686 Carnival Miracle Cruise Reviews

This was my 26th cruise. With everything going on with airport security etc., my wife and I wanted to depart from a port close to home (Tampa) and forgo the flying. We have been RCL customers our past eight cruises. Nine years ago we went ... Read More
This was my 26th cruise. With everything going on with airport security etc., my wife and I wanted to depart from a port close to home (Tampa) and forgo the flying. We have been RCL customers our past eight cruises. Nine years ago we went on a Carnival ship and swore never again. With that in mind, we had a choice between Holland America (very nice, but an older crowd), RCL (an older ship out of Tampa) or infamous Carnival (but a two year NEW ship named Miracle). We decided to chance it with Miracle, and can say, we're glad we did. Here's what we experienced: Ship: Very nice, clean vessel with really comfortable beds, upscale linens and good layout. The only nasty room on board was the dining room, which by all accounts, is gaudy. I mean really gaudy! If you're a past RCL cruiser, don't compare the glitz of this ship with the classy RCL ships. It's a different flavor, but it's still nice overall. Staff: Super nice people, always trying please. The only exception was in the main dining room, where we just may have had two guys who just didn't seem to have the enthusiasm as most other staffers we came across. The Staff in Horatio's (the alternative dining bistro) were extra nice, outgoing and bending over backward to please. Food: Horatio's is the place to eat. Food is excellent and plentiful. The food in the main dining room was not good, and we are not connoisseurs by any means. We just want edible food. It's hard to believe there could be such extremes in food quality, but we found out later it is two different departments. (Perhaps they just want you to upgrade your dinner to the upscale restaurant where you can pay 30.00 extra for dinner). Ports-of-call: We seem to enjoy virtually all ports wherever we go, but the clarity of water in Grand Cayman was great, Cozumel was good and Costa Maya was superior. Belize (formerly British Honduras) was anything but clear. Don't waste your money snorkeling there unless all you want to look at is the fog in your mask. Shore excursions: Yes, they are expensive. Yes, you can get them cheaper on shore, but from whom? We paid a few bucks extra and bought them over the interactive network on our stateroom TV. Very easy to do. GRAND CAYMAN We did the Ray Runner to Stingray City. You get your own little boat to drive out to a pretty reef to snorkel, and then move a short distance to feed the stingrays. We had done something similar years ago, and it still is really fun. Our tour only consisted of three boats and the guide. The operation was very professional, safety conscious and educational. COZUMEL: Wanted to do something really different, so we learned to ride Segway's. It consisted of a 1 hour class, followed by a 30 minute ride to a less than pristine beach for snorkeling. It was OK having never been on one before. OK, been there- done that. I would take a pass. BELIZE: We chose the Airboat and City Tour. Now I know why even the Mexicans passed on this place. It's a struggling economy that seems to be doing its best, especially with schools for the kids. But the Airboat tour was virtually void of wildlife (the airboat staff was exceptionally nice though) and I would pass unless you just like ripping around at high speeds on an airboat. I would say go snorkeling, but the water was nasty too. Perhaps horseback riding? COSTA MAYA: We did the dune buggy tour to private beach. This was fun, only because I like dune buggies and knew that eventually we would, hopefully, end up at some pristine paradise. Well we did. Pelican Beach was beautiful, unspoiled and staffed with some great people. There were only 20 of us with lots a lounge chairs, hammocks and a huge thatch covered building with tables and chairs. Tropical breezes, chips and drinks were plentiful. The clarity of the water here was the best of any stop we made. Shopping: Want a deal? Shop at Wal-Mart. Whatever deals there used to be, they are gone. Except booze and blankets, but then you have to lug them back home to save five dollars. Overall: If missing out on fine dining is OK with you, go on the Miracle. You'll have a great time, and you will enjoy the friendly staff and an immaculately clean ship. It's not beautiful RCL ships I'm used to, but I'm a people person. And I can truly say you will feel welcome and feel the sincerity of their service. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
Although this was my first cruise, and I may have been subject to the amazement that accompanies one's first experience on a cruise ship, I must say that it will be difficult to go back to traveling any other way. This ship in ... Read More
Although this was my first cruise, and I may have been subject to the amazement that accompanies one's first experience on a cruise ship, I must say that it will be difficult to go back to traveling any other way. This ship in particular is an absolute gem, and my vacation was flawless. The Miracle is indeed a beautiful ship, and the decor, though much-abused on these message boards and elsewhere as too over-the-top, was wonderful. The ship's decor is based on popular references from literature, film, and entertainment. For example, in the Phantom Lounge, large "Phantom of the Opera"-style masks hold back heavy curtain swags on the walls, and ornate sculpture supports the proscenium of the stage. The Raven Library is done is dark jewel-tones and mahogany. It's obvious that the designs were well-conceived and are very imaginative, but I can certainly see how they wouldn't please everyone. To address cleanliness, as we walked through the ship, there were constantly employees on the outside of our vision cleaning, polishing, etc., so I have no complaints on this count whatsoever. Almost immediately after embarkation, we went to see the maitre d' to request a private table for two, which we got. We then ended up meeting and making friends with another couple, so we requested a table for four, which we also got. At any rate, because of this game of switcheroo (and one casual dinner on the Lido deck), we ended up only experiencing our waiters in the main dining room for four nights instead of the usual seven. They were very attentive, and managed to not only serve us four impeccable meals, but also comment on the next day's activities, make suggestions about shore excursions, and the like. I was very impressed with the quality of food, particularly with Carnival's reputation as a budget cruise line. The food in the main dining room was beyond wonderful, and even the Lido buffets offered delectable temptations, particularly their desserts! The made-to-order burger counter served the single best french fries I've ever eaten. We had a wonderful balcony cabin, which was much larger than I was expecting. Our balcony was comfortably, if inexpensively, furnished with two plastic chairs and a small flat-topped ottoman for drinks or tired feet. Our cabin steward was amazing! I know it's often said, but it felt as though he was hiding nearby and every time we left the room (on one occasion for only about 8 minutes!) he rushed in and straightened everything up. We saw him rarely, but he did his job well, and when we did pass him in the hall, he always greeted us warmly and by name. Service in general on the ship was wonderful, and there were constantly employees on the outside of our vision cleaning, polishing, etc. Bartenders were fun and heavy-handed :-) In fact, one in particular, named Petra, who worked at the piano bar, was an absolute treat! We also met a bartender only minutes after we came onboard the ship who managed to remember our names and drink preferences throughout the cruise, and was able to comment days later about personal details that we discussed the first time we met. Very impressive! I will say this: if you are unable to find something to do onboard a Carnival cruise, then you need to drag yourself out of your stateroom and walk around. Activities included bingo, art auctions, swimming in the beautiful pools, contests of varying sorts (hairy chest, belly-flop, etc.), broadcast quiz shows to call in to, gambling in the casino, quiet reading, spa treatments... the list goes on and on. Carnival definitely wins the prize for keeping you busy. In fact, there was so much going on that it was often quite impossible to choose between the activities, and we ended up having to hold a "lottery" in our room just to decide. Although snobs may scoff at some of these as too plebeian or low for their standards, I say that those people should dismount their high horses. As far as I could tell, there's nothing quite like a midnight bathrobe party on the main Lido deck! All-in-all, I had more fun on this trip than any other. Usually, when a vacation is over, you're enjoying the destination, but ready to come home. This was the first time ever that I could have remained on vacation endlessly. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
I've never written a review before, but since I got so much help from the people on Cruise Critic I figured I owed a review back. My friend and I went on the 8/20 sailing of the Miracle. We're both single and in our 20's. ... Read More
I've never written a review before, but since I got so much help from the people on Cruise Critic I figured I owed a review back. My friend and I went on the 8/20 sailing of the Miracle. We're both single and in our 20's. Ship-I thought the ship was beautiful. I know that a lot of people who think it's a little much, but I didn't think so. The dining room wasn't a problem and maybe that's because the changed the lights a couple of weeks ago. Also, we had a booth right by the doors so we consumed by the decor. We stayed in cabin 4237 with a wraparound balcony on the aft. The balcony was definitely great, but we didn't spend a great deal of time on it. I loved the room. The fact it was broken off into 3 sections was great. LOVED the dressing area. Food- The food on the ship was great. The buffet just tasted like a normal buffet nothing special. The food in the dining room was terrific. I especially loved the desserts. We sat at the same table with two sisters in their 20's and they were cool. We had a couple problems with service with the 2nd waiter and the drink water, but they were ironed out after a couple of days. We went to Nick and Nora's one night and I highly recommend it. The food was great, the service was great and they had perhaps the best chocolate dessert I've ever had. If you're going on Miracle it's definitely worth going there one night. Spa- We went to the spa twice. We had manicures done by Fawn. Really sweet girl she told us to come by later in the week so she could retouch our nails. We took her up on that, but after one day back at work they're already destroyed! I wasn't so impressed by the facial I got. It was definitely relaxing, but my skin felt really greasy afterwards. My friends was much better and didn't have the same feeling that mine gave me. Shows-Ticket to Ride and the Legends show were good. One of the people singing in the Legends show was actually an opera singer in NY. He put the Miracle singers to shame. We saw the hypnotist and the R rated comic. Both we decent. The last night the R rated show was some of the crew members doing a improv show. That wasn't so good. I thought it was filled with in jokes and was sort of like the popular kids getting together and deciding to put on a show. Activities/Service-The service was pretty great for the most part. Our room steward was attentive, but I found him to be WAY too touchy feely. It was getting to the point where I was getting really annoyed by it. We would actually look out the peep hole and if he was there we'd wait until he went into a room and book down the other hallway. He was just way too much for me. This really doesn't fall under service, but the only complaint I would have with the activities on the ship was that most of the trivia games took place when we were in the ports. There wasn't anything going on at night. I love trivia so that sort of sucked. Also, what people say about Miracle being a "quiet" ship is definitely true. I don't have anything to compare it too, but that definitely seemed to be the case. We had trouble finding stuff to do late at night. If you need a drink and don't ever feel like waiting go to the sports bar. There was never anyone in there. Ports: Grand Cayman-We took Nativeways Reef, Rays and Rum Point tour. I had never snorkeled before and I don't plan on doing it again. I didn't like it at all. Not my thing. The stingrays were great. I'd highly recommend that. While it didn't out and out rain it was a bit of an overcast day. There is still damage from the hurricane and construction everywhere. Cozumel-Our dolphin swim was in the middle of the day so we spent the morning and Paradise Beach. A lovely beach. Nice service. I did parasailing. I'm glad I did it, but I'm not doing it again. Definitely not good for my fear of heights! The dolphin swim was great and after that we headed to Mr Anchors. I loved that beach too. It had more shops and I liked the decor of the bar area. I know it lost a lot of beach after the hurricane. We only got something to eat there and didn't sit out. I'd happily recommend either beach to anyone. Belize-Out of all the ports we probably had the most fun here. We did the cavetubing and zip lining with Nacho. I'm glad we got to do both. The resort we were at was lovely and the cavetubing was amazing. I actually was pretty ambivalent about it going in too. In all fairness our friends who went through the ship enjoyed their cavetubing experience too. We both had the same complaint though. The cavetubing.com people were pretty loud and obnoxious. The people who used them enjoyed it. We heard them talking about it the next day. However, it's hard to enjoy the natural wonder of a cave when you have people behind you chanting every five minutes. Our friends on the ship tour also complained that while they were walking on the path the cavetubing.com were running by them and them heard people in that group complaining about being left behind. How many times are you going to be in a jungle? Why would you want to run through it as opposed to enjoying it? My guess is that wanted to get into the water to "beat" the larger groups. It was just me and my friend with one guide. Sometimes we were alone in the river and others we were surrounded by people. Neither took away from the experience. Now I know there are people here who rave about cavetubing.com, but from my POV the behavior was obnoxious. We tried to do a little shopping back at the port. The stuff wasn't that great and they were extremely aggressive. A little boy came up to me and asked for money. I gave it to him and seemed to open the floodgates. I was surrounded by kids. At that point we just went back to the ship. Costa Maya-Definitely the prettiest port. We did the David and Ivan tour. It was good, but not exactly what everyone has been raving about it. I'd recommend them though. Afterwards we went to the Cat's Meow and got something to eat. The water there was perhaps the nicest water I've ever seen and so warm! Wrap-up-Overall had a good time on the trip. The Miracle is definitely the type of ship you want if you are looking for a more low key time. The ports and the activities you could do at them were pretty great. I don't know if I'm going to become a cruise "addict", but I'm defiantly consider going on a cruise again. If just for the food! Thank you everyone for all you help in planning my trip! Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
We sailed on the Miracle August 13, 2006. A little background - this was our first cruise ever. We had heard that it was tons of fun and so figured we would give it a try. Both my wife and I come from a very small town, and there is very ... Read More
We sailed on the Miracle August 13, 2006. A little background - this was our first cruise ever. We had heard that it was tons of fun and so figured we would give it a try. Both my wife and I come from a very small town, and there is very little to do from an entertainment perspective. Embarkation - We decided to travel to the port on the day of embarkation. This meant waking at 3:00am and traveling through the airports to the Tampa (from Michigan). We thought that we could get to bed early the prior night and that would make this easier (big mistake - we were so excited we hardly slept). The flights went off without a hitch - lucky for us!. Once we arrived in Tampa, about 9:00am we figured the shuttle to the pier would not be running (we had informed Carnival that we would be arriving then, however) and decided to eat in the airport. After breakfast we went down to the meeting area and there was Carnival waiting for us - they asked if we were on the 9:00 flight and stated they had been looking for us. We quickly traveled to the pier and went through the check-in and boarding process - this was a breeze. Got on board at like 11:30 and went straight to Lido deck. We were not very hungry as we had just eaten, but there were the waiters with the drinks - so we began straight away. Also used this as an opportunity to explore the ship. This is a must! The ship is large, and knowing where you are going, and getting your bearings makes a lot of sense. The Carnival people are great in this regard in that they allow you to go pretty much anywhere (except your room until 1:30). At 1:30 we went to our room and took a nap - much needed after flying and staying up the night before. The only unfortunate part was that we missed the ship tour. The Muster drill woke us up - which worked well - but was well organized and did not take long. Food - There was always food around, most good, some excellent. I guess from this respect it is based on tastes and you need to just look around. The 24 hour pizza was awesome (my wife is in the pizza business so that is saying something). We never ate at Nick and Nora's - there were always things on the menu that we wanted to eat/try. This brings up a good point. On the main screen of your cabin TV is a menu that allows you to look at your open charges, dinning menu and events. This was a nice supplement to the written "Carnival Cappers" that are delivered to your room. We had the late seating for dinner. We found it a nice idea to have a snack at 4:30 (usually pizza), and then we were ready for late dinner. The dinning room team was awesome!! We had Cristine and Danny as our waitress and bus boy. These guys were a lot of fun and were very professional in their service. The PINK LIGHTS: They are GONE. On the second night of the voyage they changed the lights to all purple - this made the dinning room look a lot better (not that it was horrible to begin with). Cabin - We had a balcony cabin on the Vernandah deck (deck 7) - forward port side. The cabin was very nice and roomy. I travel alot for business, and it seemed nicer then some of the "shore" places I have stayed. We did seem to have some problems with our steward. Our room was almost always tidy, but it did not seem like we got the attention that our travel mates got (ie we did not always get a towel animal at night, cappers were late, we called an he never showed up a couple of times and a couple of nights there was not turn down. Never having been on a cruise before I cannot complain too much - the room was always clean (I guess). Entertainment - there were several reviews that did not like the entertainment. I thought the shows were awesome (went to everyone). It was really nice that for late seating there was a show at 7:00. It was nice to go have a drink, watch the show and wait for dinner. The other bars/clubs on board we very nice as well, and we spent time in each. These are really the fun ships - there were activities non-stop, and a couple of times we had to give up one for another - if that gives you an idea. On the first couple days there were "shopper talks." These are not bad to go to, but be aware, unless you are ready to spend big bucks for jewelry - don't get too excited. Make sure though that you sit in the front middle. Robert (the super shopper) gives alot of stuff away and it always seems to go pretty close to the front. Also - be aggressive - if you want it yell for it (who cares you are never going to see these people again). Ports/Excursions: Grand Cayman - Tendered (which is an interesting experience). We only shopped here. It is still a very nice place, and was nice to have a whole day here. After hanging out all day, it made me wish we did not have shore excursions planned. Cozumel -Tendered - We did deep sea fishing - BIG MISTAKE!! There were three boats with 6 people each. Only one boat caught anything. The captain and mate spoke very little english and were not very engaging - so we basically bobbed around in the water for 6 hours and then went back to port. Belize - Tendered - This is a really interesting city/country. You have to do an excursion here however. The city is very poor and riddled with crime, so unless you are going to spend the entire day at the port there is really nothing to do. We went cave tubing. Cruise critic was awesome here - per the reviews we used CAVE-TUBING.COM. Yhonny and crew are AWESOME - if you are going to do this in Belize you have to use them. We passed the ship tour people a couple of times and Yhonny's group does much better, more relaxing, and you see more. Plus it is half the price. Make sure you get some cashew wine before you leave though (Yhonny is all about the cashew wine). Costa Maya - docked at pier - You really don't know how bad tendering is until you can get off at a pier!!! We did the Chocchoban ruin tour. This was really cool! Every port we had the chance to shop, and we did, so make sure you have an extra bag and allowance to get the stuff you buy back home. Other Comments - Carnival loves to take your picture. Be ready for a lot of them. All of the pictures, however, were very nicely done and the photographers really work to do a nice job - just be careful or you'll have a huge picture bill. Be on the look-out for the "Carnival Deals." They love to have a deal for everyday, so if it is not on sale - don't buy it. Also - forget the ship board gift shops until the final sea day - then everything goes on clearance!! Our time on the Miracle was awesome. We are definitely going to do another cruise - and it will be with Carnival!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
