Hey friends, we’re back with another review and film of the Miracle from our 8/29/15 sailing. At the end of this review, we've placed links for a full video tour of the ship, a shorter video tour of the ship, and some food videos, ... Read More
Hey friends, we’re back with another review and film of the Miracle from our 8/29/15 sailing. At the end of this review, we've placed links for a full video tour of the ship, a shorter video tour of the ship, and some food videos, yum!
This was our first time cruising the Mexican Riviera in the summer months. We normally choose October through December itineraries but wanted to avoid cruising too close to Thanksgiving or Christmas and catch the refurbishments at our earliest opportunity. We also liked the idea of coming home and having the entire Labor Day weekend to unpack and unwind before heading back to work (that was bliss!). And hey, no other ship sails year round to the Mexican Riviera, so we were curious about the off season experience.
I am 42, hubby is 52, and our son is 6. We’ve cruised on several lines and our hobby is to film cruise ships, which usually happens on the West Coast so we can drive to port, avoiding the need to fly. We have grown to love Carnival (most of the time), but also enjoy NCL, Princess, and HAL very much. RCCI ships tend to run a bit large and overpriced for our taste.
We chose this particular sailing because we LOVED our December 2013 trip on the Miracle and we’re excited to film the ship’s 2.0 refurbishments (scroll to the end for the link to the full ship video tour) and we were impressed with the Alchemy Bar (so fun!), Sports Box (wow, those TV's), Cherry on Top, and all of the other enhancements. They really modernize the ship and you can get a good look at the total refurb, as well as the rest of the ship in the video tour. I really wish they’d replace the waterslide though- that sucker is old and while we cruised down it faster than our last cruise, a lot of people stopped in the middle.
A little about how we spent our time on this trip:
Day 1/Embarkation Day:
We experienced a smooth embarkation out of Long Beach which was a relief because of the heat wave (90-100F all week) – there were tons of people at port by 10:30am (the time we arrived by car), the priority guests were on ship by 11:30am, we followed as FTTF (Faster to the Fun) and were onboard by noon. We grabbed a quick lunch at Horatio’s buffet before the crowd set in then met with the Maitre D at the standard 1pm time to make sure we had a private table, which we didn’t. They maitre d said they’d see what they could do, so we made steakhouse reservations then happily headed to the pools to take advantage of the 90 degree weather while my husband jetted off to start filming the areas of the ship that are un-crowded on day 1 (gym, etc). My son and I did something we likely couldn’t do on a winter cruise, and headed straight for the pool after lunch. We hot tubbed and swam to awesome music poolside in relatively uncrowded pools for several hours until muster. We jumped out of the pool when we got sun weary, ordered a skinny mojito, and headed to our cabin. Muster was very well organized and did not involve the dual trip to the lounge THEN the deck (that was awful on our last cruise). The day was flying by and pretty soon we were dressed for our 6:30 steakhouse reservation. We had excellent service in steakhouse, and as always, enjoyed a free bottle of merlot as a night one perk. When we made our steakhouse reservation earlier in the day, it was awesome to choose our dining time because it's an unpopular night to dine there. After dinner, we were beat, and passed out early with a "too much sun for this fair girl" headache (I’ll remember to wear a hat in the pool next time!). Oh, and I forgot to mention that we made our Suess at Sea breakfast reservations ($5 pp) on embarkation day poolside.
Day 2: Sea day before Cabo arrival:
Woke early, worked out in gym, had cappuccino in lido coffee bar and grabbed a buy 6, get 7th free coffee promo card, then my usual omelet in horatios while hubby and son slept in. Pool area was already crowded so we knew it wasn't going to be a pool day for us, plus I'd had enough sun from the day before, go figure!. Weather was warm and muggy, unusual for us on sea days because we normally cruise the Mexican Riviera in fall and winter when it's too cool be hang by the pool that first sea day. We enjoyed the ship and the balcony and packed our backpack for the following days adventures ashore.
