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Old April 6th, 2006, 03:20 PM
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Default Review: Carnival Miracle 03/26/06

Background: There were 4 of us on this cruise. Myself, age 47, husband, age 48, son, age 17, and daughter, age 15. We live in a suburb of Chicago.

Getting there: We left Chicago on Saturday, March 25th. We flew on AA from O’Hare. No problems there except that somehow our assigned seats were no longer assigned when we got to the airport and the flight was overbooked. We didn’t know if we would get on until enough people took the travel incentive that they offered to people willing to give up their seats. Enough people took it so we were on.

Tampa: We arrived in the late afternoon and took a cab from the airport to the Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown/Ybor City. The cab ride was about $25.00. The Hampton was very nice and conveniently located. It’s right on the trolley line so you can get around easily. That night we took the trolley to Channelside and had a wonderful dinner at Tinitapas. I would recommend this place if you like to eat tapas style. After dinner we took the trolley to Ybor City and just walked around. It was kind of crazy because Ybor City is the bar scene where all the young people go. Of course, my kids are too young for this but they were fascinated just walking around a looking. We probably went back to the hotel around 11:00 to get a good night sleep. We did hear some loud partiers come in the middle of the night but it was quiet again once they reached their rooms. I would definitely recommend this hotel if you want to be close to the action. Also, there is a small pool area that we didn’t use. It was very small though.

Embarkation: We took the free hotel shuttle from the hotel to the pier. I think we got there around 11:00 AM. There was almost no line at all. We had to wait until about 12:30 to board but that didn’t matter because we had a great time waiting. We met most of our roll call people there (roll call on another board. Never got responses to roll call here). Some of us had met prior to the cruise and we had exchanged pictures so we were able to recognize almost everyone. We had our 1st meet and greet right there so the waiting just flew by. By 12:30 they started the boarding process. I don’t know exactly what time we boarded but we were in group 9. Had our photos taken and headed up to the lido deck for lunch. We had been told we could go to our cabins after 1:30 so after we ate we headed down there.

Cabins: We decided to get 2 cabins this time. My husband and I had an extended balcony on deck 6 with our teens in an inside cabin right across the hall. Both cabins were clean, quiet, and satisfactory. We had had a cat. 11 suite on the Pride so at first the cabins seemed small but that was quickly forgotten the first time we had to get ready for something and didn’t have to share 1 bathroom between 4 of us. The cabins have plenty of storage space for 2 people. The suitcases fit nicely under the beds. Our cabins were already made up properly (beds together in our cabin and apart in kids cabin) so we didn’t have to request this. I should mention that even tho my kids are teens, we were able to book them into their own cabin to begin with and didn’t have to do any cabin switching after boarding. I did go to the purser’s desk and ask for extra key cards only for each cabin and they did this with no problem. That way, the kids had a key for our cabin and we had one for theirs.

Cabin Steward: Our cabin steward was Candice and she was fantastic. She kept our cooler with the sodas we brought filled with ice and added more soda when we ran out and asked for more. Our cabin was always spotless and she was always very nice and personable. She is from South Africa so her English was very good. We talked quite a bit and found out that spent some time in the Chicago area as an au pair and her best friend from her childhood in South Africa lives in the town next to us. We gave her a nice extra tip at the end of the cruise. She really deserved it, especially for taking care of our kid’s cabin since it was a disaster the whole cruise. I apologized to her for it at the end of the cruise and she said she’d seen much worse.

Muster Drill: Nothing to it. Happened around 3:30 and lasted about 20 minutes.

Sail Away: COLD!!! Unfortunately, Tampa was experiencing a cold front that weekend. Temps were in the 60’s during the day and 40’s at night. We got together with some of our roll call friends by the aft pool and bar for sail away. It was fun but we were cold.

Dining Room and Servers: What can I say, that dining room really is ugly! I had heard so much about how ugly it was that I was actually looking forward to seeing it and that actually made it kind of fun. We had early seating at a table for 4 on the upper level. Our waiter was Donovan from Jamaica and he was wonderful. His assistant was Darya from Croatia. She was efficient but very quiet. She barely said a word the whole week. We found most of the food to be very good. I’ve had better lobster but I’ve also had worse. The filet was good but I like the way my husband grills it at home better. I’m a pastaholic so I ordered the pasta dishes a couple of times and thought they were very good. The best desserts were the flourless chocolate cake, bitter and blanc and the Grand Marnier soufflé.

The Ship: We loved the ship but liked the décor of the Pride better. It was just classier. Some of the décor on the Miracle is a bit over the top but we love the Spirit Class and would sail the Miracle again in a heartbeat.

