We had a combination massage and facial at the spa. It was very relaxing and I am glad to say that although they did have a list of recommended products they were not as high pressure as I have experience on previous cruises. Ports: Grand Caymen: This was one of our favorites. We had been to Grand Caymen previously but could not go on any water excursions due to the weather (tropical depression). This time we got to swim with the sting rays and had a great time. We booked our trip through the ship and were lucky to have a fairly small group with us (only about 15-20 people). When we sailed up our boat stayed a little ways away from the others and brought out the buckets of squid for us to feed the rays. This was such a great experience I would love to experience again. Fortunately the videographer with us got some great shots and since we bought the DVD we can see it again and again. I was very happy with our DVD. I had seen other videos previously from past cruisers and they were not as good as our DVD (which included lots of underwater shots and interaction shots). My husband bought me a necklace with a stingray on it to remember our trip and especially this port. I have already worn it a few times to bring back the glow of the trip. Costa Maya: We were not sure what to do on this port so we just did the Jungle Beach Break - free drinks on a beautiful beach. The beach (Uvero Beach) looks like something you would see on postcards. You could also snorkel here, as well as the usual braids, temporary tattoos, drinking games, etc. -- FYI - If getting a temporary tattoo be aware that the black henna is not really henna but black hair dye - I did not know this myself and so I got a tattoo on my ankle. My skin is very sensitive and now I am having trouble with the area around the tattoo itching and a rash developing. Other than that I had a good time just enjoying a day of relaxing at this port. Our other excursions were fairly active so the day of laying back on the beach was needed. Cozumel: This was a full day. We went to Chankkonab State Marine Park (not sure if spelling is right). I had booked a sea lion swim package on line with Dolphin Discovery (it included a swim with the sea lion, tickets to the sea lion show and admission to the park). There is a lot to do at the park. We started by walking through the botanical gardens, then went to the sea lion show, went to the museum (which is just one small room), back to do our sea lion swim (after that we held a sloth and a toucan), we then went to the beach and went snorkeling. We enjoyed this although we both said it was not the same as swimming with the stingrays as this is a much more controlled environment. Still we got our pictures (overpriced but still worth every cent) and you can see from our faces how much fun we were having -- these are the things I treasured when we are back to the day to day grind. We also bought some vanilla and a silver chain from Cinco de Sol. They were reasonably priced and the sales people in Cinco de Sol did not seem to pressure you as much as some of the other stores. Belize: We decided to go cave tubing on this port. We did arrange this through the cruiseline - The only trip we arranged on our own was in Cozumel (in the future I will try to book more things on my own through proven reputable companies - as it is quite a bit cheaper and usually involves smaller groups). Although we did book this through the cruise line we had an exhausting but great time cave tubing. We both saw some monkeys in the trees during the bus ride. It had rained early in the day when we went so we had a nice moving current (not too fast but we did not have to paddle much). Afterwards we stopped at a restaurant (I think it was Breezes) as part of the excursion package and had chicken, rice and beans, coleslaw and we bought some tasty beer to go with the above. Our tour operator told us the secret to tasty beans and rice is to cook it in coconut milk (I will have to try that some time). We bought some cashew wine (at the restaurant) it is strong and more like a liquor than a wine but we figure it is something unique. My husband also bought a walking cane (stick) from a local merchant that was beautifully carved. I would definitely consider stopping at Belize on future cruises. MISC: Cruise Director -cruise director Mark was pretty funny and seemed helpful. On our first cruise our cruise director was John who we thought was wonderful. However on our second cruise we had a cruise director who's name I cannot even remember (he seemed to be trying to imitate John Heald and repeated the same old routine). I liked that Mark Hawkins was trying some new fresh things that were not just copying everyone else - even if every joke did not work it was great to see something new. Head of Shore Excursions - I forget the name of this person but I was disappointed because she was not the person who gave the lecture on the shore excursions (that was the cruise director) and even though she claimed she was available afterwards she did not seem to want to be bothered. I asked about the approximate cab fare to Chankonnob Park and mentioned that we were doing a Sea Lion swim. She claimed she was not sure of the taxi fare and that she could not make any guarantees on our Sea Lion Swim as it was not booked through them. I thought this was pretty rude and that she should be able to give basic information about where to catch a cab, if there are ones to avoid and how much they cost -- she did not even advise us to get a price before we got in the cab (fortunately we knew from a previous cruise). Later on in the trip the person who was the cruise lines shopping expert told us the price was about $10.00 each way as far as she knew from last time she went there but to double check before we got in the cab as the prices may have changed. We felt this cruise was among the best because of the ports, the beautiful ship and the fact that the people were laid back without being obnoxious. Everyone seemed to be there to have a great time but in general did not go overboard. There were no problems with unsupervised children (in fact some were holding the elevator door for there father and when they saw that he had stopped to socialize they apologized and left the elevator). There was also not too much smoke and none in the hallways, elevators, etc. Overall this was a great cruise, although as in most vacations I have a few concerns. We look forward to another cruise in the future and will return to Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
This family oriented review of the Carnival Miracle is more information and tips than plain opinion. We cruised November 28, 2004 with 4 kids (10, 9, 4, 3) to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Belize City. This was my tenth cruise, my ... Read More
This family oriented review of the Carnival Miracle is more information and tips than plain opinion. We cruised November 28, 2004 with 4 kids (10, 9, 4, 3) to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Belize City. This was my tenth cruise, my second with Carnival. We had a great time, nice and new ship, but we were a bit disappointed with all the nudity around the ship some call art. Embarkation- We hit the rush (12:00-1:30) and had about 1½ hour wait. The terminal is south of the parking garage, and taxis dropped us off in a 3-lane drop off point where porters took our luggage (and tips). Then everyone waits on the first floor to take an escalator up to security. A guy is there pre-selling return tickets to the airport for about double what it costs afterward. All guests wait in the line through security, then the Skipper Club (most expensive cabins) split off to a short line. We noticed that as we checked in at 1:30 the line was significantly smaller than when we arrived at noon. Once checked in and your credit card is run as a deposit, you go and get your picture taken and recorded onto your sign and sail card and then it is on to the ship. Tip: Either come early (before 12) or late (after 2) to avoid the wait. Cabin-We had cabin 5130, (which is right down the hall from Camp Carnival) with an extended balcony. We put our 2 older boys with the grandparents in 1157. We considered a Category 11 Suite so we could put the kids to bed and still stay up, but the extra room was not needed as the balcony gave us a "2nd room" to relax, read, etc., while our 3 and 4 year old nodded off to sleep. The extended balconies are about 50% larger than regular... plenty of room for 4 adults to hang out on when my parents joined us for a visit. Highly recommended. The balcony comes with 2 chairs and a little table. I am not going to go into details, but the table only holds the weight of one person (yes, somehow we actually broke our table). We also brought the recommended bungee cord, so we could keep the door open and hear the ocean all night long. Details on the room: lots of storage, 3 closets (2 with hangers, 1 with shelves), and several drawers, etc. We had a queen bed then there was an upper and lower bunk. The TV was a new Panasonic with one audio and one video RCA plug in front. (Most video games from home use the red, yellow, white plugs.. so I am not sure if you can use your home systems on board with this TV set). The TV had several channels that can enhance your cruise. One is front camera, next is back camera, both with music backgrounds. The aft cam allowed us to check to see if the slide was open before we went up to deck 10 (times of operation that were listed in Capers was not always correct). CNN and a few other broadcast channels like TNT were on, plus 3 on-ship movie channels (1 for kids.. like Dr. Doolittle, Garfield, etc.) Another channel showed ship location and nautical information. There are 2 hardcover books in the desk drawer about Carnival and the Miracle along with a Bible placed by the Gideon organization. The in-room safe locked and unlocked with any credit card or sign and sale card, using the magnetic strip on either. There was no clock, and just one power outlet (bring a strip) - there was an additional "razor only" plug in the bathroom that only worked when the bathroom light was on. The shower had both a shampoo and soap dispenser, and they give you several samples of other shampoos, soaps, razors, etc. The shower was the best we have seen on a cruise ship - lots of pressure