My wife and I returned yesterday from a lovely week of cruising aboard the Carnival Miracle. We booked the cruise through Vacationstogo.com and were pleased with their recommendations, service and price. This was our first cruise and we celebrated our 30th anniversary. Actually, I do have some previous cruise experience aboard the U. S. S. San Bernardino some thirty-five years ago but I can tell you there is no comparison in how you are treated.
We sailed from Tampa which provided both an easy airport and cruise terminal to navigate. Our room was a balcony #7256. It was very efficient and we loved it. Our ports-of-call were Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya. We had previously visited Grand Cayman (2- weeklong stays) and Cozumel (8- weeklong stays) on dive trips so we were not really interested in doing an excursion on those stops though we would highly recommend the diving in either. We are also pretty familiar with the dive masters there, if you are interested please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stingray City in Grand Cayman is an absolute hoot but scuba instead of snorkle if you can arrange it. In Belizewe did the cave tubing and would recommend arranging this excursion and others through coralbreezelimited.com. You can save a few bucks and get more personal service. While the cave tubing was nice and the chicken dinner delicious, we have much prettier caves and tubing rivers in Arkansas. But if you have to have both at once why not go for it. Costa Maya was a pleasant surprise probably because this forum led us to expect very little. We took the bus $3 pp into Mahahual, walked to the end of the street stopped when we saw a sign at a beech bar that read 3 Beers for $4 and spent the whole day there. Nice and relaxing. Returned in a cab $2 pp. Go figure.
Overall, our times aboard ship were the most memorable. Most of the shows were very good. Get to them early and sit down front and if an MC asks anything raise your hand and squeal, you might get a freebie. Mark Hawkins the cruise director was fun and fabulous. Breakfast and lunch served in Horatio's on the Lido deck were much more than adequate, the evening meals in the Bacchus Room (do not go there early and wait in line) were excellent while the upscale Nick & Noras was downright exquisite. A sushi bar (no charge) was offered several evenings and it was also very good. Pizza to order is provided on the Lido deck 24-7. As for service, I can't give the people who work aboard this ship enough accolades.
All in all this cruising experience exceeded our expectations in just about every category.
One final comment. There has been comment on this forum that some were threatened, even at gunpoint, on Cozumel. In the eight weeks I have stayed on the Island I have never been threatened by anyone , not even the sharks. You'll find that as long as you obey their laws and use good common sense they are some of the warmest people on earth.
I simply don't know how to warn people any other way, than to share this very traumatic experience with one and all:
Today was the best day of my life: we got OFF the Carnival ship, the "MIRACLE" and were able to return home, out more than 3,000.00, and traumatized by having been held -- not just at gun point, but MACHINE GUN-pointed at me and my 10 year old son!!!
This entire cruise was a disaster, from start to finish. Let me begin at the beginning, and try to list all our complaints.
The ship was not clean. Food was worse than expected to be served in a prison galley. Cold, greasy, tiny portions, pretty much unedible. As to "Service" there is NO SUCH THING aboard the Carnival Cruise Ship: "MIRACLE" (though it IS a miracle if you actually get served by anybody the entire time you are onboard) These "Service Staff" are miserable, and have absolutely no desire to make your hard-earned vacation pleasant. Or safe. Or even bearable.
In the dining room (btw: your ONLY choice for the final night of the cruise so that you can tip theselazy and unhappy workers. One gets the impression they aren't paid by the cruiseline at all, but solely by the drunks who seem to dominate the public rooms). If you aren't a two fisted drinker, you are pretty much out of luck for the duration of the cruise on this ship.
Even the hope of getting tips couldn't make these people "serve". They never smiled, were out and out unpleasant, often rude, and our cruise director? Mark? Apparently he doesn't have to actually show UP or participate and trust me, you can't find him no matter how hard you try. He's "unavailable" to people who are complaining. So are the front desk staff: they simply pretend you aren't there anymore, or get involved in conversations amongst themselves.
I was frequently misdirected by staff in getting directions to say: the infirmary. And when I'd ask them again, they'd get darn right nasty about it, and were very unhappy that I'd interupted their conversation with another employee. These are not happy people.
I WILL Credit the woman who cleaned my room: "DENIA" was the only person to ask me how my day was going, if I'd had fun, etc. I only wish I'd tipped her separately, and not given a dime to any of the other bums who "work" for Carnival.
