Thought I'd write a quick review of my experience. Everything is not positive, so if you're about to sail on the Miracle or are easily offended, I wouldn't read any further.
My wife and I flew in to NYC the day before our sailing and stayed in a wonderful hotel called The Belvedere. It was just refurbished and we received a free upgrade from a standard room to an executive suite. An absolutely wonderful experience.
The embarkation was a mixed bag. The port was very easy to get to and we took a taxi from our hotel. Took about 10 minutes. Immediately after pulling to the curb we were greeted by a Carnival employee who took our bags. We didn't see them again until we got to our cabin.
After going inside we were herded through the line to get our sail and sign cards. For some reason they had my wife as a "Mr." on her card even though all of our registration papers had "Mrs" and the lady wouldn't change it. She said it wouldn't be a problem, but it was. As soon as we tried to board the boat the security officers noticed the discrepancy and made us get it changed. It was very frustrating.
We got there about 10:30 and waited about 45 minutes before we boarded. Very easy process.
My first impressions of the ship were simple: it's UGLY. I still don't fully get the theme they were going for. The dining room is particularly ugly.I honestly think the piano bar is the only attractive area on the ship. The Mad Hatters lounge, Dr. Frankenstein's Disco and the Phantom Lounge are probably the three tackiest rooms I have ever seen.
We only had one maintenance issue. However it was a big one. Each night at about 11 pm our room would fill-up with cigarette smoke. My wife is allergic to cigarette smoke, so this was a big problem. I called and they sent someone down to run a machine to try and clear the air in the room. It worked for about 10 minutes. The maintenance man told us that someone was smoking in their rooms and it was coming through the air conditioning. However, they never went around to find out who it was. My wife got very sick on the second day because of sleeping in it all night. It happened every night like clock work and every night I called and received the same answer. I asked if they could move us and they told me that the only rooms they had available were suites. However, they said I would have to pay to move a suite. My wife stayed pretty sick for about 3 days and never really got over it until we got back to NYC. I was pretty upset.
We had a balcony room on the 5th deck. It was exactly like our room on the Conquest. We had a great view of NYC as we sailed out. The room was very spacious and the bathroom is large for a cruise ship. It was always immaculate as we had a wonderful room steward.
Our dining experience was also a mixed bag. We had the best waiter we've ever had. My wife has been on seven cruises and she agreed that he was the best. He knew our names before we sat down and always greeted us by name for the rest of the week. He looked for us at breakfast and lunch and had some great advice about things to do around the ship and ports. However, the flip side of the coin is that the food was terrible. I'm easy to please, but it was very, very bad. I tried everything and I had only one or two meals that I considered decent. At lunch one day I had a canneloni that had obviously been sitting under a heat lamp for 45 minutes as it had turned black and was as hard as a rock. I don't expect much from Carnival in the food department, but this was extremely disappointing. I heard many people comment about how bad the food was.
We ate on the Lido deck twice and then never went back. I'm not lying when I say that it is worse than Furr's or your local chain buffet. It was awful. Also, the lines were always insane. The sandwich bar on Lido is not bad.
On Tuesday night we decided to eat at Nick and Nora's. This was a great experience. The service was sensational and the food was wonderful. I had lamb and my wife had the fillet mignon. If you have the money and the time, I would highly recommend it. They treat you like royalty and the food would cost $300 for two people in NYC.
The shows were generally good. The Welcome Aboard show was identical to what I saw on the Conquest last September. The other shows were good, but the "Ticket to Ride" Beatles' tribute was fantastic. As a huge Beatles fan, I really loved it. It was the best show I've ever seen on a ship. The choreographer told my wife that it is the most commented on show each week. The sets, costumes and music are almost like something on Broadway. The talent show was pretty pathetic as was the Carnival Legends show.
The lounge music was very good. There was a jazz band that played in an open lobby each night. The piano bar singer (Larry) was pretty good, although he won't be able to sing in about 10 years if he keeps singing the way he does. The highlight of the music on board was Music Boardwalk. They played in Frankie and Johnny's each night and are a great cover band. Their performance at the end of the Beatles show was also wonderful.
The ports of call were the reason we booked this ship. We weren't disappointed.
San Juan was good. I didn't expect much and enjoyed simply walking through the city and going to the forts, churches, etc. The cobblestone streets and old, multi-colored buildings were beautiful.
St. Thomas is breathtaking. However, it was packed. There were three huge ships there on the same day. We went to Megan's Bay and had a good time. It was very crowded and expensive. The food was pretty outrageous. However, the beach was gorgeous and we just relaxed all day.
Tortola was the best port IMO. It was everything that St. Thomas was, but far less "touristy." We spent the day at Cane Gardens Bay Beach. It was more beautiful than Megan's Bay and had much more to offer. The people were eager to serve you and the water was wonderful. We even had a guy who chopped open a fresh coconut for us to drink the juice out of. I would highly recommend this if you just want a chilled out day at the beach. We did snorkel at the far end of the beach near the rocks and saw a lot of crab and fish.
The Miracle was a very clean ship. I never saw trash just laying around. The cleaning staff was always on top of things.
The tea time on sea days was a fun event. They served hot tea with a score of horsdeouvres. I would recommend doing the galley and backstage tour. It was very informative.
Our cruise director was Brent Mitchell. He was just alright. I never saw him around the ship. He was only out at the shows, etc. The other social hosts were great and very outgoing.
My wife and I make our own fun and generally like to stay to ourselves on cruises. We must have a balcony and spend a lot of time on it. However, I don't know if I'll be going back on another Carnival Cruise. Carnival is wonderful for those who just want to be on a week long party and be surrounded by a lot of people 24/7. However, it was honestly too much for me this time. It's nothing at all against Carnival, it's just my personal interests.
If you are sailing on the Miracle, enjoy NYC and the wonderful ports! Hope this helps.