We sailed on the Miracle on 08/06/2006 for our honeymoon. We have previously sailed on the Disney Magic and were concerned that the Miracle would not meet our expectations. We were wrong....this ship was wonderful! Embarkation: Easier ... Read More
We sailed on the Miracle on 08/06/2006 for our honeymoon. We have previously sailed on the Disney Magic and were concerned that the Miracle would not meet our expectations. We were wrong....this ship was wonderful! Embarkation: Easier than Disney. No line for checking-in. Nice sitting areas. We were on the ship by 12:30 and having lunch. Easier and much faster than Disney. Stateroom: We stayed in 7258 which was an extended balcony room. It was adequately sized with a large balcony which had 4 chairs and 1 pool chair with a small table. Our steward, Sunni, was great! Equal quality to Disney. Dining: We loved the buffet on the Lido. While it is a little confusing at first, it was great for crowd control. The dining room was weird as mentioned... Our waiters were over-worked with ourselves, and 20 others. They did a great job considering, but our group was always one of the last to finish our meals. The portions were good to me and a little small for my husband (but one could easily have seconds if willing to wait...). Desserts were great! Nick and Nora's was nice, but not a "6 star experience." The singer was terrible. Probably wouldn't go again. Overall, we felt that the formal dining experience was better on Disney, but the Miracle buffet was better. Shows/Activities: We enjoyed the Bathrobe and Beer party and the adults-only pool area. (Once there was a 10-11 year old boy in the pool with his parents, which angered some on the ship.) We also loved the shows with the exception of the hypnotist. He was pathetic, boring, and not even funny. (We love comedy and are not very picky, but this guy actually had several people leaving the show.) Excursions: We booked all of our excursions through shoretrips.com. Grand Cayman: No excursion booked. We took our personal snorkel gear and spent the afternoon at Eden Rock. Great area less than 1/2 mile from the pier. Large tarpons, butterfly fish, sea urchins, and other fish species seen. Cozumel: We went to Playa Mia. The beach was great. Banana boat ride was really longer than advertised and loads of fun for $12pp. (We tipped well...) We also went on the 2 reef snorkel for $37pp. We were the only 2 on the trip, which was great. Saw barracudas, a sea snake, lots of stingrays, lots of starfish, and multiple other fish and coral areas. Great value for the money. Belize: We went on the zip line and cave-tubing tour. They were wonderful! Once again, only 2 of us in the group with our own guides. Lunch was provided at Jaguar's Paw resort. (Bring bug repellant if going, there are some monster mosquitos!) Costa Maya: Went to the ruins and had lunch with a Mayan family. The tour was by Ivan (of the David and Ivan group) and Carolina. Lunch was a real treat. Overall, great day! (Bring bug repellant...) Spa: We had 2 couples massages which were wonderful! Beautiful environment and great staff. (Didn't go to the one on Disney, so can't compare.) Disembarkation: A little annoying... We were delayed because 3 families were 2 hours late arriving to immigration. We were cleared to leave the ship at 9:25 AM (though during the talk were told we all had to be off by 9:30 AM). The lines were extremely long, and basically took us 40 minutes to get off the ship. Disney wins on this one. Overall: We felt that the Miracle overall out-shined Disney! Carnival really offers a great value for what was provided and great itineraries to boot! While we still like Disney, we will definitely sail Carnival again...maybe even for our anniversary next year... Feel free to ask questions by email. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
My family's vacation on the Miracle was the best ever! We all have no complaints and couldn't have had a better time. We went from 8-6/8-13 and the weather was awesome. I would consider going down there a day early just so your ... Read More
My family's vacation on the Miracle was the best ever! We all have no complaints and couldn't have had a better time. We went from 8-6/8-13 and the weather was awesome. I would consider going down there a day early just so your not dead tired the first few days of your cruise. We stayed at the Hampton Inn right in Ybor city. Great hotel for one night, free breakfast, pool, and free shuttle to the pier. Embarkation -- Much easier then Miami and the crowds were not as big. We checked in around 11 o clock when there were no lines and i would suggest that. we didnt get on the ship until 1ish, but you're allowed to go back outside the terminal and walk around if you wish to. The Ship -- Absolutely amazing! The interior of the ship is amazing and very well done. We never felt crowded at any time on the ship. There were always activities to do. They had a show every night and always stuff to keep you busy up on the Lido deck near the pools all day. Room -- I shared an interior room on deck 7 with my brother and we had plenty of space. You get bathrobes for the length of the cruise and towels to use. Our room stewards were awesome as well. We didn't spend to much time in our room cause were always out and about, so if are like that, save money and get an interior room. Dining -- The food was so good! It was always hot and we had the best wait staff. Iktut (Head Waiter),Tanya ( Assistant), and Sergi, the bartender. Every night the wait staff for everyone in the dining room and you could join in if you wanted to. we never ate at Nick and Nora, but heard it was good. The decorations in the dining room were nice, the pink and purple lights werent distracting or anything, no complaints there. The buffets on lido deck were also very good for buffet style. The hamburgers and hot dogs also were good. Entertainment -- We went to every show and they were awesome. Even the R rated shows were pretty good too. The last night they have a talent show with fellow passengers singing. There is always bingo to play, so if you like it, you'll have plenty of chances to play. Day 1- We arrived at the terminal around 11 and were able to check in. We were told we couldnt get on the ship till 12 or so , so we walked around near the terminal. We were in group 2 and by the time we got back, they were on group 5, so we basically walked right onto the ship. Then we ate on the Lido deck and headed to our room to get settled. After that we checked out the ship and went to the pool. By then, we got ready and headed to dinner. Unfortunately, all of our luggage didnt arrive, but that was ok cause the dining room that night didnt care what you wore on the first night.( They said you would get your luggage by around 8 the first night.) After dinner, we played some bingo and won 750 bucks. By now, they had the welcome aboard show which was good. Then it was bed, and were looking forward to our day at sea. Day 2- At Sea. Basically all we need was lounge around the pool area and checked out the whole ship. Always had stuff to do from games on the lido deck, to sitting around the pool. We again ate in the dining room and tonight was the first formal night, so you had to dress up nicely to go to the dining room. If you wanted to before dinner, you could meet the captain and get some free drinks. Day 3-Grand Cayman. Here we took our time getting off the ship since we did not do an excursion here. We took a taxi to 7 Mile Beach which was $4 pp. After that, we went shopping right near the tender pier, then headed back to the ship. Day 4- Cozumel. We did the Xcaret excursion and had a blast. It's worth the little extra travel time to go to Playa del Carmen. Its about a 45 minute ferry there, then a 15 ride to the park. Once you get there, you get a tour of it then your off on your own for about 3 hours. We decided to hang out their beach for a while then walked around and went to the gift shop. By that time, it was time to go. I believe this night was the blues brother show which was awesome considering the cruise director, Chris Roberts, sang a good deal amount which was impressive. And, Carnival gets to dock here every other week and we got to dock, and the date was 8-9-06. Day 5- Belize- We did a snorkel and beach break tour. It was amazing. The snorkeling here is much better then anywhere else we have been. After you snorkel, you go to a private beach, which is just as good. After we did that, we went back to the ship for lunch, then went to the tourist village to do some shopping. Not to bad prices, worth going to check it out. Tonight was the night with the hypnotist. He was very good and you should check it out. Day 6- Costa Maya. We did not do an excursion here. After you walk down the pier to the tourist village, there are multiple pools to go swimming and hang around. There are many little Mexican stores that you can go shopping in and can get some pretty good deals. This area is absolutely beautiful and should get off the ship and check it out. Day 7- Our last day at sea, sad, but there was a lot to do. The talent show was tonight and it was pretty good. We made sure we had pictures with our wait staff and said our good byes to them and our room stewards. We tipped everyone with an extra 20 bucks with cash, its not necessary, but we wanted to thank them for their awesome job! Day 8- Woke up, ate for the last time and was off the ship around 830 for our flight was at 1130. Conclusion- We all had the time of our life on this cruise. We have no complaints and would hope to go on the Miracle again sometime. Hopefully within the next few years, my family again will be going on another Carnival Funship because we just cant get enough of it. Please feel free to email me about any questions at afsteacie89@hotmail.com Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
Carnival Miracle on the Western Caribbean Aug.27-Sept.3 Ship: The Captain of the Miracle was very friendly at the past guest reception; he really seemed to enjoy that part of his job. I really appreciated that he merely rearranged two of ... Read More
Carnival Miracle on the Western Caribbean Aug.27-Sept.3 Ship: The Captain of the Miracle was very friendly at the past guest reception; he really seemed to enjoy that part of his job. I really appreciated that he merely rearranged two of our ports of call to avoid 'Ernesto' and still made all our ports. This is the best designed ship for the passenger that I have sailed on. The passageway walls have photos from various books and plays. We were mid-ship on deck 7 so the ones that indicated our side of the ship were Robin Hood, The Mask, and Sherlock Holmes. This made finding our way around the ship easier. Decks 2 and 3 have nothing to obstruct movement from one end of the ship to the other so you can walk on either level from the phantom lounge to the dining room. The Bacchus dining room lights of purple grapes look fine now and the maitre d' was very helpful. The waiters (Irawan and Enio) were superb and remembered our preferences after the first meal. They were very friendly and attentive. Food was excellent and plentiful as one might expect on a cruise ship. The Cabin Steward and housekeeping staff were excellent and kept the cabin in a constant state of cleanliness. Towel animals were fun as expected. Shows and entertainment were all tasteful and professionally performed. Ports: Our first port was Belize. We took the ship's excursion to Geoff's Caye. The first part of the trip is a snorkel swim. Participants have the option of swimming from the shore if they are inexperienced or the more experienced can snorkel from the boat. My husband and I snorkeled from the boat and saw lots of fish. The coral all appears to be healthy. Cozumel was the second port. We scheduled our own excursion with Eagle Ray Divers. The group was small and we chose the dive spots. We made two, seventy foot dives of about forty minutes each. The coral was breath taking. We enjoyed seeing big fish on this trip, a turtle was resting next to a barrel sponge and a nurse shark was sleeping under the edge of some coral. We saw the biggest grouper that I have ever seen. The snorkel group spotted turtles and a shark as well. The crew was friendly, helpful and very knowledgeable. The third port, Costa Maya, is still being developed as a port. This provided a great opportunity for a rural exploration of the old Yucatan. We enjoyed touring the ruins of Chacchoben with Ivan, David and Carolina through Native Choice Tours. We watched several large groups walk by as we were still being informed by Ivan. Our smaller group received additional attention from our guide. I recommend this trip if you want personal attention and historical information. Ivan grew up in the area and is intimately familiar with the site and the details of its discovery. Grand Cayman was our last stop and we chose to go to Stingray City with Captain Bryan. The crew was very friendly and went out of their way to ensure we had a good time and had plenty of time with the Stingrays. It was a pleasant trip and the crew took time to show us the fish and coral. We saw two moray eels and the fish were very colorful. The Stingrays are fun for pictures and to see them swimming around very close is also lots of fun. Every tour will offer photos so bring about $30 if you think you want photos. I cannot find anything to criticize on this trip. Our thanks to everyone that made our trip so wonderful! Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
This was our first cruise. I read all the reviews I could before and wasn't sure what to expect. Here is my review from someone who lives in Iowa and wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth! The ship has to be the biggest ... Read More
This was our first cruise. I read all the reviews I could before and wasn't sure what to expect. Here is my review from someone who lives in Iowa and wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth! The ship has to be the biggest thing i've ever seen. Three football fields long and 7 or 8 stories high out of the water. We flew in to Tampa saturday morning, we had a room at Wyndam Westshore. I had read a lot of bad reviews about it before, but as far as I saw it was pretty nice, very old, they need new carpet but I'd stay there the next time. It was a 7 out of 10. They picked us up at the airport and took us back the next day that was a good deal. We left Tampa 8-6-6. The ship was perfect not at all too loud or overdone like the silver spooners said. We went to Stingray City. I might add the city tour to this next time but it was the greatest. Make sure you take along 30 or 40 dollars at every port, you'll need it for cab fare, tips, etc... The next day was Cozmel, ready carefully (DO YOUR BUYING HERE) a review said wait till Costa Maya 'cause it cheaper, that's crap. When you get off the ship get a cab. Tell them you want to go to the FORMS SHOPS it's a 6 dollar cab ride. DON'T WALK BACK. We did, I figured it's about 5 miles. Belize was the next day. Very Very poor country. Did the cave tubing. We were told during the busy season the run five thousand people a week done that river, That's about $400,000 a week, don't know where the money goes but it's not in the road department. We loved this cave tubing so much we're taking our kids back to do it again. Finally, Costa Maya it's a rat hole that needs dropped from the list of stops. Don't go shopping, do something else!!! The food in the dining room isn't normal. It's way too fancy. I told my wife if they could cook better they wouldn't have to try and make it look so pretty. It's not the cook's fault it's some guy named George Blonck or something like that. The ship makes 10,000 meals a day!!!!!!! That's something. The pizza is a 8 out of 10. The hot dogs, hamburgers and fries are also good. Maybe that's what I'm used-to. The shows are great .Except the fake hypnotist, they should throw him over the side! Overall I'd give cruising a 10 out of 10. we're going again. Ask me anything I'll answer all questions. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
This is our 4th cruise, (myself and husband), plus another couple that have never cruised. This cruise on the Miracle was great. The ship was unreal in design, very pretty. We got a free upgrade in our room from balcony to suite ... Read More
This is our 4th cruise, (myself and husband), plus another couple that have never cruised. This cruise on the Miracle was great. The ship was unreal in design, very pretty. We got a free upgrade in our room from balcony to suite (EXCELLENT!!!) Our friends upgraded also from oceanview to balcony, which was also great. The food was the best ever. I tried different things each day, and was never disappointed. Food preparation was very good, fast service, hot food, tasty, good variety. Our servers were very attentive and friendly, but were never in the way. Our room steward was also good, he kept our room perfect, our ice bucket full (yes, we made drinks in our room, have no fear) and usually brought our room service also. (We tipped him extra$$$.) Cruiseship personnel are always soo nice, happy. It makes your vacation that much better. Our stops at the islands were same as usual, I heard the cave tubing tour in Belize is great, actually, I heard it soo many times I wished it was my tour. We did the Mayan ruins, cool, but long and too much boring talking from tourguides. Cozumel is great to rent cheap mopeds ($35 all day, gas inc). Go away from town, lots of nice beach clubs, free entry good beach,good food,drinks and bathroom/shower facilities. Costa Maya was nice, an excellent pool and bar, shopping. Grand Cayman is small, if you can, rent a car, get a map and do tourist attractions for much less money than shore tours. Also Seven Mile Beach is pristine white sand and beautiful water. I read reviews that people commented that they wanted an adult pool, on Miracle the pool/hottub are, the bar is smoking/cigar. We don't mind kids and didn't notice that the security guards kept removing them from the pool. They were discreet and pleasant. Miracle has 3 pools, plus 1 kids pool and a giant very fun waterslide so it was no big deal. This was a great vacation, an excellent cruise. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
Let me preface this by stating that Carnival Cruise Lines was not our first choice. It had been many years (13 - prior to kids arriving-LOL). We started by traveling to a very clean and organized port which was Tampa. We arrived the ... Read More
Let me preface this by stating that Carnival Cruise Lines was not our first choice. It had been many years (13 - prior to kids arriving-LOL). We started by traveling to a very clean and organized port which was Tampa. We arrived the night prior and spent the night at the Marriott Hotel located in the Tampa Airport. It was super convenient and the hotel had some of the most pleasant and competent staff we have ever encountered. The embarkation was smooth, pleasant and orderly. Out stateroom was very neat and nice and kept meticulous by our room steward (Wriponia). The food and services in the ship were excellent. The wait staff and the Maitre'd were also. The staff were accommodating, kind and sincere without being phony or pushy. All of our excursions were excellent. We used Native Way Watersports for our excursion in Grand Cayman. They were made independently through our own research and we took an itinerary that got us to snorkel and then go to see the stingray's on a sand bar. By far, the highlight of our excursions was Cave-tubing.com in Belize. Half the price of the other cave tubing expeditions, but twice the fun. Great attentive crew. I felt safe having my 7 year old daughter and 13 year old son on this excursion. They are a newer, very anxious to please outfit, and they fill the bill. We were very pleased with Carnival and are planning to go on a Mediterranean cruise next summer. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
This is the first real cruise for me and my now wife. We got married aboard the Carnival Miracle on August 6, 2006 before departing Tampa. We picked the Miracle for because of Carnivals good reviews from family and friends that have been ... Read More