A 7 day cruise for 2 people isn't cheap. We didn't have the cheapest cabin, and we'd signed up for shore excursions onboard (because: they actually say they GUARANTEE that way, that they will hold the ship and wait for you.) Let me explain: when you leave the ship, you swipe your card, so they know exactly who's not onboard, and you are swiped when you return, so: they actually KNOW if they have left someone behind.
We took a (costly) shore trip on our COZUMEL day: to a theme park -- and while it was costly, it was fun. When we'd gotten on the bus to go there, our guide (CASPER) said: "There are 38 bodies ON this bus, and by GOD there will be 38 bodies on this bus when we leave."
There was not. I heard later that one of the other guests (drunk) wanted to leave a bit early, so he out and out lied and said he'd seen me and my son take a TAXI and leave!!!
So: we're stuck, not anywhere near the docks, and: without cash. No way to get anywhere.
A gentleman was kind enough to give us 2 free tickets for a ferry that would at least head us in the right direction: whereupon, a police officer (Carrying the biggest machine gun you will EVER see) accosted us and accused me of being a thief, of having stolen those tickets, and he harassed us, menaced us (all in Spanish.
I Still have no idea what all he forced me to agree to, in order to prevent him from hurting my son or I)
Finally he "let" us go, and we ran to the tender (boat) to get to the ship: and they SAW us coming, and they HEARD us screaming to wait, and they STILL pulled out -- laughing and waving at us as if we were having a wonderful time.
By the time we got back onboard, my trip had been ruined. I never left the cabin again, for the remainder of the 4 days til we gratefully got OFF that ship.
I also couldn't use the ship to shore phone system -- to check on my mother, just out of the hospital, or even to let her know that we were ok. The one time they "let" me call, I KNOW the call was being monitored, and they'd specifically asked me NOT to say "too much". (What this was about, I have no idea, but it was creepy.)
They were passing out "freebies" to keep the crowds from turning ugly, but we were literally the first OFF; they couldn't have given me anything that was worth what they'd put us through.
I'm exhausted, I'm sure I've missed other things specifically to complain about, and will add them as I can; but overview:
There is NO ONE who will listen to your complaints onboard.
We were put at a table in the dining room, so small, and so poorly located, we'd get hit by passing waitstaff (who do NOT say excuse me).
They charge extra for literally EVERYTHING (water in your room, for example) ==
The food is the worst I've ever tasted. Bland, tasteless, served cold and greasy.
I had sea-sickness the first 24 hours, and simply didn't eat onboard the rest of the time.
Room service? Sure. But they don't bother clearing away the trays, so you could end up stacking them yourself by Day two.
There is no entertainment outside of drinking, paying for drinking, watching other people drinking, and standing in line.
The ship is beyond tacky, it looked OLD and cruddy (and was only commissioned 2 years ago! Can't imagine what their older ships must be like).
They do NOT honor their own contracts, and bluntly: once they have your money, they don't care if they ever see you again.
Ironically, on arriving home? I had an email from Carnival, offering me an "8 category upgrade" if I book another cruise this coming Thursday. They couldn't give me a penthouse for free, for life, to make up for the machine gun (and yes, I have photos of said machine gun and my son). Sad to say, I've learned that it's highly unlikely they'll do anything to try to make it up to me: so I will spend a great deal of energy letting other people know before they go: Carnival Cruise is HORRIBLE; a waste of hard earned money, potentially the most dangerous thing a person can do, and employs workers who would rather be anywhere else in the world than there, helping YOU have a "fun ship" fun time.
Save your money; go Anywhere else. Float boats in the bathtub, at least they don't usually have armed guards there.
Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Miracle by Patty Wike Western Caribbean December 18, 2005
Eleven of us met to do a preholiday cruise. We had a ball. We loved the rooms with balconies. We had a problem with a handicapped room but the Carnival people went way out of their way to solve that problem. The ship was lovely except for the tacky dining room with its over-the-top, hot-pink lights. We ate breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck which was absolutely delicious and fresh. There was a bit too much Carnival, employee talking at dinner and in the halls; however, we learned to tune that out.
We got off at every stop. Use private tours once you are on shore. On Cayman Island we got a great tour to Stingray City which was longer and much cheaper. We had a great crew and photographer. Don’t miss swimming and feeding the stingrays.
