681 Carnival Miracle Cruise Reviews

We've been back from our cruise for a couple of weeks, but are still reliving our vacation memories! No other way to say it, this was a wonderful cruise experience! My husband and I have cruised twice before, but this was the first ... Read More
We've been back from our cruise for a couple of weeks, but are still reliving our vacation memories! No other way to say it, this was a wonderful cruise experience! My husband and I have cruised twice before, but this was the first cruise that we've taken our children on, and they were really looking forward to it. Embarkation was great, very quick and easy. We arrived at the Tampa Port at about 11 a.m., quickly checked in and sat in the waiting area to wait for our number to be called so that we could board. We were in group #7 and though that we might have a long wait, but we were actually on board in about 40 minutes from the time that boarding began. We made our way up to Horatio's for lunch and waited until 1:30 to go to our cabin. We were told while waiting to embark that a general announcement would be made when guests could go to their cabins, but we never heard it if they made it. Just waited until 1:30 and headed downstairs. We were struck everywhere we went by the beauty of this ship! We've cruised older CC ships in the past, and none compared to the Miracle. With the single exception of the Bacchus dining room (wow, what were they thinking???) the entire ship was lovely and not as "loud" as we were expecting. We attended the Camp Carnival orientation before dinner, then headed to the dining room. Earlier in the day, we had gone to the dining room and requested a window table and were very nicely accommodated. Since we had the early seating, being near the window was great, as we could take advantage of the view while we were dining. After dinner, we went to the family party for Camp Carnival in Frankensteins Lab, and the kids (ages 3 and 10) had an opportunity to dance, meet the youth staff and meet other children. Great time was had by all, and my 10 year old son won a twist contest and brought home a coveted ship on a stick! We got to bed early and got ready to enjoy the rest of our cruise. This could get long, so let me give you our general impressions: Cabin: For the first time ever, we opted for a balcony cabin because we had our children with us. I can't stress enough what a great idea that turned out to be! The cabin was absolutely beautiful, very roomy even for the 4 of us, clean and well maintained by Amor, our cabin steward. Having the balcony was a godsend for us - our 3 year old come down with an ear infection during the cruise, which tired her out and she needed substantial naps during the day. We could let her nap and my husband and I (or sometimes just one of us) could hang out on the balcony and read a book or just enjoy staring at the ocean. We were in 8142 with an extended balcony, and it was not only roomy, but in the perfect location. All of the balcony cabins on deck 8 have a large overhang above them. This meant that when it rained, which it did a few times during our trip, our balcony didn't get went, but the others below us did. I would have loved to have a tub for our three year old (who did NOT appreciate having to take showers every day and let us know by screaming like someone was trying to kill her!), but otherwise, the bathroom was fairly roomy, had a large sink countertop and lots of storage shelves of the sides of the mirror. The cabin itself also had more than enough space to store clothes for four people and keep things tidy. Service: No less than fantastic. Our cabin steward and dining room staff absolutely made our vacation. What wonderful people we encountered everywhere we went. The only exception was our cocktail server in the dining room, but you can't account for everyone. I was particularly impressed by the bar staff, who never did anything but smile warmly when shown a soda card. We've been on other cruises where we were frowned upon by the bar staff, but I never once experienced that on this trip. The Camp Carnival youth staff was wonderful (although the youth director was a bit cranky). Sarah, the counselor that is in charge of the slumber party program from 10 to 3 a.m. was someone we wanted to bring home with us and adopt. One night my son was the only one at the slumber party for the later part of the evening, and they sat up talking, watching movies, and even went on a kitchen raid and got a bag of mini marshmallows to gobble up. When we picked him up at about 2:30, she couldn't say enough about what a great kid he was, and how fun it was for them to just hang out together. On the last day of the cruise, they were both hugging and teary-eyed to have to say goodbye. My son was a little bored with the 9 to 11 program, but I have to say that he's really shy, so group activities don't always interest him. From reading the kids Capers, it seemed like they had some great activities lined up. He met a few kids on the ship and spent most of his time hanging around with them, which he loved. We had walkie talkies with us, so he kept his on him and was allowed some freedom to move around the ship without us. They were wonderful to have for all of us. Food: Well, you definitely can't say it's not plentiful! The BEST chocolate chip cookies ever, which somehow were almost always warm! Horatio's Lido restaurant's new design is interesting and offers a lot of menu choices with different things being offered at different stations. The only drawback here was that because things were broken up into many specialized areas, the lines tended to be quite long to get food, and it was a little confusing finding everything and then trying to remember what table you were sitting at. Quality of the food there was very good, though, and plenty of options. Bacchus dining room is just the most hideous thing you've ever seen, but it's funny in its own way and certainly did nothing to put a damper on our trip. I've read reviews where people said they couldn't eat in there because it gave them a headache, or it was just too ugly. Well, yes, its ugly - but laugh at it and enjoy, decor shouldn't make or break your vacation. I was actually a little disappointed in the food in the dining room, but the service was exceptional. Menus didn't seem to be as good as they were on the Ecstasy several years back, and the desserts weren't always great. (Warm flourless chocolate dessert is heaven on a plate, though - YUM!) Late night fare on the Lido deck was wonderful - lots of choices for a great snack. Try the chicken wings - very tasty! I went to the gala midnight buffet, but was unimpressed. After waiting in a very long line, the food was very hard to identify and desserts were all but gone by the time I got to them. I would pass on the gala buffet next time. Unless you have very adventurous taste buds, skip it and go up on deck for a snack at the lido. Nick and Nora's: Anything that I could say about this restaurant would seem inadequate. Hands down, the best meal that my husband or I have ever had, anywhere, land or sea, in our lives! The service was amazing - not only impeccable but warm and friendly to boot. And the food!!! WOW!!! We both come from culinary backgrounds and are very, very particular when it comes to a good steak, and I've never had better! My husband actually had tears in his eyes when he bit into his porterhouse. It was an experience not to be missed and the highlight of our cruise! Decor: Bacchus not withstanding, it was beautiful. I was concerned after reading about all of the nudity in the art on the ship, and maybe I'm either dense or liberal, but I have to say that I didn't notice it. The only place that it was obvious to me in the context of bare breasts was in the casino on the ships maiden on the ceiling, and my children were not allowed in there anyway. I didn't see anything that would have made me embarrassed for my kids to see it - it was all reproductions of famous, celebrated and beautiful art and I thought that it was tastefully displayed in almost every case. Grand Cayman: Expensive! It cost us $35 for a cab both ways for three of us to the Turtle Farm, but it was a great experience for the kids. Hubby went scuba diving with Neptune Divers and said that it was fantastic! He booked independently online, and they only take small groups, which was wonderful. Only 5 of them on his trip so lots of individual attention and interaction from the dive masters. Save your shopping dollars for another port, though. Costa Maya: Interesting little place, very touristy. If you want to shop, go into Majualhal - shops at the port are very expensive in comparison. Better prices here on vanilla than in Cozumel, but folks are not as friendly. Really pushy in getting you to buy, which has never bothered me before, but I found it more disconcerting having small children with me, as they would also approach the kids, not just the adults. Belize: We opted not to go ashore in Belize after reading the boards, and spent a nice day on board instead. It seemed like many people didn't get off of the ship here. Cozumel: Wonderful! Duty free cosmetics on the pier were CHEAP! I bought some Clinique products that were less than half of what I pay in the states. Liquor is cheaper on board, though. No bargains to be found on fragrances. People were very friendly everywhere we went. We rented a jeep and took the kids to Paradise Beach for the day. We got to meet Tom, who was just as nice as he is on the boards. I highly recommend a trip to Paradise Beach - it was just wonderful. Clean, inexpensive for what they offer, and great food! About $8 per person for lunch entrees, and not only delicious but beautiful presentation as well. Very, very friendly staff! All in all, this was a wonderful cruise and we would do it again, but maybe wait a couple of years to cruise again with the kids until our daughter is a little older. The Miracle is a fantastic ship, good value for the money and a great port schedule. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me!   Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
My wife and I are in our late 40s and our kids are 15 and 12. We have sailed Carnival 2x [once before kids] and Disney 1x. Found the cruise excellent. We were a little worried because we have read and people have told us that this was the ... Read More
My wife and I are in our late 40s and our kids are 15 and 12. We have sailed Carnival 2x [once before kids] and Disney 1x. Found the cruise excellent. We were a little worried because we have read and people have told us that this was the "party" ship and people would be running the halls all night long and there would be many sleepless nights. WRONG!!!! Yes it was a party ship and it was great but when we went to our cabin the halls were quiet. We ran into several toga parties but all were on the party decks at the top of the ship. We did not buy a soda card, as on the top of the ship there was a tea and coffee station so we used that. If we wanted a soda we usually just bought one. I think we bought a total of 3. Both my kids really enjoyed the clubs even my 12-year-old who is kind of shy. We found the shows very entertaining especially the Beatles tribute. The last show was very average. I would have expected something a little bit better especially for the last show of the week. Our room was a room with an obstructed balcony view on deck 5. We found this room had much more storage space than on the Disney ship and the obstructed view was great especially for savings of 600 bucks. I felt dinner was way too long as we were seated around 6 and did not leave the table till 8. This was fine for the 4 adults at the table but a 12, 13, 15, and 16 year old it was not good. The food was very good. The last 2 nights we ate on the top buffet where the food was excellent and we did not have to wait. Our waiter and helper were OK but they were not "polished". Definitely a "culture" gap here. We did not buy any pics as I found most of them 'grainy' looking. Everyone on the ship was very nice. The ship was full but there was no problem getting a lounge, as extras were stacked all over. The ship has a topless deck. I ventured there a couple of times but the best "ones" I saw were the "ones" covered up at the with bathing tops. Disney VS Carnival -- I found the Disney ship employees more professional and polished. You would see Carnival employees lingering and eating and drinking with the guests something you never saw on Disney. Does this matter to me- No- but others it may. There was more space in the room on Carnival than on Disney even the Carnival shower was bigger. The double bed and the single beds on Carnival were not separated by a curtain as Disney was. Even a little privacy from the kids is nice. I liked the Disney Island, only people from the ship are there. I am sure Carnival has something like that in the works. As I said earlier dinner was too long especially for kids. On Disney dinner was about an hour and you go to three different restaurants on the ship. I got real tired of looking at those grape lights!!! On Carnival food was available 24-7 on Disney there were times when you could not get food except for room service. This is probably why I gained 10 pounds on Carnival and 0 on Disney. Would I do this cruise again? I have already booked an eastern Caribbean for next year and have ordered a Carnival sea miles card!!! Read Less
Sail Date June 2005
I am writing this review because I used these reviews to determine the cruise my wife would take this year. This was our first cruise and I found the member reviews very helpful. To let you know a brief background, several years ago I ... Read More
I am writing this review because I used these reviews to determine the cruise my wife would take this year. This was our first cruise and I found the member reviews very helpful. To let you know a brief background, several years ago I swore I would never take a cruise (motion sickness and claustrophobia). For some reason this year we felt like we would give it a try. I am an excursion junkie, and must always be doing something. My wife could lay around at the pool or beach for days on end, and never be bored. The Room - We booked a suite at the back of the boat since I was worried about claustrophobia. There was more than enough room and we had a balcony. Claustrophobia never became an issue, and I think that any balcony room will be just fine in the future. The beds were extremely comfortable. Bring a bungee cord for the balcony door. The Food - My wife and I usually enjoy eating at the finer dining establishments. The dinners on the Miracle were superb. Each night they had multiple appetizer choices, soups, salads, entrees and desserts. Every night the meals were different, but always fantastic. Our wait staff was extraordinary and worked very hard. The only negative thing is that nightly dinner could take a long time. Dinner would take from 1 hour to 1 ½ hours. If you get in there early and order quickly, you can always finish before everyone else. The 24-hour pizza bar was a plus, but we never used the 24-hour ice cream. As far as the buffets go, they were adequate. Lots of different types of food, good quality (about as good as you get from a buffet). Some of our friends always ate dinner at the buffet, but we always ate in the dining room. The Ship - Very nice. I read about the ship's art having naked breasts everywhere and gaudy dEcor, but we did not feel it was apparent. Most of the nakedness was on statues, which looked like art at a museum. It wasn't everywhere, and I never noticed it in paintings. But if it is a concern, it is present on the ship. The only gaudy room was the Bacchus room (Dining room). It has purple lights everywhere that are supposed to be grapes. There were 3 pools (1 adults only, which they tried to enforce). The pools are small like shown on Carnival's website, however, they all have a lot of shallow water to lay in. If you are looking fro a pool to swim in, this ship does not have it. But if you want to "lay at the pool" all day, these pools were great. Lay in the shallow water with your beverages until you are too hot, dunk in the pool, then back to your watery seat. The ship never seemed crowded, except for leaving or coming back to the ship. There was always plenty of areas on the ship where no one was, and you could always "get away". Entertainment by the pools and in the lounges was great. The Cruise - Everybody told me that you can not feel these mega-ships moving. I am going to tell it straight. You can "Always" feel the ship moving. I am one of those people that must be driving the car in order to not get sick. The truth is, that if people told me the ship moved, I would never have taken the cruise. The truth, the movement is not a movement that will make you sick. It is a slow side-to-side that never affects your stomach or head (only your walking in tight corridors). Nevertheless, I got a prescription from my doctor for the patch. After two days I took it off because I realized I did not need it. However, the 5th & 6th night of the cruise, the ship was-a-rocking, and the patch went back on. The waves were not rough, but 35 mph winds caused us to sway back and forth. I am happy to say that I never became sick. There is a lot to do on this ship, but we never stayed up for any of the events. They went until 2 or 3 in the morning, and we were always too tired to stay up. We noticed that there are 2 different types of people on the cruise - 1) those that stay at the pool all day and party all night, and those that do excursions all day and wear out. We met many other "self-claimed partiers" that could not stay up for the late night festivities either. Ports - Grand Cayman - Stayed away from "island" excursions since the island was still not rebuilt from last year's hurricanes. We decided to try SNUBA for the first time thru Carnival. SNUBA was great. It was so much easier than snorkeling. My wife and I have been snorkeling for 5 years and never thought we would ever be able to dive, so we tried SNUBA. Only disappointing part is that you SNUBA right from the shore, so there is no reef. We were able to see a shipwreck, but the most exciting part was that we were actually underwater. This excursion was early enough that we could go on a Snorkel Catamaran to 2-reefs and to Stingray-Alley. Stingray-Alley is a must, the puppy-dogs of the sea (more like cats since they rub up against your legs). Awesome experience. We booked independently thru Captain Bryan's, mostly because of reviews on this website. This is the way to go. There were only 15 of us (whereas all the other boats (including Carnival's) had 40+ people. We were able to all have a very great time. The Coral Gardens Reef and the Barrier Reef were pretty nice also. However, you may not know that the cruise ship will not wait for anyone (except for the doctor). We were worried that Captain Bryan's would not get us back to the ship in time. They assured us that they have done this for 3 years, and no one was ever late. Of course this was the time. 8 of us on the Miracle, 7 on a Royal Caribbean ship. A local car side-swiped the bus! By Cayman law, our driver was not allowed to leave the site until the police came. We ended up flagging down a citizen who took us to the tender. Our 45 minute window became 3-minutes, as we barely made the last tender. Risk vs reward - I would do it again, but be aware of the risks. Costa Maya - Very Hot. We went on the Chacchoben Mayan ruin tour thru Carnival. I enjoyed it, but if we did not have a guide explaining the culture the trip would have not been worth it. When we got back to the port, they have a free pool with swim-up bar. This was great. This was basically a spot for all of the ship's people to hang out. It was surrounded by restaurants and shops. Cozumel – We did the Island snorkel tour thru Carnival in the morning. Very crowded and stayed near the ship reef (called the Aquarium). Water was 20-25 feet deep. Snorkeling was pretty good, but not what we expected. After that we went to Chankanaab Park. We booked directly through Dolphin Discovery and saved money. We did Package 3 (entry to the park, Dolphin Swim Adventure, Sea Lion Show, and Sea Lion Swim Adventure). Before doing the Dolphin package, we went to the beach. There, a guy from the local beach shop talked us into SCUBA Diving. He said it was easier than SNUBA (which we felt was easier than snorkeling). He gave us a 25 minute instruction course (half of which was the same as SNUBA), and we spent 1 hour underwater. Awesome experience. We even went thru an underground tunnel (the guide held my wife’s hand) and we were never where I could not see light. There was only 2 of us and our guide. We went in from the beach – if you are ever going to try it, try it here. The dolphin swim was amazing, and a must. However, the Sea Lions were better. In fact, the Sea Lion swim was the highlight of our trip, and one of the best things we have ever done. Belize – We did the cave tubing with X-Steam cave tubing. They did an extra set of caves that Carnival did not do. We were worried again about not making it back in time, but we had no problems. They were there when we got off the boat, and got us back in plenty of time. There were 13 of us in our group. I had a great time, but the water was low and the current was not very strong. This meant we were in the caves much longer than usual. I loved it, but my wife got cold at the end. My wife loved the hike thru the rainforest, and our guide was great. We ate at the entrance after tubing – the local food was great. Beware that the last 7-miles of road is dirt and rocks, and it gets very bumpy. In summary, it was a great vacation, and I would recommend it to anyone. The #1 reason we chose this cruise was because it had 4 ports in 7-days, but we ended up loving the whole thing. My wife never wants to do anything but cruise again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
This was a big family cruise. It contained my Parents, Brother, Sister-in-law, Sister-in-law's Parents, Grandmother, Grandmother's Sister. The last two didn't go on any of the excursions, just shopping. Everyone always ... Read More