This is the first real cruise for me and my now wife. We got married aboard the Carnival Miracle on August 6, 2006 before departing Tampa. We picked the Miracle for because of Carnivals good reviews from family and friends that have been on many Carnival cruises, destinations, and domestic home port. Let me first state, despite any criticism I mention in this review, the Carnival Miracle is a wonderful, beautiful ship and the staff I met was all top notch and always willing to assist you. My wife and I flew into Tampa the day before the cruise and stayed at the Tampa Hilton Westshore. I was disappointed with this hotel. The only thing within walking distance of this hotel is other hotels, and one or two restaurants. The International Plaza mall is one block away, but walking to it is nearly impossible as you have to walk across a busy 4 lane highway with NO crosswalks or lights. The Hilton is very clean, but the rooms are nothing more than what you would get at the typical Super 8, which are fine, I just was hoping for something a little more upscale for our Wedding/Honeymoon. The Hilton does offer a free shuttle from the airport to the hotel and a 5 dollar per person shuttle to from the hotel to the Cruise ship on Sunday morning. The Hilton also included a free breakfast buffet, which is very good. However, for $129 per night, you could probably get something better. I would recommend however if you have a night in Tampa, research a little and find a hotel near the Ybor City area, as its a lot closer to the Port and has many places within walking distance you can visit. Embarkation for us, the only wedding couple getting married that day on the ship, was a BREEZE. Its not really fair for me to review however since we got to walk past even the VIPs were the very first guests on the ship. We met our wedding coordinator and officiate, Lois and Stan Stone, at the port and walked us though everything before the wedding. Lois and Stan are wonderful and would recommend them to anyone. They treated my wife and me with great respect and really made the day special for us. They led us onto the ship and took us to the chapel and we ran through a quick rehearsal. We were then let into our cabin at 12 noon to get ready. The room was very nice as we were upgraded from an inside cabin to an obstructed view balcony room. The first look at your room will shock you, as its pretty plain compared to the rest of the ship. At first glance, I would describe the dEcor of the ship as gaudy, but if you really take a look at it, you will become amazed on how well the dEcor on the ship is presented and how although every room has a different theme, how the whole ship blends together. Our wedding was at 1 p.m. We were done by 1:20 p.m. It was short and sweet. We then had a small reception in Sams Lounge. My wife and I were curious how this was going to turn out since we did not have any guests. Lois and Stan made sure that it was a very special, as Stan even made a wonderful toast to us. After meeting them, you will feel like they are part of the family. If Lois and Stan are reading this, I would like to let them know that we will always remember them and how they made our special day even more special. We then went around the ship to take wedding photos. The ships photographers are indeed professionals and take wonderful photos. Thats the only good thing in this review I will say about the photographers. I will go more into detail about that later. We also had our wedding videoed with the ships A/V department for an additional cost. This service was top notch with no complaints. They make a beautiful DVD and include the wedding, reception, before and after interviews with the wedding party and a recorded tour of the ship set to music. Its beautiful and worth the $500 it costs for this option if you are doing your wedding on board. The first day at sea was hampered by rain at first, but cleared up by the time we went under the Tampa Bay Bridge. This is something you should not miss. Take my advice; go to the topless deck under the funnel to take pictures and video of this. Most of the people on the ship will instinctively go stand near the bow of the ship to see. From the topless deck you can stand directly under the famous Carnival funnel and see how close you come from rubbing the bridge. Also, its fun to watch everyone up on the bow jump over each other trying to see when youre laying on a deck chair surrounded by 5 or 6 people. The first night in the dining room you can go as casual as you want, wear shorts if you want. This is the only night it will not be frowned upon. Every other night there is a dress code. If you dont like it, please dont ruin the experience for everyone else and eat on the Lido deck, which also has wonderful food. Our waitress during the week in the dining room was Joan from Peru, and she was fabulous. As for the food, I am a very picky eater and I still always left the dining room full every night we went there. After supper, go to the Welcome Aboard show, its one of the better shows of the week as it includes dancing and music as well as a comedy routine. It seems the shows go downhill toward the end of the week; however that may be because that although the shows are different, the people performing and singing in the shows is the same and you may tend to get tired of it toward the end of the week. Regardless, the dancing and singing shows are overall very good and the band is great. Monday is your first day at sea on the Miracle, and you will want to spend most of your day touring the parts of the ship that you havent seen yet. Do this, but do not stop yourself from doing some of the activities. Monday has the travel adventure talk which is great for first time cruisers. You will have to miss the International Belly Flop Competition on lido deck however because its at the same time as the ships Galley Tour, which no first time cruiser should miss. You WILL be amazed at the size of the kitchen and the detail that goes into making your food on a nightly basis. Also check out the ice carving demonstration and hairy chest competition on the lido deck in the afternoon. Monday night is the ships first formal night, which doesnt mean anything to you unless you eat in the dining room or plan to attend the Captains Cocktail Party. If you feel like getting out your tuxedo or best suit and wearing it to supper, go for it. If not, check out Horatios restaurant on the lido deck or the Pizzeria. Its guaranteed you will not go hungry! Also, as a first time cruiser I decided to attend the cocktail party. The sole reason for this party is to treat cruisers to a few small free drinks and appetizers. The band played some music and the captain introduced himself and the rest of the officers. Dont expect anything more than that. After supper the show is named Generations, which is more singing and dancing. I would rate this show the best of the week, as it profiled some of the best music throughout the decades. For you willing to sacrifice sleep like we did, there is an R rated comedy show sometime around midnight. Just beware that the show ends after 1 a.m. and the ship docks in Grand Cayman at 7 a.m. For people like me that want to be one of the first off the ship, this was a short night. Tuesday was our first port of Call, Georgetown, Grand Cayman Island. You will tender into this port. As all of our shore excursions, we booked independent tours. On Grand Cayman, we booked with Captain Marvins stingray city tour with the optional Hell and Turtle farm tour. Our tour had no more than 20 people on the boat, and we got out to stingray city before any of the cruise ship excursions. As we left stingray city, the cruise ship tours showed up, with at least 100 people on huge double decker boats. Captain Marvin then took our group out to do some snorkeling. This was very nice since there was no one out there except our group. We then went back to shore and the few of us that had purchased the optional land tour loaded onto a bus and went to Hell! Actually, this is actually nothing except a gift shop and some impressive rock formations that are present several other places on the island; but its still fun to purchase post cards and send them home from Hell. We then went to the Tortuga Rum factory. This is a gift shop where they give out free samples of rum cake and rum. It was Very busy and filled with rude tourists that act like rabid dogs to get the free samples. I was physically pushed out of the way 3 times before I gave up and left. We then went to the turtle farm, which is enjoyable. You can pick up some of the turtles which make for an excellent photo opportunity. We got back in time to do a little shopping before we had to catch the tender back to the ship. That night on the ship, we really didnt do much, as we were both beat due to the busy day and lack of sleep the previous night. Heard the comedian was very good. Wednesday we were in Cozumel. We didnt have any shore excursion planned for this day as we figured we would rent a car and see the whole island. The Miracle did dock in Cozumel, but the Fascination was also in port that day and they had to tender. Not sure if that normal or if the two ships take turns. Cozumel has taken quite a beating from the hurricane and it is very obvious even from the ship. You will see that only one side of one pier is available for docking. We were one of the first off the boat and were able to rent a Jeep Wrangler for $49 dollars USD at the port. We drove south and continued to view the destruction. Many resorts on the island were destroyed and never reopened. The ones that had reopened were still rebuilding. We drove down to Punta Sur and took the dirt road down to the lighthouse. The lighthouse and the beach area on the ocean side of the island are beautiful and I would recommend anyone interested in sightseeing to take a ride over there. There are numerous roadside shops and outdoor bars and restaurants set up every few miles always willing to sell you food, drinks, and junk. But these are spaced out far enough that you get to see undeveloped, natural Caribbean beachfront. This is a sight that is not to be missed. Once back in town we parked and walked around the city. Surprisingly the people on Cozumel that we met were very courteous. When I first parked, I mistakenly parked in a no parking area and a man chased me down and not only had me move my car, found me another spot close by to park legally. My wife and I then were sitting looking at a map when a man walked by and asked us what we were looking for. We explained we were looking for the Tony Romes restaurant, and he pointed us in the right direction. Once at Tony Romes restaurant, we sat down, where Tony himself came out and told us he did was not open yet. He treated each of us to a cold bottle of water. I offered to pay, he refused. We thanked him and left. Later on, we were getting ready to turn the car back in, driving around looking for a gas station. I parked, and a man stopped on a bicycle and asked us what we were looking for. We told him and he had us follow him over a mile. I would have never found it without him. He rode away, again refusing anything except a thank you. Once back on the ship, we got a call saying our Wedding photos were ready and we could come down to look at them. When we got down there, we were shocked to see that they had every picture printed out; 90 8x10s and 80 5x7s. There were NO duplicates. They also made a photo CD that was set to music and could be played in a DVD player. After showing all of this too us, they said that they would give us all the pictures, the movie (which they stated was normally $250???????) and two canvas prints of any two photos for $1800!!!!!! After explaining to the photographer that I was not going to pay that much for photos, he went down to $1700. I then told him the photos were nice, but I wasnt going to pay for all the photos since a lot of them had us squinting, and others we just didnt like. They didnt seem to understand the concept of photo packages. We were under the impression we would pick out 5 to 10 photos at the most and have duplicates made of the ones we liked. Not so on the Carnival Miracle. I told him thank you and we would be in touch. I told my wife that we could put the tux and wedding dress back on and go around the ship and get our own pictures, and go home and go to a photography studio to take some more for a lot cheaper than that, and she agreed. The next day, she went down to give it one more try. She came back up with the photos and photo CD, plus a free wedding album, for $750. Point of the story, if you are buying several photographs at once&BARGAIN WITH PHOTOGRAPHERS LIKE YOU ARE IN MEXICO. You will have the upper hand, the photos are already printed out and if you dont buy them, they are out. They will deal with you. Thursday was Belize, which was great, except we had to tender again. We had a tour excursion though cave-tubing.com. This is a great tour. We were broken down into small groups of 8-10 and each given a personal tour guide. We were then all linked together and our guide pulled us through the water! All we had to do is lay there and enjoy the caves. It was great watching the cruise ship excursion people watch us in envy, as they tried to navigate the caves themselves. On the way back to town, we stopped at Cheers, a local restaurant, where we were treated to some local food. Dont remember exactly what we had, but I do remember it was very good. Also, while in Belize, pick up at least one bottle of Cashew Wine. Its surprisingly very good!!!! Thursday night on the boat, we chose to skip the Hypnotist. We heard mixed reviews the rest of the week. Basically make your own judgment. We did attend the Beer and Bathrobes party on the lido deck, although most people did not actually wear their bathrobe. We did! My recommendation, leave the robes in the room. It was very humid and the robe is uncomfortable on the lido deck. The Mexican buffet was part of the party and it was very good, but since we had just left the dining room, we decided to take it easy. The party itself was lively. But, the alcohol was the same price as normal so we decided not to stay very long. Friday was our final port of call, Costa Maya. This looks to be a Cancun in the making, so enjoy it before that!!! We docked at this beautiful port. The port includes a full pool and sandy beaches and sunbathing chairs. Also are also plenty of shops and bars. If you are not interested in snorkeling or the Mayan ruins, you could spend all day at the port and have a good day. We took the Mayan Experience tour with David and Ivan. This ended up being the best tour shore excursion of the trip. We started out at the Mayan ruins, and as Ivan himself as a tour guide, you will learn lots of background information about the Mayan people and their culture. After leaving the ruins, our tour led us into the town of Chacchoben to met a Mayan family and eat a traditional Mayan meal at a traditional Mayan home. This tour, at $68pp, was cheaper than the cruise organized tour, and their tour did not include the meet and greet with the Mayan family or the meal. This is a once in a lifetime experience. Dont miss it. Back on the ship, the Ticket to Ride show was good, but the shows by this time do start to wear on you. Like I stated before, the same singers and dancers all week did get old. Saturday was the last day of the cruise and a day at sea. We spent the day checking out some of the games and pools that we hadnt had time to do yet. I would suggest that even if something doesnt sound interesting; check it out anyway if you have nothing else to do. Almost everything has some sort of twist to it that makes it more appealing that it sounds in the Capers. We checked out the Family Feud  Battle of the Sexes! Game which was a lot of fun just to watch. A large part of the day was spent attempting to pack for the trip home; I suggest allowing plenty of time to do this. We were very surprised on how many things we had bought and how much space we had to come up with. The new restrictions on carry-on luggage made it even worse. Just be prepared. The Carnival Legends show is something no one should miss. You will be surprised how well some of your fellow cruisers can sing. (You will also be surprised that some of them made it on stage.) Sunday was Debarkation day. I had heard horror stories from some people regarding cruise debarkation in general. Let me tell you, debarking the Carnival Miracle is simple and fast. We chose the self-assist debarkation method. Basically you can do this if you are a US citizen and can carry all of your luggage of the ship. Just one word of advice, go down to deck three around 7:30 a.m. with all your luggage and grab a seat and watch for people to start leaving the ship. We were told several times over the PA that they would announce when we could leave. The only indication we had was that we looked down into the gangway and saw people leaving. We went down to deck 2, stood in line, and got right off the ship and through customs by 8:15. The Carnival Miracle is a great cruise and will not disappoint. The crew was excellent. I failed to mention our cabin steward, Hector. Hector was great and always went above and beyond to keep us happy. This cruise will addict you to cruising so just prepare yourself!!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
Carnival Miracle, 20-27 August 2006 My wife and I are in our late 20s, and this was our honeymoon cruise. I'll apologize up front for being long winded, but the main takeaway is: Yet another excellent cruise by Carnival! (although ... Read More
Carnival Miracle, 20-27 August 2006 My wife and I are in our late 20s, and this was our honeymoon cruise. I'll apologize up front for being long winded, but the main takeaway is: Yet another excellent cruise by Carnival! (although they'll sell you anything they can on the ship - we laughed at the pamphlet that was selling the bedding on our beds). Pre-cruise We had booked through Priceline to get our cruise, hotel, and flight package deal. It was a pretty good deal for a Cat 8 Guarantee balcony since we booked it almost a year in advance, and the package came with lots of bells and whistles like a free rental car for a day, hotel stay at a Marriott, and shuttle service to and from the airport. When we finally got our docs, did I ever do the doc dance - we were upgraded to a suite (Suite 6176)! But then a few moments later I saw that, although they gave me a rental car voucher and hotel stay for the night before, I was still flying out the day of the cruise and scheduled to land in Tampa at 1:45. Suffice it to say this wasn't going to cut it, and after a quick call to Priceline, they were more than happy to fix it since they screwed up (to their own confession). They also threw in as an apology an extra hotel stay for future use. My second set of docs arrived 2 weeks later, and I kicked myself when I saw the flight times - 6am the day before the cruise. Since our wedding was the day before, there was no way I could make the 6am flight (which I had forgotten to mention previously), and another call to both Priceline and Carnival basically left me on my own (they fixed it once for me - which I understood). I ended up paying $100 pp to switch the flights to 12:30. Bottom line - Priceline was great, but if you want flexibility in your flights then arrange them on your own. We stayed at the Renaissance right outside of the airport. The hotel was beautiful, clean, and right near a huge shopping plaza that we spent some time walking through. I was surprised that our package deal would give us a hotel that nice. The pool was also an added benefit, as we spent our first honeymoon night in the hot tub and pool floating around in our own private oasis. Bottom line - Since we were only there for the evening, it was perfect. If your stay is longer, you want more to see and do, or you want to be down in the middle of it all, you may want to try the waterfront area. But seeing how we weren't vacationing in Tampa, and we never even used the free car rental, the Renaissance fit our needs perfectly. The next day we took the hotel shuttle service back to the airport so that we could catch up with the Carnival shuttle to the pier. The shuttle dropped us off at the Blue area (where they picked us up the day before). We walked into the terminal by the baggage claim (about 1030am at the time) to see a group of 3 or 4 Carnival representatives. They double checked our bookings and corralled us into the waiting area for the bus. I was told by one of the Carnival reps that the vouchers we had were worth $50 pp (not sure if I believed that one, but given Carnival prices it was probably real). Small complaint - I had spoken to Mears transportation (the owner of the shuttle) a couple of times that day. They had told me to go at 10, and that buses would be running every half hour to the pier. FALSE. We waited from 1000 to about 1100 for the first bus to leave (big greyhound that they packed to the gills). We almost didn't get on the first bus either, since they were going by flight numbers - to them, I wasn't there yet since my original flight was supposed to get in later that day. I spoke to them and they got me on the bus anyway. The ride to the pier was nice narrated by the bus driver who was pretty funny. Bottom line - Since it was part of the deal it was great. But at $50 pp, I would have rather avoided the cattle call and taken a taxi if it hadn't been included. Embarkation This one will be short, and rightfully so, because our room upgrade to a suite came with VIP embarkation. When we walked into the terminal (I'll guess at roughly 1145am) there were lines galore. But over to the side was a small desk, with 2 Carnival employees, and no one there. We sat down with them; they gave us our cards, and personally escorted us past the lines to the point where you take the embarkation photos. We were on the boat within 15 minutes of walking into the terminal. We went to Horatio's (Lido deck) for lunch and then to the pool. NOTE: I knew better from the last time I cruised, but I forgot to wear/bring swimming trunks (they were packed away in my luggage still) for when you first get on. My wife had remembered, and immediately slipped into the pool. I waded at the pool edge (drinks in hand of course as they were immediately making the rounds with the drink of the day). We went to our rooms at about 2pm, but our luggage didn't end up getting there until about 6pm. It didn't bother me all that much though since I was already in vacation mode. Bottom line - VIP embarkation is worth it if you have the opportunity, and BRING BATHING SUITS in hand. The suite (6176  Empress Deck) was awesome. The location was just about right in the middle of the boat (slightly forward), and had easy access to all destinations of the ship. The suite was huge and more than I ever expected. It was decorated with Congratulations stuff all over and had a fruit/cheese basket (courtesy of the OPC). And the bathrobes were extra plush! We're afraid that the suite has spoiled us and we'd never be able to settle for a smaller room - it definitely added a different aspect to the cruise. On my past cruise, the room was only something to sleep in. However, the suite was bright and airy, and we spent many mornings/evenings watching the horizon from the room/balcony. It was very beautiful and peaceful. Bottom line - Although we LOVED the suite and it gave us the most memorable honeymoon, I don't know that I would ever explicitly book one due to the price differential. I'm assuming a standard balcony room would be comparable (although I haven't seen one). Ports of Call