298 Carnival Miracle Cruise Reviews

I confess that I had to wait a week before writing my review of our 12-3 to 12-10-06 Carnival Miracle cruise to Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya. I needed to step back from it all and get some perspective. You see, our ... Read More
I confess that I had to wait a week before writing my review of our 12-3 to 12-10-06 Carnival Miracle cruise to Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya. I needed to step back from it all and get some perspective. You see, our experience was neither the miracle for which I had hoped, nor the disaster all vacationers fear. It was, in fact, much like life; a mix of magical fantasy and utter frustration, of the exquisite and the ugly. It started with the greatest of highs and ended with the greatest of lows with a great mix of experiences and emotions in between ... I traveled with my husband and my folks from the Brandon area, all who had cruised before. I was the wide eyed cruising virgin. Being so labeled, I was prepared for long embarkation lines and the shock and awe that the ship was sure to instill in my over stimulated pre-vacation heart. What I found instead, were long but stunningly efficient lines operated by friendly port personnel that took about 30 minutes from beginning to end. I also found myself decidedly underwhelmed by the Miracle itself, I think, because I had done so much research and looked at so many pictures beforehand, that I already knew the ship by heart. That begs the question, is a Cruise Critic member truly a virgin cruiser? After all, I had the duct tape, the clothespins and thought I was prepared for every scenario, or so I thought, LOL. But I digress. The ship was immaculate, our room (8219) on the Panorama deck spacious and very well designed, with lots of storage, particularly in the bathroom. It had plenty of shelves and drawers and places to put things, even for my husband who packs enough luggage for two girls! The decor was not as gaudy as I had been led to believe, but it did not seem cohesive from area to area. What does the Mad Hatter have to do with Orpheus or classical art, for instance? But, while not miraculous, it's fantasy, so who cares? Not me, I was there on vacation, not to critique interior design! To me, the ship was just a form of transportation from port to port. If it was comfy, clean and uncrowded with some stuff to do, I was happy. I was not disappointed. As far as the entertainment, it certainly was not first rate, and that opinion came from my parents who saw a couple of the shows and said they had seen much bigger and better on other lines, and my husband and myself who saw the R rated comedian. While funny, we too, had seen better. Fortunately, hubby and myself did not cruise for the shows. He preferred to donate to the casino, which he found to be just loose enough to keep him playing and he had fun. I preferred to soothe my ADD addled mind by immersing myself in the sounds and sights of mother nature's theater on the balcony, definitely my favorite part of the cruise and one I will not in future do without. The buffet food was less than spectacular, but then, it was a buffet. It was often lukewarm, sometimes rubbery, but rarely inedible. Some of it was actually very good, particularly the pizza and the ice cream. When compared to any other buffet I have experienced, it held it's own. The dining room fare however, bordered on the exquisite. The delicate flavors and understated presentation of fare never competed, but melded to perfection. The Warm Chocolate Melting Cake endeared itself to my heart forever, and virtually guaranteed I will buy the Carnival cook book set to learn how to make it. The service in all of the food venues was outstanding, every whim and need anticipated before you even knew what you desired. I would have to dub the whole food experience miraculous. I definitely overindulged, but I LOST WEIGHT! I don't know how you did it, but thank you Carnival. That indeed, is an accomplishment. Now for the best part of the cruise, and where some real miracles occurred; the itinerary. Grand Cayman did not impress me at first. It is a tiny island, very flat, with lots of buildings crammed in together, and even more people. After we snorkeled at Eden Rock, I changed my mind. It was very rough that day, so I didn't go but 5 feet away from the shore. I had never snorkeled before, and seeing the fish and brain coral and the rise and fall of the ocean floor was amazing. Even though I kept getting thrown into the ironstone and getting water in my mask because I unknowingly had hair underneath it, I discovered a sport I would like to try again. While I don't care to return to Cayman, I certainly aspire to my mother's level of expertise. She made it to the reef! Cozumel was every woman's dream and every man's nightmare! Shopping, shopping and more shopping! What a fun place. The margaritas at Ponchos Backyard and the bonding of sorts they engendered with my parents, topped off what would have been a perfect day except for a tendering nightmare here which I will deal with later. Belize. Wow! The Xunantunich ruins were an epiphany for both my husband and myself. These Indiana Jones-like structures proved eerie in setting; isolated in a rain forest shrouded in the mist of an overcast day. El Castillo, the main temple, stood, brooding, above the smaller but equally intriguing structures, from the ruined residences of long dead priests to a room that held a sacrificial stone. Even the Carnival tour guide admitted that these ancient monuments don't easily give up their secrets, telling us that scientists can only guess at what happened to their inhabitants. While ancient Mayans frequently met their doom here (even the winners of games in the ball court were allegedly beheaded) my husband and I had some personal triumphs here. Fate would not allow us a trip to the top on this day, as it had been raining heavily and was not safe, but we did go more than a third of the way up, enough to see Guatemala. My husband is afraid of heights and he climbed up and faced that demon. I am overweight and out of shape and had been training for this in our rural home landscape with some hills. I knew there was about a 1500 foot climb to the ruins up a steep hill and was quite concerned I wouldn't make it, or worse, would hold up my fellow passengers. I stopped about 4 times, but one of the tour guides stayed with us and I made it without having to call the paramedics, LOL. Then came about twenty slippery steps up to the start of the ruins. This was disheartening when I saw these, but again, I arrived, gasping, at the top. Better yet, I did not hinder the tour. I lagged behind as the tour went on and hubby and I were able to catch up at the next narration point. While we missed some of the lecture, we were not really here for that. The ruins themselves, while steeper and more slippery, seemed easy to me in comparison, perhaps because I had already faced my personal demon, or maybe it was just the awe of those mysterious stones. Whatever the reason, I did it! We both felt we could conquer anything after this. Better yet, these middle aged yuppies, used to living separate lives in the same household with our separate t.v.'s and computers, did this together! We felt like Rocky at the top of those steps! This experience was the highlight of our trip and left us craving more, so much so that we plan to go back. Costa Maya was the perfect combination of tourist trap and authentic Mexico. I bought a diamond and tanzanite ring near the pier and blew the rest of my money, we got to try our hand at bartering, and then we went into town to the Cat's Meow and got drunk on the beach. It was a truly relaxing day, a perfect last port of call. Before I get to the bad stuff, I must emphasize that both my husband and I are pretty easy to please. We are middle class, but not particularly sophisticated and can have fun pretty much anywhere. We don't tend to complain out loud, and HATE stuffy people and atmospheres. There were a couple of experiences on the Miracle though, that had me yelling out loud, my father speaking out, and left us all questioning whether we will sail with Carnival again. The first was the tendering experience in Cozumel. The water that day was described by the crew as a long swell, and they announced over the p.a. system that these conditions were causing the delay. Now I really wanted to like this ship and this line. After all, who wouldn't want to embrace a cruise line that offers great prices and exciting itineraries. I was very prepared to be forgiving. But we waited around two and half hours in two to three unsupervised lines. We had to self merge into one line when going down and around several flights of stairs. In short, we were crammed in there like pigs in a feedlot being funneled into a chute, and it was every man for himself. Now I have said that I am not stuffy, but I try to be polite. Yet, in a situation like this, you have to cut in front of people or you'd never get anywhere, and you can't help but be miffed at the person that cuts in front of you. What started as jolly anticipation of a fun, booze drenched day of shopping, swimming and snorkeling, ended sitting on the tender, thinking murderous thoughts about fellow passengers, and a general skepticism about how far man has truly evolved. Bottom line, Carnival should be better organized and better prepared for situations like this, and should never put their passengers in this sort of predicament. After all, this was not the first time the Miracle had tendered in Cozumel, or anywhere else for that matter. Honestly, I've seen better organization in slaughter feedlots. The same situation reared it's ugly head at disembarkation, only it was FAR uglier. Even though self assist disembarkation would require a lot of work toting hubby's vast collection of bags and my heavy souvenirs, it was an enticing option. It was supposed to be quick, easy, and allow us to get back to my folks' house in Sun City Center and back home to Georgia via I-75 before prime time. Now once again, I didn't expect miracles, but I wasn't prepared for the disaster that occurred. This, quite simply, resembled a pileup of malfunctioning bumper cars at a two bit carnival, pun intended. Passengers were told the night before that self assist disembarkation would be announced. It wasn't. We were told where we were not allowed to meet for the procedure, but not where we could, so people started self assembling. A line snaked throughout the ship. We went to the back and sat down in our place and waited for the line to move. The problem was, the line twisted around so much, people could not tell where it ended. When people asked the one crew member who was there, they apparently were ignored, because they started cutting in front of people. Suddenly, you had large groups of people cutting in front of others that had been in line for over an hour. We finally gave up on the people who cut in front of us getting a clue and went to the new back of the line. My father, a normally polite soul, asked a female officer standing at a closed bar with her back to the crowd and talking to a buddy, if she was an officer, and she "Yes". He then asked her if she was in charge of traffic and if she should be out there directing it and she said Yes, the end of line's back there, and then turned back around and started talking to her companion again. As soon as my father walked on, her buddy said if he doesn't like it, why didn't he check his baggage? I then lost it and said then why did Carnival offer self assist to begin with? When I walked on, the coward who obviously couldn't bring himself to say it to my face said you need to go to which I replied, I am trying to, and I certainly won't be coming back! Now like I said, I don't usually complain in public. If I'm mad I seethe in private and hold a grudge for awhile. This made me so mad though, that I will take my grudge to Carnival. I don't know if this man was a Carnival employee. But the officer was, and not only did she say nothing, she did nothing to begin with. Even if she was not charged with directing traffic, she should have stepped up, or at least called someone who would. It was the right thing to do. The fact that she literally turned her back on the whole situation and the fact that this was the second time this happened on the ship, was enough for me to proclaim that I will think long and hard before I book on Carnival again. To me, this symbolized Carnival turning it's back on it's lifeblood. This was a very unpleasant ending to what could have been a superior experience. So in conclusion, was the Carnival Miracle miraculous? No. But some parts of the vacation were. My husband, a hardened workaholic who refused to vacation for more than 3 days, has now agreed that a 7 day getaway is not only tolerable, but nice. I conquered my fitness demons, pushed myself and didn't die. I lost weight. Hubby faced his fear of heights. I bonded with my parents. We all saw some great places, met great people and had a great time. Like life, nothing about the trip was black and white. There were a lot of greys, and pinks and blues, oh those beautiful multi-hued sunsets. Like life, there were highs and lows. Not surprisingly, like life, sometimes you see the miracles through those awful lows, in retrospect. Sometimes, when you stand back, you see that a vacation is not just a ship, or a hotel, or an excursion, but the people you meet, good and bad, and places and experiences that make you feel indifference or joy or rage, and then, those that haunt your heart and soul forever. After all, a vacation is really just a microcosm of life isn't it? It is a tapestry of the lovely and the repulsive, the ordinary and the sublime. In the end, it's all good because you take away a better perspective on those you love and on the state of your own life, and of the world as a whole. And you put it all together and are, in some small way, forever changed. In the end, you take it all with you. It becomes a part of you. So will I sail the Miracle again? Probably not. Will I cruise again? You bet! I'm already planning my next adventure. And I can't wait to see what highs and lows it brings. Read Less
Sail Date December 2006
So was the Carnival Miracle a miracle? That is a question you will have to answer yourself, however you will know my opinion by the end of this review. Background: This was my 8th cruise and first with Carnival Cruise Lines. I cruised ... Read More
So was the Carnival Miracle a miracle? That is a question you will have to answer yourself, however you will know my opinion by the end of this review. Background: This was my 8th cruise and first with Carnival Cruise Lines. I cruised with my parents (previous Carnival Cruisers) and my younger brother (16). We drove to Tampa, as we live only 2 hours away. I chose this cruise because I was off for fall break and the price was right. Leading up to the cruise I kept in touch with the Marvelous Miracle Misfits, who made the wait as painless as ever! Embarkation: This was the easiest embarkation I have ever taken part in. We arrived a little later then I hoped, but that turned out to be okay as we didn't have a boarding group. We had the funpass and didn't have to wait in line. Cabin: This was our first balcony (6224), and we loved it. We had an extended balcony, so we could see the lifeboats below us, but it didn't bug me. The room was extremely roomy, to say the least. We never felt crowded and had plenty of storage space. The only negatives for the room are: in the bathroom the curtain sticks to your leg and the balcony door whistles, and if yours isn't you can hear others whistling. The Ship: The decor of the ship is extremely interesting. The ship has subtle details and portrayals of super heroes and literary figures. The Metropolis Atrium, which extends up to deck 11, was a sight to behold. It just seemed to go up forever, especially at night. The Metropolis Lobby itself was your basic lobby, a bar, comfy sofas, excursions desk, and purser's desk. The main show room on the ship was very well designed. The Phantom Lounge kept in the theme of the Phantom of the Opera. There were masks in the staircases, and at the sides of the lounge. The room itself seems small when you are on deck 2, the lower level, but when you venture up into the third level the room really comes to life. The other entertainment room was the Mad Hatter's Ball. This room seems to be inspired by Alice in Wonderland. There are heart shaped chairs, red sofas, jester's and rabbits on the walls, card symbols (heart, club, spade, and diamond) on the floors, and red roses on the ceiling. The dining room, well I am sure you have heard about it; purple circle lights, Renaissance paintings on the ceiling (which are a theme throughout the ship), and those infamous purple grape chandeliers. Surprisingly I completely understand the design of the room. The Bacchus Dining Room was modeled after the Roman God of wine, partying, and pleasure, Bacchus. The lights hanging from the ceiling represent the grapes used to make wine. Okay, enough mythology for now, on with the written tour. The many of the lounges\sitting rooms look the exact same, these include: Jeeves Lounge, The Joker Card Room, the Cityroom, Kanes Way, and the Gothom Lounge. One of the coolest rooms on the ship was Gatsby's Garden, always quiet, and windows big enough to sit in! The Raven Library, named after Edgar Allen Poe's masterpiece, was also a nice place to curl up with a book. Sam's Piano Bar seemed nice, but it was always closed. Frankie and Johnnie's was a great place to hang out during the day, the played jazz at night. The Maguire's Sports bar was hands down the best sports bar I have ever seen on a ship. There were pictures of athletes with their autographs all over the walls. Dr. Frankenstein's Lab was the only night club on the ship. And it was busy morning, noon, night, and wee-morning. The Lido deck restaurant, Horatio's, was pretty good. I ate breakfast there everyday and loved it, for lunch I ate from the taste of the nations line. The set up is a bit tricky at first but after a whole day at sea, it becomes a bit clearer. There were 8 stations in all, Deli, Rotisserie, Asian Corner, Taste of the Nations (which features a different countries cuisine everyday), 2 stations that served all-American food, a pizza station, and a salad station. At first glance there seemed to be excessive seating, but boy was I happy there was, especially around breakfast, when it was really crowded. The two everyone pools were very small, and the adult only pool was half the size of the other pools. For pictures of the ship please visit my online photo album at: http://travel.webshots.com/photo/2185623420098096222ZDjqDr Entertainment: This is when someone my age and someone a little older might have clashing views. The show I saw in the Phantom Lounge were pretty good. However, the ship seemed to get kind of quiet around midnight. Nearly all of the bars were closed (with the exception of Maguire's Bar, Frankenstein's Bar, and the Metropolis Lobby Bar), all the show were finished, the pools were closed, and there was nothing happening on deck. And by 1am the Metropolis Lobby Bar was also closed. Now this might be because I am under 18 (at the time 28 days until 18), but there was absolutely nothing to do. This leads into my Club O2 bit. Club O2 was defiantly the most unorganized teen program I have ever been in. Our consoler was great, and in no way was our bad time her fault. All of the activities were spread out, example we would have 1 activity at 1pm on a sea day and the next 1 at 5:30pm, the next at 7:45 and the next from 9:30-10:45pm. We only had an hour and fifteen minutes of dancing every night. We were kicked out at 10:45 every night, and left to fend for ourselves, as my new cruise friend would say, Do they actually expect us to go to sleep, we are just waking up. I thought this was a fun ship. The only way to fix this feeling of nomad-ship is to add an actual Club O2 area just for teens, so we have a place to hang out all of the time. Food: I am not a big eater, but a picky one. I don't eat anything that can live under the hull of a ship or most meat (except chicken). That being said the starters, salads, chicken, and desserts were all wonderful. Every night I had 2 or 3 starters, a salad, and dessert. I ordered a main course on most nights, but I couldn't eat it I was already full! The desserts we wonderful, they sent me into a pure world of nothing but bliss, particularly the caramel ice cream, and fudge chocolate cake with caramel icing, if I could only taste it now. As I mentioned earlier the food on the Lido Deck was very good as well. I really only ate breakfast there, and the pizza wasn't that bad either. Shore Activities: It rained everyday, in every port. Grand Cayman: We were supposed to go swimming with the sting rays, but Mother Nature had something else in mind, as I was a little sick (not sea sick). So we did a tour of the island, it was $20 each and was pretty good. We went to a beach where we could see the ships in the distance, the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory, a town called Hell, and a the most expensive neighborhood on the island. And for all of you still wondering, yes, Margaritaville is open! Cozumel: Since my family has been here on numerous occasions, my dad decided to try and find this little restaurant we went to the last time. After hours (2) of searching we finally gave up and went to the world famous Carlos and Charlie's enough said. Belize: As soon as we got out of the cruise terminal my uncle surprised us. He changed his business meeting so he was in Belize the same time we were, it would have worked out better if we weren't going cave tubing with out fellow Misfits!! We went cave tubing through the ever popular, cave-tubing.com. What a deal!! It was awesome; I can't thank Yhony and his team enough for a wonderful time. Costa Maya: I have never been to this port before and I probably would have been more excited about it if it didn't rain. It was the worst here, it rained and rained, most of the excursions had to be cancelled. We took a taxi to the village, and then the rains came. We spent out time in a little bar, completely outside of course, but covered. We ate and drank there and when the rain held up for a quick minute we left to find a return taxi. Once back near the pier, I went to a sports shop and got a brand new authentic Manchester Untied jersey for only $30!! My best buy of the trip, for those of you who aren't into soccer that same jersey is about $60 online, or in a magazine. A little tip of advice to all who are lured by the big pool: If you must enter, enter early the later it gets the more likely human waste is well released. The Bottom Line: all I had a decent time; I met people around my age and visited places I have never been to. However I would not recommend this ship to anyone under the age of 18, or 21 for that matter. Without a ClubO2 room the teen program is practically non-existent. And most of the activities involved alcohol; this might seem like an exaggeration but to someone who doesn't drink it wasn't. Bottom line, I wouldn't travel on this class ship again probably a Conquest one, if you are 21+ have fun, if you are under 18 go for a Conquest class vessel. I did have a pretty good time. So I guess it was sort of a Miracle. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
Summary: We had an enjoyable and relaxing cruise at a bargain price having only booked one week before departure. We only paid $454.22 ($399 plus taxes) each for our inside cabin. This was our fourth Carnival cruise since 2001 and left us ... Read More