and a lot of hot water! The room telephone is a Nortel Meridian set with several speed dials to services (like room service and auto wake up calls), and is a speakerphone (monitor only, no microphone). The voice mail allows you to change your greeting (nice for groups to make sure you got the correct room). Tip: We followed earlier posts and tipped $10 to the room steward and asked for a deck chair and to clean out our fridge and filled it with bottled water and soda pop we brought from home. We brought an old hard side suitcase that was bought at a thrift store which we transported the water and pop in, then left it at the end of the cruise with a sign that said "trash." All suitcases fit under our bed for storage during the cruise. Tip: If you have a choice in booking your cabin, select a room on the starboard side of the ship. You will get better views out of Tampa including better views of city, air base, dockside upon departure, better city views in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Tip: To me, there is nothing like sitting on your balcony at night and having a full moon reflect upon the water. It is my drug. So, before we booked I looked up the lunar cycle on the net and made sure there was a full moon and it was at night. Luckily, the clouds were clear and we had two excellent nights staring at the moon reflecting upon the water. Awesome.. I fell asleep both nights on the deck chair we had brought down. First day Sunday We first checked out our room, then ate with everyone else on Deck 9. There are 8 food serving areas on the Lido deck, some with changing options each day. The first two serving areas are outside mid-ship by the middle swimming pool, starboard and port sides. Mostly burgers and hot dogs are served here. The next two heading aft were inside. The starboard side served Chinese food the entire cruise, the port side rotated different menus each day. (Caribbean, Indian, etc.). The next dining area back had four serving areas. One had hamburgers and hot dogs, another upscale food like roasts, turkey, ham, etc. Another was the 24 hour pizza area, and the last had salads the entire cruise. Between two serving areas was a dessert area, where they had great choices like cheesecakes, fruit, and pastries. There were several drink areas with juices, milk, water, tea, coffee, ice, and a large number of plastic cups. After we ate we explored the entire ship and every public area, which took about an hour. Then made it back and had most of our luggage so we unpacked. Then we went to the mandatory muster drill at 3:30 p.m. The crew checked each cabin so you had to go. (We hid out on previous cruises!). Typical drill. But a little squeezed in as they have 2000 plus people in a relatively small area. Parents need to know that when they check their kids in at Camp Carnival the staff puts a wristband on each child that is to remain attached the entire cruise. These are labeled with your assigned muster station code so that if there was every an emergency the staff could bring your children to you at the correct muster station. My kids tore theirs off more than once, and luckily, Camp Carnival had a large supply of extra wristbands. Tip: Come late to muster, just as they are starting, as they line the first attendees up against the wall and pack them in like sardines. The last ones get to stand up front, which with a 3 and 4 year old gave them room to sit down at our feet and do what 3 and 4 year olds do (roll around and fidget). Next we went to the Casino desk and they punched a hole in our sign and sail card and attached a lanyard to each one. This worked very well for my 8 and 10 year olds as they looped them into sort of a necklace and never misplaced or lost them the entire trip. I just attached mine to a belt loop and kept it in my pocket. Since this card is all you need on board for services and purchases, I left my wallet in the room safe. Even before leaving port, the pools and hot tub were open and well used. We were a bit disappointed to find that Camp Carnival did not open until 7:30 p.m. the first night. We were hoping to leave the 2 youngest ones there so we could enjoy the dining room. I went to the internet cafe in the library several times to sign up for the giveaway but I never once found it staffed. Oh well, kind of expensive with a registration fee of around $4 plus usage at 75 cents per minute sold only in blocks of time. We found internet cafes way cheaper in the ports. (See below). Dining Room: Well, many opinions have been written on the colors and amount of "grapes" all around. To me the dEcor was fine. We were in the back on the 2nd floor (deck 3 aft) and would strongly recommend trying to get a table in the back. Simply go to the dining room, and request a back table. Here is why: The views! The back tables have floor to ceiling views. Deck 2, the main floor of the dinning room, has the best windows. Deck 3 is still good. Depending upon the month you cruise, you may be delighted with a sunset at sea. Leaving Tampa and going under the big bridge is a sight also (happens during early seating.. a must with families with small kids because Camp Carnival is closed from 5:45 to 7 p.m. each night so you can feed your kids). At Cozumel as you depart you have one of the prettiest scenes out the back windows I have had at a meal... four fully illuminated cruise ships against a darkening sky... slowly shrinking away in the distance as we sailed south out of port. The food was actually better than I had expected, based on other reports. It was still cruise food, but I have highlighted a few of the selections offered on each day below. Tip: Come 3-5 minutes late to dinner. The lines will be gone and you can walk right to your table. Avoid the long line of hungry cruisers that form before the dining room opens. Tip: They do not post the menus outside the dining room like some lines (so you can go by in the morning and decide how hungry to be for dinner!). But they do post the full menu including desserts on the inside, so as you enter you can see how much room to leave for dessert (they don't tell you what is for dessert until after dinner, unless you look as you come in.) Tip: Some of the best desserts are off the kid's menu, which adults can order all through the cruise. Tip: Carnival has added "low carb" options, which are modified entrEes off the main menu. Tip: The traditional seven day Carnival menu is listed at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=39067&highlight=Menu. There have been a few changes, but this is pretty accurate. When looking at these menus just make Sunday day 1, Monday day 2, etc. Camp Carnival: After dinner we attended the 7:30 p.m. opening program and found it to be very well planned and our kids immediately loved it. They had introductions of the staff and an overview of the week at the Mad Hatters lounge Deck 1 Forward. The ship's mascot, Funship Freddie was there and my 3 year old was mesmerized! Next, we went up to a reserved section up on deck 9 for family ice cream sundaes. We later learned that every time Camp Carnival feeds the kids they go to this same area. After the ice cream, we went to the family dance party in Frankenstein's Lab (the disco) on deck 2 aft. This was well worth attending as our youngest really enjoyed the balloon games, dancing with Freddie, and the closing "YMCA" dance. This dance party was the perfect arena for our youngest two to get comfortable with the Camp Carnival program, as they are normally a little shy with new things. By the end of the cruise, we could not pull them away from the program! My older two even missed breakfast the last few days to get to Camp Carnival to hang out with their friends and do the planned activities. Camp Carnival is divided into several age groups, each with their own Camp Carnival Capers, which lists the entire week of activities. I brought them home and a Cruise Critic reader posted them for me at http://joephila.net/CampCarnival/. (Thanks!) If you are traveling with kids, these are a must read. The program appeared to be only about half full. At most activities for the 8-11 year olds, there were only four or five kids there. Perhaps families have heard about all the nude statues and paintings (see my comments below) and have steered toward more family oriented ships(?). If you have kids in the 2-5 year program, the Miracle gives you a cordless phone. (The web page says a pager, but the phone was nicer!) This is actually very nice as it is a 4 digit extension on the ship's phone system, just like each cabin has a 4 digit intercom number (your room number). The purpose is that if your kid has an accident, or the staff needs you, or you want to check on your kid, you can communicate anywhere on the ship. The phones are a single line proprietary Nortel digital set and the Miracle has 8 transmitters per floor, visible in the hallways up high, appearing to be added after the ship was built. This Nortel product actually functions like a mini-cellular system, handing off calls to the nearest transmitter if you talk and walk around the ship. The sets only work on the ship, no range off. Now, here are the benefits: if you are going with a group you can keep in touch, especially on sea days. (e.g., I had left my wife and kids in the cabin and was looking at photos, they called and said the slide was open and to meet up on deck 11). Simply give out your extension number to those who are in your group. When you turn it on it gives you the ship's time, which is great for people like me who do not wear a watch. Some may not like having to carry a phone, but I actually found it helpful. One time I was waiting in a long line at the Purser's desk and the marquee said to call 7777 for info, which I did while in line, got my questions answered, then left the line. Also, being a balcony freak, I made calls to make dinner plans, ordered room service, and received calls from people in our group without leaving the lounge chair on the balcony. Hey, don't think I am lazy... I am just on vacation! Monday at Sea There are a variety of activities for every taste posted in the daily Capers. We had a low activity day, lounged, took the kids swimming, ate, and used the water slide. The height requirement for the slide is 42 inches (one Caper said 48, but the slide has a marker at 42). The water in all the pools and the