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Old November 20th, 2009, 07:04 PM
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Default Back from Miracle to Panama, Costa Rica and Belize

A short overview:

Miracle was in great shape. The crew was veryy happy and their morale was great. Always a smile and a "Hello!" Made the cruise worthwhile.

Parking at the garage on the pier is still $15 a day. Sure wish there was someway to avoid it but I guess since we can drive it is better than air fares. Embarkation in Ft Lauderdale was a non-event. Took about 25 minutes from arrival to being on board. We had a balcony room on the Upper deck (5203) and it was as always wonderful.

Overall the food was good with some moments of greatness. We always found something to enjoy. We did the dining room for breakfast a couple of times and it was a break from the crowds on the Lido deck. My wife likes to sleep late and I am up early so when I was on the Lido at 6:30-7:00 I was usually almost by myself. When she got there around 9:30-10:00 it was bit more crowded. But all in all we enjoyed the food. The waiters and assistants were outstanding. I don't know how they can keep so happy day after day. They really are a unique group of folks. And of course the pizza was wonderful.

The 1st 2 days were sea days followed by stops at Limon, Costa Rica and Colon, Panama. Then another sea day to Belize and finally a sea day to Ft. Lauderdale. The 1st 2 days were great for just relaxing and enjoying cruising again. Unfortunatelt, these 2 days were rainy and cloudy, both port days were rainy and we didn't get any sunshine until we hit Belize. Since we live in Florida where it hasn't rained for ages it didn't bother us. I did feel sorry for those wanting to get some sun though. For those of you thinking about these ports for a cruise, make sure you go after the rainy season (usually Mar through Nov).

We had been on the Pacific side of Costa Rica but this was out 1st trip to the Atlantic side. Needless to say we found Limon to be depressing in it's poverty. Perhaps if the city had been a bit cleaner it would have helped. And to be fair we didn't get out into the countryside where I expect it is better. We did the Bus, Boat and Train excursion. Very informative especially the stop at one of the Del Monte banana plantations. I will never look at another banana in the same way as I did before the visit. The boat trip through the canals was good and would have been better if it hadn't been raining. All in all it was an enjoyable stop.

In Panama we did the Ocean to Ocean train that took us from Colon on the East coast to Panama (the actually name of the city) on the West coast with a bus on the return. It took about 50 minutes of so for the train ride and the tour guide stayed with us all the time. He was a wealth of information and extremely friendly. The train serves coffee (good stuff for you coffee lovers) and soft drinks. The conducters are all female and were cheerful and friendly. When we got to the West coast we had a bus tour of the city and what is left of the American military bases. They have converted a lot of the buildings to goverment use and a lot for schools. I hadn't been in Panama since the Carter administration turned the Canal Zone over to the Govertment of Panama. Without getting into a political discourse I'll just say it is truly a shame that we gave it all away. Some of the locals we talked to (shop owners, waiters, etc) what I call the working class expressed somewhat of a sadness that we left. Of course when the Zone was American they were paid a lot more. Anyway enough of that.

We had been to Belize before and done the Alton Ha Mayan ruins tour. This time we just took the tender to town and did a bit of shopping. My first impression was that a lot of the local tour folks were really being pushy with their tours. Now there were 5 ships in that day and it was crowded. But still it seemed a lot more commercial then our last stop about 8 years ago. Had a Belikan beer and returned to the ship.

Debarkation in Ft. Lauderdale was bit of a nightmare. Seems that customs only sent 4 agent to clear the ship. There was about a 45 minute delay between zones 4 and 5 until supervisors arrived to handle the crowd. We drove to the pier so we weren't too concerned but I'm sure some of the folks with early flights were in a bit of a panic mode.

I like to play the slots and spend a large amount of time in the casino. Since the smoking areas are limited a lot of smokers (not players) were in the casino. I feel that Carnival needs to handle the smoke in the casino better. They need to install some kind of smoke eaters (electronic ones) to help freshen the air. I had a scratchy throat and my eyes bothered me guite a bit. But that's a personal thing so I'll cope. It was about the only unpleasant thing that occured.

I can't vouch for any of the shows but my wife attended a couple and said they were good.