Grand Cayman Since this was our first time to Grand Cayman, we did the tourist thing with Seven Mile Beach, Hell, Turtle Farm, and Stingray City. Tendering was a piece of cake (to my surprise) we didn't try to get off until 915am, which probably helped. I'll preface the whole thing with the beach was cool, Hell and Turtle Farm pretty neat, and the stingrays themselves are awesome (although I screamed like a girl while my wife actually put one on her head for a photo - those stingrays are BIG). However, in Carnival fashion, we were part of a cattle call the whole time. We were escorted over to the vans, that sat 2 people on the right, one on the left, and then when everyone was in, a seat slid out in the aisle for a 4th person. My wife and I were in the front passenger seats of the van, which was cool, but even so, WAY too packed. With hindsight, I would have preferred to take a private tour and not be bunched up with so many people. Hell is cool, but again is a tiny area and the vans were just packing people in there. Same with the turtle farm. By the time we got to the boat to take us out to Stingray city we were HOT! We all packed onto the boat (and by all I mean our van, as well as a bunch of other vans). Both levels of the boat were shoulder-to-shoulder people. While baking in the sun, we were told we had to wait another 10 minutes for the last van to show up which was running late. When we finally got underway they handed out masks/snorkels (which they didn't have enough of due to the number of people they packed on). The stingrays were cool when we got there it's a must see, and the water is the bluest blue. On the way back they tried to do the whole rum punch thing, but there was one cooler of punch on the side of the boat, and about 100 people trying to get to it in single file. Bottom line - I hate to sour this one, but this is the last time I book an excursion through Carnival. They are too concerned with quantity of people and not the quality of the experience. My recommendation to anyone going that doesn't like the herd mentality - get off the ship, find someone doing personal tours of the beach, Hell, Turtle Farm, etc. You can experience it all in not much time and for not as much money. And look into getting out to the stingrays either a) on a true booze cruise boat that actually has room to stand and not be elbow to elbow, or b) on a catamaran/private boat. I wished I had researched this one a bit more before arriving. Cozumel We had done tons of research on Cozumel before cruising, a lot of which was through www.cozumelmycozumel.com, which proved VERY helpful. When we arrived we didn't have to tender since we had access to the pier (lucky us). We were in awe of the amount of devastation that the hurricane had left, but you could see all around where they were starting to make progress getting back to normal. The vegetation is the one area that will definitely take time, however. We didn't book excursions here since we felt prepared. We were off the boat right away, skipped by all of the excursions, and straight to a taxi. We asked the taxi ($10) to bring us to the Corona Beach Club, which was a neat little club we had read about that would allow us to snorkel (we brought our own but they rented it there as well). We were the only ones there for about an hour and a half, until another couple looking to go snorkeling away from the pack showed up. The beach club had a bunch of patio sets, chairs, sand, etc. that was free of charge - they just ask that you eat/drink there. So after snorkeling around (and we did see quite a few fish) we grabbed a few beers and a few chicken tacos and relaxed. I also bought a t-shirt from them $18 and tipped them $2 since somehow no one in Cozumel ever has change. Hmmm J. Do yourself a favor and make sure you have lots of various bills for exact change. After a couple of hours at the Corona beach club we were ready to move on. The owners of the club went out of their way to call us a taxi and wait for it at the street  very nice of them. We then asked the taxi to take us to the San Francisco Beach club. He ended up taking us to the Paradise Beach club, literally right next door to the San Fran club, and said to walk up through that club and over on the beach. We assumed he got a kickback from the Paradise club, which didn't matter to us as the places looked the same. We ended up staying at Paradise. The beach was free, but it was (I believe) $8 pp to use their snorkeling equipment, floating rock wall, trampoline, kayaks, floating chairs, etc. Well worth it  we had a ton of fun here, although it is a very popular spot (I think the Carnival Tours probably brought you there as well for your first born - $15 cab ride for two people did us fine). We sunbathed in the chairs, and drinks were brought out to you (at almost regular drink prices). The trampoline and rock wall were fun. We did grab our own snorkel equipment again to give it a shot, but the artificial sand beaches of the club a) give you nothing to look at if you could see, and b) won't let you see because the sand stirs up. Don't plan on snorkeling at these beach clubs if that's what you're looking for. But this place was fun for both kids and those of us that still think we're kids. Finally, per the recommendation of friends back home, we took a $15 cab ride from the beach club to Carlos n Charlies. If you've never experienced this place, you must. Warning: Make sure you know how to get back to the ship. They definitely know how to peer pressure you into shots of ??? (I still don't know what it is that I drank), and fun was had by all (the crowd was slightly younger  upper 20s to 30s). Two yards of drinks and 10 shots later, we escaped while we could still stand and took a taxi back to the boat. Bottom line  If you're looking for a fun day of being beach bums and a little early afternoon partying, go to the clubs and Carlos n Charlies. You won't regret it (okay, maybe just a little the next morning). Belize The day after Carlos n Charlies I almost slept in but I'm glad I didn't. We had arranged cave tubing beforehand with Yhoni (from cave-tubing.com). I had missed the getting off the boat talks that we were supposedly supposed to sit through. That morning we went down to the gangway and slipped in line (I know I know  boo hiss, and after we got on the tender I realized everybody had numbers on their chest oops). I wasn't about to wait in line for the Carnival tours to get off anyway. Say what you will, but my money is green just like everybody else. We chose cave-tubing.com because of all of the positive reviews, and we weren't disappointed one bit. They set out to make their trip memorable and fun as best they can by comparison to the Carnival herds (and they are always drawing out comparisons along the way that make you appreciate what you're getting). We thought they did a great job. We boarded an air-conditioned bus right outside the terminal (although I wouldn't stray to far away from the terminal). The bus had 4 tour guides on it, all being comedians on the way down. The roads were a little bumpy, but the cashew wine that they served us seemed to make the bumps subside, just a bit. They asked us on the way whether we wanted to do 1 cave or 2, and obviously we all chose 2. We hiked about 30 minutes in the rainforest, which I didn't mind as this was the only exercise I had received the whole cruise. As we were marching along at a decent pace, we passed large lines of Carnival-brand cave tubing people (from what I heard talking to people on the ship afterward, they paid double the money, for half the service and experience). The caves were beautiful. We split into chains of tubes, about 8-10 people long, with a guide at the beginning of each chain. The guide talked us through the cave, showing the various formations. It was a blast. After we came out of the first cave we passed a mass of people from the Carnival excursion that started in at the second cave. When you get out of the caves, there is a small rapids. Our guide made sure that we were safe going down the rapids, as opposed to the Carnival excursion goers that were on their own. I actually did see one tuber that was on her own wipe-out against some rocks in the rapids but I'm glad the person was ok. When done, we stopped at Cheers (a local bar/restaurant) to enjoy a meal of beans, rice, chicken, and a couple of Belikin (local beer). Finally, when reaching the pier, we settled up with them ($45 pp plus we added a healthy tip for the extra fun). Bottom line - Avoid Carnival as the excursion. Try cave-tubing.com (or any other company that does it on their own). You will appreciate the service you get. In our opinions, this was a can't-miss experience. Costa Maya This will be short, right to the Bottom line - I knew what to expect when I got here from other reviews and I received just that. We hung out at the pool right off the pier, listened to music, and enjoyed a few drinks. I received a nice tan here, but other than that; I can't speak for this port. The Ship Bacchus Dining The food was pretty good, but I seemed to remember it being better on our last cruise. I thought that with the introduction/pushing of Nick and Noras (the upscale restaurant) that the other food suffered a little. The presentation of all of the food was always beautiful. But I found the tastes to seem to blend from night to night and the seafood had a lot of sauces on them. We had second seating (table 329), and our servers were awesome. Our drink server was, however, a little slow. By the second night I knew to order a drink well before I needed it. We tried breakfast once in the dining room but it was the same food from Horatio's, expect with the added wait of a waiter. Oh, and after speaking to the Maitre D', the lights were completely changed out on the cruise before us so they were an interesting purple (still a little over the top) compared to the pepto-pink. Photographs Wow - Talk about photo opportunities! Everywhere you turn there is someone to take your photo. We saw them on all decks, especially the Lido and the Promenade (for more formal pictures). They were off the gangway, at the ports, in the stores, on the excursions you name it. We were a little disappointed that the pictures were so expensive ($8 for small pics - $20 for the formal ones) and they didn't have many discounts. But if you don't have any good photographs of you and/or the family, this is your opportunity to get the perfect picture. Spa We didn't partake in the spa too much other than the couple's massage we signed up for. We did the massage in Costa Maya in the morning since we knew there wasn't much going on there. It was well worth it, although at the end (of course) they try to sell you stuff. Carnival's attempt at selling you anything and everything got REAL old, but once I said no to the seaweed gel that I MUST APPLY TO ANKLES NIGHTLY or I will never feel relaxed again they said ok and backed off. Horatio's Breakfast was so so- it never changed from day to day. Lunch was always good. Many choices. We did our best to not make too many trips. And you can't miss the chocolate buffet! Room Service We had room service every morning for coffee, juice, and croissants. It was nice to be able to slowly wake up and enjoy the balcony view. They were pretty accurate with the time of room service you request as well. Nick and Nora's We never got a chance to try it but heard from others that it was very good. Entertainment There was something for everyone. We didn't do a whole lot of the shows although my wife liked them I found them to be a poor attempt at Broadway. But with everything there is to do on the ship, you can't be bored. The hypnotist was awesome - we went to both the PG and the R rated shows, and both were hilarious. My wife actually went up there and was hypnotized. The past guest party was pretty nice - just another opportunity to get a couple of free drinks and appetizers, but was much appreciated. The Lido deck activities were a blast, from bathrobes and beer party to hair chest competitions (although just once I was hoping they would lower the beer/liquor prices to something that didn't make me wince as much). I was disappointed that we didn't get to see the comedian because I hear he was funny. And then there is the water slide. I've heard a lot of complaints about the water slide, and having to push yourself to the bottom. I thought the same thing the first couple times I went down it. And the Carnival employee standing there didn't say a word. Then someone came up to me and said to cross my arms over the chest, arch my back, cross my legs and push my heel downward. Wouldn't you know it, I zoomed down that puppy (plug eyes, nose, ears or you get a stinging salt water enema)! Excellent fun! Too bad the Carnival employees don't say anything when you're scraping your bottom down a slide manually. But whomever that was that gave me the pointer - thank you! Stewards Ours (Clarence) was very friendly and always called me out by name and wished me a good day. We found the clothes that we had left strewn about folded in a neat pile every day, and the rooms always tidy. We always had ice every morning/evening. The only down side was the souvenir cups had stuff in them that in the past our steward cleaned up for us. Ours sat there until the last day when I finally cleaned them out (pretty gross by that point too). Debarkation We put our luggage out the night before. The morning of debarkation, from about 800 - 900 the self-assisters went off. We had breakfast, and then walked off the ship. Our luggage was there, customs a breeze, and back on the Mears transportation bus we went. It is worth, however, waiting a little bit for the initial line to subside when they call for general debarkation. Your luggage isn't going anywhere, and it'll give you a couple more minutes of vacation. Summary Excellent cruise, and can't wait to do it again! If there are any specific questions, please let me know. Read Less
Sail Date August 2006
This was my fifth cruise, and my first one on Carnival. We had a family of four, me, my wife, 18-year-old daughter, and 15-year-old daughter. Why the Carnival Miracle, and why the Western Caribbean? Price at the time. I booked late (only ... Read More
This was my fifth cruise, and my first one on Carnival. We had a family of four, me, my wife, 18-year-old daughter, and 15-year-old daughter. Why the Carnival Miracle, and why the Western Caribbean? Price at the time. I booked late (only about three weeks before the cruise.) I used a travel agent who I had used for booking a prior cruise. We booked the Carnival Miracle based on a special fare promotion from Carnival. Due to various mixups and miscommunications, the actual price we paid was a bit higher than I thought it would be going into the cruise, but overall, I thought I got a reasonable value for the money. We flew into Tampa on Saturday for a Sunday departure. We stayed at the Sheraton Suites Tampa Airport, which was nearby the airport with a free shuttle from the Airport to the hotel. A shuttle from the hotel to the port was $40 for four people. Embarkation was quick and relatively painless. The only slight hassle was getting the first of many photographs taken. Carnival appears to be trying to finance the entire cruise from the sale of photographs. There were at least 30 different opportunities to get your picture taken. There was an embarkation picture. There was a debarkation picture with various characters (Rastafarian, sombrero-wearing charro, two Mexican lasses, and another character I've mercifully forgotten.) There were the wandering photographers snapping photos at the dinner table on three nights, one night with a "pirate". There were multiple backdrops available on four nights, including the two formal nights, so that you could get a nice formal portrait done, or get an informal portrait with a plain background, a picture of the ship, a beach scene, an interior, etc. They even had the old-time costumes and cowboy clothing one night for those "old-timey" photos. If you don't want your photograph taken, you'll hate this cruise. If you like your photograph, or don't mind it, then it's a minor irritation. We got some good photos of the family, so we purchased a couple. We had booked an obstructed view room, and had a most excellent view of a lifeboat, as expected. The room was fine. It was large, it was soundproof, the cooling worked (perhaps a bit too well until I figured out how to adjust it properly.) The steward (Rudolfo) was excellent as expected. He was tireless yet invisible. When you went away from the room for a bit and came back, the room was refreshed, with new towels and the bed made, etc. The dining room has the strange decor you'll see in other comments. It's not too bad, just clashing. The rest of the ship's decorations are the usual over-the-top design you expect. The eight-story atrium with glass elevators were fun to use every day. My comments about the food should be tempered by the fact that I love good food, and I loved sailing on Celebrity, which I feel has the best food of the three cruise lines I've used so far. Carnival's food is good. It's fine. It's not Celebrity, but it's very good, and you won't regret going on this cruise unless you're a food snob. The buffet restaurant on the Lido deck (deck 9) was very good, but confusing on the first day, mostly due to the selections and placement. There are four stations, plus a espresso/cappuccino station (for fee) plus the 24-hour pizza station. The four stations include * one station of "healthier" food (e.g. fruit at breakfast, salad at lunch.) * one station that was "NY deli" (i.e. sandwiches) which was quite popular * one station that was usually Asian cuisine. Nothing too challenging, but fresh and delicious. Various cuisines from China and Japan, mostly. I especially appreciated the Indian food, which included some tastes I haven't seen before on a cruise. That was one of the highlights of the food on this cruise. * one station called the rotisserie which tended toward mainstream tastes. Again, a very popular choice. The best thing to be said about the food on this cruise was that you could essentially always find something you were going to like at every meal. Food on the Lido deck was well prepared and of the quality you would expect to find in a normal restaurant on land. The formal dining room on the second and third decks was an odd combination. The decor, as noted by other reviews, is odd. You have large pink hard plastic Mentos-like objects plastered all over the walls of what looks like a nice formal restaurant. It's just a strange choice of decor. Our cocktail waitress would have been better had she remained working the bar in Pinatubo. She had a talent for arriving to deliver drinks just as our waitress was serving us. Drinks were served very late, after the main course a couple of nights, so I finally gave up on her. The formal waitress was very nice, but the waiter's assistant was either over-assigned or wasn't working well. She had to do her job as well as that of the waiter's assistant, and service suffered slightly because of that. It wasn't her fault, but I could see that some of the other waiters were getting much more support. As a result, I never got the feeling of bonding with her that I've had with other waiters on other cruises. I saw lots of other waiters and customer who were obviously getting that bonding. Our waitress was totally professional and tried her best. The food downstairs was more highs and lows than I expected. The best food was very, very, very good. I had a creme brulee dessert which was a failure, even on the second try. The filet mignon was horsemeat, but the Chateaubriand two nights later was extremely good. I'd classify the food as mixed tending towards very good. When a meal was disappointing, it bothered me. When the food was good, it was fantastic. It was good most of the time. My wife and daughters loved the spa. They should, they are going to bankrupt me if they keep purchasing every treatment ever devised. :) The excursions were all very good and well run. We had horseback riding in Cozumel, the stingray excursion in Grand Cayman, a Mayan ruins tour in Costa Maya, and a powerboat excursion in Belize. I didn't go on the horseback ride or powerboat, but my wife and daughters were all very satisfied. Entertainment was musical numbers and dance on the first and last nights, with jugglers, comedians, and a hypnotist. All of it was good and up to par. We had a rather odd incident on one night. The comedians (and the comedian/hypnotist) had an "R-rated" show at 11:00 on three nights. This was more adult comedy situations, with the prohibition of salty language taken away. The first adult comedian night, we had several drunk hecklers in the audience, which our comedian was pretty successfully de-fusing. Suddenly, one of the drunk women took offense and tried to come on stage to confront him. The staff director quickly led her off stage and nothing further happened, but it was a very strange experience. The show went on as scheduled and was very funny. Both the general audience comedy and the adult comedy were funny. The general audience comedy was quite appropriate for all but the most sensitive ears. The biggest disappointment was probably the water slide on the top decks. The slide is not attached to any pool. You have to push yourself down it the entire way. The slide had limited hours, making it difficult to use. My wife was very disappointed with the slide. My oldest daughter is a bit of an introvert. She loved the various nooks and crannies where she could go sit and read a book. My youngest daughter never connected well with the other kids in the teen group, so she hung out with the family instead. From the times I observed the teen group, they were having fun; she just didn't connect with them. Debarkation at the end of the cruise was about as painless as getting on the ship. You waited in the appropriate area until they announced it was time to leave. You picked up your luggage at the port, went though customs, and were herded onto a bus to get to the airport. Very smooth servicing of a large number of people. Overall, I would say this cruise met my expectations for the cruise almost exactly. Carnival is a mainstream cruse line, and they aim to please. They succeed. To me, the highlights were the good food, good excursions, good entertainment, and the excellent room and room services. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Background -- My husband booked our trip about three weeks before sailing and was able to secure a last minute deal on deck 6 with a balcony (cabin 6244/cat 8D). There are 3 of us-husband, wife, and 11 year old son. This was my ... Read More