slide is saltwater. And the slide is a ton of fun. I found you can get flying on that thing if you arch your rear end off the slide, putting your weight on your feet and shoulders. The slide was not open all the times the Caper said it was, hence checking channel 13 (aft cam) will show you if people are using it before going up on deck. Ice Cream. While there is 7 X 24 ice cream, on sea days from 3:00-5:00 p.m. the topping bar is open and is worth going to on deck 9 aft starboard. They offer a huge variety of toppings and sauces - which is a treat by itself. On one run my wife brought just a cup of nuts, candies, and cookies in a bowl with no ice cream! Dinner highlights. Monday is the first Formal night, and by far the best menu of the week in my opinion. I had two prime rib dinners and two lobsters dinners (you can order as much as you can eat)! But be sure to leave room for the "chocolate flourless cake," which was to die for. I had two, but wish I had left room for more! It was one of the best desserts I have eaten on a cruise ship. The Monday night show was "Generations." The program was basically popular music from the '90s, then a few songs from the '80s, then to the '70s, etc.... all the way to the '40s, then back up the decades to the '90s. So, everyone will know some music, and probably not other songs. Something for everyone, but also something everyone will think is boring. Well done though. And Camp Carnival brings the older kids to the show and the program ends with... what else, the traditional "YMCA" song! Tuesday was the first stop (Grand Cayman) and the cleanest, safest port of the week. We tendered in and immediately noticed the hurricane desolation. On the dock we met a short, bald, British chap who ran Moby Dick tours www.mobydicktours.com (there were several tour operators soliciting customers at the dock). We signed up for his tour to Sting Ray City for $35 per person. Be sure when using a credit card here they write U.S. by the amount, other wise, you might get billed in Grand Cayman dollars which is about 25% more than US dollars. We had a very nice tour with Moby Dick. They took us by small bus to a private dock, on a 30-40 person boat (there was 18 of us) out to where the sting rays are, (there are already a lot of posts about this activity), then out snorkeling at the reef for a half hour. The snorkeling was actually surprisingly a trip highlight! They offered punch and water and took us back via a stop at the north end of 7 Mile beach if you wanted to stay and find your own $3 ride back to the docks later. Having been out of touch with my business for a few days I found an internet cafe on the north side of the pier run by Cable and Wireless. Their internet was down due to the recent storms but I was able to call to the US for $6 for 3 minutes. Wednesday was a day at Costa Maya. This is a unique port essentially built by the cruise ship companies. Three ships were in town when we were there. As ships pull in, they close the pier for around 20 minutes for safety while docking takes place. So we had to wait to exit the Miracle as another ship was pulling in. The long pier (there was a trolley hauling people who did not want to walk) leads to a plaza of shops, a small sandy beach area, and swimming pool, and an amphitheater. The internet cafe there was $3 for 30 minutes. Calls to the US were $1.50 per minute. We left the plaza area and around back rented a golf cart for $15 for an hour and left the gated and guarded plaza area. Upon return, you have to show your sign and sail card to the guard at the facilities gate to get into the plaza, which tells you a little about how safe the region is. We headed south toward Mahal (sp?) and actually felt a little nervous, as the golf carts' slow speed made us a sitting target for some thug (rich tourist slowly going down a desolate road). There is a huge amount of building going on but we found the locals, workers, and people we passed to be the most unfriendly we met on the trip. We waived and said hi to everyone we passed and frowns were returned. My wife said these folks need to learn that tourists are the lifeblood of the growth and the livelihoods of many of the people, and tourists appreciate friendly locals. We did pass a small local police or military outpost with people walking around carrying machine guns. Again, no smiles or waves returned. The prices of things in the plaza were very high compared to the prices down in Mahal. The merchants at Mahal were friendlier, and we went from brick road, to highway, to very bumpy mud roads, but it was a ton of fun! An hour was enough time to make the trip, but only 10 minutes or so to shop and look around. Back massages on the beach were offered everywhere and appeared to be quite popular. They were running $20 for 30 minutes. (U.S. money, that is). The water slide was closed this day, contrary to the info in the Capers. In the Mad Haters lounge they showed a movie called the "Big Screen Movie." This time it was " The Notebook." For dinner I chose the Beef Wellington and it was pretty good. Thursday we pulled into the south pier (out of three) at Cozumel. A few words... this ain't the cheap part of Mexico! To get to shore you have to walk through a very long shopping mall, then get mobbed by taxi drivers. I heard people looking at booze in the store say the prices were higher than on the ship! The taxis are very expensive... more than we have paid in New York and other major US cities. The taxi driver told me they have one taxi company there...he called it a syndication... it sounded more like a monopoly. To take 6 of us about 4 miles to a beach and then return was over $50! (Compared to $20 from the ship to the airport in Tampa, about 3 times further time wise!) There were lots of options for beaches in Cozumel and we chose the older and popular San Francisco beach. All the taxi drivers really pushed us to go to the next one down for just $6 more, Mr. Nacho's beach. We got the impression that the drivers got a kickback from Mr. Nacho's as they pushed over and over. There are two "businesses" at San Francisco beach. Both are bar and grills with beach chairs. The north side's price was $5 per person for the use of the chairs. South side was free, but they wanted you to buy drinks, food, etc. It was called Paradise Beach and very well kept. Water was $2, sandwiches $6-9, etc. They also had a $5 activity wristband which you could purchase which my kids liked. They had a floating trampoline, a 20 foot climbing wall out in the water, and plastic kayaks. We had a really good time here, and weather was warm and sunny. The restrooms were some of the best kept and cleaned ones we have seen at any beach. This is the only port where they asked for picture ID to return to the ship. All other ports just wanted to see your sign and sail cards. We did not bring ID, but after a second they let us on through anyway. The water slide was closed again this day for no apparent reason, as the weather was good. For dinner I chose the Filet Mignon, which actually was one of the poorer Mignons I have ever had, far below what The Outback or other local steak house serves. Friday at Belize. As you may know, there is a great reef and lots of atolls in the waters outside of Belize City. So the ship parks a few miles out in the harbor and high speed boats shuttle you into port, about a 15 minute ride. You land at a gated, policed "Tourist Village" with lots of shops and tour guides available. There was a good internet cafe that charged $3 for 15 minutes in this village. We met up with Douglas Gentle of Belize Taxi Tour Guide Association at the dock and hired him to take us to Alta Hu Mayan Ruins for $30 each. Doug is a former New York City resident who got laid off from his job at the World Trade Center a few months before 9/11 and decided to return home to Belize to care for his ailing parents. He gave a most excellent tour. www.bztaxitourguidesassociation.com or email Douglas at betta@btl.net. There are licensed (and more expensive) tour guides inside the village, and you can leave the gated area and go with cheaper unlicensed ones. After driving around Belize, there is no doubt in my mind that the extra few bucks was worth it to go with a licensed guide. A few words of opinion about Belize City: "Second World." It is poor, run down, and there are bars on nearly every window of every home and business that we saw on our 4 hour tour. Crime is high, and our tour guide said the bars on the windows are not for decorative purposes. We did not feel very safe in downtown Belize City. We have felt safer in South Chicago or East Los Angeles than here. We took the nearly 4 hour tour which included a city tour in Douglas's older, beat up mini-van, and a ride out to Alta Hu, about 40 miles. The roads are terrible (full of potholes) so it took an hour and a half almost. The ruins are really neat. You pay a $5 tax at the pier for a ticket and take it to the ruins for admission. Douglas handled all this for us. Douglas acted our tour guide at the ruins (besides just our taxi driver) and told us all about the ruins, history, and local culture. There were several large buildings that were discovered in the 1960's by accident and have been partially renovated. He noted the similarities between these buildings and the pyramids in the Old World. It was as if some of the people might have traveled back and forth between the old and new worlds. A discussion arose about how some people believe an ancient record was found and translated into English that tells of such a people who left the Old World and came to the Americas accidentally and built cities here. The record is religious in nature so it is controversial, but a free copy is available at www.mormon.org and it is called the Book of Mormon. Anyway, back to the tour. We stopped and saw iguanas out on the side of the road and caught a giant tarantula in the middle of the road and picked up with a piece of cardboard and looked at it. Very interesting! Douglas was well worth seeking after as a tour guide. We left our 4 kids at Camp Carnival for the full four hours we were gone and they did just fine. We came back to the ship, swam with the kids, and went to dinner. Friday was the second formal night and I chose the Prime Rib (2 of course) and it was pretty good. The highlight of the evening was the show "Ticket to