Summary: We had an enjoyable and relaxing cruise at a bargain price having only booked one week before departure. We only paid $454.22 ($399 plus taxes) each for our inside cabin. This was our fourth Carnival cruise since 2001 and left us with the feeling that we don't like Carnival as much now having experienced Celebrity, Holland America and Princess. Plus Points: Spacious ship - 85,920 tons for 2,351 passengers on our cruise vs. 2,124 if only double occupancy Spacious comfortable cabin with an amazing amount of closet space Good dinner menus offering lots of choices and huge lobsters. The production shows and individual artists were OK though we have seen better Negative Points: Interior dEcor in the public rooms too dark and bizarre for our tastes Too many intrusive announcements. Far more than on previous Carnival cruises Lido Buffet choices at breakfast display lots of niggling cost cutting: Many items only available some days e.g. pancakes and french toast No individual portions of syrup or jams, only communal jugs Very little fresh fruit at breakfast. Lounge entertainment had few soft music or ballroom dancing options The only show on the final night was the guest talent show - another cost cutting move? Despite 4 rainy days in port the Magrodome cover over the main swimming pool was never closed The rear pool deck had no non-smoking area in either the covered eating area or the sun lounger area. The ship has a beautiful promenade deck but no seats or sun loungers. When we inquired why at the front desk they said it was because this is the embarkation area for the lifeboats. We suggested that this could not be a valid reason because many Carnival Corporation ships in the Holland America and Princess fleets have seating on their promenade decks but the desk stuck by their party line. It more likely comes down to a lack of revenue making opportunities if people are there! Cabin, etc. We had inside cabin 1173 on Riviera Deck, which was kept in good shape by our steward Melvin from the Philippines. We suffered a lot of noise in the cabin from 5am on the first night that seemed to come from the crew area behind the cabin. After complaining to the front desk it didn't wake us up again but we could still occasionally hear it. We could also occasionally hear noise from above in the casino late at night. We recommend avoiding cabins in this area on Riviera Deck. We were on the 5.45pm early sitting dinner on table 372 on the upper level of the dining room right by the stern window overlooking the ship's wake. We had requested a large table and had four other very enjoyable dinner companions. Our waiter Ryan and his assistant Adrian, both from Jamaica, looked after us in an enthusiastic but not very polished manner, but seemed very rushed when all 22 people were present on their three tables, as happened on all but one night. Ports: We had been to all four ports before but that was no problem as our aim was to have a relaxing week. We only planned to saunter ashore as we enjoy spending time on the ship, which is so much quieter when most passengers have gone ashore. Our first port was Grand Cayman and it was our best day weather wise as it only rained briefly in the afternoon. We also had to tender the next day in Cozumel because the piers were all destroyed by last year's hurricanes and have not yet been rebuilt. It rained all day apart from a brief gap in the late morning and again in early afternoon when we went ashore to see the damage to the International Pier area. We also awoke to rain in Belize but it cleared later in the morning so we went ashore to see how the tourist village had grown since our last visit 4 years ago. The answer is dramatically! Costa Maya was our last port and the only one where we didn't have to tender. Sadly it rained all day so we stayed on the ship. Shows: The shows included The Welcome Aboard Show with comedian Thomas Brown, the two production shows Generations and Ticket to Ride, comedians Michael Macy and Percy Crews, balancing act Lubo and sword swallower Dai Andrews. Man Overboard: On the last day at sea a passenger reported hearing someone call Man Overboard. As a result at 10.15am all passengers were asked to return to their cabins for a count. Stewards checked each cabin and asked passengers to sign against their name on a list. The passenger count was completed at 11.15am but the crew count took another 20 minutes. It established that everyone was accounted for, so as originally suspected it turned out to be a hoax. The Captain had maintained course so he had assumed it was probably a hoax, but the count was necessary to prove it. Embarkation and Disembarkation at Tampa was no problem. We were on board at Tampa having lunch within an hour of dropping off our luggage and going to park the car. Cabins were not available until 1.30pm. Back at Tampa a week later we had disembarked, got our car from the garage and on our way home by 10am. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
First time cruisers on a budget: (I'm very long winded but I hope I'm also detailed enough to help you plan your trip) Our top 10 things to know for first time cruising: 1. If you plan your own excursion, know before hand the ... Read More
First time cruisers on a budget: (I'm very long winded but I hope I'm also detailed enough to help you plan your trip) Our top 10 things to know for first time cruising: 1. If you plan your own excursion, know before hand the time difference between your ship time (same time zone as your departing port) and the ports of call. 2. Pack light. I don't mean to not bring lots of things to wear but put it all in a small suitcase that you can carry. You will be able to get on and off the ship easier. You can always do a load of laundry on board. 3. If your on a budget, do the research before and reserve shore excursions online, not through Carnival. You could save 50%. 4. Get to the ship early. You will beat the lines and get to eat lunch on board. 5. Plan for lunch on excursion days. If you are at a tender port, take a snack so you can eat a late lunch when you get back to the ship. When at a docking pier, get back onboard for lunch. 6. Order more than one dish (starter, salad, or dessert) at dinner. 7. If you are a single couple, ask your travel agent or cruise booker to sit you at a larger table so you can meet other people. (unless you plan on talking only to each other for the entire week.) 8. Plan a 4-5 hour excursion as a maximum. You will have plenty of time if you get confused with the time change and you will still have time to walk around and see the port. 9. Take naps. After getting back from the shore excursion, take a nap before dinner. (especially if you have the late dinner) The main shows don't start till 10:30 and they often have comedy around midnight. 10. Know how much money it will cost. The ticket price is only one of many cost of cruising. Research on shore excursions: I had learned from reading other reviews that many of the excursions can be cheaper if you book them ahead instead of through Carnival. I found this to be true. I kept a copy of the excursion prices that Carnival offers so if anyone is interested in seeing it, email me. It is more research that you have to do at home and you need to make sure you have a copy of all the information with you. I've recommended some websites later in the information about each stop. The one very important piece of information if you are booking the excursions on your own is to know what time is local time for each stop! Once on board the ship, Carnival doesn't want to tell you what the local time is because they want you to book through them. The ship time is Tampa time but the stops were either an hour or two (depending on daylight savings time). This is important because if you book excursions outside of Carnival they tell you what time to meet, local time. Arriving at Tampa Port: We arrived at the pier by car as we were dropped off by family who lived near Tampa. Signs for Port of Tampa are clearly labeled and it was easy to find Terminal 2. (Leaving the pier was more difficult as the signs aren't as clearly labeled.) You can pay to park your car at the pier. I believe it is $84 or $94 for valet. Our tickets didn't come in the mail in time (they were waiting in the mailbox when we got home) but we had our email confirmation and there are plenty of people there to help. Its clearly stated with your ticket information but I'll stress this point&get to the terminal early!!! The ship doesn't leave until 4 pm but we got there around 1:30-2 pm and were able to beat the lines and we were able to get onboard the boat and get lunch. Getting on board the ship was very rushed but they know what they are doing so it was efficient. Luggage/Packing: We decided to only have carry on luggage and this was a great idea. This meant we had to be able to carry all of our bags and they were small, similar to carry-on for an airplane. The great thing about this was, we didn't have to pay for the porter to take our luggage (recommended $1 per bag) and we had our stuff with us when we got to our rooms. We could change into bathing suits or something different for dinner. Some people were told that they might not get their luggage to their rooms until 8 pm that night! Three pieces of luggage was never found on our trip so its also nice that you know it will not be lost. So if you can pack light, I would suggest carrying on your own luggage. Our Room: Since we are a young couple, we didn't have as much money to spend on the room so we decided to get a room with a window. We were on the lowest deck (Riviera). There are many balcony rooms on the Miracle and I think for the right price, it would be nice to have a balcony. Our biggest complain about the room is that the window does not open so you can't get fresh air. All the air conditioned air was giving us headaches by the end of the week. The room is a descent size and very efficient. We had a very comfortable queen size bed that was against the right wall and with about 2 feet off the wall on the side with the window and 3 feet at the foot of the bed to walk around the bed. There was a vinyl sofa that became a sofa bed adjacent to the bed. There was a vanity for putting on make up and a TV that swivels and a safe all in the same built in. The safe is free and you use an ID card of your own (ex. drivers license with a black bar code strip on the back) to lock & unlock the safe. The bathroom was also small but efficient. There is a single sink with lots of shelves. A toilet in one corner and stand up shower in the other. My boyfriend went to the gym and said the shower in the gym was great. So if you don't like the one in your room, go to the gym. The room dEcor was what we would describe as 70's but it was also a very comfortable room. Important things to know about the room: There is lots of closet space for hanging garments but only about 10 hangers. If you plan to hang more than 10 things, you might want to bring some hangers from home. There are also shelves and a few small drawers. The TV gets the main networks, ABC, NBC, CNN, FOX and TNT but local news cast are out of Denver, CO. They provide shampoo (Dove) and liquid soap (Lever 2000) in the shower. There is only one plug/outlet in the room. If you plan to have cell phones, curling iron, your own hair dryer (a small on is provided in the room) or other things to plug in, you might want to bring a three way plug splitter. Beach Towels: The ship provides beach towels, one for each person. You can take them to shore with you but if you leave them, you are charged for them. ($30ish) So use them but don't loose them. Cell phones: If you bring your own cell phone on board the ship, you will get a signal even when the ship is at sea. The crew doesn't know too much about how the cell phones work and can only tell you that you will be charged International rates. So depended on your plan, you might be able to use your own cell phone. We decided to turn them off to avoid anyone calling us and getting charged. Fire Drill: Around 4 pm, right when we were to set sail, we were require to participate in a fire drill. Everyone was told to go to their rooms and get their life jackets, then report to their Muster station (where you would get on a lifeboat). So don't plan to take a nap at this time. I'm sure it is a site to see for all those on shore at Tampa watching us line up as if we were getting onto lifeboats. Drinks: I believe you can buy a soda package for $40 per person. That would include all the soft drinks you want. As far as I know, there isn't a package for all you can drink alcoholic drinks. Each beer is sold separately or you can get 4 beers for $16 but don't quote me on that. If you are a light drinker and might want a couple drinks on board: buy the single bottles of hard liquor. You should be able to get by with them and if they confiscate them you will not be out much. Your ticket includes some drinks. Lemonade, water, coffee, tea, hot chocolate is available all day for free. They also have a juice machine which switches juices depending on the time of day. Orange juice available in the morning and it switches to fruit punch in the afternoon. They also have Apple all day. We bought some 20 oz. sodas when we were on shore and brought them back to our rooms to have when we wanted soda. Only water is free at dinner. Dinner: We chose to do the late dinner that started at 8:15 pm. I believe most couples do the late dinner and families with children do the early dinner at 6 pm. Dinner is a served three course meal with dessert which takes between 1 ½ hrs to 2 hours. They give you a menu with about 6 appetizers, 3 salads, 8 main dishes, & 4 desserts to choose from. You can order more than one of each. You can even tell them that you would like to order meat from one and the side from another. The service was wonderful and very professional. The only bad part was that they would interrupt your main course with loud announcements and then make the professional wait staff dance for you to really cheesy music. We sat at a big table with 4 other couples. Three of whom were newlyweds. At first it was hard because we had to small talk with people we were forced to eat with. By the end of the week, I was glad to have someone other than my boyfriend to talk to. We would also run into these couples on the ship and off so it was nice to make friends. One of the couples ordered a bottle of wine each and was able to keep the same bottle for the whole week and drink it at dinner. The waitress would store it and have it back on the table at the next dinner until the bottle was finished. This was much cheaper than ordering a new glass of wine each night. The decor of the dinner room was not our taste either. My boyfriend said it reminded him of Metroid (anyone know what he is talking about?) Fun Days at Sea: This trip has two Fun days at Sea, one of each end of the trip. Most people lounge around at the pool on the Lido deck and some of the sunny chairs get taken first. They also have a band play for entertainment. Carnival promotes their art auction heavily on these days. We weren't into the art and we found the activities on board to be a little cheesy. We slept in and took our time getting ready. Formal Nights: Being a first time cruiser, I was very surprised at formal night when I showed up in my sundress and everyone else was wearing ball gowns. Most of the girls looked like they were going to the prom or were in a wedding. I'm not sure how they packed a dress with crinlin and didn't get it wrinkled. Most guys were suits (not sports jackets) or tux. If you have something that you were wear to a wedding, that would get good. Sundresses look out of place but they will not turn you away. Laundry: About the third day, you get a flier about laundry. They will do your laundry for $15 a bag (no jeans, dresses or heavy garments). They forget to tell you that you can do your own laundry. There are four laundry rooms on the ship. They are small rooms with only 2 washers and 4 dryers. Look in the book provided in your room for locations. They are coin (quarters only) operated. $2 for wash, $2 for dry and $1 for detergent if you didn't bring your own. The washers are normal sized. You can get quarters from the Information Desk on Deck 2. You end up going through a lot of clothes and it was really nice to not come home with all dirty clothes. It would be a good idea to bring detergent for a single load. Sign & Sail Card: Upon board the ship, each person gets a room key. This key is very important because it is also the way you pay for things on board the ship. Instead of needing cash, you hand the cashier your card and it is charged to your account. When you board you are asked to link the Sign/Sail card with a credit card. The Sign/Sail card is also needed when going ashore at each stop. (You don't need your passport) They have added security where they take your picture upon boarding. When you disembark to go ashore, you swipe your card and they can match up the picture to the person. This way they can also tell who has left the ship and who has not made it back. Lunch: After we got back on ship, we could catch the end of lunch so we would plan to grab a snack (bananas from breakfast) to eat on shore and then eat a late lunch back on the ship. This worked perfectly since we had the late dinner. This also saved money because we had already paid for all the food on the ship and we didn't have to pay anything for lunch. One of our dinner couples thought they were getting a local experience by eating lunch on shore but most of the restaurants were so touristy that you couldn't getting authentic food so close to the pier. Shore excursions: (example) The ship lets you off at 8 am (ship time) but its only 7 am on shore. None of the stores are open. Then the ship leaves at 5 pm but you have to be back onboard at 4 pm and it takes 30 min to tender so the latest you can stay is 3:30 or 2:30 local time. You don't have as much time on shore as it appears. You must carefully plan your excursions within this time. If you book your tour through Carnival, they give you a time (ship time) and place to meet on the ship so you don't have to worry about what time is local time. Grand Cayman: The Cayman stop is a tender port (ship stops about ½ mile off shore and you take small boats to the shore). One of the most popular things to do here is to go to Stingray City (not a real city but a sand reef where you can swim with stingrays). Even with Steve Irwin still fresh in our minds, many people were okay with swimming with them. The boat guides teach you how to avoid getting hurt and the stingrays are used to people. We booked a Stingray tour through Moby Dicks tours. www.mobydicktours.com. We would recommend this company because it was very professional and a good price for the money. Our only comments are that the bathroom on the boat was gross and that they say they include punch and water but it was a 2 gallon container with 6 oz. Dixie cups to drink out of. No personal can or bottle. It was $35 per person. You can sign up on the website and pay (cash) when you arrive. All the tours that take you to Stingray city are the same and you aren't going to see anything different if you book this through the cruise. The price if you book it through Carnival is about $60. The best part about not book with Carnival was that our group was small and we could get personal attention with the guides. The carnival tours would pack twice as many people on to the same sized boat. At the pier there are many people holding signs with the company or tour names so it was easy to find them. You could also book a tour when you walked off the tender boat but you might pay a little more. The Moby Dick tour would be $40 if you didn't have any online reservation. Our tour also took us to a reef where we could snorkel without the stingrays. They take you to and fro the dock in an AC van and on the way back, you could asked to be dropped off at 7 Mile Beach. 7 Mile Beach is the closest beach from the pier and you can get a taxi for a few dollars back to the pier. If you have your own snorkel, you can snorkel right from the beach. At the pier there are many shops to walk around to. Most of them open at 8 am local time so if you want to do shopping, don't get there until 9 am ship time. The most popular shop to go into is a Tortuga Rum shop. They have rum cakes and rum to sample. If you buy liquor, make sure you are allowed to bring it all back by customs. There are a couple of their shops in Georgetown so you don't have to go to their factory if you just want to buy the cakes and rum. The rum cakes (small cake for $5) are great souvenirs and favor gifts, say for the person who dropped you off at the airport/pier. Tendering on the way back is very crowded. Carnival has an x-ray machine for all your bags so the line to get back onboard backs up. Other information: Close to the pier there is a shop where you can rent scooters. There are public bathrooms at the pier. $1 (US) = #1.25 (C.I.) Most stores close to the pier take US money but some might give you back C.I. money in change. Cozumel, Mexico: Cozumel is a walk off pier so no tender boats. It makes is really easy to get back on the ship for lunch and back off again for the afternoon. There are many Mexican shops at the pier where you can get the typical souvenirs. Unless you want a bigger variety of the same Mexican souvenirs, you don't have to go to San Miguel (downtown). The Mexican shop employees are very push and harassing to try to get you into their shop. If you want to buy things here, haggle with them for the best price. You might also find better prices in San Miguel than the pier. It is a $6 cab ride from the pier to San Miguel and they have taxis waiting at the pier and the price clearly posted. Stay on the main street in San Miguel because it gets very rough just one block back. In the afternoon we went to Paradise Beach. From the pier it is about $15 ($18 from downtown). There isn't much to do in Cozumel but the beaches and this one was a free beach with lots of activities. It has a trampoline in the water and a iceberg inflatable climbing wall also in the water. The chairs were free and you can buy drinks and be served at your chair. You could also pay a small price ($8) to get unlimited use of rafts, snorkel equipment, and life jackets for the kids. They have wave runners you could rent. They have showers and bathrooms and taxis are always there ready to take you anywhere. We had planned to do a excursion on a catamaran but our reservation got messed up. I would recommend planning to do an excursion here. There aren't people here waiting with signs for tours you can book off the pier. Book tours ahead of time either through a website at home or through Carnival. Mexican souvenirs: The most of the same souvenirs can be found at both Cozumel and Costa Maya. Costa Maya does have silver that Cozumel doesn't. If you are trying to find something different than their typical souvenirs, your going to be out of luck. We were trying to find chocolates to bring back for our office and couldn't find them anywhere. Belize City, Belize: Belize is a tender port and they have small fast boats to get you back and forth. Belize is 2 hours different (check on daylight savings time) than our ship time so we were really early for our tour. The pier had many shops so that's what we did while waiting for our tour. These aren't like the Mexican hagglers. You could also find other souvenirs here. They have some shops that are more like gift shops that are very different from the tacky Mexican shops. We booked a tour to the Altun Ha Mayan ruins through X-stream tours at www.belizecruiseexcursions.com. They were at the pier with signs with their company name so they were easy to find. This company makes you put down 20% with a credit card online. If your ship doesn't come to port it is refundable. But if you miss the time, you are at fault and they will keep your money. Make sure you have all your paperwork with you. You pay the rest in cash when you sign in. The company was very professional but we didn't like putting down 20% deposit. (We used the same company to book a tour in Cozumel and they gave us the wrong time to meet the tour. They said 12:30 AM!...They also were not waiting at the pier and we had to find our way down to another pier. We ended up missing the tour. Just be careful with the 20% down rule.) Our tour to Altun Ha started at the pier. There were 9 of us who got into a 15 person AC van. Our driver was the tour guide and he was excellent. He talked as he drove downtown and pointed out different buildings, plants and other points of interest. It was a great way to see the city and to understand what it is like to live there. They speak English in Belize as they were once a English territory. The road to Altun Ha was really bumpy so don't set in the back if you get car sick. The ruins were really great. I haven't been other any other ruins but we thought this was a great site. They had some ruins that were excavated and some that were still mounds of dirt. We were able to climb up the biggest ruin. Our guide was really knowledgeable about the site and was able to answer any questions we had. Just outside of the ruin gate were small shops where we could buy souvenirs. The prices were cheaper here than at the pier. On the way back, we drove through downtown Belize where were could see where the locals shop. We wish we had saved more time at the end of our tour to walk back to the shopping area. It was only about 4 blocks away from the pier. I highly recommend booking this tour with a smaller local company rather than with Carnival. Carnival put 40-50 people on one bus with one guide. We got personal attention with our small 9 person group. The tours went to the same places but we paid less. We really liked Belize because it is a city and you could get somewhat away from the tourism. If you are not interested in the ruin tour, cave tubing is the other popular thing to do here. I believe that the same website listed above also does the cave tubing tour. Costa Maya, Mexico: Costa Maya is a pier where you can walk off the boat. Costa Maya is different than the other stops because it is very new. The pier was built, we assume by Carnival, only 6 years ago. There was nothing there before the pier. Everything at this stop is new and is geared towards the cruise ships. There aren't any close cities that you could make it to in the time you have. What they call The Village is Majahaul, which is a $3 taxi ride from the pier, is a bunch of souvenir shops along the beach. This is where to go if you want a 30 min massage for $20 along the beach or 6 beers for $8 as you sit on the beach. Keep in mind that this is not your typical massage salon in the states. The massage place in two tables with towels on them under and tent with 2 Mexican ladies. It's a good deal