The one word that describes this cruise is disappointing, which is too bad because my family and I were really looking forward to this cruise despite some of the negative reviews we had read.
We had also sailed with Carnival on the Paradise some years ago and were very happy with our experience. Unfortunately I allowed our previous cruise to influence my decision instead of doing my due research. Our trip to Hawaii on the Miracle will be our last with Carnival.
This is not entirely Carnivals fault, it is just that the service they provide is not a good match for our particular family.
For people who are looking for a bargain cruise for 2 it is probably a good deal, but for a family of 4 this cruise is not particularly cheap, at more that $6K by the time all port charges and tips are accounted for it is a better decision to pay a little more and go with a luxury cruise line.
Embarking was not too bad, but did entail about 15 to 20 minutes of standing in lines.
Once on the ship the luggage was delivered to the room fairly quickly.
After settling in we headed out to explore the ship.
My first impression was that it looked as if an assisted care facility had been invaded by the people of Wal-Mart.
There was an abundance of motorized scooters and walkers competing for limited walking space with people in a wide variety of attire ranging from ill advised swim suits, to pajamas to burkas.
This was also the first cruise I ever saw crew members who would not yield to passengers when there was not enough room for 2 people to pass.
The crew seemed to lack both training and enthusiasm, and appeared to all be overworked to the point where it affected their attitudes.
The food on this cruise overall was substandard. It is easier to list what is good than bad so I will do that.
In the main dining room, the best bet is to stick with beef. They seem to be able to cook a steak consistently without messing it up.
Most of their attempts at gourmet dishes fail miserably. Overall if the main dining room could raise the quality of their food to match a Denny's or Coco's it would be a definite improvement.
The waiters however are great, although extremely overworked which gives them little time to give the passengers much individual service.
Entertainment was kind of hit and miss, with a few good shows and some you just endure. Carnival does not put a lot of investment in entertaining the passengers which leaves many just sitting around in common areas or reading a book.
Unless you are into trivia games or bad karaoke, you will spend a lot of time in your cabin trying to pull something in on the tiny TV in vain because they will not re-adjust their satellite antenna from the Puerto Rico and New York satellites.
Forget about getting any football on Sunday or Monday night even in the Sports Bar, not that I take a cruise to watch TV, but like I said, with the overall lack of entertainment, it would be nice to have something to do to fill the time at sea.
The ports of call were great, although Carnival scheduled them poorly resulting in short port days. I suspect they do this intentionally to reduce their hours in port to save money.
Disembarking from the ship is painful due to the fact that they try to disembark all the passengers thru one exit making for long lines.
Keeping passengers in lines and herding them like cattle seems to be the theme of the Miracle.
They also do a poor job of coordinating transportation at the ports unless you book shore excursions through them.
To be fair, the rental car companies need to share in the blame for the poor service with the cruise line but there is plenty of blame to go around for them both.
Kona is a tender port, and the Miracles tender process is terrible. Again they disembark the entire ship from one exit and it takes several hours. Getting back on the ship is even more painful because the line to get back on the ship without exaggeration can stretch across town more than half a mile!
In Honolulu, you can figure on spending 2 hours of your already too short stay in bumper to bumper traffic being shuttled from the dock to the airport rent a car facility.
In Kona, the service was so bad that the rent a car companies would only take the drivers on their shuttle leaving their families on the dock in confusion and separated without any plan. This resulted in my returning to the dock to find my family gone, and having to return to the airport to search for them.
Again this fiasco ate up a couple of hours from an already too short port day.
Hawaii is a great destination and we enjoyed our time there greatly, but Carnival did a poor job of respecting their passengers time and as a result it made this cruse a poor way to see the islands.
The cabin itself, was a balcony cabin at 185sq.ft. is a little cramped for a family of 4. The condition of the cabin was somewhat disappointing as it is well worn and has a outdated look to it. It is equipped with a 19" TV and a small refrigerator and safe in the cabinets. The balcony was very small, with 2 chairs and a small table. It is necessary to have both chairs and the table touching each other in a cramped fashion in order to open the door. There was signs of deferred maintenance every where like peeling paint and corrosion on the balcony and paint splatter on the chairs. The table looked as if it were corroded and just spray painted over the rust.The beds had indentations in the mattresses from being just plain worn out.The bathroom was clean but very minimal, kind of what you would expect in a lower priced 1980's motor home.