Ride." It was a tribute to the music of the Beatles. Tip: Come early as they play a movie about the Beatles before the show. This is one of the best shows at sea. Very well done, and I walked away with a new found respect for Paul McCartney and John Lennon, the #1 and #2 writers of the most number one hits of all time (I personally am in awe over Barry Gibb at #3). Paul and John produced so many hits ...and 20 to 30 of them were woven into this wonderful show. The costumes were great, the dancers gave out light sticks to the audience near the end as part of the show, and the band "Boardwalk" ended the show with an awesome reproduction of a live Beatles concert. "Boardwalk" played all week in Frankie and Johnnie's on the deck 2 by the way. They did double duty on Friday, playing in the lounge and slipping out to do the final number in "Ticket to Ride." Great band, and great show! The midnight buffet was also on Friday night. They open the dining room up for pictures at 11:30 p.m. and for dining at midnight (duh!). Very long and slow lines and the food was just fair. Nice presentations, but middle of the road desserts. Saturday at Sea We experienced windy seas, which some crew said was typical for fall. Made it tough to be out on deck. But the ship it self was smooth. Very little rocking, and no one I saw felt ill or had motion sickness. Temperatures were still in the high 80's which made it bearable to swim and walk around outside in a swimming suit. The water slide was open, Ice Cream topping bar open again, and the big screen movie was "Napoleon Dynamite," a great comedy... a little dry. Live music on the Lido deck again off and on all day, and dinner in the dining room, with the sunset into the sea out the back windows, was worth the trip! Camp Carnival is a must this last night. The kids all got shirts. The younger ones colored with special markers, the older ones all signed each other's. We could not pull the kids out of the camp the last night as they were having so much fun! Very well run program! Saturday is also the day you prepare to end your vacation. They give about an hour talk about rules, forms, and how to proceed in the lounge, then repeat it on the TV. The show goes over rules like "just $800 duty free limit, no plants or food off the ship, etc." You also are told to put your luggage (non-valuables) out in the hall between 10 p.m. and midnight. I walked around the ship and noticed the crew cleaning and sanitizing the pools. They said they do that every Saturday night. So each cruise starts with fresh saltwater in the pools. Sunday was Disembarkation. The ship docks in Tampa around 6 a.m. Breakfast is served from 7-9 up on deck 9. "First off" seemed to occur about 8:30 a.m. You can request first off if you carry off your own luggage instead of putting it out the night before. Then passengers were let off by color of luggage tags which corresponded to different parts of the ship. We waited in our room and departed the boat around 10 a.m. As you exit the ship you go down stairs or escalators to a big room where you locate your luggage. Then pass through customs and turn in your declaration form. Then you go outside to taxis, buses, and the parking garage. You can purchase tickets for the bus right there ($9 for adults, $6 for kids) to go to the airport, or a cab for 4 people is $20. Porters will help you for a tip, but the distance you have to go is very short. If you have a Sunday flight after 3:30 p.m. the ship does sell tours for the nearby Florida Aquarium and also a city tour. In the Capers which they give you Saturday night, they offer this information with instructions to sign up at the tour desk by Saturday at 6 p.m. A little late... no wonder the tour was almost empty! You can do the Aquarium by yourself, but with their tour they will store your luggage for you then bus you to the airport. General Information The ship. It was new, clean, and easy to find your way around with maps by each elevator. But it was very "busy" in the dEcor. Take Circus Circus dEcor and crank it up a few notches. Not as "brass and glass" like Princess and NCL and Royal, just busy artwork on every single wall and designs completely up and down the hallways by the cabins. Just unusual and gaudy more than anything, as every inch of the ship seemed to have some sort of theme. We prefer the more elegant brass and glass ships as far as dEcor goes. As mentioned, the Phantom lounge was phenomenal. Three stories high, fabulous marble entryway, laser and fireworks in some of the shows! Must see room. Service- Tipping for your cabin steward and dining room people is automatic, and you can adjust your charges up or down. We had a clean room all the time but hardly saw our cabin steward. Other cruises have started with a greeting and actually a min-tour of our room by our steward, which earned an extra tip. But cabin service was good. The dining room service was fair. And this was not completely the worker's fault. When I started cruising we had a waiter, assistant waiter, and busboy. The industry has cut that from three people to two, which makes these workers very busy. We had a fair waitress.. .really kind of snippy and rolled her eyes upon requests, but our bus boy was super! Big tip for him! The kids had such a good time we tipped the Camp Carnival staff at the end of the cruise (which was not part of the automatic tipping). I got an envelope at the purser's desk (next to the free extra post cards of the Miracle). The Casino- We did not play, but just know these are not loose slots. Carnival makes a ton of money off the gamblers on board. (Thanks for subsidizing my cruise!) Drinks- We are not drinkers, but most specialty drinks seemed to be about $7 plus tip, and the daily specials seemed to be around $3 bucks. Nudity. Carnival has, in the past, really pushed the family fun ship theme. And they have some of the best kid's programs at sea (we did Disney, and the Miracle was better for our kids). But for family cruisers you must be warned there are naked breasts galore on this boat. Half clothed statues all over. For example, in the main show lounge, the most beautiful I have seen on a ship, there are dozens of bare-chested figurines in the design of the ceiling. By the hot tub, there is a statue of three mermaids bearing their (small) breasts to the world. The casino ceiling, just passing through for the younger kids, has many nipples hanging down at you. And Deck 3 portside forward on the door into the main showroom is a painting of female full frontal nudity, 100%. Some might feel this is just fine art, and they are entitled to their opinion. Likewise, I am entitled to my opinion and feel like it was not what I wanted my boys to be looking at. I would not sail this ship if my boys were teenagers. Too many naked breasts, and I am not even talking about the topless deck! (Which was for ages 18 and above.) Ironic, ain't it, that to go to deck 12 you have to be 18 years of age, but to see dozens of naked statue breasts there is no age limit! Wizards Arcade had 30 or so standard arcade type video games for $1 per game (Camp Carnival goes there for the 8-11 kids on Monday and plays a few games for free for an hour or so). Cell phone service: Had full service about 2 hours in and out of Tampa. In Grand Cayman, Belize, and Cozumel we had signal but to receive calls you have to have your provider turn on service down there (so I have been told). Text messages did not work. No signal in Costa Maya. In-room calls to the United States on the ship's phone system were $6.99 a minute. Conclusion: Congratulations if you really made it through all these eleven pages! I tried to tell our experience in enough detail as to give some future cruiser a better idea of what to expect than the 2 or 3 paragraph "this was nice for us" type of review. I enjoyed this cruise. I enjoyed the balcony more than anything. And the full moon on the water at night was like morphine! While I did not like some things (like the nudity) on the boat, the overall experience was first rate and well worth the cost. Best Wishes. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
This was my first cruise. It was the best Vacation that my husband and I ever had. This ship was great. We embarked from Tampa and it was all fast boarding. We were all very excited to see how large the ship was. It was nicely decorated. ... Read More
This was my first cruise. It was the best Vacation that my husband and I ever had. This ship was great. We embarked from Tampa and it was all fast boarding. We were all very excited to see how large the ship was. It was nicely decorated. Next I will tell you about our dining experiences. The food was great. We enjoyed the start of each morning with the omelet bar. The food on the Lido deck and the Baccheus Dining Room was great. The wait staff in the Dining room was great. Renaldo and Elisabeth were great they remembered your likes and your dislikes and were there to help in making decisions. Omar the Maitre d' was great. The dinner shows were fun to watch and participate in. Even room service was good. REMEMBER to try the CHOCOLATE CAKE AND HOT CHOCOLATE! The ship was so nice. The rooms were very clean. The beds were nice and I had good nights sleep every night. The whole ship was clean. Nicely decorated. Nice showers and plenty of closet space. We had a nice balcony to enjoy the sights from. The activities were fun. There was game shows to join in and shows to watch. We enjoyed the Karaoke Party almost every night. I never knew how much fun it could be. My boss took runner up in Fear Factor. It was great to see a dentist eat off the floor. The Captain's ball was fun. Formal Nights are the best. Lots of great photo ops. The ship has 3 pools and 3 hot tubs. They are small but we never had a problem getting in when we wanted to. If you are not familiar with the cruises and pools the water in them is salt water. I enjoyed the ports of Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. We also went to Belize but I did not like it. I got off for the tender and was back on the ship in 1 hour. I thought it was a nasty place. The people were not friendly and I was scared. The native people were angry because we were not taking their tours and told the port security to hold us there. This was very scary. The other 3 were nice. Grand Cayman still had storm damage from Hurricane Ivan, but it was still a fun place to see. We went to Hell and took a few photos and the Turtle Farm. Costa Maya was pretty and clean in port. We did not leave the port that day and venture out. Stayed busy in port. Cozumel was my favorite place that we went. We took a Taxi to the City and spent the day and had lots of fun seeing all the sights and making deals with the Mexicans. My husband got a pair of Oakley sunglasses for $10.00. Food was good at Poncho's Backyard in the port. It was fun but took a lot of time to get off the ship if you did not book excursions through Carnival. Excursions got to get off first. We also went to the Spa Carnival for a leg massage and it was very nice. Relieved the tension from all the walking we did while we were on the ship. Getting off the ship was fast for us. They call a luggage tag color and you go off the ship tp claim your luggage in this large building with the luggage lined up. They are not very careful with your luggage. I had one dress in my bag that got stains on it from the throwing around of my bags. Porter were nice and it pays to have valet parking. We liked it so much we are going on one again this year on Destiny in Nov. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