Background -- My husband booked our trip about three weeks before sailing and was able to secure a last minute deal on deck 6 with a balcony (cabin 6244/cat 8D). There are 3 of us-husband, wife, and 11 year old son. This was my husband's 10th cruise, my 8th, and our son's 6th. We've cruised RCI, Princess, Celebrity, and CCL. We chose Miracle for ports, ratings/reviews, and over all value. We flew from Nashville to Tampa the morning of departure (7/31)on SWA, took taxi to port ~$20, and were on the ship within an 1 hour or so after stepping off our plane. This was our second cruise on CCL (Triumph 2002). Ship -- The ship's decor is what you expect from CCL, very open spaces, neo-eclectic style in the public areas. We first went to check out our cabin and found it adequate, plenty of storage, comfortable bedding, and clean. You have to keep in mind you are not at the Ritz. Balcony was very private. The sofa was a sofa only for first day. Our steward kept it made for my son the rest of the time.  I'm sure she would have not done that if we'd asked but no big deal. We asked our cabin steward to empty the mini bar, and she did with no problem...very accommodating as we found all of the staff to be all week. She even iced our cooler iced down (that we brought on board filled with soda, water, and adult beverages). Overall the staff was consistently very friendly and attentive, which contributed to our excellent cruise experience. For dining we had a booth at the back of the ship with a lovely view at the 1st seating. The food in the main dining room was exceptional. Just as we found on Triumph, the menu offered unique variety that are not typical of other cruise lines. For example, I have had quail twice, first on Triumph, and then savored a stuffed quail presentation again on Miracle. Each night there is a choice of the Chef's recommendation, which I did most evenings, and was very pleased with the selection. All of the fish dishes were very good. My husband and son enjoyed the steak and lobster. Although filet mignon was not on the menu every night, our wait staff clued us in that you could order a filet any evening (which my husband did enjoy). We heard that Nick and Nora's was excellent, and was worth the $30/each, but we didn't feel the need to shell out $60 + wine with the selection and quality of the food in main dining room. The restaurant on Lido deck was good. The layout is a little confusing at first. Just know that every corner station is usually not the same, and offers different selections that you should survey before you decide. The 24 hour pizzeria is far above any we've found on other cruise lines. My DH and my favorite was the de Chevre (goat cheese, mushrooms, garlic). I'm not a big breakfast eater, but my DH and DS loved the omelet station and real bacon (something they don't get at home). The fruit is yummy and great to have such selection to choose from. 24 hour juice, punch lemonade at no additional cost on Lido. However, in the dining room they will charge you. We brought lemonade singles to add to water there since our son is not really a soda drinker. On 2 there is a dessert and coffee shop that my son and I stopped at every night after kid's club so he could get chocolate cake for a minimal charge of $2. We went to the 2 production shows which were very good. The Beatles Ticket to Ride show was excellent. We didn't go to any of the other shows although I heard the hypnotist act was good. The casino was frequented by my DH. It is a large casino with a one man band that played oldies. He never had to wait for a $5 black jack table all week, and they even opened a non-smoking table upon request. The craps table was double odds and they did have a low limit Texas hold em table. They also had a lot of machines that were penny slots. The 9-11 year old Kid's Club got good reviews from our son. There were lots of PS2 stations, and fun activities to keep them entertained. He didn't really partake in daytime activities. He hung at the pool and waterslide with us and his new found friends. Late night party (aka babysitting) begins at 10pm and goes until 3am at $6/hour. He had dinner with them 2x and went to 2 shows that he enjoyed. He usually went to that for an hour or two each night except for Friday night he did stay at the party until the end as the caregivers escorted the children back to their cabins between 3am & 3:30. He thought he was all that to be able to partake in such a grown up activity. Unfortunately, a false fire alarm sounded about at about 2:45am that woke us up anyway, and the kids were held a little longer in Pinocchio's. We brought good quality walkie talkies on board with us with 18 mile radius that he could use to call us if he didn't want to be at the club anymore. He only did this one night. Pools were good. Never had a problem finding chair. However if you want primo chair, on 9, near the band and the action, someone should go up early (around 9am) and claim your spots for the day. Also, the glasses are tiny. So if you want your drinks to stay cool and filled, bring an insulated cup to keep your adult beverages refreshed while poolside. Ports & Shore Excursions -- Grand Cayman: Tendered to island. Be patient! We booked Stingray City on line before we left. My husband found a catamaran tour on line, but it required no payment on line. When you get on the island just ask where you can find Captain Brians. It is about 2 or 3 blocks to the left from the tender area, next to a bakery. I think you should be there around 9am or 9:30. It is $35/each where the ship was charging twice that. It was a 3 and half hour tour, with 2 snorkel stops. The first is stingray city. The guides were great, and made sure that each person got a chance to hold a stingray and kiss them (7 years good luck!). This was our 2nd time to do this, and Captain Brian's sail-clad catamaran was definitely better than the big shuttle boat carrying mega amounts of your cruise mates. Cozumel: Still reeling from hurricane; dock destroyed so tendered to island. Again be patient. We just got off the boat and found the information booth by the taxi area to look for beach break. We decided we wanted to go Playa Del Maya and hailed a taxi that we shared with a single mom and her 10 year old son. The cab ride was about $30 for all of us, and the driver said we had chosen the best beach resort that had sustained minimal hurricane damage. We actually got $2/each discount with this driver. The all inclusive rate of $35 included open bar. We just got general admission for son. Plenty of chairs, tubes, paddle boats, etc. Umbrellas, rock climbing wall, bungee trampoline, jet skis available for additional charge. Good beach day. Belize: Best tender. Don't bother getting off ship unless you have excursion. Shopping area is located at dock, not as extensive as GC or Cozumel. My husband pre-booked with Yohny at http://www.cave-tubing.com/. When you get off the ship, you have to crash through a wall of tour operators to get outside the cruise terminal where Yhony or one of his guides pick you up. We paid only $45/each (half the price of ship) and Keith and Dennis took great care with us, and safety was their priority. They limit guide to caver of about 1: 8 and we actually got a private tour. Water ranged from 1ft to 25 ft deep. It was a great tour experience for all 3 of us. Some of the tours booked through the ship had huge crowds with 1 guide, people floating out of control, losing there tubes. Costa Maya: Great dock. Big storm hit in the morning, and the captain wasn't sure if we would stay. He patiently waited it out, and let us stay. Weather cleared and we taxied into Majuhaul and bought a couple souvenirs. Then went back to dock, and enjoyed pool until last minute. Very nicely developed cruise dock and shopping area. Debarkation -- This was the most painful part of the vacation. We elected to do express exit and carry off our own luggage. It seemed like everyone else decided to do this also (long line to carry all that luggage around). Once the foreign nationals cleared, we were off the ship and in a cab by 9am. Summary -- Overall excellent cruise experience. This ship offered variety of entertainment, great food, and fabulous and attentive service. Our wait staff told us that Miracle currently is Carnival's #1 ship based on CCL's internal ranking system. I believe it based on our fulfillment on this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Just returned on July 2 cruise. Wonderful time. Tampa port was great to leave from. only 15 min from airport. Carnival transfers were 18 pp saw airport shuttle for 9 pp, but with five of us it was cheaper to take a taxi at baggage claim ... Read More
Just returned on July 2 cruise. Wonderful time. Tampa port was great to leave from. only 15 min from airport. Carnival transfers were 18 pp saw airport shuttle for 9 pp, but with five of us it was cheaper to take a taxi at baggage claim outside door. $25 including tip. Got to port at 11:15 and easy check in no wait in lines. Got on ship at 12:30 and went to lunch at Lido and in room at 1:30. First thing we did was a ship tour at 2:30 and muster drill at 3:30. Had early dinner at 5:45 and first night after we ordered meal went to deck at 6:20 to see Sunshine Bridge. Returned to dinner and ate. Grand Cayman- Swam with stingrays with Cpt. Bryan-privately booked. Had fun and then snorkeled at two other areas. Cozu-Went snorkeling on the Manta Catamaran- a short taxi from the port. Only our family of five and another family of four. It was great. Stopped at three places to snorkel and had beer drinks included and fresh fruit on ride home. It did rain for 15 min as we cruised back to the Aqua Safari Pier, but the last ten min it stopped and got to sit back out on top. Belize- Took X-Stream for cave tubing- great tour- also personal attention only 13 in our tour. Had an air conditioned van for the hour ride both ways to get there. At the end got water and fruit. Costa Maya- Shopped at the port area, always bargain for prices. A Hammock my husband wanted price started at $60 and got for $25 in the end. Ship was decorated good I thought except to dining room. Don't miss that room at all. Room was good size. Food was good and gained 10 lbs. So you can tell I never went hungry. Pizza great and Deli great for lunch and ate every night in dining room. We had fun and I believe most people will walk away satisfied with this ship. Staff always friendly. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Getting the age 55 discount was nice for my wife and I who have cruised 3 times before, but never on Carnival. We'd heard stories! But it was a pleasant time and we'll do it again. Carnival seems to have perfected the getting ... Read More
Getting the age 55 discount was nice for my wife and I who have cruised 3 times before, but never on Carnival. We'd heard stories! But it was a pleasant time and we'll do it again. Carnival seems to have perfected the getting on and getting off the ship. Since we live in Florida, we drove to the Port of Tampa, parked the car in the garage and rolled our own luggage. All was effortless and without a hitch. We had never been on such an ornate ship and enjoyed its artsy atmosphere. The cabin balcony view was obstructed by the lifeboat, but we had known that ahead of time and took the only remaining room - 10 days before the cruise. The room was spacious and comfortable. There was plenty to do on the ship and we went to some demonstrations, talks and presentations. Mostly, we just relaxed, read, worked puzzles and ate. We did get the internet package and carried our own notebook so we could keep up with news of our first grandchild who decided to be born back home on the second day at sea. Our kids sent pictures which we were able to download and print onboard. From that point on, we were dangerous in boring staff and guest alike! The service was excellent. Staff was pleasant, accommodating and efficient. They even helped me comb through the thrown out trash to find a receipt from the ship's store. It seems were were charged $85 for a $49.95 watch. When we found the receipt, it was indeed $85 - and when I confronted the seller, he said, "The sign says 'starting at $49.95'." Fooled me on that one and I'll be leery and wary of Carnival's marketing in the future. The food was good; not great. There was less diversity and selection than in cruises past. The Lido Deck Restaurant was organized unusually, but we learned to navigate it and maybe the lines were shorter because of the various food stations. The "fancy dining room" was passable, but disappointing by comparison with other cruises. One night, I just ordered a cheeseburger - nothing on the menu was to my liking. The salad was always the same; the bread was never good. Ah, the shore excursions. We had been to many of the ports before, but the first time to Belize. My wife was having some back trouble and walking long distances was out of the question. We asked a policeman who might be able to give us a tour and he summoned Joseph of Thompson's Tours. It was the best tour of our cruising career. He took us where we wanted to go; shared EVERYTHING there was to know about his country; showed us little traveled places and even picked allspice leaves for us to chew and a cashew fruit and nut for us to "show and tell." Everyone around us at supper that night wanted to go with us from then on since we could pick the nicest tours. Carnival will be tried again (even though I won't buy anything on board since I believe I was "snookered." We like the ease of Tampa's Port. Cruising is such good value and we always seem to make lasting friends on every cruise. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
My husband, myself and 4 other friends booked our cruise through Carnival for our anniversary trip. We had cruised with them before and decided to try a longer cruise with different ports. We flew to Tampa the day before and spent the ... Read More
My husband, myself and 4 other friends booked our cruise through Carnival for our anniversary trip. We had cruised with them before and decided to try a longer cruise with different ports. We flew to Tampa the day before and spent the night at the Holiday Inn Express at RJ Stadium. The hotel was very nice and they transported us to the pier for $5.00 a person and picked us up at the airport for free. Embarkation was very easy. Everyone one was very helpful and we were on the ship within 45 minutes of check in. The ship was much larger than the ship we had sailed on previously, so we all decided to explore before we left port. It was very clean and spacious. The dEcor is fun not elegant, so if you are looking for an elegant cruise this is not your boat. The staff was always very helpful! Our dining staff was George and John (upper dining room). They were the best!!!! They made sure we had whatever we wanted and plenty of it. Our cabin steward was very good, we did not see him much but our room was always very clean and restocked. Our cabin was very nice. The balcony was great and plenty of room for both of us to sit and enjoy. One set of our travel companions, were right next-door and had an adjoining room. The bathrooms are a bit small but what can you expect. There is plenty of closet and drawer space, and suitcases will slide under the bed easily. The food was good but not what we had expected. I think the problem is they are preparing so many plates at once. Sometimes it would be lukewarm. Not complaining because I still managed to gain 6 lbs. Ports - Grand Cayman is beautiful. I would love to go and stay there one day. We swam with the stingrays and booked through Carnival. There were about 10 other boats at Stingray City, so I think you could just take your pick as to who you want to book through. Cozumel - Still dirty and worn looking from the hurricane. We did enjoy the Dune Buggy excursion, snorkel and beach (which included our lunch). Belize - I would never go back. I do suggest booking an excursion or not getting off the ship. Coasta Maya - We had booked the private beach break, but my husband got food poisoning the night before and we were quarantined to our room all day Friday and part of the day Saturday. Not many people were able to get off the ship anyway, a storm brought in 60mph winds and they closed the dock to people. Do not think by my description that we did not enjoy ourselves because that is far from the truth. We had a great time! The ships entertainment was very good! Frankie and Johnny's is a lot of fun. The Beatles' show is a must see!!!! Debarkation was a breeze. We were allowed to get off after all the self-assist because we had an early flight. We were at the airport by 9:30 for a 12:30 flight. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Wonderful - Wonderful - Wonderful We had the best time. Tampa - it was a breeze to get on the boat. We decided to stay at the Chase Suites hotel in Tampa. The have all suites which are really nice. They have a package that includes one ... Read More
Wonderful - Wonderful - Wonderful We had the best time. Tampa - it was a breeze to get on the boat. We decided to stay at the Chase Suites hotel in Tampa. The have all suites which are really nice. They have a package that includes one night's stay, parking for your vehicle for the entire time of your cruise, transportation to the port and pickup at the end of your cruise. It was great. They took you right to the door and were right there within minutes upon return. The porter takes the bags right from the shuttle so there is little to lug around. Just a short line, a short wait for your group number to be called and then you board. We left the hotel a little after 11am and were on the boat a little after noon. There are plenty of people on board to give you directions once you are on the ship. We went straight to the Lido deck for lunch. It was a little crowded since everyone was eating at the same time and sitting around waiting on the cabins to get ready but it worked. We went to our cabin a little after 1 but it wasn't quite ready. Our cabin steward was nice. It was great that it seemed every time you left your room, the steward would straighten up and it would look great when you returned. They give out lanyards on the 2nd floor around midship to help you to keep up with your sail and sign card. This also works good to keep up with your Carnival Caper tear off sheet summary for the day. It folds to fit easily in the holder with your card. Our kids didn't have any trouble keeping up with their card this way. We were in cabins 5107 (balcony) with adjourning room 5105 (inside). This worked great for us with the two kids. It gave everyone their own bed, two bathrooms and an extended balcony which was plenty big enough for all of us to share. The room was so roomy compared to our past experience with another cruise line. The only problem that we had was the choice of TV stations. We had several Carnival stations, CNN, and the local news our of Denver, CO (go figure). My husband wanted ESPN to try to keep up with the baseball trades. I would have liked to have the weather but other than that there is so much to do on the boat that TV is the last thing that you really want to do. Our cabin was on the floor with Camp Carnival just a few doors down. No problem with noise. We never heard any of the kids. It was great to be so close for when our daughter wanted to go for just a little time. This floor was also pretty when right in the middle of everything - a few floors down for diner and the shows - a few floors up for the pools and casual dining. Our room was on the starboard side, forward. There was a good bit of wind on the balcony but since it was warm out - it actually felt good. I haven't had a balcony room before to be able to compare. We slept in most mornings so I didn't get any sunrise photos. We also stayed so busy that I never say a sunset as well so I can't say which side of the boat is best for either of those. We had table 362 for dining. This is a table for four, upstairs in the very rear of the boat. It was near the windows so we could see out while eating. Our waiters were WONDERFUL. I cried on the last night to have to tell them bye. Deo was the main waiter. He was so happy to get us whatever we wanted. He called us by name each night and also memorized our likes and would bring some things just because he remembered we liked it. The kids wouldn't miss dinner because they wanted to see Deo and Rico (the helper). Our waiters were both from the Philippines. Rico was going home after our cruise so he was really excited to be seeing his family soon. Deo had a few more cruises before he could go home. Deo did a card trick one night and napkin creations one night to entertain the kids. The food was great. We had Prime Rib two nights and Filet Minon two nights (thanks to Deo). My daughter wanted more filet minon one night when it wasn't on the menu. Deo brought it to all of us that night as it was our choice as well. We asked for baked potatoes several nights and he started bringing them from memory. He would bring a plate of chips or french fries for the kids as well. Like I said he was happy to serve us whatever we wanted. My daughter thought it was great that room service was free. We ordered that several times especially for breakfast. It was nice to have breakfast in bead or out on the balcony. If you order room service, you have to get the chocolate cake!!! My son loved the 24 hour Pizza. My daughter also loved the 24 hour ice cream. One day she had ice cream at least 6 times!! It was nice when by the pool to cool down with a cone of chocolate ice cream - YUM. The pools