This was a big family cruise. It contained my Parents, Brother, Sister-in-law, Sister-in-law's Parents, Grandmother, Grandmother's Sister. The last two didn't go on any of the excursions, just shopping. Everyone always attended dinner in the main dining room. I meant to have breakfast there at least once, but never got around to it. Instead I stuck to Horatio's for the buffet breakfast (same for lunch, when not in port). Ordered room service once for a Turkey sandwich, which was delicious. Onboard Carlo was the Cruise Director, his assistant was Karl with a K, and Karl's assistant was Sam. Those three were so very entertaining. When I first boarded, I had read about Karl with a K, so I was looking for him at the shows and activities and I could only find Carlo. I was very confused until we actually met Karl with a K. Karl with a K is a funny little British fellow who kept everyone laughing. His assistant Sam was also funny (Hi Sam!, Bye Sam!), but I was told he has a dirty mouth at the late night comedy shows. I mentioned cruise critic to both of them. Karl with a K had no idea that he was on the internet and seemed amused. Sam said he knew he was on here, because he had a bad review about something that happened on a different ship when he was new. So I give them all props, they made the cruise fun. I don't know how they put up with everyone, I couldn't be that nice that much. I used the gym 4 out of the 7 days and I was happy with the facility. The entire gym was 3 floors with the weights on the top level, the whirlpool on the middle level (center of the room), and the bottom was cardio. I'm guessing there were 10 treadmills and 5 bikes. Almost anywhere you were in the gym had you looking out into the water, it was beautiful. And if you're a guy, when your using the weights your at just the right height to watch the women down below on the treadmills. Wow! Some serious hotties down there jogging! There is a track above the gym that you can see through a glass dome type of ceiling that typically had people walking around. Up there is also the basketball hoop (deck 11). I think that's the highest point on the ship, equal to the topless deck. I found the "secret passage" to the bow of the ship. It was so funny. I decided I was absolutely going to find it around mid-week when we were at a port. From the Upper Deck (5) proceed to the very front of the ship. Once you reach the end of the hall, go down the flight of stairs. You're now on the main deck (4). Wizard's Arcade entrance is located right in this area. I think they're on both sizes, but there is a door on the port side for sure (left). There is a door that says CREW ONLY that is unlocked. Immediately past that door is a real metal door like you'd expect on a battleship or submarine which was open. Standing near that door you can look out onto the bow of the ship. There were staff members smoking out there and didn't seem to care I was out there. I went to find my family to show them the "secret place" on the boat. Only my Dad was interested in going out there, so I showed him. The actual bow of the boat had a bell and it was roped off so you couldn't do a Titanic (soaring like an eagle) type of move. We looked down from near the bow and I turned around to take a picture of the navigation deck area and there were two officers standing there. They were pointing at us, and then pointing towards the door we came through. I started waving at them. They were shaking their heads and kept pointing to the door. My Dad started freaking out so we left. You can see photos of this area here. http://medalian1.com/cruise/slides/May2005_131.html There is a laundry room available on each floor they said. Mine was located fairly close to our stateroom. It was $2 to wash, $2 to dry, and detergent and fabric softer was $1 each (I think). I brought my own tide-to-go and some fabric softer sheets. The rooms are not marked and you should ask someone on the boat where yours is located. The one on the empress deck port side was all the way forward through the door at the end that said crew only. Turn the corner and there is a room that says Laundry. Inside were 2 washers, 4 driers, a folding table, trash can, sink, and vending machine for supplies. I was worried that the water onboard would taste nasty, since I assumed it was City of Tampa water. I've lived in the city a year ago, plus I work within the limits of the city currently. The water has never tasted good and I drink bottled water instead. But, surprisingly, the water tasted great. I only used two water bottles and kept refilling them on the Lido deck or at the two water fountains in the gym. The first day on the ship it seemed like everyone employed by Carnival had it out for me to buy overpriced drinks. I wasn't happy with it and felt like I was going to explode if it kept up. It seems that they only really do it to you if your on the Lido deck in the area of the pools. Otherwise they leave you alone. Once I figured that out, I avoided them or brought a drink with me and they figured it out. It seems you can only drink water, tea, or coffee for free in the dining room. I tried getting apple juice or fruit punch from the dining staff and the barmaid, but neither knew what I was talking about. Instead I just took my large glass up to the Lido deck and filled it myself. Finding fruit juice sometimes proved hard, since they have to frequently refill those machines. You go to get some, and that station is out and the little light is glowing saying refill. I didn't have a problem bringing alcohol onboard. I put it inside my luggage that was not carry-on and packed it well. About half of our party brought on alcohol and no one experienced problems. I did end up ordering a few of those ungodly priced drinks, but once we got to a port that had carry-on your own booze, I started drinking that. During re-boarding from a port, you go through security and immediately after you are scanned, there is a table for you to check-in your alcohol. They don't seem to communicate with security, so you can just walk right past them. Some stuff I didn't want to drink while onboard the ship, so I did check it with them. Most of the staff onboard seemed as if they would go out of the way to help make you happy. Some people though seemed just like it was a job though. That would be our room Steward and the dining room staff. I only "extra" tipped the room Steward, being how he kept the room neat constantly. I didn't tip the dining staff ... it was their last cruise ending their 8 month tour and they were going home afterwards. So it seemed like they really didn't care. Ask for extra butter or bread, you got it 50% of the time. Some of the starter meals never came. I also didn't tip the Maitre D', as I didn't feel he did anything for me except interrupt the dining staff from brining dessert to dance. Plus he's probably making triple what the dining staff are making and doing next to nothing. The room Steward charged us for the large bottle of water one day and we couldn't figure out why. The new one was sitting on the mini-bar table in its original location. My Brother bought one while leaving for an excursion and had put it on the desk. So I guess the Steward just saw that and just immediately charged him instead of checking the mini-bar. This freaked my dad out, so he never threw his miniatures in the stateroom trash cans, fearing the room Steward would just assume they came out of the mini-bar. Our Steward offered to empty the mini-bar so we could use the fridge, but my Brother refused (hard head). Meanwhile my parents Steward refused, telling them to just move the contents to the top of the mini-bar. So I guess it depends on how the Steward feels. Every morning that I could remember, I'd go to the Pursers desk and get the free motion sickness medicine (Bonine). I had brought Dramamine, but hey this stuff was free and they passed out two packages per day. It was the non-drowsy formula, but that combined with alcohol did seem to make me sleepy after an excursion or mid-afternoon. After the first day everyone in our group of 11 had problems with the sign and sail card. In the port terminal apparently the credit cards never were correctly assigned to the sign and sail cards. I got notices for 4 days that I need to correct it, plus 2 voicemails. It wasn't MY problem that they're incompetent. If you need to visit the Pursers desk, I would recommend doing it before the last day or two, because the lines get insane. During the cruise I always saw staff cleaning. They did a great job keeping the ship beautiful. They would always say hi and ask how you are doing. It really created a friendly atmosphere. I found myself talking to other people in the elevators and whatnot asking how their cruise is going. I had tried for one earlier in the week during the Hypnotist. Wow what a scam. The only reason I went up there was trying to get the silly ship on a stick. I was very inebriated and figured it would work on me as I did everything he said. Plus with each thing your doing that he says, he said it would bring me better into a hypnotic state. I call bull crap. He kicked two people off because they wouldn't follow his directions. Then I was the last person onstage and he had me doing silly stuff like pretending napkins I put in my pants are on fire and stuff. Everyone got a kick out of the stuff and people knew my name on the ship. I would go into the elevator and someone would say "Hi Michael". He is selling CDs of how to lose weight, stop smoking, and other stuff after the show. That's why I say bull crap, because I think he's just trying to peddle his stuff. And your up there for attention or because you figure if you keep doing what he says, maybe you'll eventually be hypnotized. Later I was on stage in the Phantom Lounge hosted by Karl with a K. I didn't even know what was going on as it was half into the improv and I was just walking into the lounge. I started running down the isle like I had just had my name called on the Price is Right and he told me to come up there. I pretended I was in The Beetles and he gave me the ship on a stick. It was funny because at one point he's asking for everyone's name onstage. When he gets to me, he remembers me from the Hypnotist and just says something like "Ok Michael, where are you from?" Sunday - Embarkation I couldn't sleep Saturday night, only got 5 or 6 hours. There was a large storm that passed through overnight. When I woke up, I went to see if the ship was at port yet via webcam http://tampabaylive.com/cams/remotecam.shtml ... choose Channelside and you should see the ship on Sundays). Reading around here, I thought everyone had to be off the ship by 09:30am. I checked again at 09:30 and the ship still wasn't there. Then it hit me that maybe it wasn't at Terminal 2, since there have been problems with the oil tankers arriving on Sundays, or else it might be delayed because of a big storm that passed through overnight. I called the port, they said the ship was late and wouldn't be docked until 11:15am. Called Carnival, they said don't worry, the ship will be there at 10:00am and continue as if the ship wasn't late. Embarkation would not be affected he said! We arrived at 11:00am and the ship hadn't arrived yet. While the porter was handling our bags and we were getting the vehicles parked, the ship arrived right around 11:15am (like the port told us). We proceeded inside the terminal, through security and waited in line to complete paperwork and activate the sign and sail cards. Then we sat and waited for our room keys and then the chance to board the ship. Announcements soon followed saying that we wouldn't be boarding the ship until after 3pm. We were expecting to be on the Lido deck eating and drinking by one, so this wasn't happy news. 1/2 of our group of 9 wanted to get something to eat, so the other half waited with the luggage. I went to Marble Slab in Channelside and by the time I got back, the entire terminal was insane. Here were two thousand people crammed into the terminal, nowhere to sit and even finding a spot to stand was getting impossible. This was the worst part of the vacation, hands down! When we finally got on the Lido deck, it was 4pm. We couldn't go into our staterooms until they made an announcement. We waited 30 minutes and went to ours. The card key worked and the room was clean, so we dropped off our bags and went to explore the ship. They never made an announcement that you could go to your room, so I feel bad for people who actually followed the instructions. The stateroom was small, but no one in our group spent much time in the rooms. I shared a room with my Brother and Sister-in-law. I had the bunk bed (came out of the ceiling). We were upgraded from the Riviera deck 1 to Empress deck 6, inside cabin. The ship was very nice. She reminded me a lot of Las Vegas. The casino was closed and there were no lanyards there like I had read. I brought my own, so I wasn't concerned. I found out later that the casino cashier passes out yellow lanyards for free. Speaking of the casino, I was shocked at the size of it. I really expected it to be much larger. We ended up departing after 7PM. Monday - Day at Sea I don't remember exactly what we did this day. Mostly shows or activities, and got familiar with the ship. Had the late dinner seat, gambled, and saw shows before bed. Tuesday - Grand Cayman We tendered in to port with a carnival excursion for Sting Ray City, Hell, and the Turtle Farm. It started immediately upon reaching shore. We boarded a 14 seat passenger bus. The driver was our tour guide for the land part of the excursion. He took us to hell first, took some pictures (was really small!) I was expecting a big field or something. The Hell post office was closed, so no mailing of post cards because the stores next door ran out of stamps. Next stop was the turtle farm. It was pretty cool picking up the turtles and taking pictures with them. They seemed very relaxed and I didn't see anyone get bit or anything like that. Quickly left the gift shop and went to the next store over where the Tortuga rum cake and booze was. It's all delivered to the ship, you can't purchase and carry the alcohol. The driver, who wouldn't shut up about his political views then dropped us off at a boat which carried our bus plus another busload of people to the sting rays. Wow what a site. It was my first experience with water that clear. The sting rays were huge and friendly. They brought a digital underwater photographer with them, prints were $25 for two (minimum order). Stayed with the sting rays for an hour, and then went back to the bus, which thankfully was a different driver who returned us to the port. Geez, everything at this port was sooo expensive. The family went to eat, 6 people for $150! That was crazy! I was tired, so I ate on the ship, and then took a nap. Had the late dinner seat, gambled, and saw shows before bed. Wednesday - Costa Maya Another carnival excursion ... met at the end of the pier. Loaded into a full size bus (greyhound style) and drove for around an hour to the Chacchoben Mayan ruins. Once there, we were short on time so we went right on the ruins tour. I took lots of pictures and video ($3 to shoot video). Didn't have time to shop at the little store, boarded the bus and they passed out Pepsi + Beer Had the late dinner seat, gambled, and saw shows before bed. Thursday – Cozumel This excursion was booked through http://cozumelcruiseexcursions.com a week prior to the cruise. This was the best excursion during the whole cruise. First we arrived at the port; it wasn't the same as the meeting point area. So we had to take a taxi ($14 for 7 people) to the other pier which was about 4 miles away. We met them in front of the Burger King and started our adventure. We boarded a 14 passenger bus, just the 7 of us. We had two tour guides, Mike and Juan-Carlos, and the driver Freddie. We drove down the only road that splits through the island. It took about 15 minutes and we were at the drop off point with a bunch of 4wheelers. They gave is the rules and helmets, and we were off on a 14 mile ride through a trail that went down onto the beaches, in the woods, over rocks, it was amazing. We ended up on a private beach where we stopped. We kayaked about a mile out to a reef where they tied up the kayaks. We snorkeled for about 30 minutes in the area of the reef. Kayaked back to shore, they fed us sandwiches with soda + water. Got back on the 4wheelers and stopped at a small Mayan ruin. More 4wheeling at which point it started to drizzle which was really nice timing. Turns out the port area got SOAKED! Get back to the bus, and they took us back to our actual pier for $14 instead of having to take a taxi from the original pickup spot. We had enough time to do some shopping too, but the whole mall style shopping isn't appealing to me. Had the late dinner seat, gambled, and saw shows before bed. Friday - Belize This was booked through http://belizecruiseexcursions.com at the same time we booked the Cozumel excursion. The two sites are fun by the same people. We went on the cave tubing trip. The meeting spot was harder to find, but the pile of guides with signs directed us to the correct area (150' from the tender). 7 of us + 4 other Miracle cruisers went on this excursion. 14 seat bus took us for a 1:15 hour bus ride. The last 15 or 20 minutes was down the bumpiest road I've ever been on. Got to the drop off point and saw all the busloads of carnival people. We went with our 2 tour guides and 11 people, cut in front of the carnival tours and went in a small cave to see bats. Then we cut the carnival tour again and walked passed the first drop in spot for the cave tubing. We went to a further cave entrance that was amazing. The only bad thing was it's the dry season there, so sometimes we had to get out and walk because the water was so low. We tubed for about an hour or hour and a half, then got out near the bus area and ate BBQ chicken and other food at the local restaurant (yummy!!). Did some shopping then headed back to the port. The rest of Belize was nasty. There were aids signs everywhere telling people to get checked. All windows have bars on them and there are frequent Police/Military checkpoints. My grandmother went shopping outside the port area, but quickly became scared for her personal safety and went back to the ship. She complained that whole night about Belize! Had the late dinner seat, gambled, and saw shows before bed. Saturday - Day at Sea I spent most of the day doing the activities and shows on the ship. Did a lot of drinking, eating, and gambling (in no special order). Packed up and set our luggage out that night to be picked up. Had the late dinner seat, gambled, and saw shows before bed. Sunday - Debarkation Woke up and we were already back in Tampa. But we weren't at the regular terminal 2, we were in an industrial area. We had to board buses that were lined up outside to be transported back to terminal 2. Once there we found our luggage end left. We didn't get into the bus until about 10AM and only part of our group colors had been called. My dad ended up losing one of his bags after the porter had it. It contained all of his alcohol he bought at ports, souvenirs, photos from their previous cruises (originals), and some clothing. He filed a claim and hopefully Carnival finds it! I hope you enjoyed my review of the ship. It was definitely one of the top three vacations I’ve ever had and I plan on taking another cruise as soon as possible! Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
Just back so details are still fresh. This was our first cruise, we went with another couple who had been on Carnival once before. Embarkation: Stayed at Chase Suites Hotel the night before where we left our van for the week and took ... Read More
Just back so details are still fresh. This was our first cruise, we went with another couple who had been on Carnival once before. Embarkation: Stayed at Chase Suites Hotel the night before where we left our van for the week and took hotel shuttle to port. Great Experience, would highly recommend). Arrived at port @ 11am. Went thru the line in 15 min. and waited to board until 11:45am. Very smooth. Ship: Very clean, still looks new...very little wear. Decorating is over the top but it felt like a vegas hotel just on water! I had read previous reviews and was warned about the nipples but really didn't find it too offensive however I didn't bring my kids with me (I would say it's too much for them). Our friends wanted me to say that they liked the grapes!!! Cabin: Being first-timers we had a confirmed room on Riviera deck inside cabin midship. The room was great. Lots of hanging & shelf space. Bed was very comfortable. Inside cabin was great...had naps after excur. as it was quiet and dark. Dining: Food at Horatio's was excellent. Lots to choose from...Chinese, Deli, Rotisserie, Salad Bar etc. Pizza & Grill was absolutely amazing. As was the ice cream/frozen yogurt. Make sure to go to the toppings bar on Mon/Tues/Sat from 3-5pm...a highlight. Was a little disappointed with the dinners at Bacchus Dining. Some meals were great...filet mignon, chateaubriand, coq. st. jacques...others were ok. Also disappointed with desserts. Flourless chocolate cake and Bitter & Blanc pudding were great but others could have been better. Also the salads were not great. Other highlights were Mexican Late night buffet...excellent salsa, guacamole, chicken enchiladas...Sat. afternoon was the fruit bar/chocolate fountain...oh my was it amazing...make sure to try the rum balls. Service: Our room steward Errol and Head Waiter Rajesh were great...we tipped extra. Our room was always cleaned up, our bed made and remade (after naps!). Towel animals were great. Cruise Director Mark Hawkins, Hi Sam and Karl with a K were very annoying (actually Karl was OK, but the other two were horrible). I thought they were very immature. I realize they are supposed to be "fun" but the senior cruise director (Mark) was trying to be a stand up comic the entire cruise and was just not funny. You can be fun and still have charisma and class, but they were just obnoxious. Most people we observed felt the same. Entertainment: First night (Sun) was really bad, Generations (Mon.), Hypnotist, and Beatles (Fri.) night were good. Others were average. Overall - disappointing. The band "Music Unlimited" at Frankie & Johnnie's were great...my husband is a musician and loved watching them each night. Sheila was pretty bad. Excursions: We booked on our own and saved $$$$. Grand Cayman - Stingray sandbar with Soto's Cruises ($30/pp) would highly recommend only 8 on boat other boats had tons more some up to 40 people. Costa Maya - Swam in pool and laid on beach. Cozumel - Took taxi into downtown ($6) to Aqua Safari and went on 2 tank scuba dive ($55/pp plus $15 for equip.). Awesome experience, even had time to shop after. Belize - Cave Tubing with X-stream ($60/pp). Had a great time. Bring cheap watershoes. They will buy your watershoes for $5 when your done...we were just going to throw them out as they were wet and dirty and we didn't need them anymore. Disembarkation: It sucks to be a non-US citizen. We had to go meet at 6:15am on Sun. morning to go thru early customs. Most other cruises have done away with this so not sure why Carnival still does it (maybe it had something to do with the Tampa port). Self assist & people with early flights etc. were off the boat by 8:30am. We were off by 9:20. Found our luggage easily. Overall: Really enjoyed the Carnival Miracle. Definitely LOVE cruising. Would like to try other cruise lines to compare. Email me if you have any questions. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