Monday: Fun day at sea. We didn’t do much. We walked around the ship then in the afternoon hung out by the main pool with our roll call friends. By this time we were far enough south that in was quite warm. The Hairy chest Contest was a blast because one of our roll call friends was a contestant and another was a judge. We managed to get a chair around the middle of the afternoon when someone vacated one. The was quite a bit of chair saving but chairs were available if you waited around a bit for someone to vacate one. That night was formal night. We had sent the guy’s shirts out to be pressed and still didn’t have them back at 4:30 and the Captains cocktail party started at 5:00. Our steward didn’t answer our call (we didn’t know she was off duty) so I called the pursers desk. They told me that our steward would bring them at 5:30 when she came back on duty. I explained that we had early dinner and that we needed them sooner and they said they’d call back. About 15 minutes later there was a knock at the door and it was a guy with the shirts so all was well. The cocktail party and dinner was nice. After dinner we saw the show “Generations.? It was very good. I think this was the night that after the show my husband went to the casino and to the see the late night comedian. His name was Frank Delpizzo and he enjoyed him very much. I went to the piano bar with a friend. We really enjoyed the piano guy, Joel. He was very funny.

Tuesday: Grand Cayman! We had an early tour booked independently with Captain Bryan for Stingray City and snorkeling. We weren’t sure how we we’re going to get off the ship early so we went to the Phantom lounge where the people booked on Carnival tours were meeting. My friend told the people running things there that we had an early, private tour booked and they said, “No Problem,? and told us to just go down to the debarkation area and get on a tender with the Carnival tours so that’s what we did. It was really easy. We got to the meeting place for Captain Bryan with plenty of time to spare. The tour was great. We went out on a catamaran to the stingray sandbar. Unfortunately it was very rough that day. We were able to get in with the stingrays but it was quite a struggle. We still enjoyed it very much. The stingrays were really cool. I heard later that the Carnival Stingray excursions were cancelled because of it being so rough. The snorkel stop was not so rough so we enjoyed that too. I would highly recommend Captain Bryan for this excursion. There was 70’s and 80’s party up on the aft deck that night that we went to for awhile. I may have gotten my Monday and Tuesday night mixed up. I said that my husband saw the adult comedy show with Frank Delpizzo on Monday but it’s possible that he id this on Tuesday. If that is the case, then he saw Ronnie Bullard. It’s all kind of a blur now. I’m not 100% sure which night my friend and I saw Joel the piano guy but either way, he was great and I recommend you visit the piano bar at least once.

Wednesday: Cozumel! Since we didn’t have an excursion planned. I went down to Frankie and Johnnies at 8:30 because they were supposed to begin handing out tender tickets at 9:00. At about 8:45 someone came in and started handing them out. We got tender #1. I think we actually ended up on the 2nd tender and it was easy. We did have to wait a bit for it to fill up but not too long. The tenders a huge so they do take awhile to fill up. We took a taxi to Paradise Beach. I think we negotiated $24.00 for 6 of us in a van taxi. Paradise Beach was beautiful. It has recovered nicely since hurricane Wilma. It was sad to see how bad the rest of the island was. We got there early enough to get a bunch of chairs together with our roll call friends. We got a waiter and set up a tab for the rest of the day. In the morning the kids and I went parasailing thru an outfit right next door to Paradise beach. It was fantastic. We had never done it before. The rest of the day we just relaxed on the beach. We met Paradise Beach Tom (the owner) in the afternoon. What a great guy. In the mid afternoon we headed back to the pier area for a bit of shopping then back on the tender for the ship. The last tender was at 5:00 and the ship sailed at 6:00 even though our docs said we were supposed to be in port till 7:00. That evening we just hung out on the ship with friends.

Thursday: Belize! Again we had an early tour booked. There was nothing in the capers about tender tickets so we just headed down to where all the people on Carnival tickets were getting on the tenders. We told the girl that we had an early shore excursion and she said no problem, she’d just put us in with the Carnival tours. This time we were going Cave Tubing with X-Stream. We got to the meeting place with plenty of time to spare. Our guide was Nathan and he was very good. He was very knowledgeable and talked about his county the whole way there. The hike into the rain forest was not bad. We enjoyed this tour but my daughter and I got very cold. My husband didn’t get cold and loved it. I would recommend this tour thru X-Stream but you might not enjoy it if you get cold easily. We went thru 2 caves while the ship excursions only go thru one. Truthfully, I would have been perfectly satisfied with only one cave. The second cave (the one the ship tours do) is the better of the 2 caves. I’m really glad we did this even tho we got cold. I probably wouldn’t do it again tho. Once was enough. I still think everyone should do it once, if you get the chance. That night we saw the Comedian Carl Faulkenberry. We saw the G rated show and he was very funny so my husband wanted to see his R rated show. I thought the G rated show was funnier and not because of the crudeness or content of the R rated show. That stuff doesn’t bother me. I just thought he was funnier at the G rated show. My husband also entered the blackjack tournament this night. He was out of it very quickly.