seemed to be a little crowded a lot of the time. Of course, port days is a good time to go swimming as a lot of people aren't even on the boat. The pool on the lido deck forward was usually the one that was least crowded as there was no band or food right by the pool. Of course, you could still hear music and it was only a short walk to the food. Carnival issues beach towels to each guest. They swap these out anytime they see them in your cabin as they have been used. The only problem is that if you lose one, you are charged $22 unless you report it to the purser's desk. We had two stolen by the pool one day. Everyone has towels that look just alike so I think it was just a mistake but I was glad to know that since we reported it we didn't have to pay the fee. WHEW! Horatio's restaurant was great for casual dining. There was a good variety. It took a minute to get acquainted with all that they had as it was in stations but after that, it was great as it made for shorter lines as people were in more than one line. We loved the breakfast there. My husband had an omelet each morning made especially for him. The entertainment was good. The first night the comic was the best. The second night was good as well but we didn't care for the one the third night near as well. We still went to all of the shows anyway though. We also liked the adult comedy shows at 11 or 12 each night. Several nights they only have one show so go early as it gets really crowded and you might not be able to sit together if you have several people. The other nights, the late seating dinner people have their show at 7pm. The early seating have their show at 8 something. That works well. You need to look over your Carnival Caper each day and highlight all that you want to do. Believe me, you will be having such a good time that you can't make it to all that you want to or you are relaxing and decide to skip a few things. We loved the Newlywed Game, Family Feud, Towel folding demo, hairy chest contest, etc. Also pay attention to the times for trivia on your TV where you call in your answer for a chance at a prize. They video tape all of the events, some excursions, and other general goings-on throughout the cruise and you can purchase a copy. If you get involved, you are bound to be on there several times. The photos that they take are pretty good but pricey. An 8X10 is $20. We easily spent over $100 for just a few shots. Oh well - it is a good keepsake. The "Super Shopper" Robert is wonderful. If you plan to do any shopping at all, you have to go to his talks. He tells you where all of the deals are, how much you should negotiate, gives our coupons, maps, and free items at these talks. You will be glad you went and will probably go each day before you go out to a port. They also replay his talks on the TV in your room if you just can't make it to the talk in person. He also has a station on the 2nd floor where you can stop by and ask personal shopping questions or just pick up info for the ports. We didn't make it to any of the midnight buffets so no comment other than I heard several people talk about how good they were. We also missed the bathrobe party. I hated that but I was feeling a little seasick that night. I had two nights that I didn't do that well. I was wearing the patch but the seas were a little rough. It usually got me during dinner when we were at the back of the boat. Nothing too bad - I kept going but I just couldn't make it past midnight too much. Ports: Grand Cayman - My husband LOVES to shop so we spent a lot of time shopping with him. He loves collecting Hard Rock shirts and had to get one there. He was also looking for a new watch that Robert told him about that reduces stress. We looked at several stores for just the right one. We took a local taxi to 7 mile beach. This was great. The water was so clear that you could see your feet! That doesn't happen on the east coast so we were so amazed. We had a great time. Cozumel - We shopped the whole day. We took a taxi to the Forum shops and shopped our way back almost to the pier. We did walk across the street to put our feet in the ocean but didn't really swim as it wasn't a pretty beach at this particular place. Several of the shops give away items to get you in the door. We got 4 pair of free earrings and free drinks by some of these vendors. It was warm so the free drinks were nice. Several stores gave out bottled water and sodas in cans. Belize - We did a little shopping in the tourist village at the pier. You can go through the vacant jewelry store to go out back to visit with the locals. My daughter got her hair braided. The locals were so nice. We also negotiated with a local to get a tour of Belize City. It was so informative. He took us to see where the rich live (not that there are any rich by US standards), where the poor live, the main businesses, special sites, etc. He was great. He did the tour for $20 for all four of us. The excursion people in the village wanted $30 / person for a very similar tour (in a much larger group). If you want to go on this personal tour, ask for Anthony and tell him Jimmy and Cheryl said hi. They also have a lot of hand made items for sale. Of course, they ask you a thousand times to come look at their wares but they all mean well. This was my favorite port and I love history and feel that we got to see more of the actual location than in the other ports where we saw what they wanted the tourist to see. Costa Maya - this was the favorite for both of our kids. Mainly because we swam most of the day. The pool in the tourist section is huge. They had another pool closer to shore as well. You can't swim in the ocean at this place. You have to rent a taxi to go to the beach. We had such a great time here that we didn't make it to the beach. You have to go out by the shore though and try the hammocks. I could have taken a nap!! We decided to let our daughter pick up a local item with her money. She learned well the art of negotiation. She is 8 years old. She picked out a clay, hand painted turtle where its head bobs. They started out at $10. After walking away twice, she got it for $3. She had seen us negotiate at the other ports and learned well. My son (age 13) and husband picked up two pair of Oakley sunglasses for $47. They started at $35 each so that was pretty good negotiating as well. We had to take a tender boat to all ports except for the last one at Costa Maya where we were able to dock. The tender boats were a lot better than our prior experience with another cruise line. Most of them were air conditioned and quick. The one at Belize was open but it was fun as it was a speed boat and you could sit on the back and watch the wake that it made. The kids loved this until they discovered that the water comes over the back and their seat was wet. Oh well. I could go on and on about how much fun we had. We also had a lot of time to just relax as well. There were a lot of activities that we were able to do as a family which was nice to create memories together. We participated anytime we were picked at the shows, etc. We got to demonstrate how to make a towel elephant. We were also picked for the family feud show. Get involved - it was a blast. The decoration of the ship was a little gaudy but unless you are going for the decor, it didn't really matter. Yes, the grapes in the dining room are ugly. Even the crew will tell you that. My daughter was a little uncomfortable with all of the nudity on the ship with the art. We tried to explain that in some countries it is really considered art but at her young age she didn't really understand. That is the only change that I would suggest especially for the young ones. Otherwise, it wasn't a problem. Oh yeah, they give out decks of cards with Carnival on them if you just go ask at the purser's desk. We didn't know for a few days but then someone was nice enough to let us in on it so the kids played cards a lot after that. If anyone has any questions and wanted to email me - cpacheryl@cox.net - I will be glad to try to help. If you are already booked on Miracle - happy sailing. I know you will have a blast!! Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Embarkation was easy. The people who were legally in charge of my friend and I couldn't go a few days before so we had to switch things around but it was fast and easy. We got there around 11:15 and were on the ship by 12 or 12:30. We ... Read More
Embarkation was easy. The people who were legally in charge of my friend and I couldn't go a few days before so we had to switch things around but it was fast and easy. We got there around 11:15 and were on the ship by 12 or 12:30. We explored the ship and got into our room and watched as we went under the bridge. The food was ok. I'm really picky so I tried new things and liked some of them. The dining room's decor was interesting. The lights looked like mentos and there were black lights. Some nights we went to the shows and almost always went to the adult comedy. The shows were good. The hypnotist was great! The casino was fun but it was always really cold in there. Ports: It wasn't too bad to tender into three of the four ports except the one to Belize was really long and I wouldn't get off the ship unless you had an excursion. We did the kayaking and had so much fun! The turtle farm in Grand Cayman was fun. We had a lot of fun at Costa Maya in the pool at the port. Getting off the ship was really sad. The line moved fast and we were done in less than an hour. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
This was my seventh cruise, my wife's fourth and my three year olds' first. All have been with Carnival. I have to say that this was by far the best cruise either of us has been on. We ran into the tail end of Tropical Storm ... Read More
This was my seventh cruise, my wife's fourth and my three year olds' first. All have been with Carnival. I have to say that this was by far the best cruise either of us has been on. We ran into the tail end of Tropical Storm Alberto on our last day at sea and that made for quite a ride, but the Captain did an excellent job with what he had. Pre-Cruise We flew in from Chattanooga the day before the cruise on Saturday and stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott just down the street from the cruise terminal. My wife's mom and step-dad joined us on the cruise and drove from Chattanooga instead of flying with us. They left three hours earlier then us and made it to the hotel to check in and still had time to come to the airport and pick us up. I will really consider driving next time we leave from this port. Once we arrived at the port we drove right up under the cover and unloaded the bags. They have valet parking at 12.00 per day instead of the self-park at 10.00 per day. When you return you walk across the street and your car is waiting at the exit of the elevator on your floor. Very nice!!! Embarkation This was one of the easiest embarkations I have come across. They let us in from outside around 10:30 that morning and we were waiting for our group to be called by 11:00. There is plenty of seating inside and you do not have to wait out in the heat very long at all. At approximately 12:00 pm our group was being called and we were taking our first of many pictures at check-in. Rooms were not available until after 1:30pm so we headed to the Lido deck on Deck 9 for hamburgers and hotdogs and our first Fun-Ship drink of the day. Ship In my humble opinion the Carnival Destiny is one of the most glamorous ships in the Carnival fleet. That said, the Carnival Miracle was a close second. The ship was very easy to maneuver and I quickly learned the lay of the land within the first day. I was a little apprehensive about having only one dining room with so many people, but it was handled quite nicely. I especially liked the way the Gatsby's Garden circles the lounge in the front of the ship. It was nice to be able to bypass the lounge on the same floor and make it to Camp Carnival rather then changing multiple floors by elevator. I have read many complaints about this ship's dEcor, but let me assure you, unless you are snobby and only used to First-Class service you will enjoy the different feelings of the ship. Crew By far, by far, by far (do you get the point) the crew on this ship were the best of any I have ever had the privilege of meeting, except for the Head Waiter but that comes later. Each person I walked by was friendly and smiled while offering their best broken hello. Our room steward was the best, hey there Valentyne. He came to us on the first day of sailing while we were unpacking and introduced himself and unlocked the mini-bar. After that we saw him in the hall a few times, but he always managed to get in to our rooms while we were out and have them ship-shape upon our return. This is also the first time I have pointed out a Captain, but the Captain on this ship was outstanding. As I mentioned in my opening sentences we ran into the tail end of this season's first tropical storm on the last sea day. The seas were ranging from 12 - 20 feet and the Captain did an outstanding job of getting us out and around the worst of it. Outstanding job Captain Capisti!!!! What can I say about the Cruise Director Mark, but you need to hang up your hat. Your jokes are old and the two different shoes thing is not funny. He is a nice enough guy, but I have had better CDs. There is a saying around cruise ships that a ship gets its own personality when it is built which follows each crewmember down the line. This one was definitely one of the best. Room We booked a balcony guarantee as always on ships that offer a balcony. We have always had the benefit of being upgraded all the way to the top. Our room was 8162 which was on Deck 8 and a little forward of midship on the port side. It was an extended balcony, but the room was pretty typical of balcony rooms on the other ships. Dining Room As mentioned earlier this ship has one dining room separated into two levels. It has two seatings, one at 5:30 pm and the other at 8:15pm. We always choose the late seating as that gives us time to get ready for dinner after taking naps or visiting the islands. I cannot even remember the name of our headwaiter, as he was so rude. We ordered a bottle of wine for the table and it sat there unopened for 15 minutes. Finally the bar waiter came and asked if he could get us anything and we said yeah, a corkscrew. He quickly gathered the corkscrew and began to open the bottle. Once our waiter saw this he immediately came to the table and began to take the bottle out of his hand and scoff at him for trying to help. There went his tip and this was just the first night. Now, our asst-waiter, Putra, was the greatest. He was always cheerful and was great with our three-year old son. He had a kid's menu waiting on the table each night with crayons and a Roy Rogers waiting on him. My wife and mother in-law danced many times each night with Putra because he made dinner so enjoyable. Food Once again, probably some of the best food I have had on any Carnival ship. The entrEes each night were cooked perfectly and the appetizers were outstanding. I had steak and something else each night, as I love steak but wanted to try other things as well. Not only was the food in the dining room outstanding but also on the lido deck as well and in Horatio's. There is a sushi bar open on deck 2 each day at 5pm. Something different each day as well. We ordered room service quite often as our son wanted to go to Camp Carnival while we were at dinner some nights so he got a PB+J for dinner. We also ordered breakfast to the room each morning other then days at sea. The breakfast in the dining room was ok. It was the normal fare, but always tasted fresh and hot. Camp Carnival Before you read much about this please understand that taking my three-year old son on a cruise was probably not the best idea. He was just a few years to young. Anyway, Camp Carnival kept my wife and me from throwing him overboard after the first night (JK law enforcement). Tatyana (sp?) was his camp director. I think my son fell in love right away. They had so many activities for the kids and I never worried about what was going on with him. They also gave us cell phones that would work on the ship in case they needed us to come get our son. Very convenient and all of this was free. Imagine that!!! Ports This cruise stops at Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Belize. We are not big on shore excursions as we enjoy doing our own thing on the islands. Grand Cayman We did, however, do the Stingray and Hell City tour in Grand Cayman, outstanding for everyone!! They take you on a bus tour of the island and then to the City of Hell. All that you see is some old coral and the Hell post office. It was neat, but you don't need to spend too much time there. Once you are done with the photo op you head off to the boat. They take you on a 20-30 ride to the Stingray Sandbar. There are quite a few boats there with other snorkelers, but it is not too bad. Once on the sandbar you stand in waist-deep water and are given little pieces of squid to hold in your hand. The stingray come right up to you and suck the food right out of your hand. The tour guide will grab a stingray and let you hold it in your arms to take pictures. Even my three-year old had a good time on this trip. Cozumel What can I say about Cozumel other then it is a party city. We got off the boat on a tender due to such ferocious hurricane damage to the piers. The in-laws took our son on the submarine ride and they talked about how bad the piers looked under water. There were blocks of concrete weighing more then a car laying about 30 feet under water. I was amazed at how much damage the storms really did. As far as the city, though, they have done a good job of rebuilding. The ship usually drops you off a few miles from downtown so you need to skip all the tourist shops and go straight to the taxi stands. You can get a taxi for around $6-$10 (u.s.) for a trip to downtown. There is one stop you must make and that is to Carlos and Charlie's. It does not matter your age as there is something for all ages. And don't be afraid to skip the main eateries and go to a restaurant behind the main drag. The food is usually cheaper and tastes better. And don't forget the Cuban cigars. Don't be afraid to bargain on the prices. Most everything in Cozumel can be bargained for. Costa Maya The in-laws were the only ones that did an excursion in Costa Maya. They took a two hour bus ride to see the ruins. I have seen ruins before and as they say, when you've seen one run, you've seen em all. Costa Maya has an excellent little tourist stop at the end of the pier. There are restaurants, shops, bars and a huge pool with levels for all ages. We spent the entire day sitting at a table by the pool sipping cocktails while our son swam right next to us. Belize Most posts I read about complain about Belize and their being nothing to do outside of the gated tourist area. Yes, Belize has great river tubing, but there is more to Belize then that. If you are in a group, go outside the gates behind the tourist traps and see the real city. They have a pirate museum that you won't see anywhere else. Belize prides itself on being founded by pirates and there is even rumor that the country was built upon rum bottles. They also mine a green jewel, but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was called. There is a restaurant that you can only get to if you go outside the gates at the end of the drop off. They specialize in fresh Conch Fritters and lobster dishes. The price is very cheap and you will enjoy it. Belize also has some of the best local beer I have ever had. So don't be afraid to venture outside the walls. I probably would not go too far, but just beyond the walls and you will be just fine. Just learn to say no thanks. Debarkation Carnival has a new way of debarking passengers, they say ok, we're here not get off. Well not quite so hash, but if you carry your own luggage then you can up and leave once you are cleared from customs. If you have ever traveled with a wife like mine then you know that without a forklift there is no way the luggage coming off the boat. So we went down and waited in the lounge for the all clear to be given and walked right off the boat. Went to customs to pick up our luggage and he carried all the way across the street to our car and loaded it for us. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
This was our 2nd cruise on Carnival and honestly I'm not sure I'm willing to pay more money to find out if there is any difference with the other cruiselines.....We have had 2 wonderful cruises on Carnival. We cruised out of ... Read More
