687 Carnival Miracle Cruise Reviews

Our trip on the Carnival Miracle was nothing short of just that.. A Miracle! I knew it was going to be great and it was! We flew in the night before, stayed at the Quorum hotel, used their free shuttle from the airport, and then again ... Read More
Our trip on the Carnival Miracle was nothing short of just that.. A Miracle! I knew it was going to be great and it was! We flew in the night before, stayed at the Quorum hotel, used their free shuttle from the airport, and then again that night to a nearby mall for a great dinner at a sports bar, then the next day to the port. Embarkation was easy (although little tip here, sit in the chairs while waiting to embark, they really dont like standing!) We were bussed to a different port because of the tanker in the way but it literally added 10-15 mins. And was easy. We went straight to the Lido deck (cuz it was only noon-ish) and had our first of many drink of the day . Came home with lots of cups! We then went exploring, found our cabin which was upgraded to 5A. Yay! Then made our way to the sports bar for Super Bowl party! That was sooo fun! We had to leave for the muster but came right back to our same table and stayed there the rest of the night. Yes we missed dinner in the dining room the first night but they set up all this bar food and the sushi bar was just outside the door so we didnt feel like we missed anything. It was crazy in there and everyone was having a blast! I wont go into what we did every minute of everyday, cuz frankly, some of it is a little fuzzy - did I mention drink of the day? But overall, the dining room: yes, pink lights&didnt care at all, loved dressing up for dinner every night, long dresses on formal nights, sparkly tops and cocktail dresses the rest of the time. The food was amazing. Our waiter was knowledgeable and friendly but we loved the assistant Ricky. Bonded with him way more. We had early seating. Probably will do late next time, we just found we really needed a nap before dinner. We often felt like we had to hurry to get ready for dinner and then by early evening were pretty tired. That is the only thing I would do differently. We loved having a drink in the Metropolis lounge before dinner, it felt elegant and they often had specials there. We took tons of portraits so that we could find a few we really liked. ( my husband didnt love that part but indulged me anyway) The Lido deck was just absolutely fun! Bathrobes and beer night was great! We loved the aft bar and pool area. The water slide was great. Even played chess with the giant chess set. We only made it to one show but it was awesome! We did the stingrays in Grand Cayman and snorkeled the reef - incredible. We shopped and played in Cozumel (hello Carlos and Charlies) We went to the Great Barrier Reef and snorkeled with more stingrays and (gulp) a nurse shark in Belize - a blast! (note: we went from the ship to boat and back to ship so we really didnt set foot on land in Belize, but had way fun!) We did the Uvero beach in Costa Maya and then played in port - yep we want to live there! A special note about Nick and Noras - we ate there the last night and I cant tell you how impressed we were. It was nothing short of amazing. The food was beautiful to look at, and incredible to eat. The staff was so attentive and professional. We left there stuffed. I got up once to go to the ladies room, left my napkin on my chair, it was folded on the table when I returned. The chef sent us a special dessert to our table. It was well worth the extra charge and part of me wanted to eat there every night. It was so elegant. Disembarkation was easy, we had an early flight and were given VIP tags to leave first. Finding the luggage was only a little tricky because lots of people had VIP tags, and we packed entirely too much stuff, but customs was easy, a taxi was waiting and we were at the airport in time for breakfast before our flight. All in all we just had an amazing time and are so looking forward to another funship vacation. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
We recently took our very first cruise on the Carnival Miracle. It was sort of an impulse decision to take a cruise. We booked it six weeks prior to our Feb 26th embarkation. Thanks to www.cruisecritic.com for guiding me through the ... Read More
We recently took our very first cruise on the Carnival Miracle. It was sort of an impulse decision to take a cruise. We booked it six weeks prior to our Feb 26th embarkation. Thanks to www.cruisecritic.com for guiding me through the cruise process w/relative ease. I was able to research cruise lines and particular ships within each cruise line to determine who we wanted to sail w/ and where we wanted to go. After reading many reviews, one of the ships I had narrowed it down to was the Carnival Miracle. Seeing as we were heading to Tampa at the end of February anyway, the Miracle became the obvious choice. In the weeks leading up to the cruise, I would check travel websites every day to see how full the ship was and if the price had changed. By doing this, I was able to get an upgrade in our cabin (we had originally booked an interior room and were upgraded to an obstructed view w/ French doors - room 4193) and also received a $300 onboard credit. So before we even boarded the ship, we were pleased. We arrived in Tampa on Friday night and spent time w/family and friends. On sailing day, we arrived at the Port of Tampa just after 11 am. Drop off and check-in were extremely easy. We were in Group 2 to board the ship. When our group was called, we got in line to get our sign & sail cards and were exposed to the Carnival photographers for the first time. I think I have taken enough photos w/ ring buoys to last me a lifetime! We then boarded the ship. You walk into the Metropolis Lobby, which is an 11-story atrium w/ glass elevators that run the entire length. It was very dramatic. And there was a lot of Renaissance style art onboard. We headed straight to Horatio's on the Lido deck for our first introduction to cruise food. And the drink of the day! We thought that the drinks were complimentary - they were everywhere. But we soon found out they weren't when the server asked for our sign & sail card. By 12:30 we were done eating and ready to tour the boat. Great time to walk around and explore. And we were very excited to be there. Just before 2 pm, we were able to get into our cabin. Heck - even w/ an obstructed view (great view of the bottom side of the lifeboats), we were happy to have natural light and to be able to hear the sounds of nature. After we dropped off our luggage, we decided to explore some more. This is when I was asked to "model" for the Spa and received a free facial, valued at $109 and lasting an hour! It was divine, even though it was in the elevator area right in front of the Spa. We then went back to our rooms. Our luggage arrived safely, including our "refreshments". We unpacked everything and didn't even notice when the ship started to sail - it was so smooth. We then headed outside to witness the Miracle passing under the Skyway Bridge - a beautiful cable suspension bridge in Tampa. We had late seating for dinner (8:15), so we had plenty of time. We stood on the Funnel deck - and it was the only time we were up there because the rest of the cruise it is also used as the topless deck. Very few people joined us up there to watch as we went under the Skyway. The ship appeared to barely pass under the bridge. For someone who used to design and inspect bridges, it was a fun experience. DEcor: The ship was nicely decorated, in very good condition and exotic. Dining: We ate breakfast and lunch in Horatio's which was usually good. We aren't extremely picky. Both were buffet style and had a large selection. All but one of our dinners was in the Bacchus Dining Room. The dEcor was different, but fun. The room had several Pepto-Bismol colored pink lights everywhere that I believe were supposed to represent grapes. We arranged our seating so we sat w/ a guy we met after passing under the Skyway who was sailing alone and had just booked the cruise that morning. He was wearing a Seminoles jacket, and naturally, Scott, being an FSU grad, approached him. They hit it off and we asked him to join us for dinner. In Bacchus, our servers were Julian (from Indonesia) and Winston (from India). Both were extremely entertaining and we really enjoyed our conversations with them. Julian was obsessed w/ Scott's muscles and was himself concerned because he'd gone from a 28 waist two years ago to a 30 waist recently. So he wanted all these workout tips from Scott and even got Scott's email address so he could send Scott his workout routine. Too funny! The food was decent. The appetizers were usually good. The salads were pretty bland and we learned quickly that if we ordered vinaigrette dressing, that we needed to order it w/ balsamic vinegar, otherwise they just brought a serving of oil. The entrees were good. I ordered the fish most every night and was pleased. Scott quickly learned that he could order as much as he wanted of whatever he wanted. So he quickly loaded up on all the protein he could. I tried a dessert most every night and enjoyed each one. Every night the waiters would entertain us by dancing to a song. They'd invite the guests to join in with the dancing. Neither Scott nor I minded and found ourselves sticking around for it and even joined in the conga line, following Winston who was sporting an afro wig. It wasn't hard to finish up your meal and leave before the entertainment started if that wasn't your cup of tea. We ate one night at the supper club, Nick & Nora's. It had an extra charge of $30pp for the food. The atmosphere was nice, the service was good and the food was also good. We both ordered the filet mignon and enjoyed it. Scott was much more pleased w/ the overall experience than I was. I felt we got what we paid for. Atlanta has so many fine-dining restaurants that eating at Nick & Nora's didn't blow me away - well - except for the dessert because it was just overindulgent. But it was still a nice experience and a nice change of pace from Bacchus. It wasn't crowded and we had a beautiful view of the sunset. Shows: We didn't experience much of the entertainment on the ship. We did see the Welcome Aboard show the first night. The dancing and singing was decent and entertaining, but we left during the comedian's act. He just wasn't very good. We went to see the show Generations - which was very enjoyable just for the songs they were singing. I enjoyed the disco generation the most! We saw the Newlywed, Middlywed and Oldlywed game (as the cruise director Mark Hawkins called them). That was hilarious and the couples that participated were good sports. Other than that, we didn't watch any other shows. We witnessed the belly-flop contest, which was funny, and took part in the parties on the Lido deck in the evenings (Jamaican Sunsplash, Mexican Mardi Gras, Disco Fever, and the bathrobe party). There was always something to do on the ship, if you wanted something to do. Basketball, shuffleboard, swimming, the Spa, a gym, the casino, trivia, movies, plus much, much more. Oh yeah - and the cruise director Mark has a silly sense of humor but we enjoyed it. He's easily recognizable w/ the mismatched pair of shoes he always wears. Other: The formal nights were fun. It was nice to just people watch. We discovered we enjoyed the opportunity to utilize the Photo Galleries and the different backdrops each night. Saw several families use it as a way to get family portraits done. We took a couple of photos ourselves and bought two of them. You're never obligated to buy but if you do want to buy, you have to purchase the 8x10 print for $20. Then, and only then, can you buy smaller prints of that one particular shot. They can be scanned at home. The age on the ship ranged from babies to senior citizens. We neither noticed nor cared the age of the people onboard. We met several people and covered most generations and enjoyed each encounter. Everyone was so friendly. The crew was exceptionally friendly. They were all pleasant and most every crewmember we passed had a smile on his/her face and enjoyed talking to the passengers. And it was educational talking w/ them. Besides listing their names, the nametags they wore listed which country they were from. And what a great job they did keeping that ship clean. If I could only keep my house that clean..... And our room steward, Thana, was really sweet. We loved the towel animals she left in our room each night. Definitely the little things really stood out for us. One thing I did enjoy was watching the sunset most every night. Having the late dining time allowed us to relax in the evenings on deck while it was still relatively warm out. A few mornings I got up to run. I tried to use the treadmills but most were busy, so I opted for the Sun Deck instead. Deck 11 had the track on it - but it was just too small. The Sun Deck had to have been close to 400 meters and if it was early enough, it wasn't too bad running on it. But once 8 am rolled around, it was just getting too crowded to continue. Excursions: We booked all of our excursions independently. The ports of call were Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya. Never once did we have a problem getting off the ship. The only port that wasn't a tender port was Costa Maya (tender is when you have to take a boat from the cruise ship to the port). Grand Cayman: We booked the Rays, Reef and Rum tour w/ Nativeway Water Sports. Scott and I didn't have any problem getting off on the first tender. We took the elevator down to Deck 1, got off, and just joined the masses of people streaming down the stairs already to Deck A to load onto a tender. The tender ride to shore was relatively short and we were onshore much earlier than needed. We decided to explore a little and stop at the liquor store - where a few bottles of rum were purchased. We finally met up w/ our tour and rode approximately 30-40 minutes to our launch point. The group was relatively small - which was nice - and our first stop was Stingray City. This was definitely fun and worthwhile. The seas were a little rough that day so it was tough battling the waves crashing over you. But feeling the stingrays brush up against you felt like rubbing a mushroom across your leg. Those suckers are heavy too. I tried holding one in my arms but he had to weigh at least 60 pounds and swam off before the instructor could grab hold of him. On the way to the Reef to snorkel, one of the two motors in the boat stopped working. In addition to this, two little kids on the boat got sick. So between diesel fumes and puke, it wasn't the best moment. But everyone onboard had a great attitude, so no one minded. We putted over to the backup Reef (because the seas were too rough to go to the normal reef they snorkel) on one motor and met up w/ the other boat from Nativeway that was only doing the Rays and Reef. After trying to snorkel (the seas were just too rough for a novice swimmer like me and there wasn't much down there to see), and no success in getting the second motor to work, in order for us to make it to Rum Point Beach, the two boats had to get cozy and every passenger had to switch boats. This took several minutes, but the staff from Nativeway was very cautious with everyone and took great care. They definitely were a great bunch. After getting on the much smaller boat, we set sail for Rum Point. After reading the descriptions of this place, I was expecting paradise. What I got was a tiki bar. Yes - the water was beautiful, but there wasn't much beach and it was crowded w/ tables and lounge chairs. So I wasn't overly impressed. We ordered lunch on the boat and when we got it, it was good. But we made the mistake of also ordering - in addition to our sandwiches, a conch chowder. First of all, it wasn't very good. Second, we had to pay extra for it - $7 and some change. Third - when I went to pay, they tried to give me back Cayman dollars - um - no thank you. So then I dug around for smaller bills - and was told they don't take American change - or give American change. So - just remember - only order 1 item off the menu!! We had just about an hour at Rum Point due to the delay at sea. The last tender for the Miracle left at 3 pm - and we just made one of those last tenders. It took us awhile to make it back across the bay to the other side of the island. When we finally got to the dock, there were several others from the Miracle that were frantic about missing the tender, so I let them worry and wasn't really concerned. Our driver made good time back to the port, and we were able to board a tender at 3 pm. We noticed one other tender come in after us. Even with all the unfortunate events of the tour, I did enjoy the staff from Nativeway and thought they did a good job. Cozumel: We didn't book an excursion here and figured this would be our shopping day. We weren't in any rush to get off the ship. This also was a port where you had to get a number for your tender and they would call you. We took our time and headed to Cozumel around noon. We took the advice of the Shopping Guide from the ship and took a taxi from the port to the Forum shops in Cozumel. There was so much devastation from Hurricane Wilma. They definitely are working hard to bring back the buildings and I saw very little work on the piers that used to exist. Vegetation was completely wiped clean and several shops were still destroyed. We were in Key West at Christmas after Wilma hit - and saw what damage it did there. But after seeing Cozumel, Key West was lucky. Shopping in Cozumel was a rude awakening - and you learn real quick how to say "no thank you" and just keep walking. It got annoying and to the point that we didn't want to shop there anymore. We picked up a few tiny things - but were glad to leave. If we ever go back, we'll book an excursion. We did get lucky w/ the tenders in Cozumel. These tenders are huge - hold about 400 people so they take a long time to load and unload. Well - getting off the cruise ship, we were one of the last ones to board the tender and then were the first ones off in Cozumel. And the exact same thing happened upon our return. Not sure how we got that lucky - because it can be a 20-minute wait each time you load or unload. Belize: Oh boy - where to begin! Well - we had no trouble getting off on the first tender. We did the same thing as we did in Grand Cayman. So again we were early - better to be safe than sorry. We booked the Cave Tubing and Zip line w/ Belize Cruise Excursions. They were great. Definitely no complaints there. There were ten of us booked for this excursion. Six of us were on the Miracle and arrived early. We had to wait for the other four who were on a different ship and arrived 45 minutes later. We then headed off on our hour drive through the Belizean countryside. Belize is a third-world country and definitely different by American standards - but never once did I feel unsafe there. We drove through the rich part of town and even saw where the Prime Minister lives. Just looks like an ordinary house you see in Florida that is about 30 years old. Definitely a lot of poverty in Belize. We also came across several people wearing red shirts standing outside a large building. We found out they represented the UDP (United Democratic Party) and were awaiting the results from the elections the previous day. We finally leave the city and make our way across the countryside. The last six miles of the trek is on a gravel road - with some segments a lot rougher than others. We get to the site and head to the zip line first because there weren't any lines. Definitely a lot of fun - with six runs and eight tree stands. The highest stand was 85 feet off the ground - looks pretty high when you're in the treetops! And they were definitely safe. Went by way too fast. Next was the cave tubing. We were done early enough and were able to hike fast enough, that we were able to do two caves. The river was "refreshing" but after awhile got a little chilly. When you're in a dark cave floating along a river - there's a tendency for a chill to set in. And the caves were long! A few rapids but not many. The second cave was much more exciting than the first cave - with a waterfall inside, some light w/ vegetation and several dramatic openings. We also saw a miniature loch ness monster - aka - a dog - swim by in one of the caves. After the second cave, we were able to float further down the river in the nice, warm sun. The scenery was amazing. When we finally got to the end and out of the water, little did we know; the journey was only just beginning. We pulled our tubes out of the water and started our 5-10 minute hike back to the vehicles. It was about 2:45 when we got back. The last tender for the ship was 4 pm - and we were still about an hour outside the city. I wasn't worried because we had not driven fast on the way out - so I felt we had a buffer built in there. Several of us changed while the driver ordered our food. We hopped in the minivan at about 3 pm - ready to hit the road. And let me say - the food was fabulous. For $5, I was more than stuffed. We leave the site and start our journey down the well-graded gravel road. They had been doing road construction on a portion of it on the way in. Apparently they were still doing road construction on the way out. We were about 1 mile from the site and stopped in traffic - about fifth in line. The crew had placed tar on one side of the road - but left the other side closed to traffic for some unknown reason. Our driver gets out and starts to walk around asking questions. In the meantime, we're stuffing our faces in the car. The food was great. I was happy. After about 10 minutes, he gets back in the minivan. He wasn't in a good mood. I look behind us and notice that several other vehicles have gotten in line, including a bus. Unfortunately it was a Royal Caribbean bus - which didn't help us Carnival Miracle cruisers any. About 5 minutes later, a dump truck filled with gravel passes us in reverse and starts backing down the vacant lane. Our driver decides to follow him until the construction worker stops him. That didn't last too long as our driver decided that he really needed to get us back to the port before the ship set sail. As the dump truck approaches the end of the tar strip in the right lane, he stops - therefore blocking traffic again. So here we sit, with tar to the right of us, a dump truck in front of us, and brush to the left. After several minutes, the dump truck decides that he should continue to back up and allow the traffic to pass. Ah - freedom at last. So here we are with 35 minutes to go before the last tender takes off and we're still an hour outside the city. So the driver puts the pedal to the metal and we gun it down the add'l 5 miles of gravel road (and the final three miles were not nicely graded. Scott compared it to Mr. Toad's Wild Ride). We hit the pavement a few minutes later and the driver proceeds to get on the phone to his partners at the port informing them that we were stuck in construction and running late. After talking w/her, he hung up the phone confident we would make it back in time. And then he proceeded to gun it down the highway. I still wasn't worried. We weren't the only ones late from our ship. There was comfort in numbers. We made good time and hit the outskirts of the city at 4 pm. We proceeded through town and came to a dead stop. Wouldn't you know it - we hit town just as school was getting out and the political rallies from the election results were in full force. Traffic was at a standstill. The partners start to call our driver about every three minutes "Where are you?" The phone calls were getting frantic and I was coming to accept the possibility that we might have to find our own way to Costa Maya. We probably had less than a two-mile drive from the time we came to a complete stop until the time we hit the port - but it took over 20 minutes. We FINALLY pull into the port at 4:25 (25 minutes AFTER the last tender). I jump out of the van, hand the driver a tip (because he was fantastic) and run through the terminal. I came flying out the other end, sign and sail cards in hand, and head straight for the security guards. They ask how many are in the party and what our room numbers are (our room numbers - we thought we were in some real trouble now - but we later realized they knew what guests from which rooms were missing) and let us proceed to the tender. Ah - there it was - just sitting there - waiting for us. All six of us jump onboard and proceed to the back to sit down - ready to sail. But do we set sail - no - we wait. And wait. And wait. Finally, someone got up and asked what we were waiting for. That's when we found out there were still two people missing. After about 15 minutes, the boat finally set sail, without the two missing passengers. It's a 20-minute tender ride to the cruise ship - and the ship was scheduled to depart at 5 pm. I felt terrible for those people left behind. They had to have been caught up in the same mess we were. We arrive at the boat, wave to all those watching from the Lido deck, and the crew kicks us off the tender. By the time Scott and I made it to our cabin, we were already going 5 knots. So - we made it by the skin of our teeth. Never again will we cut it that close. But that's not the end of the Belize story. The next day I started to itch on my neck. Just periodically and nothing that really alarmed me. But by the next morning, I started to feel bumps. And what do you know - a perfectly shaped rash around my neck in a symmetrical pattern and down my chest to where the top of my swimsuit was. Hmmm - this rash was mysteriously in a shape similar to how a life preserver would sit around ones neck. And I do recall the guide saying how there were several poisonous bushes along our walk through the rainforest. So who knows what crazy Belizean bush disease I brought back with me. All I know is about ten days later - the rash is mostly gone. The memories Belize will hold for us! Costa Maya: This was much less thrilling. It was a dock port, so we could get on and off the boat at our leisure. The water was incredibly blue - just beautiful. We had signed up for the Chacchoben Ruins tour with David. Great tour. A wealth of information and definitely a nice, relaxing time. The ruins were about an hour outside the city. We went over speed bumps made of rope and a security checkpoint that said if we had any complaints to call - but they never provided a phone number. Otherwise, there wasn't much to see on the ride over. After we made it back to the pier, we just relaxed on the beach. It was a nice, man-made port. There was a bar w/ a pool that you could swim up to order your drinks. The colors were very vibrant on the buildings. A few restaurants opened up towards the ocean. We relaxed on some lounge chairs and hammocks on the beach. It was very relaxing. Finally, with plenty of time to spare, we made our way back to the ship. I wanted to watch to see if there was anyone running late like we were the previous day. And there was. About 10 minutes AFTER we were supposed to have set sail, and 30 minutes after they started to page two women, racing down the pier was a golf cart carrying the two women. According to one of the members of their party, they had gone scuba diving on their own that day. And as soon as they boarded the ship, they were pulled into the Purser's office. A travel agent told me that the ships are charged docking fees for whenever they are docked past their departure time. Now whether or not they were charged w/ anything, I don't know - but I'm just called we didn't get called into the Purser's (Principal's) office! Debarkation: What a breeze. We packed our bags the night before and left them outside our room. For those that had items to declare, they had to go to customs between 6:30-7:30. I had read the lines were extremely long at 6:30, so Scott went down at 7:30 and there was no line. We then ate our last breakfast on the ship and headed back to the cabin for our carryon luggage. We were in no hurry to get off the ship as Scott's mom wasn't picking us up until 10:30. So even with lounging around and waiting until they almost kicked us off the ship - we were off and found our entire luggage by 9:30. Vacation was over - and all that lay ahead of us was the long drive back to Atlanta. Oh well!! It was fun! Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
