My wife and I are in our late 40's and were travelling alone. We were very lucky to have met many wonderful people on Cruise Critic prior to our vacation and they all made our trip so much better.
We are from Ontario, Canada and look forward to our winter getaways. We chose the Miracle because we really like the Spirit class size and ease of getting around while onboard. The fact that we have already stayed in La Romana during an all inclusive vacation and always wanted to see Aruba are what tempted us to take this cruise.
We flew out of Syracuse, NY. So much cheaper than Toronto. We stayed at the Hilton Airport hotel. Beautiful hotel for a very good price off of LMT. Only issue, we had a room with an adjoining door. Not fun being woken up at 2:00am by guests just arriving and being able to hear their every word.
Arrived at the port around 10:30am and were quickly put through the short lines. Because this was a cruise just after a two day cruise, many people had remained on board as part of a B2B. We can only assume this is why everything went so smoothly. We never sat down once, just kept moving along until we were on the ship maybe a half hour later.
This was the first time we actually met one of our room stewards. Newbon was absolutely fantastic and we now know why people brag about their stewards when they get exceptional ones. He went over and above every time he saw us and treated us like family. It was such a great start to the trip.
Dinners were as good as usual. We had any time dining and while we did wait most nights, it was for only about 10 to 15 minutes which we spent having a drink by the bar. We expect that and we have no issues with it. We are on vacation and are not in any rush to do anything but enjoy each others company. The ship had a good age mix and one thing we noticed was that in general, people really seemed to dress up a lot more for formal nights.
The winds were higher than normal for our cruise. No controlling the weather. This was the first time both my wife and I experienced some form of sea sickness. We were never ill, just tired, not hungry and our stomachs were kind of upset. This only happened a few nights. It usually occured only at night and never while off of the ship. Luckily a friend offered some Bonine and within minutes, everything was good again. Being Canadian, I don't think we can purchase that up here but now fully plan to do a roadtrip to the U.S. to buy some. It's a Miracle drug,,,so to speak!
Great ports which I will go into detail about down below. We may actually do this itinerary again. The fact that the Miracle will no longer be doing this trip is sad, but this gives us a chance to try the Freedom or Breeze now.
For the first time in three cruises, we actually got the chance to dance after dinner. We tend to be early risers and therefore, do not make it to the disco. There is a bar/dance club at the front of the ship called Frankie and Johnnies. The band in there was incredible. We had so much fun there on our first night that we actually stayed up well past midnight for the first time. Wow does that make us sound old...
One other area we have never taken advantage of was the shops on board. My wife and I could not believe the deals to be had. Soveniers, jewellery, fragrances, alcohol...everything was priced very competetively and best of all, tax free. My wife bought a Guess purse for only $50 which she couldn't stop talking about. One day they had watches on for only $19.99 which they sold out of and there were lots of them available.
The two man band at midship Lido were great to listen to while hanging out and getting some sun. Chairs were not always easy to find but we did everyday. Just have to look a little. We found by 10:00am you could find lots of chairs. After that it got a bit more crowded.
One point I must make is how easy self debarkation was. We were up on deck 8. At 7:35 we headed out of our room with our two full size suitcases. Down the elevator to the atrium, 5 people in line ahead of us, checked out with our sign and sail card and headed off the ship. You can choose either the escalator or the elevator to go down to the first floor where customs is. Outside, we grabbed a taxi to the airport for approximately $15 total versus the shuttles outside charging $11 per person. We were inside the airport at 8:05am. Bad news is our flight didn't leave until 11:55am. We were worried about that being too early originally. Love this port! Next time we try for a 10:00am flight.
We highly recommend this itinerary and ship while it lasts in Fort Lauderdale. Read on for some port information and tips.
Absolutely loved the location of our cabin, #8192. Located between stairs and elevators. Just opened the door and we went up one flight to get to Lido deck, Steak House or to elevators. No noise whatsoever as we originally thought might happen. Midship location, no noise from up above at any time. Only wish our elevators went to 1A deck for ports. Can't have it all.
Right off of the ship, there is the beach. We went through the shops and headed down the beach to Jack's Shack. There is another larger bar/restaurant area in between Margaritaville and Jack's, but we didn't stop there. They seemed a little agressive but nothing to worry about. Jack's was fun. The beach was nice there and of course, we got our free shot of rum. You can register online or just print off a coupon for it but I highly doubt you need to do either. Just ask. We rented a couple of chairs for $5 each and stayed there most of the day. We finally left and went down to Magaritaville for a while. Nice pool and some fun games going on. We liked the island but the drinks are not cheap ( Jack's had local beer for $5 each and that was the cheap stuff ).
Casa de Campo is actually La Romana port. Not much to see and do at the port. Absolutely necessary to book an excursion here. We booked the Dreams hotel privately for a day pass. We have stayed there for a week before and loved it. For around $60 you get unlimited food and drink and a beautiful resort with a great beach and two large pools, one a swim up bar/infinity pool. Taxis or vans that hold 11 people are readily available at the top of the hill to the left for only $10 per person per direction. The trip takes only 25 minutes and most drivers will narrate about their island during the trip. They then wait for you until you are ready to go. It's a must do if you can get in. They usually allow about up to 75 guests.
Aruba was the island we were most looking forward to seeing. It was beautiful. Lots of signs of North America on this modern looking island. There were all the chain restaurants and hotels we all know. We actually docked at the cargo centre just north of the normal pier. When you got off of the ship, there were lots of vendors waiting for their customers. We asked and found you could take a shuttle out to the road. The shuttle cost us $3 each and dropped us off out by the street. From there, he had to go back for another load from the ship. When he returned, he then took 6 of us out to Palm Beach. All this for only $3 each. Much faster than the local buses for a slight bit more.
The area is really built up with hotels and beaches on one side and bars and restaurants on the other side of the road. Nice place to stay for a longer duration. We parked ourselves on Moomba Beach which is just a small slice of Palm Beach. We found buckets of beer priced at $24 for 6 beer. Not bad. The beach was nice but was it ever hot there. Here is the part that disappointed us about Aruba. The actual beach, the water, was quite cold, murky and there was lots of sea grass on the bottom. I can't say if this is normal or not, but it was really disappointing. Based on that one day's experience, I would return but would look for a different area of the beach.
Afterwards we grabbed a cab and headed down to Oranjstadt for only $11. We went up to the second floor of the Renaissance Marina with our friends who had been there before. There is an infinity pool up there that overlooks the marina. The food was amazing and reasonably priced. Next door there is a casino also. From there we walked back the two blocks to the ship's free shuttle.
Our most unexpected port and now our most favourite. We got off of the ship and walked the short distance towards the downtown area. Everything is very clean and just as colourful as you see it in the brochures. We went across the floatin bridge into the downtown district. We did some shopping and then came back to watch the bridge in action. Very cool.
We then met our group on the other side to take a tour. We chose IRIE tours. The cost was only $20 and for that we got a 3.5 hour tour of the area. It takes place on an open air school bus which is painted in neon colours and has music playing out loud. The driver narrates as he drives and the tour was awesome. Oh, by the way, it also includes free beer, water or coke. I can say enough about this tour. It was just so much fun and you need to do it. We stopped at the Curacao distillery and got to try samples. We ended up at Mambo Beach. Beautiful. Crystal clear water, nice sandy beach and lots of sites and clean washrooms. That bus was full of different age groups and not one person left without a smile. If we go again to Curacao, we are redoing this tour. Dennis our driver could not have been funnier or a better host. Thank you if you read these boards Dennis.View All undefined undefined Reviews