This was our 2nd cruise on Carnival and honestly I'm not sure I'm willing to pay more money to find out if there is any difference with the other cruiselines.....We have had 2 wonderful cruises on Carnival. We cruised out of Tampa this time and embarkation was a breeze. We did get to the terminal at 10:30am which might have helped. We were on the boat by 12. First we checked out the boat a little...beautiful and clean and NEW (our last cruise was on the Fascination-much older ship). The Miracle is a great ship...We then headed to the Lido Deck for some lunch and just relaxed till our room was ready (1:30pm). We had our fist balcony room on the Verandah deck. Really enjoyed that. That 1st day we checked to make sure we had the table for 2 in the DR which we requested and found out we did. We unpacked and enjoyed our balcony a little (which we didn't have on the Fascination). I agree it will be hard to go back to an oceanview (never an inside room) after having a balcony room. I understand it also depends on the "cruisers" shiplifestyle as to whether a balcony price is worth it...but I thought it was. We made sure we were up on deck to see the ship go under the Sunshine Bridge and they are right...it really does look like it comes awful close to hitting but of course its not as close as it looks. We checked out the buffets for dinner instead of the DR this night and were happy with the selections and quality. My boyfriend likes buffet style eating while I opt for the full service DR so we compromise and do a little of each...breakfast as well as dinners. The only thing we have a problem with is the dining room dinner times. On our last cruise we picked the early seating since that was closest to when we ate at home..but found that interfered a lot with the amount of time we had in the ports in order to get back and showered and dressed in time for dinner. So this time we picked the late seating (8:15) and although I had no problems with it, he seemed to think it was much too late to eat dinner and we ended up missing some nighttime activities cause we were just too full and tired at 10 or so when we finished dinner. (A 6:30 or 7pm dinner would be perfect but guess that's not happening unless we choose not to eat in the DR). 2nd day: Sea Day- we just enjoyed the food, pools, music, etc and had a great day. Never had any problems (even on these sea days) finding chairs by the pools. The music was fun by the main pool, but too many kids so we opted for the adults only pool in the back. This was the 1st formal night which I was not missing (lobster tails). We ordered 2 each and they were excellent as was the rest of the meal. 3rd day: Grand Cayman- We had decided we would just take a taxi to 7mile beach, we chose Sea Grape beach after reading these boards. It was nice...small and close to the road but the water was absolutely gorgeous and warm. We had a brief storm for about a 1/2 hour but then it was gone and the sun was out again. We walked a little around the town and shopped too. Very touristy. 4th day: Cozumel- I had heard such wonderful things from people who had been here before the hurricane and wasn't sure what to expect now.. It was sad to see all the damage that had been done. We decided to shop a little and then take a taxi to Paradise Beach. I loved it there. chairs and umbrellas and entrance free...but they do expect you spend some $ on food/drinks. We just ordered a couple of beers and some nachos ($14) and the day was great. We did have a lot of clouds that day but no rain. The water here was not as beautiful as I expected but not sure if the weather had anything to do with that. 5th day: Belize- here we opted for a Carnival Excursion cause I was nervous about doing a tour on shore with another company...I'm a little paranoid and didn't want any chance of us missing the ship. We paid A LOT for a city tour and trip to the Belize Zoo...we both love animals and wanted to see the native animals in their natural habitats which we did but it was SOOOO HOT and humid and buggy that it took away from the enjoyment. I wouldn't do that again if we go back there. I know everyone else raves about the cavetubing and maybe that's what we'd do next time. 6th day: Costa Maya- I loved that we didn't have to tender here (although tendering wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined). You walk right into the Cruiseline built tourist area which I thought was nice. (colorful, new-only around 4 yrs, had music and entertainment, a pool with bar...We shopped a little (they were a little pushy here to get you to go into their stores and buy-but if you just say No thanks and ignore them, they'll leave you alone) and then took a taxi to Mahajual as the boards recommended. It was like an outdoor flea market and again the people very pushy. We walked a little and then found a beach and enjoyed the water a little before heading back...not sure if there were other beach areas, but this beach area we were at was not the beautiful beaches like cayman and Cozumel. A lot of rocks, not very blue, a little dirty..(but maybe we were just in a bad beach area). We enjoyed the food and drinks there ($2 coronas) and had a nice day. This was the 2nd formal night and we went for the Prime Rib which was perfect and delicious. 7th day: Sea Day- We again just tried to enjoy our balcony (ordered room service and ate on the balcony-something we wanted to have done more but only did this once) The boat was really rocking hard..(due to Tropical Storm Alberto and winds were up to 55mph) people were sick and it was hard to walk down the hall without holding on. This lasted from Friday eve to Sat afternoon. It was sad knowing this was our last day but we enjoyed every moment of it. SHOWS: We saw the Hypnotist, which was funny, but not sure I believe they were really hypnotized. We saw "Ticket to Ride" Beatles show which was great!!! We also went to the balancing act/comedian which was just ok. Enjoyed one of the nighttime deck parties which was fun too. ROOM: We love Carnival rooms...They are a nice size and this boat being new is beautiful...Plenty of storage in room and bathroom. Like the extras like the basket of goodies, use of thick terry robe, thick beach towels to use, service to rooms 2x each day, even the little things like shampoo/body wash in shower, handheld shower massage, line in shower to dry clothes were definite plusses. And the beds...can't say enough about them...(better than what I sleep on at home) Beds/pillows are so comfortable...aaaahhhh!!! Also loved that you could see the menus for the DR on the TV in your room. FOOD: The Dining room menus/food were good. Always a lot of choices and never had any complaints with quality. (service at night was a bit slow though) The 24 hr pizza came in handy and although it's not the best pizza, it was fine. The 24hr Ice cream was well enjoyed too. The deli we only went to once and that was to pack sandwiches for the flight home which were good also. The other hot buffets were good and had a variety..seemed they had pretty much some of the same items from the dining room menu but added some extras too. (of course they didn't have ALL the choices for the main meal but they had a couple of them.) The breakfast buffet was great but on 2 occasions I just hit it at a time they were out of something I wanted and had to stand around a bit waiting. We took advantage of the sushi bar almost every day which was nice...enjoying sushi while looking out over the open seas (one day we saw a group of 4 dolphins following along side the boat.) SERVICE: Our room steward was great (except we had to ask 2x in the beginning for her to unlock the refrig so we could put our waters we brought in there. But other than that she was great. Room was cleaned 2x a day and never ran out of anything. Always made sure we had ice also which was nice since we brought wine with us for the room. Our waiter in the DR for dinner was another story..not bad, but definitely not one of their best. We always seemed to get our food last (compared to others around us), he was never around when we needed him for something, and mostly, he just never smiled. We didn't eat dinner in the DR every night so we just lived with it but I'm sure we could've changed tables/waiters if we asked. I thought the DR decor was a bit much but not enough to ruin your dinner or anything..besides after the 1st day I think we got used to it. All the other service people on the ship were great and friendly and helpful. The cruise director Mark was really funny...Even made the debarkation talk fun to sit through. Enjoyed the music in Frankie and Johnny's lounge on 2 nights and heard the Piano bar was good too. Not big gamblers but did spend a little time in the Casino...honestly, probably would've spent more time there had there not been so much smoke. Overall, we had a wonderful time and would recommend the Miracle to anyone who asks. We will definitely cruise again with Carnival and probably lean towards newer ships like the Miracle...Can't wait to do it again!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Carnival really outdid themselves with this one. This is my third cruise and I was extremely impressed with the Miracle. Previous sailings were on Princess and Holland America. Service was exceptional, the ship dEcor was extremely fun (we ... Read More
Carnival really outdid themselves with this one. This is my third cruise and I was extremely impressed with the Miracle. Previous sailings were on Princess and Holland America. Service was exceptional, the ship dEcor was extremely fun (we were in constant awe) and impeccably clean. The food was fabulous. If I had to find something wrong - the only thing I could come up with is that there was not a lot of things for the teens to do after 10:30 p.m.  that might sound late but on a cruise ship that is the middle of the evening. We traveled with a group of 20 people (6 families total  12 adults and 7 teenagers (ages 13-17)  I put this cruise together to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. Carnival was more than accommodating  they made you feel like you were their only guest. Embarkation - They say 1:30 to 3:30 is embarkation. When I called Carnival they indicated sometimes they let people on at 12:00. Therefore, we arrived at embarkation right at 12:00 noon  we basically walked right up to the counter to register. After registration you were then assigned a number and had to sit and wait till you number was called. Within 15 minutes our number was called and we boarded the ship by 12:30. Rooms were not ready yet but the Lido deck and the bars were open. The room was ready by 3:00 p.m. as promised. Room  We had two adults and two children in our room. We got a balcony room  very nice. Very cozy, extremely clean and set up very efficiently. Of course, they are small but how often are you in the room?. We had a queen size bed and a twin bed that dropped from the ceiling and the couch that turned into a twin size bed. There are no alarm clocks - we used room service for our wake up call on island days. Suitcases fit perfectly under the bed. Beds and pillows are extremely comfortable  we slept like babies. Towels are nice and thick. Our room steward was excellent  we never saw him but he always knew when we werent there and he did what he needed to do. Every afternoon  he brought us ice in our ice bucket. Beds were always made. Every night he left us a treat as well as an animal on our bed made out of towels. There is a safe in your room that is activated by using your credit card (no charge)  I felt very comfortable storing all of our money in there as well as jewelry. Drinks - My husband and I packed two bottles of whiskey plus a bottle of asti spumante along with a 12 pack of pop (for our whiskey), 6 pack of bottled water as well as our Hazelnut cream for our coffee. Upon arrival to our room  we told our room steward we were removing their cans of pop and beer from the refrigerator (which we stuck in our suitcases) and put in our pop and coffee cream in the fridge. Upon departure we took everything back out of our suitcase and put it back in the fridge. Actually we saved a ton of money making our own drinks. Every day they had a special foo-foo drink. We would buy these when were by the pool and have them with dinner. But when it was time to go out to the clubs we would make our drinks in our room and bring them to the clubs in the evening. When we needed a refill, one of us would just run up and refill our glasses. Food  They sell a pop card but pretty pricey  I think it was $40 some dollars for one person for the week. There is free fruit punch, lemonade, water, tea and coffee all day. This is what my children drank plus we did bring a 12 pack of pop with. Food on the Lido deck was very good. Room service was not quite as good (very limited) but it worked great to get our coffee and we used this as our wake up call. Food in the dining room was excellent  if you want more of it  just ask. One of my girlfriends ate 3 lobsters  the other ate 5 shrimp cocktails the first formal night. My husband enjoyed double main entrees almost every night. Originally we were set up with 6 tables for each family  we did it this way the first night but after that our waiter set it up that the teenage boys sat at one table and the teenage girls at another table and then he merged the other four tables together and all of us adults sat together. A win-win situation. One other good point  our dinner seating was at 8:15 and right before dinner everyone lines up to get in  the line is an ½ mile long. We waited till about 8:20 and walked right in every time. We never ate at Nick and Noras ($30 up charge per person) however; everyone that did said it was excellent  it looked that way too. Outside of McGuires bar  they have a sushi bar set up from 5-8:00 pm. Never ate sushi in my life but tried it here. It was extremely good  no raw fish, everything was cooked. I was a regular after visiting that the first night. They had pizza and ice cream  24/7. Both were pretty good. Midnight buffet was o.k.  go late as the line is not so long. Really fancy food  the presentation is wonderful and it is a sight to see. We had 8:15 dinner and we were still full from that. The night they had the bathrobe party  they put out a nice spread of food as well. Vow Renewal - We renewed our vows on the ship. I did not book it through the ship and have the captain do it  thought it was over priced, didnt want all the foo-foo stuff that went along with it and did not like the idea of renewing our vows in a bar. We decided to do our own thing. I wanted to renew the vows on the observation deck as the sun was setting. I sent out invitations based on this but upon arrival at the ship found out that there was not an elevator up to there and had my mother in law in a wheel chair and she could not get up there. I went to the office then and talked to Carnival. Amanda in the office then suggested the chapel  it was perfect. They let me use that at no charge. The chapel is small and beautiful. My daughter made a CD with Caribbean love songs on it  so we played that music in the background. My mother in law acted as the celebrant  we had two friends each read a poem that was originally read at our wedding and my husband and I each wrote our own vows. It was beautiful. Before I left on the cruise, I set it up with Carnival to have a 1 ½ hour open bar and hors d'oeuvres party in Sams piano bar. They set it up beautifully. I brought a banner from home that my sign painter made and they hung it for me. My daughter again made another CD of fun music and they played that for me. They closed the piano bar and made it a private function. They set it up with two bartenders for 20 people (we all drank a lot  the kids enjoyed their virgin coladas and the adults drank their alcoholic drinks as fast as they could). The presentation of the hors d'oeuvres was beautiful and those hors d'oeuvres trays were never empty. They then had two people taking care of those as well. I cant believe they had four people working at our party when we only had 19 people total (12 adults and 7 children). They charged me $25 per adult and $19 per child  thought that was pretty reasonable. Phone calls are extremely expensive from the boat  your phone cards do not work here. Even internet access is pretty pricey. I believe it was $4.75 to register and .45 cents per minute after that. I typed really fast. There are phone booths at every port  phone cards do not always work well here though. We got an international calling card but I believe it has more to do with the phone booth itself and that is why it did not work. We found an internet cafe in Cozumel (tons of them) and paid 50 cents a minute to call home. It worked out just fine. Clothes  We always bring too much. Basically during the day youre in your bathing suit. I brought three pair of shorts and only wore one pair. Everyday but two were beach days  our trip to Belize and shopping in Cozumel. Need two dressy outfits for the formal and semiformal nights. The rest of the time wore capris and sleeveless shirt. I did bring a sweater in the event I got cold but never used it. Casino  This was the only chilly place. We are not gamblers  just walked through and would stop to visit our friends if they were gambling. I never saw anyone hit it big. Tables were a minimum of $5 bets  however the first night they set it up as $3 bets. Fitness Club  This was a beautiful set up  state of the art equipment and a lot of them - however it was always crowded. We went at about 7:30 the first morning and there were lines for the machines. We decided we would wait in lines for food but not to work out. We did go back around 4:00 in the afternoon  it was still crowded but no lines. The Fitness Club is on the 10th floor and at the front of the ship. The view is spectacular  windows on three sides for you to look over the ocean. Night Life  Shows were o.k. however the tribute to the Beatles was pretty good. Didnt really care for the hypnotist or some of the comedy shows. The Filipino band in Frankie and Johnnies was extremely good. They played a lot of '60-'70s music  however they usually quit around 11:30-12:00. Frankenstein's (another club) was really geared for a much younger crowd. We stayed there one night till about 2:00 but never got out on the dance floor  just watched and went OMG - first time I ever saw the squeeze dance. We always attended the Carnival parties that they set up  the bathrobe party, etc.  they were always a lot of fun and usually had fun drinks and more food to eat (just what we needed). Miscellaneous  Every floor has laundry facilities. Pricey - $2.50 per load but it sure was nice to wash those work-out clothes and anything that was in the sea water. Those really start to smell. I recommend bringing some laundry detergent to at least hand wash your bathing suits in the sink. We dried them on the balcony or hung them in the shower. Remember to bring original birth certificates or your passports. If you only have birth certificates you will need to bring your marriage license if your birth name is different than your married name. Carnival has things very organized  we never really waited in any lines and everything ran smoothly. Always a Carnival representative somewhere to make sure things are going smoothly. I recommend walkie talkies for the kids. The sad thing is everyone else thought of the same idea so the channels were pretty busy. We did sign the kids up for Kids Carnival but they never did anything with them. Most of the things were for younger kids (our kids were between 13-17)  I think the teenagers felt they were too cool for most of that stuff. I recommend to bring an insulted water bottle of sorts. When sitting by the pool  you can fill this up with water or lemonade and keep it cooler longer than the glasses do from the Lido deck. Ports of Call - This was my first time in the Western Caribbean  I was slightly disappointed because it was not nearly as pretty as the eastern Caribbean. However, I believe most of it was because two of the islands were devastated from the hurricanes last year so a lot of the vegetation was gone. Based on that it is not a fair analyses. We use our credit card a lot  remember when you are at these ports of call the monies marked on the credit card slip are in their dollar amounts  make sure you mark the U.S. dollar amount next to it  and mark it U.S. We bought a couple of drinks in Cozumel  the bill read something like $120 which was in pesos  the actual total was $20 in U.S. so we marked it on there to be sure it got charged correctly. There are always taxi cabs at each island  so need to worry about getting around. Grand Cayman  You can still see the remnants of the hurricane  very little vegetation left. The most awesome thing to do is go to stingray city and then snorkeling. We booked through Captain Bryan  his tour guides were excellent and his boat is a beautiful catamaran. The other tour guides loaded as many people as possible on typical fishing boats so going out on a catamaran was wonderful. We had a beautiful sail out to the stops and back to land. The guides showed us how to handle the stingrays, feed them and even kiss them. His tour was $35  the same tour on the ship was around $60. He is very familiar with ship policies about getting you back in time. I highly recommend him. One thing we didnt know though was that when Captain Bryan told me what time to meet him  it was on Grand Cayman time not ship time. So we were an hourly early but that was o.k. There were 96 people that did not make it to the ship when it set sail at 4:00 pm  they based their time on Grand Cayman time not ship time. Glad our mistake was the other way around. Cozumel  You can still see the remnants of the hurricane  very little vegetation left here as well. Im sure at one time it was a beautiful island  not so pretty anymore. We spent the day shopping  but some of our group went to the beach at Playa de Carmen and they loved it. I believe they paid something like $12 a person admission but there were tons of water things to do. You could then pay $25 and drink as much as you want. Shopping is good  you can wheel and deal. Never pay the price they have it marked as. We generally got it down between 25-50% of the price shown. Belize  My daughter and I took the tour from the ship to go up the Belize River to the Maya Ruins. The Maya Ruins were really neat to see  the trip up the River was o.k. It is extremely hot and the boat had no canopy. Bring bug spray. My husband and older daughter were going to do the Lost Canopy Tour but it got cancelled the night before due to heavy rains. They then did a 3.5 hour snorkeling trip. They enjoyed it. Weve done a lot of snorkeling and in all honest 3.5 hour is not long enough. Costa Maya  No need to book any tours through the ship. All the same tours at lesser expensive prices can be booked right off the dock. This spot is fabulous, probably one of my favorite  we traveled with in-laws and they were not getting off at the islands due to wheel chair situation but this was a fantastic spot for them. The boat docks right at a pier and you can go right out to the shops, the beach or they even have a pool right there. My recommendation is to take the cab and go to Mahajaul. The beaches there are just as fantastic but less crowded and the shopping is great  they will really wheel and deal. We had rented jet skis from some gentleman across from the restaurant. He then set up with a beautiful spot with tables and chairs underneath the palms right on the beach. Server kept coming around for drink orders. We then ordered lunch from the restaurant and the food was excellent. The spot was perfect as you can run out to the water for a while and come back  when I tired of beaching it  I put my shirt and shoes on and walked to the shops which were right behind me. Great place to get massages too - $20 for 30 minutes. These guys are good. There were tons of cabs to take you back to the dock (which is only 10 minutes away). Debarkation - Was a piece of cake. Our flight was leaving at 11:30 so we elected to carry off our own luggage so we can get off early. Figured we carried it through the airport we could carry it off the ship. They called us then about 7:45  went through customs and was out of the ship by about 8:00. We had pre-arranged with a limo (big van) to pick up our whole group  average price from ship to airport is $7.00. Lots of taxi cabs there to take you  no need to book ahead of time. It was sad to see it end  I think this is one of the first times that we were away that I really wasnt ready to come home. We even started our trip two days prior to the cruise by staying at the Marriott Waterside in Tampa so we had been gone for 10 days. Well, hope you enjoy The Miracle as much as we did  we truly did find this ship to be a miracle. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