First let me start off by saying this was the best vacation I have ever had. We went with co-workers and was also all of our first cruise. We embarked from Tampa and the boarding went very smoothly. The only problem we had was that my ... Read More
First let me start off by saying this was the best vacation I have ever had. We went with co-workers and was also all of our first cruise. We embarked from Tampa and the boarding went very smoothly. The only problem we had was that my husband kept setting the metal detector off we still have no clue why. They were very nice and after he was searched we were allowed to go on our way. When we first stepped on the ship we were awestruck. This is a very beautiful ship. We had our first meal on the Lido deck and found that even though crowded we found somewhere to eat. It was very nice. We had a group of couples that was sitting next to us and told us that they had been on a lot of cruises and this was one of the best ships they had been on. The food was good, just had a hard time deciding on what I wanted to because of the variety. After eating we went to find our rooms. When we got to our rooms it was much larger than I ever expected. We were put in a handicap room and this was a major plus because it had a huge balcony. My boss had a suite and our balcony was bigger than his!I also loved the down comforter. Our steward for the most part was ok but it could have been a little better. Some of times I needed something she was no where to be found and when I called the number it just rang and no one answered. The cabin was very clean. I do have her to thank for that. Our dinner experience was wonderful. We could not have asked for any better. They remembered what each one at the table like and what everyone liked to drink. They even remembered down to the bread we liked(now talk about great service).This was one of the best experiences of the cruise. We went to the spa once with the girls to have massages and let me tell you they were WONDERFUL!!! Needed to have done that more than once. I did not go in the pools a lot but thought they were ok. They could have stood to be a little bigger I thought. I also do not like salt water pools. I have seen a lot of reviews about how bad the children were on this ship but to be honest I never saw a child. The entertainment was great as were the games. My boss got second place in the Fear Factor game. I did Karaoke two times, it was great. I can not remember the ladies name who was in charge of Karaoke but she was great. I loved all of the ports except Belize. It was a very run down town and did not feel safe there. We had people coming up to us begging for money and even had one person to beg the port authorities to hold us there so that we would miss the boat. It would be a great place to go if you were just going to scuba. I liked Cozumel the best. We ate at a nice little place called Pancho's Backyard. We took a taxi into Cozumel outside of the port area and found some very great deals. The only problem I had with Carnival was that it took along time to get off the ship at each port. We did not take any of the excursions that Carnival offered because being our first cruise we did not know what to expect. We are leaving for a cruise on Carnival Destiny November 2005 and will be booking excursions. Overall -- This was a very great ship with wonderful service. Would go again. Also if you are driving to Tampa it is worth the extra money to be valet parked and the porters were extra nice. Read Less
Sail Date: November 2004
My wife and I were first time cruisers and we can't wait to do it again. The Miracle is a first class vessel. The attention to detail is second to none. The activities on board are endless. You can do something almost twenty-four ... Read More
My wife and I were first time cruisers and we can't wait to do it again. The Miracle is a first class vessel. The attention to detail is second to none. The activities on board are endless. You can do something almost twenty-four hours a day if you want. Cruise Director Mark Hawkins is great at what he does as is his assistant director Karl with a K. The shows are great, the food top of the line. I highly suggest one night at Nick and Nora's Supper Club. Yes it is true you will miss a great night in the dining room but the service and food is second to none. The nightclubs are better than average and provide you with good service and nice sized drinks. For the sports fan there is a sports bar on board that shows all the games on numerous flat screen TVs. On the negative side, if you are a gambler the casino is tough to beat. The slots seem tight and the Blackjack tables are tough (nine seats compared to usual six). However, I was not on board to gamble. As far as excursions go, we had very easy access to book whatever we wanted either at the main desk or through your in-room TV. All in all, I have traveled many places and experienced many things, but, the Carnival miracle is a great way to spend seven days. Read Less
Sail Date: December 2004
This was our fourth cruise. We have cruised in the last five years on Disney, Princess and Royal Carib. Carnival Miracle was a different experience partially because of cruising during the holidays with several hundred kids on board ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise. We have cruised in the last five years on Disney, Princess and Royal Carib. Carnival Miracle was a different experience partially because of cruising during the holidays with several hundred kids on board coupled with the glitz of Farcus decorating which is way over the top in comparison to Royal and Princess. Overall, the Carnival staff did an excellent job but with a combination of the balcony doors being French doors with extremely loud closures and the number of kids, do not plan on getting to sleep till at least midnight and plan on being awake no later than 8 a.m. This was not a relaxing cruise but it was fun regardless of the 25 to 50 knot winds we experienced both night and day for the entire week. We were fortunate to get into Grand Cayman, as they has not seen a ship in two days before we got there because of the winds, and Costa Maya. Grand Cayman is a mess from the hurricane late last year and all trees are either stripped or down with a ton of reconstruction needed. It will be years before this island returns to a top tourist stop. Costa Maya was very much in the wild but fun for a beach break with a great barrier reef. Cozumel was great for the town and beaches coupled with snorkeling which we booked off the ship off the main pier. Belize was Third World all the way and most people felt they would not want to go back to that port again. The ship, because of the constant high winds, constantly rolled and pitched making it very difficult to sleep most nights coupled with the wind whistling around the balconies which was surprising given the ship is so new. The French doors are not a good change for the balcony doors as we were accustomed to sliders which are much easier to use and much more quiet in the morning and evening than having people four cabins down slam the door and you can not only hear it but feel it. Shows were very good with the Vegas shows coupled with the hypnotist, etc.... Food was very good but the main dining room as reported being over the top was an understatement. The colors are way too loud and make Vegas dining rooms look sedate. Overall service on the ship was good and the cruise director was full of energy. Other than the wind all week and being a very noisy ship, we had a good time but exhausting. The ship was two hours late in arriving in Tampa because it caught an 87 knot gust at 4:30 a.m. in the Gulf that reportedly knocked a baby grand piano off of a stage coupled with the dining room china and plates hitting the floor given the ship listed 15 degrees. It was all cleaned up by the time we boarded and they were only about a half hour late in doing so. The early debark where you wheel you own suitcases off was very early -- like meeting at 7:15 a.m. to assemble before doing so. We opted for an early flight debark that meet at 8 a.m. but then it took over an hour and a half to get off the ship which was not a good thing -- it is the longest debark we have experienced. If you have teenage kids, as we have one at age 15, they will love the teen disco each night although waiting up until midnight and beyond is a different experience. So, all in all a good trip but as they say, you cannot control the weather (wind) and I wish Carnival would go to a quieter stateroom with more insulation, quieter doors, both balcony and hallway, so you can get some sleep in comparison to Princess and Royal, which were much quieter. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
Ready, Set, Cruise! (Advice Numbered) The Carnival Miracle In the middle of winter, we went on a cruise. We departed Norfolk, VA at 6:45am Saturday to catch a connecting flight in NJ. Due to a severe snowstorm (where our connector ... Read More