if you want a massage for cheap by the beach. The cheaper deals on souvenirs (especially the silver) is at the village. Back at the shops at the pier, they were quoting me over $100 dollars on a bracelet that I got a quote for at the village for $30. If you don't want to go to the village, there is plenty of the same thing to do at the pier. There are at least 2 salt water swimming pools, one with a bar, plenty of restaurants with good drink deals, and souvenir shops. We came back from the village with an hour or two to spare so we hung around the pier and realized that most people had stayed at the pier and got started early on the drinking. It was like Spring Break! There were drunk girls in bathing suits dancing with grandpa aged men up on top of the bar for everyone to see. There were some excursions at Costa Maya that you could sign up for. We got off the ship early in the morning and went to a small booth (blue butterfly is their logo) where we signed up for a hour long snorkel tour for only $10 + $5 for the taxi ride ($30 total for two of us). The taxi took us to Tequila Beach where there is a small dock. You could go to Tequila Beach on your own if you want a place to relax on the beach with a chair and get drinks served to you. They have showers and plenty of taxis to take you back to the pier. At Tequila Beach we met up with the boat captain, our tour guide and a local girl who took our pictures as we snorkeled. Since it was only 9 am, we were the only ones on the tour. So we had a private tour and all the pictures were taken of us. It was a great snorkel tour. We saw spotted stingrays and lots of coral. They even had sodas (cans) or bottled water for us. They had the pictures for sale which they put on a CD for us to take home. After snorkeling, we got back on the ship to take showers and to get lunch before heading back out. Costa Maya is a nice stop if you plan to relax on the beach and get a cold drink. Disembarking: If you can carry all your own luggage, you can get off the ship easier. If you have to check your luggage, you are asked to leave it outside your door the night before. Make sure to bring an overnight bag to put a fresh change of clothes and all your toiletries. This you will have to carry. There are videos that play on your cabin TV that explain disembarking. It is helpful in filling out customs forms which everyone must do. They inform you of how many cartons of cigarettes and how many liters of alcohol you are allowed to bring back. I believe it was one per person for each so don't buy too much on shore. You aren't allowed to bring fruit back either. So don't grab a banana at breakfast for a snack on your ride home. There are two different times that you can get off the ship. The earlier one is for anyone who is carrying their own luggage and didn't check any. If you have an early flight (before 12:30) and you need to check you bags, you can go to the Information desk Saturday to get special tags for your bags. These people can get off early too. Everyone else waits until the early people finish getting off. I don't know how long they had to wait because we carried our own bags. Getting through the terminal was a little confusing but quick. (don't wait in line for the elevator, take the escalator) The custom guy took our custom form and since we didn't had cigarettes or alcohol, we were waved through with no problems. We met up with our family waiting in a coffee shop next door. They had no problems parking at a meter on the street but they were really early. Extra Charges: Your Sign & Sail card is linked to one of your credit cards because Carnival will charge $10 per person per day for tips for your room steward, dinner server and extra services. You can go to the Information Desk if you would like to adjust this charges but this are recommended and it is easier than leaving cash in envelopes. So buying the ticket is the first cost there are many to consider when deciding the budget for a cruise. Expenses Total: Ticket: Depends on the room, time of year, length of travel: Can range between $300 (interior) and $700 (balcony) per person for the 7 night Miracle Soda package: $40 per person Air/Car/Hotel Travel: How are you getting to the port, do you have to stay overnight anywhere? Parking: $12 per day Souvenirs: depends on if you like their souvenirs Shore Excursions: depends on the activity: $40-$60 per person per stop Tips: $10 per person per day Meals off the ship: (can be zero) Gambling: (there is a casino on the ship (very smoky) Drinks on the ship: about $6/7 per drink Drinks on shore: cheaper Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
10/29-11/5 on Carnival Miracle Pre-Cruise: Stayed at the Woodfin/Chase Suites in Tampa. We drove down to Tampa from the St Louis, MO area so appreciated the free parking and port shuttle service that the hotel offered with the stay. Found ... Read More
10/29-11/5 on Carnival Miracle Pre-Cruise: Stayed at the Woodfin/Chase Suites in Tampa. We drove down to Tampa from the St Louis, MO area so appreciated the free parking and port shuttle service that the hotel offered with the stay. Found the rooms to be nice and neighborhood very pleasant with lots of good restaurants located nearby. Stay was certainly VERY affordable with all the amenities offered (i.e. free breakfast, free parking, free shuttle) Embarkation: VERY painless. Showed up at The Tampa Port at 11:30 and was on the boat but 12:15 was in our stateroom by 1:30pm. Stateroom: First impression of the room; layout was nice and had more room than we were expecting. LOTS of storage space for bags and suitcases. DW was disappointed with the view or lack there of. We had requested an ocean view room and received a room with a view of a lifeboat (room 4136 5A class). I saw the positive of at least we had a door that opened to allow fresh air in that we wouldn't have received with a normal ocean view stateroom. Beds are NOT as comfortable as many on the board have described as the most comfortable beds in the cruise industry. Personally found them much too firm for our liking, but after an endless night on the fun ship we found that it really didn't matter because we passed out without any problems for our normal 7-8 hours of sleep each night. Sheets are sheets, so I don't judge our sleeping comfort on thread count. The ship: Pretty easy to make your way around. No awkward spaces to have to negotiate around to get from one end to the other. One complaint: were the areas they chose to set up photo stations for dinning area. They would set up in the atrium area to do the photo each night for the dinning room attendees. If you had a table on the lower level you would have to cut through the photo takers area to get past the staircase to the dinning room. We finally figured out three days in, that to avoid this we would just come down to level 3 and proceed to the back of the boat and come down the last set of stairs to avoid that area all together. Casino: Yep, they still know how to take your money Dealers at the table very personable whether you were winning or losing. Didn't find it overly smoky as most people have complained about. Guess it just depends if you are allergic or overly sensitive to cigarette smoke that determines if this area is too smoky. Seemed pretty well ventilated, but some smoker would put ashes were they shouldn't be (i.e. Too lazy to get up to grab an ashtray so used the coin hopper in the slot machines as an ashtray.) Bars: yep, they know how to put liquor in your cup to get you a pretty good bang for your buck. As a former bartender, I can admit they mix a stiff drink. Did find that most of the bartenders lacked personality and did not make small talk or joke around with passengers. Food: Ok here's where the downfall comes in my book. Buffet is a buffet and won't base my overall impression of their food on this area. I will say that the buffet had a wide variety of food both good and bad. I really enjoyed the Asian section and my wife enjoyed The Grill as well as the carving stations. Yes, the Carnival Grill makes an excellent Rueben sandwich. Bacchus dining room- our server not so good, but her assistant was great. Found the quality of food to be warm and edible but extremely uncreative. Lobster was good and not rubbery or overcooked that would have been expected on a mass cruise liner. Had two of them and enjoyed both. Steaks were cooked as ordered, not tough, and actually quite tender. The shrimp cocktail was contained VERY small shrimp&no problem order two orders. Salads were BASIC either simple iceberg or caesar salads each night. Lobster bisque HORRIBLE, navy bean soup WONDERFUL, Corn Chowder WATERY, basically very inconsistent on quality. I could write it off as just not my taste, but these are items I really like and the Carnival kitchen fell very short on some of the items. Desserts, VERY basic. The apple tart was like three graham crackers shoved together with one layer of canned apple pie filling and another layer of whipped cream. The cappuccino ice cream pie was served SOLID frozen, like a solid block that couldn't be eaten we actually broke a fork and bent a spoon trying to eat it. I generally try to order items out of the ordinary to try something new, but found Carnival's menu each night to be pretty common with only the ordinary chicken breast, red meat selection, and a broiled fish dish offered. DW ordered a roasted chicken dish that was pretty good, as stated before steaks were good, game hen was good, didn't try the veal for moral reasons. Good food but basic. We did do a apples to apples experiment. Ordered Filet mignon in Bacchus on Wednesday night then ordered the same thing at Nick and Nora's (supper club) on Thursday. Very consistent to the regular dining room meal only difference was the filet was butterfly cut and cook at Nick and Nora's. Was the dinning experience worth the $30 surcharge? Yes, because we didn't have to deal with the crazy announcements and show in the dinning room, but food was on par with the included dinning room. Gala Buffet is a joke compared to the one we experienced on Celebrity. Dress in the dinning room: Before leaving on the cruise I contemplated not going ultra formal (just shirt and tie instead of full on suit or tux). As a result, I decided to go the dark suit route for the formal nights but probably just should have left it at home. All kinds of dress were allowed, to my surprise, in the dinning room. Everything from t-shirts & jeans to khakis & polos. There were a large majority in ties and some in tuxes, but the ultra casuals outweighed the ultra formal (tuxes). Did it ruin our dinning experience, no but if a ship is going to have a formal night at least enforce the dress code on that night and throw out the codes on the others. Passenger: Very diverse range of ages and social makeup. Everything from rednecks to ghetto trash to uppity wealth and old and young. Everyone was very nice and didn't observe any problem passengers. Really good makeup of people if you ask me, Ports: Tendered to Cayman. Rained, but still went to Stingray city. We did an independent tour taking wave runners out to the island instead of one the large overcrowded boats. Found that we received a better guide and more supervision as well as being able to beat most of those boats out there and spent more time on the sandbar. Observed that most of boat passengers were very unsupervised, and out guide actually scolded a few of those people for trying to grab the stingrays by their tales to bring them up to the surface for pictures don't grab their tales, that's how you get hurt he kept telling them. It was a great time, but doing wave runners in the rain, not so good. I'll tell you, with the rain coming down its like riding a motorcycle in a hail storm, it hurts. Did Senor Frogs in port as well as some other shopping&.beware Cayman is expensive. Cozumel- Docked at the pier and grabbed a taxi to Paradise Beach ($13 each way). Weather was overcast but did have some sun break through the clouds at times. AWESOME FOOD and LOTS OF DRINKS. Everyone on staff was super nice and found the beach & property (including restrooms) VERY clean. Grabbing a taxi back to port very easy. Proceeded to Carlos & Charlie's for some more drinks and food. PARTY PARTY PARTY!!!!! Belize: Did the Sgt Cay's Snorkel excursion through Carnival. I am so glad we chose to do this activity. They pick you up at the boat to tender to their facility. Super nice guides and they keep the groups pretty small to make sure everyone is safe and supervised. All the guides were very nice, spoke excellent English, and very informative. Unfortunately it was raining so not a lot of sunlight to penetrate the water to see the entire living reef. Out guide did dive down to bring some things to the surface to see better (brittle stars, conchs, sea cucumber, and a lobster). Did see some very colorful fish as well as lots of coral growth. The tender back to the ship was the adventure. The weather had taken a turn for the worse so VERY high waves and lots of rain. It took several attempts to actually tie the tender up to the ship. After about 15 mins they were able to tie us up. We decided not to take the tender to Belize City to do the port shopping due to the weather issues and not having to relive the tender adventure. Costa Maya: The decided not to dock or make this port because of high winds and waves. Received a $25 dollar credit for missing the port. Ironically enough 2 hours later, people were up sunning on the deck because of the great sunshine and clear weather. Would have rather had the captain sit off shore for a couple hours, then dock, and just have less time in port, but understand that the captain has to think about safety first. Was really looking forward to this port because this is supposed to be the shopping port for all the good buys. Debarkation: Did the self assist and was off the boat in no time flat. Left the stateroom at 8am and was off, through customs, in a cab, and back at the hotel by 8:30am Ended up taking a cab back to the hotel instead of waiting for the hotel shuttle. We had a long drive ahead of us so we did the self assist getting off the boat and the cab ride cost us $30 including tip back to the hotel. In reality we probably only shaved 30 mins off our departure time by doing this. When we pulled into the hotel lot, the shuttle had just left for the pier. Overall: comparing Carnival to Celebrity is like comparing apples to oranges. Celebrity caters to more uppity clientele but has better food and more personable staff, but Carnival offers a more laid back atmosphere and more bang for your buck. I would be willing to give Carnival another chance simply because it was less expensive and could afford to take more cruises each year. Read Less
Sail Date October 2006
My husband and I went on a Carnival Cruise for our honeymoon. We left out of Tampa on Sunday afternoon the day after our wedding. Embarkation was very quick and easy and it only took us about an hour before we were on the ship. We arrived ... Read More
My husband and I went on a Carnival Cruise for our honeymoon. We left out of Tampa on Sunday afternoon the day after our wedding. Embarkation was very quick and easy and it only took us about an hour before we were on the ship. We arrived at the port a little early to avoid all the crowds. Our cabin was not ready until 1:30 and our bags were not there until later that night, about 8:00 or so. We ate first thing and then watched the ship leave port. We went back to our room for a while and relaxed and for the first night we explored the ship. The next day was a day at sea and we got up about 10 to eat breakfast. Breakfast was served until 12 noon so there was no problem if you woke up a little bit late. There were quite a few different selections for food. We liked the Make your own Omelet the rest of the food was pretty good. Things like pancakes, eggs, and sausage. But it was mostly the same thing on the breakfast menu every single day so we did get a little tired of it. Lunch had some variation to it, there was normally something a little different every day and some new interesting things to try. There always had hamburgers and hot dogs available for lunch and sandwiches if we could not really decide what we wanted. Dinner was nice every night, the food was more to look at rather than for taste, but there were a few good items on the menu. One thing I would suggest is buying a soda card though because if you don't all that you have to drink is water, tea, fruit punch, or lemonade. Those selections do get kind of old after drinking them for 7 days. Our waitress was excellent and always tried to get us what ever we wanted. If she could not get it for us, she always tried to suggest different things for us to try. The first day was a day at sea and we wanted to go to the pool, but there were no chairs at all, and it was very crowded. We were surprised how small the pools were, and there was not much room in them. People were almost sitting on top of each other trying to get into the pool. The hot tub was nice, we went to the one that closed at midnight and there was not very many people in that one so we relaxed in it one night. The shore excursions were nice. The first day we snorkeled with the sting rays and went to see the turtle farm. One day we set aside for just shopping so we could get our family some nice keep sakes. One thing we were disappointed with was the Cave Tubing tire. We had heard such wonderful things about it, but our tire guide was not very good at all. She stayed on her cell phone the whole time was very rude. It seemed like we hiked for ever and the guide did not wait on us we had to catch up by ourselves. We finally got to the river and started to tube down and I lost two of my cameras that had most of my pictures from the trip. There were quite a few people who lost their cameras and were very angry because there was nothing anyone could do about it. We expected to have been tied together so we would all stay in one group but we had to paddle ourselves. It made it so hard for my husband and I to stay together we were trying to paddle with one hand and hold on to each other with the other had so we were running into sharp rocks on the sides of the cave. It was beautiful, but we wish it would have been much more organized. We even got yelled at for having a hard time keeping up with everyone else. But none of us really knew how to steer correctly so it was not exactly easy for us. So needless to say we were a little disappointed with this tire. The best time we had was snorkeling in our last port of call. Everyone was so nice and our guide showed us all kinds of cool things to look at under the water. All kinds of cool fish and shells, it was really nice. One thing we really liked was room service. It was no extra charge so if we got hungry at night we just ordered off the menu and had it delivered to our room. Our room Stewart was awesome and every time we left our Make my room sign out side the door by the time we got back he was already spotless in our room. That was nice. Over all we had a very good time but next time I think we would take a shorter cruise. We got back the next Sunday and we did self check out so we carried all of our bags. That way we got off the ship very quickly. It took us maybe an hour we were off the ship by a little after 8:30 am. Read Less
Sail Date September 2006
Background Info My nephew graduated from college this year, and this cruise was his graduation gift. I had been to the Eastern Caribbean several times, so I wanted to do the Western Caribbean this year. I chose four cruises that looked ... Read More
Background Info My nephew graduated from college this year, and this cruise was his graduation gift. I had been to the Eastern Caribbean several times, so I wanted to do the Western Caribbean this year. I chose four cruises that looked interesting (two Royal Caribbean and two Carnival), and he choose the itinerary he wanted. I had never been on Carnival before, but I had heard that it is great for young adults - he is 22 and looking for people to party with. I am 39, and not so much into the bar scene. Getting to the Port/Embarkation My travel agent recommended buying the transfer voucher to the port from the airport. At $18 per person, it was probably more expensive than taking a cab, but I think the ease of it made it worth it. We arrived in Miami at 1130AM. As we went to pick up our bags, someone wearing Carnival colors (red, white, and blue) came by and called our name. She pointed us toward the bus, the driver put our bags on, and we sat in air-conditioned comfort until they finished loading. After a 20-minute bus ride, we were at the port. The driver showed us which door to enter, and we went straight to the desk to check in. We had already filled out the on line form, so it took all of five minutes. She gave us a number (group 4), and showed us where to wait to board the boat. They were boarding people from group 2, so we waited about 20 minutes. When they called our group, it took about 10 more minutes for each person to stop and have a picture taken (so we could get on and off the boat), and then we were on the ship! The Ship The Miracle truly is the ugliest cruise ship I have ever been on. The Bacchus dining room is just as hideous as people have said, and the Mad Hatter room was a little freaky. By the second day, however, part of the fun was talking about the ugly ship. There were some nice spots. If you like quiet, Gatsby's Garden was a great place to read a book and look out at the ocean. The Cabin The cabin was larger than I had expected from my other cruises. There was plenty of room for all of our clothes, and our luggage fit under the bed. The basket of toiletries was a nice touch, as were the bathrobes. I chose a cabin with a balcony, and we each spent plenty of time out there just relaxing and enjoying the view. Shore Excursions We never got around to signing up before we left, so we went to the shore excursion desk as soon as we got on the ship. There was no line, as opposed to a couple of hours later when the line had at least 50 people. I know lots of people book their excursions outside of the ship, but I'm a control freak - I like to be absolutely sure the ship will wait for me if my excursion runs over. If you book through the ship, it's guaranteed. Grand Cayman We did the Stingray City and snorkel tour, mainly because I'm a little freaked out by stingrays and I wanted something to do in case I was too afraid to get off the boat at Stingray City. The stingrays were actually very cool, and I even have a picture of me holding one (it feels like a wet mushroom). The snorkeling was a bit of a disappointment. I had heard that Grand Cayman is a great place for snorkeling, but there were just a few tiny coral groups on a sandbar. I heard from others on the ship that the snorkeling was great, so I think it was just the tour we went on. Cozumel We didn't do a shore excursion, just shopping then on to a beach. The shops downtown were very nice, and my nephew got a couple of great deals on rum and tequila. The beach was all right, but it was obvious there was still lots of hurricane damage - despite that the people we encountered were very friendly. Except, that is, for the taxi drivers. When it was time to go back to the ship, the cabs charged double the price we paid going out to the beach. They knew we had no choice but to pay, if we wanted to get back to the ship. Next time, if I go to the beach, I will probably go through the ship's shore excursions. It probably costs about the same, and would have been a lot less hassle. Belize This was definitely my favorite stop. We chose one of the snorkeling tours, and it was amazing. We got on the boat directly from the ship, and it took us to a tiny island surrounded by coral. We could snorkel from either the boat or from the shore. The coral was beautiful, and there were so many different kinds of fish that we each ran out of film in about ten minutes. Costa Maya We went to Chacchoben, which is a partially excavated ruin in the middle of a rainforest. According to our tour guide, this ruin had been built 3000 years BC. It was amazing to think about the history of such an old civilization. One thing, though, if you go on an excursion into a rain forest, PLEASE expect rain. It rained a good portion of the time we were there, and several people whined so much that they cut the tour short. The Staff/Entertainment Our cabin steward was wonderful. He knew are names on the first day, and he went out of his way to make our stay enjoyable. He kept the cabin in great shape (despite the fact that my nephew is a bit of a slob), and he left silly towel animals every night. Our dining staff was also excellent. Our server was very helpful. She was always able to tell me which dishes were especially good. It made it easy to follow my rule of trying something new each day. Overall I was impressed with the attitudes of the people I encountered - imagine being away from family and home for 6-9 months and working 6 days/week. My only problem was with the Cruise Director and his staff. I admit I love the silly games usually played on cruises. I like to go to line dancing classes, play trivia games, play Pictionary - stuff I don't usually do at home. The only line dancing class they had the entire week lasted less than ten minutes. We learned a few steps, and did half of a song (my nephew came ten minutes late, and I had already been sitting for a couple of minutes). The shows were enjoyable. I especially liked Ticket to Ride. The comedians were hilarious (especially the adult only shows), while the hypnotist was adequate. Disembarkation This was the easiest of any cruise line I've been on. We put our bags out the night before, went to breakfast on Saturday, and relaxed until it was time to leave. Our bags were easy to find, a short line through customs, and are vacation was over. Read Less