After sea day brunch in a nice booth we hit the twister slide, perused the gift shops, then went to the Suess at sea parade and story time (3:15pm in the atrium). The parade started in the atrium and ended in the theatre. All kids and some adults were given props, like banners, cow bells, and pom-poms and told to chant "Dr Seuss is on the loose" all the way to the theatre. Once at theatre, all kids were invited to stage for storytime. Two kids and two adults were chosen to play the role of the fish, the cat in the hat, and thing 1 and thing 2. Then, the staff read the cat in the hat aloud while the volunteers and staff played out the story with dozens of props (including Squirt bottles). It was adorable and my son was mesmerized. We have a full video of the Seuss at Sea experience which we’ll publish ASAP.
We were given our table assignment in the MDR for early dining, a nice but chilly (RIGHT under the A/C) booth. Dining room service night two was rushed so they could sing "that's amore". The service was amazing though and our adorable waiter made our son a mouse/candle napkin that our son kept for the whole cruise.
Day 3: Cabo: when we set out to tender to shore at noon, we had no idea we were heading in to a day filled with such an adventure. We followed our usual routine - met at the Alchemy bar for a FTTF escort to tender, and once on land grabbed a tender to Medano beach. We settled at Billygans in cozy loungers around 1:20 Cabo time and I enjoyed a STRONG Cadillac margarita for 120 pesos while my husband and son hit the 75 degree ocean water to cool off and swim. After buying a few necklaces from a beach vendor I ordered our nachos and headed out for a swim. There was lots of talk amongst the beach goers of a an ominous black cloud stretching over a piece of the beach, but the restaurant owner insisted it wasn't a rain cloud- it would head back inland he asserted, from daily summer weather experience. So we frolicked in the waves until it was time to eat then rushed through our nachos so we could get back in to the water to see our son apply his newfound swimming (aka diving to the bottom to grab rocks) skills. Suddenly, there was a loud thunder rumble that startled the entire beachfront, followed by a dramatic bit of lightning - the thunder/lightning pattern continued until the thunder was so loud that people started leaving the beach in mass groups, scurrying to find their water taxis as the drizzle soaked their backpacks and cameras. We opted to stay as our water taxi wasn’t due for another 30 minutes and running to the water with a frightened 6 year old in a lightning storm seemed unwise. As we left the water for our loungers, the wind picked up. Umbrellas started to fly, employees ran to grab them, and the rain started to POUND. At this point it was clear that we were stuck on Medano beach waiting out a thunderstorm. We accepted a plastic bag for our belongings from the restaurant staff, who obviously have seen this weather come on suddenly before. I quickly needed to cover and protect our backpack which held my cell, wallet and our clothes which were already getting soaked. We wrapped our son (whose lips were turning blue) in a beach towel, comforted him (thunder is new to him) and scurried in to a semi covered area with all the other patrons. I quickly spotted a group of local moms with kids that looked like they’d let me squeeze under the thatched roof, and was offered a chair to wait out the storm. The storm lasted a good 30 minutes and as the rain let up, we left the thatched roof area to try to pay our bill and find out how to spot our water taxi that was due soon. Billygans was now a ghost town (did people leave without paying??). We paid by credit card only to have the receipt soaked by sideways rain…no clue how they salvaged the receipt! We had no idea if our tenders would return but we figured we were probably in the same soggy boat as 100 of the people stuck in the same situation same place. Finally the rain died down and the sun peeked through. After wringing out our clothes and towels and hanging them on a post, we headed back to the ocean, oddly, to warm up. It was alike bathwater compared to the cool rain. We watched for our water taxi and after 30 minutes or so it arrived we gather belongings and ran on the beach, nearly missing our water taxi and asking if he was going to return later in the afternoon because we realized we'd lost my husbands sunglasses and wanted to stay behind to look for them. He said no more chances to return so we jump on board and headed back to the pier to wait in the long long long line for tender as is the norm in cabo. The rain cooled the air, which made the line more tolerable. Once onboard, exhausted but exhilarated with our storm story behind us, we showered quickly to make dinner at 6.