Ready, Set, Cruise! (Advice Numbered) The Carnival Miracle In the middle of winter, we went on a cruise. We departed Norfolk, VA at 6:45am Saturday to catch a connecting flight in NJ. Due to a severe snowstorm (where our connector was coming from), the flight was cancelled. At 11am the snow drifted into NJ. In anticipation of the airport closing, we took one of the last flights leaving...heading to Richmond, VA. Once in Richmond, we had to turn to another airline to get to Tampa. $1000 later, and with the help of Richard Simmons, that's right the exercise guru Richard Simmons, we were on the last plane allowed to leave Richmond (due to a relentless snowfall). We had a successful connection in Charlotte and made it to our hotel in Tampa before midnight. We were living a dream as we escaped two airports in heavy snow, had Richard Simmons serving us drinks, and had arrived to our final destination on the same day. (#1: Schedule winter connections in cities with moderate climates) The next morning, I ran the Florida Gulf Beaches Marathon. 26.2 miles passed, I showered and was in line with my family at the Port of Tampa to board the Carnival Miracle. The boarding process was thorough and efficient. (#2: Remember your Passport & Driver's License) Once on board we quickly signed up for our excursions. The in-room computerized process was user friendly. (#3: Decide which excursions to take before getting on the ship) Sunday January 23rd There was a daily schedule (named Carnival Capers) placed in our mailbox just outside our cabin door. Sunrise time was printed on the top left, and sunset on the right. It listed more activities than we could possibly attend (although I diligently tried). To get comfortable with the ship and everything on board, I embraced a scavenger hunt contest (described in the Capers). As the day progressed, I noticed the ship was immaculate, the dining room settings exquisite, and the staff was very friendly. The Welcome Aboard Show featured dancing and a seasoned comedian that could relate to everyone in the audience from age 8 to 70. In addition to the show, at various times and locations, there were many other activities including but not limited to...calypso music live, a Pilates with Yoga class, bingo, karaoke, a "name that tune contest" at a piano bar, and a midnight party. The ship's entertainment Cruise Director Steve M. Knisley left no stone uncovered when setting up the schedule. Did I mention I won the scavenger hunt? $500 in prizes! (#4: Read your Caper cover to cover) Monday January 24th At 6am (#5: Bring a CD alarm clock to wake up to your favorite music), I found myself in the gym taking advantage of the modern equipment. The exercise facility (located in the front of the ship) had sweeping views of the ocean ahead. Subsequent to the workout, I joined an aerobics class. The staff had high energy and was very supportive, despite my lack of coordination. Following the aerobics class, I sweated it out in the steam room and dry sauna before taking a private shower (in a separate enclosed and locked room) with one overhead jet and 4 wall side jets (opposing each other). From Monday forward, I found myself utilizing the gym facilities daily. (#6: Showering at the spa is better than in your cabin) Monday's activities included, but were not limited to...a poolside upper deck beach party, gaming lessons (there was a big casino on board), a limbo contest, a golf putting competition (there was also a golf cage to practice your swing), a men's hairy chest competition (I became instantly famous as this was broadcasted on the ship's "what's happening" channel), tea time, trivia time, a cocktail party, a lounge crawl, a late night adult comedy show, a tanzanite seminar & raffle, free health seminars, and a musical show with dancing accompanied by Steve Wenzel and the Phantom Orchestra (who were excellent all week). Dinner tonight was formal, (#7: Bring a power strip to accommodate your electric razor, wife's hair dryer, digital camera battery re-charger, and CD alarm clock at the same time) so my son and I took advantage of a complimentary shoeshine on the same deck as the dining room. Tuesday January 25th Grand Cayman. My wife and son went on the Stingray Sandbar, Hell & Turtle Farm Experience. They described feeding the stingrays from their hands and holding giant sea turtles as a magical experience. My wife, a big sea turtle devotee, found this to be an incredible excursion. I went on a local trek, by myself. I managed to find a stretch of sandy beach interspersed with jagged rocks giving way to crystal clear blue water. I found a conch shell significantly larger than the size of my hand. I rinsed it in the waves and moved on. Among the various fossils, I located a piece of brain coral that was perfectly shaped and neared the same weight of a human head (I am a science teacher and chiropractor, so I know this stuff). I then came upon a very narrow area of beach, while on my return path. Standing ashore was a man reaching into a bag of fish. I moved closer and he explained, "This is a fish market where the locals come to buy..." but I was fixed on the waves. For in the breakers were many fish, 3 and 4 feet long with ominous fins piercing the surface. He said those were tarpon and they come to feed on the scraps. He also said, If I had my fly rod with me, it would be a lot of fun. (#8: Bring a compact fly rod with common salt water fly patterns) Wednesday January 26th Costa Maya. Prior to describing Costa Maya, 1 want to share briefly your dining options that are part of your cruise. On deck 9 you have Horatio's (that served an incredible high quality assortment of foods from different nations around the world), a grill line (that spoiled me daily with Reuben sandwiches), 24-hour pizza (this was best at 1:30am in between leaving the disco and heading for the casino), and a 24-hour ice cream/frozen yogurt bar. On deck 2, you have the Bacchus dinning room, serving you breakfast and dinner daily, and lunch most days. It was the first time I could experience fine dining daily. My 8-year-old son felt like a king, and lived up to the challenge displaying exceptional manners. We all went on the Costa Maya Jungle Beach Break. We were taken to a secluded beach by a charter bus. Once there, we had 3 hours of swimming, sun bathing, kayaking (which was free) and could for a small fee partake in snorkeling or the use of a jet ski. My daughter had her hair braided and my son was everywhere on the beach, while my wife and additional family (my brother and his wife, my sister in law with fiancE, my mother-in-law and boyfriend) basked in the sun. Before I get to kayaking, I want to mention the 2 open bars included, serving tropical drinks with a rum or tequila base. I didn't keep count, but at one time found myself with a shot of tequila in my left hand and a rum punch in my right. (#9: This is a great excursion if drinking is your forte) And this was before kayaking! My highlight though, was pulling a giant ruby red starfish out of the water and taking a picture. I have never seen a starfish so large and colorful. Thursday January 27th Cozumel. Deep-sea fishing. (#10: Bring something to prevent getting sick at sea) My brother, my son, and myself were set up with a couple from Wisconsin on a 31-foot "Island Hopper" with outriggers. The half-day trip was exciting and eventful as each of us ended up reeling in a Wahoo, ranging from 35 to 45 lbs and my son a small amberjack. The first mate accommodated plenty of time for pictures on the way back. After getting lunch aboard the Miracle, we returned to Cozumel to explore the local shops. Bargaining was part of the game, and I managed a good deal on a fine Cuban cigar. Friday January 28th Belize. Goff's Caye snorkeling. This excursion was "un-Belizeable!" We were up close and personal with magnificent fish, stingray, coral and vegetation of a Great Barrier Reef. The staff on this excursion will lead in the water so you don't miss anything, and at the same time you are allowed to explore on your own. (#11: Bring/purchase on the ship an underwater camera) Dinner was formal, and every night I had the pleasure of eating with my parents who were also on board. We then took advantage of many evening activities. Saturday January 29th All week, Camp Carnival (a program for minor cruisers) was an excellent setup for my 14 year-old daughter. She made friends quickly; appreciated age appropriate activities, and (as a teenager) she relished time to do things on her own. However, my 8 year-old stuck to me like glue. He loved being everywhere at all times and participated in everything. As a result, Noah became a celebrity in his own way and many people we didn't know would say as we passed by, "Hey Noah, how's it going?" He started to look for activities labeled "Karl with a K presents..." Karl was very dynamic and engaging. My eyes are now wet with tears as I cannot remember having spent so much quality time in a good space with my son. (#12 Bring your Kids!) Sunday January 30th Even though we were packed as instructed and prepared for departure, the ship's crew continued spoiling us with a fantastic breakfast. In addition, while waiting to leave the ship, there was one bar open. Last Call On a scale of one to ten, I would rate this vacation experience as a ten+! The Service, Entertainment, Activities, Camp Carnival, On Board Services, Food and Beverage (#13: Buy the Fun Fountain Card for unlimited soda) were outstanding. And as I turn to look at my beautiful wife, she shares a bright smile while describing preparations... for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
Getting on that ship in Tampa on a very cold Florida day was the worst. It took almost 3 hours. Line after line after line. When we got on the ship I found that my parents were not at the same table as the rest of my family were. That ... Read More