Sail Date July 2006
Background Info My mom, dad, sister and me. We are from Charlotte, NC, and this will be our 4th cruise. And it just so happened that my birthday was going to be on the cruise as well. I turned 23 on June 7th. About 1 month before the ... Read More
Background Info My mom, dad, sister and me. We are from Charlotte, NC, and this will be our 4th cruise. And it just so happened that my birthday was going to be on the cruise as well. I turned 23 on June 7th. About 1 month before the cruise, my sister (14) said she didn't want to go anymore because she didn't want to leave her boyfriend and friends for a week. But luckily we all talked some sense into her (more on that later). Now in my defense, I was on vacation and don't usually drink this much anymore (college days are over) so don't think I'm one of those loud party animals on the ship! Saturday Woke up about 6:30, I just couldn't sleep, I was too excited plus I wasn't completely finished packing. We left home at about 8:30. The drive wasn't that bad, it didn't seem like 8 hours but we arrived in Tampa at about 5:30. Not bad. We checked into our hotel, the Best Western, and went by Walmart to pick up some little things we forgot at home. Went to sleep around 9. Woo hoo, crazy Saturday night, huh?! Sunday Finally! woke up at 8:30 and got ready. Stopped for some breakfast and arrived at the port at 12. We had been on a cruise from Tampa in 2004 so we knew what to expect from the Tampa port. There wasn't a line, very shocking, walked straight through the metal detectors and up to check in. We were in group 20 to board the ship and they had just called group 17. 15 minutes later we were walking on the boat. The Miracle is themed after fictional characters. The Atrium was supposed to be superman metropolis, but it looked nothing like superman to me, but it was still very pretty and colorful. Lots of pinks and blues; I liked it a lot. We weren't allowed to go to our rooms until 1:30 because they were still cleaning. So we went up to the Lido deck. We ate at Horatios, themed after a british naval officer. It was mostly red, gold and white. and I grabbed my first daily ship drink special - the FUNSHIP, it was a rum, vodka, brandy, STRONG fruity concoction! - then we walked around the boat. It's a huge ship. We went to the Phantom Lounge, themed after the Phantom of the Opera. Again mostly red, gold and white, very pretty. Kids don't look at the ceiling - there's nudity. Next on to the Mad Hatters Lounge based on Alice in Wonderland. Lots of red hearts. Gatsby's Garden - based on the Great Gatsby. It's just a pretty walkway to the arcade. Lots of Ivy and white picket fences. Mr. Lucky's casino, again don't look at the ceiling, but kids shouldn't be in the casino anyway! Bacchus Dining room -- the Greek God of wine. Oh, those infamous pink grapes, man they're all over the place, but you get used to them. Grabbed another Funship drink. I went back to the same bartender, his name was Ming from Indonesia. He quickly became my favorite bartender, he was so nice. My luggage arrived at the room about that time so I unpacked. Then I went back up for another drink. Yes, 3 of these strong drinks and I was drunk before the boat even left port! What a way to start the vacation! The boat set sail at 4 and I watched the boat sail away. Bye bye, real world! I needed a nap, so I slept until it was time for the ship to pass under the Skyway bridge. I walked up to the very top deck and the tail funnel barely passed under it - a must see moment. This is when I met my main friends for the cruise, 6 guys that had just graduated from West Virginia. Hello Craig, Sexton, Rob, Gertler, Haner and Whitie! Then it was time to get ready for dinner. Our waitress was Romona from (you guessed it) Romainia. She wasn't as super friendly as all the other crew members, but she wasn't mean. She didn't have good bedside manners, I guess that's what you would call it. This was the only dinner my sister came with us to (more on that later). I skipped the appetizers and salad and had 2 main course dishes. Herb Chicken and a Sirloin Steak with a peppercorn sauce - yum! After dinner, my mom and I went to the welcome aboard show (it was entertaining) and my dad went to the casino. After the show I headed to the dance club and met up with the guys, more drinking. Security is tough on this boat! I got carded 4 times while in the club!! That's not including carding for getting in the room or by the bartender! I know I look young, but hey security is a good thing. Sorry, kids. Monday Day at Sea. Woke up around 8:30, ate breakfast and then laid out by the pool with my family. My sister is against getting a tan, so she hung out with the friends she made. I ate lunch quickly (today's buffet theme was Caribbean food) and headed back out the the sun and I had a Miami Vice. Well, I got my belly full and had a nice buzz, so I passed out. Two hours later I woke up sweating like a cow and my family was gone. I just knew I was sun burnt. I stopped by for some pre-dinner sushi, yum! May be the best sushi ever! Then I got ready for dinner. I was a little red, but nothing painful. Thank God I was tan before the cruise or I would have been fried! Tonight was the first formal night, I wore a strapless aqua blue sparkley dress. Pretty. My sister wanted to hang out with her friends, so she didn't dress up or go to dinner. So me and my family got all dolled up, stopped by all the photo stations and went to dinner. I had 2 appetizers - minestrone soup (delicious) and pumpkin soup (good). Then I had prime rib w/au jus. yum. Me and my mom went to the R rated comedian show. Tom Willkins...or Will Tompkins??? He was hilarious, I was in tears! I'm gonna see if he was a dvd or something. By that time it was 1:30 and I was tired from partying the day before. Off too bed. Tuesday Grand Cayman. Today our shore excursion was swimming with sting rays at 10:30. I'd been to Grand Cayman in 2004 and LOVED it, so I was excited to go back. The Disney Magic was parked beside us. We took a 5 minute tender to the island, met our group right there at the dock and got on a bus to take us to the the other side of the island. Then, we got on to a little boat and took a 30 min. boat ride out to the middle of the ocean (a little spooky) where there was a sandbar that the sting rays hung out at. I hopped into the water. These things were huge, and bumped right into you. It was creepy at first, and they felt slippery and weird. There were huge dark clouds headed our way and pretty soon it was raining. I was already wet so who cares, but it was a little cold. We stayed there for another 45 mins. When I got back on the cruise I ate (mexican buffet day) and laid out, watched the boat sail away. Stopped for sushi. Tonight there was a party for past cruisers with FREE DRINKS. I sat down and here comes Ming with a tray full of drinks. He sets the whole tray down at my table! 2 whiskey sours, 2 screwdrivers, 2 rum punches, 2 hurricanes. Well, 6 drinks later, I couldn't see straight and everyone walking by was amused by the tray of drinks I got, probably just wondering how a little 100 lb girl sucked down all those drinks. For dinner, I had jerked pork loin, it was spicy, spicier than jerked normally is. After dinner, I headed to the club - still tipsy - met up with my friends and did hots at midnight for my bday! MY BIRTHDAY - Wednesday Cozumel - All inclusive beach- FREE DRINKS. Wow, is Cozumel damaged from Hurricane Rita last year! I had also been here in 2004. The pier is wiped away. The shops are still there and look great, but I can't believe the pier was completely destroyed. So we had to take a 5 min tender to the island. There were 3 other ships there - Carnival Holiday, RC Enchantment and Disney Magic. Mostly all the trees are gone, but the beach was still great. I started of with a Strawberry Margarita, then a Sex on the Beach, then a Miami Vice, then a Rum Runner, then 2 Coronas. In between, I had some authentic mexican chicken quesadillas - great! It was fun because everyone on that beach was drunk, except for the kids. Then I had a Corona to go. I love Mexico, and drinking in public. Back on the boat - more drinks, met up with the guys. By the time dinner came around, I was a little sobered up. I had Wonton soup, tomato soup, and Filet Mignon. Then here comes the singing and clapping and my bday cake! Yeah! Well after dinner I needed just a little nap, but I didn't wake up til the next morning. I was out. I was sad that I passed out on my bday, but I guess that means I had a good day? Right? Thursday Belize - Zoo. The ship had to stop really far away from the island as to not damage the coral reefs, so it was about a 15 min tender ride. I had never been to Belize, but I did my research and I knew that it was mostly rain forest and a 3rd world country. I figured it was a little more poor than the other islands. Well, we got off the boat and took a bus to the zoo, but we did a city tour on the way and a tour guide told us a little about the country. Wow! I had never seen poor like this before. They make our ghettos look luxurious, no lie. We drove past the Prime Minister's house which was in the upscale part. It was regular 2 story house (well, the first floor was a just a car port because it floods a lot) so the ruler of this country has the same sized house as me - no "white house" here. But the tour guide said if you never had it, then you don't miss it, so then don't dream of being rich. Hmmm, something we should think about. The zoo was in the middle of the forest. I had my bug spray on and was ready to go. The zoo didn't have elephants or giraffes, just Belize native animals - jaguars, other small wild cats, monkeys, and mosquitos! My bug spray did not repel those demons! I got about 5 bites. I guess it would have been worse without the spray. The bites still itch today, a week later! The zoo was interesting though. Back to the ship and sushi. For dinner, I had Lobster Bisque soup and Beef Wellington Sirloin (not very good). Then I met up with the guys - we meant to go to karaoke, but we ended up at a R rated hypnotist show...what??!!!! The show was very R rated! To end to show, the guys were told they were in the Full Monty strip club...one guy was about to take his boxers off when the hypnotist ran over and stopped him. I don't know if I believe in hypnotism or not, but these people were acting pretty weird. Who knows? Too risque for me. Friday Costa Maya, Mexico - another all inclusive beach. FREE DRINKS. I'd never been here either. This was our only stop that had a pier so no tender boats, yeah! This beach was beautiful! One of my top beaches. 2004 -- Grand Cayman, 2005 --Aruba, 2006 -- Costa Maya. This time my sister stayed on the boat. They had the BEST margaritas! So I drank those all day. My mom doesn't drink much but she did have a couple margaritas because they were so good. I did have a Mexican Sol XXX beer I think is what it's called, it was good. I held an iguana, it was almost bigger than me, got a good photo I hope. Everyone in Costa Maya is really nice. Back on the boat again drunk. Got ready for dinner and it was formal night again. But then my dad came to my room and said my mom had a hangover from today, and that we weren't gonna go to dinner. So I went to bed, but this time I made sure I set an alarm. So we didn't get dressed up - oh well. Woke up and the boat was rocking really bad. Turns out that we hit that tropical depression (before it was Alberto). The winds were crazy outside, I think I heard the winds were around 80 mph. They had to block off all the top deck so the highest deck you could go to was the Lido deck. The waves we were hitting were huge. I had never been on a boat this rocky. There's always at least one day that's rough, but this was crazy! It was entertaining at first to try to walk straight when sober! I've also never gotten sea sick, but when I went to lay down...well you get the point. Saturday Day at Sea - Woke up around 9, it was raining outside, still rocky, but not nearly as bad as last night. So I went back to bed, sad that I wouldn't be able to lay out. Woke up for lunch. My family and I went to the photo shop and bought a lot of pictures. By this time, the rain had stopped and we were able to watch the sun set. We didn't go to dinner again tonight, just ate at the lido deck. I had pasta form the pasta station and met up with the guys. Since they couldn't take cigars off the ship, we sat outside and smoked those, I tried a little. I don't smoke cigarettes, but cigars were ok. Last night - sad. Said good bye to everyone. My sister had the hardest time, she was crying. The one that didn't even wanna go on this cruise is the saddest to leave. Sunday Boo hoo. Woke up at 8:30, stopped serving breakfast at 9. Were of the boat at 10:30. Got lost in Tampa. Drove around for awhile. It was such a pretty day outside, great day to be going on a cruise : ( We didn't stop for dinner because we just wanted to get home. Finally arrived in Charlotte at 8:45. Saw trees and Power lines down. what happened here??? A big storm had just come through. We just knew our power would be out, but it wasn't. But we couldn't order pizza like we were going to. Wheres the buffet? I miss all that food. Welcome back to the real world. I had to work Monday so I went to bed knowing tomorrow would be rough. I had a great time, met some great people and ate great food. I ate about every 2 to 3 hours hahaha! I had sooo much pizza and turkey sandwiches, and $5.18 beer! My bar tab was about $140. Not bad, I smuggled booze on too. Read Less
Sail Date June 2006
Background Information -- I just returned from a 7-day cruise on the Carnival Miracle. This trip was my first cruise experience, and overall, I enjoyed cruising. I used the Cruise Critic website extensively before my trip, and I am want ... Read More
Background Information -- I just returned from a 7-day cruise on the Carnival Miracle. This trip was my first cruise experience, and overall, I enjoyed cruising. I used the Cruise Critic website extensively before my trip, and I am want to pass along the details of my cruise to assist fellow cruisers. Travel To Port of Embarkation -- The Port of Tampa is very easy to navigate. I drove from Orlando, and I had no difficulties finding the port. Once you arrive at the Port, you will be greeted by porters who will take your bags through security. This is the last time you will see your bags for many hours so make certain that you pack a carry-on bag with swimsuits, medications, and essential toiletries. The porters in Tampa are a bit pushy, and even though they were given a tip consistent with tipping guidelines, they facially expressed their displeasure, which was an irritating way to start the cruising process. After the porters took our bags, we proceeded to the check-in desk. The line was very short (less than a few minutes), and the staff at the check-in desk was very helpful. Then, we waited about ten minutes for our boarding group to be called. Once we boarded the ship, we immediately went to Horatios on Deck 9 for the buffet, which lasts until 3:30pm. It was a madhouse in Horatios as everyone who just boarded attempted to have lunch. I suggest arriving earlier than the 1:30pm time listed as the start of embarkation as many fellow cruisers reported that they were able to board the ship much earlier. Plus, many of the activities begin before 1:30pm. Stateroom -- After eating lunch, we headed to our cabin. The cabin, though small, was bigger than I had expected. It was tastefully decorated, and it was always clean. Throughout our trip, our cabin steward changed our towels twice a day, and almost every night, we had some sort of towel creation on our bed. Be mindful of the warnings regarding the water temperature in the shower as it is easy to scald yourself. Hot water was almost always available for a shower, but there were a couple instances in which I was forced to wait five to ten minutes for warm water. My only complaint about the stateroom was the noise in the morning. We were located on the Riviera deck near the middle set of elevators. We must have been located next to a crew service area as every morning I awoke to loud talking and banging. However, I was never awoken by the anchor being lowered on port days. Also, if you are prone to sea sicknesses, the rocking on this deck was much less than the rocking on the upper decks. Ship Info -- As stated in other reviews, the ships decor is very loud and tacky. It is overwhelming visually and made it very difficult to get your bearings on the ship. The dining room is especially hideous with many pink bulbs, which are supposed to be grapes. I heard that the ship is smaller than other Carnival Ships, but I think that made it easier to maneuver. It was very easy to navigate the decks and find where you were heading. The wait for the elevators was long on embarkation day and following any shows. Dining -- I was looking forward to the dining the most, and I was most disappointed with the food. The food at dinner was always presented beautifully, but it was hit or miss regarding whether the food actually tasted good. My best meal was the night I ordered a filet. You always have the option of ordering a filet or chicken if you do not like the entrees on the menu. I did that one night, and the filet was delicious. I wish I would have ordered the filet more often. Cappuccinos and espresso drinks are free at dinner so I suggest avoiding the charge at the coffee bar by waiting until dinner to have an espresso drink. The buffet at Horatios for breakfast and lunch was okay. There was plenty of variety, but the food was often bland. The crowds from the first day die down so it is now to chaotic when you eat at Horatios buffet. There is also a buffet grill at the pool if you want to stay outside. It appeared that this buffet typically hand hamburgers, hot dogs, and salad. A sushi bar is offered every evening from around 5pm to 8pm. The sushi was fantastic as Chef Larry always did a superb job. You can get as much as you want so I suggest loading up if you have a late dinner seating. This reminds of one last thing about dining. We chose the late dinner seating, and we were sat at a large round table. We met some wonderful people at this table, but because of the size of the table, dinner typically lasted for two hours. Activities -- True to its name, Carnival is really the fun ship. There are numerous activities each day  something different for everyones tastes. As a single person looking for fun people to enjoy the cruise with, my favorite activities were: The World Tour Pub Crawl  Monday night The Beer and Bathrobes party  Thursday night The comedy shows Daily performances by the band If you are single, I heard the speed dating on the first night was lame. We were exhausted so we did not go, but we were still able to meet the other singles on the cruise. Children's Clubs -- I do not have any children, but I heard from fellow cruisers that Camp Carnival ended at 12pm each day which made it difficult for the parents to go on shore excursions. Service -- Overall, the service was stellar. However, many of the staff do not speak English well so sometimes they may not fully understand your request. The only really poor service that I received was Dr. Frankensteins club. The DJ was very rude, and he would not play requests. Plus, he played a horrible mix of music that typically left the dance floor empty. Shore Excursions -- The shore excursions were my favorite part of the cruise. Although Carnival says that you should take their excursions so you will not be left behind, we never had any problems using private vendors. Grand Cayman  we took Nativeways rays, reef, and rum point excursion and had a blast. There were about 30 people on our boat (more than expected), but the guides still managed to give personal attention. They made certain that we all had an opportunity to fold the stingrays and feed them. Then, we went on to snorkeling, which was a bit difficult because the water was rough that day. Rum Point was beautiful (maybe my favorite spot on the cruise). There are hammocks to use, and we received a tasty lunch as part of the excursion. It was a great way to wind down the day. One warning about the excursion  you may get really wet on the way to stingray city. Make sure you put money and cameras in watersafe containers. Cozumel  Once again, the water was very rough so snorkeling excursions were cancelled. We went to Paradise Beach ($5 per person via shuttle), which was gorgeous. The water was too rough to use the water toys, but we enjoyed the lounge chairs and umbrellas. Servers will come around to take your drink orders. Although it is expected that you will buy something, no one is pushy. From there, we took a cab to downtown Cozumel. You can negotiate taxi prices (which wait at the beach) so bargain away! Shopping was a bit hectic as many people try to sell their wares. We found some good deals, but you will only be able to truly bargain with the street vendors. When buying in shops, be sure to ask about the cruise discount. After shopping, we headed to Carlos and Charlies, which was wild! I definitely recommend it, but not for children. Belize  In Belize, we used Greenwood Adventures (Major Tom) for our cave tubing. Apparently, Major Tom has an agreement with Dennis from Explore Cavetubing Belize so Dennis was our guide. He was great! He took us on a tour of the city while we waited for the other members of our tour. It was an hour out the caves, but a pretty drive. Once at the caves, we were able to quickly get around the Carnival tours as there were only six people on our tour. Dennis pulled us through the water when the current became slow, and he told us about local flora. After the tour, four people went to the zip lining, but my sister and I went for our included lunch at Xibalba (café located next to the cave tubing in Jaguar Paw resort). My meal included jerk chicken, rice and beans, plantains, garlic bread, and the best banana muffin I have ever eaten. Our meal was included with the tour, but I checked the price, and it only costs $5. Order early as they were running out of food later in the day. After the excursion, we had about 30 minutes to shop in the city before returning for the last tender. The Clip and Sip internet café is very expensive ($4 for 15 minutes) for Belize. Costa Maya  the prettiest port, but I would never return. The people in this port were horribly rude, which I will get to in a moment. When you get off the ship, walk through the port and then turn left. There will be a shuttle stand selling $3 tickets to the fishing village. The fishing village is gorgeous, but you cannot walk a step without multiple people harassing you to buy. Beware  they charge to use the lounge chairs even if they initially say the chairs are free. We had a bad experience with this. The vendor said the chairs were free, and then he charged my sister $5 a piece for the chair. After much arguing in my limited Spanish, I was able to get our money back, and he made us leave the beach. After that, we headed back to the pool in the cruise terminal. It was filthy. We ended up going back to the ship because the water was so dirty. Another warning  you will see many policeman with M-16s walking around, which makes the experience a bit uncomfortable. We heard from many people that they had similar bad experiences in Costa Maya. Disembarkation -- Disembarkation was a stressful process as my sister had to make a flight in Orlando at 12pm. If you need to catch an early flight, my suggestion is that you self-assist rather than wait for the VIP disembarkation. The order of disembarkation is self-assist, platinum, and then VIP. Thus, we did not get to leave the ship until almost 9am when the self-assist people started leaving the ship around 7:45am. I suggest putting something bright on your luggage as you must walk through aisles of luggage to find yours. Summary -- Overall, it was a great trip. However, I think I would try either Norwegian or Royal Caribbean to see which line I liked best. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
We were on the May 7-15th cruise. Husband and I drove to Tampa from metro Atlanta. Not bad really about 7 hours. Directions to the port could have been better. We drove about 30 minutes out of our way and finally asked for directions. ... Read More
