Carnival Miracle Cruise Review by GlendaleAZ
- Sail Date: February 2015
- Destination: Mexican Riviera
- Cabin Type: Balcony
In all seriousness, it doesn’t even come close. It’s just that we experienced so many wonderful people and events on our recent Carnival Miracle cruise to Mexico, there just aren’t enough superlatives in the English language to properly describe how great it was. Let’s start with the weather.
We have made this particular cruise journey about 20 times. In all those experiences, we had bad weather either coming or going, or the temperatures in Mexico were either too hot, or too bloody hot. This time, the sun was out every single day, the sea air was shirt-sleeve comfortable, and not a single drop of rain hit our bodies. As a result, the seas were clear and glass-smooth, and anything swimming above or below was readily available for ogling with the naked eye. There – for the more prurient, I just used “naked” in my review. We saw turtles skimming by our ship in the open ocean, and dolphins and sea birds diving for their frequent meals. And we saw whales – unbelievable numbers of whales.
One of the main reasons we booked the cruise at this time of year was that it heads directly into the birthing and breeding areas for grey humpback whales, which winter in Cabo San Lucas (Cabo) and Puerto Vallarta between December and March before heading back to Alaskan waters for a summer of feeding before beginning the cycle once again. We scheduled a whale watching excursion in Cabo in the hope of witnessing these gentle giants in their native habitat. From past experience, we knew this could be a crap shoot, since whales appear in the wild on their own schedule, and no amount of begging will get them to pencil you in on their itinerary for the day you will be in town. We have gone multiple times and have seen nothing, nada and bupkiss. But this time, the crap shoot turned into an amazing photo shooting gallery, with a constant barrage of activity for 2 solid hours as whales flipped, flopped, breached and tail-slapped, all to squeals of glee from everyone aboard.
Due to our ship docking overnight in Puerto Vallarta, we finally got to experience the Rhythms of the Night show in Las Caletas, a jungle area down the coast from Puerto Vallarta. We had heard so many wonderful things about the show, but they did not even begin to describe what we were to experience. Imagine a ride on the darkened sea after sunset, with nothing but black skies and stars above, and crazy crew aboard entertaining and preparing you for what was to come. Far in the distance, small amber pinpoints of light begin to spread across the shore as the boat approaches. As our trusty craft draws nearer to the docks, we can see literally hundreds of torches and candles lighting the way just beyond the dock area, which is illuminated from beneath the water by powerful electric lights. Below your feet as you walk across the dock you can see huge fish darting to and fro beneath the waves, silver shapes sliding effortlessly in the aqua-lit waters. It looked just like our visit to the Blue Grotto on the Isle of Capri in Italy so many years ago. As we walked ashore we were guided along torch-lit paths through the thick bamboo and palm jungle and up the hill to the arena-like stage, stopping periodically to see carefully placed human points of interest that just heightened the expectations of the show to follow. As the show began, we were transported back in time as actors delighted the audience with an amazing performance replete with mesmerizing acts involving fire and acrobatics. The fire dancers were twirling torches that produced so much heat that we could feel it a full 40 feet away in the stands. After a standing ovation, we were led to dinner the equal of anything we experienced aboard ship – and that is really saying something, because Carnival food is fantastic – followed by a very romantic walk along the torch-lit paths back toward our boat. We then returned to the cruise ship, with an amazing view of the lights of Puerto Vallarta’s busy shoreline to guide us.
People have asked us why we cruise so much, and why we travel almost exclusively on Carnival. The answer is simple – Carnival has always treated us like royalty, even from our very first cruise. The smiles of the room stewards tell us they are glad to be there, and they are proud to provide superlative service to us. The food is wonderful, the waiters attentive and after only one visit to the dining room, they know our names. In fact, we were greeted by staff who remembered us from past cruises, and even noticed that our son, Mark, was not traveling with us this time. We made a special new friend this time, Reka (pronounced Rayka), a ship’s photographer from Hungary who shared a cab with us from the airport. We were able to talk to her a number of times during the cruise. Such a sweet young lady.
Much of what we expected on the ship was there, and was just as good as it ever was. Food, entertainment and comfort were the rule of the day, and we never lacked for something to do – or even nothing if we so chose. One item, however, has declined severely over the years, and we have hope that our pleas to Carnival will help to rectify this situation. We are huge fans of everything karaoke, as are many others, and for years Carnival provided an enormously entertaining venue aboard ship. In fact, aboard ship is just about the only place I get to sing karaoke, as we do not visit bars at home, which is where it is usually available. We have added many new friends to our karaoke “family,” and on Facebook we joined over 100 of those friends as members of the Carnival Karaoke Cruisers. We share our experiences aboard Carnival ships around the world, and find much in common in those experiences.
This trip, much like our last, we found that Carnival once again relegated karaoke to the Jeeves Lounge, which is nothing more than an open area split in half by a winding pathway where people pass on their way to the main dining room. At dinner time, the line forming to go into the dining room completely blocked the view of singers for the audience, and vice-versa for the singer. When announcements come over the PA system, the music immediately halts, and the singer is left with karaoke-interruptus, after which they must regroup and finish the song. It happened to me right in the middle of a crescendo while singing Frank Sinatra’s “My Way,” and was completely unnerving.
Now add to this mix a poor sound system, even worse equipment, insufficient seating with partitions that block most views of the singer, and in the wake of Carnival’s decision to replace dedicated hosts, an assigned staff member who apparently drew the short straw, and you have a recipe for disaster. The “host” found it much more interesting to chat with guests and staff offline rather than bringing up singers, and the dead-air was absolutely mind-numbing. The audience numbers and participation declined at every karaoke event, and one could hardly blame them. If Carnival could not see fit to support their guests’ needs for a proper venue, why should the audience support their poor effort? In the end, on the last sea day, they offered karaoke at 2pm in the same setting, and I decided it was neither worth my time, nor my effort to show up.
This said, we loved our cruise, despite the disappointments, and look forward to the changes coming to the ship and to karaoke during their upcoming dry dock. We still love Carnival, but like a child you hope they will listen, and learn from their mistakes. We are booked on Carnival Miracle again over Thanksgiving, and we shall see if they were willing to listen.
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