This was a 7th cruise, our 4th on Carnival and our 1st on the Miracle. We were traveling as VIP's with Carnival and also our Mother needed wheelchair assistance. Embarkation was a breeze! We were treated extremely well. From the time we arrived at the port to the time we were relaxing on the Lido Deck was about 35 minutes! We had about 1 1/2 hours until we could get into our staterooms but the weather was perfect and we didn't mind the wait. The Miracle is a smaller ship than we're used to but we really liked the size. Decor was somewhat confusing - we really couldn't find a consistent theme - and a bit gaudy for our taste, but typical of cruise ships.
Casino small and very smoky but a nice selection of machines and tables and we witnessed some nice payouts. Drink service very good here.
Food was outstanding - really the best of any of the cruise ships we'd been on! Very nice variety, portions, and excellent quality. We had breakfast each morning in the dining room rather than the buffet as it was a nice way to start each day rather than fighting the crowds. Lunch was at the buffet however and the variety and quality was very good. Deli counter and pizza were exceptional! Highly suggest one night at Nick & Nora's Steakhouse. Very nice atmosphere and food was superb with great presentation. The best however was the Chef's Table. Well worth the money. Very creative and excellent presentation. Chef Diaz was very personable and really put together an exceptional menu. Only complaint was too much food! We were full by the 4th course but of course we persevered on to the end!
Entertainment - didn't go to many of the shows but we did go to see the comic who was very funny but did the exact same show twice the same night and then again the next night. Would have been nice to have new material. Ventriliquist also very good. Went to "The Quest" game show and participated with a team. What a blast!! Adult entertainment but not offensive (at least to us). Get a team together and go! Make sure you have at least a couple of guys and couple of gals on your team and a couple drinks before you go! And don't be afraid to get others in the crowd to help your team.
We love Piano Bars but this one disappointed. Greg is very talented but didn't play to his audience. Piano Bars we're used to are great fun and sing-a-longs. But Greg played some of his original songs and also some very current songs which most of us didn't know. Also had some of his shipmates from the shows come in and sing. It was more like a piano show than a piano bar. Most people came in, sat down for awhile then left. It was never more than half full. This should tell Carnival something. When he did play something like Billy Joel or Neil Diamond the place went crazy - but he didn't take the hint or didn't care. Too bad - and his tip jar remained empty. He needs to play to his crowd.
Service - Cabin Stewards were very good, friendly and accommodating. Waitstaff was so so. Some were terrific and some were only efficient. Maybe this is what you get when you do the "anytime dining". It keeps you from getting to know your waiter - but ... the dining room wasn't that big and we were seated in the same section at least 3 nights each so... Still, food was excellent so what the heck. Bar service out on the decks was superb! Always someone coming around to offer drinks. Also, we got a separate envelope with our bill for a gratuity for the dining room maitre'de . We never saw him! On past cruises, he/she always came around to the tables at least once to introduce himself. Not this time; at least not to us. He actually stood by our table at Nick & Nora's (recognized him from his photo) but never once said hello or asked how everything was. Needless to say he didn't get anything extra from us. Guest Services staff was exceptional!
Speaking of drinks -outrageously priced. We were really disappointed. It had been a couple years since we'd been on a Carnival cruise and drink prices went up drastically. $25 for 4 beers. If I remember right, last time was $16-17 or 5 beers. Premium drinks like a Cosmo was $10. Needless to say, we drank less than normally would. Again, bummer.
Fitness Center was a bit of a disappointment. We really like to work out but the gym was small, poorly laid out in levels. I belong to a gym at home and am familiar with all the weight machines (like Nautilus) but I was intimidated by this gym for some reason. Went once and didn't go back. Just walked around the ship's decks for exercise. Salon staff was really nice. Good deals in salon and spa during port times and then on the last day.
Getting lounge chairs in the "good" areas was a chore just like on any cruise ship. You cold always find a chair but usually along the upper decks and then not always in the sun.
Overall, we enjoyed this trip, loved the 8 nights. Great food, great ports, great weather.
Cabin 6-168 mini suite. Excellent cabin. among the best we've been in. Ample storage, didn't even use it all. Nice desk and bar area. Fabulous bathroom. Loved the fullsize tub, double sinks, separate makeup area and magnifying mirror! Great oversize balcony. Had the divider between our 2 rooms opened up and enjoyed moving between cabins and the extra balcony space. Only 1 plug in the room however and that was at the makeup area off the bathroom. Needed a plug in main area for ipod and/or charging phones, cameras, etc. Had to keep unplugging one device to plug in another. So at times, a camera was out of use or we couldn't have our music. Not major, but rather annoying.
This is our favorite - we have even stayed on this island in the past rather than take a cruise! Love Philipsburg - great shopping. L'escargot, Talula Mango's, and a glass of wine on the outdoor sofas at the Holland House among our favorites. Beaches are fabulous. Our favorite for people watching is Orient. Favorite for sunning is Pinal Island. Marigot on the french side has the best outdoor market. Grand Case has be best Lolo (bar-b-que). Taxi service is plentiful, trustworthy, and reasonable. Negotiate on your own. You can get great deals and the drivers will get you back to the ship on time.
Took the ship's excursion Catamaran Ride to the Petons. This is the second time we've done this as we had such a great time the first time we visited the island. Lots of fun and you meet some great people. Also depends on the catamaran staff however. First time we went, the staff was lots of fun. And they raised the sails and we sailed back from the Petons. This time however, the catamaran had an afternoon trip as well scheduled and they said we had no time to sail, we had to motor all the way there and back. Took some of the fun out of the trip. But the rum punch flowed and the people we met were great! Had a blast. Highly recommend this trip.
Beautiful island, good beaches. We hired a taxi (again on our own) dropped Mom off at the Marriott to gamble, then we went on a beach tour. Driver Kevin was really nice and personable. Got an island tour, hit 3 beaches, picked up Mom and was back to the ship in plenty time. Cockelshell Bay and Friar's Bay the best. REally didn't need to go to Frigate Bay - very commercial where the others were unspoiled and really nice. Food and beverages available at all.