We were on the May 7-15th cruise. Husband and I drove to Tampa from metro Atlanta. Not bad really about 7 hours. Directions to the port could have been better. We drove about 30 minutes out of our way and finally asked for directions. Port is really nice with convenient parking. We decided in the future to fly in because you almost pay the cost of airfare in parking. Stateroom was very nice. We were in 4140 which did have a window but it was mostly a lifeboat view. The room was large and comfortable. The bed was very comfortable. I will tell you all that our cabin stewards were just the best. They left us towel animals on our bed every evening with the turndown service. It was a really nice touch. We tipped them over and above because of their great effort in working around our plans. The ship is beautiful, very large, very clean and well staffed. We had a few days of rough seas and I did have an issue with sea sickness but did OK once motion sickness medicine was taken. The food is wonderful. There are so many choices. We chose to eat our breakfast and evening meal in the Bacchus Dining Room. We chose 8:15 seating. The food was excellent and I really appreciated the SPA choices on the menu. Our wait staff was just terrific. The took great pains to make sure our meals were enjoyable. We tipped them over and above because of their professionalism. Our shore excursions were fine for the most part. We loved going to Tulum. It's a long day but the bus was air conditioned so that made the heat bearable. We also had a terrific guide for this trip. We did book this trip through Carnival and was quite pleased. We loved going to Hell and the Turtle Farm also booked through Carnival. Belize was very nice but also very very hot. It was 97 the day we were there. Our snorkel trip was cancelled so we just hung around the city. Great shopping in Belize. It is a bit pesky with locals wanting to ferry you anywhere you want but the do take no the first time. Personally, I did not like Costa Maya. It just wasn't my cup of tea so I went back to the boat early and enjoyed some down time. Entertainment was good. We missed most of the shows doing other things onboard. Disembarkation was fine. I recommend packing lightly to get out quicker. This boat is beautiful. Everything about it is just spectacular. This was my first cruise so I took notice when other passengers said this was the nicest crew they had ever sailed with. They were very friendly and helpful. We will sail on the Miracle again. Read Less
Sail Date May 2006
CCL Miracle Cruise Review March 13, 2006 Itinerary: Tampa, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, Costa Maya Links to Photos: http://community.webshots.com/user/bob42ca http://community.webshots.com/user/rob42ca EMBARKATION This was our 11th ... Read More
CCL Miracle Cruise Review March 13, 2006 Itinerary: Tampa, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, Costa Maya Links to Photos: http://community.webshots.com/user/bob42ca http://community.webshots.com/user/rob42ca EMBARKATION This was our 11th cruise, the third on Carnival, and our cruisemates 14th cruise. We arrived at Terminal 2 at noon by private car, and decided to use the $10 valet parking after the valet said wed have our car in 10 minutes on return. This turned out to be incorrect, you get your own car on return. The daily parking fee is $12, and the parkade is across the street from the terminal. So doing valet wasnt worth the fee, you might as well drop your people and luggage off at the ship porters, then park at the parkade and walk back across the street. On return, get your car while your people stay with your luggage in front of the parking building. The process inside the terminal was ok, waited only a few minutes to get the ship card, then waited about half an hour in a seated area to be called to board. No escorts to the cabins, find your own way. Our luggage arrived about 4pm, our friends got theirs faster. Good lunch buffet, then went to the dining room to ask the maitred for a dining table change to a larger table, which he was later able to do. Fire muster drill at 3:30, sailaway after that. THE SHIP The Miracle was built in 2004, and its very clean and new. The decorating is gaudy, loud, often tacky, kind of like a Vegas hotel gone wild. And the decorating themes seem unconnected. The dining room is a Bacchus (god of pleasure) theme, with pink flying saucer lights all over the walls, ceiling, and pillars that other reviewers have shaken their heads at, apparently meant to resemble bunches of grapes. Then in other areas of the ship the theme is characters such as Robin Hood, Captain Hook, famous detectives. Then in other areas its an Alice in Wonderland theme, all this with crazy loud dEcor, none of which seems to flow together. Even the huge atrium was garish. One area of the ship that was classy was Nick and Noras pay restaurant, $30 p.p. (no discounts offered all week). The location was lovely, nice views, more space between tables and quieter than the main dining room. Ship design was also strange in some areas. They built a huge atrium extending to the top of the ship, and then put an overhang above the atrium that cuts off your view. And one side of the atrium had hardly any seating. Another design hassle was the very low ceiling in the upper level of the dining room, which we are guessing was the reason for it being so noisy, you have to raise your voice to be heard across the table. If you dont like it noisy you should request a table on the lower level. And there were no panoramic windows in the dining room, this was the only ship that we couldnt tell where the dining room was from the outside. The good design thing is its easy to find your way around, no roadblocks. As usual, on sea days all the loungers around or above the pools are taken or saved by 9:30, but the good news is there are lots of extra stacks of loungers further astern on either side, so you can always find one, great if you dont mind a quiet place away from the action. And the loungers are great, a nice mesh, no more buggy straps. We love calypso bands, and were disappointed in the pool band, they played a strange mix, off beat reggae, no one dancing on the pool dance floor. The Asian band in Frankie and Johnnies bar was great, good rock and roll, etc. The gym was good, adequate number of machines, nice to find some we use that arent often on ships, separate aerobics room (classes $10), good free weights, heated lounger area (overhead heater lamps), floor mats, nice views from the machines, nice rubberized jogging track on the top deck. THE CABIN We booked an inside 4A guarantee which allows CCL to give us any 4A cabin or upgrade us to any higher category. We were delighted to get an upgrade 3 decks higher to an outside 5A obstructed view with balcony doors. No balcony, because of the life boat, but nice to see the weather, get some natural light, and stick our heads out to check the temp. Good sized cabin. Only 1 outlet in the cabin, bring a power bar if you have things to plug in. Great safe, no more numbers to punch in, just swipe any magnetic card, we used a drivers license. A fridge! Robes (required later for the bathrobes and beer party). Lots of storage, suitcases fit under the K bed. Duvet on the bed (but not on lower categories). Wendy loved it, too hot for me, got a blanket from the steward, then fine. Great shower, Niagara Falls, good temp control, hand wand, clothesline (bring clothes pins). Nice body wash soap and shampoo, no conditioner. Nice amenities in bathroom, Crest toothpaste, dental floss, Olay products, disposable razors, and a pull out magnifying mirror. Sofa and table were handy. Good hair dryer attached to vanity drawer. SERVICE We had some issues with the service, no biggies, no attitude probs, nice crew, just little buggy stuff. Cutlery tossed on the dinner table instead of being placed. Water glasses left empty. Sometimes buns/bread being offered twice, sometimes not. One of our cruisemates always requested the same item every night. On other cruises the staff usually remember this and bring it (teapot of hot water/lemon wedges) without being asked, but not this week. At one dinner late in the week the pot was requested but didnt come, so we built a tower of wine glasses with the lemon plate on top as a hint. But our Tower of Babel hint didnt work, so we re-ordered again. On the other hand, 2 of us kept getting asked if we wanted coffee every night when wed told them we dont drink it. But the wait staff were good fun, with helpful information to assist us in choosing courses wed like. The MaitreD and head waiter never came around to say hi, a first for that, but he did get us the table change we requested (larger table), so hes ok too. We pre-tipped the cabin steward to keep the ice bucket full during the afternoons and evenings, which produced a big smile, and he was good at filling it before going off shift at 1pm, but a few times in the evening it was empty, so we went down the hall until we found a stewards dolly which has ice thermoses on them, and re-filled our bucket. And we had showed our steward that we had removed the ship items out of the fridge and into a closet to we could put our own stuff in the fridge, but he still put through a charge for us using one of the items. It took 3 trips to the Pursers Desk to get the charge reversed. If the key is missing from your fridge ask your steward for it so you can open it. On the up side, one crew member saved the day for us, with service above and beyond. We had arranged to meet our cruisemates near the gangway to go on a private tour at a tendered port, Belize. Ship tour people get the first tenders, and others arent allowed down the gangway until the ship tours are gone. Our friends arrived early, and were able to get down to a lower level of the gangway. We arrived a bit later, but by then you couldnt get down without a tour sticker. When the meeting time passed, our friends were able to slip on a ship tour tender boat and get to shore so they could find our guide and get things ready to go. But we didnt know they had left, so we told our dilemma to a young lady doing passenger control duty, one of the floor show dancers. She scooted downstairs through all the people lined up to check the passenger control computer and found out that our friends had got off the ship. Knowing we were trying to make it to our private tour, she told us to stand behind her because she thought there would be some open seats on the next ship tour tender, which there was, and she snuck us on it. That saved us at least an hour. We gave her personal kudos on the cruise evaluation form, apparently the crew get perks like extra days off for that. Thanks Debbie! You dance great too! FOOD The dining room food was up and down, largest lobster we ever had on a ship, perfectly done, but the risotto side dish was a gluey paste. Sometimes items were not very hot. Once the sirloin was not very tender. Generally the starters and entrees were interesting and good, no one went hungry, sometimes wed share a third entrEe to get a taste of both. The Lido buffet was good, lots of selection, 4 main stations and other specialty stations, including pizza and deli. Happy to find real brown sugar for cereal. No smoked salmon at breakfast or lunch, although the deli would make a smoked salmon bagel sandwich, could have asked for just the salmon but didnt want to stand in another line for that. Nice Asian dishes at the Asian station. Great lemonade at the drink station. Went to one midnight buffet, the grand gala, and it was pretty good, found one great curry dish that hadnt been on the menu before. Didnt find the desserts we were looking for, but there were several choices. Nice sandwiches and wraps on the room service menu, order them before you get off in port if you want free snacks in your shore bag. ENTERTAINMENT Most of the entertainment acts were good, and the audience participation ones are always fun, Biggest Liar, Newlywed and Not So Newlywed, Battle of Sexes (guys have lost 17 weeks in a row!) We often dont go to the song and dance floor shows, weve seen so many and were not really into them, but the Ticket To Ride Beatle tribute floor show was highly recommended, and it turned out to be the best weve ever seen on a ship, it could have been an entry level Vegas act. Wonderful props, choreography, skits, costumes, laser lights, terrific music from the orchestra, the Asian band doing several hits as a replica concert, complete with audience lighters (light sticks) and confetti. Everyone was singing along, huge standing ovation. Before the show, clips from old Beatles concerts and events were playing on the screen, very nostalgic for us over 40s. Throughout the day there were lots of activities all over the ship. After dinner each night there were waiter shows in the dining room, lots of people up dancing with the waiters. OUR FELLOW PASSENGERS This was a young crowd, lots of spring breakers, lots of action, but no probs, no drunks on deck, no running up and down the halls or lounges. But tons of old T-shirts and ball caps in the Lido buffet. The dining room has the usual no shorts or jeans rule, but they dont stop shorts or jeans from entering, and there were several of these every night, both men and women. They do ask for ball caps to be taken off. On formal nights if you want to be with and see the dressed up people, hang out at the atrium before dinner where theyre getting their pictures taken by the various ship photographers, and also go to the captains cocktail party, no grubbies there. On other cruises most people keep their formal wear on for the evening, but on the last formal night everyone wanted to get back in their grubbies, and for the last theatre show we were the only 4 still dressed up, also walking back through the casino there was no one still dressed up. Many were late for dinner, about half an hour, I dont think they realize it throws off the progression of courses set out in the galley, and keeps your table mates waiting between courses if you show up late and have to do catch-up. So at the end of the cruise someone in our area brought an artificial limb, the bottom part of a leg and foot, and put it on a latecomers chair. When she pulled it out she freaked out quite nicely. Then the foot got passed around to another table waiting for a latecomer, and about a half dozen of them got it that night, quite a hoot, the waiters loved it (payback time). By the time the last late one arrived everyone was watching the show, no one talking, staring at her as she went to her chair, she thought there was something wrong with her clothes, but she soon found out. THE PORTS Grand Cayman The ship anchors fairly close to the dock, so the tender boat ride is not long. Also, 2 gangways are used, speeding things up. We had done the stingrays before (excellent), and this time planned to snorkel a nearby wreck and then hit a resort for lunch and drinks around a pool.. Two wrecks are walkable, the Cali and the Gamma, and we picked the Gamma over the Cali because the Cali has been broken up, and its site can be crowded with ship tours. We rented equipment including inflatable vests at Divers Down beside Hammerheads Bar, a 5 minute walk left of the dock (when facing inland). Then we walked 15 minutes further north to the Gamma which is at The Wharf restaurant, took the path at the right side of The Wharf down towards the beach, and then took the path along the beach through the trees to the Gamma freighter, some of it visible out of the water. Its visible from the ship if you have good eyes. Its about 25 yards off the beach, a stones throw, listing with one side above water and the other side submerged, which is the snorkeling part. The best entry point is a little square sandy beach with low concrete walls on the cruise ship side of the Gamma, which a dive or kayaking tour might also be using, and where they leave their water containers. This beach faces away from the wreck, so after entering you swim about 25 yards toward the cruise ships, then turn right and swim through a rocky channel (lots to look at there), and when out of the channel turn right again toward the wreck. Lots of interesting underwater sights on the way. There is no reason to swim around to the side of the wreck above water, nothing to see. The underwater side is interesting, parts shallow enough to stand on with your flippers if its calm enough, great for shots with a cheap $8 underwater camera from Wal-Mart. The ship sold them for $14, better than the $30 other ships used to charge. You can snorkel right into the middle of the wreck, but how close you get would depend on how calm the water is, you dont want waves pushing you against the wreck, you could get cut. A 2-3 foot barracuda watched us for a bit, then took off. We heard the prop is still in place, and we wanted to get a shot of us with it, but the stern was in the shadow of the sun, bad for a shot, and it looked to be more than 20 feet down, and we couldnt see the prop from the surface, so we gave that up. Took shots of each other along the wreck, easier to get down if you deflate the vest. It only takes 3 or 4 blows to re-inflate. Had lots of fun there. We planned to have lunch and drinks at the Comfort Suites resort on 7 Mile Beach, who offer cruisers free day passes if ordering drinks, but we got shopping back in town and ran out of time (4pm sailing). Only stopped to eat the room service wraps we ordered before we debarked. Dont tell the room service kitchen youre taking food ashore, they say its illegal, but no one looks in any bags, its no prob. Cozumel Our ship tender boats used the Puerto Maya pier south of town. Sit on the right side of the tender boat for a good view and shots of the hurricane damage to the pier, huge concrete sections thrown all over. A section of the pier at the shore has been repaired enough for the tenders to use. For another good shot after getting off the tender, walk to the end of the pier, wreckage in the foreground and ships in the background. Cute little shopping area at the pier, looks new, probably built after the hurricane. $6 cab to town. Going into town along the coast youll see lots of hurricane damage, buildings, many under repairs, some abandoned, lots of dead vegetation, stripped trees, broken and tossed around. But San Miguel looks good, pretty, trees replaced, everything repainted. Cheap internet, $1-2 per half hour everywhere. We planned to do the town in the morning and hit a resort in the afternoon. The Coral Princess is free for cruisers, the El Cid La Ceiba is $15 p.p. non-inclusive, the Fiesta Americana is $39 all-incl lunch and drinks all day, and a bunch of other ones are around $50 p.p. all-in. We picked the Fiesta but again ran out of time and didnt make it. So we decided to have lunch in town, and wanted somewhere with a view of the ocean and boardwalk. We found a great place at the corner of the boardwalk and the huge ferry pier, lots of ocean view tables but busy at 12:30, we got the last table. Two good entrees and lemonade for $21. There are other cute sidewalk cafes off the boardwalk. Beers are $1-1.50 everywhere, $2-3 in better places. Lots of cute shops around the central plaza at the ferry pier. No insects of any kind, no need for spray. Belize Tendering in Belize was slow, only one gangway used. After going through the hassle described above, we snuck on a ship tour tender. If youre in a rush to get ashore for your private tour, wed suggest going to the gangway early, before 8, and try and hang around as close to the sign out station as you can. Then try and get on with the ship tour people, but first ask if the tender is going to the Tourism Village, and not a caye or some other tour location. All the ships anchor far from shore, many sandbars, and you can hardly see Belize in the distance, but the tenders are speedboats, huge twin outboard motors, they really fly, so the ride is only 10-15 minutes. Sit on the right side for a nice shot of the pretty Tourism Village as you enter the harbor. Party bar and lots of chain shops on the dock, flea market stalls outside the dock. For local flavor exit the dock, turn left onto Fort Street, and go past the vendors a few blocks till you come to a yellow lift bridge on the left. You can get some nice shots of the quaint marina from the bridge, then cross it onto Albert Street, walk up Albert a few blocks, a local hubbub. Belize is famous for huge limestone caves with crystal caverns, stalactites, etc, and the popular tour is rubber tubing through the caves. Weve done lots of tubing before at water parks, and preferred to walk the caves to get pictures and poke around, and get some exercise. So 4 of us reserved a cave walk of the St. Hermans Cave at Blue Hole National Park, through the Cave-Tubing.com company, run by Yhonny and his guides, for $60 p.p. plus $5 for a good lunch of chicken, rice, beans and lemonade at Cheers. The park is a 1 hour 15 minute drive down a fairly good highway, bit bumpy at times, no prob. $4 p.p. park entrance fee, then a 10 minute easy walk through the lovely forest to the cave. We took bug spray but didnt even open it, only saw 2 lazy mosquitoes all day, and a few flies. This was the dry season, Dec-May. You can rent flashlights for a few bucks, but we brought our own. The caverns are huge, and its best to have the most powerful lights you can bring, to see all the crystalline features, side passages, the river beside the path, rock formations. If your group is not very physical your guide will take you halfway, but if they can handle it youll go to the end, some climbing over wet sandy or rocky spots, stooping for low ceilings, the end section is trickier. There is no walkable exit, so we then returned the way we came, often seeing things we missed the first time, or from a different perspective. Shots in the dark tunnel turned out well with both our digital and 35 mm cameras, the flashes were rated for 20 feet but went beyond that. We shined our flashlights on our shirts so the person taking the shot could make us out. Just make sure your camera can focus in the dark, some cant do that. The cave is about three quarters of a mile, and about halfway through we met some other cavers who had set up a lovely buffet on a white table cloth on a sandy area beside the underground river with candles, very exotic, Jake and his friends from Colorado. There are 2 routes from the park station to the cave, the lowland easy path and the highland path with climbing and great views of the area. We took the highland path back to the parking lot at the station, and then drove a few minutes to the Blue Hole, a pretty sink hole pond in a jungle grotto with a small beach, where you can take a dip. After that we had lunch at Cheers on the way back, one of the most recommended cafes in the area, and it was good. We offered to buy our guide Tim a lunch, but this place gives guides with groups a free lunch. Tim was absolutely excellent, informative and entertaining, and we tipped him a quarter of the tour price. Yhonny was prompt and helpful in setting up the tour by email, explaining everything we wanted to know very well. Costa Maya Finally a port with no more tendering. A free tram takes people from the ship down the long pier to the port entrance, where there is a center built for cruise passengers. It has shops, 2 swimming pools, bar, cafe, loungers on a sandy area, but no beach, all rocks. Rather expensive, $9 drinks, snacks $5-10. Both pools looked awful, cloudy murky brownish green water, you couldnt see 2 inches into it, wed never get in that. Local dancers do a folk dance in a small amphitheater, some audience participation. To the right of the pier (your back toward the ocean) is the Chac-Chi resort, lovely beach, loungers, volley ball, cafe, bar, music, way cheaper than the cruise area. Youll see it on the right as you go up the pier. Guests were an assortment of locals, foreigners from the resorts and hotels, and cruise ship people, interesting group. The cruise lines have done everything to try and keep cruisers out of Chac-Chi, large concrete wall extending down to the water with signs not to enter, big metal fence going way up the road. There is a billboard above the fence on resort property welcoming cruisers and stating you can take a cab out around the highway to their main entrance. But there is also a shortcut, an 8 minute walk, that the locals and land resort people use. Go past the cruise shops, keep to the right, and exit into the taxi and bus area. Walk around the roundabout with the yellow concrete centerpiece, and down the right side of the street, to the first intersection, which will take 3-4 minutes. At the intersection turn right and you will see a white building with red lettering saying Comisariato, a local shopping place. Walk past this building and you will come to a wire gate. Lift up the broken right side of the gate and go through. Youll see other people on the road going there too. The wire is rather heavy, take turns holding it for each other. Then walk down the path past some junk, and turn right at the end onto another path through the forest, which takes you into the resort. From the intersection to the resort took 5 minutes, 8 total from the roundabout. Im in education, and we wanted to take some supplies and gifts to the kids in the local school, weve done that before in impoverished areas. School is out at noon, so we had to get there in the morning. When the taxi dispatcher found out what we were trying to do, she got us both a taxi and a tour operator to be our guide/interpreter, Juan, no extra charge. The school is at the far end of the village of Majahual, a block or so off the beach