Our family is just freshly back from the Carnival Miracle 12/6 – 12/21 round-trip Hawaii, and let me say what a pleasure it was to once again be on the high seas. And I might also add, high they were. Being our 3rd Hawaii round-trip with Carnival at about the same time of year, we expected weather, but the swells this time were steadily rising; our captain, however, did a great job handling the situation, and though it did result in being late to port, and eventually missing Maui completely, he brought the vessel safely into the islands.
Traveling with our daughter and her family, we got to see the vessel and the islands through freshly amazed eyes, and the adventures proved to be everything we could have wanted. Walking in ports, lunch at Keoki’s Paradise in Kauai (a favorite from past journeys), visiting all over Honolulu, and for our son, climbing Diamondhead for an astounding view of the city and ocean below all added up to a wonderful dream come true for them – and us.
In Kona, which we visited for 2 days due to weather challenges in Maui, we first enjoyed the sights and sounds of their street festival, got the lay of the land, and then on the second day took a shuttle to Kahalu’u Beach Park, a sheltered cove where we swam with turtles, multi-colored parrot fish and even an occasional humuhumunukanukaapua’a (the state fish).
Food onboard Carnival Miracle was a welcome surprise, even for Diamond cruisers like my wife and me. It’s not easy planning unique meals for 15 days, and yet we experienced flavorful, well-prepared dinners every night of the cruise. The variety allowed all of us to find at least SOMETHING each evening – and in some cases we had real decisions to make. “Let me see, will it be Lobster and Shrimp, or rare Prime Rib? Or Lobster, Shrimp AND rare Prime Rib?” Hard choices!
There are a few shout-outs we want to bring to the attention of Carnival; first, on this voyage were Hawaiian Cultural Ambassadors who instructed us in the islands’ history and people while guiding us through the making of orchid leis (the equal of any we had bought ashore), palm bracelets, and instructing in the playing of the ukulele (prounounced “oo-koo-lay-lay”) and dancing the hula. It was a hands-on immersion into the culture of the islands’ inhabitants – by the islands’ inhabitants!
Second, Michelle, the naturalist whom we first met on our last Alaska cruise, was onboard providing a wealth of information about the island flora and fauna almost every day. She is so well-versed in the subject, having spent about 17 years in Hawaii. In addition, she worked tirelessly to retrieve and rescue errant sea birds that came aboard our vessel, returning them to the wild as soon as they had been nurtured back to health.
Finally, a word of appreciation for Carnival Guest Services, who have always been there to assist, but this cruise they went above and beyond. Because of ports being rearranged and/or missed, excursions and car rentals that we planned – which were not through Carnival – needed to be addressed. Being at sea, it was impossible for us to contact them, but Guest Services made ship-to-shore connections whenever needed, and we were able to reschedule everything. Much has been said about the way this cruise was handled, but I cannot give enough kudos to this team who literally saved the experience numerous times for us.
Entertainment is one area where Carnival has always shined. From their Vegas-quality shows like Ticket to Ride ( a Beatles tribute), Carnival Legends (a tribute show with guests as performers with live orchestration in the theater, to multiple musical venues throughout the ship and their constant Punchliner Comedy Club featuring famous headliners, the guests always had opportunities to be entertained. However, as with any situation, there are always things which beg for improvement. In the case of Carnival, considering their attention to providing quality entertainment, we were astounded at how poorly the karaoke experience was compared previous Carnival cruises. Hampered by poor equipment, unsatisfactory schedules and above all, abysmal venues, it was a dark spot on an otherwise stellar cruise.
Once responsible for the highest drink sales at Carnival, karaoke on Miracle has been relegated in most cases to a hallway outside the Bacchus Dining Room, misleadingly named Jeeves’ Lounge. The majority of this “lounge” does not afford a clear view of the performers, and contains insufficient seating for attendees, leading to arguments over seating. Whenever an announcement is made overhead, music stops and has to be restarted. Many performers never returned to karaoke after the first night, and when we asked why, they cited the venue.
While this was a sore point, we found the overall cruise to be wonderfully planned and executed. We have been promised by Carnival that new karaoke equipment is pending, and anticipating this, we are already eagerly anticipating our next trip with Carnival.
Nicely sized balcony just right for romantic viewing.