This cruise would be my third with Carnival, and the second for my wife. We were married last year in Ocho Rios while traveling on the Triumph, and decided to take my wife's son along for our 1st anniversary on the Miracle, and this ... Read More
This cruise would be my third with Carnival, and the second for my wife. We were married last year in Ocho Rios while traveling on the Triumph, and decided to take my wife's son along for our 1st anniversary on the Miracle, and this would be his first cruise. Needless to say, Carnival "exceeded our expectations" in most every way. The dining room 'team' was wonderful, and although I had hoped we would be seated with other passengers, we had a table which seated four, just aft of the main dining area. Our waiter Somchai from Thailand was absolutely a delight! His helper, who's name escapes me at the moment, was equally as good. I would rate the food way above average, and the entire dining experience rates an A with us. Our son enjoyed the pizza, as did we one night, but for the most part we ate in the dining room as often as possible. I had a wonderful 'rack of ribs' for lunch on the last sea day that was 'to die for'!! Our bar server, Olga, was very efficient and cordial! Room service was great.. 30 minutes was the longest we had to wait, and that was at 10 PM after a long day in port and a seriously napping child! I must admit to having a 'fish' entree every evening and enjoyed every meal. Our room steward Mario was superb! Towel animals every evening, and we never needed to call him for anything. He also received an extra gratuity along with Somchai and his assistant. Our cabin, which was an extended balcony directly on the aft, was wonderful. This was our second balcony, and I will definitely book an aft cabin in the future. Just wonderful to sit there and watch the sea pass by and the beautiful sunsets! Moon and star watching was a favorite time for me. Bar service was good, but 'spotty' at times. A re-distribution of bartenders to busier areas would have been appreciated. The ones who were there were wonderful and the drinks were great, but they seemed to be under-staffed. This is a money-maker for Carnival, so I'm sure they will adjust this to accommodate the masses. No one wants to wait for a $3.50 beer or a $5. drink!! I chose the 'bucket-of-beer' option on several occasions to alleviate the need to go to the bar. We enjoyed all the shows. The three of us enjoyed the 'Generations' show, and Mark Harvey the Hypnotist was GREAT! We went to the late night show to see more of his act. Unfortunately, we missed the Tribute to the Beatles (Legends) show as we celebrated our anniversary at Nick & Nora's that evening. FANTASTIC! Next cruise I'll do Nick & Nora's, or whatever supper club is offered, on several occasions. Well worth the extra money! Quick note: Our 14 year old son enjoyed the dining room so much that he went to formal night alone, while we were at Nick & Nora's, dressed in a dark grey suit, and was treated like royalty by the wait team. He loved it!! And we now know "he can dance"! Overall, from what we participated in, and what we observed, Carnival does a wonderful job. Again, they exceeded our expectations... Embarkation and debarkation went as well as could be expected. We arrived at approximately noon, and waited about 1/2 hour to board the ship. Debarkation was a little slow, due to customs, but we had an 1148 AM flight out of Tampa, and were at the airport by 10 AM with lots of room to spare! Yes, we will sail with Carnival again... Miracle is our favorite so far, but the Triumph is a close second! Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
First let me say that reading reviews saved me (and my family) a lot of time and $$$. We booked our cruise directly with Carnival, almost a year in advance. We selected TBA, and were happy since we paid for the lowest cat. of balcony and ... Read More
First let me say that reading reviews saved me (and my family) a lot of time and $$$. We booked our cruise directly with Carnival, almost a year in advance. We selected TBA, and were happy since we paid for the lowest cat. of balcony and were moved up to the top. Traveling with me were my wife and two children, friend and his wife and two children, and friend with wife and one child. We arrived at the port of Tampa at noon with our documents from the online process. This did seem to help in making the process a bit smoother. Many reviews I read stated that bringing alcohol onboard would be a problem. No problem here, we brought lots in both carry on bags and checked bags. All arrived to the cabin fine. Once onboard we went to see out dining arrangements and cabins. Our room was nice and the balcony was great. Just as I read from past cruisers, I brought a bungee to hold the balcony door open,,,the cool ocean felt great while sleeping!! Now the ports,,,In Grand Cayman we researched and found that Mobydicktours.com was the best bang for your buck! No money exchange until the end of the tour. We met them on the dock, but don't rush,,they are all on island time and this is different than ship time. Hanging around the dock with the kids was not fun first thing in the morning. After all were gathered from the ship's the tour started. We were escorted by an old school bus to seven mile beach and got onto the boat. All the workers were great and the stingrays were fun, even the kids loved them. Next we went snorkeling, not the best spot but it worked. After several hours we paid and they brought us back to the dock, or would let you off at the public beach. I recommend this trip at least once, but have been to Grand Cayman before and really missed hanging out on this great beach,,,,needed much more time!!! We brought our own food from the ship. As many other critics have stated, bring a small cooler that can fold up with water bottles and plastic baggies. We packed fruit, water, and ordered room service with toasted p-b-& j sandwiches the evening before. Purchasing food on Grand Cayman can kill a working mans vacation, plus you will eat like a king back on the ship!!!! Costa Maya was the hit of the cruise for me!! I read about Mahaual(sp?) and wanted to go. The others in the group were a bit scared,,but I needed to see this fishing village. We were off the ship early,,,got into the cab and went on this adventure. Not much to see once you leave the tourism village until you get to Mahaual. Dirt roads with lots of shacks along the beautiful beach. I am sure that this palace will be the next Cancun in 10 yrs. When you get out of the cab the natives start smiling,,"come to my beach,,free chair,,,I take care of you". Take care of yourself and your family!!! We decided to walk a bit down the beach and found a great area with a large sandy front for the kids to play. Now you do have to pay for the use of the chairs, but after you toss a few bucks, they will leave you alone, checking if you need beer and nachos. Forget the massage, the horses at this beach look like they are ready to die, but the water is great. The girls got their hair done for $20.00 full head,,I am told this is a good price. The people were nice, cold beer, and the food was actually very good. We were there from 8:30 until 3:00. We took a cab back to the dock and found a wild party going on at the tourism village pool. Three ships were docked and many people were in the pool drinking up a storm. The kids couldn't believe their eyes as people danced on the bar and started to moon everyone. So we gathered the wives from the shopping and brought the kids back to the boat. My son still talks of the "full moon in Costa Maya". Belize was quite interesting. An old port with many areas to explore. I don't know about going to Belize for an extended vacation, but one day was fine. We selected Cave-Tubing.com with Yhony. Once again, we found this company on a review! Online just reserve your spots and he will email you with details. The best price and the tour was great. No food or drinks are included with this cheap package, but once again we packed our own food....bring lots because you are tired and hungry at the end of this tour. We met Yhony and friends, got into a nice air conditioned van and started our trip through Belize City to the jungle. It is a long ride but we did get to see quite a bit of Belize. At the state park we were told to leave all valuables in the van that will be locked. Now,,I trust nobody!!!!I brought my $$, and ID with me in one of those water proof cases around my neck. In the end everything was fine in the van, so you choose!!! The walk was not that big of a deal. If you are a normal human and can walk a mall you should be able to walk a dirt path up a small hill and into a cave. The bats were there if you wanted to see them, but they did not bother anyone. The water level was a bit low so most adults had to walk in the stream for a few minutes. The bottom of the stream was filled with river rock, you know the kind that we pay top dollar for in the US to decorate around pools and landscape areas. The water was perfect, not real hot or cold. We enjoyed the float down the river and Yhony and his crew were 1st class!!!! We did not eat at the state park, but it did smell very good!!! On the way back to the ship we drank Belican (sp?) beer, when in Rome!!!! The last port was Cozumel. I have been there with the family before and had a wonderful time at Chankanaab State Park and the downtown area. We decided to follow many reviews to Paradise Beach. http://paradise-beach-cozumel.net/ this place is free, lots of lounge chairs and a great place for families. We arrived early once again and took a cab to the entrance. At the beach we found only workers cleaning the seaweed away to allow for a clean fun day for us! Clean bathrooms, showers, and a great bar!!! We went right to the best spot of chairs and set up shop for the day. The water was cloudy due to storms the evening before, but it still felt great. You can pay $5.00 for a wristband that allows you access to the water toys and snorkeling equip. This $5.00 is money well spent. The kids had a blast and found lots of shells and friends. Ask for Tom and tell him you read about the place on Cruise Critic, he will take care of you at the bar. Tom and the others go out of their way to make sure that you and your family have a great time. I will visit Paradise Beach again!! But wait,,,do the tequila shots,,the best tasting tequila,,would love to get a bottle!! Now to the ship! The Miracle is a newer ship and is easy to get around. Very clean and the staff were friendly and eager to please. The shows were your typical cruise ship shows and the food was very good. We did not go to Nick and Nora's but many said that this was worth the extra $. I did get to see a suite at the back of the ship. This cabin was beautiful and had a huge wrap around balcony that could hold 5x's the people ours held. Our cabin steward was good and stayed out of our way but was available to bring us what we needed. In the end, we all had a fine cruise. I recommend that you book your excursions yourself and bring your own drinks. I also bought a bottle in Cozumel (don't give it up at the dock, I had a backpack and just walked it to the room) that was quite cheap!! I was happy that cruisers did not hog lounge chairs around the pool on this voyage. Customs was fast and easy due to the fact that we did not get into port on time. Rough seas the last night and a cargo ship slowed our entrance into the port of Tampa. All 11 of us missed the flight home! We booked our own flights to save $$. Spirit Airlines booked us on another flight and got us home,,but that is another story! If we had booked our flights with Carnival, we still would have missed the flights, but they would have paid for a hotel room. The amount we saved booking our own flights was much more than the cost of a room for one evening, so we did well. Enjoy your cruise, we did. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
I went on Carnival Miracle and it was the best vacation I have ever been on. I strongly suggest going on that ship. It is the ship of dreams, and perfect if you are bringing kids. I would go on the same cruise over and over again. The ... Read More
I went on Carnival Miracle and it was the best vacation I have ever been on. I strongly suggest going on that ship. It is the ship of dreams, and perfect if you are bringing kids. I would go on the same cruise over and over again. The food was amazing the room service was great and you make your own schedule. You don't have to worry, the Carnival staff will take care of your every need. I am going on another cruise in May and I would go on the Carnival Miracle again. If you bring kids, it is perfect, you can let them roam around and relax. There are many game rooms and a program from toddlers to teenagers to keep them busy. We were supposed to go to Costa Maya but the boat couldn't dock so we couldn't get off, but that was fine. There are so many things to entertain you. I enjoyed trying to get myself lost, then exploring the ship as I try to find my way back. It was the best vacation to relax. I strongly suggest the Carnival Miracle, you won't be disappointed! Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
Here is a review with what will hopefully be useful information and tips. The cruise was a part of a very large group of nearly 500 Wisconsin EMTs, Paramedics and Firefighters along with their family and friends. It was their 3rd group ... Read More
Here is a review with what will hopefully be useful information and tips. The cruise was a part of a very large group of nearly 500 Wisconsin EMTs, Paramedics and Firefighters along with their family and friends. It was their 3rd group cruise. Embarkation was for the most part pretty easy and straight forward. The lines were pretty long, however. They allowed everyone to board the ship early (about 12:15) but asked that passengers not go to their cabins until after 1:30. We had skippers club privileges due to the cabin we were provided. Unfortunately this only applied to the inside line to get your sail and sign card, etc. - not to the outside line to get through security and into the other line. We did bypass this second line and were among the very first people to board the ship. Having read many of the other reviews here, we had a pretty good idea what to expect. What we didn't expect with such a new ship was all of the things that were not working. The slide was closed for the week due to problems, all sorts of light bulbs or lights in our cabin were either burned out or missing. Card readers and other items in the Internet Cafe were not working; even the 10 piece band in the show lounge was missing their tenor sax player making them a 9 piece band with some pretty strange sounds at times when only the sax section had the melody. Perhaps these things are nit picky from someone who has cruised many times before, but I hope it is not a sign of things to come from Carnival. Most of the comments from other cruisers held true. The grapes in the dinning room are way too much! Nick & Norah's was incredible and a must do for anyone who appreciates fine dinning and great food. It is very well worth the extra $25 charge. Both production shows were solid but nothing to get real excited about. The lead vocalists were average at best. Being nearly all of the other music is on tape, it of course sounded great. Everyone on this board seemed to rave about the Ticket to Ride Show but again we found it good but not all that much better than the first show. The band in Frankie and Jonnies is extremely talented and a very solid group. Be sure to see them at least one night - if not more. Having lead large groups in the past, we have been upgraded to category 11 or 12 suites in the past. This time we made it to 11 but Carnival gave us a cabin in the back of the ship. I would suggest ANYONE who does a category 11 to request one of these. It was larger than the 12s we have been in and actually had three separate rooms including a separate bed room. The balcony was bigger than on any ship I have been on and actually held 21 people at one time with no problem! I'm not sure I'd pay $500 per person more for one of these but if you do, be sure to take one in the rear rather than the normal ones in the center of the ship. You'll be very glad you did. Actually, if you have kids, one of these cabins would be a better option than a separate cabin for the kids. You can put them on the pull our couch and still close the doors to the bedroom and almost have two cabins. One of the things that has really changed lately is all of the independent companies who provide shore excursions. In Belize we could have booked cave tubing from Carnival for $98/person. We had a group of 28 that went. Instead we booked through a company called Coral Breeze Limited for $56/person. We saved a total of $1,176!!! on the very same tour and let me tell you, these guys were great! They went above and beyond for us and at the end didn't even hint of receiving tips. All they asked was for good Internet reviews. Well, we tipped them very well with cash and will provide the reviews as well. Do yourself a favor and book through this company. They are awesome. The same goes for many other excursions. Nearly all are cheaper on shore or from these companies that are popping up. Food in the dinning room was off of a new menu and for the first time, I really was not thrilled with the selections. Some nights it was really hard to find something that interested me - especially with deserts. Most of the food was pretty good although beef was a bit tough at times and fatty. It also seems like the dinning room entertainment has been dropped several notches. I can remember much more from them not to mention the special desserts like Cherries Jubilee and Baked Alaska are no where to be found anymore - too bad! We found quite a few very nice additions. For example, they set up a sushi bar every night for free. I'm not a sushi eater but was impressed they would add this without cost. The same goes for a sundae bar several afternoons. It included dozens of toppings, hot fudge, caramel, etc. Once again, it was no additional cost. A deli, taste of the nations, Chinese and a few other styles remain and are great alternatives for lunch. Entertainment was very good, pretty good and in one case the worst ever. They had something like 4 different comedians, a juggler, magician, hypnotist and a few others. I don't remember so many different entertainers in one week. Some were awesome. One comedian, however, was so terrible the room emptied both nights she was on. I don't think I've seen someone bomb this bad in 20 years. Still, Carnival does a wonderful job with entertainment and as a musician myself, I'm very proud to report they are one of the only cruise lines that still use real bands including being the only line with a 10 piece show band (well 9 piece this cruise but you get the point) In this day and age of DJs, and single acts, it's very refreshing to still see live bands. Disembarking the ship is a real breeze. We could have been off as early as 7:30 with the self assist but even with an 11:45 flight opted to do the traditional disembark. We could go just about anywhere on the ship and then when we were called could leave anytime at our option as long as we left by 9:30. We walked off, found our luggage right away, walked right through customs to a waiting taxi and were in the airport in plenty of time for our flight. Thinking back to how this used to be - waiting in a lounge, etc. the current methods are so much nicer. About half of the 2,400 passengers did the self assist. They were called at about 7:30 and the general was called at 8:45. Carnival has some huge goals. They want to get to 5 million passengers a year. Last year 10 million cruised on all ships - so that's a huge goal. We were told they have a ship on the drawing board that will carry 5,000 passengers and 2,000 crew! It's something like 180,000 ton. Unbelievable! However, they need to keep the attention to detail to get there. In all, it was still a very good cruise. I'd actually put it at about 3.5 stars but only on the nit picky items. I will say that we did not like the layout of this class nearly as nice as the Victory/Destiny class. The lines seemed longer, the pools were divided in half which made it hard to see deck entertainment. The slide was way in the rear (if it would have been open) and the ship is 60 feet longer which made for a lot of walking. If anyone would like specific information, feel free to e-mail me at donh@wisconsinems.com or visit us at www.EMSCruise.com. Read Less
Sail Date March 2005