Three of us, all adults, my son, a friend and myself. We arrived the night before, being in NJ we tend to worry about the winter weather, so we arrive always the night before to avoid snow delays or to leave room for alternate travel ... Read More
Three of us, all adults, my son, a friend and myself. We arrived the night before, being in NJ we tend to worry about the winter weather, so we arrive always the night before to avoid snow delays or to leave room for alternate travel plans. We stayed at a Howard Johnson in Ybor, which I heard afterward was not a safe place, but we had a great time. They had a bar and great country band and music and we played pool and hung out there all evening. Looked to be a neighborhood place, and lots of trucker business. We were only a mile or two from the port. If you stay at this HoJo, call for your own taxi as the manager forgot to call or just did not call, we do not know what happened. We waited over an hour after we asked them to call for us. We wound up calling a cab for ourselves,. and waited another half hour, but we were in the terminal by 11:00 am with plenty of time to spare. It only took us 15 min to check in and seated in the boarding area. We were called by #. We were # 10 so it was about 35 min and we were on board. They made announcements that the cabins would be ready by 1:30 so please go to lunch first and explore the ship so the stewards could finish the cabins. We went to our cabin at 2;00 and they were already dropping luggage off to the cabins. We had all our luggage by 4:pm. We did the fire drill at about 4:45 and we were to leave port by 5:00 which we were maybe 15 min. late but we were on our way. The ship was really awesome. We enjoyed every bit of time we were on her. I am a gambling nut so most of my sea time was in casino. I won over 900.00 over the course of the cruise. My son is a Karaoke nut and sun worshipper and our friend sun worships and drinks a bit, so we only saw one another at dinner and breakfast while we were on board. We did book tours off ship, Capt. Marvins in Cayman Stingray City. In Cozumel we went to Playa Mia on our own only because I have been there many times before and like the beach there and the price is great for a whole day, food, drinks inclusive for 42.00. Costa Maya was a first for us we loved it there. We rented a golf cart and toodled off to the beach and spent the day at a beachfront bar and got massages for $20.00 and swam and ate and shopped. Was really nice, had two sunshowers while we were there but the sun came out right after so we still got sunburned. We headed back to the port the Valor came in right after us so it was such a sight to see these two ships side by side docked. We were to depart at the same time and it was a g competition to see who would cast off first. Everyone was on their balconies and on the sun decks and Lido cheering the pax back on the ship to see who would leave first. Everyone was into it, the cheering and clapping. It was too cool. Needless to say we won. We left first and as we were pulling away the last of the pax were going up the gangplank of the valor, they took it in stride and cheered back and waved as we pulled away. Belize is not my favorite port. I went there last Jan 2005 with the girls I work with, and I did not see anything there, it was poverty abounding and children begging for money and really nothing to see. Maybe in a few years it will have a better economy and things will change. I opted to stay on board and do the laundry for the 3 of us. My son and our friend went on a jungle boat tour and got some great photo ops of the Mayan temples. They booked it the night before on the ship as we had not planned anything for Belize. We only dined 2 nights in the dining room. Our waiter was not very attentive. We were in a booth and he was too busy fluttering around a large table of 8 guests and a table next to them of 6 guests. We waited over 20 minutes before he came to take our orders. He was very hard to get his attention, without yelling (we did not yell we stopped other waiters to fetch him) to have him come over to us. This happened 2 nites in a row. We forgave the first nite as we know how hectic it is. The second nite was no excuse. This is the first time I ever had a waiter not get to know the people at his tables and to be sure they were well attended. He forgot one of our meals and we had to stop another waiter to ask where the plate was. No apologies, so we opted to buffet the rest of this cruise and we did notify the maitre d' as he asked my friend how we enjoyed our dining on the 4th night of our cruise out on deck, they ran into one another and my friend told him we had not been there since the second nite due to the poor service. Other then that we had a great time. We had no complaints about the stewards or anything else. Everything was an A grade, other then the dining experience. This was my 7th cruise, and my first encounter of poor service in dining room. My son won a drawing at the past guest party for dinner for 2 at Nick and Noras Supper Club so we went there on Friday nite -- that was a treat!!! The real highlight of my trip was disembarking. Coming down the escalator I notice someone very familiar standing directing pax to ground transportation. When I got to the bottom and the lady turned it was my Aunt who I found out works for Carnival. I have not seen her in 2 years -- what a great surprise. So we chatted a moment and headed on to our bus to head home to book our next cruise on the Ecstasy April 8. This year 7 of us are going, family and friends, wahoo counting the days!!! Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
Miracle January 22nd-29th, 2006 It all started January 21st @ 2:00 PM leaving our hometown of Delphos, Ohio by personal vehicles to all meet at Comfort Suites Hotel at Port Columbus Airport. Once at Comfort Suites we realized they only ... Read More
Miracle January 22nd-29th, 2006 It all started January 21st @ 2:00 PM leaving our hometown of Delphos, Ohio by personal vehicles to all meet at Comfort Suites Hotel at Port Columbus Airport. Once at Comfort Suites we realized they only had reservations for 5 rooms instead of 10 like I had requested. They did find rooms for the others. They had better since all 10 rooms were reserved on my credit card! We found out they have a free shuttle to the Easton Mall so we all took the shuttle to eat at Max and Ermas. Ive never eaten there before, but was well pleased with their food and service. January 22nd we got up at 6:00 AM to have the continental breakfast before taking the shuttle to the airport. Once at Port Columbus went to the self check-in counter at Delta. All of my group that was flying (24) of us were checking in and realized they had moved the flights up by one hour. Without Delta contacting me the group leader. We had a direct flight from Port Columbus to Tampa International. Once we arrived in Tampa I had checked at the ticket counter to verify our flight going home. They too have been moved up by one hour. I had them print me a confirmation to show Carnival so we could get off the boat early.(At this point I was a little stressed but after I found out with the group leader we could get off, I was okay) We went to baggage claim to get our luggage and headed to the area where we get the Mear Shuttle to the Port. (Cost $36.00) They would not leave until the complete bus was filled so that took an extra hour. I had called my Carnival Representative who was meeting me at the Port and she advised that there was another bus coming in before us that had 365 passengers as there was a group of 600 on board the Miracle for the Grand Ole Opry. With guests: Charlie Pride, Pam Tillis, Little Charlie Dickens, Roy Clark, and Rebecca Howard. These guests were for the Grand Ole Opry group only! Regular guests of the Miracle were not allowed at the performances. But Charlie Pride and Roy Clark and his wife did venture the vessel so you could get pictures and autographs. Getting on the vessel there were Carnival Employees greeting you and giving you a map of the vessel, in which you might need as I got lost a couple of times but once I found where the bow was and where the aft was I was Ok. I used the steps as I only had to go down one floor and the mass confusion of everyone coming on board the elevators were in use all the time and slow. Once at the Port we gave our bags to the porter (which I had found very rude) all they are out there for are for tips and they even tell you no tip, bad service. Not sure how much my roommate tipped but her bags were completely ruined she had to find new luggage for her trip home. I have been to Miami, Port Canaveral & Tampa. Tampa was the worst for Porters being rude! Once inside My Carnival Representative got our whole group through security past the long line then inside they formed into two lines, which moved rather fast. I was very impressed with this organization, much better organized than Port Canaveral& Miami by far. They collected your boarding pass, accepted your credit card or cash then handed your Sail and Sign right there unlike Miami or Port Canaveral where you have to stand in yet another line. From the time I got off the bus handed my bags over to the porter we were boarding the Miracle 45 minutes later. I think that is awesome response. Found my room (1265), which was a fantastic one. Very spacious I had a window (6A) so that helped too. I had two (2) other roommates and with three (3) of us girls we never had a problem. Dropped off carry on luggage and headed up for lunch. Since my Carnival Representative was on board with me we checked our tables for dinner was happy with them no changes for me. Then went to Pursers desk to make sure everything was lined up with the group coordinator, yes it was and was fine with everything. Spent some time with my Carnival Representative until it was time for her to get off (3:00 PM). After dropping off and saying good-bye to my Carnival Representative,we went up on Deck 10 to take pictures, use my cell phone to call home, get the drink of the day. And just hanging out awhile, then it was time for the muster drill. I had already had my life jacket so just went to the required station. They had five rows of people. The Carnival people were making sure that your life jacket was on correctly. This is no goof off procedure. After the drill took back the life jacket to the room and found my roommates as I did not see them at the drill but there were so many people there. Then we went up to Deck 10 again and watched us sail off. Wow time sure does fly by when having fun looked at the clock and it was time to get ready to experience our first night of dining. We had early dining 5:45 PM lower level. I loved where we were placed!(Note: some of my table guests wanted to see the sunshine bridge, they left after the appetizer and one table did not come down the 1st night.) After dinner it was time to meet up with my group again on the Lido. We meet there every night after dinner before the show. I must say the Miracle had the most friendliest people on board no matter what they were doing, all stopped to talk or find out how your day went. Was very impressed! Keep up the good work! The ship was easy to get around enjoyed the layout there was only one exception that needs attended too. I had some rooms on the 6th floor (bow) and they heard every piece of music coming from the Phantom Lounge. They could not get any sleep until after the midnight shows so it makes it hard if you have an early excursion. Carnival did there best to compensate and make them happy, but it is a situation that needs taken care of, maybe more insulation??? I dont know. So heads up if you have a room in the bow middle. My rooms on the outside heard nothing it was just the middle. PORTS -- GRAND CAYMAN- I have been to this port before and loved the Grand Cayman Island tour but wanted to something different so booked the Sting Ray tour it was different, but was glad that I tried it. If you decide to take this tour there was not much time to shop. I only wanted to visit the Hard Rock Hotel so this excursion worked for me. Saw Sylvester Stallones personal home as the tour place we booked through uses his channel to go out to the ocean. COZUMEL-I also have been to this island too. But everyone I had talked to by Cruise Critic said to do the Mexican Folkloric Show. It was okay but I thought it would explain more about their culture. Basically this tour shows their dances, music. Would I do this again? No but was glad I did it the first time? Yes Then we went shopping with I loved the Lapis rug place for jewelry. BELIZE - The shops at the pier were okay. I did the best shopping and bartering at Diamonds International, as I wanted to buy a piece of emerald. The cave tubing tour was cancelled, as there was plentiful of rain in the caves. People I talked too that had done the Canopy tour was well impressed and said they would do it again this is something that was not up my ally but had some good reviews on Cruise Critic as well as my Carnival Representative has heard many reviews from her customers on this particular excursion all said well worth the money. Belize you can tell is very poor and Carnival suggests not leaving the pier without an excursion from them. They said a lot of people say they are taxi drivers but then they are not and you do not get your money back. COSTA MAYA- Was my favorite port on this trip as the water is a much brighter turquoise blue never saw before ands most of the Caribbean ports were the green water. The shops were just ok but I enjoyed just going to the end of the pier and sitting in the sand or going to the bar. Great sites. My sea days were great I enjoy them just as much as I can actually venture the ship a little more with leisure. I must say you have to use the showers in the Spa/Gym area. My aunt loved the dry steam, but I never found the time to try them. I did take advantage of the whirlpools. Miracle: Liked the Reuben but not as good as the Glory. My favorite this ship seemed to be the steak burgers with cheese and the fries (made just the way I like them) and all the fresh fruit on the bar. We ordered room service a lot for their BLTs my roommates fell in love with them. I one but the rest of the time they ordered room service I ordered pretzels. Debarkation: Had an early flight we got VIP tags from group coordinator but they put VIP, early flights together in the Phantom Lounge it was packed. They need to let early flights go first. We had a flight of 11:00 AM and arrived at airport at 10:00 AM They boarded our flight at 10:40 AM. This was the first time I had and early flight. I think Carnival should let these people off first as they had two lines and my people you drove to Tampa used self assist and were off at 8:15 AM, where it was 9:30 AM before we got off the vessel. I think I have covered everything. I hope this review helps someone out as I have read lots of reviews before planning all of my cruises. I went through a PVP and was very happy with the service unlike my travel agency last time we had a major mess. My next adventure is Alaska. 1st group cruise 40 people/2nd group cruise 113 people/3rd group cruise 45 people/Next cruise& unknown Thanks for taking the time to read my review Kimmer1 Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
This was the first cruise for my husband and 2 teenage sons. It was my third cruise, but first with Carnival. We flew into Tampa from Michigan the day before the cruise, and stayed at an absolutely terrible motel. We were hoping that this ... Read More
This was the first cruise for my husband and 2 teenage sons. It was my third cruise, but first with Carnival. We flew into Tampa from Michigan the day before the cruise, and stayed at an absolutely terrible motel. We were hoping that this would not set the tone for the rest of the vacation. Fortunately, it did not. Embarkation was a little lengthy. The Miracle could not return to her regular port, as there was a vessel impeding entry, so we all had to be bussed to a different port. The lines were long, as was the wait, but we were very excited about the cruise, so none of us let it ruin our day. When we made it onto the ship, we checked out our cabin first. It was much bigger than we expected, and there was plenty of room for all four of us. The bed was comfortable, and the bedding was very nice. We chose late seating for dinner, which we really liked. However, our boys only joined us for dinner one time, as they had too much going on with the other teens on board. We learned that early seating is probably better if you are traveling with kids, but late seating worked out very well for the two of us. The food was awesome. Both our waiter and assistant waiter were great. We never ran out of things to do on the ship. We made it to most of the shows,and although they weren't perfect, they kept us entertained. The boys went to a couple of the activities put on by Carnival, but most of the time they just 'hung out' with the new friends they made on board. We saw them sitting in Horatio's, visiting with their friends, a number of times. The service overall was very good. The golf pro that was on board, we found to be rude and inconsiderate. The other staff was usually friendly and helpful. We did not book any of our shore excursions through Carnival, thanks to the advise of many members on these boards. Our first port was Grand Cayman, and we did a snorkel/stingray adventure with Captain Bryan. It was excellent. There was a small group of us on a 50ft catamaran. We saw the bigger groups from the cruise ships, and were very glad to be in our much smaller, more personalized group. I am so glad that we swam with the stingrays. It is something we will never forget. In Cozumel we did not participate in any excursions. We walked all day, and visited the shops. We bought several items, and picked up Kahlua for $9 for the large bottles. We had a lot of fun. In Belize we did the Xtreme cave tubing. It was a blast. Once again, we were in a much smaller group than the people with the cruise lines. We had an excellent meal after tubing, at a little shack that was located right at the tubing site. The food was excellent. In Costa Maya, we didn't do any excursions. We rented golf carts for a couple of hours and drove down to a fishing village where we bought a few things and did some sight-seeing. When we got back to the port area, we sat around the swim-up bar, had a couple of beers, and relaxed in the sun. Overall, we had a great day. Disembarkation was fast and easy. We found our bags, got through customs very quickly, and boarded a bus to the airport without any problems. We had a wonderful time, and would recommend the Miracle to anyone. We had so much fun that we have already booked another cruise for next January, and are hoping to take at least one a year! It was the best vacation we have had. We were able to totally relax, and we didn't worry about anything at home. I think we forget there even was a 'home'. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
This was the 5th cruise for my husband and me. This was our second with Carnival as we usually go with Royal Caribbean. Glad our TA talked us into Carnival this time! CABIN: We booked an inside guarantee and were upgraded to a balcony ... Read More
This was the 5th cruise for my husband and me. This was our second with Carnival as we usually go with Royal Caribbean. Glad our TA talked us into Carnival this time! CABIN: We booked an inside guarantee and were upgraded to a balcony with an obstructed view; however it was not that obstructed (there was a life boat when you look down off the balcony but you were able to see over it). The room was wonderful and very spacious. There was a lot of closet space and drawer space! Dont forget the bungee cord for your door and an extension cord. SHIP: I read all the other reviews before I went and was a little scared about how gaudy the ship would be  We did not find this to be so  it was a bit over the top but thats what a cruise is all about. We loved it! FOOD: We ate in the dinning room every night but the last (bad weather made the ship a bit too rocky to eat). The food was awesome! We have not been big fans of cruise food in the past but this week changed our mind. We had planned to eat and Nick and Noras one night but the food in the dinning room was so good that we didnt want to miss it. The service in the dinning room was also A+! They have a team that is with you each night. My husband and I only had to tell the bar person we drank diet coke on the first night and after that our glasses were refilled when emptied. We ordered 2 starters and 2 desserts each night and on most nights my husband ordered 2 main dishes (no we are not large people)  however I did gain 7lbs. The buffet on the Lido deck was okay  breakfast got kind of boring as it was the same each day  eggs, pancakes or French toast, sausage, ham, bacon, hash browns (the frozen kind like at McDonalds) then of course pastries and an omelet could be made if you wanted. We are not big breakfast people so this was just okay for us. Lunch was good. They have several stations so you need to walk all the way around there are 4 different kinds of foods. I loved the Asian one! Then of course they have the hamburgers, deli and pizza. Ice cream was good and available 24-hours (sometimes the machines were down probably due to being emptied but we always found at least one open). PORTS OF CALL: Grand Cayman  shopped only - did not do an excursion and would recommend booking one  there isnt much to do. We went back on the ship and laid by the pool. Cozumel  We always rent a jeep and drive to San Francisco Beach  it is an out of way beach - we laid out for a few hours used the chairs and umbrella - They did not charge for the chairs and the people were very nice and not pushy. They have a pool that is not salt water and wonderful to swim in. We then take the jeep, put the top down, and drive around the back of the island where you can stop at road side shops - and the beaches are empty around the back. We always feel very safe, have done this 3 other times and have never had any problems. Belize: We were told to make sure we booked an excursion so we booked the private island tour  it was nice the beach was not very busy. The ride there was a bit scary as they put about 40 of us on what seemed to be an old fishing boat with teenagers driving it, but it worked out fine. The food on the island is not included and it rather expensive. Costa Maya  Rented a jeep again but it turned out to be a waste of time, there wasnt much to see. Id book an excursion here also. We had to tender at all ports except Costa Maya - but that did not seem to be a problem getting on or off the ship. Embarkation was easy - they gave you a number and when your number is called you board the ship. Debarkation was the best of any cruise I've ever been on. You either stay in your cabin or wander the ship and when your tag color is called you exit the ship. They were dredging the port in Tampa so we had to get on busses which took us to our luggage - which was a hassle but not Carnivals fault. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
We have just arrived back from our 7 day Carnival Miracle Western Caribbean trip. We are Pedro age 51, and Lucy age 43. We live in Alberta, Canada and this is our third cruise. The other 2 cruises were with Disney and we had our son now ... Read More
