My fiance and I sailed on the Miracle on the 10 Nov 2011 Southern Caribbean sailing. We have sailed Carnival several times and knew what to expect. We drove to the port from our Orlando area home, taking about 3 1/2 hours to get to the port. We used "Park & Go" for parking as they are $6.99 a day instead of the $10.00 - $20.00 a day the port charges and they are only a mile or so from the port. Very helpful staff too. We reserved our parking online and that made it a real breeze. We arrived at the port at 9:30 am.
Embarkation was a breeze! We were on the ship right at 11:00 am and headed straight to the Lido deck for some lunch and a drink. After lunch we went to look for our cabin and it was ready. So we moved in and unpacked and then explored the ship.
Firstly, I must say that we found the Miracle to be the roomiest ship we have sailed with Carnival. There is more deck space than we have seen and finding a deck chair was never a problem. In fact, they did not even set all of the chairs out and there were more than enough! We loved that the decks went all the way around the ship! The only thing I was disappointed with is that there were no chairs available on deck 3. I would have loved to have had a chair there to sit and read in. This was the case on our previous cruises.
This cruise also had a very large group of bingo players. Apparently there was a bingo tournament on board and that explained the rise in average cruiser age to about 65. While there were a lot of them, the bingo players kept to their bingo, leaving every other activity less crowded and more enjoyable. I would cruise with that group every time if I could!
Our ports of call were Grand Turk, La Romana, Aruba and Curacao. We had previously been to Grand Turk, but the others were new to us.
Grand Turk is a very relaxing place, but there is little else to do there. The man-made beach is nice enough, and the pool at the Margaritaville is better. The drinks are expensive, but they are strong, so I guess it evens out. We stayed at the pool and had a drink.
La Romana in the Dominican Republic is not the best place to spend a day. The poverty of the island is in evidence, the people are among the friendliest we have ever encountered. We went snorkeling off of an Isabella island. There was so much garbage on the reef that watching the fish was problematic in that they were also trying to avoid the trash.
Aruba may be the place for the party crowd, but I wanted to go diving! While my fiance does not dive, I do, so I set out to dive the wreck of the Antilla and the Pedernales. Carnival uses Red Sail Sports for their diving in Aruba. I have been diving with them before and found that they are pretty much a "cattle boat" but since there were very few divers on board thanks to the bingo crowd, the boat only had 12 divers on board. The diving was excellent, even though we started out late and the second dive ended up as pretty much a night dive. Other than diving, I saw nothing in Aruba that stood out to make it anywhere that I would care to return to. Most of those I spoke to were looking forward to going to Sr. Frogs, the former Carlos and Charlies made famous as the last place Natalee Holloway was seen. We drove past it on our way to and from the dive boat and it is no different from all of their other locations, it is just a bar. Maybe exciting for some, and while I do remember when I first left home, the thrill of bars left me years ago.
Curacao was our last stop and one we both enjoyed immensely. We took the "Beach by Boat" excursion and had an incredible time. The private man-made beach they took us to was just as smooth as a lake thanks to the breakwater of rocks they placed to prevent the ocean from washing the sand away. There were plenty of fish and the water was very clean. After the excursion, we had plenty of time to wander among the stalls and shop for souvenirs.
All in all we had an incredible cruise on the Miracle.
My one true HARD complaint is that the craps table in the casino was closed the entire cruise!! On the last night, I was finally told that it was closed because no one was interested in playing, so they did not open it. That was the stupidest thing I had ever heard. So because people were not lined up wanting to play, they don't open the table? I had $500 budgeted to play craps with and I ended up bringing it home. So it will go toward our next cruise.
Carnival does provide an excellent product at an excellent price. They are a business and as such, they offer many a' la cart extras that passengers may purchase if they like, or not. Those who consider this nickle and dimeing are missing the point. Because they offer these extras, and there are people who take advantage of them, Carnival is able to provide cheaper fares. Plus, before you chastise them for it, look at the other lines, they offer the same extras, but their fares are typically higher to boot.
Now, to answer a previous review by the people whose property was stolen. There are thieves EVERYWHERE. I would bet there are thieves where you work. Anyone who brings EXPENSIVE electronics, jewelry and cash with them to the beach and leaves it unattended is just ASKING to be ripped off. Would you do that at any beach in the US? You assume it was a Carnival employee that stole your things, it could have easily been one of your fellow passengers. Yet you want to "warn" everyone not to cruise on Carnival because you did something stupid! I suggest that YOU not cruise Carnival, because actions such you displayed will likely ruin the vacation of someone else when you fall overboard or do something equally stupid.
So, now that we are home again, and the motion of the ship is still affecting us, we are looking forward to our next cruise we have booked. Of course it is on Carnival. 348 days to go! Carnival Freedom 3 Nov 2012.
The shower drained exceedingly well!!