road. The entrance has old swing gates held closed with a drop bar. There were 2 small buildings, one with 2 rooms and the other 1 room. Juan talked to the teacher, Rosemaria, and found that the older kids in the 1 room bldg had gone on a day trip. Rosemarias class was about 20 7-9 year olds, and the other room had about 15 3-6 year olds, all in uniforms. Our gifts fit the 7-9s best, so we stayed there. There was a little 7 year old boy from Britain who was bilingual and did some interpreting for us. And there was also a little boy from Germany who spoke English. The room was very clean but had very few supplies, we didnt see any readers or activity kits, just a small set of shelves with a few things on it. When we arrived the kids were writing in notebooks. We asked Rosemaria to distribute the gifts at her discretion & pens, pencils, erasers, sharpeners, crayons, pencil crayons, chalk, notebooks, solar calculators, English/Spanish workbooks, balls, skipping ropes, toy cars, Frisbees, lollipops. The kids were very excited, Im afraid we wrecked the lesson for the day. The room had a dry erase board, and I wished wed brought dry erase pens. Rosemaria said the older class had a chalkboard and she would give them the chalk. Apparently there is a girl called BebeAnna in the older class who speaks English. She said she would give the older absent class some items that fit their age. We took some lollipops to the class next door, where the teacher brought forward a little girl about 5 who said she was from Michigan and Colorado, and we had a little talk to her, she seemed proud to be the one dealing with the visitors. I told her to tell her parents when she got home that she met people from Ontario, next to Michigan, and that I was the best looking guy in Ontario. She had a look at me and a chuckle, Im not sure that she was convinced. We took a few pictures and then left, they were all outside waving goodbye until we got to the gate, and it was a highlight of our trip. The remote inland schools have even fewer supplies, a 2 hour drive each way, and David at The Native Way tour company will gladly deliver your gifts to them. We then walked a block to the beach road, and strolled past the shops and cafes. The beach has nice sand, but some seaweed in the water and along the waters edge, which could be easily cleaned by running a tractor down the beach to drag it away. Not as clean as Chac-Chi. There is lots of water activity equipment for rent, and free loungers to use. We drank local water (ice cubes in lemonade) here at the Cats Meow cafe and the cafe in Cozumel with no problem. A cab from the dock to town is $3 p.p., and returning its $2 p.p., a 5 minute trip. Our cruisemates walked from the ship to town down the coast, which took them 20 minutes. In the cruise village area there is a boardwalk along the shore, but at the end of the property there is another concrete wall like at Chac-Chi. They walked around the wall in water up to their ankles, and continued into town. It was not a pretty walk, some garbage. DEBARKATION The debarkation process was a surprise, a first for us. Instead of debarking people by deck or color code, everyone gets off at the same time (except for VIPs). We thought that would be chaos, but it was a breeze. People are asked not to clog up the gangway area at the atrium, but to wait in a lounge or other common area until the announcement that the gangway was open, which most people did. What happens is that lots of people are still willing to stand and wait by the gangway, which our friends did, and when the ship is cleared for debarking they let those lined up get off before the general announcement (9:10 for them). So when its generally announced, there is no clog at the gangway, and we were off in 4 minutes (at 9:40). Those waiting on a different deck would of course take longer. The ship is clean and new, the ports are great fun, we didnt have a drop of rain all week, and if the blips on the radar above dont bother you, youll have a great time. Hi to our shipmates Bill and Shelly! ... still the ironman and woman, havent taken a ship elevator in 14 cruises (but too tired to drink when they get to the pool). Glad to get email if you have questions or comments. (Bob7 then the at sign, then canoemail.com). Read Less
Sail Date March 2006
Got a great deal because of military discount. Have cruised many different lines for 14 cruises. THE GOOD -  Food very good. Service excellent, staff pleasant Beds super comfortable- Loved that "comfort" bedding- bought 2 ... Read More
Got a great deal because of military discount. Have cruised many different lines for 14 cruises. THE GOOD -  Food very good. Service excellent, staff pleasant Beds super comfortable- Loved that "comfort" bedding- bought 2 pillows after returning home Clean ship- nice and new well maintained Cayman, Cozumel and Costa Maya nice ports- esp- Costa Maya Embarking and debarking great- Esp. disembark at end- super quick job Cruise Director excellent Carnival Dancers and production numbers real good Captain Party good Main theatre seating very good Cabin good- good size shower- Balcony small but nice THE NOT SO GOOD -Worst thing was the smoke in Casino and Gotham Lounge (incl cigar smokers). Each on a different deck and in main thoroughfares so could not avoid going thru one or the other many times per day especially going from aft to bow between theatre and main dining room. Other ships have the smoking lounge in it's own secluded area and some the casino also. Poor layout on part of Miracle. Others complained too and also some on sister ships with same problem. -Tender service in Cozumel super slow due to using very large tender and too few tenders and had to wait forever to fill. (this may have been caused by the hurricane destroying most local tenders- not sure) -Too many comedians (at least 4 counting the Hypnotist) Only one was pretty good- rest mediocre to poor. Juggler OK. Singer OK. Have been on several other Carnivals and entertainment has been far superior. As mentioned above the ship's dancer productions number teams was superb. -Gaudy main restaurant -Red/Blue/White team competition- never explained clearly. Didn't make sense and didn't feel team spirit since we never knew who was actually on our team -Atrium was OK but not that large for such a big ship and not all that impressive- no spectacular spiral staircases, etc. Overall we liked the cruise- as we always do but not one of our best. Other Carnival ships have been better- Paradise, Holiday and all 2 Princess ships we have been on and 3 Celebrities and one RCCL, etc. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
This is my first review. I hope I cover everything I was thinking of while I was on the ship. First of all, let me say I have not been impressed with Carnival in the past. But, KUDOS, KUDOS, Carnival this ship is wonderful!!! I truly ... Read More
This is my first review. I hope I cover everything I was thinking of while I was on the ship. First of all, let me say I have not been impressed with Carnival in the past. But, KUDOS, KUDOS, Carnival this ship is wonderful!!! I truly enjoyed the decor. It is not as garrish as some of the other Carnival ships. Only thing that seemed strange were the red lights in the main dining room. We later found out they are supposed to bunches of grapes. Kind of strange, but not offending. Embarkation was very smooth. We arrived around 2:00 and there was a very short line. However, when they saw my husband using a cane, they ushered us right through. The ship was not at the same port as the terminal, but we were informed a tanker/fuel ship was in the channel when Miracle returned from the last cruise and the Captain will not take the ship in past the tanker. This caused no hardship what-so-ever. After receiving our cabin/sale&sign card, we were taken to busses that were waiting and taken to the ship. This may have been a good thing since the line on the gangway was almost nonexistent. They do not show you to your stateroom, but we have cruised enough to be able to navigate our way to our room. We were very impressed with the ship - very clean, very friendly staff (except for the officers who often stared right past you). The beds and pillows are awesome - slept like a baby. We did have a couple of problems with our room steward - asked for bathrobes twice, finally got them the third time, and had to keep asking for beach towels - but he kept the room clean. The food was fabulous!!! If you sail on the Miracle be sure you go to Nick and Nora's at least once. We dined there on Valentine's Day and ate so much we were uncomfortable - only ourselves to blame, but then again, maybe it is the Miracle's fault since the food was SO GOOD. Trust me, don't eat lunch!! We had the escargot in puff pastry, lobster bisque soup, skipped the salad, and choice of entree was a 12 oz lobster tail, 8 oz filet, (or a combination 6 oz and 4 oz, which we had), a 24 oz porterhouse, and then I believe there was a fish and/or veal dish. I can't remember all of them, once I saw the lobster and steak I was sold (they bring a cart to your table to help you choose). Of course we had all the accompaniments for the entire - sauteed mushrooms, backed potato, etc. Then comes desert! They had some fabulous looking deserts, but we were so full, we declined. A lot of good that did us. Since we didn't have "dessert", the Maitre d' hotel sent us a plate of chocolate truffles - TO DIE FOR! Food in the main dining room was also great. We had many wonderful dinners there and our waiters (Donovan and Robinson) were the best we have had in a long time. One night hubby had Sweet and Sour Shrimp - let me tell you these babies were BIG, more like prawns, and were fabulous. Made me sorry I went for the Grilled Grouper. The buffets during the day offered a nice selection, very tasty and we never went hungry. Oh, and of course, the Sushi cart outside McGuires, loved that too. Okay, enough about food (it's just this was the best food we have had on a ship in a long, long time). I did indulge in two massages. They were very wonderful and the spa is very nice. If you don't want to pay for the 60 - 90 minute massage packages, they offer 15- 30 minute massages just outside the spa by the pool for much less. We didn't get to any of the shows (hubby and I are casino nuts), but I did speak with several people who really enjoyed the adult comedian. And they show a late night movie every night and the disco always seemed to be "hopping". After the first night, we had quickly picked our two favorite bars - City Jazz before dinner (Neva is the sweetest, remembers your name and your drink - never had to ask), and Mr. Lucky's in the casino (Frances always searched me out, called me by name, to make sure I was taken care of and again, always knew what to bring me - and hubby). Shore Excursions: We arrived in Grand Cayman. The negative: Miracle did not inform us we were docked on the other side of the island and needed to get a taxi. They just dropped us off the tender and no one was there to help us get a taxi (which cost $6.00 per person each way - come one Carnival, you slipped a little there). Then, not Carnival's fault, the independent tour we had lined up (horseback riding on the beach) never showed up to get us. NEVER USE HONEYSUCKLE TOURS!!! It was our first time to Belize. Five years from now you aren't going to recognize it. We took the Lost World Canopy Tour. I was a little skittish, but kept telling myself I love the rollercoasters at Universal Studio. WHAT A BLAST!!! If you can make the climb, do it!!! But the description is a little miss leading. It is not a 20 foot ladder. It is a path carved out of the mountain with 3 areas that have 15 to 20 rock steps. But, if you can make it, you must go. YEEEEE HAAAA!!!! Costa Maya: We did the Clear Kayak. It was a little windy and choppy. That made it difficult to keep up, but we enjoyed it anyway. Gave us a good work out and a beer (or water, plus fresh fruit) was waiting for us at our beach break. Also, please note: if you have back problems, the bus ride to the kayaks is VERY rough -no paved roads for about 5 miles. Again, if you do this, the description is a little misleading - there is no "all you can eat lobster tacos". Too many people were getting ill and they had to quit serving the tacos, but Carnival has never changed their price or their description (CARNIVAL TAKE NOTE). Not to worry though. When you get back to the pier, there is a wonderful plaza with a couple of restaurants and shopping. We ate at Bandito's (the one with the BIG chickee hut). The food was fabulous (here I go again about food). We shared the sampler with coconut shrimp (the big boys again), lobster tacos, onion rings, fish fingers, chips with guacamole and salsa, and fries - way too much for the two of us. Plus, there is a saltwater pool with a swim-up bar there. If you don't take a tour, just go hang out at the pier, that is what we plan to do next time. MIRACLE WE WILL BE BACK!! Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
My wife & I try to cruise once a year, usually in February. This was our 5th cruise & second with Carnival. We arrived in Tampa a day early. Being from Denver, you don't want to miss your cruise because you're snowed in ... Read More
My wife & I try to cruise once a year, usually in February. This was our 5th cruise & second with Carnival. We arrived in Tampa a day early. Being from Denver, you don't want to miss your cruise because you're snowed in at the airport. We booked a hotel room on priceline.com. We got the Wyndam Westshore for $70 including all taxes & fees. This was a bargain as this was a very nice hotel. The hotel included a free shuttle from airport to hotel. The Tampa port terminal was great. Not nearly as busy as Miami or Ft. Lauderdale. Overall we enjoyed our trip. Some of the things we liked; I'll start with the food.....The Deli/sandwich bar was nice. It is located on the Lido deck in Horatio's dining area. They basically use a glorified "George Forman" grill to toast your sandwich. They were very good. The Lido deck grill also was good. You had your choice of chili, fried onions & mushroom for your burgers, which I thought was great. We ate every evening at the Bacchus formal dining room. The food was good & plentiful. The only complaint I had, was the dessert selection. Some nights the desserts seemed unimaginative. Our cruise last year was on Celebrity, and I always looked forward to the dessert choices. They were magnificent! The "pink" grapes in the dining room were a bit much, but you got used to them after awhile. My wife had a "sushi" snack a few times before dinner. The sushi cart was located outside the sports bar. But it was only open from 5-8:30pm. The pizza was OK, not as good as our first Carnival cruise in my opinion. The ship was well laid out. I like having two large pools close together on the Lido deck. I also appreciated the "adults only" hot tub in the back of the ship on the Lido Deck. For some reason the kids gravitate toward the hot tubs on the two main pools and you could never get in the water. Entertainment....The Lido deck band was ok, but they could not sing if their lives depended on it. I'd definitely fire them if I were the cruise director. The comics in the Phantom lounge were hilarious. I recommend going to the late night comic R rated shows. They are not to be missed. The singers/dancers were OK. We had a hypnotist on the last night. That is a show I'll never forget. It was amazing what he could make people do! Ports of Call: Costa Maya was great. We took a cab to the small fishing village for $3p/p. I think the fishing village was spelled Mauhjaul. Anyway after getting out of the cab, we walked as far as you could go before you see your last beach bar. We stopped at the last beach bar called Pez Quadro (I Think). Anyway look for the last bar on the beach with wooden swings hanging from the rafters. Get on the swing & order a beer. Then kick back on the beach & enjoy the day. It was great. I paid $20 for a 1/2 hour massage by a local. It was the best massage I've ever had. Cozumel, yep the docks were destroyed, so we tendered in. I could not believe NOBODY was working to repair the docks! We did some shopping and stopped at Senior Frogs for a few Margaritas. We had 4 Margaritas, a soda, a plate of fish tacos & a plate of chips & salsa. Our bill.....$67. I thought this was a bit out of line for Mexico, but the atmosphere was nice. Belize, we did cave tubing, which we booked online using at Cave-tubing.com. This was the first tour Ive ever booked not using the cruise ship. Considering the cruise ship wanted $89 for this tour, I took my chances with Cave-tubing.com & paid $45. Glad I did the tubing on my own, the bus was not crowded, our guides were funny & informative. I would not recommend this tour if you are not in great shape physically. You have to hump (one of my favorite Marine Corps terms) about 45 minutes through a steamy jungle carrying your inner tube & lifejacket. We had to stop numerous times to wait for the stragglers who could not keep up with us. One lady, who looked as if she was about to keel over, said I dont remember this being part of the tour. Well, if you read the cave-tubing.com web page, it does say you have to walk through a jungle to get to the caves. We also had an older lady who could not make it, and she was given a shorter tour. I would highly recommend Yhony & his crew at cave-tubing.com. After our tour, Yhony had the bus stop at a local bar/cafe. We tried some local cashew wine. I liked it so much I purchased a bottle for my wife. Grand Cayman-I again booked a tour on my own using Captain Bryan for the Sting Ray Swim. http://www.cayman.org/captainbryan. The water was a bit choppy & Carnival cancelled their Sting Ray Swim. SO I was glad I booked on my own. Since the water was choppy, there was only ONE other boat on the sand bar. We had the sting rays, virtually to ourselves. After that we did a bit of snorkeling at a reef. I enjoyed the tour and would also recommend Captain Bryan for your tour. He was about half price compared to what Carnival wanted for the exact same tour. Disembarkation: It was fantastic. Our flight left Tampa at 11:15 am, so we chose to carry off our own luggage and use the self disembarkation process. We were off the ship by 8:15am and at the airport by 8:45am. If you want more information on Carnival Miracle or the ports, please email me. Read Less
Sail Date February 2006
These are just a few observations of my recent cruise on Carnival's Miracle.... I won't go into the decor of the ship.... it isn't as "showy" as other Carnival ships but it is not as well thought out and put ... Read More
These are just a few observations of my recent cruise on Carnival's Miracle.... I won't go into the decor of the ship.... it isn't as "showy" as other Carnival ships but it is not as well thought out and put together. They were going for a "book" theme and instead I came away with comic books, Renaissance angel themes (including the infamous naked paintings, Capt. Horatio, and the pink grapes that match nothing at all. 1. Tampa is a very easy port but hotels are hit or miss. We found out that the Residence Inn (Airport) would allow us to leave our car there all week for no additional charge. We decided against it and went for the Valet Parking at the Dock. For an additional $12 ($84 in total), we left our vehicle at the Terminal's Valet. Picking it up was more tricky but all in all, probably a ok deal vs. taking a cab. 1a. We had to dock in a different spot on the return and were bussed back to the original terminal. This STUNK! A 20 minute ride and another 45 minutes sitting on a hot bus stuck in traffic. Then they dumped us off in the mix with the passengers trying to board. A huge mess! 2. Grand Cayman: We took a tour with Chris from N nativeway and I HIGHLY recommend them! We did the stingrays, snorkeling, and Rum Point tour. Next time, I will try to book just a Snorkeling and Rum Point tour. We got off the ship at 8am-ish and started the tour at 9am. Unfortunately, all the shops were closed and we didn't get to do any "Brand" shopping. 3. Cozumel: It's slowly getting back to life. When you get off the tender, there is a really nice shopping area and Fat Tuesdays (think rum Slurpees!). We took a cab to the downtown area and ate at a restaurant and did some shopping....and more drinking. We went to my favorite jewelry store...found out that prices went up (way higher than the States!). I am truly amazed we made it back onto the ship with all the shots of Tequila! 4. Belize: I was really looking forward to this port since I haven't been there before... and I can say that I hope I don't go back. If you don't have an excursion, don't get off the ship. The Tender is about 15 minutes. We did a private tour with Major Tom G reenwood / belize caving tubing.net . Major Tom had an asst., Elvis, who gave us a history of the Country on the way to the caves. Major Tom was very safe and experienced. I saw the Carnival group and these people were dumped in the water and told to meet them on the other side. Major Tom and Elvis helped them out constantly. One lady from the Carnival tour slammed into the cave wall multiple times. She was panicked! I highly recommend Major Tom! (The tender situation here was ran poorly by Carnival... it was a mess: slow, long lines, cranky passengers due to so much miscommunication) 5. Cost Maya: We went for the All You Can Drink plan at Pez Quardro ($30 pp) and we made sure to take advantage of it! This is a gorgeous beach. It's at the end of the "strip" and the service is fantastic! Francisco made sure that our cups were never empty. I hope to come back to this port and do more shopping and less drinking since all I came back with was a hangover and a t-shirt....oh and a temporary henna tattoo! 6. Nick and Nora's Supper Club... four of us ate there and thought the food good but I doubt if we will do it again. It just didn't seem THAT much better than the normal dining experience. A lot of people must've agreed since there were only 5 other couples with us. 7. The Piano Bar was horrible (sorry but it was!). I ran out of there twice due to the music selection or singing. This didn't appear to be a busy place like other Carnival piano bars... never a crowd always plenty of seats. Most of the entertainment on the ship was just bad...bad...bad! Frankie & Johnnie's bar band kept singing the same set every night. The Karaoke kid sang worse than me (that IS saying something!). 8. Cruise Director Steve was leaving the ship when we left. He didn't mention if he was going to another ship. The Asst. Cruise Director acted like he had the worst job ever. He always seemed too sarcastic or ticked off. The crew just seemed tired and not outgoing. Our Cabin Steward, Bogdan, was the best we've ever had. The waitstaff were friendly but not outgoing. PROS: * Grand Cayman is always a win! Our tour was fantastic! * Cozumel is coming back ... which is great. Prices went up... which is expected. * Costa Maya is a gorgeous beach. Do make sure you do SOMETHING hear besides stay on the boat. CONS: * Belize. Although our tour and guides were great... I plan on avoiding this port in the future. * Carnival's Entertainment. This was the worst I've ever experienced! Can you imagine NOT going to the Piano Bar??? * Crew. We did meet some truly wonderful crew but overwhelmingly, the crew just didn't care. The empathy showed! Overall, still a good cruise. Wish Carnival would pep up the crew, fix the tender communication problem in Belize, and NEVER EVER have the bus situation again on debarkation! Read Less
Sail Date January 2006
We went on the 7 night cruise and it was really good. We had a balcony suite and it was really nice, but small. The food in the dining room was great, but the food in the other areas was acceptable. We did not get to stop in Grand Cayman ... Read More
We went on the 7 night cruise and it was really good. We had a balcony suite and it was really nice, but small. The food in the dining room was great, but the food in the other areas was acceptable. We did not get to stop in Grand Cayman because of the water being too bad to ferry us to shore. We were compensated $25 per person for not stopping. We only went on one shore excursion and we booked it through Cave-Tubing.com. I can not say enough good things about the excursion!!! They were awesome! Our guides stayed with us the entire time. They took us through the cave as a group and the Carnival excursion just dropped them in the water and let them go down on their own and they did not know what they were doing, several of them latched on to us for help. We were so grateful that we booked our cave tubing through Cave-Tubing.com! Our main guide was Kinsley and we could not have asked for a better guide, ever! The entire road trip to the cave, he gave us a history lesson about Belize and made it so enjoyable. Getting on the ship was challenging since we had to be bused to another location to get on the ship, but everyone was very helpful. When we got off the ship, we chose to carry our own luggage so that we could get on the road, we were in our vehicle on the interstate at 8:30AM! The dining room did look like an invasion of the pods. The lights were really scary looking. Read Less
Sail Date November 2005