Getting on that ship in Tampa on a very cold Florida day was the worst. It took almost 3 hours. Line after line after line. When we got on the ship I found that my parents were not at the same table as the rest of my family were. That couldn't be fixed. My wife never got her food the first night at dinner. She was mad to say the least. When I said something they could not be nicer to me and promised the next night a table would be brought closer to me for my parents and the wanted to send some food back to my room for my wife. The next night it seemed that everyone who worked in that dinning room came over to see if we had enough to eat, and they sent over champaign. They were great. The two men who ran the dinning room came over to me the next night and thanked me for being so nice about the misunderstanding the night before. I told them I was in the service business and I understand that sometimes things happen. As a surprise on the last night they made us baked alaska for our table. The rest of the cruise was great on the ship. Camp Carnival -- I wasn't sure about. My daughter was 5 years old and I was a little worried about her there. BOY WAS I WRONG. She had the time of her life there and didn't want to leave. They were really great with the kids. She woke me up a few day's into the cruise and asked why I didn't book a 10-day cruise why just 7. My son was 10 and he didn't want to go to Camp Carnival he loved the Arcade once he found it. Camp Carnival and the Arcade is on the upper deck right side fwd. Our cabin was right down the hall from it. My other daughter was 12 and she had a great time in camp carnival, I can't say enough good about it. The Rest of the cruise was great. Getting off the ship was a lot better than getting on. They called by deck. Carnival for the value 100%. Read Less
Sail Date: January 2005
Since I paid close attention to these boards and others, I eagerly anticipated our time on the Miracle. I booked the cruise way back in June of last year, so I had six months to look forward to. For all of you who are doing the same, I ... Read More
Since I paid close attention to these boards and others, I eagerly anticipated our time on the Miracle. I booked the cruise way back in June of last year, so I had six months to look forward to. For all of you who are doing the same, I hope this review helps out some. Let me know if you have any questions, and I will do my best to answer them. I also know that fellow cruiser Beans (Kevin) is writing a professional review which I am sure will be a blockbuster, but I wanted to give my impressions too. We arrived at the port of Tampa on Sunday morning, around 11 a.m., and there were not many people there yet. We walked right up to the customs window (I had already completed my FunPass on line) and it took all of 30 seconds to drop off the luggage and be on our way to the waiting area. I believe it was around 12:30 or so when they began boarding. It was fast and easy, and my wife and I walked around the ship first before heading for Horatio's for lunch. My first impression was that it was extremely clean, and very classy. It was not overly large in the atrium as some other ships, but the artwork and the glass elevators made for a nice show. There was a representative from Nick and Nora's right as you came into the atrium, so I signed up immediately for Tuesday night. Tampa was very chilly and windy that day, so we all wore our sweatshirts on board. I believe that the heat was on, because the smell reminded me of the first time you turn your furnace on in the winter. At 1:30, we went down to our cabin, and were pleasantly surprised at the room. The bathroom in an 8C was plenty big enough to get around, and they had lots of shelves to put stuff. The shower was semi-circle, the water pressure was excellent and the device to control the temperature was pretty neat. There was also lots of closet space -- three closets with two for hanging stuff and one with shelves. There was also a large mirror on the desk and a little stool under it so that the ladies could primp there if they wanted to. Above that to the right was the TV and on the TV was a GPS of our ship at all times which was pretty cool, a forward camera and an aft camera. There were some New York stations on also, but we didn't watch too much TV on this trip. The balcony was large and had two plastic chairs and a plastic table. One of the chairs folded back some so you could lounge in the sun. Since the balcony doors were not sliding, and with the wind sometimes in excess of 30 mph especially at sea, an annoying thing was having neighbors doors slamming at all hours (even 1 or 2 a.m.) and it would wake me up. Also, a few times the window washer up above would come on and spray water all over the balcony without warning ... need to look out for that. Having said all that, I think the balcony was my favorite place ... great memories of sunrises and sunsets and coming into ports and seeing last minute cruisers running frantically to the ship as fellow passengers cheer them on. I could write a book about how this was one of the best vacations I have ever had, how that the Miracle was an awesome ship etc., so I will try to keep this as brief as I can. The food in Bachus was good, not great. I thought the beef was not the best I have ever had, but my wife liked the lobster and quail. I did enjoy the wait staff, but did not like the stupid dancing that they had to do. The appearance of the Bachus was a bit overdone, but I appreciate the effort ... it was different for sure. The food and service in Nick and Nora's was one of the best I have ever had, and I have had a lot. The whole experience lasted 2 1/2 hours, including five courses I think, great service, great music and dancing and an unbelievable atmosphere. You gotta do N & N even if it does put you back $50. The cruise director Steve was great and I thought funny. He had a lot of energy, and interacted with us cruisers a lot. Karl with a K was a clown in a positive way, very funny, wore those stupid big clown ties and very animated. The female cruise assistants were Candace and Ally the Aussie. Both of them were nice and Candace seemed very polished. They hosted all the crazy shows like Win, Lose and Draw, The Not So Newlywed Game, The Match Game, etc. There was also a Hairy Chest contest at the pool area, which was very funny. The buffet is called Horatio's and there were four main food stations and the food here was good. Breakfast they had made to order omelets which I like. The coffee wasn't too good, so I usually bought some from the Coffee Shop right there next to the buffet. There is a full blown coffee shop on deck 2, with the best desserts. Many times Horatio's seemed crowded, but we always found a place to sit, and the lines weren't terrible. One night, instead of eating at Bachus, we went to the buffet and they have a nice salad bar and I had pizza ... they have around six varieties of pizza which is okay, not great. One thing which was great and unique was the chocolate fountain on the last day at sea between noon and 2 p.m. They dipped pineapple, rum cake, etc into the chocolate, and boy was it good. Somehow during the entire cruise I never got hungry. As far as the excursions, I did not book with Carnival. I did some research ahead of time with these fellow Cruise Critics, and am glad I did. In Grand Cayman, I booked a Catamaran to snorkel and go to Stingray City. There were only around 14 of us on this vessel, called Capt. Bryans. We had plenty of room, they served drinks and gave us lots of attention. The seas were rough in the Caymans, and I got a few good mouthful's of sea water which almost made me drown. But it was all worth it. The Carnival excursion looked like a bunch of sardines crammed into a two story boat. I was happy I took the advice. In Costa Maya, we took a cab for $3 to a small town called Majahul, and that was interesting. It is an old Mexican sea town turned into a road full of vendors. Kind of reminded me of flea markets back home, Mexican style. They even had horses tied up right on the beach that you could rent. Massages were $20 for 1/2 hour under a tent and on a real massage table. I didn't get one, but they looked like they were doing a good job. I heard that Tapas was the place to go, but they had just filled their last table, so I went next door to Ernesto's and they got us a table with umbrella and a lounger for the beach for me and my wife. It was great. Coronas for two bucks, fajitas grilled right there in the open for $8 and served when we were ready. There were a few musicians also, who would play for each table for a small tip. If you wanted to snorkel, you could go out on a small boat to the reef around a mile out and the cost was very reasonable (I am thinking $20 for one hour). Costa Maya was really fun. When we made it back to the cruise ship complex there was a wild party going on at the bar. We stayed for one drink, then headed back to the ship for a nap. Next stop was Cozumel, and we went in to Chankaanab Park. We had pre arranged to have a dolphin encounter and a sea lion encounter. I was told to do the dolphin swim, which did look like a lot of fun, but the encounter was great also. The dolphin would "kiss" each person, you would pet him, feel his fins etc., and get a movie made about the whole experience. However, I enjoyed the Sea Lion experience even more, as there were only the four of us with the trainer and sea lion. Sea lions are very funny creatures, and we laughed until we got sick. The park itself is also a nice place to just walk around and see the gardens or sit on the beach or go snorkeling. The water in Cozumel is unbelievably clear, and I was very impressed with the cleanliness and cheerfulness of the Cozumel people. Next we sailed to Belize, and I booked a cave tubing deal with Extreme Cave Tubing. I was a little nervous about this at first because I was going alone (my wife chickened out) and also when I arrived at the port there were only eight of us total (and 180 people going on the Carnival one). Our guide, Richard, was around 15 minutes late, and I let him know it, and he assured me that he would safely get us to the caves and back in plenty of time. If not, he said, he would allow us to stay at his home, and have his wife give us massages (she is a professional masseuse). It took around 45 minutes to get to the six mile, very bumpy rocky road that takes you to the caves, but Richard made the time fly by with his interesting stories, and his information about places and Belize. He was brought up there, and has been doing this for many years. Carnival does one cave, but Extreme does two, so we walked a while, just the eight of us, and Richard took the time to point out different trees native to Belize that were good for medicine or food until we came to our cave. Two of us dove in (around 10 to 15 feet off the cliff) into the 15 feet cool water. Then we started downstream on our adventure. It was one of the great experiences of my life, and I would encourage anyone to do this. We went through dark caves, big caves, fast caves and slow caves. We even went over bumpy rocky rivers (butts up) and the rapids were a blast. Disney could never duplicate this. We returned to Belize City, which was rather Third World in the downtown area. The shows on the Miracle were in a word outstanding. The singers and dancers were great, and the two main shows called Legends and Ticket to Ride were really good. The other shows, Miracle Idol and the hypnotist were just okay. The last night was very good with a tremendous female singer who got my wife up on stage to sing with her. The comedians were also funny. All in all it was a great time except for those loud balcony doors. There were two nights when the wind was very high, around 30 mph, so the ship would rock some. I noticed quite a few people with small patches on the back of their necks, but my wife and I did fine without it. Met some great people from all over, and especially my Windsor, Canada, friends who kept calling me Sean as in Sean Penn. The debarkation went smooth despite the fact that we went to a cargo area and then took buses back to the port. They will need to work this out in the future to make it a bit smoother. I would definitely sail the Miracle again. She is a great ship with a great staff that will take good care of you and if you do not have fun, you have problems. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