I am going on a 3 day cruise to Nassau on the Imagination the 27th of this month (Players Club thing) and we have a March 2010 cruise planned. Even though we just got back we are looking forward to cruising again.

Almost forgot, the Captain's cocktail party served drinks a $1 off. The past cruiser's party had free ones and the farewell party also had free ones. No ship's pins but still chocolate candy on the pillow at night. That's about it. If you have any questions that I might be helpful with please feel free to ask.
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Old November 20th, 2009, 10:53 PM
Ron Ron is offline
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Chief, I've been to all those ports and on those same excursions--glad you had a good time--The last time we were in Belize was back in Jan. Supposedly they're building a pier to eliminate the long tender ride to shore.
Did you see any evidence of such work and if so, could you tell of the amount of progress they've made?
Thanks for any info. you may be able to share. :-)

Last edited by Ron; November 20th, 2009 at 11:38 PM.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 11:41 AM
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Glad you had a great time!!
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Old November 21st, 2009, 12:06 PM
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Ron,

It appeared to be under construction about 3-4 miles south of the current tender landings. There were a couple of cranes but not much else that we could see. If you didn't know where it was it wouldn't draw your attention. There is a websight (Welcome to the Belize Cruise Terminal) that has some info. I would think that unless there is some serious activity this project will take several years. When it is finished I wonder what the companies and folks who run the tenders will do?
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Old November 21st, 2009, 12:43 PM
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Welcome home Chief:

Glad you enjoyed "Miracle". She's still my favorite ship in the entire Carnival fleet. Always have a wonderful time aboard her, and enjoy the "grapes" in the dining room. (Actually, they've toned them down a lot from when the ship was new!) Isn't it amazing how we look forward to our next cruise, the moment we step off the ship. It keeps life interesting I.M.O. Your wife is exactly correct. The shows aboard "Miracle" are outstanding, to say the least. You need to try them next time.

See y'all aboard,

Ken
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Old November 21st, 2009, 04:44 PM
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Chief, thanks for taking the time to reply. Looks like a dock at Belize will be quite sometime in coming.
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Old November 21st, 2009, 11:45 PM
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Master Chief,

Thanks for the Miracle review. It sounds like a wonderful cruise. I loved the Panama canal cruise I did a few years ago.

It's too bad you didn't get out of town in Puerto Limon. There are some great beaches, scenery and wonderful places to eat.

Here's one of the beautiful places.



Take care,
Mike
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Old November 22nd, 2009, 09:20 AM
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I forgot to mention that the lifeboat drill no longer requires you to take your life jacket to the drill. Makes for a much more comfortable time. Also there were over 1,600 past cruisers on this cruise. Guess Carnival is doing something right.
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Old November 26th, 2009, 12:27 PM
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Thanks for the info Chief! We will be on this cruise at the end of January, and can hardly wait!

We have cruised a few times, and always avoided the ship excursions, instead using info from these forums to find a local to give us the same (and better - from what we hear at the dinner table) excursions for less. HOWEVER, we are choosing a ship excursion in Panama to view the canal due to the political situation and time involved.

We are at a loss as to what to do in Limon however! Nothing seems to stand out, but we definitely want to get into the countryside while we're there. We like the picture you've shared Mike!

Thanks again for the info here Chief! (Too bad the ships wouldn't make the casino non-smoking... I'd spend some time there!)
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Old December 11th, 2009, 07:25 AM
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I was on the Miracle the day you got back (Nov 20). Loved it as well. Weather couldnt have been better..Sea was flat calm all way to St Maarten (1st stop). My cabin was 8181 extended balcony.
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Old December 27th, 2009, 03:01 PM
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Thanks for the picture Mike!
I have a couple of questions.
1. Where is the beach in the picture?
2. Are there any beaches that you would recommend in Costa Rica?
3. With the criminal activities we've been reading about in various locations, this is the first time we are wondering about our safety. We usually rent a car, or hire a local guide and try to experience whatever the locale has to offer... but now we're not so sure.

Thanks for any advice!
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Old January 8th, 2010, 03:51 AM
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Thank you SOO MUCH for the info!! We're leaving on the same cruise next Friday.. and I was looking for info. I've got two little girls coming with me, and I'm hoping I can find enough to keep them entertained in Panama & Costa Rica.. Happy Travels!
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