A beautiful ship. You would not know you were on Carnival. All the "Spirit Class" ships are toned down and not as gaudy or kaleidoscope bright. The food was great and gets better each year. The small cafe/patisserie on Promenade ... Read More
A beautiful ship. You would not know you were on Carnival. All the "Spirit Class" ships are toned down and not as gaudy or kaleidoscope bright. The food was great and gets better each year. The small cafe/patisserie on Promenade deck has wonderful desserts and very inexpensive when it comes to cruise lines adding extra charges. A HUGE chocolate covered strawberry is $1.00 and a chocolate fruit-filled cup is $2.00 and a HUGE slice of cheesecake is $2.00 and better than the lunch buffet dessert. The shows were great and not too loud for a change. The comedians were funny and the adult shows were fantastic. Our dining room staff was new, but they did a nice job and the food was great and hard to choose a selection. The ship has an easy flowing layout and is easy to learn. There is a lot of open deck space and enough bars to keep your thirst quenched. The walk around exterior promenade is nice for a lazy stroll and even if you have a balcony there are a lot of places that are relaxing to sit and and read a book. The ports of call were great even though it was cloudy and windy most of our trip. Grand Cayman we went snorkeling. It wasn't the greatest, but we weren't home in the cold and at work either. The parents went to Stingray City and had a great time. We were there years ago and also had a great time. We bought 2 ammolite rings at Ammolite by the Bay. When we returned home we discovered the stone was not ammolite, but synthetic/manmade and worth half what we paid. We sent them back for a full refund. Since there is no way that I know to tell if the ammolite is a stone or fake, I would stay away from that store or just not buy ammolite period. Costa Maya was nice. We went to the Mayan ruins of Chacchoben. They were nice, but there are a lot nicer ruins to see on the Yucatan. So go see Uxmal or Chichan Itza first. Cozumel we went to Playa Maya beach to relax and drink and eat. Very nice beach, but it became very crowded as the day wore on. If you want a nicer beach with fewer people, go to Passion Island. You have a longer bus ride and a short boat ride to get there, but it is worth it. Belize we went to Rendezvous Caye for snorkeling and it was great. We did not see a lot of fish, but we saw a LOT of coral and it was beautiful. We went to Goffs Caye 2 yrs ago and there was less coral, but more fish. Both nice places to snorkel. Parents did the River Wallace Alta Hun trip and really enjoyed the trip. Last day was a relaxing sea day and we finally had blue sky. Tampa we wasted time before our flight at the Florida Aquarium and it was FANTASTIC. I would fly back there just to see that. Well worth the money. In Grand Cayman there were 7 ships in port. TOO Many. Carnival did a poor job of notifying and organizing once on shore. Our tour was canceled and once we found a rep he said he thought we were on the tender. (yeh, there was one tender for 2,000 people and we heard you). NCL had reps all over the place organizing the excursions . Cozumel had 8 ships in port and that was crazy, but not as bad. It is a good idea to get off the ship and be at your tour meeting place earlier than stated on the ticket. If you are not a fan of Carnival and have never tried a "Spirit Class" ship, book one and you will change your mind. We like Carnival and these are totally different - better - still fun, but with out having to wear sunglasses indoors. I think their dining room food is much better then Royal Caribbean and definately better then Celebrity's. Our staterooms were roomy with bathrobes, refrig, amenities basket, beach towels, etc. Our steward was like a ghost - never seen, but you knew he was there. An all around great cruise despite the weather, but it was snowing in the northeast so the weather was great. I will say that embarkation sucked as once you checked in they assigned you a group# and made you wait until that # was called which only CREATED lines. In the past you checked in and walked on board. So this new way just adds conjestion and makes lines which cruisers do not like. Also, I still like the luggage in the warehouse better then on a carousel as you just go get your bags instead of waiting for them to come around the belt. Debarkation was at your leisure which very relaxing and nice. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Let me start by telling you this was my 10th cruise and my husbands 7th and our 6th Carnival cruise. We cruised with 2 other couples and we are all between 40 and 60 years old. I'm a little partial to Carnival but for a good reason, ... Read More
Let me start by telling you this was my 10th cruise and my husbands 7th and our 6th Carnival cruise. We cruised with 2 other couples and we are all between 40 and 60 years old. I'm a little partial to Carnival but for a good reason, they offer the best deal for the money you spend! Their food is always good and the entertainment outstanding. Until the Miracle we have always been quite satisfied with our other Carnival cruises, but the Miracle surpasses all other ships we sailed on including the Pride which use to be our favorite. We even did the Pride 2 times -- once in Florida and the other time in California. We felt the Miracle was extremely clean, friendly and the food was excellent. The Beatles show was outstanding. It was like "old home week" for us because the Captain and our waiter and a lot of the crew had been on the Pride when we first sailed her out of Port Canaveral in 2002 when she was brand new. I asked our waiter where the Prides original Maitre d' was and she said he had retired. That's too bad because he was a great Maitre d' and he really kept his staff busy entertaining us. He even sang a few songs himself. Anyone who took the original Pride cruises out of Florida know what I'm talking about. This was only a 3 day cruise, but it gave us time to get away with friends and relax and also to see the Miracle. For 2 of our friends this was their first cruise and I know it won't be their last. They are already talking about another one in the spring. We booked a balcony guarantee through Carnival and were upgraded to the Panorama Deck with an extended balcony. We were quite happy. The first timers were upgraded from an inside cabin to a obstructed balcony, which they said was great. I thought that was a great upgrade for first time cruisers. In Nassau the girls went shopping (of course) and then we all went over to the Atlantis Resort and saw the sites there. The Aquarium was really nice and my hubby won a little in the Casino which made his day. A couple of our friends got engaged on the first night on board. He took her to Nick and Nora's to ask her the big question, but it was too busy and he decided to wait till he found a more private spot on the ship and then he asked her. She was thrilled and afterward we all had champagne in our cabin to celebrate. I think the wedding should be on board a cruise ship so we can all go on another cruise together. I'm voting for Hawaii! They are thinking about it! Boarding was a breeze. We arrived at the Port at 10:30 and were on the ship at 11:30 and were eating on the deck at 12:15. The best boarding we have ever had. The Pride boarding in April was a different story! Going through customs on return was also great. No hold up at all. We were bussed to the parking garage because we came back to a different dock than we left from but that ran smoothly too. I heard some people complaining but I didn't think it was bad at all. We were off the ship by 9:15 a.m. and driving home. That to me is a Miracle in itself. Thanks Miracle for the miracle. There really isn't enough space here to tell you everything we crammed into 3 days, but we had a ball. If you would like to ask me any questions I will be happy to do so. Carnival thank you for a very organized operation and a wonderful vacation. We will be back!!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
Ready, Set, Cruise! (Advice Numbered) The Carnival Miracle In the middle of winter, we went on a cruise. We departed Norfolk, VA at 6:45am Saturday to catch a connecting flight in NJ. Due to a severe snowstorm (where our connector ... Read More
Ready, Set, Cruise! (Advice Numbered) The Carnival Miracle In the middle of winter, we went on a cruise. We departed Norfolk, VA at 6:45am Saturday to catch a connecting flight in NJ. Due to a severe snowstorm (where our connector was coming from), the flight was cancelled. At 11am the snow drifted into NJ. In anticipation of the airport closing, we took one of the last flights leaving...heading to Richmond, VA. Once in Richmond, we had to turn to another airline to get to Tampa. $1000 later, and with the help of Richard Simmons, that's right the exercise guru Richard Simmons, we were on the last plane allowed to leave Richmond (due to a relentless snowfall). We had a successful connection in Charlotte and made it to our hotel in Tampa before midnight. We were living a dream as we escaped two airports in heavy snow, had Richard Simmons serving us drinks, and had arrived to our final destination on the same day. (#1: Schedule winter connections in cities with moderate climates) The next morning, I ran the Florida Gulf Beaches Marathon. 26.2 miles passed, I showered and was in line with my family at the Port of Tampa to board the Carnival Miracle. The boarding process was thorough and efficient. (#2: Remember your Passport & Driver's License) Once on board we quickly signed up for our excursions. The in-room computerized process was user friendly. (#3: Decide which excursions to take before getting on the ship) Sunday January 23rd There was a daily schedule (named Carnival Capers) placed in our mailbox just outside our cabin door. Sunrise time was printed on the top left, and sunset on the right. It listed more activities than we could possibly attend (although I diligently tried). To get comfortable with the ship and everything on board, I embraced a scavenger hunt contest (described in the Capers). As the day progressed, I noticed the ship was immaculate, the dining room settings exquisite, and the staff was very friendly. The Welcome Aboard Show featured dancing and a seasoned comedian that could relate to everyone in the audience from age 8 to 70. In addition to the show, at various times and locations, there were many other activities including but not limited to...calypso music live, a Pilates with Yoga class, bingo, karaoke, a "name that tune contest" at a piano bar, and a midnight party. The ship's entertainment Cruise Director Steve M. Knisley left no stone uncovered when setting up the schedule. Did I mention I won the scavenger hunt? $500 in prizes! (#4: Read your Caper cover to cover) Monday January 24th At 6am (#5: Bring a CD alarm clock to wake up to your favorite music), I found myself in the gym taking advantage of the modern equipment. The exercise facility (located in the front of the ship) had sweeping views of the ocean ahead. Subsequent to the workout, I joined an aerobics class. The staff had high energy and was very supportive, despite my lack of coordination. Following the aerobics class, I sweated it out in the steam room and dry sauna before taking a private shower (in a separate enclosed and locked room) with one overhead jet and 4 wall side jets (opposing each other). From Monday forward, I found myself utilizing the gym facilities daily. (#6: Showering at the spa is better than in your cabin) Monday's activities included, but were not limited to...a poolside upper deck beach party, gaming lessons (there was a big casino on board), a limbo contest, a golf putting competition (there was also a golf cage to practice your swing), a men's hairy chest competition (I became instantly famous as this was broadcasted on the ship's "what's happening" channel), tea time, trivia time, a cocktail party, a lounge crawl, a late night adult comedy show, a tanzanite seminar & raffle, free health seminars, and a musical show with dancing accompanied by Steve Wenzel and the Phantom Orchestra (who were excellent all week). Dinner tonight was formal, (#7: Bring a power strip to accommodate your electric razor, wife's hair dryer, digital camera battery re-charger, and CD alarm clock at the same time) so my son and I took advantage of a complimentary shoeshine on the same deck as the dining room. Tuesday January 25th Grand Cayman. My wife and son went on the Stingray Sandbar, Hell & Turtle Farm Experience. They described feeding the stingrays from their hands and holding giant sea turtles as a magical experience. My wife, a big sea turtle devotee, found this to be an incredible excursion. I went on a local trek, by myself. I managed to find a stretch of sandy beach interspersed with jagged rocks giving way to crystal clear blue water. I found a conch shell significantly larger than the size of my hand. I rinsed it in the waves and moved on. Among the various fossils, I located a piece of brain coral that was perfectly shaped and neared the same weight of a human head (I am a science teacher and chiropractor, so I know this stuff). I then came upon a very narrow area of beach, while on my return path. Standing ashore was a man reaching into a bag of fish. I moved closer and he explained, "This is a fish market where the locals come to buy..." but I was fixed on the waves. For in the breakers were many fish, 3 and 4 feet long with ominous fins piercing the surface. He said those were tarpon and they come to feed on the scraps. He also said, If I had my fly rod with me, it would be a lot of fun. (#8: Bring a compact fly rod with common salt water fly patterns) Wednesday January 26th Costa Maya. Prior to describing Costa Maya, 1 want to share briefly your dining options that are part of your cruise. On deck 9 you have Horatio's (that served an incredible high quality assortment of foods from different nations around the world), a grill line (that spoiled me daily with Reuben sandwiches), 24-hour pizza (this was best at 1:30am in between leaving the disco and heading for the casino), and a 24-hour ice cream/frozen yogurt bar. On deck 2, you have the Bacchus dinning room, serving you breakfast and dinner daily, and lunch most days. It was the first time I could experience fine dining daily. My 8-year-old son felt like a king, and lived up to the challenge displaying exceptional manners. We all went on the Costa Maya Jungle Beach Break. We were taken to a secluded beach by a charter bus. Once there, we had 3 hours of swimming, sun bathing, kayaking (which was free) and could for a small fee partake in snorkeling or the use of a jet ski. My daughter had her hair braided and my son was everywhere on the beach, while my wife and additional family (my brother and his wife, my sister in law with fiancE, my mother-in-law and boyfriend) basked in the sun. Before I get to kayaking, I want to mention the 2 open bars included, serving tropical drinks with a rum or tequila base. I didn't keep count, but at one time found myself with a shot of tequila in my left hand and a rum punch in my right. (#9: This is a great excursion if drinking is your forte) And this was before kayaking! My highlight though, was pulling a giant ruby red starfish out of the water and taking a picture. I have never seen a starfish so large and colorful. Thursday January 27th Cozumel. Deep-sea fishing. (#10: Bring something to prevent getting sick at sea) My brother, my son, and myself were set up with a couple from Wisconsin on a 31-foot "Island Hopper" with outriggers. The half-day trip was exciting and eventful as each of us ended up reeling in a Wahoo, ranging from 35 to 45 lbs and my son a small amberjack. The first mate accommodated plenty of time for pictures on the way back. After getting lunch aboard the Miracle, we returned to Cozumel to explore the local shops. Bargaining was part of the game, and I managed a good deal on a fine Cuban cigar. Friday January 28th Belize. Goff's Caye snorkeling. This excursion was "un-Belizeable!" We were up close and personal with magnificent fish, stingray, coral and vegetation of a Great Barrier Reef. The staff on this excursion will lead in the water so you don't miss anything, and at the same time you are allowed to explore on your own. (#11: Bring/purchase on the ship an underwater camera) Dinner was formal, and every night I had the pleasure of eating with my parents who were also on board. We then took advantage of many evening activities. Saturday January 29th All week, Camp Carnival (a program for minor cruisers) was an excellent setup for my 14 year-old daughter. She made friends quickly; appreciated age appropriate activities, and (as a teenager) she relished time to do things on her own. However, my 8 year-old stuck to me like glue. He loved being everywhere at all times and participated in everything. As a result, Noah became a celebrity in his own way and many people we didn't know would say as we passed by, "Hey Noah, how's it going?" He started to look for activities labeled "Karl with a K presents..." Karl was very dynamic and engaging. My eyes are now wet with tears as I cannot remember having spent so much quality time in a good space with my son. (#12 Bring your Kids!) Sunday January 30th Even though we were packed as instructed and prepared for departure, the ship's crew continued spoiling us with a fantastic breakfast. In addition, while waiting to leave the ship, there was one bar open. Last Call On a scale of one to ten, I would rate this vacation experience as a ten+! The Service, Entertainment, Activities, Camp Carnival, On Board Services, Food and Beverage (#13: Buy the Fun Fountain Card for unlimited soda) were outstanding. And as I turn to look at my beautiful wife, she shares a bright smile while describing preparations... for our next cruise. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Getting on that ship in Tampa on a very cold Florida day was the worst. It took almost 3 hours. Line after line after line. When we got on the ship I found that my parents were not at the same table as the rest of my family were. That ... Read More
Getting on that ship in Tampa on a very cold Florida day was the worst. It took almost 3 hours. Line after line after line. When we got on the ship I found that my parents were not at the same table as the rest of my family were. That couldn't be fixed. My wife never got her food the first night at dinner. She was mad to say the least. When I said something they could not be nicer to me and promised the next night a table would be brought closer to me for my parents and the wanted to send some food back to my room for my wife. The next night it seemed that everyone who worked in that dinning room came over to see if we had enough to eat, and they sent over champaign. They were great. The two men who ran the dinning room came over to me the next night and thanked me for being so nice about the misunderstanding the night before. I told them I was in the service business and I understand that sometimes things happen. As a surprise on the last night they made us baked alaska for our table. The rest of the cruise was great on the ship. Camp Carnival -- I wasn't sure about. My daughter was 5 years old and I was a little worried about her there. BOY WAS I WRONG. She had the time of her life there and didn't want to leave. They were really great with the kids. She woke me up a few day's into the cruise and asked why I didn't book a 10-day cruise why just 7. My son was 10 and he didn't want to go to Camp Carnival he loved the Arcade once he found it. Camp Carnival and the Arcade is on the upper deck right side fwd. Our cabin was right down the hall from it. My other daughter was 12 and she had a great time in camp carnival, I can't say enough good about it. The Rest of the cruise was great. Getting off the ship was a lot better than getting on. They called by deck. Carnival for the value 100%. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
Since I paid close attention to these boards and others, I eagerly anticipated our time on the Miracle. I booked the cruise way back in June of last year, so I had six months to look forward to. For all of you who are doing the same, I ... Read More