We have just arrived back from our 7 day Carnival Miracle Western Caribbean trip. We are Pedro age 51, and Lucy age 43. We live in Alberta, Canada and this is our third cruise. The other 2 cruises were with Disney and we had our son now age 16 and our 2 daughters ages 14 and 10 along. We are generally fairly active but quiet people and were a bit concerned that Carnival would be a drunken party boat. Pedro in particular is price conscious (okay he likes to think he's cheap). We wanted to see how a cruise with a less expensive Cruise Line would compare to Disney and if our impression was favourable, we would probably book our next cruise with Carnival. Lucy's parents looked after the children while Mom and Dad cruised this time. We arrived in Tampa on the Saturday before the Sunday departure as we always have to factor potential winter storm delays in our plans. We stayed in Sailport Waterfront Suites close to the airport which we had booked through Hotwire. This was fine and when we come to Tampa next with our children we will probably stay there again. We rented a car so we could do a little shopping which we did at the International Mall. This is fairly upscale and we did not buy much there. We went back to the hotel on Saturday night, had a meal at a good restaurant called the Rusty Pelican and watched a fair number of fairly looped wedding partiers. The next morning we shopped at Target and Wal-Mart where we got some pop (soda in the U. S.), Powerade, sunscreen and some waterproof sealed pouches which we later put in Pedro's Bathing suit to keep the Sail and Sign Card and the cash money dry. This worked very well. We took a taxi for a flat rate of $20.00 (plus tip) from the airport to the port on Sunday morning after returning the rental car. Better than the $18.00 per person transfer with Carnival and we didn't have to wait for anyone else. We arrived at the terminal about 11:30. After Pedro finally clued in to the fact that the porters took his luggage on board and he tipped them a couple of dollars, we made it upstairs to the check in area. The Fun Pass Application had already been filled out, our passports were examined and they commenced boarding just before noon. The crowds had started to build and we were on the ship by 12:15. One pleasant surprise was that we got to keep our passports, unlike Disney. We proceeded to Horatio's and Pedro quite enjoyed the deli section and did his best then and for the rest of the trip to personally decimate the salmon population of the world. We were able to enter our cabin at 2:00 and were delighted that the cabin was every bit as good and spacious as our disney Cabin. We had an extended balcony cabin on the starboard side with a lot of storage room for our 3 suitcases. We were a bit disappointed with the electrical outlets as we knew there were only 2 plug ins but 1 was for European appliances or at least both of us could only get the 1 to work for us. We have an adapter that we use when we do home exchanges with Europe (another story) but did not have it with us. Next time we will bring a multiple outlet plug in to allow us to plug in what we want. We use an air cleaner as a "white noise" machine when we travel and this cuts down the outside noise. This we could use. As there is no clock in the room, we weren't able to have a clock radio on to see the time in the night if we woke up, which we do from time to time. Our small bit of "extra" liquid refreshment arrived intact in the middle of our checked luggage. One huge contrast with Disney was the age of the passengers. We don't think we have seen as large a collection of walkers, canes, motorized scooters and wheelchairs outside of a retirement centre. At dinner, we met our serving team, Humberto, the main waiter, and Gerardo. Humberto in particular was very attentive through the whole cruise and indulged Pedro's butchery of the Spanish language. The drink of the day was fine and we'll try to remember to hang on to our souvenir glasses next time. The meals were generally good throughout the cruise. If you can't find something you like on most cruise menus you must be extremely picky, have allergies or dine in places not too many other people frequent. There is some truth to the cruise ship adage about coming on as passengers and leaving as cargo. Pedro gained 4.5 pounds on the cruise and Lucy isn't saying. This was despite our cruise ship exercise program. Except for the first day, we never took the elevators. Those stairways can be some of the loneliest places on the ship as they certainly are not crowded. The ship's layout compares well to Disney's. The grapes in the Bacchus dining room are a bit over the top and we can't say we noticed much of the nubile nymphs that are supposedly morally revolting to some. We didn't go to the casino except to pass through but it seemed fairly full and busy. We couldn't say the same about the exercise room, but it is well equipped. The evening shows were fine. We attended most of them and Lucy liked the comedians in particular. Pedro is a Beatles' fan and so he enjoyed the Ticket to Ride show but does admit it seemed visually strange to see 4 Filipinos imitating the Fab Four. Lucy had a Spa treatment on Monday and gave good marks to the Irish lass who attended on her but if she did it again she would have waited until Saturday when her treatment was half price. The Surial bath or Rasul bath for couples on Disney is much more fun. We caught the tail end of the Newlywed Game Show which we always enjoy and every cruise ship seems to have. Tuesday was Grand Cayman. A non-Carnival 2 hour 11:15 excursion was booked with Captain Marvin. This was a highlight. We were a little late leaving, slow getting there and slow getting back so I would not book for any longer or later or would risk missing the tenders which were good. We went with Captain Marvin himself who had apparently just celebrated his 90th birthday. This could be true the way he looks, but he handled the boat extremely well. The water was shallow and Lucy ducked this way and that way but the sting rays finally brushed against her and she was still living and breathing to her surprise. Pedro fed a ray, Lucy kissed a ray and everyone was amazed at how soft and gentle they were. After that a short snorkeling stop. We saw at least seven different species of fish and a moray eel amongst the coral. Excellent equipment and a nice fresh water spray after you were done with punch and water on the boat. Pedro maintains that the pretty girls in bikinis were sprayed longer and more thoroughly than he was for some unknown reason. On return to the ship there were 2 lines. We of course took the wrong one but Carnival was careful to have someone pointing out this was the line for the Valor, not the Miracle, so we were able to get back on quickly but I'm sure it's confusing on which line to be in when there are 7 ships in port. Wednesday was Cozumel. The Cruise Director Steve Knisley was entertaining and informative throughout the cruise, but Lucy liked the tip from Dan the shopper to take your taxi (or walk the 3 miles if you are an athlete or even cheaper than Pedro) in Cozumel to the north end of the downtown, by the Forum shops and then work your way to the pier. The taxi ride is $5.00 plus tip one way. Pedro is the proud owner of some inlaid wooden Mayan Calendars which he vows will be magically transformed into small table tops. He did start at $350.00 and made it to $100.00. There is still a lot of visible damage and absolutely no sign that they are rebuilding the piers which will sure beat the tender boats they are now using. We ate a Carnival recommended restaurant near the north end of town (sorry we can't remember the name) and had some margaritas and Mexican food. Both were greatly appreciated. Wednesday we also went to Nick and Nora's, the tonier $30.00 per person extra supper club. We had been to Palo's on Disney, which is the supposed equivalent and had enjoyed the experience. Nick and Nora's was a major disappointment. It was not crowded. We had about 6 different people attending on us for different things. Palo's, like the main dining areas had 2. Way less confusing and allows a certain rapport with your waiters. Lucy's lobster was distinctively rubbery and not as good as the lobster she had the night before with the regular dining room. One or two items for each of us were fairly good, but in general, the meal was nothing to get excited about. Thursday was Belize. If there is any port that cries out to you to take a shore excursion, this would be the one. Downtown has many bars on many windows and little to make you comfortable and relaxed. We had booked a non-Carnival cave tubing excursion with Yohnny at cavetubing.com. Unfortunately it had rained for 36 hours straight just prior to our arrival, the road had washed out and it was repaired just as we arrived to be the first to cross but the trail to the launch point was washed out as well and the river was too high. This meant no cave tubing. Carnival's cave tubing had already been cancelled. We did go to a cave and viewed some stalactites and did have the chicken, rice and Belizean beer that go with cavetubing.com's tour(for a small fee). Yohnny was informative and entertaining and we will use him next time we go, but it was a bit of a downer to miss the cave tubing. It is interesting to note as Yohnny said when we came back to the pier area for the tenders that there is another area behind the piers where the locals offer their wares in a flea market type zone but it is hidden so that you might miss it unless you left the pier area and it is apparently deliberately obstructed from view so you might think only the merchants in the pier have something to offer and their prices are higher and their disposition to bargain is somewhat less. Friday was Costa Maya. We booked the Clear Kayak shore excursion with Carnival. This was $178.00 for 2 people. In short, Pedro paddled like crazy against a strong wind to the beach where we got some complimentary beers (for Pedro), water and fruit and we paddled back. We saw no fish. We did not snorkel. There is no area (apparently) to take advantage of the clear kayak. The guides were friendly and seemed like good sorts. Pedro learned to kayak when he was 15, so it was no big problem, but felt sorry for those that were kayak virgins given the big wind. This could be much better. When we finished the Clear Kayak excursion we were on the extreme south end of the main pedestrian beach area. This is also part of the village of Mahahual. We left the main excursion at that point as all that happened from there is that you were driven about 2 miles back to the main pier area and if you wanted to return to this area which has the sand beach, you had to take a taxi back. We saw some of our kayak group in town a half hour later who hadn't realized they could sign out of the tour which we had done. At the beach area there were the usual vendors' stalls, a number of massage areas and a very nice sand beach with many chairs and facilities with no charge but an expectation that you would patronize the bar or restaurant associated with that stretch of beach. They say Costa Maya is Cozumel in diapers and it is possibly true as the pier has only been there for two years. If you want to, you can just get off the ship in Costa Maya, go to the "village" right by the pier and negotiate with the merchants there. This area has a pool, bars, food, a sand imitation beach area, a real rocky beach and a somewhat artificial flavour of Mexico. This was all recently constructed. We preferred the real town and real beach of Mahahual and just felt very relaxed and comfortable there. It surprises me to say this was our favourite port of call. Not what I would have predicted before our cruise. Saturday was a lazy day at sea. We really appreciated the efforts of our cleaning lady and accordingly gave her and Humberto an extra tip. The seas were fairly rough and we were told that a few people were maintaining a close connection with their washroom's central amenity. There certainly weren't as many people evident for supper. Sunday we were in Customs at 6:45 along with the rest of the passengers who don't normally see stars and stripes on their flagpoles. We couldn't self debark, but eventually cleared the ship about 9:40. We found a little note inside one of our suitcases indicating it had been searched the next day. The debarkation is the same as Disney - find the area with your coloured tags, find your luggage and take off. The baggage area in Tampa was more crowded and we felt sorry for some people trying to wrestle their way with heavy bags through this space and the people although porters were available to assist those that needed or wanted the help. We took a taxi to the airport, waited a bit, checked in and took another taxi ($11.00) with tip to the Westshore Plaza Mall which opened at 12 for most stores but earlier for Macy's which Lucy likes and Pedro tolerates. A little shopping and we were back at the airport and on to the mild wild west (this winter). Did we like Carnival? Generally, yes. Does it give more bang for your buck than Disney? Generally, yes. What are we doing with our children next year? We're planning on a Carnival Miracle cruise in early March of 2007 with the hope that there will be a few more kids than materialized on this cruise but it won't be a tragedy if that's not the case because we believe in Miracles. Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
This was the first time we've taken a family reunion cruise. There were nine of us, three siblings, their spouses and two adult children, one with significant other. Five of the group had never been on a cruise ship. I basically ... Read More
This was the first time we've taken a family reunion cruise. There were nine of us, three siblings, their spouses and two adult children, one with significant other. Five of the group had never been on a cruise ship. I basically organized the group and our choice of itinerary was based on hubby & brothers desire to scuba dive together in the Caribbean. Besides itinerary this cruise was chosen for affordability and the newness of the Miracle. I had seen photos of the wild decor and felt like we needed to be on a "fun ship" for our family cruise. Carnival did not disappoint. I noticed significant improvements since our last cruise on Carnival five years ago. Carnival has toned down the constant announcements over their public address system - these are not broadcast in public areas only. They were not so "in your face" about playing bingo or having your picture taken. I do think that Carnival has the best photographers over other cruise lines. The crew was friendly, the dining room service (at least at our table) was excellent. Our cabin steward did a fine job. I enjoyed all the food, both in the casual Lido buffet and the formal dining room. The entertainment was as good as any I've experienced on other cruises (this was no. 6 for us). I especially liked the band in Frankie & Johnny's although a friend was on the same cruise two weeks later and she said their was no live music in that lounge! She was on the Miracle over Christmas and New Year's and thought maybe some of the crew and entertainers may have been on vacation. The ship's orchestra did an excellent job - I wish there had been dancing at the Captain's party, but no one would dance. The decor was very typical Carnival. By the end of the week even the bright pink grape lights in the dining room seemed to suit the ship - the whole effect was very like a circus or carnival with bright lights everywhere. The murals in the cabin halls broke up the space and was a great idea to break the monotony of long, long corridors. When we were on the ship, it was decorated for Christmas with traditional greens, trees, ribbons and ornaments. Most of the lounges are very fanciful - like the Mad Hatters lounge. Really fun! And the funny blue and white light fixtures in the main areas - loved 'em. We had to visit Frankensteins Lab disco - very creative decor, but the music was not to our liking - sorry, I'm not a hip hop fan. I only took one excursion thru the ship and was very satisfied with the Belize Altun Ha Mayan ruin and River Wallace excursion. I think it worked because it was a group under 30 and we didn't have any long waits or delays. It was informative and very enjoyable. The other members of my group did scuba excursions in Grand Cayman and Belize and a kayak bike excursion in Costa May and a beach excursion in Belize. All thru Carnival and everyone enjoyed their excursion. Several members of our group used the gym and appreciated the equipment and the views. I got my exercise by dancing at Frankie & Johnny's! For the first time I took advantage of a cruise ship health spa and had a head to toe massage. They tried to sell me something I didn't sign up for (an anti toxin wrap) but I didn't have to pay for it - it's terrible to end a relaxing massage session with the aggravation of a botched spa booking. Fortunately I had my flyer in hand and they couldn't overcharge me. We had two glitches at the beginning of the cruise that caused two of us to visit the infirmary. Not too many cruisers get this opportunity and Carnival came thru for us. I can't believe I was dumb enough to leave my blood pressure medication at home. I was able to phone my physician and have her fax a prescription to the ship - they filled it promptly. My brother-in-law also was not too smart when he had the ship bring on his CPAP breathing machine for sleep apnea - I don't know why he didn't treat it like a carry-on - the baggage handlers lost it, but fortunately the ship was able to provide him with one. His own machine showed up on day 2 (what a relief). I was very glad that Carnival came thru for us. DO NOT MISS: going under the Tampa Bay Sunshine State Skyway Bridge. Wow! Holy Cow - the ship clears it by feet! You'll miss it if you have early dining and give yourself some extra time - by brother missed it my minutes, but he totally missed it! The cruise was a huge success for our group. My brother-in-law who has cruised many times (but this was his first time with Carnival) said it was his best cruise ever. My brother thanked me for all my planning, help and input. It was his first cruise and he loved everything about it, especially the scuba diving (this is coming from an experienced diver who is also a marine biologist. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
This was or first cruise and we were unsure of just what to expect. I must say we were pleasantly surprised. Certainly we will take this very same cruise once again, we hope in the next year or so. My wife and I live in St Petersburg so ... Read More
This was or first cruise and we were unsure of just what to expect. I must say we were pleasantly surprised. Certainly we will take this very same cruise once again, we hope in the next year or so. My wife and I live in St Petersburg so are just a short drive to Tampa and the cruise port. We arrived at the cruise terminal unloading area a little after noon (12/11/05)and gave the porter our luggage and had our car valet parked since my wife was in a wheelchair. I highly recommend valet service since it is only an additional ten dollars. What appeared to be mass confusion at drop off is actually well scripted if you follow direction. Once inside you proceed to the second floor where you join lines for check-in. We had received a cabin upgrade from Carnival and were eligible for VIP check-in (Skippers club). We were 2nd in line at VIP and check-in took maybe 5 minutes. We then proceeded quickly through security and then on to the gangway and into the ship. No waiting for others to board, no line. Wow, we are now on the ship and into the Metropolis lounge. My wife and are were both awed by the size of the Metropolis and pleased at the welcome aboard from various crew members present. Our cabin on Deck 5 aft was ready for us early and very clean. We got to meet our cabin steward Anthony from Dominica and he was very outgoing and helpful. I opened the door to a spacious balcony and knew I might want to relax out here from time to time. There was really more than enough closet and drawer space and the bathroom was bright and roomy. The cabin in general was a bit smaller than we had expected for a suite but was laid out well and certainly served our needs. Anthony always kept the cabin perfect and was right there if anything was needed. A mistake we made in booking was not requesting a handicapped cabin. Dining in the Baccus dining room was a treat! Our maitre d Valerian was very attentive and thoughtful. He was the most outgoing, caring maitre d we had ever encountered! Our head waiter Valentine and team waiter Ghana were both outgoing and efficient. All of the meals we ate in Baccus were prepared to order, beautifully presented, hot and above expectation. The lobster was excellent and so was the filet minion. Desserts were superior and one must try the flourless chocolate cake for an excellent treat! Dont rush down to wait in line outside Baccus, just stop and relax on the way to avoid the opening rush of diners. Some choose to ignore the casual night dress code for Baccus, which I find disappointing. We ate one dinner in Nick & Noras and while the dEcor was very nice indeed we did not feel that the food or service was any better than Baccus. In fact we felt that the staff was a bit stuffy and their uniforms to ordinary. In our opinion we did not feel it worth the extra sixty dollars it cost. Dining in Horatios on the Lido deck was tricky what with passengers not following the natural flow of the food & drink lines. With my wife in a wheelchair we also noticed how rude many folks are by cutting in line ahead of her or cutting us off as we wheeled to a table or in and out of the dining room. The food however was plentiful, at the proper temperature, and very good indeed! The number of meal and dessert items to choose from was far more than we expected. There was always plenty of staff working Horatios to make the dining experience there excellent. With so many choices of fresh delicious foods anyone could find something great to eat. Breakfast here offers a terrific selection of cereals, fruits and the usual hot food items. Coffee is strong but tolerable and iced tea is quite good and fresh tasting. Again do not rush to be first in line when serving begins, allow some time for lines to thin out a bit before heading to Horatios. I love pizza and had quite a few slices of the pan pizza prepared at the pizza bar right in Horatios. It was always good and usually fresh out of the oven. Outside Horatios aft doors was the soft serve ice cream & yogurt bar for a good treat anytime. There is also a specialty coffee bar in Horatios at extra charge. We ordered breakfast daily via room service and found the coffee and Danish to be very good. Service is quick, efficient & friendly. Shows in the Phantom lounge were very well done and totally enjoyable. The Beatles show was outstanding and we were very impressed with the singers and dancers abilities and polish. Lighting was very well done and sound was good but too loud. The house band did a great job with its various numbers. There are some seats in the Phantom where due to some support pillars it is difficult to see the stage. Shopping is available on the ship and liquor prices are equal to or less than on shore so it makes sense to buy on ship. The shops are small and often crowded but selection is good although prices are high for convenience items you forgot to bring from home. I went ashore at each port and enjoyed the Grand Cayman Highlights tour which included a visit to the Tortuga Rum Cake bakery & store, Turtle farm and tiny Hell, where it never freezes over! Do buy some rum cake, it is really very good. In addition I went to on to enjoy the sun and beauty of 7 mile beach. In Belize it was the city tour which I found very interesting and educational. I also enjoyed looking around the shopping area near the docks. We both went ashore at Cozumel to enjoy shopping and a Mexican Folk art show. There are no piers at present for the first 3 ports but dont let that stop you from going ashore. The tenders were all clean, easy to board and large but not huge. However when the seas are choppy it is tricky so pay attention to the tender crew, they know what they are doing. At our last port Costa Maya I bought some of that great Mexican Vanilla and then went on to the dune buggy jungle beach adventure. I was odd man out so I rode with one of the tour guides, Gabriel. For me this worked out great because we talked so much about the area and life in Mexico in general. The ride was rough as advertised but the beach at the end was secluded and beautiful as promised. What a treat and thanks to both of our guides for a great time! This excursion is well worth the time and money so I hope Carnival continues to offer it. At Costa Maya there is a nice wide pier and in fact 3 other ships also docked there after we did. There is plenty of shopping here and also lots of tours available for direct purchase. Carnival has a super system for getting on and off ship at ports. Just get in line at the proper area, they scan your sail & sign card and you are on your way. It works in reverse when you re-board and is simple and efficient. The only delay in getting off ship is the volume of people doing the same. In getting back aboard you do have to stop to show purchases or have liquor checked and held until the last day of the cruise. Scanning the sail & sign card allows them to know who is on or off the ship in ports so that all are accounted for. The sign & sail card is also your shipboard ID and charge card. You use it everywhere on the ship and it is mandatory to get back on board in port. To keep it handy I bought a lanyard in the gift shop to wear. My wife did have a full massage & wrap on the ship during the cruise and was more than pleased with the spa and its staff. We had numerous photos taken by the ships photographers and on deck three they have a studio where you can see and select photos that you wish to buy or not as the case may be. Many are themed to and taken at the ports of call and there are numerous backgrounds to choose from for other shots aboard ship. They also offer a well done DVD for sale showing highlights of your cruise. We did not take part in most shipboard activities such as Bingo or contests simply because we choose to rest or explore. There is plenty to do if you like or you can just relax on deck. We found this ship to be very clean with just a little wear and tear. We wanted to partake of the fun in Maguires Bar, Frankie & Johnnys or the piano bar but could not due to the cigarette smoke. We were very disappointed and hope Carnival will consider limiting smoking to the larger casino area or to just the open deck areas and certain cabins. Thankfully smoking is not allowed in the food service areas. Carnival might want to remind everyone to be careful around and respectful of handicapped passengers. Many seemed to forget their manners even though there was plenty of food and space for all. It is really sad that so many folks seem to have such bad attitudes these days. We were upset by the rude treatment of the crew by some who really should have stayed home. Our only other real complaint was the five or six teens aged 11 to 15 who literally ran amok about the Lido deck and Horatios using foul language, pushing, shoving and yelling. They were extremely disrespectful to crew and passengers alike. Their parents should be banned from any further Carnival Cruises. Other children we encountered were very well behaved. There was a nice mix of all ages on the ship leaning toward young. Not a lot of children and very few elderly making the ship more lively perhaps. Despite other reviews I have read with regard to the waiter dance we and seemingly most diners in the Baccus dining room really enjoy the fun associated with this nightly event. I think it gives the hard working staff a chance to unwind and enjoy as well. We also found the ships décor to be different and in our opinion not gaudy as some have described. We felt the Baccus dining room was busy but again not gaudy. The overall layout of the ship is easy to navigate and the size not overwhelming. Disembark in Tampa was a bit slow this trip due to the large number of people having to go through customs which is done aboard ship. Once the ship was cleared we were off fairly quickly. This beautiful ship with its truly hard working and outgoing staff is a credit to Carnival and more than worthy of the crystal Eagle award given to the best ship in the company and proudly displayed in the Grand Metropolis Atrium. Thank you to the crew of the Miracle for making my wife and I feel important and right at home. This 7 day Fun Ship cruise did in fact exceed our expectations. If you have questions feel free to e-mail me.. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
