I am trying to decide between the Elation and Miracle. I really think that I would like the ports better on the Elation, but the Miracle is a nicer/newer ship. Does anyone think it really makes THAT much of a difference about the "newness" of the ship? The price difference really isn't that much...
This is our first cruise, so am really at a disadvantage as to what I should expect. What is the MOST important issue to consider??? Keeping in mind that we will have children with us so we will be limited on our excursions. Should we go for the nicer ship or should we go for the ports?
I go with ports, but having been to both the Eastern Caribbean (San Juan, St.Thomas, Dominican Republic and Nassau) and the Western (Belize,Limon Costa Rica, Panama) one thing you may want to consider is eating in port. Never a problem in Eastern Caribbean but in the Mexican ports and Belize you could pick up Montezumas revenge. I did in Costa Rica. This can ruin a vacation so get your doctor to write a prescription just in case.
When in port all day I find it hard not to eat (low blood sugar) so do be careful and don't eat fruit (my mistake) or anything that may have been washed in the local water, eat cooked foods here. Also if safety concerns in ports like Belize, in the ports in the Eastern your free to roam on your own. I go with the Eastern but having said this there are no Mayan Ruins to Explore. So check the shore excursions at all the ports this may help you decide as well. In Belize do an excursion with the ship or Coral Breeze Limited company, don't go it alone in this port. Any questions I can help with feel free to instant message me.
Forgot to add that I also like ports that are not tender ports such as Belize I like to jump off the ship and on land, so that may or may not be a factor to consider and I also like sea days in between some of my port days, most cruises now have all the ports in a row I find this exhausting and I apresheate the sea days to rest up. The newer ships are nice I was on the Legend, but a friend of mine said the most fun he had was on an older Carnival ship might have been Elation. He said the staff and people were great. I would take a virtual tour of both ships on the cruise lines web page and read reviews on this site for both ships.
I think the operative statement is that "your kids will be with you" therefore I would go with the Elation because you get to go the the private island 'Half Moon Cay" which is nice for grown ups but even better for kids..therefore, I would bet if they remember nothing else it will be that experience
I usually shop by port (especially for your first cruise). After my first 2 cruises, I knew I wanted to try a spirit-class ship (and I sailed on the Miracle), but for my first cruise, it didn't matter.
Check out shore excursions on the Carnival website for all the ports and maybe you'll get an idea of which you prefer with the kids.
Carnival Elation March 11
Carnival Imagination Sept 07
Carniival Sensation Dec 06
RCI Sovereign of the Seas Sept 06
Carnival Miracle Sept 05
Carnival Glory Sept 04
Carnival Fantasy Jan 04