I just returned from the 10-30-05 Exotic Western sailing. We had a wonderful time but this cruise was only as good as what you made of it. Getting on the ship was so easy as was finding your cabin and getting your luggage. The cabin was ... Read More
I just returned from the 10-30-05 Exotic Western sailing. We had a wonderful time but this cruise was only as good as what you made of it. Getting on the ship was so easy as was finding your cabin and getting your luggage. The cabin was fine nothing special but everything you need. We booked an expanded balcony but it didn't seem any bigger and the glass was dirty the whole trip. By the end of the week you couldn't see through it. The cabin stewart was only ok. She wasn't worth the tip we gave her (in my opinion) Our room was made every day but not cleaned. There was enough sand on the floor to make a sand castle. The towel creatures the kids love most times looked like a pile of towels on the bed unable to determine what they were. Where are the clocks? Everything on the ship has a starting time but the cruiser has no clue what time it is. I asked for a clock for the room and was told I needed to buy a watch from the gift shop!! The food was wonderful in the dinning room and the buffet. I thought the coffee need some getting used to though. The wait staff though attentive was very, very slow. The activities and shows were entertaining but seemed very disorganized. The ports we went to were terrific but we couldn't go to Cozumel due to hurricane Wilma. Our family did Stingray city in Grand Cayman booked through Carnival in was a great day but expensive. A few years ago we did the same excursion through R.C for about a third of the price. We could have done it privately for half or less. In Costa Maya we went to the fishing village a $5.00 cab ride from the boat and had the best day ever. The other passengers that used the beach by the dock were very disappointed. In Belize we went snorkeling in the barrier reef. What an experience!! Everyone should see that at least once. The shops by the dock were overpriced and didn't have much. As I said before we didn't get to go to Cozumel but we were given a $25 per person ship credit. I would have preferred a different port but so be it. The captain increased speed so we could have a sunny day at sea but we ended up moving at such a speed to get back to Tampa for a sick passenger it was too windy to enjoy it higher then deck 9. We got into port 18 hours early for the sick passenger but because we were no longer on international water everything was closed our last night which was very disappointing. It wasn't even a nice view. I might sail Carnival again but I wouldn't expect much. I would try to sail any other line first since I've heard this is the best Carnival has to offer. Read Less
Sail Date October 2005
We are in our early 50s and this is our 6th cruise, our 4th with Carnival, & our 2nd in a Spirit class ship. We choose Carnival because of the night life. Firstly for those who travel by car stay at the Chase suites on the Causeway ... Read More
We are in our early 50s and this is our 6th cruise, our 4th with Carnival, & our 2nd in a Spirit class ship. We choose Carnival because of the night life. Firstly for those who travel by car stay at the Chase suites on the Causeway in Tampa. It cost $155 with tax, & includes a small suite, a good breakfast, and you leave your car there, they take you to/from the port. Though they did could not pick us up at the port they fully paid for the taxi. We arrived at the port @10:30, fully checked in by 10:45 & having lunch by 11:45. Leaving the ship was amazing they do not go by colors they announce that you can disembark now & you leave at your convenience. We took our time, found our luggage quite easily & was by our car before 10 A.M. For those who are in a rush & are willing to carry their own luggage you can be off the ship by 8 A.M. All in all no muss, no fuss, no stress. To keep this review short & sweet We enjoyed the Pride & we figured this is the newest of the Spirit class ships & would also be enjoyable, We were right. This was a fun cruise, The staff was excellent, the ship was kept very clean, the food was good, Pizza was ok, unfortunately the afternoon sundae bar at the aft pool was quite good. We ate in Bacchus only for Dinner & our team was fun, anticipated all our needs, the Maitre d' was funny & informative. The Horatio's Buffet was good & the midnight buffet was fine though we generally kept to fruit & coffee, notice I said generally. We had a balcony cabin on the Veranda Deck, the usual Carnival room, relatively roomy, comfortable, the bed was extremely comfortable. Our steward was was there when we needed him. The ports were the usual, except for Belize we walked around & enjoyed ourselves. In Costa Maya we enjoyed the pool & the drinks in the pool. In Belize stay with the tours inside the port compound. We took a tour with Chris as our driver & guide with one other guide. She took us all around including to her house & dogs. Cost was $20P.P. It was great. We recommend getting your tours at the various ports, just as good as the ship & much cheaper. The decor of the ship was nice BUT the decor at The Bacchus Dining room with their idea of grapes on a vine was YIKES the attack of the POD people. Lenny Holliday was our Cruise Director & he & his staff was funny, friendly & good. I was disappointed that when he did his TVC/Movie trivia I became ill & had to go back to our cabin, but my wife found it on the Tv & we participated that way. we won some prizes. If you know who Elmo Lincoln was, then we both need to get a life. The shows were very good especially the Beatles show. All the clubs were great. We recommend having coffee & juice on the balcony before breakfast, if you have a balcony, nice & romantic. The Room Service though limited was good & the service was fast. If you like Carnival, or not this was a good ship, a fun cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2005
My husband and I had a pretty good time on the Miracle. It was my second cruise and my husbands first, so I was really looking forward to see his amazement at how big the ship was. It was our honeymoon and I was surprised that it seemed ... Read More
My husband and I had a pretty good time on the Miracle. It was my second cruise and my husbands first, so I was really looking forward to see his amazement at how big the ship was. It was our honeymoon and I was surprised that it seemed like half the ship was honeymooners. It seemed like everyone we spoke to got married on 5/21. One of my concerns with booking with Carnival was the ship would be overrun with noisy and unruly children and annoying college or high school age partiers. Thankfully, there weren't many children and no unruly people that we noticed. Briefly, I'll review some of the pros and cons of our trip. Embarkation: It went really smoothly and we didn't wait nearly as long as I expected to. It was great to get to the ship early and get lunch at the buffet. We were exhausted from our wedding the day before so after lunch we took a very long and restful nap. When we woke up, our bags were delivered to our door. Rooms: To save money, we booked and interior room. We loved it! The beds were SO comfortable and the room spacious. Because there were no windows, we slept like rocks and would wake up really refreshed. The steward did a nice job of keeping the room clean. However, she messed up every night on our flyer with the next days events. We either didn't get it our it was for the previous day. We complained but it never got better. We would have to go down to the pursers office to get the correct one every evening. It was our stewards last week on the ship before going home, so that might have been part of the problem, too. My only other issue with the room was there was no alarm clock. I know you can call for a wake up call, but it would have been nice to see the time without having to turn on the TV. Food: The food was really good. If you are a fine dining snob, then most likely you'll find issue with some of the meals. However, for us, the food was wonderful and we really enjoyed trying new things. The buffet on the Lido deck was really good, even if it was really busy at times. The pizza is okay also but not to die for like other reviews have said. Decor: I thought the decor was a little over the top. If you love Vegas and bright lights and loud colors, then you will love it. I was more in the mood for classical elegance and relaxation. My husband loved the Bacchus dining room with all of the purple lights, not because he thought they looked nice, but because he can't get over how hard it would have been to wire them all. In the stairwells, there are beautiful glass sculptures that you should definitely see. Entertainment: We attended all of the shows that we could. For the most part, we really enjoyed them. The comedians were pretty good and the "Adults Only" comedy hour in the Mad Hatter was really funny. The dancing and singing shows were also better than expected. My only complaint is with the Cruise Director and his staff (Mark, Karl with a K, and Sam). They were over the top annoying. If the cruise was full of 8 year olds, then they would have been wonderful. However, it wasn't and I felt like they were insulting our intelligence by trying to get us to laugh at tripping on the stage and falling down. Ports of Call and Excursions: We only booked 2 excursions during our trip. In Grand Cayman we booked the Carnival shore snorkel which was actually pretty good. My husband had never snorkeled before and it was a good training run. We snorkeled off the shore of a restaurant and swam out about 100 feet to a ship wreck. The guides were feeding the fish so there were tons of them swimming into you. The excursion was in the morning so we had time afterwards to eat lunch on the ship and shop the rest of the afternoon. In Costa Maya we stayed at the port. We got off the boat early so we were able to get a cabana on the beach for free. We sat there all day and drank margaritas. It was very relaxing. We also did some shopping and got some nice trinkets. In Cozumel, we took a cab ride to a free beach and spent the day there. Be warned, the cab drivers are crazy and drive REALLY dangerously. I don't think I will take a cab there again. In Belize, we booked a cave tubing excursion with another company, Xtreme Cave Tubing. The excursion itself was wonderful, but we cut it really close to missing the last tender back to the ship. Had we broken a tire or axle for that matter (the road to the caves was the bumpiest and rockiest I have ever been on and the driver went 30 mph the whole time) we would not have made the ship. For some reason, the Miracle stays in Belize port the shortest amount of time which makes this excursion a little tight on time. I was told that other ships that stay in the port 2-3 hours longer allow plenty of time and less stress when booking with an non-Carnival excursion vendor. Debarkation: Unfortunately, the trip did not end on a good note. The night before we went to a meeting telling us the custom regulations and what we had to do to re-enter the country. We were told by the Cruise Director that we had to meet the customs officials at 6 am in the morning to pay our duty on any alcohol we purchased. So, I crawled out of bed and waited in an enormous line to pay my dollar for 3 bottles of alcohol. Well, the customs officials were unsure on the rules and some were telling people you only had to pay if you had more than 6 bottles and others were saying you had to pay if you had more than 2 bottles. Finally after some passengers became upset over this lack of direction, the head custom guy said you only had to stay if you had more than 6 bottles. So, I got up early on my last day of vacation for nothing. Also, the at the meeting the night before, the cruise director informed us that we would be debarking at a different dock and would require a short bus ride back to the terminal to go through customs and retrieve our luggage. Well, the short bus ride ordeal turned into about an hour and a half delay in getting off of the ship and getting our bags. They had no organization at the terminal for the incoming buses from the ship and outgoing busses to the airport. The ride was no more than 15 minutes, but we were on the bus for an hour due to the traffic jam. For us it wasn't a big deal because our flight was in the afternoon, but I bet some people had to hustle to the airport. Then, to top it off, the customs officials never looked at anything and stood in a corner and drank coffee. For that huge hassle, I at least wanted it to be for a reason. Overall, we had a very nice time on the Miracle. We will sail Carnival again, but probably not the Miracle as we want to explore other boats and ports of call. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
ME: Al, age 63. 22 cruises. Last: Caribbean Princess, 11/04. Last with Carnival: Paradise, 11/97. SHE: Silla, age 59. 2 cruises. Last: Caribbean Princess, 11/04. PRE-CRUISE INFO: We booked last November through an online agency at ... Read More
ME: Al, age 63. 22 cruises. Last: Caribbean Princess, 11/04. Last with Carnival: Paradise, 11/97. SHE: Silla, age 59. 2 cruises. Last: Caribbean Princess, 11/04. PRE-CRUISE INFO: We booked last November through an online agency at a cost of $640, inside guarantee (Cat. IS). Approximately 60 days prior to the sail date, we were upgraded to an ocean view stateroom (Cat. 6A). The cruise was sold out. EMBARKATION: Living just a half-hour from the Port of Tampa, we arranged for the Super Shuttle to provide transportation, at about half the cost of parking at the pier (it's been raised to $12/day). We arrived just after 10:00 a.m., and were admitted to the boarding area by 10:30; but something was missing ... namely, the ship. The difficulty with its inability to navigate the channel when another vessel is present appeared to have been resolved, since no such incident had occurred since last January ... until the day we sailed! We were geared for the worst, but it really wasn't bad at all. The terminal personnel kept us informed, we checked in quickly, and were on the bus to the ship before noon. The actual boarding was virtually identical to returning from a port of call. Because of having to move 2200 passengers and tons of luggage, the ship departed about an hour late ... but since we'd be at sea on day one, there was no problem making up the time. THE SHIP: The Miracle is the latest addition to the Spirit class (88k gross tons), and has sailed regularly from Tampa since November. As with most newer Carnival builds, it is ornate ... but save for one venue, it works. This has to be the easiest ship to negotiate. All major facilities are on Decks Two and Three, and the remainder on Deck Nine (pools, buffet, etc.). Essentially it's a straight shot from bough to stern on each level, and there seemed to be rest rooms every few feet. There are three banks of elevators, all of which stop at every floor, except for the fancy glass ones, which don't go lower than the lobby. All facilities are clearly marked. I can truthfully state that I learned the whereabouts of just about everything by the time we went to dinner that evening. The exception to the dEcor is, of course, the Bacchus Dining Room (the only one on the ship, other than the specialty restaurant). It can best be described as "grapes on steroids." I'd love to have some of whatever Farkas was smoking when he came up with that design. After a few days, though ... it still looked every bit as garish! On the positive side, however, was the traffic pattern on the upper level. Guests were shielded from viewing the dirty dishes and leftover food ... a really nice touch. There were several pools on the Lido Deck, including one specifically designated for adults. They looked small, but somehow accommodated everyone comfortably. There was absolutely no problem finding a lounge chair at any time. We had an issue with smoke in the casino on the Caribbean Princess. Unless you were next to a smoker, the air quality on the Miracle was fine. Our stateroom was located on the lowermost (Riviera) deck, well forward, which did concern me. My apprehension turned out to be unfounded. We felt virtually no motion, heard no noise from the theatres or elevators ... not an issue at all. The accommodations themselves were excellent. There was more than enough drawer, hanging, and shelf space, the room was laid out very efficiently, and the bathroom was just fine (outstanding shower, with dispensers for gel and shampoo ... no conditioner, though). If there was one major disappointment, there was no refrigerator. Instead, the space was occupied by a pay-through-the-nose snack bar, which must be unlocked by the steward. It remained closed for the week. All three network stations (out of New York, of all places) are shown on the stateroom TV, as are TNT and several CNN's, in addition to those loops of shopping talks, video promotions and other self-aggrandizing hypes. We were pampered by our steward, Joseph Daniel (Haiti) and his assistant, Nadia (Latvia). Both were extremely courteous, personable and efficient. Although we were so far down below deck, we didn't feel as if we were traveling steerage. The halls were well-lighted, there was floor-to-ceiling artwork every few feet ... a very nice feel. A few words about the shops ... nothing special, no last-day deals, the usual schlock. I'm not one for onboard entertainment (I much prefer concerts). But the productions were well-received, so I guess they were good. The comedians, hypnotist, juggler were nothing to rave about ... sort of The Ed Sullivan Show at sea ... I was waiting for the chimps! The Cruise Director, Mark Hawkins, did an adequate job, His trademark is wearing two sneakers that don't match (even on formal nights). The advantage, I guess, is that he has pairs just like them in his room. I much prefer that CD's be as inconspicuous as possible. His assistant, "Karl With a K" is another matter. There should be a J in there somewhere, since he's basically a jackass. He wears those oversized clown ties, flits about like Tinker Bell ... he should be running the kiddie program. PASSENGERS: It was a good mix of couples (there were four weddings aboard ship), families (although not very many school-age children... and those that were there presented no problems), seniors, singles ... overall, a very nice crowd. Smokers kept to their side of the ship, and I didn't observe any instances of diaper-clad children in the pools. Perhaps the presence of security officers had something to do with it. FOOD: There's lots to say here. The self-serve restaurants and dining room must be discussed separately. During lunch, the selections at the numerous buffet areas were unbelievable ... Chinese, Deli (grilled Reubens, pastrami), and Rotisserie (different carved meats, ribs, potatoes), were always available ... and one station changed its theme daily (French, Italian, Japanese, Indian, All-American, chocolate-covered everything). In addition there's a real salad bar, dessert section, pizza, and the burger-hot-dog-Philly-cheesesteak extravaganza. The variety and quality were excellent. But as great as the midday meals were, that's how disappointing breakfast was ... very ordinary fare, the only variety being pancakes alternating with French toast (both of which were so dry, they had to be drenched in syrup), and oatmeal with Cream of Wheat. It was by far the worst selection I've ever seen aboard ship. Freshly-prepared eggs and omelets were available, but nothing else of any merit. There were beverage stations all over the place, so the usual lines for coffee and juice were eliminated. We ate in the dining room after our first day, and found everything to be much fresher and well-prepared. As for dinner, meals were, for the most part, very good, although nothing was outstanding. Appetizers were nicely presented, meat was cooked as ordered (although somewhat inconsistent as to tenderness ... the prime rib was perfect, the chateaubriand a bit tough), and shellfish was prepared just right. Finfish, however, tended to be a bit dry. Selection wasn't quite what it was a few years ago, and there were a few clunkers ... veal parmigiana wasn't even close, and pan-seared red snapper was obviously frozen (this species does not freeze well). The "always available" selections were salmon and steak ... that's it. The highlight of our dining experience, however, was meeting two absolutely wonderful young ladies, who attended to our every need with efficiency and professionalism, and were the warmest and most personable staff members I've ever had the pleasure of meeting. Tatiana and Jana (pronounced yanna) are both from Slovakia, and speak absolutely perfect English. Unfortunately, unless you're booked on the Miracle sometime before August, you won't have the opportunity to experience them. Both are leaving at the end of July, Tatiana to attend nursing school in (of all places) South Dakota, and Jana to return home and begin college. These gals are truly the daughters I never had! We did not avail ourselves of Nick & Nora's, the alternative restaurant. We spoke to several people who did, and as usual, reviews were mixed ... greatest meal ever; overkill; pampered beyond belief; couldn't wait to get out of there after over two hours of eating ... to each his own. Incidentally, the price for this option was increased to $30 a few weeks ago. A brief word about the coffee ... uuuuggghhhh! Usually, the dining room serves real ground stuff, while the reconstituted syrup is used everywhere else. It was all syrup, all the time, on the Miracle! The amount of cream I used increased with each cup, and I was drinking almost pure half-and-half (at least that was the real thing) by the time the cruise ended. This potion will take the paint off your car! If I sail any Carnival ship again, I'll make it a point to bring my own. THE PORTS: The ship makes four stops: Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel and Belize. This is the only itinerary it sails. Grand Cayman: We tendered in about 8:30 on Tuesday, did a bit of souvenir shopping (although many businesses were closed), and eventually found our way to Capt. Bryan's Stingray City Adventure. I've used him before, and booked the trip on-line through Island Marketing. Incidentally, that organization does not conduct tours, but refers people to the various excursions throughout the Caribbean. A 20% credit card deposit is required, which represents its fee. The balance is paid directly to the operator. At $34, it's an outstanding value, considering the hordes of people who pay about $50 through Carnival, and are packed in like sardines on those double-decker boats. We were on a catamaran with about twenty other folks, and had a spot with the rays pretty much to ourselves. Since there's no shopping to speak of (the Cayman dollar is stronger than ours), and inasmuch as we live just a stone's throw form two of the top ten beaches in the world, this excursion was pretty much our only option ... but as usual, it was quite an experience. I enjoyed it immensely. We were joined in port by the Disney Magic and Zuiderdam ... a pretty light day. Costa Maya: I was anxious to return there. On my last visit (December, 2002), I was pretty impressed by the facilities and ambience (including a pool, very clean restrooms, local entertainment, a nice variety of shops), and was even more excited over what the Mexican government had planned for the area (it was touted to be a future rival to Cozumel). I can sum up progress in two words ... absolutely none! Not an inch of road has been paved outside of the pier, the local merchants have taken on a style reminiscent of Jamaica, and the overall atmosphere has, if anything, declined a bit. This was a major disappointment. I was able, however, to pick up an ample supply of my blood pressure medication, for about a third of what I pay in the States ... and I have a prescription plan. The Zuiderdam followed us from Georgetown, and the Explorer of the Seas arrived just after we did. Cozumel: We docked at Puerto Maya, the more southern berth. Having been there at least a dozen times, I decided to do something a bit different, at the behest of several cruise site contributors. We rented a car, and drove the circumference of the island. It's very different on the eastern side ... crashing waves, beautiful formations ... a nice way to spend a day. Alamo and Hertz have facilities there. It's a little different from US locations: most vehicles don't have a/c (believe it or not), many have manual transmissions, and none are of the current model year. We wound up with an automatic, air-conditioned 2001 Chevy Malibu, and paid $25 for the day. Be careful, though: your automobile insurance likely does not cover you; but my Chase Platinum MasterCard afforded the necessary protection ... otherwise, be prepared to spend about another $50 for insurance. We managed to get in a bit of shopping (nothing major), some downtown (tough to find a parking place, but it can be done), some at the plaza located at the dock. This was a banner port day (6 ships). We were joined at Puerto Maya by the Caribbean Princess, Explorer and Empress of the Seas (the largest and smallest cruise ships afloat docked next to