We cannot say enough great things about our trip on Carnival Miracle. The crew was outstanding (particularly Merilyn, one of the ship's pursers). They were extremely friendly and courteous and attended to our every need, always going ... Read More
We cannot say enough great things about our trip on Carnival Miracle. The crew was outstanding (particularly Merilyn, one of the ship's pursers). They were extremely friendly and courteous and attended to our every need, always going well beyond any expectation. We tried out most of the onboard activities and attended nearly every show and give high praises, especially for the evening shows put on by the ship's own singers and dancers. The waterslide was a blast and is definitely not just for kids! The food was fabulous and more than plenty! We love our coffee! We felt that the coffee available on the Lido deck was good, the coffee in the Bacchus dining room was great! If you are looking for a staid- boring-stuffy cruise we suggest a different ship! This is truly a "FUN" ship! We do recommend booking your shore excursions through Carnival. Although a bit more expensive, every excursion we took through them was way more fun and better organized than the one we booked through another agency. As well, the ship allows you to exchange excursion tickets for other ones if you change your mind. For those that are prone to motion sickness, we recommend a cabin lower in the ship. We were on the Riviera deck (bottom) and did not notice much movement when we had heavy seas one night (due to a storm). We will cruise again and we will be on a Carnival "FUN" ship! Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
Eleven of us met to do a preholiday cruise. We had a ball. We loved the rooms with balconies. We had a problem with a handicapped room but the Carnival people went way out of their way to solve that problem. The ship was lovely except ... Read More
Eleven of us met to do a preholiday cruise. We had a ball. We loved the rooms with balconies. We had a problem with a handicapped room but the Carnival people went way out of their way to solve that problem. The ship was lovely except for the tacky dining room with its over-the-top, hot-pink lights. We ate breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck which was absolutely delicious and fresh. There was a bit too much Carnival employee talking at dinner and in the halls; however, we learned to tune that out. We got off at every stop. Use private tours once you are on shore. On Cayman Island we got a great tour to Stingray City which was longer and much cheaper. We had a great crew and photographer. Dont miss swimming and feeding the stingrays. If you ever go to Belize City, contact Mark McField for the tour of your life. His email address is: markmcf@bti.net . He took two of us to the Altun Ha Mayan ruins. He was fascinating and very well educated. He trains many of the other tour guides. We had the best meal of the whole trip in a little, outdoor, thatched-roof restaurant near the ruins in the forest. He then took us to Old Belize City to see the beach and go through a museum. He will let you design your own tour. It was only $65 for 5.5 hours. If you have five or more people, its $55 each. It was the best $65 we ever spent. The other members of our group tubed down a river through a cave but didnt rave about it. We all paid $20 each to go to a nice beach in Costa Maya. They probably lost money on us because it was all you can eat and drink which included alcoholic beverages. We shopped in Cozumel and had a great time bargaining with the locals. We bought most of the silver for $1.00 an ounce. All eleven of us had a great meal at an open-air restaurant a couple of blocks off the beach with a Mariachi band. The Mexican people are so open and friendly. Dont miss the hypnotist on the ship especially the late night show. We never laughed so much and so hard in our whole lives. On the days at sea, I spent time at the water slide. It was fast and fun. A cruise is a great vacation for a group of people. We all did our own thing and met for dinner or other times. There is something for everyone to do. Carnival is a fun, lively, young cruise line. Read Less
Sail Date December 2005
This was our second cruise with Carnival, our first was on Carnival Glory in September 2003. It was Great! We booked the cheapest cabin on this cruise on the bottom since we didn't know what to expect. On this cruise we decided to go ... Read More
This was our second cruise with Carnival, our first was on Carnival Glory in September 2003. It was Great! We booked the cheapest cabin on this cruise on the bottom since we didn't know what to expect. On this cruise we decided to go all out and book a category 12 Penthouse suite. More on this later. My wife and I decided to take our kids along this trip. Son 19 years old and daughter 12 years old. We are extremely glad we did! Our daughter immediately got involved in Camp Carnival and had a blast! Carnival has a great program for the kids. We were told when we booked the cruise to take a picture of our daughter because we wouldn't see her! They were right. Our son had a great time. Being 19 he was allowed to gamble in the casino, he looked forward to that, although he left with his wallet a little lighter. Everything was great on this cruise except the Penthouse Suite. More on this later. The staff was tremendous! the ports of call were wonderful, the entertainment was great. Only one complaint on the food, the first formal night at dinner the usual lobster was one of the choices on the menu. My wife and kids ordered the lobster, it was extremely fishy tasting and didn't at all taste like the lobster at Red Lobster. All the rest of the food throughout the cruise was great. Now to the Penthouse Suite. Don't get me wrong, the Penthouse suite was terrific! The extra room and extra large balcony was the BEST! Here's my complaint, When you book a category 12 cabin, being the Penthouse Suite you pay for it.....I mean you really pay extra for it. Here's what you get for your money on a 7 day cruise when you spend a ton of extra money on the Penthouse Suite......You get to be part of the "Skipper's Club" which entitles you to get on the ship first at embarkation. You get a room that is twice the size of a "regular" room......That's it! Come on Carnival......when people spend their hard earned money for the Top of the line cabin on a ship you have got to do better than that. There was absolutely no other "perks" involved with spending all that extra money on the "best". Simple things like a free drink or two, how about a window seat at dinner, (we were seated in the middle of the restaurant) How about the opportunity to disembark at the ports of call first if you choose to get off the ship. Carnival will need to work on this one. I really didn't know what to expect when we booked the Penthouse suite, perhaps a sticker on our shirts that said we were "VIP's" or something. We are planning another cruise very soon. I'm about to book our third cruise on The Carnival Liberty in March 2006. Carnival has not run us off yet. We simply love Carnival and everything they have to offer. If you book a simple balcony cabin for a reasonable price, you will be satisfied. Unless you have a lot of money to get rid of, don't book the Penthouse Suite. Once you're on board, you're treated like the rest of the commoners. Enjoy your cruise! Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Embarkation - Went very well. We arrived at 11:30 checked our bags with the porter outside went in with our paperwork in hand. We waited about 10 minutes in a security line (x-ray and metal detector). walked up to the desk (no lines) ... Read More
Embarkation - Went very well. We arrived at 11:30 checked our bags with the porter outside went in with our paperwork in hand. We waited about 10 minutes in a security line (x-ray and metal detector). walked up to the desk (no lines) received our sail and sign cards and sat down for about 20 minutes before our section was called to board. Walked on and headed for the food on the Lido deck (Horatio's). The food - We really enjoyed the food in the dining room and ate there all evenings. The food on the lido deck was good. The pizza was just OK when fresh out of the oven, not so good otherwise. Our waiters Agus and Rosauro (the happiest guy on earth) were GREAT!!! We never had to wait for anything. Bar service in the dining room was very good also. Enjoyed the soft serve ice cream/yogurt. If you like Rum drinks, get the specials...They were gooooood! The Entertainment - Some shows were better than others. We really liked "Ticket to Ride" (The Beatles show). Not so crazy about the hypnotist (he must have been good, because he put me to sleep). The band that played in Frankie and Johnnies was GREAT! We found ourselves in there as much as possible. The guys playing out by the pool were mostly good. Karaoke was OK (not a big song selection). The deck parties were a lot of fun! The more involved you are, the more fun it is. Excursions - We booked everything privately on-line. Had the best time. Stingrays with "Captain Bryan" in Grand Cayman, Cave-tubing with "Coral breeze" in Belize and Mayan Ruins with "The Native Choice" in Costa Maya. No stop at Cozumel because of Wilma. I posted reviews of the excursions in the message boards "ports of call" section. Tenders were not a problem. The Ship - Very clean and easy to get around. The elevators were super fast. Our balcony cabin was very comfortable and had plenty of room. Our cabin steward Navena was super friendly and bent over backwards to make sure we had the best stay. She was very talented with the towel animals too. The Cigar bar and the Casino were on two different decks so it was difficult to dodge the smoke at times. The shopping area was nice. You had your choice of pool areas to go to. Some were quiet, some were loud. All had nice hot tubs. The aft pool was adults only. I never had a problem finding a lounge chair near the pool. There were some kids aboard, but they were not out of control. Be sure to explore the whole ship. Things to bring - The bungee for the balcony door, MP3 player and speakers (the music on the TV was not so good), Bug spray (for the excursions), binoculars, alarm clock, Digital camera and underwater case. Oh and "Shoe Goo" (no glue of any kind to be found on or off the boat). Debarkation - Couldn't be easier... Put your luggage outside your door the night before. Get up in the morning, go eat breakfast. Head back to the room and get your carry off stuff. Walk off the boat, get your luggage, go through customs and find your car. literally took 10 minutes total after breakfast. No more waiting in a certain area until your color is called. You had to be out of your cabin by 9:30 am. Can't wait until next time!!! Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Carnival Miracle, Western Caribbean - November 6 to November 13, 2005 Introduction This was the first cruise for the four of us, Brother & Sister-in-Law, Wife & me. They live near London, England; we live near Toronto, Canada. ... Read More
Carnival Miracle, Western Caribbean - November 6 to November 13, 2005 Introduction This was the first cruise for the four of us, Brother & Sister-in-Law, Wife & me. They live near London, England; we live near Toronto, Canada. The purpose in going on a cruise was two-fold. Firstly, my wife has always wanted to go, but I have always preferred an active holiday (that is until I stopped being so active), secondly I wanted a relaxing vacation, with lots of romantic sunsets (I actually saw more romantic sunrises than sunsets), lots of sun and sea, a chance to visit some places Ive never been to before, & maybe some time before I would visit them again, and we had a few anniversaries to celebrate. We all enjoyed the cruise, we felt it provided value for money (with some little niggles), and we are all planning to go on another one. I found it quite expensive when you include the airfares and the before & after cost, but within the amount we had budgeted, so we have some saving to do  we wont be going again until 2007. Next year we are going to England and Germany to stay with family and friends. We usually travel independently, normally travelling overseas every year or so, therefore we are not in a position to judge how a cruise compares to a land based vacation, either in terms of enjoyment or cost. However, part of the enjoyment, for me, comes in not having to worry about what you are spending when you are on vacation, unless it is the wife going shopping. I like to make sure that we have most of the cost accounted for before we go away and to keep within the budget without stinting oneself. The Choice We were looking for a 7 day cruise for our first sea going experience. We felt that a 10 day cruise would have been to long in case we didnt like the experience and a 3, 4 or 5 day cruise too short in case we did. The short cruises would probably be too rowdy and there would be too many young children. In addition we wouldnt get a full enough experience with a shorter cruise. We didnt want to go on a Southern Caribbean cruise out of San Juan due to the length of flight getting there, the language and the likelihood of having the Dominican Republic or Jamaica as one of the ports of call. The Eastern Caribbean seemed to be all beaches and no ancient history, while the Western Caribbean had both (having read the Cruise Critic (CC) boards this is now open to debate  there is always next time). We tried to plan a week not too near to Christmas or too close to the Hurricane season, and to miss the US thanksgiving weekend (as it turned out we were lucky with the Hurricanes as the season really dragged on this fall), in addition any later in the year would get us into possible bad weather and flight delays. We also decided that, all things being equal, that we would like to leave from Tampa as we would be spending a post cruise vacation in the area. We picked Carnival and the Miracle because it fit the bill, and we knew of someone who had sailed on the Miracle, and someone who had sailed the Western Caribbean, with a different cruise line, both the year before and who had enjoyed themselves. Pre Cruise (Saturday November 5, 2005) Pre-cruise started on the Saturday. I was up at 5:30am, the wife at 6:30am. We finished the last 10% of the packing not completed the night before. We left the house at 8:20am, stopped for coffee at the local Tim Hortons drive through, but still made it to the airport by 9:15am thanks to judicious driving by our son (the airport is about 60km/40 miles from where we live). Checking in for the plane was a breeze, they didnt even weigh in our luggage, and it took an hour to clear US immigration (we pre-clear US customs & immigration before we leave Canada as the flight lands at the domestic gates in the US). We bought a bottle of ice wine at the duty free as a thank you gift for the friends we would be staying with in Tampa. The flight on Westjet (similar to Southwest or Ryanair) was ok, left on time & arrived on time. The only drawback in flying this budget airline is that they only have one flight a day to Tampa. Time would have been tight if we had to catch the Sunday flight. We took a cab to the hotel (Sheraton Riverside, down town Tampa, relatively close to cruise pier, the cab fare was $20.00 with a $5.00 tip, we also tipped bellboy who took our luggage up to room $5.00). The hotel had just been redecorated, the room was fine, but I think that the Marriott may have been a better choice, even though it cost more. The in-laws had wanted to stay there but I overruled them, hope that they dont remember. We met up with our in-laws for a chat, which continued in the hotel bar (which was rather small) and then in their room. There was a convention in the hotel so it was a little crowded. The hotel cost $149.00 per night, per room, taxes extra (I had never even heard of Priceline then). My Brother and Sister in-law had arrived the day earlier (Friday) after having taken a direct flight from London Gatwick to Tampa and they had already done some exploring. The thing about downtown Tampa is that it is as dead as a dodo outside of office hours (no shops and only a few bars & restaurants). They had eaten in the hotel dining room the night before (which they said wasnt bad), so we opted for a meal a block away at the Hyatt hotel (great meal), then back to the hotel for an early (10:30pm) night. It had been a long day for all of us, and as it takes some time to get over the jet lag it was a good idea to get there a day or two early to unwind before the cruise. Embarkation Day (Sunday November 6, 2005) I woke up at 5:00am on Sunday, but managed to sleep in until 7:30am. We had breakfast in the hotel dining room at 9:00am, buffet style with a nice omelette. Our in-laws were still affected by jet lag & I am always up early. I lost out in my attempt to get to the ship early as I was out voted, we will have to wait to see how this turns out!! We left the hotel just after noon, took the free hotel shuttle (a minivan/people mover) to the cruise. We needed the minivan for all of our luggage, but we didnt have to book the ride in advance. It took 5 minutes to reach the cruise terminal, where we unloaded and handed our luggage to a stevedore (3 suitcases plus 2 carryons for each couple, tipped driver $5.00 and stevedore $6.00). Embarkation went very smoothly, the line ups moved quickly through security, registration, pictures, and we were on board by 12:45pm. - we had filled out our fun pass on line some time before which helped speed up the process. We were in group 25 to be called for boarding, so we could have arrived earlier (CCs you were right again)!! Had our picture taken before boarding  the only thing worse than having your picture taken was the fact that we bought it. My brother-in-law brought a bottle of duty free scotch on board, but no one was interested in it  even when he tried to declare it (it was to be a present for the post cruise friends). We had wine and water in our carry on and a couple of opened water bottles in our checked luggage but again no one was interested, and no bags were searched. If Carnival have a policy regarding alcohol and quantities of wine they do not seem to enforce it (Sometimes the rules are there to be broken  there is a strict policy that can be enforced if it becomes necessary, but if people are reasonable, and dont abuse the rules, than they are led to believe that they have gotten away with something). We found our cabins (4157 & 4159, both with balcony, on the starboard side of the ship, just behind the main bank of elevators/lifts on the Main Deck); we dumped our hand luggage and went off to search for food. It was crowded on the Lido deck and Total Eclipse were playing Caribbean music (much too noisy as the only table we could find was next to the band  no wonder that it was empty); we eventually found a table in Horatios and had the buffet lunch  no idea what we ate, just needed to replenish the engine. After lunch we took a few pictures, explored, enjoyed the shade on Lido Deck 9, at the rear of Horatios, close to the Orpheus Bar. We tried the ice cream, (it comes in a Dairy Queen/Taste Freeze soft ice cream machine) but I found it to be very watery or not very creamy, depending on your point of view. I had to try it again later on in the week just to make sure. The buffet consists of a number of different food stations that serve grilled food (hamburgers & hotdogs), deli sandwiches, pizza, Chinese, and one that changes every day, there is also fresh fruit, dessert and salad bars, with tea/coffee/iced tea/juice. Mostly we tried salad and Chinese food  we were usually too full to tackle anything with greater substance. We also found that if you added lemonade to the iced tea it tasted just fine, couldnt do much for the coffee though. The Buffet lunch is available from noon and closes down promptly at 2:30pm, except for the Deli (11:00am to 11:00pm), the Grille (11:00am to 6:00pm) and the Pizza bar (24hours); Buffet Dinner is available from 6:00pm until 9:30pm; and for those that prefer a liquid lunch, alcoholic drinks are available from 9:00am to1:00am at various locations around the ship. Had to be at lifeboat muster stations by 4:00pm to try out our new lifejackets, it went smoothly, with everyone taking it seriously (as they should), but do come late in order to line up at or near to the front as it gets a little crowded. One of our cases arrived at our cabin by 4:00pm and the other two by 7:00pm. On the Monday we received a notice that one piece of luggage had gone missing. This was not bad considering the amount of luggage brought onboard  except, of course, if it was your luggage that had gone missing, and then it could be quite catastrophic. We watched the line up for the early dinner from the comfort of the Jeeves Bar on Deck 2, which is just outside the Dining Room, listening to John play his guitar, synthesizer and trombone. The dining room line up took 10 to 15 minutes to clear. We then went up to Deck 12, the Sky Deck, to watch as we went under the Tampa Bay Bridge. It looked like we only cleared it by a few inches, when in fact we cleared the bridge deck by almost 6 inches. It actually takes around 2 to 3 hours from the dock to reach the Skyway Bridge. Interestingly this was the topless deck but this was the first and last time I saw it  when I sunbathe Im not taking my shirt off for anyone no matter what the sign says!! After all of the comments on the CC boards about bar prices and bringing supplies onboard we didnt find the bar or wine prices out of line with what we would pay back home in a bar or restaurant  we also found the bar prices in the Sheraton hotel quite cheap by our usual standards. Consequently we didnt touch our own supplies. The one annoying niggle here was the fact that we had to pay the 15% gratuity when we ordered wine from our waiter at dinner. Bar prices were as follows: - a Planters Punch cost $3.95, a Pina Colada $4.95, House liquor $4.25, Budweiser $3.25 while real Beer was $3.75 & $4.25; soft drinks in cans were $1.50 and in 20oz. bottles $2.50, and was $1.00 as a drink mix. The drink of the day cost $6.25 in a souvenir glass and $2.95 in a regular glass. They had a good selection of wines, we tried a different one every night, however a couple of the wines did not live up to their descriptions & price doesnt necessarily determine quality. We found the prices reasonable e.g. they charged $25.00 for a bottle of Bill Blass Yellow Label, a South Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, which would cost me $17.00 in our local liquor store plus the $10.00 and up mark-up in a restaurant. We turned up for dinner at 8:25pm for the late sitting and there was still a line up, but it soon cleared; turning up a few minutes late every evening for dinner worked out all right. We had tried to find out which table we had been assigned prior to dining but had been unable to do so. We were assigned a table for four upstairs on the third level; we had a booth on the right side front just by the balcony overlooking the lower dining room. In addition the menus are posted inside the dining room doors so it is not easy to decide in advance what to eat, no problem as selecting what to eat was all part of the fun. Generally all of our meals were good, up to the standard of the local restaurants we frequent when we are at home (two diamond rating by AAA, dinner entrees from $12.00 to $30.00) but not the culinary event the Carnival brochure talks about. The portions were a little on the small side by North American standards, but we never left hungry (probably due in no small part to all of the other food we consumed during the day and to the lack of effort we made to undo the damage it had caused); I even tried the cheese plate with coffee on a number of evenings. One disappointment was the bland and very basic salads they served  just lettuce with a few tomatoes  not much of a variety and on the first evening they only had our third choice of wine available, due, we were told, to the fact that not all of the supplies had been sorted out yet. Another disappointment was the deserts, well, actually one desert in particular. On the Sunday I had the Caramelized Lemon Custard, it was indeed custard with a lemon flavour. On Monday I had the Tiramisu  big mistake as this was a reincarnation of the Lemon Custard of the previous evening, and nothing like a traditional Tiramisu. On Tuesday I had the Raspberry Lemon Verbena Crème Brule  bigger mistake as this was the second reincarnation of the Lemon Custard, with a raspberry on top, but nothing like a traditional Crème Brule, in fact it was so lemon custardardy that I couldnt eat it, it had curdled. By the way I am not a big fan of crème caramel, which was a close relative to this desert, but my wife, who is a fan, finished it for me and she seemed to enjoy it, but than she had eaten different deserts on the two previous evenings. Our waiters were Valentine, from Jamaica, and Mashane, from Botswana (both had a cheerful demeanour). Dinner was completed by 10:30pm, but by that time there were not many people left in the dining room. We like our food and the company so there was no need to hurry the experience. Except for one day (Belize) we had all gone on different excursions and dinner gave us a good opportunity to catch up on what each of us had done that day. Interestingly enough even though it was a full ship a number of people never showed up for dinner in the restaurant the whole week, presumably some people preferring to have their meals at other times and in other locations. We would have liked to have been seated on a larger table in order to get to know our fellow travellers a little better. However one surprise in sitting at a table for four was that we were still all talking to each other at the weeks end. Shorts were acceptable attire this first evening  not everyone had received their luggage yet. We found the DEcor in the Bacchus dining room very kitsch, over the top, garish, cheap looking.  