A beautiful ship. You would not know you were on Carnival. All the "Spirit Class" ships are toned down and not as gaudy or kaleidoscope bright. The food was great and gets better each year. The small cafe/patisserie on Promenade ... Read More
A beautiful ship. You would not know you were on Carnival. All the "Spirit Class" ships are toned down and not as gaudy or kaleidoscope bright. The food was great and gets better each year. The small cafe/patisserie on Promenade deck has wonderful desserts and very inexpensive when it comes to cruise lines adding extra charges. A HUGE chocolate covered strawberry is $1.00 and a chocolate fruit-filled cup is $2.00 and a HUGE slice of cheesecake is $2.00 and better than the lunch buffet dessert. The shows were great and not too loud for a change. The comedians were funny and the adult shows were fantastic. Our dining room staff was new, but they did a nice job and the food was great and hard to choose a selection. The ship has an easy flowing layout and is easy to learn. There is a lot of open deck space and enough bars to keep your thirst quenched. The walk around exterior promenade is nice for a lazy stroll and even if you have a balcony there are a lot of places that are relaxing to sit and and read a book. The ports of call were great even though it was cloudy and windy most of our trip. Grand Cayman we went snorkeling. It wasn't the greatest, but we weren't home in the cold and at work either. The parents went to Stingray City and had a great time. We were there years ago and also had a great time. We bought 2 ammolite rings at Ammolite by the Bay. When we returned home we discovered the stone was not ammolite, but synthetic/manmade and worth half what we paid. We sent them back for a full refund. Since there is no way that I know to tell if the ammolite is a stone or fake, I would stay away from that store or just not buy ammolite period. Costa Maya was nice. We went to the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben. They were nice, but there are a lot nicer ruins to see on the Yucatan. So go see Uxmal or Chichan Itza first. Cozumel we went to Playa Maya beach to relax and drink and eat. Very nice beach, but it became very crowded as the day wore on. If you want a nicer beach with fewer people, go to Passion Island. You have a longer bus ride and a short boat ride to get there, but it is worth it. Belize we went to Rendezvous Caye for snorkeling and it was great. We did not see a lot of fish, but we saw a LOT of coral and it was beautiful. We went to Goffs Caye 2 yrs ago and there was less coral, but more fish. Both nice places to snorkel. Parents did the River Wallace Alta Hun trip and really enjoyed the trip. Last day was a relaxing sea day and we finally had blue sky. Tampa we wasted time before our flight at the Florida Aquarium and it was FANTASTIC. I would fly back there just to see that. Well worth the money. In Grand Cayman there were 7 ships in port. TOO Many. Carnival did a poor job of notifying and organizing once on shore. Our tour was canceled and once we found a rep he said he thought we were on the tender. (yeh, there was one tender for 2,000 people and we heard you). NCL had reps all over the place organizing the excursions . Cozumel had 8 ships in port and that was crazy, but not as bad. It is a good idea to get off the ship and be at your tour meeting place earlier than stated on the ticket. If you are not a fan of Carnival and have never tried a "Spirit Class" ship, book one and you will change your mind. We like Carnival and these are totally different - better - still fun, but with out having to wear sunglasses indoors. I think their dining room food is much better then Royal Caribbean and definately better then Celebrity's. Our staterooms were roomy with bathrobes, refrig, amenities basket, beach towels, etc. Our steward was like a ghost - never seen, but you knew he was there. An all around great cruise despite the weather, but it was snowing in the northeast so the weather was great. I will say that embarkation sucked as once you checked in they assigned you a group# and made you wait until that # was called which only CREATED lines. In the past you checked in and walked on board. So this new way just adds conjestion and makes lines which cruisers do not like. Also, I still like the luggage in the warehouse better then on a carousel as you just go get your bags instead of waiting for them to come around the belt. Debarkation was at your leisure which very relaxing and nice. Read Less
Sail Date: February 2005
First off, let me say that this was our sixth Carnival cruise so we know something about how Carnival operates. Next, we'll start with the embarkation. Apparently Carnival thought it would be a great idea to loan the Miracle out to ... Read More
First off, let me say that this was our sixth Carnival cruise so we know something about how Carnival operates. Next, we'll start with the embarkation. Apparently Carnival thought it would be a great idea to loan the Miracle out to the Super Bowl to allow guests to stay on board while the Super Bowl was going on since there was a lack of hotel space available. Good idea for Carnival, bad idea if you wanted to cruise on the Miracle. The ship was late getting to Tampa for the guests to board and get this, after you signed in to get the paperwork done, you couldn't get your boarding pass or your Sale and Sign card. Apparently, something with the computers. Oh yeah, every Carnival employee we talked with had a different excuse on why the ship was late, from being repaired in dry dock to being disinfected from some horrible disease. Anyway, after the ship docked, Carnival thought it cool to call each person's name for them to pick up their Sale and Sign card to board the ship. All 2400 guests! You have any idea how long it takes to call 2400 names?! After, or if, your name was called, you were to go to the front of the line, or should I say, fight your way though the mess of pissed off people to get your card. Once there, you had to find the correct employee with your card because several were handing out cards. What a mess!! Of course you were then supposed to smile nicely before boarding the ship for your embarkation photo....yeah. Next, on to the cruise. The Miracle is a beautiful ship. Nice layout.....easy to find your way around....just a nice all round ship. The ship stopped at four different ports of call, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya. All great stops! The only problem here is that several other cruise ships decided to stop in the same ports as the Miracle making getting around very difficult. At Cozumel, there were eight ships total! Imagine dumping 12,000+ tourists on the small island on one day. What a mess. Carnival had three ships there, you would think Carnival would schedule the ships to stop on different days to help avoid such a crowded mess. Good thinking Carnival!! We booked our cruise with two other couples 10 months before the sailing. Upon arrival at the ship, we found out that the six of us would not be dining at the same table. You would think that with a 10 month advance booking, the six of us traveling together would be able to dine together. Not according to Carnival. We were told to ask the man in charge to have our seating arrangements changed and we did so. His response was that it was out of his control and nothing could be done. We asked a second person, and after some rolling of his eyes, we were told nothing could be done either. This seemed strange to us, but we adapted. Maybe we should have waved more money when doing the asking. Or, maybe we should have asked someone that actually cared. This was the general attitude towards guests throughout the ship, nobody really cared. To us, it seemed that if Carnival could get some extra bucks out of each guest, then that was their goal, to fleece the guests for as much as they could. For example, in Tampa, one of the shore excursions was to the Florida Aquarium, Carnival wanted $49 for the tour, if you walked off the ship, across the street, and into the aquarium, you got the same tour for $18. What was the extra $31 for??? Carnival's pocket is my guess. As far as the whole package goes, it was nice. You get out of a cruise what you put into it. And Carnival is trying to get the most out of you that it can, money wise. We enjoyed the cruise but this will likely be our last Carnival cruise, time to try another line. So long Carnival, it was nice until you got greedy. Read Less
Carnival Miracle Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 3.5 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 3.5 4.0
Family 4.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 4.0
Enrichment 1.5 3.5
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 4.1
Rates 3.0 4.4

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