If you ever go to Belize City, contact Mark McField for the tour of your life. His email address is email@example.com. He took two of us to the Altun Ha Mayan ruins. He was fascinating and very well educated. He trains many ofthe other tour guides. We had the best meal of the whole trip in a little, outdoor, thatched-roof restaurant near the ruins in the forest. He then took us to Old Belize City to see the beach and go through a museum. He will let you design your own tour. It was only $65 for 5.5 hours. If you have five or more people, it’s $55 each. It was the best $65 we ever spent. The other members of our group tubed down a river through a cave but didn’t rave about it.
We all paid $20 each to go to a nice beach in Costa Maya. They probably lost money on us because it was all you can eat and drink which included alcoholic beverages.
We shopped in Cozumel and had a great time bargaining with the locals. We bought most of the silver for $1.00 an ounce. All eleven of us had a great meal at an open-air restaurant a couple of blocks off the beach with a Mariachi band. The Mexican people are so open and friendly.
Don’t miss the hypnotist on the ship especially the late night show. We never laughed so much and so hard in our whole lives.
On the days at sea, I spent time at the water slide. It was fast and fun. A cruise is a great vacation for a group of people. We all did our own thing and met for dinner or other times. There is something for everyone to do. Carnival is a fun, lively, young cruise line.
We just got back from our cruise on the Miracle (4-24-05through 05-01-05). This year only my husband and I cruised (and the children were not happy with this decision!) which made it a vacation within a vacation. We booked this cruise in June 2004. We booked an inside (4A) guaranty. The total cost, including all port fees and taxes was $579/pp at that time. I've generally found the earlier you book the better the price.
AIR: We booked our flight out of Manchester, NH on Delta airlines. I began checking airfare in June 2004 and during the week between Christmas and New Year's there was a big price drop. I also checked going out of Boston, Hartford, Worcester and Providence. I would encourage anyone who has several airports within driving distance to them to check flight information and price at each airport. I've found there was a big difference. As we booked our own air we did fly into Tampa a day early to avoid any potential problems with airline delays. The flight down was fine. Coming back we had a layover in Atlanta and LaGuardia. We were delayed in Atlanta andwere sure we missed our connection in New York (and it was the last flight of the day back to Manchester). We had resigned ourselves to spending the night in New York. Upon arrival (we landed as our connection was due to take off) we found that Delta had held the flight for us. The captain asked everyone to remain seated so we could get off the plane and make our connection. There was someone to meet us at the gate and bring us to a bus which brought us to the plane. We got on, seated and within a short time were on our way. We figured we would just pick our luggage up in Manchester the next day as there was no way it made the flight. When we landed, to our surprise, we found they did get our luggage on board. Three cheers for Delta!!! I have flown with them before and certainly will do so again.
ACCOMDATIONS: I booked a room in Tampa through priceline.com. I put in three stars and the airport/downtown locations with a $50 bid. We ended up at the Doubletree Westshore. They offer free airport shuttle and a shuttle to the port. When we got arrived at about 4:30 p.m. to find there was a convention of the Order of the Moose (Kuki, were you there???) going on. On check-in I was told that they didn't have any more rooms available in the category I booked due to the convention so we were being moved to the 10th floor of the tower, which was fine with me, I just wanted a room. When we got in the elevator we had to swipe our room key to get there. To our surprise the 10th floor was concierge level. We had a very nice room on the top floor with a king size bed, sitting area, marble bathroom and very nice bathrobes for our use. There was a free hot and cold buffet in the lobby area with free drinks and free in room movies. On Sunday morning there was a complimentary newspaper and free continental breakfast. What a great way to start our vacation!
BOARDING: We arrived at the port at about 11:45 a.m. and Carnival was already boarding passengers. There was a short line check in line which moved very quickly. We were on board and eating lunch by 12:30. DINING ROOM: We had the early seating (5:45 p.m.) in the Bacchus dining room. We tend to be early risers and don't stay up really late so we prefer the early seating. The food was excellent. It was well prepared, and there was a large selection. We ate in the dining room every night, other than the night we ate at Nick and Nora's. Our assistant waitress, Rafella from Bulgaria was outstanding. She really went out of her way to make sure everything was to our satisfaction. Our tablemates were very nice and interesting. One couple was from Arizona and the other from Minnesota. At breakfast one morning we met a retired couple who have cruised all over the world. We had a great time talking with them!
We ate breakfast several times in the dining room and again the service and food were great. We also had breakfast in Horatio's Dining room which was a buffet. Anything you could imagine for breakfast was on the buffet and it was also good.