and that was the positive review - looking like the Daleks from Dr. Who, something from the Triffids (cheap, sorry I meant low budget, science fiction television shows), or illuminated smarties joined together by thick electric cables (the grapes and the vines)  I guess that I just dont have any imagination, it became even worse when one of the smarties started pulsating.. Notwithstanding other CCs opinions regarding the artwork we had no complaints, we didnt really notice it, felt that the pictures were understated, tasteful and in keeping with the period they generally depicted. It also looked like they had been borrowed from the local art gallery, but hadnt been arranged very well by the curator. The vases in the niches in the stair wells were a nice touch  I noticed that the niches were protected by locked glass doors. We recognised most of the fictional characters that lined the walls of the stateroom corridors The stateroom dEcor was somewhat bland (or you could call this restful) but the soundproofing worked very well; you had to open the door to hear the cruise directors announcements. This was good as the Cruise Directors (Mark Hawkins) announcements were another of our little niggles. There was adequate storage space for all of our clothes, with room under the beds for our luggage. We did bring our own hangers to supplement those provided; we didnt need any of the extra supplies suggested by CC for our room. There was no clock (we brought our own) or radio in the room; bathroom supplies (the freebies) were not replenished during the week; the soap and shampoo containers in the shower were refilled; the room temperature was difficult to regulate as there were no temperature markings on the thermostat dial. In addition we couldnt keep balcony door open as no place to hook bungee cord onto (I guess that we could have hooked it onto the railings), but didnt have a need to keep the door open all night. There is a clothes line in the shower for drying clothes, spare tissue paper (Kleenex) & toilet paper, the shower was large for a cubicle, and the water hot and plentiful  the shower had a temperature control which you could set and leave. One of the wardrobes could be converted from shelving to hanging space if needed. There is a TV in the room and they show some movies (saw Home Alone and the Famous Four), and videos of the cruise activities from the Phantom Lounge as well as having some stations via satellite feed, they also have a live cam showing the front and rear of the ship, as well as the wedding lounge. Didnt spend much time watching TV, but you could check out your sale and sign purchases, which we did the evening prior to leaving to make sure that it was correct  which it was. Our stateroom steward was Than Thanoporn who, together with her assistant kept our rooms clean and tidy. In fact we only saw them twice the whole week, once when we arrived and they introduced themselves and once on the last night. We were low maintenance passengers. The stateroom steward had a business card which she put into a holder on the wall between the door and the bathroom The show tonight at 10:30pm was the welcome aboard show with comedian Pete Michael  missed that one, we didnt finish dinner until 10:30pm. We wondered around until 11:15pm, taking in the sights and atmosphere, then bed. Several nights they had a midnight adults only comedy show, which we didnt get to. First Sea Day (Monday November 7, 2005) Woke up at 4:30am (it takes me sometime to unwind from the rigours of the office). We had breakfast in the dining room at 9:00am. Had Eggs Benedict, which I must admit were quite nice. Open seating, sat at a table for four with two ladies from Atlanta. Sunning on deck until lunch time, drinks in the Gotham Lounge on Level 3, where the Montreal Jazz Trio played, booked Wallace River/Altun Ha trip for Belize and booked Nick & Noras but only able to get in for Saturday  didnt want to book for a port day as thought we would be too tired and too much of a rush. Back in the sunshine after lunch, or at least in the shade, until 5:00pm, it became very hot sitting in the sun and the sea was very calm. I was surprised at both the high temperatures and the high humidity levels for this time of the year, I had always thought that they would have been lower in November  could have been why there had been so many hurricanes this year. We attended the Captains cocktail party in the Phantom Lounge at 7:15pm, and the first formal night in the Dining Room. Most people were very nicely attired. After dinner went to the Phantom Lounge for the Generations show (hit songs through the decades  must be getting old I could sing along with most of them, well most of the newer ones), the show lasted one hour (early seating show at 8:45pm, late seating show at 10:30pm), then to bed at 11:45pm. First Port of Call  Grand Cayman (Tuesday November 8, 2005) I got up at 6:00am, the wife was up at 6:30am, and we had breakfast by 7:00am. Its tuff having fun!! The procedure for leaving the ship was that if you are on a Carnival organized trip you meet up in the Phantom Lounge at the time on your ticket, and they escort you to the tender. If, like us, you are on your own you just go down to Level 1 to the tender and line up. Off the ship at 8:00am for the 8:10am tender (no real schedule they just go one after the other), took 20minutes before the boat was full and 2minutes to ride to port. Grand Cayman is on same time as the ship. We had booked the Rays, Reef and Rum Point tour, over the internet, with Nativeway Water Sports, based on the recommendations on the CC Board (cost $55.00 incl. lunch plus a $10.00 tip). The guy from Nativeway was there to meet us at the docks. We waited for the other tourists to join us (there was a Disney ship in port at the same time as us) and then a short walk to the parking lot where we got on a bus, for about 15 people. The bus took us north along Seven Mile Beach, than east, which took us to the east shore of the sound where we caught the boat. The first stop was at the reef, there were 2 moray eels and 2 nurse sharks. However we found that our glasses do not fit into the masks very well so rather than swim blindly we chose to stay on board. The next stop was the sand bar and the sting rays, were we stopped for 45minutes, lots more fun for us (both sites were busy with lots of boats coming and going but not crowded  lots of sand bar and sting rays to keep us all happy). You go off the back of the boat or climb down the steps into waist/chest deep water (the depth depends where the boat parks and the height of the waves). The water was very clear and we played with the sting rays, a bit nervous at first but they soon settled down. Then we were off to Rum Point Beach, a word of caution, the boat travels very fast, if you dont want to get soaked (from the spray or from the backwash if the boat stops quickly) dont sit in the open part of the boat!! We arrived at the beach at 12:15pm and stayed until 1:45pm, and back at the mooring by 2:20pm and then the 5m bus ride into town. On the boat they give you the menu for lunch, from the Wreck Bar and Grille at Rum Point Beach, and you choose what you want to eat and drink (ice tea or pop), they call ahead to place the order and it was ready when we arrived (e.g. Grilled chicken sandwich was Cay$8.50 or US$10.65). The beach was a little crowded, but we found a spot to sun & snooze for an hour before having to head back. The trip back from Rum Point to the east shore across the North Sound was quite spectacular  I dont know if we were running late but it sure went quickly (the ferry takes about 40minutes and we went a lot quicker) . We paid on the return journey; they accepted cash MasterCard and Visa. We took the bus back to George Town where we did a little shopping for tourist items  tee-shirt, coffee mug, postcards - went into some of the air conditioned shops to cool down after the sun and caught the 3:30pm tender back to the ship. Grand Cayman is a little on the expensive side. All of the stores quoted prices in US$, Cayman $ are 1.25 US$. During the security check in getting back onto the ship one person was taken away, never to be seen from again, presumably to be searched, and one couple had some disagreement with security, presumably with bringing back duty free and it being kept until the end of the voyage. I, for one, appreciated the level of security provided. Once back we showered & changed and had coffee & cake in the Fountainhead Coffee Shop, on the Promenade Deck, Deck 2, one slice of cake between the two of us was sufficient, and a drink in Sams Piano Bar, definitely no sharing here, while our wives bought necklaces and photographs. This exercise took up the couple of hours until it was time for dinner. It is tough enjoying yourself on a days outing on the island; need a sea day tomorrow to catch up The show tonight was Manual Zuniga, juggler, and Ronnie Bullard, a comedian (early at 7:00pm and late at 8:45pm. Once again dinner got in the way, wonder what we did after dinner!! Second Sea Day (Wednesday November 9, 2005) We woke up at 8:00am, the sun, sea and exercise seems to have worked  I slept in. We ordered a pot of tea from room service, it arrived within 5minutes. Tea on the balcony goes well with the first cigarette of the day. This was the wrong type of tea for me  not strong enough. We enjoyed having the balcony  it did become a rather expensive ash tray (the wife smokes), but it kept the peace. It was pleasant to go out there and read, watch the sea, get some sun, etc. We had breakfast in the dining room, they put on a table for four again, but the other couple didnt like the table location and left us  their loss. On deck in the shade, too much sun. Lunch in Horatios at 2:00pm, tried some hot & sour soup and some Indian dishes (today India was the featured country)  geared to North American taste buds but not mine (not hot/spicy enough). Did some shopping along The Yellow Brick Road (looked in the shops) and had a snooze. They have a duty free store on board that sells liquor, the prices are quite good ($10.00 for a 1 litre bottle of rum, vodka, scotch, Kahlua) but the selection is limited; however the selection here was still better than at Tampa airport. It rained quite heavily this afternoon. Wife had coffee & drink  unfortunately they do not know how to make a Caesar, nor do they have Pims, so had to stick with Pina Coladas. Two of us had the roast lamb for dinner. Next niggle  the lamb was uncooked in the middle. I like my meat blue, but both of the lamb dishes had to be returned as they were uncooked. We had Beef Wellington instead. Continuing niggles  we could only get the Beef Wellington medium rare or medium well, go figure!! The medium rare was medium rare, however, the medium well was well done to death. If you cant cook a dish to order it probably means that the food has been precooked. Funny because the prime rib which we had on two nights, and the fillet mignon, could be cooked however you liked it (not quite up to the fine dining claims made in the Carnival Brochure). Further niggles; in the dining room the maitre d, or whomever, has to tell us how the inter-team contest is going (the dining room is split up into three teams and points are scored by team members competing in various social events during the day) and signing off with Kissee, Kissee, this may be part of the fun but not part of the fine. Again in the dining room on two evenings the wait staff have to do a song and dance routine, and on one night the diners have to reciprocate, again this may be part of the fun but is definitely not part of the fine. Unfortunately in the dining room you are a captive audience and couldnt escape it. This also usually happened before we had our desert or coffee, and service stopped during this time. This is more like the Butlins holiday camp atmosphere of old, but thankfully these announcements were restricted otherwise they would be downright annoying. (Remember this is my money we are talking about & I choose how I want to spend it and this is my opinion, which may not be yours  remember the posting guidelines). Carnival Legends show at 10:30pm, which I missed, but which the others saw, than to Sams, with David at the piano, for a nightcap before bed. This was to be the day we visited Cozumel, but due to hurricane Wilma we had an extra day at sea. We had planned a beach day at Cozumel so an extra sea day was not unwelcome. In addition we were given a $25.00 credit per passenger on our sail and sign card (contractually I dont believe that Carnival had to do anything). Second Port of Call  Belize (Thursday November 10, 2005) Breakfast just after 7:00am in the Bacchus Dining Room, Eggs Benedict again  I thought that this was one of the better ones that I had eaten. We were seated at a larger table this time so that we were able to chat with our fellow diners. Next niggle, some of the wait staff need to be a little more proficient in both English and in knowing their menus, e.g. knowing what they had on the menu and in knowing the terminology used in the menus. Although they all seemed to be cheerful, some more so than others, they didnt always wait for a reply to be given to the general questions they asked  not very sincere. Today we went on a tour booked through Carnival. We had to meet in the Phantom Lounge at 8:15am for an 8:30am departure. We actually left at 8:45am on the tender to the port of Belize. After walking through the shopping arcade we split into two groups, the first to go via bus on the Altun Ha portion of the tour and the second, the group that we were on, to go on the river portion of the tour. We left on an open boat across the estuary and up the Wallace River. On the trip we saw iguanas, birds, monkeys and a few smallish crocodiles. We had lunch at the switch over-point at 11:30am (chicken with rice, beans & salad, cost for two $10.00 plus pop at $3.00) and the wife did some shopping (necklace and bracelet) before we took the bus on to the Altun Ha site. We had a quick tour of the site and then back on the bus, arriving back at the port by 3:00pm. Had a quick look at the shops in the arcade and then on the 3:30pm tender back to the ship. The tour cost $59.00 per person (tip $10.00 to the tour guides and $2.00 to the boat driver, nothing to the bus driver). I would have thought for that price lunch would have been included. In addition Carnival make a big point of promoting their, as opposed to independent, tours. However when you receive your tickets Carnival make a point that they are not responsible for anything that may happen as all of the tour operators are independent contractors (its lucky that I am not a lawyer - I could have had a field day here). It was quite a nice tour, but not nice enough to do again, the ruins part of the tour was rushed. This is one day when we covered ourselves with DEET (Deep Woods Off  95% DEET) to fend off the insects. But you put the bug spray or the sunscreen on first. Other people complained about getting bitten but we didnt have any problem. This stuff is not very nice and doesnt taste too good  but it removes paint quite effectively, and does work. The first thing we did when we were back onboard was to have a shower to get the stuff off. Then we went straight to the pizza bar to try their delights and to sample their Caesar salad, after all we had eaten an early lunch. The pizza was cooked to order, there was a limited choice but it was adequate, the Deli and grill was also open. We never tried the food from the Deli or grille, but it was always a popular place to eat. Had a good dinner tonight, filet mignon served just how everyone liked it, from blue to medium rare. After dinner my wife went to Mr. Luckys Casino to try the slots to see how quickly she could lose $20.00  not long - and she lost it all on her own, I decided I wasnt going to watch. The show tonight consisted of a singer, Christine Machado and a comedian, Carl Faulkenberry, (early show at 7:00pm, late show at 8:45pm). Do not know if this show was good or not as we didnt see it Third Port of Call  Costa Maya (Friday November 11, 2005) Today was Remembrance/Veterans day, but the only announcement came at dinner and I thought it could have been done better. Had an early start to the day again, with breakfast in Horatios  omelette. Walked off the ship at 8:15am along the pier to the tourist village and took a taxi to town (purchased two tickets at $3.00ea plus a $1.00 tip to the driver). We had a short walk to the Cats Meow, the starting point for our tour to the Chacchoben ruins. We were met at the restaurant by David, and we also met the Canadian Owner of the place. We had a quick walk down Mahauals main street and then back to meet Ivan to start the tour. It took 45 minutes to reach the site, 2 ½ hours for the tour and another 45 minutes to get back to the tourist village, which we did by 2:00pm. We had a great tour, one I can heartily recommend, Ivan is very passionate about this area and his heritage and this passion comes out in the commentary he provided us. We ended up knowing all about Ivan and his family, the history of the site and of Mayan culture, and the history behind the port and village of Mahahual and his views of the future. This was a much better tour than the Altun Ha tour of the previous day (tipped him $10.00). Another couple of CC members were on this tour (mommy to 2 girls & raceroc). Interestingly we almost bumped into Larry the Lamb (Kelynj a CC member) on the first evening while departing Tampa, but she was being protected from the cold wind by a big strong guy and we didnt want to intrude. Surprisingly our paths never crossed again. I know that it is a large ship with over 2,000 people on board but it is amazing that it didnt feel overcrowded and that we didnt bump into the same people over and over again. I even had trouble finding the rest of my family when I, supposedly, knew where they were  walkietalkies are only good when you have them with you, and when they are turned on. After the tour we went back on board for lunch, then back to the tourist village for a quick look around and a beer by the pool. Back on board by 3:45pm. Coffee in Horatios until 5:15pm. as we watched as the ship left port. RCls Rhapsody of the Sea was also in port that day from 9:00am until 4:00pm Second formal night was tonight, I must admit that the guys in their tuxedos looked sharp, and I didnt look to shabby in my suit, nor for that matter did the ladies in their gowns. We had the prime rib again and it was good. Tipped Valentine and Mcshane $20.0 each from the four of us, in addition to the standard service gratuity, as we would be at Nick and Noras the following evening. We went to the Beatles show Ticket to Ride at 7:00pm before dinner (the show for the early seating was later at 8:45pm), and to Frankie & Johnnies after dinner. The brass section of the Miracle orchestra joined Music Unlimited for a set in Frankie & Johnnies. The volume of the room wasnt designed to take so many decibels, that and the strobe lights nearly did me in (party pooper that I am). We went to look at the layout for the Friday night gala buffet, but didnt partake - too much food already to try the midnight buffet, and in bed by 12:30am. Third Sea Day (Saturday November 12, 2005) This morning, late breakfast in Horatios at 9:30am and relaxing in a deck chair on deck 9 until 11:00am. We then went to the Phantom Theatre to hear the Cruise Director explain the disembarkation process. We, along with all of the other foreign guests, have to be in the Mad Hatters Lounge by 6:15am Sunday to clear US Customs. What is all this about - we are supposed to be on vacation!! We all had lunch in Horatios at 2:00pm and then spent the afternoon on deck. For supper we were all going to Nick & Noras. Our reservation was for 8:00pm, and of course we arrived on time, with all of us smartly dressed. The meal took 3 hours, with 2 bottles of wine. We selected the first bottle, which lasted for the first starters and salad courses, and then the Sommelier suggested a different bottle for our main course. Before accepting the Sommeliers suggestion we checked the wine list and found that it was quite reasonably priced and tasted just as good as the first bottle. We left a $10.00 tip per couple. The room wasnt very full, understandably as it was the last night of the cruise, but we never felt rushed and we had a great meal, cooked as requested, well presented and served, which together with the romantic music, provided a great ambience. It was definitely fine dining and a large step up from the Bacchus dining room. We had been debating before hand whether we should go at all; after all we had already paid for all of our meals, so why should we pay extra for this one. If you assume that the regular dining room meals were the equivalent quality of a steakhouse chain, than the premium you paid for the meal at Nick & Noras was well worth it, although the $30.00 nominal charge was a little more than I would call nominal We had to have our luggage outside our stateroom between 7:00pm to 11:00pm that evening to be picked up. We managed to get back after supper, change, finish our packing, and still have time to get our luggage to our front door in time to be picked up Disembarkation Day (Sunday November 13, 2005) This is were you suffer from having fun on Saturday night. We were up at 6:00am and at The Mad Hatters Lounge by 6:30am to present ourselves to US Customs. We actually landed just before 6:00am, so we missed seeing the ship enter harbour. The first good thing was that it was a breeze and we were out of there by 7:00am  it always happens like this when I dont have anything with me that I shouldnt have. The second good thing was that US citizens had to clear customs at 6:30am. Had breakfast, then back to the rooms by 8:15am to clear up. Early disembarkation took place at 7:30am for early flights and for help yourself; general disembarkation took place at 8:30am. Note that only US citizens were allowed to help themselves. So we all took it easy and left after the general rush around 9:30am. Went down to collect our luggage with out any problem and departed. Friends were picking us up at the pier, and we also had to pick up a rental car at the airport. We parked our luggage and our wives at the coffee shop just around the corner while the two guys took our carry on luggage and a shuttle to the airport. We picked up our rental car, than found that our friends car wouldnt hold the entire luggage. Trunks on North American cars do not hold a lot of luggage, neither do European cars, however European cars look a lot smaller on the outside than North American cars. A point to note  the cab fare is a fixed $20.00 one way from the airport to the cruise pier, similarly with the return journey. The shuttle is $9.00 one way per person .We should have waited for a mini van cab in order that we could have all travelled together, with out wasting so much time. Four people, with luggage $20.00 in a cab, $36.00 with the shuttle We also had to settle our sign and sail card bill. Summing up We are well travelled, low maintenance customers  we didnt require any special treatment nor did we expect to receive any - consequently we found that the level of service was adequate & the staff performed their duties to the levels expected, in other word they did their jobs, and we received value for money. Notwithstanding