Since I paid close attention to these boards and others, I eagerly anticipated our time on the Miracle. I booked the cruise way back in June of last year, so I had six months to look forward to. For all of you who are doing the same, I hope this review helps out some. Let me know if you have any questions, and I will do my best to answer them. I also know that fellow cruiser Beans (Kevin) is writing a professional review which I am sure will be a blockbuster, but I wanted to give my impressions too. We arrived at the port of Tampa on Sunday morning, around 11 a.m., and there were not many people there yet. We walked right up to the customs window (I had already completed my FunPass on line) and it took all of 30 seconds to drop off the luggage and be on our way to the waiting area. I believe it was around 12:30 or so when they began boarding. It was fast and easy, and my wife and I walked around the ship first before heading for Horatio's for lunch. My first impression was that it was extremely clean, and very classy. It was not overly large in the atrium as some other ships, but the artwork and the glass elevators made for a nice show. There was a representative from Nick and Nora's right as you came into the atrium, so I signed up immediately for Tuesday night. Tampa was very chilly and windy that day, so we all wore our sweatshirts on board. I believe that the heat was on, because the smell reminded me of the first time you turn your furnace on in the winter. At 1:30, we went down to our cabin, and were pleasantly surprised at the room. The bathroom in an 8C was plenty big enough to get around, and they had lots of shelves to put stuff. The shower was semi-circle, the water pressure was excellent and the device to control the temperature was pretty neat. There was also lots of closet space -- three closets with two for hanging stuff and one with shelves. There was also a large mirror on the desk and a little stool under it so that the ladies could primp there if they wanted to. Above that to the right was the TV and on the TV was a GPS of our ship at all times which was pretty cool, a forward camera and an aft camera. There were some New York stations on also, but we didn't watch too much TV on this trip. The balcony was large and had two plastic chairs and a plastic table. One of the chairs folded back some so you could lounge in the sun. Since the balcony doors were not sliding, and with the wind sometimes in excess of 30 mph especially at sea, an annoying thing was having neighbors doors slamming at all hours (even 1 or 2 a.m.) and it would wake me up. Also, a few times the window washer up above would come on and spray water all over the balcony without warning ... need to look out for that. Having said all that, I think the balcony was my favorite place ... great memories of sunrises and sunsets and coming into ports and seeing last minute cruisers running frantically to the ship as fellow passengers cheer them on. I could write a book about how this was one of the best vacations I have ever had, how that the Miracle was an awesome ship etc., so I will try to keep this as brief as I can. The food in Bachus was good, not great. I thought the beef was not the best I have ever had, but my wife liked the lobster and quail. I did enjoy the wait staff, but did not like the stupid dancing that they had to do. The appearance of the Bachus was a bit overdone, but I appreciate the effort ... it was different for sure. The food and service in Nick and Nora's was one of the best I have ever had, and I have had a lot. The whole experience lasted 2 1/2 hours, including five courses I think, great service, great music and dancing and an unbelievable atmosphere. You gotta do N & N even if it does put you back $50. The cruise director Steve was great and I thought funny. He had a lot of energy, and interacted with us cruisers a lot. Karl with a K was a clown in a positive way, very funny, wore those stupid big clown ties and very animated. The female cruise assistants were Candace and Ally the Aussie. Both of them were nice and Candace seemed very polished. They hosted all the crazy shows like Win, Lose and Draw, The Not So Newlywed Game, The Match Game, etc. There was also a Hairy Chest contest at the pool area, which was very funny. The buffet is called Horatio's and there were four main food stations and the food here was good. Breakfast they had made to order omelets which I like. The coffee wasn't too good, so I usually bought some from the Coffee Shop right there next to the buffet. There is a full blown coffee shop on deck 2, with the best desserts. Many times Horatio's seemed crowded, but we always found a place to sit, and the lines weren't terrible. One night, instead of eating at Bachus, we went to the buffet and they have a nice salad bar and I had pizza ... they have around six varieties of pizza which is okay, not great. One thing which was great and unique was the chocolate fountain on the last day at sea between noon and 2 p.m. They dipped pineapple, rum cake, etc into the chocolate, and boy was it good. Somehow during the entire cruise I never got hungry. As far as the excursions, I did not book with Carnival. I did some research ahead of time with these fellow Cruise Critics, and am glad I did. In Grand Cayman, I booked a Catamaran to snorkel and go to Stingray City. There were only around 14 of us on this vessel, called Capt. Bryans. We had plenty of room, they served drinks and gave us lots of attention. The seas were rough in the Caymans, and I got a few good mouthful's of sea water which almost made me drown. But it was all worth it. The Carnival excursion looked like a bunch of sardines crammed into a two story boat. I was happy I took the advice. In Costa Maya, we took a cab for $3 to a small town called Majahul, and that was interesting. It is an old Mexican sea town turned into a road full of vendors. Kind of reminded me of flea markets back home, Mexican style. They even had horses tied up right on the beach that you could rent. Massages were $20 for 1/2 hour under a tent and on a real massage table. I didn't get one, but they looked like they were doing a good job. I heard that Tapas was the place to go, but they had just filled their last table, so I went next door to Ernesto's and they got us a table with umbrella and a lounger for the beach for me and my wife. It was great. Coronas for two bucks, fajitas grilled right there in the open for $8 and served when we were ready. There were a few musicians also, who would play for each table for a small tip. If you wanted to snorkel, you could go out on a small boat to the reef around a mile out and the cost was very reasonable (I am thinking $20 for one hour). Costa Maya was really fun. When we made it back to the cruise ship complex there was a wild party going on at the bar. We stayed for one drink, then headed back to the ship for a nap. Next stop was Cozumel, and we went in to Chankaanab Park. We had pre arranged to have a dolphin encounter and a sea lion encounter. I was told to do the dolphin swim, which did look like a lot of fun, but the encounter was great also. The dolphin would "kiss" each person, you would pet him, feel his fins etc., and get a movie made about the whole experience. However, I enjoyed the Sea Lion experience even more, as there were only the four of us with the trainer and sea lion. Sea lions are very funny creatures, and we laughed until we got sick. The park itself is also a nice place to just walk around and see the gardens or sit on the beach or go snorkeling. The water in Cozumel is unbelievably clear, and I was very impressed with the cleanliness and cheerfulness of the Cozumel people. Next we sailed to Belize, and I booked a cave tubing deal with Extreme Cave Tubing. I was a little nervous about this at first because I was going alone (my wife chickened out) and also when I arrived at the port there were only eight of us total (and 180 people going on the Carnival one). Our guide, Richard, was around 15 minutes late, and I let him know it, and he assured me that he would safely get us to the caves and back in plenty of time. If not, he said, he would allow us to stay at his home, and have his wife give us massages (she is a professional masseuse). It took around 45 minutes to get to the six mile, very bumpy rocky road that takes you to the caves, but Richard made the time fly by with his interesting stories, and his information about places and Belize. He was brought up there, and has been doing this for many years. Carnival does one cave, but Extreme does two, so we walked a while, just the eight of us, and Richard took the time to point out different trees native to Belize that were good for medicine or food until we came to our cave. Two of us dove in (around 10 to 15 feet off the cliff) into the 15 feet cool water. Then we started downstream on our adventure. It was one of the great experiences of my life, and I would encourage anyone to do this. We went through dark caves, big caves, fast caves and slow caves. We even went over bumpy rocky rivers (butts up) and the rapids were a blast. Disney could never duplicate this. We returned to Belize City, which was rather Third World in the downtown area. The shows on the Miracle were in a word outstanding. The singers and dancers were great, and the two main shows called Legends and Ticket to Ride were really good. The other shows, Miracle Idol and the hypnotist were just okay. The last night was very good with a tremendous female singer who got my wife up on stage to sing with her. The comedians were also funny. All in all it was a great time except for those loud balcony doors. There were two nights when the wind was very high, around 30 mph, so the ship would rock some. I noticed quite a few people with small patches on the back of their necks, but my wife and I did fine without it. Met some great people from all over, and especially my Windsor, Canada, friends who kept calling me Sean as in Sean Penn. The debarkation went smooth despite the fact that we went to a cargo area and then took buses back to the port. They will need to work this out in the future to make it a bit smoother. I would definitely sail the Miracle again. She is a great ship with a great staff that will take good care of you and if you do not have fun, you have problems. Read Less
Sail Date January 2005
This was our fourth cruise. We have cruised in the last five years on Disney, Princess and Royal Carib. Carnival Miracle was a different experience partially because of cruising during the holidays with several hundred kids on board ... Read More
This was our fourth cruise. We have cruised in the last five years on Disney, Princess and Royal Carib. Carnival Miracle was a different experience partially because of cruising during the holidays with several hundred kids on board coupled with the glitz of Farcus decorating which is way over the top in comparison to Royal and Princess. Overall, the Carnival staff did an excellent job but with a combination of the balcony doors being French doors with extremely loud closures and the number of kids, do not plan on getting to sleep till at least midnight and plan on being awake no later than 8 a.m. This was not a relaxing cruise but it was fun regardless of the 25 to 50 knot winds we experienced both night and day for the entire week. We were fortunate to get into Grand Cayman, as they has not seen a ship in two days before we got there because of the winds, and Costa Maya. Grand Cayman is a mess from the hurricane late last year and all trees are either stripped or down with a ton of reconstruction needed. It will be years before this island returns to a top tourist stop. Costa Maya was very much in the wild but fun for a beach break with a great barrier reef. Cozumel was great for the town and beaches coupled with snorkeling which we booked off the ship off the main pier. Belize was Third World all the way and most people felt they would not want to go back to that port again. The ship, because of the constant high winds, constantly rolled and pitched making it very difficult to sleep most nights coupled with the wind whistling around the balconies which was surprising given the ship is so new. The French doors are not a good change for the balcony doors as we were accustomed to sliders which are much easier to use and much more quiet in the morning and evening than having people four cabins down slam the door and you can not only hear it but feel it. Shows were very good with the Vegas shows coupled with the hypnotist, etc.... Food was very good but the main dining room as reported being over the top was an understatement. The colors are way too loud and make Vegas dining rooms look sedate. Overall service on the ship was good and the cruise director was full of energy. Other than the wind all week and being a very noisy ship, we had a good time but exhausting. The ship was two hours late in arriving in Tampa because it caught an 87 knot gust at 4:30 a.m. in the Gulf that reportedly knocked a baby grand piano off of a stage coupled with the dining room china and plates hitting the floor given the ship listed 15 degrees. It was all cleaned up by the time we boarded and they were only about a half hour late in doing so. The early debark where you wheel you own suitcases off was very early -- like meeting at 7:15 a.m. to assemble before doing so. We opted for an early flight debark that meet at 8 a.m. but then it took over an hour and a half to get off the ship which was not a good thing -- it is the longest debark we have experienced. If you have teenage kids, as we have one at age 15, they will love the teen disco each night although waiting up until midnight and beyond is a different experience. So, all in all a good trip but as they say, you cannot control the weather (wind) and I wish Carnival would go to a quieter stateroom with more insulation, quieter doors, both balcony and hallway, so you can get some sleep in comparison to Princess and Royal, which were much quieter. Read Less
Sail Date December 2004
This family oriented review of the Carnival Miracle is more information and tips than plain opinion. We cruised November 28, 2004 with 4 kids (10, 9, 4, 3) to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Belize City. This was my tenth cruise, my ... Read More
This family oriented review of the Carnival Miracle is more information and tips than plain opinion. We cruised November 28, 2004 with 4 kids (10, 9, 4, 3) to Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Belize City. This was my tenth cruise, my second with Carnival. We had a great time, nice and new ship, but we were a bit disappointed with all the nudity around the ship some call art. Embarkation- We hit the rush (12:00-1:30) and had about 1½ hour wait. The terminal is south of the parking garage, and taxis dropped us off in a 3-lane drop off point where porters took our luggage (and tips). Then everyone waits on the first floor to take an escalator up to security. A guy is there pre-selling return tickets to the airport for about double what it costs afterward. All guests wait in the line through security, then the Skipper Club (most expensive cabins) split off to a short line. We noticed that as we checked in at 1:30 the line was significantly smaller than when we arrived at noon. Once checked in and your credit card is run as a deposit, you go and get your picture taken and recorded onto your sign and sail card and then it is on to the ship. Tip: Either come early (before 12) or late (after 2) to avoid the wait. Cabin-We had cabin 5130, (which is right down the hall from Camp Carnival) with an extended balcony. We put our 2 older boys with the grandparents in 1157. We considered a Category 11 Suite so we could put the kids to bed and still stay up, but the extra room was not needed as the balcony gave us a "2nd room" to relax, read, etc., while our 3 and 4 year old nodded off to sleep. The extended balconies are about 50% larger than regular... plenty of room for 4 adults to hang out on when my parents joined us for a visit. Highly recommended. The balcony comes with 2 chairs and a little table. I am not going to go into details, but the table only holds the weight of one person (yes, somehow we actually broke our table). We also brought the recommended bungee cord, so we could keep the door open and hear the ocean all night long. Details on the room: lots of storage, 3 closets (2 with hangers, 1 with shelves), and several drawers, etc. We had a queen bed then there was an upper and lower bunk. The TV was a new Panasonic with one audio and one video RCA plug in front. (Most video games from home use the red, yellow, white plugs.. so I am not sure if you can use your home systems on board with this TV set). The TV had several channels that can enhance your cruise. One is front camera, next is back camera, both with music backgrounds. The aft cam allowed us to check to see if the slide was open before we went up to deck 10 (times of operation that were listed in Capers was not always correct). CNN and a few other broadcast channels like TNT were on, plus 3 on-ship movie channels (1 for kids.. like Dr. Doolittle, Garfield, etc.) Another channel showed ship location and nautical information. There are 2 hardcover books in the desk drawer about Carnival and the Miracle along with a Bible placed by the Gideon organization. The in-room safe locked and unlocked with any credit card or sign and sale card, using the magnetic strip on either. There was no clock, and just one power outlet (bring a strip) - there was an additional "razor only" plug in the bathroom that only worked when the bathroom light was on. The shower had both a shampoo and soap dispenser, and they give you several samples of other shampoos, soaps, razors, etc. The shower was the best we have seen on a cruise ship - lots of pressure and a lot of hot water! The room telephone is a Nortel Meridian set with several speed dials to services (like room service and auto wake up calls), and is a speakerphone (monitor only, no microphone). The voice mail allows you to change your greeting (nice for groups to make sure you got the correct room). Tip: We followed earlier posts and tipped $10 to the room steward and asked for a deck chair and to clean out our fridge and filled it with bottled water and soda pop we brought from home. We brought an old hard side suitcase that was bought at a thrift store which we transported the water and pop in, then left it at the end of the cruise with a sign that said "trash." All suitcases fit under our bed for storage during the cruise. Tip: If you have a choice in booking your cabin, select a room on the starboard side of the ship. You will get better views out of Tampa including better views of city, air base, dockside upon departure, better city views in Cozumel and Grand Cayman. Tip: To me, there is nothing like sitting on your balcony at night and having a full moon reflect upon the water. It is my drug. So, before we booked I looked up the lunar cycle on the net and made sure there was a full moon and it was at night. Luckily, the clouds were clear and we had two excellent nights staring at the moon reflecting upon the water. Awesome.. I fell asleep both nights on the deck chair we had brought down. First day Sunday We first checked out our room, then ate with everyone else on Deck 9. There are 8 food serving areas on the Lido deck, some with changing options each day. The first two serving areas are outside mid-ship by the middle swimming pool, starboard and port sides. Mostly burgers and hot dogs are served here. The next two heading aft were inside. The starboard side served Chinese food the entire cruise, the port side rotated different menus each day. (Caribbean, Indian, etc.). The next dining area back had four serving areas. One had hamburgers and hot dogs, another upscale food like roasts, turkey, ham, etc. Another was the 24 hour pizza area, and the last had salads the entire cruise. Between two serving areas was a dessert area, where they had great choices like cheesecakes, fruit, and pastries. There were several drink areas with juices, milk, water, tea, coffee, ice, and a large number of plastic cups. After we ate we explored the entire ship and every public area, which took about an hour. Then made it back and had most of our luggage so we unpacked. Then we went to the mandatory muster drill at 3:30 p.m. The crew checked each cabin so you had to go. (We hid out on previous cruises!). Typical drill. But a little squeezed in as they have 2000 plus people in a relatively small area. Parents need to know that when they check their kids in at Camp Carnival the staff puts a wristband on each child that is to remain attached the entire cruise. These are labeled with your assigned muster station code so that if there was every an emergency the staff could bring your children to you at the correct muster station. My kids tore theirs off more than once, and luckily, Camp Carnival had a large supply of extra wristbands. Tip: Come late to muster, just as they are starting, as they line the first attendees up against the wall and pack them in like sardines. The last ones get to stand up front, which with a 3 and 4 year old gave them room to sit down at our feet and do what 3 and 4 year olds do (roll around and fidget). Next we went to the Casino desk and they punched a hole in our sign and sail card and attached a lanyard to each one. This worked very well for my 8 and 10 year olds as they looped them into sort of a necklace and never misplaced or lost them the entire trip. I just attached mine to a belt loop and kept it in my pocket. Since this card is all you need on board for services and purchases, I left my wallet in the room safe. Even before leaving port, the pools and hot tub were open and well used. We were a bit disappointed to find that Camp Carnival did not open until 7:30 p.m. the first night. We were hoping to leave the 2 youngest ones there so we could enjoy the dining room. I went to the internet cafe in the library several times to sign up for the giveaway but I never once found it staffed. Oh well, kind of expensive with a registration fee of around $4 plus usage at 75 cents per minute sold only in blocks of time. We found internet cafes way cheaper in the ports. (See below). Dining Room: Well, many opinions have been written on the colors and amount of "grapes" all around. To me the dEcor was fine. We were in the back on the 2nd floor (deck 3 aft) and would strongly recommend trying to get a table in the back. Simply go to the dining room, and request a back table. Here is why: The views! The back tables have floor to ceiling views. Deck 2, the main floor of the dinning room, has the best windows. Deck 3 is still good. Depending upon the month you cruise, you may be delighted with a sunset at sea. Leaving Tampa and going under the big bridge is a sight also (happens during early seating.. a must with families with small kids because Camp Carnival is closed from 5:45 to 7 p.m. each night so you can feed your kids). At Cozumel as you depart you have one of the prettiest scenes out the back windows I have had at a meal... four fully illuminated cruise ships against a darkening sky... slowly shrinking away in the distance as we sailed south out of port. The food was actually better than I had expected, based on other reports. It was still cruise food, but I have highlighted a few of the selections offered on each day below. Tip: Come 3-5 minutes late to dinner. The lines will be gone and you can walk right to your table. Avoid the long line of hungry cruisers that form before the dining room opens. Tip: They do not post the menus outside the dining room like some lines (so you can go by in the morning and decide how hungry to be for dinner!). But they do post the full menu including desserts on the inside, so as you enter you can see how much room to leave for dessert (they don't tell you what is for dessert until after dinner, unless you look as you come in.) Tip: Some of the best desserts are off the kid's menu, which adults can order all through the cruise. Tip: Carnival