We had lunch in Horatio's Dining room, again a buffet and salad bar or on the Lido deck which served hamburgers, hotdogs, fries and salads. Again everything was excellent. We also had pizza (they make a great veggie pizza) and the deli for sandwiches. No complaints here at all.
NICK AND NORA'S: We debated on whether or not to eat at the supper club as we really like the food on board and didn't know if we wanted to spend to the extra. We decided to and I'm really glad we did. The food, service and presentation were superb. When the food arrived it was like food art. We both had the shrimp cocktail, I had surf and turf and my husband had the sirloin steak. He said it was the best steak he'd had in 35 years (the last time he was in Kansas). I would definitely recommend eating there at least once.
ACCOMODATIONS: As I mentioned earlier we book an inside (4A) cabin guaranty. Well the upgrade fairy visited us. We got an ocean view cabin!!! We were on the Riviera deck (deck 1) which was very convenient to the gangway for going on shore, the casino (on deck 2), the dining room (deck 2 & 3) and entertainment (Phantom Lounge deck 2 & 3). We found the rooms to be very clean and comfortable. Our steward, Errol was competent, although we hardly saw him. We had towel animals every day and he kept our room clean. ENTERTAINMENT: We both enjoyed the entertainment on the ship. The shows were great and we liked all the comedians. One night the juggler and the comedian was the exact same show we saw last year in the Inspiration. My husband and I both played the slots in the Casino and won some and lost some. By the end of the week we were about even. The adult comedy shows were good, as was the entertainment in Frankie and Johnnies. We did enjoy Sam's Piano bar, although Duane's voice was going. The band on the Lido deck was all right. Not great, not bad. We found the drink prices to be very reasonable. Our bar tab for the week was about $125.00. We're not really big drinkers. I would say we each averaged about 2-3 drinks a day. My husband had beer or marguerites and I had wine or pina coladas.
SHIPS CONDITION: The ship is gorgeous. As she's pretty new there really wasn't any disrepair and it was very clean. The purple/pink grapes in the dining room are a little much though. They look like big pink tap lights. SEAS: The seas were very smooth. I get seasick fairly easily and only took two Bonine pills the entire cruise. SPA/GYM: I didn't use either of these so I really can't comment on them, other than to say that I thought the prices in the Spa were on the high side. I did get a foot massage on the Lido deck one afternoon. It was a dollar a minute and was great.
SHOPPING: I thought the best shopping was in downtown Cozumel. Grand Cayman was expensive and there really wasn't much in Belize. Costa Maya had pretty much the same things as Cozumel, but they were cheaper in Cozumel.
EXCURSIONS: IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER - We stayed on ship's time the whole time. Grand Cayman, Costa Maya and Cozumel were one hour behind us and Belize was two hours behind! If you don't book through the ship make sure your tour operator knows what time you need to be back to the ship. The last tenders for Grand Cayman and Belize run one hour before the ship departs and in Cozumel and Costa Maya you need to be back on board 30 minutes before departure.
Grand Cayman: I booked a bubble sub trip on-line through bubblesub.com. It was one of the best excursions we've done. They met us at the pier and brought us out to the dive platform. We got into the sub and it's like sitting in a 360° clear bubble. There's a diver on the back to drive the sub and maneuver it around. You can also drive it yourself. We went down about 35-40 feet and the trip lasted about 45 minutes. We saw lots of fish, coral and a sea turtle. While in the sub you can talk to the diver, or to the people up on the platform. COSTA MAYA: We went to Uvero Beach with a tour from the ship (Jungle Beach Break). At the pier we got on nice air-conditioned coach buses. It was about a 20 minute drive to the beach. The beach itself was very nice with white sand, lots of beach chairs and plenty of places for sun and shade. The water, on the other hand, wasn't great. The bottom was mostly sea grass with a few sandy places in between. We really didn't enjoy swimming or snorkeling there at all. While it was open bar, the drinks were very weak. On board the ship I had a slight buzz after one pina colada. At the beach I had about six with no effect. I thought the beach at Majahual was much nicer (and cheaper.
COZUMEL: We got off the ship and took a taxi to downtown Cozumel. It's $6 each way. We've been to Cozumel before, but never downtown so decided we'd walk around there for the day. I found the prices to better downtown than in the shops right next to the pier. If you get off the main street and go down the side streets there's another street of shopping the runs parallel the main street. We got some great buys back there and it was much less crowded than the main street. There were several jewelry stores offering shots of tequila while you debated your purchases. There were also places selling cold beer for $1 a bottle. We had a great time wandering around for a few hours. We then went back to the ship for a late lunch and relaxed on board.
