For those who say: "Anything but Carnival", they should have been with us the week of July 8 on this ship and itinerary. The service, food, and entertainment were superb.
We have been on over 85 cruises and have done this ship and itinerary before several years ago, but just wanted a summer gettaway other than the usual Caribbean. We flew to Los Angeles and had booked Super Shuttle. They showed up on our phone with an app that asked if we were down yet, what terminal, and asked us to notify them when we headed out to their location, a little after noon. We waited only a few minutes and the shuttle made only one stop enroute Long Beach. We pulled up into the garage, porters were waiting for our luggage, and we headed to the priority check-in, because as Platinum VIFP members, we have Faster to the Fun priority check-in. We were soon headed aboard and went directly to our cabin. Cabins were available to those with Faster to the Fun by 11:45, and to others by 1:30.
After some pizza for lunch and the lifeboat drill, we were on our way about 5pm. The weather was great the whole week except for the last sea day returning to Long Beach. Food really surprised us. We had sailed most recently on Carnival Vista, their newest ship, and even that didn't match this. Food included prime rib, lobster and shrimp, mahi, lamb shank, roast tenderloin, great soups...both hot and cold ones...and amazing appetizers including things like oysters rockafeller. They feature an appetizer and entree each night including items representative of the ports in Mexico, and they, too were very nice. They had all my favorite desserts, like crème Brule, and Grande Marnier soufflé. We purchased a 5 wine package at the mid-price of three offered, and it included some very nice wines, including a prosecco we enjoyed on the first cruise elegant night with our lobster and shrimp. The lobster was cooked perfectly, which is not often the case in mass production.
Speaking of cruise elegant, there were 2 nights like this. Karen enjoys dressing for dinner, and I took a white dinner jacket with my miniature medals. Not many dress formally anymore, but women, especially, dressed up. We have found that the Cherry on Top candy shop offers flowers and will make corsages. We went to order it the for the first cruise elegant night and the clerk there immediately recognized us from the Vista. The corsage was only $6, a rose corsage to pin on. We kept it fresh in the refrigerator in the cabin and Karen was able to wear eat for several nights before a new one arrived for the second cruise elegant night.
We enjoyed cocktails each evening in the Red Frog Pub before the shows and dinner. Each evening there was live music there from 6:30-11:30pm and we were able to dance some before or after dinner. The entertainment staff include the performers at all the shows. There were four live performances with singers and dancers, and most nights it was offered twice, so we could attend before dinner. I can't say enough about the performances. There were very talented people, and two nights they included live performers on piano or acoustic guitar to accompany the performers. They were some of the best we have seen on a cruise in quite a while. We didn't attend any of the comedy/headliner shows.
I was struck by the friendliness of the staff. For example, one morning at breakfast in Lido, a server approached the table next to me and asked if he could get anyone coffee. A few days later he approached me, and I talked with him for a while. He went on to say that the crew tries to be "family" and that they want to treat the customers as family, too. It was typical of our interaction with the crew, in general.
I have to commend the cruise director, Adam. He has been with the Carnival Miracle for over 2 years. Completely outgoing, he does a great job. I was most impressed the afternoon on a sea day when they held a Military Recognition event in the theatre. I have been at these before, as I am retired Navy, and they never have the cruise director there. Adam served 5 years in the British Navy, and served in Afghanistan. They recognized people by the branch of service, by the campaigns...Vietnam, Deserts Storm, etc. Then they encouraged the participants to take the mic and share any experiences. It was a very moving and meaningful session, which I appreciated.
Cabo San Lucas was an 11am-7pm port. We have been there several times and did take the glass bottom boat out the tour of Land's End, the Arch, Lovers Beach, etc, and then had him drop us at a beach. We were glad Mazatlan had returned to the itinerary. We had prebooked an excursion through ShoreTrips that took us on a tour of the harbor first. Mexico's leading shrimp and tuna fleets are located there with over 700 vessels. We then were dropped at a point on Stone Island and driven to a beach resort. The water was too rough for snorkeling, but included were body surfing, boogie boards, horseback riding, banana boat rides, or even a sort of hayride. There was an open bar and lunch was served with a choice of seafood, or a combo of chicken and seafood. We returned to the ship about 4pm. Puerto Vallarta has built a new pier and is rebuilding the facilities at the existing pier. We took a taxi downtown to the Malencon (boardwalk), visited the cathedral, and stopped for lunch in an air conditioned restaurant (it was 97F and humid outside). Very reasonably priced, Karen enjoyed a red snapper on rice with coconut and lime that she said was the best snapper she has had. I enjoyed four fish tacos on blue corn tortillas with great sauce. We had to stop at a Senor Frog's and then headed back to the ship, due to the heat, and the taxi was only $8.
The morning we arrived in Long Beach we had until 8:30am to vacate the cabin, leaving ample time for breakfast. Great eggs to order or omelets daily, plus the usual fare, and daily they offered eggs benedict or salmon benedict there. We then took our carry-on luggage to the dining room, where they had the Platinum and Diamond and Fast to the Fun passengers wait until we were called to leave. We were off the ship by 9:15am, met by Super Shuttle, and at the airport in plenty of time for a 12:40pm flight home.