has added "low carb" options, which are modified entrEes off the main menu. Tip: The traditional seven day Carnival menu is listed at http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=39067&highlight=Menu. There have been a few changes, but this is pretty accurate. When looking at these menus just make Sunday day 1, Monday day 2, etc. Camp Carnival: After dinner we attended the 7:30 p.m. opening program and found it to be very well planned and our kids immediately loved it. They had introductions of the staff and an overview of the week at the Mad Hatters lounge Deck 1 Forward. The ship's mascot, Funship Freddie was there and my 3 year old was mesmerized! Next, we went up to a reserved section up on deck 9 for family ice cream sundaes. We later learned that every time Camp Carnival feeds the kids they go to this same area. After the ice cream, we went to the family dance party in Frankenstein's Lab (the disco) on deck 2 aft. This was well worth attending as our youngest really enjoyed the balloon games, dancing with Freddie, and the closing "YMCA" dance. This dance party was the perfect arena for our youngest two to get comfortable with the Camp Carnival program, as they are normally a little shy with new things. By the end of the cruise, we could not pull them away from the program! My older two even missed breakfast the last few days to get to Camp Carnival to hang out with their friends and do the planned activities. Camp Carnival is divided into several age groups, each with their own Camp Carnival Capers, which lists the entire week of activities. I brought them home and a Cruise Critic reader posted them for me at http://joephila.net/CampCarnival/. (Thanks!) If you are traveling with kids, these are a must read. The program appeared to be only about half full. At most activities for the 8-11 year olds, there were only four or five kids there. Perhaps families have heard about all the nude statues and paintings (see my comments below) and have steered toward more family oriented ships(?). If you have kids in the 2-5 year program, the Miracle gives you a cordless phone. (The web page says a pager, but the phone was nicer!) This is actually very nice as it is a 4 digit extension on the ship's phone system, just like each cabin has a 4 digit intercom number (your room number). The purpose is that if your kid has an accident, or the staff needs you, or you want to check on your kid, you can communicate anywhere on the ship. The phones are a single line proprietary Nortel digital set and the Miracle has 8 transmitters per floor, visible in the hallways up high, appearing to be added after the ship was built. This Nortel product actually functions like a mini-cellular system, handing off calls to the nearest transmitter if you talk and walk around the ship. The sets only work on the ship, no range off. Now, here are the benefits: if you are going with a group you can keep in touch, especially on sea days. (e.g., I had left my wife and kids in the cabin and was looking at photos, they called and said the slide was open and to meet up on deck 11). Simply give out your extension number to those who are in your group. When you turn it on it gives you the ship's time, which is great for people like me who do not wear a watch. Some may not like having to carry a phone, but I actually found it helpful. One time I was waiting in a long line at the Purser's desk and the marquee said to call 7777 for info, which I did while in line, got my questions answered, then left the line. Also, being a balcony freak, I made calls to make dinner plans, ordered room service, and received calls from people in our group without leaving the lounge chair on the balcony. Hey, don't think I am lazy... I am just on vacation! Monday at Sea There are a variety of activities for every taste posted in the daily Capers. We had a low activity day, lounged, took the kids swimming, ate, and used the water slide. The height requirement for the slide is 42 inches (one Caper said 48, but the slide has a marker at 42). The water in all the pools and the slide is saltwater. And the slide is a ton of fun. I found you can get flying on that thing if you arch your rear end off the slide, putting your weight on your feet and shoulders. The slide was not open all the times the Caper said it was, hence checking channel 13 (aft cam) will show you if people are using it before going up on deck. Ice Cream. While there is 7 X 24 ice cream, on sea days from 3:00-5:00 p.m. the topping bar is open and is worth going to on deck 9 aft starboard. They offer a huge variety of toppings and sauces - which is a treat by itself. On one run my wife brought just a cup of nuts, candies, and cookies in a bowl with no ice cream! Dinner highlights. Monday is the first Formal night, and by far the best menu of the week in my opinion. I had two prime rib dinners and two lobsters dinners (you can order as much as you can eat)! But be sure to leave room for the "chocolate flourless cake," which was to die for. I had two, but wish I had left room for more! It was one of the best desserts I have eaten on a cruise ship. The Monday night show was "Generations." The program was basically popular music from the '90s, then a few songs from the '80s, then to the '70s, etc.... all the way to the '40s, then back up the decades to the '90s. So, everyone will know some music, and probably not other songs. Something for everyone, but also something everyone will think is boring. Well done though. And Camp Carnival brings the older kids to the show and the program ends with... what else, the traditional "YMCA" song! Tuesday was the first stop (Grand Cayman) and the cleanest, safest port of the week. We tendered in and immediately noticed the hurricane desolation. On the dock we met a short, bald, British chap who ran Moby Dick tours www.mobydicktours.com (there were several tour operators soliciting customers at the dock). We signed up for his tour to Sting Ray City for $35 per person. Be sure when using a credit card here they write U.S. by the amount, other wise, you might get billed in Grand Cayman dollars which is about 25% more than US dollars. We had a very nice tour with Moby Dick. They took us by small bus to a private dock, on a 30-40 person boat (there was 18 of us) out to where the sting rays are, (there are already a lot of posts about this activity), then out snorkeling at the reef for a half hour. The snorkeling was actually surprisingly a trip highlight! They offered punch and water and took us back via a stop at the north end of 7 Mile beach if you wanted to stay and find your own $3 ride back to the docks later. Having been out of touch with my business for a few days I found an internet cafe on the north side of the pier run by Cable and Wireless. Their internet was down due to the recent storms but I was able to call to the US for $6 for 3 minutes. Wednesday was a day at Costa Maya. This is a unique port essentially built by the cruise ship companies. Three ships were in town when we were there. As ships pull in, they close the pier for around 20 minutes for safety while docking takes place. So we had to wait to exit the Miracle as another ship was pulling in. The long pier (there was a trolley hauling people who did not want to walk) leads to a plaza of shops, a small sandy beach area, and swimming pool, and an amphitheater. The internet cafe there was $3 for 30 minutes. Calls to the US were $1.50 per minute. We left the plaza area and around back rented a golf cart for $15 for an hour and left the gated and guarded plaza area. Upon return, you have to show your sign and sail card to the guard at the facilities gate to get into the plaza, which tells you a little about how safe the region is. We headed south toward Mahal (sp?) and actually felt a little nervous, as the golf carts' slow speed made us a sitting target for some thug (rich tourist slowly going down a desolate road). There is a huge amount of building going on but we found the locals, workers, and people we passed to be the most unfriendly we met on the trip. We waived and said hi to everyone we passed and frowns were returned. My wife said these folks need to learn that tourists are the lifeblood of the growth and the livelihoods of many of the people, and tourists appreciate friendly locals. We did pass a small local police or military outpost with people walking around carrying machine guns. Again, no smiles or waves returned. The prices of things in the plaza were very high compared to the prices down in Mahal. The merchants at Mahal were friendlier, and we went from brick road, to highway, to very bumpy mud roads, but it was a ton of fun! An hour was enough time to make the trip, but only 10 minutes or so to shop and look around. Back massages on the beach were offered everywhere and appeared to be quite popular. They were running $20 for 30 minutes. (U.S. money, that is). The water slide was closed this day, contrary to the info in the Capers. In the Mad Haters lounge they showed a movie called the "Big Screen Movie." This time it was " The Notebook." For dinner I chose the Beef Wellington and it was pretty good. Thursday we pulled into the south pier (out of three) at Cozumel. A few words... this ain't the cheap part of Mexico! To get to shore you have to walk through a very long shopping mall, then get mobbed by taxi drivers. I heard people looking at booze in the store say the prices were higher than on the ship! The taxis are very expensive... more than we have paid in New York and other major US cities. The taxi driver told me they have one taxi company there...he called it a syndication... it sounded more like a monopoly. To take 6 of us about 4 miles to a beach and then return was over $50! (Compared to $20 from the ship to the airport in Tampa, about 3 times further time wise!) There were lots of options for beaches in Cozumel and we chose the older and popular San Francisco beach. All the taxi drivers really pushed us to go to the next one down for just $6 more, Mr. Nacho's beach. We got the impression that the drivers got a kickback from Mr. Nacho's as they pushed over and over. There are two "businesses" at San Francisco beach. Both are bar and grills with beach chairs. The north side's price was $5 per person for the use of the chairs. South side was free, but they wanted you to buy drinks, food, etc. It was called Paradise Beach and very well kept. Water was $2, sandwiches $6-9, etc. They also had a $5 activity wristband which you could purchase which my kids liked. They had a floating trampoline, a 20 foot climbing wall out in the water, and plastic kayaks. We had a really good time here, and weather was warm and sunny. The restrooms were some of the best kept and cleaned ones we have seen at any beach. This is the only port where they asked for picture ID to return to the ship. All other ports just wanted to see your sign and sail cards. We did not bring ID, but after a second they let us on through anyway. The water slide was closed again this day for no apparent reason, as the weather was good. For dinner I chose the Filet Mignon, which actually was one of the poorer Mignons I have ever had, far below what The Outback or other local steak house serves. Friday at Belize. As you may know, there is a great reef and lots of atolls in the waters outside of Belize City. So the ship parks a few miles out in the harbor and high speed boats shuttle you into port, about a 15 minute ride. You land at a gated, policed "Tourist Village" with lots of shops and tour guides available. There was a good internet cafe that charged $3 for 15 minutes in this village. We met up with Douglas Gentle of Belize Taxi Tour Guide Association at the dock and hired him to take us to Alta Hu Mayan Ruins for $30 each. Doug is a former New York City resident who got laid off from his job at the World Trade Center a few months before 9/11 and decided to return home to Belize to care for his ailing parents. He gave a most excellent tour. www.bztaxitourguidesassociation.com or email Douglas at betta@btl.net. There are licensed (and more expensive) tour guides inside the village, and you can leave the gated area and go with cheaper unlicensed ones. After driving around Belize, there is no doubt in my mind that the extra few bucks was worth it to go with a licensed guide. A few words of opinion about Belize City: "Second World." It is poor, run down, and there are bars on nearly every window of every home and business that we saw on our 4 hour tour. Crime is high, and our tour guide said the bars on the windows are not for decorative purposes. We did not feel very safe in downtown Belize City. We have felt safer in South Chicago or East Los Angeles than here. We took the nearly 4 hour tour which included a city tour in Douglas's older, beat up mini-van, and a ride out to Alta Hu, about 40 miles. The roads are terrible (full of potholes) so it took an hour and a half almost. The ruins are really neat. You pay a $5 tax at the pier for a ticket and take it to the ruins for admission. Douglas handled all this for us. Douglas acted our tour guide at the ruins (besides just our taxi driver) and told us all about the ruins, history, and local culture. There were several large buildings that were discovered in the 1960's by accident and have been partially renovated. He noted the similarities between these buildings and the pyramids in the Old World. It was as if some of the people might have traveled back and forth between the old and new worlds. A discussion arose about how some people believe an ancient record was found and translated into English that tells of such a people who left the Old World and came to the Americas accidentally and built cities here. The record is religious in nature so it is controversial, but a free copy is available at www.mormon.org and it is called the Book of Mormon. Anyway, back to the tour. We stopped and saw iguanas out on the side of the road and caught a giant tarantula in the middle of the road and picked up with a piece of cardboard and looked at it. Very interesting! Douglas was well worth seeking after as a tour guide. We left our 4 kids at Camp Carnival for the full four hours we were gone and they did just fine. We came back to the ship, swam with the kids, and went to dinner. Friday was the second formal night and I chose the Prime Rib (2 of course) and it was pretty good. The highlight of the evening was the show "Ticket to Ride." It was a tribute to the music of the Beatles. Tip: Come early as they play a movie about the Beatles before the show. This is one of the best shows at sea. Very well done, and I walked away with a new found respect for Paul McCartney and John Lennon, the #1 and #2 writers of the most number one hits of all time (I personally am in awe over Barry Gibb at #3). Paul and John produced so many hits ...and 20 to 30 of them were woven into this wonderful show. The costumes were great, the dancers gave out light sticks to the audience near the end as part of the show, and the band "Boardwalk" ended the show with an awesome reproduction of a live Beatles concert. "Boardwalk" played all week in Frankie and Johnnie's on the deck 2 by the way. They did double duty on Friday, playing in the lounge and slipping out to do the final number in "Ticket to Ride." Great band, and great show! The midnight buffet was also on Friday night. They open the dining room up for pictures at 11:30 p.m. and for dining at midnight (duh!). Very long and slow lines and the food was just fair. Nice presentations, but middle of the road desserts. Saturday at Sea We experienced windy seas, which some crew said was typical for fall. Made it tough to be out on deck. But the ship it self was smooth. Very little rocking, and no one I saw felt ill or had motion sickness. Temperatures were still in the high 80's which made it bearable to swim and walk around outside in a swimming suit. The water slide was open, Ice Cream topping bar open again, and the big screen movie was "Napoleon Dynamite," a great comedy... a little dry. Live music on the Lido deck again off and on all day, and dinner in the dining room, with the sunset into the sea out the back windows, was worth the trip! Camp Carnival is a must this last night. The kids all got shirts. The younger ones colored with special markers, the older ones all signed each other's. We could not pull the kids out of the camp the last night as they were having so much fun! Very well run program! Saturday is also the day you prepare to end your vacation. They give about an hour talk about rules, forms, and how to proceed in the lounge, then repeat it on the TV. The show goes over rules like "just $800 duty free limit, no plants or food off the ship, etc." You also are told to put your luggage (non-valuables) out in the hall between 10 p.m. and midnight. I walked around the ship and noticed the crew cleaning and sanitizing the pools. They said they do that every Saturday night. So each cruise starts with fresh saltwater in the pools. Sunday was Disembarkation. The ship docks in Tampa around 6 a.m. Breakfast is served from 7-9 up on deck 9. "First off" seemed to occur about 8:30 a.m. You can request first off if you carry off your own luggage instead of putting it out the night before. Then passengers were let off by color of luggage tags which corresponded to different parts of the ship. We waited in our room and departed the boat around 10 a.m. As you exit the ship you go down stairs or escalators to a big room where you locate your luggage. Then pass through customs and turn in your declaration form. Then you go outside to taxis, buses, and the parking garage. You can purchase tickets for the bus right there ($9 for adults, $6 for kids) to go to the airport, or a cab for 4 people is $20. Porters will help you for a tip, but the distance you have to go is very short. If you have a Sunday flight after 3:30 p.m. the ship does sell tours for the nearby Florida Aquarium and also a city tour. In the Capers which they give you Saturday night, they offer this information with instructions to sign up at the tour desk by Saturday at 6 p.m. A little late... no wonder the tour was almost empty! You can do the Aquarium by yourself, but with their tour they will store your luggage for you then bus you to the airport. General Information The ship. It was new, clean, and easy to find your way around with maps by each elevator. But it was very "busy" in the dEcor. Take Circus Circus dEcor and crank it up a few notches. Not as "brass and glass" like Princess and NCL and Royal, just busy artwork on every single wall and designs completely up and down the hallways by the cabins. Just unusual and gaudy more than anything, as every inch of the ship seemed to have some sort of theme. We prefer the more elegant brass and glass ships as far as dEcor goes. As mentioned, the Phantom lounge was phenomenal. Three stories high, fabulous marble entryway, laser and fireworks in some of the shows! Must see room. Service- Tipping for your cabin steward and dining room people is automatic, and you can adjust your charges up or down. We had a clean room all the time but hardly saw our cabin steward. Other cruises have started with a greeting and actually a min-tour of our room by our steward, which earned an extra tip. But cabin service was good. The dining room service was fair. And this was not completely the worker's fault. When I started cruising we had a waiter, assistant waiter, and busboy. The industry has cut that from three people to two, which makes these workers very busy. We had a fair waitress.. .really kind of snippy and rolled her eyes upon requests, but our bus boy was super! Big tip for him! The kids had such a good time we tipped the Camp Carnival staff at the end of the cruise (which was not part of the automatic tipping). I got an envelope at the purser's desk (next to the free extra post cards of the Miracle). The Casino- We did not play, but just know these are not loose slots. Carnival makes a ton of money off the gamblers on board. (Thanks for subsidizing my cruise!) Drinks- We are not drinkers, but most specialty drinks seemed to be about $7 plus tip, and the daily specials seemed to be around $3 bucks. Nudity. Carnival has, in the past, really pushed the family fun ship theme. And they have some of the best kid's programs at sea (we did Disney, and the Miracle was better for our kids). But for family cruisers you must be warned there are naked breasts galore on this boat. Half clothed statues all over. For example, in the main show lounge, the most beautiful I have seen on a ship, there are dozens of bare-chested figurines in the design of the ceiling. By the hot tub, there is a statue of three mermaids bearing their (small) breasts to the world. The casino ceiling, just passing through for the younger kids, has many nipples hanging down at you. And Deck 3 portside forward on the door into the main showroom is a painting of female full frontal nudity, 100%. Some might feel this is just fine art, and they are entitled to their opinion. Likewise, I am entitled to my opinion and feel like it was not what I wanted my boys to be looking at. I would not sail this ship if my boys were teenagers. Too many naked breasts, and I am not even talking about the topless deck! (Which was for ages 18 and above.) Ironic, ain't it, that to go to deck 12 you have to be 18 years of age, but to see dozens of naked statue breasts there is no age limit! Wizards Arcade had 30 or so standard arcade type video games for $1 per game (Camp Carnival goes there for the 8-11 kids on Monday and plays a few games for free for an hour or so). Cell phone service: Had full service about 2 hours in and out of Tampa. In Grand Cayman, Belize, and Cozumel we had signal but to receive calls you have to have your provider turn on service down there (so I have been told). Text messages did not work. No signal in Costa Maya. In-room calls to the United States on the ship's phone system were $6.99 a minute. Conclusion: Congratulations if you really made it through all these eleven pages! I tried to tell our experience in enough detail as to give some future cruiser a better idea of what to expect than the 2 or 3 paragraph "this was nice for us" type of review. I enjoyed this cruise. I enjoyed the balcony more than anything. And the full moon on the water at night was like morphine! While I did not like some things (like the nudity) on the boat, the overall experience was first rate and well worth the cost. Best Wishes. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