BELIZE: We booked the Goff's Caye snorkel trip through the ship. We got on a boat right at the ship. It was about a 20 minute ride to the Caye where you could snorkel either off the beach or off the boat. We opted to snorkel off the boat which was a guided snorkel trip for about an hour. There were lots of different fish and corals. We also snorkeled off the beach and saw quite a bit, but not as much as off the boat. After snorkeling we just relaxed on the beach until it was time to leave. The beach was great, much better than Uvero. White sand, sandy bottom and palm trees. After going back to the ship we had some lunch and then took the tender over to Belize and wandered around the pier. We were amazed at how built up it was in a year. DISEMBARKING: Due to high winds, we did not make it back to port on time. We were supposed to dock at 7:00 a.m. but didn't get in until almost noon. It was a little after one before the self assist passengers were let off the ship. We were off at about 2:00 p.m. and we were one of the first to debark after the self-assist passengers. Luckily, we had a late flight. Many people who were sitting near us missed their flights and were trying to rebook. One gentleman from New York wasn't able to get a flight until Wednesday (we returned on Sunday) with most being able to get flights on either Monday or Tuesday. No one that we spoke with was able to get back out that day, so keep this in mind when booking your flights. A few people were going to the airport on standby. I do know that it was a school vacation week in many parts of the Northeast which I'm sure was what caused the flights to those areas to be so full and nothing available to later in the week.
If there are any other questions or other information you would like to get about the ship or my experience, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Put in the subject line Carnival Miracle so that I don't accidentally delete it.
Overall we all had a great time and felt that we could have gone longer than 7 days. Next time we're planning to try a 10 day cruise. I will say that I didn't think the service was good as it was on our last cruise. While it was adequate, other than our assistant waitress who was fantastic, it wasn't what I expected from our previous cruises. We left the tips on our sign and sail card and tipped our assistant waitress extra. I'm not sure if it was just this ship, the staff, or a sign that having tips automatically added has made a decline in service. This has been the only time I haven't tipped everyone extra. I'm going on the Inspiration again in August and am hoping it was just the staff we had on this cruise. I would definitely sail with Carnival again and on this ship.
Here is a review with what will hopefully be useful information and tips. The cruise was a part of a very large group of nearly 500 Wisconsin EMTs, Paramedics and Firefighters along with their family and friends. It was their 3rd group cruise.
Embarkation was for the most part pretty easy and straight forward. The lines were pretty long, however. They allowed everyone to board the ship early (about 12:15) but asked that passengers not go to their cabins until after 1:30. We had skippers club privileges due to the cabin we were provided. Unfortunately this only applied to the inside line to get your sail and sign card, etc. - not to the outside line to get through security and into the other line. We did bypass this second line and were among the very first people to board the ship.
Having read many of the other reviews here, we had a pretty good idea what to expect. What we didn't expect with such a new ship was all of the things that were not working. The slide was closed for the week due to problems, all sorts of lightbulbs or lights in our cabin were either burned out or missing. Card readers and other items in the Internet Café were not working; even the 10 piece band in the show lounge was missing their tenor sax player making them a 9 piece band with some pretty strange sounds at times when only the sax section had the melody. Perhaps these things are nit picky from someone who has cruised many times before, but I hope it is not a sign of things to come from Carnival.
Most of the comments from other cruisers held true. The grapes in the dinning room are way too much! Nick & Norah's was incredible and a must do for anyone who appreciates fine dinning and great food. It is very well worth the extra $25 charge. Both production shows were solid but nothing to get real excited about. The lead vocalists were average at best. Being nearly all of the other music is on tape, it of course sounded great. Everyone on this board seemed to rave about the Ticket to Ride Show but again we found it good but not all that much better than the first show. The band in Frankie and Jonnies is extremely talented and a very solid group. Be sure to see them at least one night - if not more.
Having lead large groups in the past, we have been upgraded to category 11 or 12 suites in the past. This time we made it to 11 but Carnival gave us a cabin in the back of the ship. I would suggest ANYONE who does a category 11 to request one of these. It was larger than the 12s we have been in and actually had three separate rooms including a separate bed room. The balcony was bigger than on any ship I have been on and actually held 21 people at one time with no problem! I'm not sure I'd pay $500 per person more for one of these but if you do, be sure to take one in the rear rather than the normal ones in the center of the ship. You'll be very glad you did. Actually, if you have kids, one of these cabins would be a better option than a separate cabin for the kids. You can put them on the pull our couch and still close the doors to the bedroom and almost have two cabins.