that, we still tipped both the dining room and the stateroom staff at the end of the week even though they didnt do anything special to warrant this. We worked it out that with 2,124 guests and 930 staff the mandatory service gratuity came to a total of $148,680.00 for the week or an average of $160.00 for each staff member, not counting the 15% on top of the liquor bills. I appreciate that the service staff are low paid by North American standards (but not necessarily by the staffs standards or by their country of origins standards), that they work very long hours, live for eight months at a tine on board ship in cramped quarters, probably send most of their wages home to help care for their families and that minimum wages probably dont apply on board ship (even if they are mandated to do so they probably get around them by charging for uniforms, board and lodging, laundry, etc). However, that is Carnivals concern with regard to their wage policies and to the staff accepting them (not necessarily both on an equal footing here) and not mine. Carnival set the prices which I accept (I would prefer that the price I pay be more inclusive so that a tip becomes a reward for outstanding service and not part of someones wages, although I realise that this is not going to happen anytime soon), but, even though Carnival may be at the low end of cruise line prices, I dont like to be nickeled and dimed to death. I consider myself to be an average tipper, I dont throw nickels around like they are manhole covers neither do I tip 20% of the bill regardless of the level of service I received, nor do I believe in pre-tipping. For the record, when I go to a restaurant I usually tip 15% of the bill, before taxes are added. I did, however, find it tacky in the extreme, at the disembarkation talk, to have the staff all parade before us and for the cruise director to tell us to tip the maitre d, and to tell us that the staff members progress depends on the passengers favourable review of their performance (In other words be careful how you respond when filling out your comment card, say something nasty and the staff member gets fired  I guess Carnival do not monitor or supervise their own staff or have a quality control programme, etc). If every passenger tipped the Maitre d $1.00 this would add up to over $2,000.00 for a weeks work, on top of his salary  I wonder if he would share that with anyone) I never made it to the sushi bar  went past it quite a few times  but was always too full (not the sushi bar, me), never made it to the midnight buffet either (I was usually in bed by then, and if I was still up I was definitely too full). Somewhat disappointed with the swimming pools - none of them were large enough to actually swim laps in them; maybe the other ships have a better choice. I am not sure what Carnival mean in their brochure about having three bands and orchestras with spectacular Las Vegas  style shows, and comedy acts and international singers (well they werent American so the international part was true  must learn to read the small print). I went because the shows were there, and considering the limitations of working on a ship they werent bad, in fact they were quite enjoyable, sort of like your local repertory/summer stock theatre but not like Broadway/West End theatre. You have to remember that in Las Vegas, for the amount you pay for the tickets, you expect to get a Las Vegas show, with all of the trimmings. It was like the dinner menu  if it mentioned an item in the singular you received one of them, if it referred to an item in the plural you received two of them, however you could order more than one item if you so chose, or even two of the same item, and no one battered an eyelid. We didnt attend any of the Port shopping talks and we didnt attend any of the briefings on the Ports of Call. The sports bar has a very limited selection of sports, read no Premiership football, they didnt get Fox Sports channel, usually showing main stream North American sports on ESPN. The ship will post your cards and letters from the ports of call, worked fine for Grand Cayman, except wouldnt accept mail for any of the other port nor for Tampa  go figure. The walkie-talkies we had worked well, just need to make sure no one else is using the channel you are on. Of course they work well when you have them turned on. Used them in Costa Maya and they worked well. Before cruising one of our concerns had been the rowdy behaviour and the number of small children onboard. This turned into a non event, as either there were no rowdy adults or obnoxious children on board or we never noticed. The Cruise line excursions were ok, but the privately arranged ones were better, both in quality and price. We arranged our excursion over the internet, based on CC members recommendations and found the people we dealt with very courteous and quick to respond to our requests for information. The library was a little light on books & I am not sure that the ones they had saw much of the light of day. We brought our own books - I read three during the week. We liked the towel animals that were waiting for us each afternoon when we returned to our cabins, we particularly liked the monkey swinging from the curtain rail. Our Sail & Sign charges came to $730.00 (Nick & Noras = $97.00 incl. wine, Excursions = $146.00, Photos = $58.00, Jewellery = $89.00, Drinks = $200.00, Service Gratuity = $140.00). We are still waiting to receive our Visa bill We didnt go to the Art Auction, I would have had no idea what I was buying, who the artists were, or if the prints were a bargain, I guess that I would pay up to a few hundred dollars for a print that fits in with our dEcor at home, but more than that and I would want to know chapter and verse about the print; I didnt make any major purchases either from the ships shops or from the port shops for the same reasons. I also didnt need to do things I could have done back home, so I didnt bring my lap top computer or connect to the internet. If work cannot do without me, or I without them, for a week or two than one of us has a problem. I also thought that the internet charges were high. We did carry our cell phones with us in case of emergencies, more by habit than anything else  at the ports of call you could link up with the local service if you phone had the correct calling plan. Every day the ship publishes the Carnival Capers which provides you with the entire goings on for the day, from 6:00am to past midnight; it arrives in your stateroom the evening before. It will tell you when you arrive, when the last tender leaves and when the ship departs the port, and what time you are on (ships or island time). It tells you when and where all of the music and dancing is, when and where you can eat, where to go to have fun, where you can get a drink, and all of the other activities for the day. At every port we were told (through Capers) to keep our watches on ships time, which we did, and they published the time of the last tender back to the ship and when the ship sailed (an hour after the last tender). Generally the tours we booked advised us that the tour would start one hour after the ship docked, or at 9:00am Eastern time or 9:00am Central time (for the time period of our cruise Grand Cayman was on Eastern Standard time, Costa Maya and Belize were on Central time). I kept track of the time, making sure that we were back at the docks half an hour before we needed to be, however, in all instances the tours brought us safely back to the docks with plenty of time to spare. Conclusions As I wrote at the beginning, we all enjoyed the cruise, it was very relaxing, we felt it provided value for money (in spite of some little niggles), it could easily have been a day or two longer, and we are all planning to go on another cruise. Luckily we spent another week in the Tampa area doing much the same things we did on the Ship (not much of anything) which made the holiday just perfect. I dont have a problem travelling with Carnival, or in sailing on Miracle, again, but all things being equal well probably consider another cruise line just to see how similar or dissimilar they are, and to be able to put this cruise experience into context. I will be looking at the CC boards with keen interest to see what I can learn. These opinions regarding the cruise and the politics expressed therein are entirely my own and may not reflect anyone elses, it all depends on where you are coming from. The whole object of the cruise was to have a relaxing and enjoyable vacation, free from hassle and without having to think too much. We accomplished this to great effect so that the niggles I mentioned need to be put into context of the overall experience, which was favourable. We found it interesting to read that other people on the same cruise as us have had such different experiences, but, as I said above, it all depends on where you are coming from, your experiences and expectations. It is also interesting to read, from the CC Boards, that Carnival, apparently, seem to change the rules as to how they do things from cruise to cruise. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
I must first say that I had a blast on this ship. The forecast showed rain for most of the week so I was a little bummed when we set sail as I had never been to any of these ports before and I was looking for a little fun in the sun. ... Read More
I must first say that I had a blast on this ship. The forecast showed rain for most of the week so I was a little bummed when we set sail as I had never been to any of these ports before and I was looking for a little fun in the sun. Mother Nature turned out to be quite nice and only offered up rain on the morning we tendered into Belize. Must be nice to be a weather man and get away with being wrong so often. I felt the decor of the ship was quite inviting and not at all tacky as stated but some previous reviewers. The so-called grape lights in the main dining room were actually quite cute. The ship flowed well and it never felt that crowded even though the ship was at full capacity. Our room was a cat 11 with a wrap around balcony that was to die for. We had 5 chairs, 2 tables, and 2 loungers on our deck with plenty of room to spare. It was nice to hang out on the back of the ship and watch us sail away from the different ports. I spent probably too much time hanging out in the jacuzzi tub which was quite comfortable for its size. The beds were the new mattresses that everyone is raving about. They were quite nice but for some reason I did not sleep that well on several nights. Ports: Grand Cayman- We booked the Rays, Reef, and Rum point excursion with Nativeway and had a ton of fun. It was nice seeing the attention that we received compared to loads of people that Carnival had booked on its excursions. We had roughly 20 people on our boat and it turned out to be a very fun day. Tender port. Belize- We booked a cave tubing excursion through cave-tubing.com with Yhony as our guide and we had a blast here as well. Yhony makes a point to haul butt to the site so that you beat the mad rush of people coming on the ships excursions. He puts you through two caves instead of the one that Carnival puts you through and we did it with 8 people instead of the 50-75 per group that Carnival put through. Yhony is a natural comedian and he had us laughing the whole time. Tender port. Costa Maya- We took the beach break excursion with Pez Quadro and once again had a nice time. The beach was not crowded at all and offered a very relaxing day. They will bring your food to you on the beach and they also give you your own lounge chair to place where you wish. Tell Marco we said hi if you go! To wrap it up I must make sure that I spend some time on the dining room. The wait staff was top notch and catered to every possible need that we had. The food I felt was excellent and came cooked as requested on every occasion. Some people have complained of long wait times on the ship which I did not experience the 6 nights that I ate in the dining room. You are crazy if you do not take advantage of this cruise. The ports were all awesome and the ship was amazing as well. I would do this cruise again in a heartbeat. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
Well, where to begin... Originally, I was scheduled to travel with my mom. We had purchased tickets to fly down to Tampa on Saturday and were planning to stay overnight at the Hyatt Downtown. Wednesday before sailing, my dad still ... Read More
Well, where to begin... Originally, I was scheduled to travel with my mom. We had purchased tickets to fly down to Tampa on Saturday and were planning to stay overnight at the Hyatt Downtown. Wednesday before sailing, my dad still wasn't out of the hospital, so she opted not to go. Thank heaven for travel insurance. On Friday morning, my DH calls me at work and tells me he is thinking about taking her place, but he won't know until 3:30 if he can get the time off - which he does get. A quick call to our TA and he is in. The change cost us $50. I have a RT ticket on NWA, but he is going to fly standby (as an employee). Wilma was in full force by now and we weren't even sure we would be able to fly into Tampa, let alone sail out. I knew that we would be going somewhere, just didn't know exactly where. We all decided that the lack of specific information just made for more anticipation, not stress. We dubbed it the Mystery Cruise. The flight was smooth and we landed in Tampa and we were soon at the Hyatt Downtown. I had booked reservations through Priceline for $90 plus taxes and fees. Everything was in order and paid for, so we headed to our rooms to freshen up. We were going to go to Ybor City for drinks and dinner, but we had to find a way there, the Hyatt did not have any shuttle service at all. They did, however, have a "preferred" provider who was happy to take you anywhere for a fee that varied from driver to driver and could be negotiated in route. We went down to the Green Iguana and found out that nothing is allowed in Florida. You can't smoke in any building, so we opted to sit at one of the sidewalk tables. We were then told that we could sit there, but our chairs could not be outside of the line on the sidewalk, so we squished our group of 8 around three sides of two small tables. Later, our waitress came out and told us that we had to stand up because they had to take the tables and chairs off the sidewalk at 9:00! So there we were, standing on the sidewalk in front of a bar with our beer and cigarettes. We got a good laugh out of it, but it sure cut down on the amount of money we would have spent there. We decided to ride with our friends (who were staying at the Marriott) in their free hotel shuttle back to the Marriott and walk the 6 blocks to the Hyatt. We sat in the lobby bar for a few hours and watched the White Sox win game one. I have to comment on the lobby bathrooms at the Hyatt. The toilets flush by themselves, the water comes out of the faucet automatically, soap dispenses all on its own, and the hand dryers turn on with a wave of your hand. Only one thing is missing......but I guess I prefer to do that by myself. The next morning we gathered in the hotel lobby at 10:30. We walked over to the local CVS pharmacy to pick up a few things we had forgotten (I can't believe we forgot anything!) and then loaded up the shuttle. I had called the Hyatt and they said it was $3 pp to the pier, our first driver said it was $4 and our driver to Ybor City said it was $5. Not knowing whom to believe, and not willing to quibble over $4 per couple, we just hopped into the waiting shuttle and it turned out to be $3 pp. He got a nice tip from all of us. We were greeted by a very friendly porter who asked us if we needed assistance with our bags, which we did because we all had grossly overpacked. He pointed us in the right direction and we were checked in within minutes. My DH did not have a Sail-n-sign card yet, due to the last minute change, but he was told to go to the purser's desk and they would help him. Even though we were not due to board for another hour or so, we only waited about 30 minutes in the holding pen before we were called to board. Immediately upon entering the ship we found the sign that said our itinerary had changed (from sea, Caymans, Costa Maya, Belize, Coz, sea - to sea, Belize, sea Ocho Rios, Caymans, sea) and they threw in $25 pp credit. I immediately stomped over to the purser's desk and demanded a larger credit, a bigger room, and a free drink because I paid for a cruise to Coz and if I was going to be inconvenienced, then darn it, Carnival was going to compensate me. All right, I didn't stomp, complain, or even raise and eyebrow. I gratefully accepted our $50 and started looking forward to Jamaica. Our first stop was to the purser's desk to sign up to have our dividers opened. Oops, wrong again, the first stop was the bar in the atrium, second stop was the purser's desk where we were told that we had to wait about an hour to get the SnS card for my DH. We all met up in Horatio's and had lunch and started drinking our vacation. The cards and dice came out and we entertained ourselves until our cabins were available. We unpacked quickly. There is a ton of space (a lot more that two people need) in the cabin for clothes. I did use my shoe holder - but only because it was more convenient to use that than it was to put everything in drawers or on the desk. I'm not a big fan of clutter. Everyone was pleased with their cabins. We were on Deck 6 (Empress) right off the midship elevators. What a perfect location! Even though everyone had to walk by our rooms to get to their cabins, we never heard a sound. We had cabins 6184, 6186, and 6188. Our cabin (6184) was the first cabin on the port side that juts out after the line of suites that are recessed into the ship. No matter what the day, it always seemed to be sunny on the port side. When it would rain, the wind was always blowing from the starboard to the port side, so our balconies stayed dry, even though it was raining like mad on the other side of the ship. It took a couple of days to get the dividers down, but once they did come down we had a balcony that ran the length of three rooms. Sailing out of the harbor, we passed the harbor patrol station. We were greeted with a wave and "Say Hi to Wilma for us!" Going under the bridge was cool, but if you aren't ready for it, it comes up fast. We had to run like mad to make it to Deck 12 to see it go by. I was curious about the ambulance parked on the bridge right above where we passed under. Do you think people actually try to jump onto the ship? That night we went to dinner (late seating) and Tanya and Svetlana were our waitresses. They were wonderful. Svetlana caught my DH sneaking his own bread - she teased him the rest of the night about it. They really worked well with our rather crazy group and we were disappointed to find that when we added another couple, we had to move downstairs to a different table to accommodate the larger group. We saw Svetlana every morning at Horatio's and always stopped to chat. Two of the guys in our group wore shorts that night, just because they could. Everyone adhered to the dress code all week, except the last night, when it really got loose. I taught everyone the fine art of how to order two entrees ("I'd like this and that") - they were all very impressed by my skill and finesse and the men immediately mastered the talent. The food was better than my cooking, but not as good as some restaurants I have visited. Thanks to Wilma, the ship was a rockin' and rollin' all night long. We hung out on our balconies and watched the ship do battle with 15 foot waves. It really was awesome to watch. You just had to hold on tight. Lying in bed at night it sounded like the ship would twist apart, but having paid close attention at the muster drill, I slept soundly. Oh, and speaking of the muster drill. Never ever, never ever be the first to arrive at muster. Take your time and be the last. They line you up in rows as you gather, the first to come have their backs against the wall and new rows are added in front of them. We were the last row of people and the wall was seven rows back. It was hot and muggy, but we were up front enjoying the breeze and the view. Remember: never, never, never. The bed linens are wonderfully soft. No towel animal the first night. Our mini bar wasn't working but Jorge (our steward) got it going for us (after he cleaned it out). He introduced himself as George, but I didn't want to be an ugly American, so I asked him if he preferred Jorge. So Jorge it was for the rest of the week. Except for my SIL, Ann, who made the mistake of calling him Xavier. We never let her live it down. He was a "stealth steward." You never saw him, but your ice bucket was always full, beds made or turned down, chocolates and towel animals every night, clean towels every day (even though we had hung them up to dry), etc. My only complaint was that I left a sticky note for him asking for a needle and black thread so I could fix my dress. I had to track him down to get an answer and I was surprised to hear that he could not fulfill my request. Seemed odd that something that simple couldn't be found, but someone else in our group had the required items. I gave him an extra $20 the first time I saw him, but I do not know if that affected his service in any way. Mr. Lucky's (the casino). My SILs are big on the poker machines. I'm pretty sure they both came out about $500 ahead by the end of the trip. Kathy was getting her drinks for free with a t-shirt on the last day. If you play machines, be sure to activate your Ocean Players account. It gives you money back at the end. About midway through the cruise the machines were paying out left and right. On the last couple of days, they were sucking money right from your pockets if you got too close. Deck 12. Let's preface this by saying Victoria's Secret is not knocking at my door. Neither are they knocking on the doors of any of the other women I found on the funnel deck. This is a lovely place to lie in the sun and feel the breeze blow across your body. For someone who grew up in the frozen north, this is something new. Don't be afraid, ladies. Go for it. My only complaints are that the bar service is bad; if it is hot you have to keep putting your top on and running downstairs to the pool to cool off; and Carnival security does not always enforce the "adults only" rule that well. We had a group of 13-14 year old boys come up on the deck and make a lot of noise about the great view. I figured if they wanted to ogle my 41-year-old-nursed-two-babies breasts, go ahead. The sight probably blinded them. It was quiet (but you could still hear the band on the Lido Deck) and there were always deck chairs available. Horatio's (Lido Deck restaurant). The food was adequate. Don't miss the seafood buffet, I think it was on Monday. By the end of the week the breakfast foods get old, so be sure to hit Bacchus for open seating breakfast. The only way to get milk for breakfast is to find the cereal bar and grab a few cartons. We drink a lot of milk, so we took plenty back to our cabin and put them in the mini bar. I did the make your own omelets a few times - ingredients are limited, but it is still much better than the scrambled eggs on the buffet line. The coffee is terrible, but if you put enough cream and sugar in it, you can drink it. Deck chairs. It is hard to give a good opinion on this because the weather on sea days was pretty bad. The last day, however, was nice and there was a lot of chair saving going on. I watched a chair on the Lido deck (Deck 9) aft sit empty for 45 minutes until I went over and sat on it. A man three (empty) chairs down informed me that those chairs "belonged" to his friends who had gone inside for a bite to eat. I politely told him that the chair had been empty for at least the last ½ hour and chair saving was not allowed. He grumbled a reply about not arguing with me and I set the towel aside and proceeded to sit for the next hour reading my book in the sun. No one ever returned to claim the chair during my stay and several around me opened up. That must have been one big bite they were eating. Chairs were always available on the sun deck (deck 10) and drink service up there was fine. Again, the weather for sunning was lousy - if it was sunny, the wind was so strong you had to weight everything down or it would go overboard, otherwise it was raining. Bacchus Dining Room - I thought the food was good, not spectacular, but good. Considering the logistics of feeding 2600 people a night and still being able to offer 6 different entrees, the fact that the food is edible is amazing. The presentation was excellent, especially the desserts. There was always a design drawn on the plate with chocolate or fruit glaze with the dessert in the middle. What I liked best is that I could try something new without the financial commitment. I ordered quail, and when I didn't care for it, Edwin brought me fish. I ordered the Pumpkin soup and Edwin felt I needed the smoked salmon, too. Good thing, too, because I hated the pumpkin soup. Our poor assistant waiter did not speak English very well, and our group tends to talk fast and furious when we get together. I think he was a little overwhelmed. He also looked very uncomfortable when the waiters had to dance. I think it would be a good idea for the dancing waiters to cease and desist. If the ship is trying to maintain a higher level of decorum by enforcing a dress code, then having silly dancing going on doesn't really enhance the atmosphere any. Edwin was very nice. He learned our names and caught onto our preferences right away. He always had a suggestion if we were undecided. If someone was on the fence trying to decide, both items usually found their way to our table. The desserts were always wonderful. Kissey, kissey, bye bye! (If you have sailed on the Miracle, you'll get it) Activities/Cruise Director: Mark Hawkins. I found Mr. Hawkins to be delightful and very funny. His debarkation talk