First let me start off by saying this was the best vacation I have ever had. We went with co-workers and was also all of our first cruise. We embarked from Tampa and the boarding went very smoothly. The only problem we had was that my ... Read More
First let me start off by saying this was the best vacation I have ever had. We went with co-workers and was also all of our first cruise. We embarked from Tampa and the boarding went very smoothly. The only problem we had was that my husband kept setting the metal detector off we still have no clue why. They were very nice and after he was searched we were allowed to go on our way. When we first stepped on the ship we were awestruck. This is a very beautiful ship. We had our first meal on the Lido deck and found that even though crowded we found somewhere to eat. It was very nice. We had a group of couples that was sitting next to us and told us that they had been on a lot of cruises and this was one of the best ships they had been on. The food was good, just had a hard time deciding on what I wanted to because of the variety. After eating we went to find our rooms. When we got to our rooms it was much larger than I ever expected. We were put in a handicap room and this was a major plus because it had a huge balcony. My boss had a suite and our balcony was bigger than his!I also loved the down comforter. Our steward for the most part was ok but it could have been a little better. Some of times I needed something she was no where to be found and when I called the number it just rang and no one answered. The cabin was very clean. I do have her to thank for that. Our dinner experience was wonderful. We could not have asked for any better. They remembered what each one at the table like and what everyone liked to drink. They even remembered down to the bread we liked(now talk about great service).This was one of the best experiences of the cruise. We went to the spa once with the girls to have massages and let me tell you they were WONDERFUL!!! Needed to have done that more than once. I did not go in the pools a lot but thought they were ok. They could have stood to be a little bigger I thought. I also do not like salt water pools. I have seen a lot of reviews about how bad the children were on this ship but to be honest I never saw a child. The entertainment was great as were the games. My boss got second place in the Fear Factor game. I did Karaoke two times, it was great. I can not remember the ladies name who was in charge of Karaoke but she was great. I loved all of the ports except Belize. It was a very run down town and did not feel safe there. We had people coming up to us begging for money and even had one person to beg the port authorities to hold us there so that we would miss the boat. It would be a great place to go if you were just going to scuba. I liked Cozumel the best. We ate at a nice little place called Pancho's Backyard. We took a taxi into Cozumel outside of the port area and found some very great deals. The only problem I had with Carnival was that it took along time to get off the ship at each port. We did not take any of the excursions that Carnival offered because being our first cruise we did not know what to expect. We are leaving for a cruise on Carnival Destiny November 2005 and will be booking excursions. Overall -- This was a very great ship with wonderful service. Would go again. Also if you are driving to Tampa it is worth the extra money to be valet parked and the porters were extra nice. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
My wife and I were first time cruisers and we can't wait to do it again. The Miracle is a first class vessel. The attention to detail is second to none. The activities on board are endless. You can do something almost twenty-four ... Read More
My wife and I were first time cruisers and we can't wait to do it again. The Miracle is a first class vessel. The attention to detail is second to none. The activities on board are endless. You can do something almost twenty-four hours a day if you want. Cruise Director Mark Hawkins is great at what he does as is his assistant director Karl with a K. The shows are great, the food top of the line. I highly suggest one night at Nick and Nora's Supper Club. Yes it is true you will miss a great night in the dining room but the service and food is second to none. The nightclubs are better than average and provide you with good service and nice sized drinks. For the sports fan there is a sports bar on board that shows all the games on numerous flat screen TVs. On the negative side, if you are a gambler the casino is tough to beat. The slots seem tight and the Blackjack tables are tough (nine seats compared to usual six). However, I was not on board to gamble. As far as excursions go, we had very easy access to book whatever we wanted either at the main desk or through your in-room TV. All in all, I have traveled many places and experienced many things, but, the Carnival miracle is a great way to spend seven days. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
My husband and I have become cruising addicts thanks to Carnival Cruise Lines. Our first experience was a two day "cruise to nowhere" and our second cruise was to Bermuda (on the Legend and Victory). Being that we live in ... Read More
My husband and I have become cruising addicts thanks to Carnival Cruise Lines. Our first experience was a two day "cruise to nowhere" and our second cruise was to Bermuda (on the Legend and Victory). Being that we live in Maryland we were very pleased to see that a number of cruise lines were beginning to use the Port of Baltimore for embarkation in 2003 and 2004. Unfortunately, now there are only one to two cruise ships leaving from our area. The cruise to the Bahamas aboard the Miracle was nothing short of miraculous. We arrived at the Port of Baltimore around 11:00 a.m., the ship was already there and had been cleared from the previous sailing. We drove through the secured terminal area to a warehouse, there a porter unloaded our luggage and we proceeded to park our car in a gated lot. A shuttle bus took us to the terminal where we waited a short while to meet with an agent that issued our Sail and Sign cards and checked our documents. From luggage drop off to walking onto the boat the whole process was 30 - 45 minutes. We immediately went to see our room which was an inside on deck 7. Since we spend little "awake" time in our room we have always opted for an interior cabin. The room was what we expected- although the beds were separated into two twins instead of one king. I requested the change from our cabin steward- and he had the adjustments made prior to us returning. Unlike some other responders we saw our room steward quite often, I found him very friendly, accessible and attentive (we found he had been with CCL for 13 years). One thing I liked was always having fresh ice in our ice bucket. I swear he changed the ice a few times a day because I never found small ice cubes just floating in melted ice. After we checked out the room it was onto the Lido deck for some food. The buffet line was comparable to that of the other two cruises. I enjoyed the deli sandwiches and the fresh salads. The presentation, while not fancy, was adequate (clean serving areas and filled trays). The free beverage selection was ample with juices, tea and hot drinks. I purchased a soda-card for $30 or so dollars, if you drink two or more sodas a day then it is well worth the price. The boat left port on time and we sailed down the Chesapeake Bay. The weather was gorgeous (although a little chilly toward the evening on the deck). The first evening was a casual dinner. We had a late seating (which we prefer) and found we were seated with a larger group from our area (24 in all). First day at sea was wonderful. I ordered room service of bagels and juice. It arrived on time (which also served as our wake-up call). After getting dressed in our bathing suits we headed up to the Lido deck for our second breakfast, which we ate in a lounge chair while we watched the beautiful ocean pass by. We pretty much stayed camped out in those lounge chairs for the entire day. Occasionally we would get up to get a drink or get in the pool. After the sun was setting we checked out the fitness center. The equipment was in good working order and equivocal to that of our local gym. I think there might have been 10 people in the whole place. This was the first formal night, so we got ready and went down towards the restaurant. Of course CCL had their entire photo stations set up. We had our pictures taken (I found the price to be reasonable and the quality to be above average). The dinner menu offered a large selection for everybody. This was "lobster" night, and my husband being a seafood eater asked for two entrees- a lobster and steak. The food was presented nicely and came to the table quickly. The drink server seemed overwhelmed but seemed to get to the table twice during our dinner. The head waiter and assistant waiter were excellent. After dinner we went to the show which was a Las Vegas style musical. Following the show we decided to go to the dance club. We were disappointed to see that it was empty and the music selection was rap or hip-hop. This was the case the entire cruise. I would have liked some musical variety at the dance club. So, we ventured into another bar that had a live band playing, here people were dancing and the band sounded pretty good, so, we stayed. Day two at sea pretty much followed the schedule of the previous day. I enjoy just laying in the sun, so I had no complaints being left out on the deck. I did notice that finding a "prime" chair may be difficult because there are a lot of towel chair-holders out there. I personally did not leave my towel lying around since CCL checks the towels out under your cabin number and then you are held financially responsible for that towel. On a previous cruise two passengers got into an argument over a towel and who it belonged to. Late in the afternoon we sailed near Miami- we could see the coast well. This position enabled us to use our cell phones and call home to check on our kids. That evening there was a complimentary cocktail hour for "repeaters" which was nice. Another nice dinner and show followed by waking around the decks (which are nearly empty late in the night). Key West: We docked in Key West early in the morning ate breakfast and got off the boat to walk around the city before our excursion (which we booked through Carnival). Come to find out that right off the dock was the outfit Carnival contracted with offering the same excursion for less. I think we paid maybe $20-30 more to book it though CCL rather then through them directly. Nonetheless, we took a catamaran out to a coral reef about 30 minutes from shore. Here we jumped in and snorkeled. The snorkeling was not great- apparently because of the recent hurricanes. I began to feel kind of sea sick which swimming in the ocean (which I found to be quite odd), so I went back on the boat and waited to leave. One of the people running the tour said I was probably feeling sick from drinking salt water which snorkeling. I am not sure if that is what caused it, but I was glad to be back at shore. After the boat ride we walked about a mile through Key West to the Southern most point in the United States buoy. It was extremely hot, but we enjoyed stopping in the shops to look around and cool down as we strolled. Then, it was back to the boat and off to the Bahamas. If I were to go to Key West again I would rent one of these two person "golf-cart" like cars. Companies will meet you at the cruise ship and drop you back off again. Bahamas- Since we felt we overpaid on the catamaran excursion, we decided to go out on our own in Nassau. I had read up a good bit and thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong- now I know why in some cases it is better to just pay the extra and book the tour. We got off the boat and were immediately attacked by the vendors. If you just keep walking and don't make eye-contact they will move onto the next person. I am sure the locals think we are all rude Americans, but if I want to buy something I will let the person know. We proceeded to walk toward Paradise Island- our intent was to take a tour to Blue Lagoon. After walking for about 10 minutes we got a taxi and he took us the rest of the way. We made it the Blue Lagoon ticket counter only to find the one shuttle to the beach had left with the boat passengers (which they picked up right at the dock). Since I had been misinformed that the boat left on the hour (which it does during the summer) we did not get to go to Blue Lagoon. So, we walked to the public beach and took some back way through the "public access" to get onto the beach. Walking through some trees up a hill there were a number of locals just hanging out. I am not sure why they were there, and we quickly went by them. The beach was nice- the ocean was quite rough, but the sand was clean and there was plenty of places to sit. Leaving the beach we decided to attempt to walk through Atlantis' pool area to avoid the public access and the people. Somehow we got into the pool area- which was very nice- and made our way out through their lobby. We shared a cab with another couple and went back to the boat. We did go to the straw market - I was not impressed and did not buy anything. I was more than happy to get back on the boat and wait for our departure. In hindsight I should have booked the Blue Lagoon excursion (fellow cruisers raved about their experience there) through the ship- lesson learned. Port Canaveral Florida- since Freeport was still without electricity we bypassed Freeport and went to Port Canaveral. After being disappointed with Nassau I was glad to skip Freeport. We booked an excursion to Universal Studios. This was pricey- double the park admission- but did include bus transportation (one hour each way). Passengers with a booked excursion were first to disembark. Since we were back in the United States we had to go through Immigrations first. The process was quick and we were on our way to Universal by 9:00. The trip was worth the money- since there is nothing immediately available in port. I heard some people took a bus ($10.00) and went to a local shopping mall. Last day at sea- Another gorgeous day. The sun was shining the weather was warm and the ocean was calm. I could not have asked for anything better. My husband and I booked the supper club for this night. We had done this on the last cruise. The food is excellent and service superb; the atmosphere is quiet, relaxed and very romantic. This is well worth the nominal fee. Home in Baltimore- Since we opted to self disembark we did not put our luggage out the night before. We were the first passengers called to get off the boat. I think we were walking down the gangway at 9:00 and we were home by 10:15. I cannot say enough about cruising with Carnival; we are three for three and looking forward to our fourth in January 2006. Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
We had a big group going (about 120 people) and our TA rented a coach bus to take us from Centreville and Sterling. We arrived at the dock around 10:15 to find out that the ship had just arrived... We were able to drive around and unload ... Read More
We had a big group going (about 120 people) and our TA rented a coach bus to take us from Centreville and Sterling. We arrived at the dock around 10:15 to find out that the ship had just arrived... We were able to drive around and unload our luggage into these big containers and then walked into the facility where we were herded into a section and given a zone number. We received zone #1. At about 11:30am we then got herded to the ticketing agents and received our sail and sign boarding cards....then we went back and sat in different chairs. Carnival gave no information, only that there were still well over 1,000 people on the ship...and that we would have to wait. That was ok...however, I wish they had given any estimated time frame....each carnival representative had different information...and dear husband and I hated that they were selling hot dogs for $3 and $4 a pop when we knew we were just feet away from the "free" food on board. By 1:30pm we were turning into very hungry people... I think we were finally called around 2:15pm to board...and that was a fairly simple process. I think Carnival did a good job in getting folks on board quickly when they finally could. (However, I don't know how the people who had driven themselves felt....we saw long lines of cars just waiting and waiting to be able to drop off their luggage). We were at the front of the pack so we probably didn't experience what other folks did. When we got on board we went right to our cabin...#8235, cat. 9. Lo and behold I forgot to take a picture of it....there was a small foyer when you walked in....a big closet on the left and wall on the right....walk a little further and there was the sofa, coffee table, and tv set high up. Then the room opened up where there was a huge mirror both on the wall over the bed and above the dressing table.... The dressing table was huge and they had a place where they had all kinds of different glasses for drinks and a "bar" area for alcohol. It was pretty darn nice. The bathroom was your regular rinky dink size and so was the shower....no complaints, the shower was great! The balcony was huge! It was very long and wide....could have fit four chairs with room for more on it. The one complaint I did have about this room was that there were always weird smells in it....sometimes it smelled like garbage...sometimes it smelled like food being cooked, etc. We then went up to the lido...I have never been there on embarkation day and experienced it practically empty...the food was great though I can't remember what I had...I'm a big salad person so I would appreciate the salad bar having more variety but it was still very good. I think dear husband had some kind of fish... Of course they asked you every few seconds if you wanted the drink of the day... It was cold out and the band was playing but we didn't hang out....we just went to explore the ship. Franksteins Lab was pretty cool! Since we had sailed the Pride almost two years ago we really had no problem finding our way around the ship...it was nice to know where we were going the majority of the time. We had late seating and we wanted to have a light snack ahead of time but were disappointed to see that they had not changed the food. I'm sure this was because everyone had arrived very late. Our waiters for our table were awesome....we were supposed to have two other couples at our table but one couple cancelled out at the last minute and one gentleman decided not to come because his mother was very ill....so the other gentleman decided to switch to an earlier seating....so we were at a huge table by ourselves with two of our friends down the way....we ran back and forth between tables Omur the maitre'd said that we could have everyone at our table....but then we all loved our waiters so much we didn't want to change. Our waiters were Wayan and Nengah...loved them!!! The food was excellent every night....never had a bad meal.... More often than not dear husband either had two entrees or two appetizers....sometimes three....whatever we wanted, they were more than happy to bring. We went to the Welcome Show which was pretty funny! Dear husband and I loved Mark Hawkins....he was fabulous! He called up for five folks who had been in the armed forces so I told dear husband to run up....it was hilarious...when Mark asked what branch he had served in he didn't say a word until I yelled ARMY...so Mark teased him....he was funny with everyone! ...and we got a free bottle of champagne. The next day was a sea day and I thought it was too chilly to catch any rays though lots of people were....dear husband wanted to play Fear Factor but didn't get his name drawn so we went to the Art Auction....could not stand the auctioneer. We go to auctions (antique ones and are used to a certain way) and I know the art auction is different but I thought the guy talked way, way too much between items. Plus I'm not a fan of the majority of art they had. So after about 45 minutes we skipped out on that and went to the Lido to find that we had missed lunch....aaahhhhh... I was not a happy camper. So we went to the guessing faces and names game which was ok. We got three sheets of paper and tried to figure out who the people were....we did terrible and when Karl asked who thought they did the worst dear husband yelled that he had so for being honest he got a ship on a stick....you have no idea how happy he was. That was his goal....he got one from the Pride and now he has one from the Miracle. Then we went to shipboard trivia which was a blast though it was too short. Mark had trivia questions and the first person to raise their hand who got the answer right got a prize. dear husband got me a free drink of the day.... They also had folks call in from their rooms which was great fun! We got dressed for formal night and had a group picture taken with the TA's group and then went and dear husband got some sushi and just hung out. Checked out the casino which we did not play in and took some pictures and then went to late dinner. The food was excellent again. After that we went and watched some of the Generations show which you do not want to miss and then to Sam's Piano Bar ....Duane was the pianist and he was ok but there was a gentleman whose name was Gus and he did a better job but he played at Nick & Noras and sometimes did the Piano Bar...that's where he really wants to be but he needed more people to tell Carnival that he did a good job....so at least we did. We then checked out Frankensteins Lab and that was fun depending on what the