One of the things that has really changed lately is all of the independent companies who provide shore excursions. In Belize we could have booked cave tubing from Carnival for $98/person. We had a group of 28 that went. Instead we booked through a company called Coral Breeze Limited for $56/person. We saved a total of $1,176!!! on the very same tour and let me tell you, these guys were great! They went above and beyond for us and at the end didn't even hint of receiving tips. All they asked was for good Internet reviews. Well, we tipped them very well with cash and will provide the reviews as well. Do yourself a favor and book through this company. They are awesome. The same goes for many other excursions. Nearly all are cheaper on shore or from these companies that are popping up.
Food in the dinning room was off of a new menu and for the first time, I really was not thrilled with the selections. Some nights it was really hard to find something that interested me - especially with deserts. Most of the food was pretty good although beef was a bit tough at times and fatty. It also seems like the dinning room entertainment has been dropped several notches. I can remember much more from them not to mention the special desserts like Cherries Jubilee and Baked Alaska are no where to be found anymore - too bad!
We found quite a few very nice additions. For example, they set up a sushi bar every night for free. I'm not a sushi eater but was impressed they would add this without cost. The same goes for a sundae bar several afternoons. It included dozens of toppings, hot fudge, caramel, etc. Once again, it was no additional cost. A deli, taste of the nations, Chinese and a few other styles remain and are great alternatives for lunch.
Entertainment was very good, pretty good and in one case the worst ever. They had something like 4 different comedians, a juggler, magician, hypnotist and a few others. I don't remember so many different entertainers in one week. Some were awesome. One comedian, however, was so terrible the room emptied both nights she was on. I don't think I've seen someone bomb this bad in 20 years. Still, Carnival does a wonderful job with entertainment and as a musician myself, I'm very proud to report they are one of the only cruise lines that still use real bands including being the only line with a 10 piece show band (well 9 piece this cruise but you get the point) In this day and age of DJs, and single acts, it's very refreshing to still see live bands.
Disembarking the ship is a real breeze. We could have been off as early as 7:30 with the self assist but even with an 11:45 flight opted to do the traditional disembark. We could go just about anywhere on the ship and then when we were called could leave anytime at our option as long as we left by 9:30. We walked off, found our luggage right away, walked right through customs to a waiting taxi and were in the airport in plenty of time for our flight. Thinking back to how this used to be - waiting in a lounge, etc. the current methods are so much nicer. About half of the 2,400 passengers did the self assist. They were called at about 7:30 and the general was called at 8:45.
Carnival has some huge goals. They want to get to 5 million passengers a year. Last year 10 million cruised on all ships - so that's a huge goal. We were told they have a ship on the drawing board that will carry 5,000 passengers and 2,000 crew! It's something like 180,000 ton. Unbelievable! However, they need to keep the attention to detail to get there.
In all, it was still a very good cruise. I'd actually put it at about 3.5 stars but only on the nit picky items. I will say that we did not like the layout of this class nearly as nice as the Victory/Destiny class. The lines seemed longer, the pools were divided in half which made it hard to see deck entertainment. The slide was way in the rear (if it would have been open) and the ship is 60 feet longer which made for a lot of walking.
If anyone would like specific information, feel free to e-mail me at email@example.com or visit us at www.EMSCruise.com.
We did our first Carnival Cruise on 9 January out of Tampa onboard the Miracle. We were in a 7A Catagory Balcony with a parcial obstructed view.
The cabin was great beds were wonderful, plenty of room in stateroom and the bathroom was plenty roomy including the shower no dance with the shower curtain. Balcony could have been better.
Having sailed on 20 prior cruises none on Carnival and the missing things were quite evident to me almost immediately. Dinner service was lacking in serving of salad dressing and vegetables being served seperately, On Carnival everything comes at once and the protions leave something to be desired not that when I asked for a second Lobster Tail I was denied which I was not it was served without hesitation.
People came to dinner in the evening in shorts and this also occurred on the formal nights people actually came in wearing jeans and shorts I could noth believe they were admitted to the dining room but they were.
