Carnival Miracle - Western Caribbean: Carnival Miracle Cruise Review by Craig J

Carnival Miracle 5
Craig J

Overall Member Rating

Carnival Miracle - Western Caribbean

Sail Date: July 2006
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Tampa
Background -- My husband booked our trip about three weeks before sailing and was able to secure a last minute deal on deck 6 with a balcony (cabin 6244/cat 8D). There are 3 of us-husband, wife, and 11 year old son. This was my husband's 10th cruise, my 8th, and our son's 6th. We've cruised RCI, Princess, Celebrity, and CCL. We chose Miracle for ports, ratings/reviews, and over all value. We flew from Nashville to Tampa the morning of departure (7/31)on SWA, took taxi to port ~$20, and were on the ship within an 1 hour or so after stepping off our plane. This was our second cruise on CCL (Triumph 2002).

Ship -- The ship's decor is what you expect from CCL, very open spaces, neo-eclectic style in the public areas. We first went to check out our cabin and found it adequate, plenty of storage, comfortable bedding, and clean. You have to keep in mind you are not at the Ritz. Balcony was very private. The sofa was a sofa only for first day. Our steward kept it made for More my son the rest of the time.  I'm sure she would have not done that if we'd asked but no big deal. We asked our cabin steward to empty the mini bar, and she did with no problem...very accommodating as we found all of the staff to be all week. She even iced our cooler iced down (that we brought on board filled with soda, water, and adult beverages). Overall the staff was consistently very friendly and attentive, which contributed to our excellent cruise experience.

For dining we had a booth at the back of the ship with a lovely view at the 1st seating. The food in the main dining room was exceptional. Just as we found on Triumph, the menu offered unique variety that are not typical of other cruise lines. For example, I have had quail twice, first on Triumph, and then savored a stuffed quail presentation again on Miracle. Each night there is a choice of the Chef's recommendation, which I did most evenings, and was very pleased with the selection. All of the fish dishes were very good. My husband and son enjoyed the steak and lobster. Although filet mignon was not on the menu every night, our wait staff clued us in that you could order a filet any evening (which my husband did enjoy). We heard that Nick and Nora's was excellent, and was worth the $30/each, but we didn't feel the need to shell out $60 + wine with the selection and quality of the food in main dining room. The restaurant on Lido deck was good. The layout is a little confusing at first. Just know that every corner station is usually not the same, and offers different selections that you should survey before you decide. The 24 hour pizzeria is far above any we've found on other cruise lines. My DH and my favorite was the de Chevre (goat cheese, mushrooms, garlic). I'm not a big breakfast eater, but my DH and DS loved the omelet station and real bacon (something they don't get at home). The fruit is yummy and great to have such selection to choose from. 24 hour juice, punch lemonade at no additional cost on Lido. However, in the dining room they will charge you. We brought lemonade singles to add to water there since our son is not really a soda drinker. On 2 there is a dessert and coffee shop that my son and I stopped at every night after kid's club so he could get chocolate cake for a minimal charge of $2.

We went to the 2 production shows which were very good. The Beatles Ticket to Ride show was excellent. We didn't go to any of the other shows although I heard the hypnotist act was good.

The casino was frequented by my DH. It is a large casino with a one man band that played oldies. He never had to wait for a $5 black jack table all week, and they even opened a non-smoking table upon request. The craps table was double odds and they did have a low limit Texas hold em table. They also had a lot of machines that were penny slots.

The 9-11 year old Kid's Club got good reviews from our son. There were lots of PS2 stations, and fun activities to keep them entertained. He didn't really partake in daytime activities. He hung at the pool and waterslide with us and his new found friends. Late night party (aka babysitting) begins at 10pm and goes until 3am at $6/hour. He had dinner with them 2x and went to 2 shows that he enjoyed. He usually went to that for an hour or two each night except for Friday night he did stay at the party until the end as the caregivers escorted the children back to their cabins between 3am & 3:30. He thought he was all that to be able to partake in such a grown up activity. Unfortunately, a false fire alarm sounded about at about 2:45am that woke us up anyway, and the kids were held a little longer in Pinocchio's. We brought good quality walkie talkies on board with us with 18 mile radius that he could use to call us if he didn't want to be at the club anymore. He only did this one night.

Pools were good. Never had a problem finding chair. However if you want primo chair, on 9, near the band and the action, someone should go up early (around 9am) and claim your spots for the day. Also, the glasses are tiny. So if you want your drinks to stay cool and filled, bring an insulated cup to keep your adult beverages refreshed while poolside. Ports & Shore Excursions -- Grand Cayman: Tendered to island. Be patient! We booked Stingray City on line before we left. My husband found a catamaran tour on line, but it required no payment on line. When you get on the island just ask where you can find Captain Brians. It is about 2 or 3 blocks to the left from the tender area, next to a bakery. I think you should be there around 9am or 9:30. It is $35/each where the ship was charging twice that. It was a 3 and half hour tour, with 2 snorkel stops. The first is stingray city. The guides were great, and made sure that each person got a chance to hold a stingray and kiss them (7 years good luck!). This was our 2nd time to do this, and Captain Brian's sail-clad catamaran was definitely better than the big shuttle boat carrying mega amounts of your cruise mates.

Cozumel: Still reeling from hurricane; dock destroyed so tendered to island. Again be patient. We just got off the boat and found the information booth by the taxi area to look for beach break. We decided we wanted to go Playa Del Maya and hailed a taxi that we shared with a single mom and her 10 year old son. The cab ride was about $30 for all of us, and the driver said we had chosen the best beach resort that had sustained minimal hurricane damage. We actually got $2/each discount with this driver. The all inclusive rate of $35 included open bar. We just got general admission for son. Plenty of chairs, tubes, paddle boats, etc. Umbrellas, rock climbing wall, bungee trampoline, jet skis available for additional charge. Good beach day.

Belize: Best tender. Don't bother getting off ship unless you have excursion. Shopping area is located at dock, not as extensive as GC or Cozumel. My husband pre-booked with Yohny at When you get off the ship, you have to crash through a wall of tour operators to get outside the cruise terminal where Yhony or one of his guides pick you up. We paid only $45/each (half the price of ship) and Keith and Dennis took great care with us, and safety was their priority. They limit guide to caver of about 1: 8 and we actually got a private tour. Water ranged from 1ft to 25 ft deep. It was a great tour experience for all 3 of us. Some of the tours booked through the ship had huge crowds with 1 guide, people floating out of control, losing there tubes.

Costa Maya: Great dock. Big storm hit in the morning, and the captain wasn't sure if we would stay. He patiently waited it out, and let us stay. Weather cleared and we taxied into Majuhaul and bought a couple souvenirs. Then went back to dock, and enjoyed pool until last minute. Very nicely developed cruise dock and shopping area.

Debarkation -- This was the most painful part of the vacation. We elected to do express exit and carry off our own luggage. It seemed like everyone else decided to do this also (long line to carry all that luggage around). Once the foreign nationals cleared, we were off the ship and in a cab by 9am.

Summary -- Overall excellent cruise experience. This ship offered variety of entertainment, great food, and fabulous and attentive service. Our wait staff told us that Miracle currently is Carnival's #1 ship based on CCL's internal ranking system. I believe it based on our fulfillment on this cruise. Less

Published 09/15/06

Cabin review: 8D6244 Balcony

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Craig J
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