theme was for the night. Next day was another day at sea. Dear husband and I caught some rays and we like to go to the topless deck (it's very quiet up there) and all adult....but I don't know why they have the area around the top for folks to look over. I don't care so much but it does get annoying when guys are hanging over the rail just gawking. We did shipboard trivia again and dear husband won me a photo album. We went to the hypnotist show....think it was on that night...don't know what to think of it. The guy had one woman trying to kill pink spiders, another guy putting band aids all over his face....a woman running off the stage to make out with her husband...it was interesting. Then we went to the comedy show....I fell asleep. Key West...what a great day....everyone knows Key West so I don't need to say much about it....you guys know. That night we dined at Nick and Noras....for our four hour dining experience....there was a large group of us and we had a good time between our meal and running out to see the lunar eclipse....on the top deck with high wind warnings. They said the wind was keeping steady at 60mph....don't know what that was about. Anyway, I had the 24oz porterhouse which practically killed me....but my TA didn't believe I could do it so of course I had to prove her wrong. The creme brulee was fantastic!!! It really was a superb meal. Afterwards we went down to the cigar bar and the guys smoked cigars... The next day was Nassau and we ran off the ship and did some quick shopping. Dear husband got me a beautiful tanzanite ring at Tanzanite International...then we ran back to the ship, got changed for our snorkeling excursion with Stuart Cove. It was a blast....highly recommend booking this independently if you have the time...if you do it in advance it is $40/pp and they pick you up at the end of the pier. We did a couple of snorkeling sites and then watch sharks feed in the water off of chum they had lowered down....when they raised it up there were all these fins just above the surface...and one shark actually jumped up....it was great! When we got back to the ship....about 5pm we changed and went back out to find everything had closed...it was terrible. The only things open were Senor Frogs and Hard Rock....that was it. Also the Straw Market never opened that day either. It was like a ghost town and I was not happy being there until midnight with nothing to do...so we went back onboard and had dinner....and I'm glad we did it because it was good. Didn't do much after that though....I forget...I think we just went to our cabin. Freeport....we booked the Peterson Cay Kayak and Snorkel....we were supposed to meet at 7:45am but the ship didn't dock until around 8am....we didn't get going until 8:45am which was crummy because when we got back we just had to get back onto the ship. Freeport was decimated....we met our Kayak Guides and they said that Freeport did not look like it normally does. We kayaked about 1 mile to this tiny island.....the kayaking was tough because the current was so strong....dear husband and I were ready to kill each other after we finally got there but it was fun and the snorkeling was GREAT! We even got to see an octopus!!!and funny little things that change color and disguise themselves into the rocks... They provided lunch which was actually good....very fresh cold cuts and they had all the fixin's so you could make your own sandwiches...and peanut butter cookies, and water and lemonade. Then we kayaked back....dear husband and I were ready to kill each other again and then we loaded into vans and went back to the ship....a good excursion but because of the weather the kayaking was a little rough. On our last formal night we went to see Ticket to Ride which was excellent! Also if you were dressed up and got there early they offered a VIP seat...total of 6 couples. So we got to sit right up front and had free champagne. On the last sea day the weather was kind of funky...not sure if it was sunny or where quite the sun was shining on the ship but at least it got warm. Every night at dinner was great because the waiters would sing and dance with Omur leading the way....did a conga line on one of the nights... There is so much I'm leaving out now...but along with the Carnival board and other member reviews I'm sure you'll find that this is a great ship...and don't worry about the dining room decor and what others say...who cares, you're on a cruise! vermonter16 Read Less
Sail Date October 2004
i am 18 now but i was 17 when i went on the Miracle last summer. I went with my 15 year old sister (she is now 16) and my parents. I live in California and this was my first time to New York. I really enjoyed it. My sister and I had ... Read More
i am 18 now but i was 17 when i went on the Miracle last summer. I went with my 15 year old sister (she is now 16) and my parents. I live in California and this was my first time to New York. I really enjoyed it. My sister and I had our own cabin, which was supposed to be an inside one but Carnival upgraded our cabin and my parents cabin to balcony rooms because we were past guests.  I have been on the Sensation before and it was really nice too but, the Miracle was a lot bigger and newer, but both had a lot of things to do for teenagers. The food was good but not as good as the food on the Sensation. I am a picky eater, I do not like to eat some meat and I found a lot of vegetarian options on all the menus. The formal dinners were really fun but they seemed to take forever. I asked my waiter why and he said that since there is only one formal restaurant, the galley (the kitchen) is two stories down and all the waiters and waitresses have to take an escalator up to the dinning room, and it takes longer for those seated on the top level. I didn't really like the buffet restaurant, it was good for some things but it was gross watching people stuff their faces with food and then going back for more. And I also really liked the captains cocktail party, FREE COCKTAILS and they didn't check my ID! I really enjoyed ordering room service, the BLT sandwiches and the fajitas were my favorite, especially at 3 a.m. The formal dinning room as REALLY UGLY!!! I don't know who designed it but it is COMPLETELY UGLY. It is supposed to be decorated in grapes, but it does NOT look like grapes at all, there are huge hot pink round lights stuck all over the room, they look like those button candies that you peel off paper! The walls look more like a nightclub than a formal dinning room. I really liked all the entertainment, I was never bored! My favorite part of the ship was the nightclub, Dr. Frankenstein's Lab. It is a good place to go late at night and meet young people. After 11 the club is 16+, and i was able to get in but you have to have a photo ID and your sail and sign card, my sister who was 15 but almost 16 at the time, was not able to get in the first night, but she found a way to sneak past the security all of the other nights, since the club has a circular door that spins. I thought that the security at the door of the club was way too strict, they even had a list of all the people on the cruise and their ages and they would check it when you showed them your ID. It was not like this when i was on the Sensation, i was able to get in the nightclub easily and their was no security at the door. We met a lot of people from New Jersey and the rest of the east coast, which was really fun.  I also really liked the shows, especially the hypnotism show, which was really funny! The Mad Hatters ball was a really cool room, it was decorated like the movie "Alice in Wonderland!" they had Karaoke in there at night which was really fun and comedy shows. I also really liked playing bingo even though i didn't win. I also tried to play in the casino a few times but i got kicked out. I really liked Port Canaveral. I went surfing there at Cocoa Beach which was really nice and the water was warm. Ron Jon's Surf Shop is really cool. Nassau was ok. The people who live there are really annoying, they kept asking me if i wanted my hair braided which I didn't and I was probably asked about 30 times, they were really pushy and seemed to rip off Americans for their money. We went to Paradise Island on a water taxi and but when we got there we had to walk about 20 minutes to get to the Atlantis hotel. After we got really tired and went back to the ship. I didn't get off the ship at the other stop in the Bahamas because it was only there from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. and i liked to sleep in, but my parents went and shopped and liked it much better than Nassau. I loved this cruise and I was really sad when it was over! I could be entertained for days on this ship and never get bored. If you are considering going on the Miracle i would definitely recommend it, especially to families with teenagers because there is something for everyone! Have fun cruising. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
This was my second cruise. I am actually 14 but i have a say here... I went with my friend and my mother, and it was amazing. The cruise was perfect, and it couldn't get much better. The service was pretty nice. The live ... Read More
This was my second cruise. I am actually 14 but i have a say here... I went with my friend and my mother, and it was amazing. The cruise was perfect, and it couldn't get much better. The service was pretty nice. The live entertainment on the pool deck was a little loud. The food wasn't what is was hyped up to be, but it was still very good. We liked the pizza and the ice cream. I really liked how the kids could go to the dance club and then you wouldn't get yelled at for being loud after we weren't allowed in anymore. It was a very nice cruise. The ports of call were pretty nice and i enjoyed all of the excursions that I went on. I think that however, you should make the stop at Paradise Island longer because it was about 5 hours, and that was the best island. Same with Freeport. Overall, the cruise was amazing, and there are plenty of things to do with the younger children. They didn't really seem to be bored at all. I will travel on the Miracle again, and I'm planning on going on the Legend next summer. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
Excellent ship! I've travelled with Carnival before and was only half looking forward to the trip. Perhaps my diminished expectations made the trip seem better than it was. But, my family and I thoroughly enjoyed the vacation. ... Read More
Excellent ship! I've travelled with Carnival before and was only half looking forward to the trip. Perhaps my diminished expectations made the trip seem better than it was. But, my family and I thoroughly enjoyed the vacation. Embarkation in NY was kind of a hassle. We had a category 11 cabin which allows for express check in. After a long wait to go through security, we were practically able to walk right on. Well worth the price just to avoid the check in lines in NY. The category 11 suite was very comfortable and was perfect for a family of four. The first night we were not thrilled with our table or our waiter. I mentioned this to the Maitre 'D on the way out. When we got back to the room later in the evening, we had a card announcing our new table. What impressed me was that I had not demanded to be moved and that the Maitre 'D followed up with us at the next meal to make sure we were happy. Further, the service staff for breakfast and lunch in the main dining room was more friendly and attentive than other ships. The biggest surprise was the food. They really got it right. The meat and poultry dishes were superb. The seafood was just good. The desserts blew me away. If you are a first time cruiser or if you never really thought about it, keep this in mind when ordering food. Some foods just don't lend themselves to banquet preparation. Any fish after the first night was probably frozen. But most important... never eat a bad meal. If you don't like what you got, order something else. Every ship and line experiences problems. What differentiates the Miracle Staff from other ships I've been on is that they truly seemed interested in resolving problems. The entertainment was typical. If this was your first cruise, you would probably think wow. As my seventh, I thought ho-hum. The ship itself was beautiful and well decored with a few exceptions. If you have young kids, they may be offended by numerous nude frescos and sculptures. My six year old called it the naked ship. The main dining room is a tribute to the Greek God of Wine. The hundreds of lights which are supposed to be grapes look more like pink m & m's. Overall, this was a wonderful experience and had me wondering if I was really on Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
August arrived and the hurricanes were raging. We had been looking forward to the Carnival Miracle because my wife of 25 years had surprised the family with an aft balcony. Naturally, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when we ... Read More
August arrived and the hurricanes were raging. We had been looking forward to the Carnival Miracle because my wife of 25 years had surprised the family with an aft balcony. Naturally, we all breathed a collective sigh of relief when we sailed in between hurricanes. This cruise was our second on Carnival. The first was the Victory to Canada in August of 2001. We sailed on the Norwegian Dawn in February of this year and were expecting the same "new ship experience". This is not a comparison study of two cruise lines. Freestyle cruising only works on NCL's newer ships. Carnival still has the traditional seating arrangements, We picked late seating and didn't feel rushed. As a family of four we also didn't sit with strangers. The embarkation, as usual and expected, is not the smoothest nor efficient because of the New York security issues and crumbling infrastructure of the piers. I cannot blame the cruise lines. They are working with what they have. As the popularity of cruises increase and I have witnessed this over the course of six cruises, some solution will have to be found to accommodate all the overcrowding. We pre-registered over the internet and it does save time. You are in the system and gives you an opportunity to spend less time with the boarding agents who are always polite and cordial. After the "fun cruise" boarding picture and then the required ship picture, we boarded the most beautiful,ornate,detailed and slightly funky ship we have ever seen. Before I forget, my children ,a 24 year old girl and 16 year old boy, were impressed. They had sailed on other cruise ships but this was a sight. We were on the ship in a reasonable amount of time. Post 9/11 security is a reality we cannot avoid nor change so just grin and bear it. It was going to be awhile for the luggage to get to the room but we wanted to see the room first. I missed getting the expression on my children's faces when they realized they were in the correct room with a balcony. I was equally surprised. Complain all you want about Carnival they do have the largest rooms around. Has anyone been on the NCL Sea? You will agree. We ran to a very satisfying lunch before walking around the ship and booking my massage. The Steiner company runs the spa and they remain one of the best at sea. I opted for the seaweed wrap and full body massage. My daughter picked a facial, pedicure and back massage. My wife wanted to try a facial. If anybody is counting, the the credit card was already starting to wear out and we haven't left NYC! To my surprise the room had a mini fridge and it does come in handy and the drinks with shacks is a great touch for those who need a cosy nightcap on the balcony. This review is long and I must apologize, I'll go faster through the week. The cabin was very clean. The stewards and room staff were polite, efficient and available. We did get room service and it was on time. I enjoyed coffee on the balcony before we went to the early excursions. The beds were made every day and then turned down always with a towel animal and a piece of chocolate on the pillow. On one of the boards it was remarked that the tv was limited. I disagree. We had enough to fulfill the news requirement and background music when needed. You don't go on a cruise to watch tv. A great innovation is the ability to access your bill on TV and watch it balloon out of control right before your eyes. The dinners were well prepared. A decent variety on the menu. They were hot when served. Didn't go to Nick and Noras but the reviews are good to great. A wonderful idea to include those on the "Atkins" or "South Beach" diets respectively. Carnival is not the best nor the worst in the choice of cuisine. Norwegian gets more points for the food and desserts. We avoided the midnight buffets. Been there done that. My son and the friends he made went to those. I am pleased that the mixed drinks were less expensive on Carnival than any other line. The cruise director was a funny guy and kept everyone informed. Our waitress, waiters and head waiter were accommodating, friendly and attentive to our needs. My son is allergic to dairy and a shopping list of other things and was treated to his favorite foods without bringing any undo attention or embarrassment. I have to say this is what impressed me the most and am thankful to them. All you need to do is warn them ahead of time and they will be cooperative. Surprisingly, the entertainment was livelier and more enjoyable than I can remember.They dancers were more energetic than the audience. Veteran sailors can be a tough crowd to please. I enjoyed the pool in the back of the ship because it was adults only. A small secret that will catch on. The common pools were great but too crowded for my wife and I. We tried the many bars on board. I liked the sports bar off the casino.The ladies preferred the metropolitan one. It had a better view. This cruise, the picture taking was not obnoxious. We had many a family portrait taken. I should have been more attentive to the cost factor however. The shore excursions were ok. We went to the beaches on both occasions and skipped the shopping. My daughter wished she had a little more time to shop in Nassau. We did go to Kennedy Space Center. My wife and I had been there in February via the Dawn. This was the kids first. We also took a ride to Coco Beach to have lunch on the boardwalk. Freeport..., well, what can I say that hasn't already been said time and time again. (I won't go into it.) We opted for the beach party. We did go to the Art auction this year and came away with some interesting pieces. The week went too quickly. The money went even faster. We laughed. We cried. We swam. Finally, we ate and ate and ate once more. A cruise is what you make it and we made it memorable. Read Less
Sail Date August 2004
Overall, great cruise. The itinerary was just O.K. but we knew that before hand. The Miracle is a brand new boat and it is beautiful in an odd sort of way. You can look at pictures online and form your own opinion. Back to the ... Read More
Overall, great cruise. The itinerary was just O.K. but we knew that before hand. The Miracle is a brand new boat and it is beautiful in an odd sort of way. You can look at pictures online and form your own opinion. Back to the cruise...we left from NYC and the embarkation was not too bad. I thought the Carnival lady at the check-in desk was pretty cranky. We accidently leaned on her desk and it slid and she was visibly annoyed...sorry...we didn't realize it moved when you put your hands on it! Got on board by 2:00 PM. Found our balcony room to be very clean and ready for us. There were nine of us (4 were young men 20-24) and 5 middle aged adults. We had early dinner. I'll summarize the good things: - Weather was perfect for our departure through New York Harbor and for the entire week. - The food was excellent, varied choices each night and our waiter Mikey was great. - Didn't make any shows but people were raving about the "Beatles" show...so catch it if you can. - Crew was generally friendly. - Buffet food was good, hot and varied. - Casino was fun...but not too generous. Didn't hear of anyone coming home a winner. - "Adults Only" pool aft deck 9. They strictly enforced this. It was nice as the other two pools were pretty crowded and noisy (fun noise but if you wanted more quiet the aft pool was a nice change). - Water slide was fun even for middle aged people. - Had fun on snorkeling trip in Freeport and had a long hot walk for Atlantis tour in Nassau. Nice, but take a cab on your own if you don't like to walk in the heat. - Had a delicious dinner in the special Nick and Nora's restaurant. Try it one night, it is well worth the extra $. Now for the not so good. -One morning I went up to the track walk and it was strewn with plates, pizza, broken glass (on the track), garbage etc. It was windy up there and I guess some people had a party there the night before but the crew should of had it cleaned up by mid morning. It was a nasty mess. - Getting off in Nassau was a disaster. Everyone getting off at the same time...very bad situation if an emergency were to arise in the middle of this. They should stagger the excursion times to avoid this. - Some of the crew seemed oblivious to guests. Example, my husband was holding the door for me and some crew members jumped in front of me and squeezed through the door he was holding opened for me. No "excuse me", no nothing. They should have held the door for us...not the other way around. - Debarkation was pretty chaotic, but there were 4 or 5 cruise boats in port that morning. There were Carnival people around to point you to your bags...pretty typical situation. No worse than any other cruise line. Overall, it was a very nice cruise, very nice boat, nice crew. Don't hesitate to go...you will have a wonderful time. Read Less
Sail Date June 2004
Carnival Miracle Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.4
Dining 3.5 4.0
Entertainment 4.0 3.8
Public Rooms 4.0 4.3
Fitness Recreation 3.5 4.0
Family 4.0 4.0
Shore Excursion 3.0 4.0
Enrichment 1.5 3.5
Service 4.0 4.4
Value For Money 4.5 4.1
Rates 3.0 4.4

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