The ship was clean and kept that way no complaints there. But Carnival appeals to the masses that is the truth it was not the levelof cruising I have become accustomed to. I was with a group out of Tampa and that was the reason for sailing on Carnival.
I would not go again on them as it is not what I really want.
Western Caribbean (Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Belize and Cozumel) Couple in our late 40's early 50's with our teen son Hadley. Our third Carnival cruise
Embarkation/Day 1 The Tampa port was easy to find. In1 ½ hours we were finally onboard. We'd eaten a big breakfast, so skipped lunch on the Lido deck, a decision that would prove to be a very bad one for me later. We met the teen cruise person, and my teen was delighted to hear there were 28 other teens on board in his age range of 15-17.
By dinner time I was really feeling empty. Our waiters were friendly and prompt. Soups and appetizers would again prove to be the best part of Carnival's menu. Midway thru dinner I was so dizzy and light-headed I had to leap up and leave the table, much to my embarrassment. Back to the room for a Bonine. After 2 previous cruises in very rough water (hurricane dodging for one) I was shocked to learn I COULD get seasick after all!
Day 2 - At Sea.
Visited the health club - nice 2 story facility. Lo and behold my son and4 of his new teen friends were in the spa hot tub. I was pleased to see they were behaving nicely. We set his curfew for 1 am.
Midnight comedy show was hilarious. Probably the best comedian I've seen on all 3 cruises, except maybe for Percy Crews.
We received a gift package from Carnival for booking a "past guest reunion cruise" which consisted of a tote bag, 2 baseball hats, 2 t-shirts, 2 pens, 2 key chains and some coupons.
Day 3 - Grand Cayman After breakfast my son and I head to the tenders for a 5-10 minute ride. A 10 minute un-air-conditioned bus ride with a friendly but STRANGE driver who sang religious songs thru his microphone and we are at the boat. A 30 minute boat ride and we are at a sandbar in the middle of the ocean - Stingray City! Even though there were probably 6 other boats there, it's large enough to not feel crowded. We grabbed a snorkel and jumped in Nothing anyone every told me prepared me for this experience. The rays approach silently and cautiously began to swim around us. The 1st few "brushes" elicited screams from the women and "Whoas!" from the men. You quickly become accustomed to them and the guides begin handing out chunks of squid. Listen to the instructions about how to hold the squid and start feeding them! It's such an odd feeling when they suck the squid out of your hand (they have no teeth). We stayed for only an hour (I could have done this all day). We both agreed it was something to put on your life list of things you must do before you die!
We were quickly learning that the early dining time which had worked so well for us on previous cruises was not working this time. We decided to eat on the Lido deck and my son ate with his friends.
Tonight we cruised all the bars and attended the art auction. We were served free champagne, given a free print and thoroughly entertained by the lovely art.
The piano bar (Sam's) was a bit disappointing - both because of the talent of the performer and the sparcity of the audience. Perhaps there's a connection? The Mad Hatter was karaoke. Off to spy on our teen at Dr. Frankenstein's Lab - the weeklong hangout for the 15-17 year old crowd. I'm happy to report that IMMEDIATELY upon entering we were approached by a security guard to inform us Dr. Frank's was, for certain hours, teens only! We were glad to know Carnival was keeping out the 20-somethings.
On to McGuire's sports bar which was DEAD - nothing on but soccer tonight - football nights would see a more lively crowd.
Day 4 - Costa Maya The length of the pier was greatly exaggerated. It's ½ mile at most - we walked. You walk into the cruise line constructed "village" which is a giant outdoor mall/flea market. The large swim-up-to-the-bar pool had a few too many people for my taste, so we passed. Ouitside to rent a golf cart. They were all rented and we were told to come back in an hour, but 10 minutes later one was available. They rent for $15/hour. In the cart and the adventure begins! Easy driving directions to Mahahual - follow the red brick road (Mexican Driving for Dummy Americans.) until it ends at the lighthouse - turn right and there's the village. Pedestrian traffic only. Restaurants, bars, thatched hut shops (no air conditioning here!) are on both sides of the street. We were ceremoniously escorted to the restaurant/bar across from the Hotel Mahahual on the beach. The sleeping dog under the table never moved. Swaying palms, toes wiggling in the sand, cool drink on the way - I'm in Mexico! We bought some beautiful jewelry, a gorgeous wooden bowl and vanilla. The vendors are pretty aggressive, but will most definitely bargain!
