We decided on this ship based on the ease of getting to Tampa and the itinerary (Cozumel, Belize, Mahogany Bay, & Grand Cayman). We also do not like the larger class ships, so this felt comfortable to us. It is a Spirit class ship. It started off a little rough, due to the internet being down and they could not get the previous guests off so we could board, so the Faster to the Fun was more Faster to the Waiting Area. Still, once on board, our cabin was ready although our luggage was not there as promised. Still, we were able to drop off the carry on, put our mixers in the fridge and head off to Lido to lunch. Once fed, got a couple drinks...thank God they had a decent craft beer selection....and back to the cabin to survey our balcony. Our balcony was fantastic, basically as large as our cabin. We spent a lot of time on the balcony, when our noisy neighbors were not around, as it is so relaxing to sit and listen to the waves roll by. Our cabin steward, Marvin, was friendly and good at his job. He really made us feel welcome and took care of our needs. Ice was replenished regularly for fresh drinks in the cabin. John Heald sent us a nice gift for our anniversary, and the Gold status got us some bottles of water that lasted us through the cruise. The cabin and the ship overall were in decent shape. Yes, she showed a little age, but so would you if you were abused day in and day out!
The MDR was nice, but the service a little off as our head waiter went down part way through the cruise and the trainees assisting were not as skilled. We watched another team do an amazing job though, so I think it was just luck of the draw. On deck 2 aft, there was quite a bit of vibration that leads me to believe a prop or shaft is not as it should be. The food was decent, but in my opinion what used to be standard in the MDR now is an up charge from the steak house most evenings. The dancing dining staff gave us a laugh. The Lido deck staff did okay, but the food sometimes left a little to be desired. After one breakfast there, we dined in the MDR for breakfast therafter and were much happier. My wife ate gluten and dairy free fairly easily. The deli menu looks tasty, but the preparation and presentation is not as good.
The Alchemy bar did the best job of making a Manhattan, with the Atrium bar a close second. The rest of the bartenders appeared clueless. My wife fell in love with the Mango Magic in the Red Frog, which was fine with me as many times they were on happy hour and I got 2 Stouts for the price of 1. They even let me carry out unopened cans so I could enjoy on the balcony. Titus was a fantastic waiter there, good with patrons of all ages.
Overall, the entertainment was good, but 2 of the 4 comics were mediocre. Odessa and Andy played violins, but they were very unique with the mix and enjoying to hear. Karaoke from the Red Frog often made our ears bleed even when a deck above, some folks just have no business being given a microphone and alcohol! The cruise director, Andy, was a riot. He entertained from the time we boarded to the time we walked off, literally. He was more approachable and friendlier than any other CD we have encountered.
We did not book any excursions through Carnival, but we did visit every port at least briefly. In Cozumel, we dove with Liquid Blue, a local shop the we highly recommend as we have been diving with them for 3 years now and the crew is awesome and the owners treat you like family. In Belize, we just visited the locals outside the port area a little, and sampled a local brew, Belikin that I liked both the ale and the stout. I Mahogany Bay, we shopped for some quick souvenirs and jumped back aboard to enjoy the Serenity Deck. On sea days it was anything but serene, but in port it was peaceful. Our last stop was Grand Cayman. After a little shopping, we went to Hemingway's Beach Club as it will no longer be around. Labor Day weekend was the last hoorah since a developer taking over a large portion of Grand Cayman has other plans for it.
A quick word about the Casino. Too much smoke. If you walked the path thru it, as you must to traverse deck 2, smokers could not be considerate and smoke deeper in the casino but always right at the tables next to the path. My wife enjoys the slots, but allergies prevent her from spending any time there, so take note Carnival, you do lose some gamblers because of allowing smoking in all parts of the casino.
In summary, the staff of the Carnival Miracle was one of the friendliest we have encountered and the ship was enjoyable even with out the Blue Iguana and Guys Burgers. The itinerary is a standard one, but 4 ports on a 7 day cruise is always nice. The port was very easy off, but when there was more than 1 ship the traffic is a little congested. We still would recommend this and would cruise it again.
The cabin showed a little wear (examples light bulbs burnt out and loose hinge on one door) but overall was very nice. The balcony is phenomenal!