was hysterical. He is not afraid to make fun of himself and always has a good joke or two. You can't miss him. He's the guy wearing two different shoes. At the debark talk, when he asks if anyone needs a carry-on bag - be the first to raise your hand. I was and I was presented with a lovely Carnival zippered beach bag. I really didn't need a carry-on but I had gotten used to his MO and I knew there would be something in it for me if I raised my hand. My advice, get involved. Cheer for your team (red, white, or blue). Volunteer for games. Play trivia. Covet the ship on a stick. Check out the art auctions, even if you have no intention of buying. We participated in just about every activity (whether it was trivia, bingo, scavenger hunts, game shows) and just had a blast. My DH was captain of the men's Lido Olympics team and we still laugh about the "taunting of the women" after the men were presented with their medals. We came home with three medals and one ship on a stick. They make great souvenirs for your kids. Go to the shopping talks with the Super Shopper. While you can take her store recommendations with a grain of salt, she offers some great insight into getting the better deals and authentic stuff. If you can’t get to the live talk, they tape it and play it on the TV during the trip. Her best suggestion was the t-shirts at Del-Sol. In artificial light they are black and white, but when you take them out into the sun, they change to bright colors. The brighter the sun, the brighter the color becomes. My kids love them. They are obviously more expensive than the standard t-shirt, but they are very unique. You can find them in the Caymans. I wish they sold sweatshirts there; my kids won’t be able to wear their gifts until April. Here’s my humble opinion on bingo. Waste of money. Right before the debark talk they have a single $20 bingo game for a free cruise for two (oceanview stateroom, any ship, 3, 5 or 7 days). The room was packed, at least 200 people playing bingo. Even with my public education I figure they just raised $4,000 on this game alone. Two ladies bingoed at the same time – and they made them flip for the prize. The whole room was booing but they refused to give both winners a cruise. They wouldn’t even split the prize and give each winner a cruise for one. In general, the bingo games were not worth it – unless you can’t live without your weekly bingo game. Bars/Booze and Sail-n-Sign. It is possible that a bottle of vodka might have been inadvertently packed in my luggage. Even with this contraband, our bar tab was approximately $350. That was a lot of buckets of beer. Our total SS bill was $930. Breaking it down: $450 went to Mr. (un)Lucky at the casino, $350 to various bars around the ship, and $130 to the gift shop/photos. There aren’t any fantastic sales on the last day of the cruise (except for Carnival logo t-shirts and other misc. t-shirts) go ahead and purchase when you see it. Liquor prices on board are equal to shore prices, so save yourself the hassle and purchase what you can on board. The selection is limited, so you might not find your particular brand on the ship. My brother’s comment was that no discount was worth schlepping booze across the world. We have determined that the cigarettes are cheaper but different. On the plus side, I was going to quit smoking after the cruise, but the cigarettes were so bad that I couldn’t even enjoy them, so I quit two days early. Now I don’t remember smoking as being pleasurable or relaxing so it was easier to quit. Photographers. I loved them. Guys, rent a tux. If your DW/DGF is putting the effort into wearing a sparkly dress, don’t ruin the picture by wearing your old sport coat. And now that you look hot, get your picture taken everywhere. They have many stations located within a reasonable proximity of the dining room and you just sit down, smile and move on. I saw some beautiful portraits of couples. Families were having fun with their group shots – one family were dressed in their formals and were sporting the “redneck teeth.” Excursions. Go independent. We had no trouble getting off the ship on time and meeting up with our guides. My SIL Kathy was worried about making it back to the ship on time in Belize because the itinerary change brought us into port later than normal. I thought Kathy was going to crawl out of her skin when we stopped for gas. Poor Yhonny and Raphael! They drove like bats out of hell to get us to the river and then paddled and pulled us down the river to make sure we beat the Carnival tour back to the ship. We skipped the lunch and had plenty of time to shop in Belize. If you take this excursion, do not get uptight about the time, stop for the lunch. Yhonny will get you back long before the last tender. We were rerouted to Ocho Rios and opted to not go anywhere farther than Margaritaville. We spent the entire day there, drinking, swimming in the pool and on the beach and we spent about as much as the cost of an organized tour (our bar tab was $140). At the Caymans we went on the Rays, Reef and Rum Point tour. Talk about bang for your buck. Cost is $55 and that includes a great lunch. It was very wavy on the day we were there and somewhat overcast, but the tour was fantastic. Our boat with eight people was one of the first there and there were only about 20 other people on the sand bar for the first ½ hour-45 minutes. We played in the water and fed the rays and then the Carnival Cattle Barge showed up, three boats with at least 40-50 people per boat. Our guide immediately packed us up and moved us over to the snorkeling area where Charlie hopped in and began feeding fish to attract them. What a great sight! Then on to Rum Point where we had lunch and played on the beach. The weather wasn’t great, but if it had been you never would have gotten me off that beach. Capers. The right hand side of the Capers is perforated. Tear it off in the morning and stuff it in your pocket. That way you always know what is going on and where. There is a daily raffle on the bottom - pay attention to that. If nothing else, it forces you to check out other areas of the ship. We enjoyed the art found around the ship, especially the picture that was behind us at dinner. But then again, we like porn. Talk to the person next to you on the Lido Deck, in the elevator, at dinner. Don’t sit at a table for two unless you are complete snobs, don’t shower, or chew with your mouth open. You will really enjoy meeting new people, and you can always change tables if you mates are complete snobs, stink, and have bad table manners. I work for the Minnesota Dental Association and I managed to meet a member of our association onboard. He is a retired dentist from Bloomington who now maintains homes in Brainerd/Cross Lake and somewhere in Florida. The bathrobe party was fun. Depending on the wind speed, going commando is optional. Speaking of going commando, I did see three gentlemen dressed in kilts on formal night. Never thought I would find a guy in a dress to be sexy, but oy vey! They did enforce the “adults only” rule in the pools. Sweaters are a “must have” item. Some parts of the ship are cooler than others. I found some cute “trip memorabilia” that wasn’t stamped with the Carnival logo, port names, etc. in the gift shop. Just something that when I look at it, I know I bought it on the ship, but it looks nice on my shelf. I also saw one woman walk off the ship with a four foot high wooden giraffe that I would have killed for and wished I would have found. All you people going on the Miracle after me – if you find the giraffe, give me a call at the MDA and I’ll buy it from you. (With my luck I’ll end up with a whole herd!) Magnets are cheap and it is fun to shop for them. We tried to out-do each other in the cool magnet department. The rum cakes are good, but only if you really like rum. The ship was immaculately clean, kids were under control (some were even cute!), age range varied from 24-94, staff was very friendly, etc. Debarkation was a non-event. We left our luggage outside our cabin the night before but kept the suitcases full of fragile stuff. We were off the ship by 9:30, found our luggage immediately and walked through customs with a “Welcome home – everything seems to be in order.” I’m not even sure he looked at the form. The vans were ready and waiting for us and we made it to the airport by 10:00. Shuttle from pier to airport was $9/pp plus tip. If you have flights anywhere from 11:00 on, take your time getting off the ship. There really is no need to stand in line in the atrium. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
We rented a car for our trip to Tampa and arrived the day before our cruise. We stayed at a Hampton Inn in Ybor City. It was very nice. Nothing spectacular just nice. The next morning we returned the rental car at the airport. Hertz ... Read More
We rented a car for our trip to Tampa and arrived the day before our cruise. We stayed at a Hampton Inn in Ybor City. It was very nice. Nothing spectacular just nice. The next morning we returned the rental car at the airport. Hertz rentals are very accommodating as they provide transportation to the port at no extra cost. This was our first cruise and we were very excited about the whole experience. Because of that we arrived at the port at 9:00 A.M. I would not recommend that because you can not get on the ship until everyone else is off!! There are some nice places to walk around and admire the boat. And to get a cup of coffee. Needless to say we were some of the first people in line to enter the embarkation process. Since this was our first cruise we don't have any other embarkation to compare this to but we feel it was pretty painless. It helps to fill out your Fun Pass early. Now we did have a bit of a wait in those yellow chairs we had read so much about. But we like to people watch so it was not bad. Even our 8 year old did ok with the process. Now onto the ship...WOW it is beautiful. I know a lot of people are very critical about Carnival cruise lines and about how there decor is a bit over the top, well it's called Carnival for a reason. And it definitely a FUN ship. From the very begriming it was fun. Even when we found out that we would indeed have to share the fun with hurricane Wilma. Carnival did an outstanding job keeping us informed about the storm and keeping us safe distance away. Our stops had also changed a bit. This I was a bit upset about because we had already paid for shore excursions. However this really was not a problem because we had booked through Carnival and our shore excursions had already been credited back to us. I love the ability to review your bill on the TV in your room, how nice. Our first night we spent checking out the ship. The next day was at sea and it was wonderful. They really start serving the drink of the day early! And they are very good. And there is always a server with a huge tray of drinks no matter where you look. They definitely make sure you don't go thirsty. Word to the wise... don't drink so much (11 drinks) that you feel the need to take a nap before dinner... you just might miss the Captain's cocktail party and feel a bit lousy during dinner that night. The next day we were in Belize. We had a great time at Geoff's Caye snorkeling. We did hear that the cave tubing was a must and we will be doing that this November when we return. Wednesday was Cozumel. What a great party place. We chose to leave our 8 year old on the ship with camp Carnival. I highly recommend that if you want to enjoy Carlos and Charlies, which is a must. We also had a great time bartering with the local vendors. Lots of good deals. Plenty of cabs right there ready to take you anywhere just make sure you hold on!! This was our roughest night on the cruise due to hurricane Wilma. Watching the huge waves crash on the side of the ship was quite a site. But there were a lot of people that got sick that night. Only 50% of the dining room showed up for dinner that night. We were part of the 50% that stayed in the room that night. It was only rough for a few hours. Even our 8 year old girl did fine. She didn't get sick she just felt a little queasy. Then the beds are soooo comfortable as long as you laid down it was ok Next morning we were in Progreso. This was a special treat because it was not a planed stop just an alternate one due to the hurricane. Even the crew on the ship was excited about being here. We had a good time as well. We went to the Mayan ruins and rodeo show. In Progreso there is not much to do so make sure you book an excursion. That night was bathrobes and blue margaritas. What fun!!! This whole cruise was fun. Nick and Nora's was wonderful. We had the best service and the best food. We also liked the dining room -- the food was not always what we liked but our wait staff was awesome. The people at other tables around us were all very nice. My husband and I both have a bad habit of talking to everyone, but that is how you make new friends. I think Carnival does a very good job of making sure every one has a wonderful time. If you go hungry or have a bad time it's your own fault. As far as hurricanes go Carnival cannot control mother nature, the ship was a far safer place to be than on land. Disembarkation was easy even though we didn't want to go. Finding your luggage is always fun (buy lime green luggage so you can find it easy) but that is just part of it. See you November 19th 2006 we'll all be back on the Miracle with a few extra friends..... Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Booked our cruise this week with the purpose of celebrating our 5th anniversary. To tell you a little about us my DH and i are in are early 30's with no kids. We arrived in Tampa the day before (AN EXCELLENT MOVE) and stayed at the ... Read More
Booked our cruise this week with the purpose of celebrating our 5th anniversary. To tell you a little about us my DH and i are in are early 30's with no kids. We arrived in Tampa the day before (AN EXCELLENT MOVE) and stayed at the Tampa Marriott - room was very nice and they sent a bottle of wine and a fruit/cheese tray to our room that night when they found out it was our anniversary. This was our first cruise and we were a little reluctant when we found out that due to a tankership in the water blocking the cruise ship they would have to bus us over about 15 minutes to a different dock. But what can you do besides give the porters your luggage and PRAY it will go right. We had a category 11 suite with a extended balcony so we got to use the Skippers club (and we had filled out our fun passes online before hand) which was a welcome sight when we saw all the people in line to get sign and sail cards!! Embarkment took about 35-40 minutes and was very easy. We got on the ship and ate at Horatio's dining and we were in our room by 1 PM. The room was BEAUTIFUL. We had a room on the back of the ship with a extended balcony. Room 7347. Room Steward: Our room was cleaned twice a day, with towel animals (favorite was the Monkey!!) and we never saw the guy in our room. He was very friendly when we saw him in the halls though! I had to have him switch out the downy filled blanket because I am allergic and it was done before we got back to the room on the same day. We bought a few drinks on board, and a few sodas which we thought were priced reasonably compared to a restaurant. Next time my DH wants to try and take a few 12 packs although I am really not sure it is worth the extra inconvenience of dragging them around. We were not overly impressed with Horatio's - thought the food was very "Golden Corralish" and noticed that for the most part the people in that area (the fellow vacationers) were very rude. While I am talking about a negative let me say that all the picture taking every time you tried to get off the ship was annoying - I want to get off quickly and enjoy my time. NOT wait in line for a picture. Did not get a chance to dine at Nick & Nora's because they night we picked was the first night of the cruise (our anniversary) and they did not open . But the food and the service in the Bacchus Room was OUTSTANDING. Did not truly have a bad item any of the times we dined in there. You have to try the lunch time fish sticks they were real real good with no greasiness to them at all. Shows: They were ok, nothing spectacular, although the Adult comedienne and they Hypnotist were very funny. We also enjoyed the American Idol style show (Some very um, odd people got up there lol). The band at Frankie and Johnnie's were really really good also. Casino: Did not stay in there long, SMOKEEEYYYYYY - But the people in there were having fun. I held my breath and moved through there quickly!!!! Spa: Did not use the treatments but I did use the shower and steam room - YOU HAVE TO TRY THEM they are excellent !! Excursions: Grand Cayman was pretty, although after the excursion we were too tired to look around. We booked the stingray tour through Carnival and were very pleased. This was AWESOME! I will never look at a sting ray the same way after touching, holding and kissing one. LOL Although I have to admit my husband was a little nervous about them But I jumped right in. The only thing that I did not like about the Stingray Sandbar, Hell & Turtle Farm Experience was the way they packed people onto the bus. (The people running the bus claimed it was a carnival rule) My husband and i had to sit in mini seats in the aisle the whole time. And when ever we got back on the bus people whined if you changed where you were sitting. Give me a break people, it was not assigned seating and we are not in high school! Hell was nothing that great, kinda cheesy. The turtle farm was cool and I read that they are expanding that. In Costa Maya, we did not plan a excursion. We rented a golf cart and went into the nearby town. We had a blast. The people we encountered were friendly enough and the machine toting military guys were a little scary though. In Cozumel, which was our favorite port. We did the Dolphin Interactive Program through Carnival (Olla, Pegaso!!), we then swam at Chankanaab National Park which was beautiful. As we swam in the warm water, tropical fish swam all around us. We could of stayed there all day! Then last and definitely least was Belize, two words to describe this place - VERY SCARY. I am not even sure why Carnival has this as a port call because you should not get off the ship if you don't have a excursion and we heard of a group of people that did a excursion that had tires blow on there bus, the bus driver kept driving on the rims because he said it was a very unsafe area to stop in ! No thank you, will stay on ship if we ever go back there again. It was finally time, reluctantly, to disembark. We had no major problems with this because we did self assist. And we are glad we did , because several people standing in the self assist line said that they have used the luggage assist program with Carnival and that they basically throw all the luggage in a room and say have fun!!! We were out of the ship and in our cab within about 15 minutes of them finally clearing us. My DH and I are already planning our next cruise - We are doing the Glory in May and taking my mom and dad for their anniversary/birthday/father day/ mothers day lol I will answer any questions I can if you email me. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
Carnival Miracle: It Wowed Us! Last October 2005, my husband and I, along with six friends, spent a week on the Carnival Miracle. After hearing bad things about Carnival for years, Im not quite sure why we picked this ship, but we had a ... Read More
Carnival Miracle: It Wowed Us! Last October 2005, my husband and I, along with six friends, spent a week on the Carnival Miracle. After hearing bad things about Carnival for years, Im not quite sure why we picked this ship, but we had a blast. So, for all you people out there who dis Carnival, I say give them a chance. I think youll be pleasantly surprised. First, Im going to go through everything that made this ship great. Our balcony stateroom was roomy for a cruise ship, had plenty of storage in the bath and in closets and drawers, and was nicely decorated. We only saw our room attendant once , when I requested extra Diet Coke in the refrigerator, but everything was perfect in our room at all times. The bed was totally divine. It was so comfortable that I didnt even realize how comfortable it was until the third day. It was better than beds Ive had at the Ritz Carlton! Perfect pillows, perfect weight coverings, cloud-like mattress. The nice terry robes and the over-stuffed amenity basket were pleasant surprises  the amenity basket included things like disposable razors and even some reading material. The Miracle is a big ship, but most of the time we kept wondering where all the people were. With three pool areas and lots of little nooks and crannies, the ship was never crowded. There were always plenty of deck chairs  in the sun and in the shade. The only time there was a crowd was on the first evening going into the dining room, when every one was finding out where their table was. That was it. Speaking of dining, the food was just fine. I dont expect fine dining from cruise ships. After all, any time you have 1000 or so people sitting down to eat at the same time youre basically talking banquet fare. Every meal we had was certainly better than that. Some dishes were excellent. The vegetarian choices were surprisingly good. Our wait staff did a great job. We had a very unfortunate table  crowded into a corner with a low ceiling  but thats just one of those things. A few other things that made this ship great -- Plenty of elevators: seems like as soon as you pushed a button, one appeared and you were almost always alone for your direct trip. Great cruise director staff: they seemed to enjoy their jobs, which really makes a difference. Terrific photographers: they really worked to get the photos right and the prices were reasonable. My husband is a professional photographer, and even he was impressed. The thin-crust pizza in the buffet area was excellent. We enjoyed the activities, from the world pub crawl, to the newlywed game, to the trivia contests (our favorite). The shows were mixed, but were not really into that. Now for the downside -- and its all in the dining room. I know Carnival is famous for its over-the-top dEcor. But the dining room was atrocious! The Bacchus dining room was covered with these Frisbee-sized lights that were supposed to be grapes. Unfortunately, when lit, they were the color of Pepto-Bismol. It was like having a lot of little, pink, flying saucers all over the walls and ceiling. In our low-ceilinged corner, it was even uglier. Then there was the maitre d'. You are just finishing your meal, content and relaxed, and there he was on a very overly-loud speaker, opening with Hello you happy people. Then continuing with announcements about teams and the like. What a terrible way to end a meal! Now, for some comparisons. We just returned from a trans-Atlantic on Royal Caribbeans Brilliance of the Seas. While we had an excellent time, frankly, Carnival has it all over RCL in our book. The staterooms on Brilliance were smaller. The mattress, pillows and bedding were very disappointing. The only in-room amenities were small bars of soap and an unlabeled dispenser in the shower we think might have been shampoo. There was always a wait for the elevator. The upholstered furniture in the public rooms was worn, torn and stained. You had to walk through very smoky smoking areas to get to some places. The food wasnt any better (and their pizza was worse than cheap frozen). Deck chairs were always full by the pool. And even though gratuities are automatically added to every beverage purchase on both ships, there was a line for you to add another tip on Brilliance. Whats that about? So all you people who have been avoiding Carnival: Try it, youll like it. Just focus on the happy faces of your companions in the Bacchus dining room instead of the dEcor. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
This was are 4th cruise and we loved the Miracle. We are in our mid 50's and enjoy the party type atmosphere. Embarkation was a lot easier than our other cruises. Make sure you fill out your fun pass online before going, it makes ... Read More
This was are 4th cruise and we loved the Miracle. We are in our mid 50's and enjoy the party type atmosphere. Embarkation was a lot easier than our other cruises. Make sure you fill out your fun pass online before going, it makes check in a snap. We were in cabin 7125 which made me worry because it is way forward and I was afraid of the motion but We felt very little. We had a balcony room and can't cruise without it anymore. After our first balcony room we were hooked. The room steward service was great, which it always is, very clean and very fast. The food in the dining room was so so but I can always find something to eat on a cruise ship that meets my needs. We never made it to Nick & Nora's, just too busy but the reviews were great from the other passengers we talked to. The entertainment was very good. we are not much for shows but had a great time in frankie and Johnies. we did not go to the disco much, just not keen about dancing with 16 year olds. The disco is open to 16 and older after 11 PM. The ports were great except for Belize. This is a 3rd world country and the true definition of poor. We booked the cave excursion tour thru X-Stream tours online and did not enjoy it. After a 37 mile ride at about 90 miles an hour you go 6 miles down the bumpiest road I have ever seen. I think it shook all the loose change out of our pockets. We then packed a tube for 40 minutes thru the rain forest which had very muddy and sloppy trails. Two people fell and one of them was my wife. We started tubing and a lot of the water was only 4 inches deep. Don't need to work my tail off that hard for fun. The chicken dinner at the end was good, but i fed half of mine to a skinny cat that I felt sorry for. If you are not going to take a tour in Belize, STAY ON THE SHIP. Grand Cayman was great. We booked the stingray tour through Moby Dick Tours online and was very pleased. this was one of the best excursions we have ever been on. I will never look at a sting ray the same again after touching holding and actually kissing one. We had 30 people on our boat and the cruise ship had about 200. Cost Maya was a relax stop for us, we just hung out at the pier pool and drank Great drinks and had chips and salsa. Cozumel was about the same, we shopped and went to Carlos and Charlies where the balloon man made me a pornographic hat. You must do 2 things if you go on this cruise. Go on the sting ray tour in Grand Cayman and got to Carlos and Charlies in cozumel. book through Moby Dick tours they are about half what carnival wants and a lot less people. Debarkation was a snap. our flight was @ 1:30 an we made it to the airport with tons of time. we booked our transportation to and from the ship through Bay shuttle. They were half what Miers wanted. Will answer any questions you may have if you e-mail me. Happy cruising Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