This was my seventh cruise, my wife's fourth and my three year olds' first. All have been with Carnival. I have to say that this was by far the best cruise either of us has been on. We ran into the tail end of Tropical Storm ... Read More
This was my seventh cruise, my wife's fourth and my three year olds' first. All have been with Carnival. I have to say that this was by far the best cruise either of us has been on. We ran into the tail end of Tropical Storm Alberto on our last day at sea and that made for quite a ride, but the Captain did an excellent job with what he had. Pre-Cruise We flew in from Chattanooga the day before the cruise on Saturday and stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott just down the street from the cruise terminal. My wife's mom and step-dad joined us on the cruise and drove from Chattanooga instead of flying with us. They left three hours earlier then us and made it to the hotel to check in and still had time to come to the airport and pick us up. I will really consider driving next time we leave from this port. Once we arrived at the port we drove right up under the cover and unloaded the bags. They have valet parking at 12.00 per day instead of the self-park at 10.00 per day. When you return you walk across the street and your car is waiting at the exit of the elevator on your floor. Very nice!!! Embarkation This was one of the easiest embarkation I have come across. They let us in from outside around 10:30 that morning and we were waiting for our group to be called by 11:00. There is plenty of seating inside and you do not have to wait out in the heat very long at all. At approximately 12:00 pm our group was being called and we were taking our first of many pictures at check-in. Rooms were not available until after 1:30pm so we headed to the Lido deck on Deck 9 for hamburgers and hotdogs and our first Fun-Ship drink of the day. Ship In my humble opinion the Carnival Destiny is one of the most glamorous ships in the Carnival fleet. That said, the Carnival Miracle was a close second. The ship was very easy to maneuver and I quickly learned the lay of the land within the first day. I was a little apprehensive about having only one dining room with so many people, but it was handled quite nicely. I especially liked the way the Gatsby's Garden circles the lounge in the front of the ship. It was nice to be able to bypass the lounge on the same floor and make it to Camp Carnival rather then changing multiple floors by elevator. I have read many complaints about this ship's dEcor, but let me assure you, unless you are snobby and only used to First-Class service you will enjoy the different feelings of the ship. Crew By far, by far, by far (do you get the point) the crew on this ship were the best of any I have ever had the privilege of meeting, except for the Head Waiter but that comes later. Each person I walked by was friendly and smiled while offering their best broken hello. Our room steward was the best, hey there Valentyne. He came to us on the first day of sailing while we were unpacking and introduced himself and unlocked the mini-bar. After that we saw him in the hall a few times, but he always managed to get in to our rooms while we were out and have them ship-shape upon our return. This is also the first time I have pointed out a Captain, but the Captain on this ship was outstanding. As I mentioned in my opening sentences we ran into the tail end of this season's first tropical storm on the last sea day. The seas were ranging from 12 - 20 feet and the Captain did an outstanding job of getting us out and around the worst of it. Outstanding job Captain Capisti!!!! What can I say about the Cruise Director Mark, but you need to hang up your hat. Your jokes are old and the two different shoes thing is not funny. He is a nice enough guy, but I have had better CDs. There is a saying around cruise ships that a ship gets its own personality when it is built which follows each crewmember down the line. This one was definitely one of the best. Room We booked a balcony guarantee as always on ships that offer a balcony. We have always had the benefit of being upgraded all the way to the top. Our room was 8162 which was on Deck 8 and a little forward of midship on the port side. It was an extended balcony, but the room was pretty typical of balcony rooms on the other ships. Dining Room As mentioned earlier this ship has one dining room separated into two levels. It has two seatings, one at 5:30 pm and the other at 8:15pm. We always choose the late seating as that gives us time to get ready for dinner after taking naps or visiting the islands. I cannot even remember the name of our headwaiter, as he was so rude. We ordered a bottle of wine for the table and it sat there unopened for 15 minutes. Finally the bar waiter came and asked if he could get us anything and we said yeah, a corkscrew. He quickly gathered the corkscrew and began to open the bottle. Once our waiter saw this he immediately came to the table and began to take the bottle out of his hand and scoff at him for trying to help. There went his tip and this was just the first night. Now, our asst-waiter, Putra, was the greatest. He was always cheerful and was great with our three-year old son. He had a kid's menu waiting on the table each night with crayons and a Roy Rogers waiting on him. My wife and mother in-law danced many times each night with Putra because he made dinner so enjoyable. Food Once again, probably some of the best food I have had on any Carnival ship. The entrEes each night were cooked perfectly and the appetizers were outstanding. I had steak and something else each night, as I love steak but wanted to try other things as well. Not only was the food in the dining room outstanding but also on the lido deck as well and in Horatio's. There is a sushi bar open on deck 2 each day at 5pm. Something different each day as well. We ordered room service quite often as our son wanted to go to Camp Carnival while we were at dinner some nights so he got a PB+J for dinner. We also ordered breakfast to the room each morning other then days at sea. The breakfast in the dining room was ok. It was the normal fare, but always tasted fresh and hot. Camp Carnival Before you read much about this please understand that taking my three-year old son on a cruise was probably not the best idea. He was just a few years to young. Anyway, Camp Carnival kept my wife and me from throwing him overboard after the first night (JK law enforcement). Tatyana (sp?) was his camp director. I think my son fell in love right away. They had so many activities for the kids and I never worried about what was going on with him. They also gave us cell phones that would work on the ship in case they needed us to come get our son. Very convenient and all of this was free. Imagine that!!! Ports This cruise stops at Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Costa Maya and Belize. We are not big on shore excursions as we enjoy doing our own thing on the islands. Grand Cayman We did, however, do the Stingray and Hell City tour in Grand Cayman, outstanding for everyone!! They take you on a bus tour of the island and then to the City of Hell. All that you see is some old coral and the Hell post office. It was neat, but you don't need to spend too much time there. Once you are done with the photo op you head off to the boat. They take you on a 20-30 ride to the Stingray Sandbar. There are quite a few boats there with other snorkelers, but it is not too bad. Once on the sandbar you stand in waist-deep water and are given little pieces of squid to hold in your hand. The stingray come right up to you and suck the food right out of your hand. The tour guide will grab a stingray and let you hold it in your arms to take pictures. Even my three-year old had a good time on this trip. Cozumel What can I say about Cozumel other then it is a party city. We got off the boat on a tender due to such ferocious hurricane damage to the piers. The in-laws took our son on the submarine ride and they talked about how bad the piers looked under water. There were blocks of concrete weighing more then a car laying about 30 feet under water. I was amazed at how much damage the storms really did. As far as the city, though, they have done a good job of rebuilding. The ship usually drops you off a few miles from downtown so you need to skip all the tourist shops and go straight to the taxi stands. You can get a taxi for around $6-$10 (u.s.) for a trip to downtown. There is one stop you must make and that is to Carlos and Charlie's. It does not matter your age as there is something for all ages. And don't be afraid to skip the main eateries and go to a restaurant behind the main drag. The food is usually cheaper and tastes better. And don't forget the Cuban cigars. Don't be afraid to bargain on the prices. Most everything in Cozumel can be bargained for. Costa Maya The in-laws were the only ones that did an excursion in Costa Maya. They took a two hour bus ride to see the ruins. I have seen ruins before and as they say, when you've seen one run, you've seen em all. Costa Maya has an excellent little tourist stop at the end of the pier. There are restaurants, shops, bars and a huge pool with levels for all ages. We spent the entire day sitting at a table by the pool sipping cocktails while our son swam right next to us. Belize Most posts I read about complain about Belize and their being nothing to do outside of the gated tourist area. Yes, Belize has great river tubing, but there is more to Belize then that. If you are in a group, go outside the gates behind the tourist traps and see the real city. They have a pirate museum that you won't see anywhere else. Belize prides itself on being founded by pirates and there is even rumor that the country was built upon rum bottles. They also mine a green jewel, but for the life of me I cannot remember what it was called. There is a restaurant that you can only get to if you go outside the gates at the end of the drop off. They specialize in fresh Conch Fritters and lobster dishes. The price is very cheap and you will enjoy it. Belize also has some of the best local beer I have ever had. So don't be afraid to venture outside the walls. I probably would not go too far, but just beyond the walls and you will be just fine. Just learn to say no thanks. Debarkation Carnival has a new way of debarking passengers, they say ok, we're here not get off. Well not quite so hash, but if you carry your own luggage then you can up and leave once you are cleared from customs. If you have ever traveled with a wife like mine then you know that without a forklift there is no way the luggage coming off the boat. So we went down and waited in the lounge for the all clear to be given and walked right off the boat. Went to customs to pick up our luggage and he carried all the way across the street to our car and loaded it for us. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
My wife (35) and I (34) spent our honeymoon on the Miracle's 6/18 sailing. It was my wife's 1st cruise and my 10th. (5th on Carnival...I have been on Celebrity, Princess, RCCL, and Costa in the past). We flew to Tampa on ... Read More
My wife (35) and I (34) spent our honeymoon on the Miracle's 6/18 sailing. It was my wife's 1st cruise and my 10th. (5th on Carnival...I have been on Celebrity, Princess, RCCL, and Costa in the past). We flew to Tampa on Saturday night after our wedding and stayed at the Hilton-Airport Westshore in Tampa. I would highly recommend this as they offer a comp airport shuttle, and a shuttle to the pier for $5pp. We took the 1030a shuttle to the pier and embarkation could not have been easier. We were checked in and on the ship having lunch by 1145A. Rooms were not available (in fact the hallways were closed off) until 130P so I recommend going easy on the carry-on baggage if you arrive at the ship earlier than 130P SHIP The Miracle is a typical Carnival ship in that the decor is over-the-top and reminds me of the strip in Las Vegas. If you are looking for an elegant ship, I'd recommend Celebrity. The ship was very easy to get around however and certainly never seemed crowded although it was full with over 2100 people aboard. The atrium is very nice as is Frankie & Johnnys and really the entire ship......just loud in terms of decor. Dr. Frankenstein's Lab (disco) was very accessible and lots of fun. (Teens 15-17 only until 1115P and then over 18 only). STATEROOM Our cabin was in Cat 5A which means it has balcony doors which open but no balcony. The lifeboats are directly outside. The cabin was nice and large as is typical Carnival and very well appointed. Our Cabin Steward did a wonderful job, was very courteous, and always had the cabin in top shape. FOOD I would rate the food as good but not great. We had 2nd seating for dinner on the upper level of the dining room. Everything we ate was good, but with the exception of dessert on the last night (chocolate fudge cake with caramel fudge icing) nothing left me wanting more. Again....good but not great. If you are looking for GREAT cuisine, again I would recommend Celebrity. The food in Horatio's (Lido deck dining) was terrific. The set-up is a bit confusing as there are different stations which force you to walk around and check out each line before you decide what food you want. This does however reduce waiting in line. We never had to wait more than 1 minute to get our food. In particular the ribs and fish dishes were outstanding as was the pizza from the 24-hr pizzeria and the frozen yogurt. SERVICE The Service on the ship was great all around. The dining room staff is very efficient. Our waiter Virgilio from Romania did a great job. I am one that orders multiple appetizers/salads/desserts, etc if they appeal to me,(portions are small) and for the most part he executed my orders flawlessly. ACTIVITIES The Cruise Director and his staff always had lots of energy and got people involved. There were 2 nice deck parties (70'-80's and bathrobes and beer) and lots of games, etc during the day. ENTERTAINMENT There were 2 production shows which were pretty good. In addition, there were 3 comedians, a balancing act, hypnotist, and juggler. I have to say that with the exception of the juggler and balancing act, the entertainment could use some improvement. The comedians had their moments as did the hypnotist (if you believe it's real) but we left early a few nights because we didn't find the shows that entertaining. PORTS GRAND CAYMAN- You tender in Grand Cayman and the tenders were very efficient. You are let off in the middle of the Georgetown shopping district. We opted to take a 2.5 hr city tour which took us around Georgetown, along 7 mile beach and had stops in the town of Hell, the Tortuga rum factory (free samples of the rum cakes and rum) and the turtle farm. A nice excursion to show you the island. I had been in Grand Cayman in the past and would recommend the Stingray City snorkeling excursion as well. COZUMEL- This was my 5th time in Cozumel and it was sad to see all of the Hurricane damage. The pier has been destroyed so we tendered there as well. Again, the tenders were very efficient. We took no excursion here, but did shop at the pier shops and took a taxi ($6ow) into downtown where the shopping is better. Nice place to walk and great bargains to be found. BELIZE- My 1st time in Belize. I found it charming and very unspoiled. Not touristy as well. You tender there as well about 5 miles off shore due to the barrier reef surrounding Belize City. We took the City Tour/Airboat Adventure which lasted 3 hrs. Our guide was very informative and the airboat was much fun. You do however know you are in a poor 3rd world country. I would recommend only venturing outside the pier area with an organized tour. COSTA MAYA- Costa Maya has a beautiful lush setting. They have built a 1st class pier and shopping facility immediately after you get off the ship. The downtown area (Mahuahal) is nothing more than a beach area with a flea market, but again lots of good bargains to be found. No excursion here either, just lots of walking and shopping for us. DISEMBARKATION- Disembarkation was quite easy. All of us with early flights (before 1P) were asked to meet in the Phantom Lounge. They disembark people carrying their own bags 1st, followed by the early flight folks. We met in the lounge at 830a and were off the ship and through Customs by 900a. TIP: DO NOT purchase the OW transfer through Carnival from the Pier to Tampa Airport. Their price is $18 per person. We decided to take our chances and look for a shuttle once off the ship. As soon as you exit the terminal, there is a shuttle van service with many vans waiting that charge $9 per person. SUMMARY We had a truly memorable experience on the Carnival Miracle. My wife is hooked on Cruising now as I am. The ship is easy to get around on and the service is 1st rate. A good cruise experience and certainly a wonderful choice of ship and itinerary for a 1st time cruiser. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
We (family of 3 - 14 y/o son) traveled with another family (of 6) on 6/18 Miracle sailing. We had a great time and was pleasantly surprised by the Carnival experience. Flew into Tampa the evening before and stayed at the Embassy Suites ... Read More
We (family of 3 - 14 y/o son) traveled with another family (of 6) on 6/18 Miracle sailing. We had a great time and was pleasantly surprised by the Carnival experience. Flew into Tampa the evening before and stayed at the Embassy Suites Westshore - would rate it average as it was not typical of the usual ES. Had free airport shuttle and caught a $6 pp shuttle to port the following day. Arrived at port by noon and was onboard by 12:30 - straight to Lido deck for lunch and in cabin by 1:30. Ship was interesting (as in colorful, somewhat gaudy) and clean, cabins roomy. Our extended balcony's view was somewhat blocked by row of balconies that stuck out. We all had first seating for dinner. Myself and a couple of the kids ran up to the top deck around 6:15 to watch the ship sail under the Skyway bridge in Tampa - was neat to see. Dinner service was quite slow at least the first 4 days - took easy 2 hours including the bar service which wouldn't take our order until almost the entree. This was probably our only real complaint though it did improve as the week went on. Dining room food was ok with meat entrees being excellent and fish entrees so so and desserts not very memorable. Buffets were usual with the nighttime deli service outstanding! The grilled Reubens are to die for! Days at sea were relaxing - never hard to find a chair. Easy to find machines to use in the fitness center. Ports: Caymans - beautiful island - tendering is a pain for all but Costa Maya - our group took the Allura catamaran which promised snorkeling and swimming with the stingrays - well there was no snorkeling which was a bummer considering the array of excursion choices - my advice is to book independent tours only -better service at cheaper prices!!! Stingrays were cool though - they were bigger than I thought like something from a sci-fi film! Cozumel - tendering was the biggest pain here because the tender boats are big and they wait until it is full until they depart which can mean a lengthy wait. Our family just shopped this day as weather was cloudy. Belize - the best! What an experience - we booked with Yhoni's cave-tubing.com. We rode a Bluebird bus into the rainforest with a great charismatic guide- Richard. It was a fun ride with his narrative tour. The actual tubing was fun - a healthy hike through the gorgeous rainforest - because we were an independent tour ($45pp)we were able to do an extra cave and Richard hooked us all and pulled us through the crowded caves all while passing around the Cashew wine for all to partake. It was really fun and yes we saw a snake which was terrifying but has made a great story!!! Highlight of our trip was this tour - and we had kids as young as 9 and Richard really looked out for the kids. Costa Maya - only stayed in the port area (no tender - yeah!!) and swam and shopped. Found the staff on the Miracle to be one of the best ever - was my 6th cruise and family's 5th (past RCCL Voyager cruisers and Princess) and found the staff on this cruise to be the best and friendliest. Especially the casino staff as they were great. Would highly recommend this cruise - Ticket to Ride was entertaining. I would recommend this cruise a notch below the RCCL Voyager ships and above the Golden Princess. Would rate Tampa for disembarkation as the BEST as we were off with our own luggage by 7:45 and at the airport by 8:30 am. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Carnival Miracle Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 3.5 3.9
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 4.0
Rates 3.0 4.4

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