each other). The Inspiration and Holiday were berthed downtown. Needless to say, Carlos & Charlie's, Senor Frog's, and the streets themselves, were absolutely packed! Had I not had anything planned, I wouldn't have left the shopping plaza adjacent to the port. Belize: This was my first visit to the former British Honduras. If you're not planning an excursion, stay on the ship until at least 10:30 ... there's a two-hour time difference, and you'll find just about everything closed until then. Because of the ship's size and lack of port facilities, the trip by tender is approximately nine miles ... about a 15-minute ride. We opted for a tour of the city, the Altun-Ha ruins and the adjacent rainforest. Once again, I booked it through Island Marketing, and was referred to Philip Elliott, owner/operator of Phil's Tours. I found the five hours I spent with him highly educational and very informative. I now know why so many Americans retire there ... it may not be for me, but the cost of living makes it manageable for many folks on limited incomes. Altun-Ha is hardly the largest site, but I preferred not to journey several hours each way ... did that once, and my kidneys have yet to recover. Unlike Costa Maya, this area is preparing to become a major port. Carnival is building a dock, and there's new construction everywhere. You might have read about some unrest there recently. Actually, it was a protest by the teachers, who walked out after learning that the Prime Minister had squandered much of the increased education funding. The protest was peaceful, and lasted about two hours. We were the only ship in port. Some Observations: This gives me an opportunity to comment on several of my pet peeves relating to cruising. Here goes: (1) The Shopping Guide ... it is now official: there are absolutely no bargains in the western Caribbean! The port lecturer, Donia (from South Africa via Egypt) did her very best to convince folks otherwise, and succeeded to a degree. When all else fails, there's those two magic words, Diamonds International! There must be at least a dozen in every port, in addition to the permutations (Tanzanite International, Columbian Emeralds International, International International, National International, Amnesty International) ... and on it goes. (2) Park West Galleries ... the young British auctioneer aboard the Miracle is one slick operator. She intersperses phrases as, "His work is increasing in value every day," and, "You'll never be able to own a .... at these prices again," when in fact much of the works are available by the thousands. She practically came out of her shoes when presenting a signed Dali print. I live near the Dali Museum, and there's a virtual unlimited supply of them. In his later years, he signed countless reproductions, many before the works were actually completed. The same is true for the other artists who themselves have become the products: Thomas Kincade and Peter Max come to mind ... both well-represented aboard ship. This gal spoke so quickly, in an effort to precipitate bidding frenzies. Several winning bidders changed their minds when they discovered that frames were not included, and that the cost of shipping the print in a tube would be $35. One couple bid $125 for something, only to discover that it would cost well over $300 framed and delivered. I'm certain it happens often. One must understand that what Park West sells is not investment-quality art. If you like it, and are happy with the price, buy it ... but don't expect it to fund your retirement. (3) Tanzanite ... this is the most overhyped, obscenely priced semi-precious gemstone in the history of jewelry! It's all a product of an ingenious marketing scheme, fueled by cruise line shopping guides. Because it's found exclusively in one location, artificial control of the price is easy ... when the market goes flat, the cry of, "The mine is drying up!" re-emerges. There are thousands of pieces in hundreds of stores, and even a chain of jewelry emporiums with Tanzanite in its name. How rare can this stuff be? Hardly anyone ever heard of it until cruise ship port lecturers started touting it. Again, if you like it, and the price is right, buy it. But is it worth $1000 a carat? Hey; perception is indeed reality! CONCLUSION: The Miracle is a beautiful ship. Service is excellent throughout, and my overall rating is 3.5 out of 5. But for what I paid, it was a bargain. Would I sail it again? Yes, if the ship is the primary consideration; no, if I'm looking to put a dent in my Christmas list. I'd like to see an alternative itinerary (although it being on the west coast of Florida might preclude this) since I'm pretty much Cozumel'd out. I do prefer the eastern and southern Caribbean countries. But if you're a fan of the western Caribbean, you should find this four-port cruise to your liking. Read Less
Sail Date May 2005
This was our first cruise. Embarkation was a snap. We arrived early, around 11:30. It took about 10 minutes to get through the metal detector line and then a short wait to get ourselves signed in. I recommend you preregister on line once ... Read More
This was our first cruise. Embarkation was a snap. We arrived early, around 11:30. It took about 10 minutes to get through the metal detector line and then a short wait to get ourselves signed in. I recommend you preregister on line once you have your booking number. We were at the counter only a few minutes and then we were logged in. Now all we had to do was wait in the lobby until it was time to board. They started boarding passengers shortly after we sat down. By 12:20 our group was called and we took that wonderful walk along the jetway to a real fantasy world. Lunch was being served on the Lido deck 9, so we headed up there to begin our adventure. The buffet stations were going full blast and had a great assortment of foods. We ate here a lot throughout the cruise. We then started to explore the ship while we waited for the cabins to be cleared for our use by 1:30. We were somewhat confused as to the theme of the ship. Now that I've read it is suppose to be a tribute to super heroes in all literature, it helps to understand what the theme was supposed to be. We found some of the decor a bit over the top, especially in the Bacchus dinning room. It reminded me of a high school prom decoration theme with way too many pink balloons. The over-the-top decor frequently clashed with the upscale service we received in the dinning room. It was as if the cruise line couldn't make up it's mind as to whether it was a fun ship or a high class elegant ship. That aside, the service in the dinning room was wonderful and our wait staff made dinning there an event we looked forward to every night. I liked the variety of selection of food although I had hoped for more opportunity for lobster. I understand other cruise lines have lobster available every night. Our room was on deck four and had a partially blocked view through two lifeboats. Now don't feel sorry for us, we paid for an inside cabin on deck one, no windows at all. The fact that we had a window as an upgrade was great but to have gotten French doors that opened so you could smell and hear the ocean was a fantastic bonus. The room was still classed as an inside cabin but we didn't care. The bathroom was the biggest surprise in that it was about twice as big as what I had assumed we have. There was adequate space and the shower was a full size single stall size with lots of room to turn around in. The decor of the room was simple, like any motel room and was a nice change of pace from all the flashy decor on the ship. Room service was okay, but nothing special. When we first entered our cabin there were two dirty glasses still on the vanity and someone's watch. These did not get cleared out of our room until after the late seating of dinner. We also didn't get the towel animal our first night in the room either. That was a bit of a disappointment. There are a lot of activities to do, but many of them didn't appeal to us to join in. Watching bare chested men parade around in a hairy chest contest is not my first choice of entertainment. There were plenty of Karaoke events but you can only listen to bad singers for so long before you just want to kill them because they can't sing. The stage shows were good but not spectacular. We enjoyed watching them though. The excursions were more than just fun, they were true adventures for us and we had a ball. Try the helmet water dive in Cozumel. It doesn't take long and gives you lots of time to shop downtown. Arriving back in Tampa, disembarkation was the most uncontrolled event of the whole trip. They kept saying they would call for the no-assist passengers first, then call for those with early plane flights to catch. Well, they never called for anybody. People just starting showing up with their luggage at the exit on the main deck and they were let off. As others saw this, the stampede began. It was quickly halted by the Port authority who only had one elevator in the building to off load 2500 passengers and their luggage. There just was no control. They should have called us by deck or group or something. We had just a packed mob scene trying to get off the ship all at one point. Overall, we did have a wonderful time with many high moments and fond memories. Although some things did not go smoothly, we would not let those things overshadow our whole experience. We would not have a problem recommending this ship and its itinerary to anyone. The staff members were always polite, respectful and nice to talk to. The ship was kept clean, and there were always things going on to entertain you. We enjoyed the change from our daily lives and look forward to another cruise hopefully in the not to distant future. Read Less
Sail Date April 2005
First off, let me say that this was our sixth Carnival cruise so we know something about how Carnival operates. Next, we'll start with the embarkation. Apparently Carnival thought it would be a great idea to loan the Miracle out to ... Read More
First off, let me say that this was our sixth Carnival cruise so we know something about how Carnival operates. Next, we'll start with the embarkation. Apparently Carnival thought it would be a great idea to loan the Miracle out to the Super Bowl to allow guests to stay on board while the Super Bowl was going on since there was a lack of hotel space available. Good idea for Carnival, bad idea if you wanted to cruise on the Miracle. The ship was late getting to Tampa for the guests to board and get this, after you signed in to get the paperwork done, you couldn't get your boarding pass or your Sale and Sign card. Apparently, something with the computers. Oh yeah, every Carnival employee we talked with had a different excuse on why the ship was late, from being repaired in dry dock to being disinfected from some horrible disease. Anyway, after the ship docked, Carnival thought it cool to call each person's name for them to pick up their Sale and Sign card to board the ship. All 2400 guests! You have any idea how long it takes to call 2400 names?! After, or if, your name was called, you were to go to the front of the line, or should I say, fight your way though the mess of pissed off people to get your card. Once there, you had to find the correct employee with your card because several were handing out cards. What a mess!! Of course you were then supposed to smile nicely before boarding the ship for your embarkation photo....yeah. Next, on to the cruise. The Miracle is a beautiful ship. Nice layout.....easy to find your way around....just a nice all round ship. The ship stopped at four different ports of call, Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, and Costa Maya. All great stops! The only problem here is that several other cruise ships decided to stop in the same ports as the Miracle making getting around very difficult. At Cozumel, there were eight ships total! Imagine dumping 12,000+ tourists on the small island on one day. What a mess. Carnival had three ships there, you would think Carnival would schedule the ships to stop on different days to help avoid such a crowded mess. Good thinking Carnival!! We booked our cruise with two other couples 10 months before the sailing. Upon arrival at the ship, we found out that the six of us would not be dining at the same table. You would think that with a 10 month advance booking, the six of us traveling together would be able to dine together. Not according to Carnival. We were told to ask the man in charge to have our seating arrangements changed and we did so. His response was that it was out of his control and nothing could be done. We asked a second person, and after some rolling of his eyes, we were told nothing could be done either. This seemed strange to us, but we adapted. Maybe we should have waved more money when doing the asking. Or, maybe we should have asked someone that actually cared. This was the general attitude towards guests throughout the ship, nobody really cared. To us, it seemed that if Carnival could get some extra bucks out of each guest, then that was their goal, to fleece the guests for as much as they could. For example, in Tampa, one of the shore excursions was to the Florida Aquarium, Carnival wanted $49 for the tour, if you walked off the ship, across the street, and into the aquarium, you got the same tour for $18. What was the extra $31 for??? Carnival's pocket is my guess. As far as the whole package goes, it was nice. You get out of a cruise what you put into it. And Carnival is trying to get the most out of you that it can, money wise. We enjoyed the cruise but this will likely be our last Carnival cruise, time to try another line. So long Carnival, it was nice until you got greedy. Read Less
Sail Date February 2005
This was our third cruise, all of which have been on Carnival. I will try to review under various headings and compare to our previous cruises. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkment was about the same as previous trips, not too long of ... Read More
This was our third cruise, all of which have been on Carnival. I will try to review under various headings and compare to our previous cruises. Embarkation/Disembarkation: Embarkment was about the same as previous trips, not too long of a wait but it always seems long because you are anxious to get on the ship and start vacation. It probably took us an hour or so to get through everything. I did not see a real difference filling out and printing the funpass. Hopefully they can do something to speed along the process further when you give your information beforehand. Disembarkation was much nicer then previous cruises. In our previous cruises you were assigned a color and had to wait it a public area of the ship until you were called. This time we were able to wait in our room until we were called and this made the process less irritating. Dining: We ate each evening in the Baccaus Dining Room and ate breakfast and sometimes lunch at Horatio's (casual). We did not eat at Nick and Noras as we could not justify the extra $50.00 per couple to eat food that may have been served in the dining room. I thought that the beef entrees were better than I have had on previous cruises (not the best I had but we are from the midwest and get great steaks). My husband did not always like the selections offered so had at times gotten something he did not really want. I wish that they had something simple like grilled chicken on spaghetti with tomato sauce that was available every night and that if available it is printed on the menu. We were also upset because we asked to be seated at a large table and for the third time in a row have ended up at a table for four. We were also in a small room off the side of the main dining room so we missed some of the evening entertainment with the wait staff. (Not a big deal as we have seen it before but to me it would make sense that if they are going to have a quite room that they make that mostly tables for two or families who want things quite). In general the food was average at Horatios and average to above-average at Baccaus. The wait at Horatio's was not long when we were there. There was a slight wait for the Omelet line but not too bad and it moved quickly. Public Rooms/Area: The rooms and public areas were mostly tastefully decorated. I did think Horatios was much more attractive of a room than the regular dining room but they were all pretty nice. Some of the things that we enjoyed about the public area were that in the hallways (by the cabins) there are large pictures of characters from books (my husband works in a bookstore so he loved that). We also thought that the glass work in the stairways was lovely. One thing that was discouraging was that we noticed that some paintings that were displayed (like those in the Phantom show room) looked like some previous passengers had intentionally damaged the works (faces and eyes were scratched out with xxx's). This is in no way the fault of the cruiseline but it was disappointment that people are rude enough to purposely damage something that does not belong to them and is there for the enjoyment of all future and present passengers. Cabin/Room: Our room was cleaned daily except for our sheets. I do not know if it is Carnival's policy to not change bedsheets every day but this is one of the things that really bothered me about this trip. I believe in the past our sheets were always changed but I know that they were not this time. We did have a towel animal every day except the first and our room steward was good at keeping things cleaned without bothering us (he quickly figured out our schedule and came when we were gone). If we left a note (like we did for him to empty the fridge so we could put in our wine) he was quick to help us. Entertainment: We enjoyed the two shows (Generations and the Beatles review). We also liked the singer and comedian on the last night. My husband enjoyed another comedian that appeared earlier in the trip but he was not to my taste (a little dry humor). We did not go to a few shows as they did not appeal to us (talent show, more comedians). On previous trips there seemed to be more variety in the shows (magicians and dance companies, as well as comedians). During the days at sea there were plenty of games, contests, etc. both by the pool and in the main show room (Phantom). Spa/Gym: We used the gym a couple of times - for a step class, a general workout and my husband met with a trainer for a routine for his back/abs. He has a bad back and this helped him to feel better and get a routine he could do when we got home to help him strengthen the muscles in his core and therefore have less back pain. We had a combination massage and facial at the spa. It was very relaxing and I am glad to say that although they did have a list of recommended products they were not as high pressure as I have experience on previous cruises. Ports: Grand Caymen: This was one of our favorites. We had been to Grand Caymen previously but could not go on any water excursions due to the weather (tropical depression). This time we got to swim with the sting rays and had a great time. We booked our trip through the ship and were lucky to have a fairly small group with us (only about 15-20 people). When we sailed up our boat stayed a little ways away from the others and brought out the buckets of squid for us to feed the rays. This was such a great experience I would love to experience again. Fortunately the videographer with us got some great shots and since we bought the DVD we can see it again and again. I was very happy with our DVD. I had seen other videos previously from past cruisers and they were not as good as our DVD (which included lots of underwater shots and interaction shots). My husband bought me a necklace with a stingray on it to remember our trip and especially this port. I have already worn it a few times to bring back the glow of the trip. Costa Maya: We were not sure what to do on this port so we just did the Jungle Beach Break - free drinks on a beautiful beach. The beach (Uvero Beach) looks like something you would see on postcards. You could also snorkel here, as well as the usual braids, temporary tattoos, drinking games, etc. -- FYI - If getting a temporary tattoo be aware that the black henna is not really henna but black hair dye - I did not know this myself and so I got a tattoo on my ankle. My skin is very sensitive and now I am having trouble with the area around the tattoo itching and a rash developing. Other than that I had a good time just enjoying a day of relaxing at this port. Our other excursions were fairly active so the day of laying back on the beach was needed. Cozumel: This was a full day. We went to Chankkonab State Marine Park (not sure if spelling is right). I had booked a sea lion swim package on line with Dolphin Discovery (it included a swim with the sea lion, tickets to the sea lion show and admission to the park). There is a lot to do at the park. We started by walking through the botanical gardens, then went to the sea lion show, went to the museum (which is just one small room), back to do our sea lion swim (after that we held a sloth and a toucan), we then went to the beach and went snorkeling. We enjoyed this although we both said it was not the same as swimming with the stingrays as this is a much more controlled environment. Still we got our pictures (overpriced but still worth every cent) and you can see from our faces how much fun we were having -- these are the things I treasured when we are back to the day to day grind. We also bought some vanilla and a silver chain from Cinco de Sol. They were reasonably priced and the sales people in Cinco de Sol did not seem to pressure you as much as some of the other stores. Belize: We decided to go cave tubing on this port. We did arrange this through the cruiseline - The only trip we arranged on our own was in Cozumel (in the future I will try to book more things on my own through proven reputable companies - as it is quite a bit cheaper and usually involves smaller groups). Although we did book this through the cruise line we had an exhausting but great time cave tubing. We both saw some monkeys in the trees during the bus ride. It had rained early in the day when we went so we had a nice moving current (not too fast but we did not have to paddle much). Afterwards we stopped at a restaurant (I think it was Breezes) as part of the excursion package and had chicken, rice and beans, coleslaw and we bought some tasty beer to go with the above. Our tour operator told us the secret to tasty beans and rice is to cook it in coconut milk (I will have to try that some time). We bought some cashew wine (at the restaurant) it is strong and more like a liquor than a wine but we figure it is something unique. My husband also bought a walking cane (stick) from a local merchant that was beautifully carved. I would definitely consider stopping at Belize on future cruises. MISC: Cruise Director -cruise director Mark was pretty funny and seemed helpful. On our first cruise our cruise director was John who we thought was wonderful. However on our second cruise we had a cruise director who's name I cannot even remember (he seemed to be trying to imitate John Heald and repeated the same old routine). I liked that Mark Hawkins was trying some new fresh things that were not just copying everyone else - even if every joke did not work it was great to see something new. Head of Shore Excursions - I forget the name of this person but I was disappointed because she was not the person who gave the lecture on the shore excursions (that was the cruise director) and even though she claimed she was available afterwards she did not seem to want to be bothered. I asked about the approximate cab fare to Chankonnob Park and mentioned that we were doing a Sea Lion swim. She claimed she was not sure of the taxi fare and that she could not make any guarantees on our Sea Lion Swim as it was not booked through them. I thought this was pretty rude and that she should be able to give basic information about where to catch a cab, if there are ones to avoid and how much they cost -- she did not even advise us to get a price before we got in the cab (fortunately we knew from a previous cruise). Later on in the trip the person who was the cruise lines shopping expert told us the price was about $10.00 each way as far as she knew from last time she went there but to double check before we got in the cab as the prices may have changed. We felt this cruise was among the best because of the ports, the beautiful ship and the fact that the people were laid back without being obnoxious. Everyone seemed to be there to have a great time but in general did not go overboard. There were no problems with unsupervised children (in fact some were holding the elevator door for there father and when they saw that he had stopped to socialize they apologized and left the elevator). There was also not too much smoke and none in the hallways, elevators, etc. Overall this was a great cruise, although as in most vacations I have a few concerns. We look forward to another cruise in the future and will return to Carnival. Read Less
Sail Date November 2004
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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