Friday: Costa Maya! Finally, a port we didn’t have to tender to. We walked off the ship and took a taxi to Mahahual. This is the only place that the venders really bug you. We learned to ignore them or say, “No Thank You,? quickly. We got a spot on the beach right in front of the Tapas Bar. Juan was our waiter and took very good care of us. Mostly we just relaxed on the beach. Once you are on the beach, the vendors don’t bother you that much. They will come by but not that often and go away when you say no thank you. My son rented a wave runner and enjoyed that. I was concerned about his safety but felt better once I saw that they take you out in small groups with a guide. Costa Maya was my son’s favorite port. We all really enjoyed it. I’m glad we got to see it now before it becomes very developed which I think is going to happen in the near future. We could see signs of a lot of construction starting up. After the beach it was back to the ship and sailing by 5:00. This was our 2nd formal night. We dressed up but not quite as formal as the other night. Dinner was good and the show “Ticket to Ride,? was excellent. Later that night my husband was at the blackjack table so a friend and I decided to play the slots. We each had $20.00 and we planned to quit when that ran out. We sat down at side by side machines and started playing. After awhile, she was up a bit and I was down a bit. Suddenly, both our machines were dinging like crazy. At first we didn’t realize that we had both won but when we did, we started laughing so hard we nearly fell off our stools. Neither one of us won a whole lot (she won $120+ and I won $140+) but it was just hilarious how we both won at the same time. Afterwards, my friend said to me, “We’re going to cash out, right?? and I said, “Yes,? so we cashed out. It was one of the funniest things to happen on the whole cruise. We also saw the hypnotist adult show that night. It was funny but I’m still not convinced that they were hypnotized

Saturday: Fun day at Sea. It was a fun day but at the same time a sad day since we knew our cruise was coming to an end. We spent most of the afternoon by the main pool. There were no chairs available when we got there so we just sat on the edge of the pool with our feet in the water until I saw a couple of chairs open up. We didn’t have to wait too long. We didn’t do much that night except hang out with our friends.

Debarkation: A breeze. Our flight wasn’t until 1:45 so we were in no hurry. We were asked to vacate the cabin by 9:30 and I think we were actually out by 9:00. I think that was about the same time they announced general debarkation. We went down and sat in some comfy seats by the photo shop and waited there until we saw that the line to debark was non existent then we left. It was probably around 9:30. Had no problem collecting out luggage and a porter helped us to the street where the taxis were waiting. We took a van taxi to the airport for a flat rate of $20.00.

Going home: had a long wait at the airport but the trip home was uneventful.

Miscellaneous:

There were a lot of kids on this sailing but it was Spring Break so that was to be expected. This might be a negative to many people but it wasn’t to us since we were traveling with 2 teens. They met lots of kids their age and had a blast.

The hot tubs were always full of kids. This didn’t bother me because I don’t go in hot tubs when it’s hot outside.

There were kids in swim diapers in the main pool and I never saw security come and ask the parents to remove the child. I never put more than my feet in anyway.

There we’re kids in the adult’s only pool on the first day but security DID ask the parents to remove them. I heard the same thing from someone else later in the week.

Teens are allowed in the disco from 9:30 – 10:45. My 15 y/o daughter went there some but complained that most of the teens in there were really young. I don’t know if my 17 y/o son went or not. He was bummed that he couldn’t get into the disco after the teen hours. Security was tight and only 18 and up could go in the disco later. He even admitted to trying to sneak in thru a crew only entrance but was unsuccessful. In my book, that’s a good thing. He did get away with playing the slots for awhile one night but he didn’t play very long and if he had, I’ll bet they would have caught up with him. I know of one 22 y/o girl that was carded in the casino just for being in there. She wasn’t even gambling.

We saw the talent show and while the people in it were talented, we didn’t care for it. Partly because we were exhausted and had a hard time staying awake. I also didn’t really care for they way they’ve turned it into an American Idol type show. They tried to make it funny but I thought it was a bit lame. I prefer they way they used to do it where the people just get up and perform.

We went to see The Jamie Rae Show and were bored so we left. Jamie Rae is the Male lead singer on the ship. He was good but again, we were tired and started to fall asleep. At that point we needed something really upbeat or needed to be moving around. I’m sure many people enjoyed him but it just wasn’t for us at that time.

The band that played by the main pool was good. I thought the one we had on the Pride (Kooshall, now called Cool Runnings) was better but the guys on the Miracle were good. They were called, ?Togetherness.?

We loved the Miracle and had a great time on this cruise. I would sail the Miracle again in a heartbeat.
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Old April 6th, 2006, 03:49 PM
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Great review Heidi. Sounds like you had a good time!
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Old April 6th, 2006, 09:06 PM
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I enjoyed your review. Glad you had a good time.

Luanne
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Old April 7th, 2006, 08:35 AM
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Thank you so much. This is a wonderful review. I'm glad you had such a great time.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 08:35 AM
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Thank you so much. This is a wonderful review. I'm glad you had such a great time.
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Old April 7th, 2006, 05:48 PM
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Great review Heidi Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you had a great cruise

Happy Sailing;
David
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Old April 8th, 2006, 07:46 AM
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Good review. Carnival always does it right.
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Old April 9th, 2006, 01:16 PM
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HeidiHo
Thanks so much for your informative review of Miracle. My husband and I are going on his first cruise on Miracle, I've done two shorter ones with girlfriends, April 30.
I had read the dining room was rather garish.
Judging from your pictures, which we also enjoyed, you and your husband dressed up quite a bit for formal nights. Were there many tuxedoes and cocktail dresses? I went on Holiday and Fantasy and there were a few cocktail dresses but I don't remember any tuxedoes.
Thanks.
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