We stayed the night before at the Embassy Suites hotel on Saturday before we sailed. We booked our own flights and saved a lot. The air with the cruise was going to be almost 450.00 per person. By booking our own we paid 1500.00 for 6 ... Read More
We stayed the night before at the Embassy Suites hotel on Saturday before we sailed. We booked our own flights and saved a lot. The air with the cruise was going to be almost 450.00 per person. By booking our own we paid 1500.00 for 6 people round trip from Des Moines. Camp Carnival for out 4 & 5 yr olds was fantastic. They truly enjoyed the staff & Funship Freddy. one of which came home with our son. My son at one of the formal dinners did not dine with us as he refused to leave the Camp Carnival as he was having a blast with the staff and they were face painting and having their own private dinner. For our 13 & 16 yr old they also had a great time dancing in Frankenstein's Lab, coketail parties and the video game lab. pools were great! room service was outstanding!! We did have 2 cabins 1156 & 1160 that were kept immaculate. Cleaned when we didn't expect it. For my husband and I the best for us was Nick and Noras dinner. if you go on the Miracle and don't go here you will have missed a wonderful treat. The atmosphere was breathtaking the food was beautiful. make sure you take a camera to dinner with you it was awesome. Something else we enjoyed was the martini wishing well carved of ice. They were beautiful!! Our ports of call in Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize and Grand Cayman were wonderful. The snorkeling in Belize with nurse shark and stingray with wet and wild we paid 50.00 per person was great. We did not book on the ship rather waited til we arrived at the island!! A big saver and wonderful adventure for me my son 13 and daughter 16. We really enjoyed Costa Maya for the shopping. The one day we didn't take our swim wear and should have as they had an awesome pool outside to enjoy. Great shopping in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. We are planning our 3rd Carnival cruise unsure of what month for 2006. We intended on going alone just the two of us... but the children loved it so well they all want to be included on the next. We'll have to see. Our first cruise we had a balcony. this cruise we had 2 oceanview rooms and I truly loved the oceanview as much as the balcony. For the money it was just as breathtaking!! Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Wonderful cruise, wonderful ship, ship staff are excellent. I have cruised with other cruise lines but never with Carnival. Their reputation has been pegged as a "Party Ship". I found the atmosphere on board very refreshing and ... Read More
Wonderful cruise, wonderful ship, ship staff are excellent. I have cruised with other cruise lines but never with Carnival. Their reputation has been pegged as a "Party Ship". I found the atmosphere on board very refreshing and not in the least "stuffy". It truly is a Fun Ship. My husband and I are "late fifties" and we had a ball - even went down the water slide! The ports were very good. In Grand Cayman, we decided to take the Seven Mile Beach excursion - $23 per person plus $5 to rent an umbrella and cab fare. Later we found that if we had just gone 1/4 mile past the Beach Club there is a FREE BEACH with chairs and umbrellas included! The beach is beautiful regardless. Costa Maya is basically a souvenir shopping area, but there is a Large Pool with shaded lounge chairs and delightful vendors - not too pushy. In Belize, we were to go on the Cave/Tubing excursion but Belize experienced a flash flood before we arrived at the tubing sight and the excursion was cancelled. Carnival treated us to lunch, a scenic bus ride and refunded ALL our money by the time we arrived back at the ship. My favorite port was Cozumel. We took the Snorkel Treasure Hunt excursion. The Treasure Hunt wasn't much, but the snorkeling was divine. Their personnel were great and the sea life was extraordinary. After the excursion, they gave us an arm band for an "Open Bar" at The Grill. We took a cab ride to The Grill, had a wonderful Mexican Lunch, several beers and then The Grill paid our cab fare back to the ship. There is a big shopping area in Cozumel along with shaded lounge chairs for your relaxation. Port in Tampa is very easy to locate, easy embarkation and very organized. We stayed on Saturday night at the Comfort Suites, Dale Mabry Highway (near Tampa Bay Stadium) and they charged $3 per day to park our car. A shuttle took us to the ship and then on our return on Sunday, came and picked us up within 10 minutes. Great Trip - Can't wait to go somewhere else on Carnival! Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
Let me start by saying that we got off the ship yesterday, so I am still a bit depressed. WOW, what a week. We cruised once before, but never like this. For the folks that write bad reviews, its totally a shame that they wasted their ... Read More
Let me start by saying that we got off the ship yesterday, so I am still a bit depressed. WOW, what a week. We cruised once before, but never like this. For the folks that write bad reviews, its totally a shame that they wasted their vacation focusing on the things that went wrong, rather than the things that were right. This ship is beautiful. Maybe it doesn't have the grandeur of other ships or the high society class and all that hoopla, but who cares, you are on vacation. If you want stuffed shirts and snotty service, sail someone else, if you want down to earth fun and an awesome experience, sail Carnival Miracle. The service was impeccable. From Dimitri, our cabin steward, to Svetlana and Edgar, our wait team. We never did without, and always had extra. I tried to get them to come home with me, but sadly found out that i couldn't afford them. Day one, sailing out of Tampa. Wow we were totally taken aback when we got on the ship. It was bright and colorful and full of life. And since this was a celebration of life cruise for us, it was perfect. Everyone was fabulous. Our cabin was outside with french doors that opened to a lifeboat. We paid for an inside cabin, so the fact that we had a window, much less doors was a total bonus. We could prop open the doors and watch the ocean go by. We had a king bed, a pull down bunk and a couch. Too much room, it was incredible. And the storage space?? Well, i used my entire 6 piece luggage set and had room to spare. We booked the main dining seating because we wanted to make sure we could totally experience all the nightlife the cruise had to offer. We had a table for six since five of us cruised and it was a wonderful table with our own window. We watched the sun set most nights, if we were going the right way. The food, well it was great. Our beef was never over cooked and never tough, the seafood was always awesome, except the lobster. I'm a main lobster girl and this stuff was florida lobster, yuck! But they quickly switched it to prime rib for me so all was well. The flourless cake, incredible, the tirimisu, awesome. So much food. Our ports of call, fabulous. We booked two tours through Carnival, and very glad I did. First one was the stingray snorkel and city tour. Incredible! Second was power snorkeling, oh goodness, what a a nightmare! We got screwed up somehow. When we got to Cozumel, we were told there were too much jellyfish at the snorkel sight so we were being upgraded to power snorkeling with a radio. woohoo bonus. plus they were giving us an extra hour of regular snorkeling. OK great, thanks. Our taxi driver took us 15 miles in the wrong direction... then figured out where to go, only 1 mile from the pier! by the time we met up with the rest of the group, they were half way to the snorkel site. we tried to catch up, but my 14 year old daughter freaked out in the water and refused to go. she couldn't maneuver her fins. after getting aggravated, i marched out of the water and gave up. I advised the tour guide of our situation, he radioed carnival and get this, they refunded all our money!! They didn't have to do this. but they did. awesome i tell you. Our cabin was always neat and tidy, though, we could have had a towel animal our last night, but oh well. I tipped extra to the cabin steward twice. First time I tipped him, i asked him to completely change our linens. Second time I waived money at him nonchalantly and asked him how much the Carnival towels were, knowing good and well they are 22.50 each. He grinned and asked me if I wanted one. I said yeah and asked how much and he said, for you, I give for free, how many do you want. I handed my tip to him and said two. He gave me two!!! Awesome! Its service like that that will keep me from going back. DON'T and I repeat DON'T go to the infirmary. We did and what a rip off. My daughter got pink eye, not from the cruise, but before. She forgot her meds at home and it flared up again. Went to see Clare, the ships doctor. She was a sweetie, but her assistant quoted me 13.00 for the eyedrops, well hah, they turned out to be 75.00!!! for 10ml! Insane I tell ya. Well Clare was concerned that I wasn't happy and called me 3 times during my cruise to let me know she will do whatever it takes to get my ins company to cover my expense. Just don't get the assistant to quote you anything. You will be ok. All in all it was fabulous. Would I cruise Carnival again, oh heck yeah! I cry hourly wishing I was back with Dimitri, Svetlana and Edgar. OHHH and the dining room?? Get over it people, yeah there are round pink lights all over the place, but if you are going to let something like that get in your way, don't GO ON A CRUISE!!!!! it was incredible. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
This was our 3rd cruise on the Carnival, out first trip was back in 1993 on Fanasty to the Bahamas, second one was during last week in Dec 2000 on Jubilee. This one by far exceeded my expectations than the last two cruises. We drove ... Read More
This was our 3rd cruise on the Carnival, out first trip was back in 1993 on Fanasty to the Bahamas, second one was during last week in Dec 2000 on Jubilee. This one by far exceeded my expectations than the last two cruises. We drove straight thru from Michigan in 19 hrs and arrived at my sister's who lives near Tampa on Friday night. We spent Saturday on her boat and went swimming, water temp was like bath water...89 degrees! Sunday- we arrived around 2pm, and was a breeze getting in, very little wait. Luggage was delivered to our cabin around 4pm, just in time to change for dinner. Loved the cabin! 80% of the cabins have balconies! (I had portholes on my last 2 trips). Even the ship included complimentary toothpaste, his and her diposable razors, and various shampoo/conditioner samples. One disappointment: one electrical outlet in entire cabin....be sure to bring adaptor for mutiple plugs. Also be sure to bring bug spray, you'll need it on the island, (the ship sells them for 7.99, and they smell bad). Monday- Fun day at Sea...I was hoping to see the shores of Cuba, like I did on the Jubilee that went to Cayman and Cozumel. Went to the shows and relaxed all day. Probably gained 2 lbs that day. Tuesday- Grand Cayman, we went on Soto tours to Stingray City and snorkel tour, $30 per person. There were only 4 of us on that tour, it was perfect as the guides were able to grab the stingrays and place on our arms, instead of waiting in line on the ship excursions (these ship excursions had as many as 50 people on their boats). Afterward, we headed over to the Turtle Farm, we had a good time before on the Jubilee trip (stingray was cancelled due to high winds), I had taken pictures there before on a 1.2 megpixel camera, but the pics didn't turn out very clear. This time, I got myself a really good digital SLR camera, so I got the opportunity to take a bunch of pictures. Now, the worst part, Hurricane Ivan destroyed the island and washed away more than half the Turtle Farm, and the big ponds that carried large sea turtles are gone, even the ponds are gone! It will take many years for the farm to recover what it was back in 2000, and even their website didn't disclose any info on the hurricane aftermath. Wed- Costa Maya- We booked the Koyumich Maya ruin trip thru the ship (internet didn't offer any). Bus ride was 2 hrs each way..too long for us. We learned that Mexicans do not like Corona beer much, they ship them to America. After visiting the ruins and boarding the bus, the guides provided us Sol beer, it was so good that we even asked for more beer. Day was very hot and humid. Bus was air conditioned, but not cold air. We will not do that excursion again due to long bus trips. Thurs- Belize---We booked the cave tours thru private tours, $60 vs $99 ship excursion. The guide took about 10 of us in the van and took us a little over an hour to the site. Ship tour took a big bus, took longer to get to the same site, the bus cannot handle bumpy dirt road (last 6 miles of the trip). Our private tours go thru 2 caves, (ship's only one cave). We walked thru the jungle carrying our tubes until we reached our site up the river. I would say river temp is about 75-80 deg and going thru the cave was absoluting breathtaking! Best excursion we have ever made. Stingray at Cayman was second. Be sure to order yourself the barbeque chicken complete lunch with good punch for only $5 after the tubing, very good. If you are not planning on any excursions at Belize, stay on the ship! THere's only a small area at the pier to shop, many areas outside that area are not safe to go. Friday- Cozumel..note that the Carnival website shows Cozumel on Thursday and Belize on Friday, that switch was made several months ago, and did not update the website. This switch was a good move, allowing us to stay longer at Cozumel. We booked the eco-jeep and snorkel trip and spent the rest of the day shopping there. Buy your booze on that island, the prices there are slightly cheaper than on the ship. (Tortuga rum cake is more expensive at Cozumel, get them at Cayman -- fresher -- or on the ship -- same prices), although you get to sample different flavor rum cakes at Cayman. I like the key lime rum cake best! Sat- Fun day at sea (actually sad day that we are going home the next day). Could use a stop at Key West. Sunday- Debarkation---We had 7 bottles of booze we purchased from Cozumel, we took our luggage with us for faster departure, the ship arrived at Tampa at 6am, we got off the ship at 8am. Customs didn't even bother to charge us for liquor duties (limit one duty free per person), as there are 2000 people leaving the ship, I believe they would rather have the ship clear in a breeze than search for booze and line up to pay. The Carnival staff and shows were excellent. Food was excellent, I must have gained at least 10 lbs that week, though I did not weight myself when I came home, but I can tell by needing to loosen my belt a notch. Here are some suggestions I would bring up obout the cruise: The prices on the drinks were the same when I paid on my 1993 cruise. (pop still 1.50 a can, and sell Coke products -- Coke, Diet Coke, lemonade, and Sprite. This time I didn't buy any souvenier glasses with the drinks. I never used them at home, just collected dust. If you prefer Pepsi products, bring them! One note, Mexican Coke uses real sugar instead of high frutose corn syrup, and their Diet Coke is labeled as Coke Light, wife says it tastes better. Coffee- really dirty dishwater. My wife had to buy latte every morning ($3.25). Game room (Wizard), some of the games don't work, they just take your money and there's no staff around to assist you. More outlets to plug in cabin. Could use a small fridge to keep drinks cold, although the steward fills ice in the ice container (only can fit one can of pop in it at time). Would help if you can bring a small cooler from home. Bring one or 2 32 ounce water bottles. Ship water at Lido deck is very good, I fill them with ice to the top and fill with water. This is better than buying 32 ounce bottled water for $5 each sold on the ship. We used them for shore excursions. If you plan to do some snorkeling, bring your mask and a special snorkel that purges out saltwater, you'll be glad you did. All excursion will provide mask and snorkel, but their snorkels are basic and you will be sucking in lots of saltwater. Don't bother bringing in your fins, unless you want to carry them around. Before going on the cruise, it would really help to find some private excursions to book, the services are better, more perks and far lower cost. THere is a 25% cancellation fee if you cancel a ship excursion, so be careful if you book one on the ship. Try some Sol beer, I drank 3 bottles with lime at Cozumel (you can drink them around while you shop). Also, one last thing, if you happen to need to go potty at Hard Rock Cafe at Cozumel (restroom on 3rd floor), be sure to sit on the toilet and read the note posted on the door, you'll be suprised to read what it says! (You'll have to find that out yourself!) Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
Miracle Review - 8/28 Sailing. Funny how you plan and read, read and plan, and then your vacation's over before you know it! This was our 5th cruise and second time on Carnival, and I am pleased to report that there were no major ... Read More
Miracle Review - 8/28 Sailing. Funny how you plan and read, read and plan, and then your vacation's over before you know it! This was our 5th cruise and second time on Carnival, and I am pleased to report that there were no major complaints. Naturally, everything was not to our liking, but as the saying goes, you can't please all people all the time. Embarkation: This turned out to be better than expected. This particular trip ended up leaving from port everglades due to Hurricane Katrina. Since everyone was booked on a ship that was supposed to leave Tampa, Carnival bussed us down. For our inconvenience we were all issued a $50.00 credit, and honestly, I felt that Carnival was being generous because we did not stray from our itinerary once we were under way, and certainly Carnival can't be held accountable because of the weather. We were told that busses would be starting from the airport (or pier) at 10:00, so we were there (at Tampa Airport) at 8:30 or so. At that time, we were just a few "knots" of people, but slowly, as the flights started arriving, or as people started making their way from the hotels, the crowd started growing. Early on, we started forming a single, line, which in the end, helped us all get the busses under way in a timely manor. Of course, there were some "special" people who didn't think that they should stand in line like everyone else,and tried to cut in right at the front, but they were the exception to the rule. The person behind us had a lot of class, and let them in without a confrontation, which certainly would have ensued. Coincidentally, we bumped into some friends we made thru Cruise Critic, which made the bus ride to the port as enjoyable as a 4+ bus ride can be.. BUT, because everything was done on line at Tampa, and we were arriving in a steady stream, we just walked up and got on the ship. no line at all. The Room: We booked an outside guarantee (6a) but were upgraded to a balcony with an obstructed view (7a) Cabin #5147. This was our first time with a balcony. We loved having our coffee out there in the morning..once! We used the balcony a total of maybe 2 hours the entire cruise. I would not turn one down on an upgrade, but would also not go out of my way to book one. We just didn't use it as much as some people probably do. The room itself was very comfortable. The sofa was turned into a bed for our 5 year old. Plenty of storage, and the racks in the bathroom accommodated all our toiletries. The shower had great pressure and nice hot water. The heavy curtains kept the room dark for sleeping in or napping, which we did often (isn't that what vacations about?) Our steward kept the room spotless. One tip which we heeded was to bring a power strip. There was only one outlet on the dresser. The power strip was great for keeping the cell phones charged, our son's Gameboy ready to go and we also took along, and plugged in a cheap alarm clock. That way we didn't have to turn on the TV to see what time it was. The ship's decor itself. Amazing. a lot of over the top decoration, but we thought it was kind of cool. As for some previous reports of a lot of nudity in the art, it was just that..art. And as for the "grapes" in the dining room..where did they find all those pink "tap lights"? Food: Our routine was to order breakfast every morning, eat lunch at the Lido with our son, and then have dinner like adults while he was at Camp Carnival. Breakfast was delivered during the time window we asked. The order was correct each time. Now, as for the coffee, well, it was some of the best dishwater I ever had, but it wasn't a great cup of coffee. Lunch at the Lido was great. the 24 hour Pizza place was a nice touch, and our son had pizza almost every day. It was nice that he could eat what he wanted while we had something from the regular buffet. The lines were not bad, or if they were, we hit them at the right time. The hamburger/hot dog stand was a bit crowded-ish but not unbearable. Dinner: we ate in the dinning room 5 of the seven nights. Our waiter and his helper were excellent. Always smiling, delivered our meals quickly, and always got it right. The food itself was great. By contrast, we felt Nick and Nora's was NOT a value. The food was presented nicely and was tasty, but at Nick and Nora's we actually had to ask for more bread (someone didn't come around like at our regular table) and my water glass needed refilling constantly, unlike the dinning room. This may sound petty, but if your going to pay extra for food and service on top of what you've already paid for food and service, I thought it should be spectacular, not just "nice" Next to Maguires, there is a little sushi stand open during designated hours. Not the best I've ever had, but perfect to get a sushi "fix" while away Midnight Buffet: Way too much of a good thing. But that wasn't Carnival's fault that was mine! Camp Carnival: We used this service intermittently thru out the cruise. Our son loved it there. As a matter of fact, this was one of the factors in why we choose carnival. We were very pleased, and the crew really took wonderful care of our son. We did not stay out late many nights, but it was nice to know we could if we chose to. Casino: Played everything from the penny (yes penny) to the $5.00 slots. Wish I could say I came out ahead, but 6 nights playing and six nights of losses. The casino workers were very happy to take our money tho :-) Shows: I only took in the Beatles review, and really enjoyed it. Ports: Grand Cayman: We took our son out to the sandbar to see the stingrays. He loved it, and we are hoping to get back some great pictures. You can get a disposable underwater camera onboard, but you can save a little money if you get one at Target or Wal-Mart before leaving home. Costa Maya: We got off the ship for a short time, and it was a brutal walk to the end of the pier because of the heat. We've been to Mexican ports of call before, so after looking at yet another silver shop we got back on board and enjoyed some family time at the pool. Belize: We decided to go beyond the compound gates and look around ourselves. Mistake! We were accosted by people wanting to gives us tours at every turn. There was a little jade museum, but after that, we flashed our cards and went back thru the security gates If we return to Belize, we will probably do an organized tour, or stay on the ship. Although we did not do the cave tubing, the reports from our friends on-board were quite positive. Cozumel: A quick cab ride ($6) from the ship to Carlos and Charlie's. 3 yards of Margaritas later, I am told we had a great time. Seriously. potent drinks, decent food. Perhaps next time I'd partake a bit less, but hey, it was a vacation, and someone else was driving, both the cab, and the ship. Incidentally, this was the other night we skipped dinner in the main dining room. Can't imagine why :-) Debarkation: (this time in port of Tampa) Was nice to see they gave up the color coded system and just let us off when we got the "all clear". We had an early breakfast in our room, and after that, took our carry-on items out, and down to a lounge next to the gangway. Once given the all clear, we were actually in a cab within 15 minutes, and arrived at Tampa Airport by about 9:40. So, there you all have it. As I said, nothing major to complain about. Hope I covered something that may assist you in your planning, and I will try to answer whatever questions you have in the coming days. Now, its back to reality, and all the laundry left from the cruise!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2005
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 4.1
Rates 3.0 4.4

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