Day 4: Mazatlan
We made a bold move and actually got off the ship in Mazatlan - something we normally don't do. We grabbed a $15 cab to a resort at the end of the Golden zone that allows cruise passengers, with waterslides and a diving platform, heaven for our 6 year old who just mastered swimming. After a few hours of nonstop swimming, a few scrapes and bruises and a need for a break from the summer sun, we ordered margaritas and soda, as well as amazing fajitas, guacamole and coconut shrimp until the pool beckoned us back. As the pool crowd thinned around 3pm, we were the only remaining swimmers so it was particularly sad when the time came to return to the ship. The employees were kind to us, so we tipped well and grabbed a $15 cab back to the ship. This was an absolute highlight of our trip, and we’ll do it again!
Day 5: Puerto Vallarta
On a budget for this cruise, we didn’t book an excursion and opted to walk to Krystal, a hotel we’d visited before to use their pool for the day. Knowing it had been refurbished, we didn’t know what to expect, so after a trip to Walmart to replenish our sunscreen supply, we weathered the humidity and wandered down to the hotel. The lobby staffed stopped us charged us for a day pass. A VERY fair $10 per person charge was applied, and we were on our way to the pool. We were immediately disappointed to see that one of the pools was filthy and the other pool was packed with people. But, some nice folks offered us a lounger in the shade as they left and we settled in to swim and buy drinks and food. This wasn’t our favorite day, but it was a pleasant swim day for our son and the drinks and food were decent aside from the millions of flies swarming the bar while the poor waiters made sugary cocktails while batting the flies away from the drinks.
Day’s 6 and 7 (sea days traveling back home) were spent relaxing poolside, when it wasn’t crowded, filming our ship and stateroom and just relaxing in our room. We watched a lot of cartoons (no cable at home for us, so our son was grooving on Tom and Jerry!), and sat our balcony for hours on end.
Some final and random notes on this trip and the ship:
We enjoyed early main dining every night except the first and the food and service were amazing. Bound to try some new dining options on this sailing, I’m happy to say I have a new favorite MDR dish, the “Indian Vegetarian” which changes a little every night. I’m not a vegetarian, but it quickly became a favorite on this trip. Attila, Utama, & Christian, our dining room staff were simply wonderful, and made our dinner experience so special, despite the fact that the dining room was ice cold in our section, something I had never experienced on any cruise.
Muster drill was much improved - quick and efficient and the passengers on good behavior (no drunk ones this time, glued to their cell phones)!
We’ve officially decided that when we can afford a balcony, an Aft cabin is best for us, for access to lido buffet, pool and restaurants, the areas we visit most. And wow, in Cabo the aft of the ship was facing the rock formations at lands end and was stunning.
The buffet was horribly overcrowded on the last sea day, likely because of the noon to 2pm chocolate buffet. Room service was the only option after 12:30, due to a shorter sea day brunch. It seems that they could open the Mdr on sea days until 2:30 or so, to control the crowds.
We loved the ship, the crew and the entire experience. Everyone was so warm and friendly, and we felt very much at home on the ship. The crowds, with some exception, were minimal, and we'd love to be back on the Miracle again soon. This itinerary is an incredible value, and we've really seen Carnival up their game over the last few years.
Last, but not least, here is our video tour of the entire ship, including the 2.0 refurbishments (Alchemy Bar, Hasbro, Skybox, Suess at Sea, Red Frog Pub).
If you want to see JUST the 2.0 updates, this video is shorter and shows all the cool new spots:
Here's the video of the Dining Room food (mostly dinners), the steakhouse, Seaday brunch and a short peek at the Green Eggs and Ham Breakfast:
And the buffet food at Horatio's:
https://youtu.be/fjTSarzjHdM Read Less