We Took the Carnival Miracle to the Mexican Riviera for our annual anniversary cruise on the November 12 sailing. It was both our first time out of Long Beach and our first time on the Miracle. This one of the best cruises we have ever been on, we absolutely loved the ship and her staff. The people at the Port of Long Beach were also extremely courteous, friendly and professional.
EMBARKATION, DEBARKATION AND CUSTOMS: Smooth as glass. We had Faster To The Fun (which I HIGHLY recommend),and even though our shuttle was running late, we bypassed the HUGE lines and got on board within ten minutes of arriving at the port. Debarkation was just as smooth, with the only hold-up being the customs agent questioning my wife about her passport picture. She is in the middle of a huge weight loss program, and doesn't want to get new docs until she's completely done. I've also lost a ton, but bald with a goatee always looks like bald with a goatee. We all got a good laugh, and got out of there, took two minutes.
THE SHIP: This was our first Spirit class ship, and we LOVED IT!!!! The ship is absolutely beautiful, like all of Carnival's ships, of course!! Being an English major, I was totally geeking out over the literary theme of the whole thing, and being a mystery freak, with our cabin sandwiched between pictures of Marlowe and Maigret...Boy, let me tell ya!
Just walking around the ship is and adventure for the eyes, you have to watch where you're going and make sure to explore thoroughly or you WILL miss some stuff. The bars and lounges are AWESOME, with the best HANDS DOWN being Dr. Frankenstein's Lab, which is the two-story dance club in the aft. Most of the time the DJs had that place more like Dr. Funkenstein's. It is decked out like Frankie's lab, with panels from the old comic book on the wall, gargoyle bar tables, Gothic spire overhangs(more geek overload!). All of the bars are great though. You have your sports at Skybox(Say Hi to Christo), The Lunchbox Band was playing live music at the Red Frog pub, Gregg was good-naturedly mangling piano tunes at Sam's piano bar, and there was the Alchemy Bar.
Aside from the bars, check out Kane's Way, The Joker, The Raven Library and(if you can find it)Gatsby's Garden for some quiet time.
The Miracle also feature TWO coffee shops. One on Lido and one down on two, just outside the showrooms. Make sure you stop by and get some coffee or a pastry from Carnival's best barista, Ana Maria.
The Lido deck and pool areas are very nice and while crowded(duh) on sea days, still lots of fun. Try coming back on board early on shore day, it's worth it, trust me. The Serenity area also has it's own bar, pool and hot tub, but it did seem to be busier than any Serenity area I've ever seen.
DINING: The service in both the dining room and the Lido deck was excellent, not a single complaint. The food was very good as well. The vegetarian choices in the MDR were surprisingly strong, we were very impressed. The choices on the Lido deck were a little less varied at times, but there was always the salad bar, and Carnival now has an awesome veggie burger, so we're good. Plus they've got to have the best coleslaw and pesto noodles around!! The only negatives we found, as far as food goes, were the sometimes they weren't all that. But that's okay. They gave it a shot.
ENTERTAINMENT AND ACTIVITIES: Overall I have to give this a little bump down because the production shows WERE JUST SO BAD. Oh my, we've been cruising for a long time, and I think this might be the worst cast we have ever seen. They had four different shows, which would normally be great, but when the leads have NO chemistry, and the rest of the cast is struggling, it's painful to watch.
The rest of the entertainment, however, FIRST RATE. Comedians John DiCrosta and desserts. We didn't want to do Chocolate Melting Cake, so we branched out, and John Mulrooney entertained us on the way out and we had Lowell Sanders and Paul Lyons in the Mad Hatter's Ballroom(which is decorated with scenes from Alice In Wonderland) on the way back.
The musical entertainment onboard was pretty good, too. The Lunchbox band played in the island themed Red Frog pub, and when they played electric, up-tempo, music, they were very good. When they slowed it down, not so much. Cary And Amanda were the acoustic guitar soloists, and they would rotate between the Lido deck, the casino, the Red Frog, and the Atrium Lobby. They were pretty good, and sand typical singer-songwriter stuff. Carol was the solo vocalist, and she sang in either the Alchemy Bar or the Atrium Lobby. There was also a string duo.
Hasbro The Game Show, Bingo, Trivia, Big Screen Movies were all held in the Phantom Showroom which is a Paris Opera House/Phantom Of The Opera style three-level showroom. These were all tons of fun.
The spa and gym are located on the Lido deck, and the people are very nice. The gym can get kind of crowded, but the machines are well kept, and if you keep after it, you'll get your workout in. My wife even got a massage on our Anniversary, and she LOVED IT!!!
There is a jogging track, mini golf and basketball court up on deck 11, and ping pong tables on 10. lots of fun for everyone!!!
CRUISE DIRECTOR AND FUN CREW: Adam Cornes was our CD, and we have cruised with Adam many times. We normally call him the "invisible man", because unlike most other CDs you never see him during the cruise, but this cruise he was much more visible than other cruises. Not Tex, or Matt, or Dr. E visible, but more visible. Hey, it's a start. Max, the assistant CD, however was EVERY-FREAKIN'-WHERE!!!! Seriously, I thought there were three of this guy. great job!!! The singers and dancers, while not all that great, were VERY friendly and enthusiastic when they came out and talked to the crowd, and at the after-parties, and coffee meetings.
SERVICE: Outstanding. every person, every time. There's nothing else I need to say.
PORTS: We were not impressed with either Cabo SanLucas or Puerto Vallarta. I'm not going to slag either city, but they are just not our cup of tea.
EXCURSIONS: We did not do an excursion on this cruise.
We will probably not do another Mexican Riviera cruise for a while. We might after we exhaust other destinations, and other types of cruise possibilities. While we LOVED the cruise itself, the ports were enough to keep us off of this route.
Our cabin was great. We were on the Riviera Deck(Deck1), so we were right on the water and got a great feel for the speed of the ship moving through the ocean. We also got great views of the port in Puerto Vallarta as we were docked. GREAT people watching from our window. While we were anchored off of Cabo we were buzzed by some party boats, so that was fun(use your imagination). Carnival's cabins are always clean, and are probably the most spacious in the industry, so for just the two of us, we had all the room we needed. We chose the morning cleaning service, and Putu and Ketut had our room done(with a new towel animal) before lunch every day. The bed was comfy and the water in the shower was hot. there were plenty of shelves in the bathroom, hangers in the closet and drawers in the bedroom. If you pack a ton of clothes you might need more hangers, but if you book this room, don't worry, we left you a bunch of extras:)
We were greeted at the airport promptly and waited less than ten minutes for the transfer bus to the ship. Once we got to the port, it was smooth sailing. Pun intended!
I'm not going to slag Cabo, but it just wasn't our cup of tea.
No need to run down Puerto Vallarta, but we just didn't care for it.