On the way back we stopped in front of a building surrounded by a low rock wall to take a picture of a huge iguana. Men inside with BIG guns came running out shouting "Hey! Hey!" and waving their guns. I don't really speak Spanish, but it was clear in any language they did not want me taking pictures. As we were driving (hurriedly) away we noticed a sign that said something about a naval defense station. Yikes! The Mexican Navy! We all loved Costa Maya - it felt as though you were in the "real" Mexico.
Early night - no shows for us - back in our room by 11 pm
Day 5 - Belize There was no question you were in a small Central American country. We booked a tour thru the ship - Altun Ha/Belize City. Our Belize City guide (Joyce) was born in Belize City and there wasn't a topic she didn't cover (topography, politics, religions, culture, currency, education, flora and fauna) or a question she didn't answer for us. If you are looking for a sanitized tour experience, then Belize isn't for you. It was our favorite, tied with Costa Maya. After a fairly long tour of the city (we were stuck in Belize City rush hour), we headed into the countryside, on a narrow, rutted road with the jungle closer on each side.
We arrive at Altun Ha and Janine, the other tour guide, took over. We climbed to the top of one of the sacrificial towers for a break taking view of the other structures and the jungle. The climb isn't for the faint of heart, or weak of knees. The steps are extremely steep, with each step being at least 12 inches high. With the average Mayan being 5 ft or under, we all wondered how on earth they climbed these towers!
We grabbed a soda and headed back to our bus for the 1 ¼ hour drive back to Belize City. Never has a coke tasted so good or air conditioning been so refreshing. My son and I both feel asleep.
Day 6 - Cozumel Last port! We hadn't scheduled an excursion, so had a leisurely breakfast and headed off the ship. We walked thru the ever present port shopping mall and caught a taxi into town. Were dropped off in San Miguel and began a surprisingly fun day. The contrast between a larger Mexican city (Cozumel) and a smaller Mexican town/village (Costa Maya/Mahuhaul) was refreshing. We veered off the main streets laden with the usual 15 Diamonds International stores and found some interesting shops. Found a real music store and bought a guitar for my musician son, walked around a few more hours and headed back to the ship.
Day 7 Last Day at Sea I was determined this last day at sea would be relaxing and I kept my promise. I finished my book, napped, ate and did some final ship shopping.
Ship The ship is gorgeous. Less Las Vegas and more elegant than the previous Fantasy class and Conquest class ships I've been on. Easy to navigate, lots of out of the way spots to hide for a quiet moment. Gatsby's Garden was a bit too claustrophobic with the low ceilings, but quiet. The library/internet café was lovely, with long sofas next to big picture windows. The Bacchus dining room was every bit as gaudy as had been described (pink grapes - guess they're Catawba, but YIKES!!). It was strangely out of place on this ship of beautiful artwork and statues. I probably wouldn't have noticed if I hadn't heard it on the boards, but there is definitely a lot of nude art on this ship. It's pretty much everywhere. We've spent lots and lots of times in museums and galleries, so were unfazed, but if you are conservative and easily offended by the human form this might not be the ship for you. Nick and Nora's is the most beautiful dining room I've ever seen on a ship. The huge atrium and skylight is stunning.
Cabin The aft balcony was 50% bigger, but the "bigger" came vertically, not horizontally. The balcony wasn't any wider, just deeper, and because of the slanted glass railing, the extra depth was really only for your feet! While the wake was interesting for the first day, not being able to see anything as you came into port was a negative. Still, it was a balcony cabin and wonderful. I just wouldn't pay the extra for an aft balcony again, unless it was one of the wrap-arounds.
Food The dining room food was good, but not outstanding. Maybe seeing the same Carnival menu for the 3rd time has something to do with my dissatisfaction. We ended up eating on the Lido deck several nights - something we've NEVER done before.
Lido deck food was surprisingly uninspired and lackluster. It truly lacked FLAVOR. All the desserts tasted the same - vanilla. You could close your eyes and not know what you were having - it tasted the same as yesterday's dessert. Breakfast remained horrible, with cold, dry pancakes one day, soggy French toast the next, then back to pancakes. But there was a lovely fruit bar and the pastries and granola were pretty good, too.
Lido lunches were better. My son loved the Chinese buffet and we both enjoyed the burgers (delicious if you get one freshly made) and grilled chicken from the grill. Sandwiches from the deli were good and the potato salad is quite delicious. Pizza was delicious, as usual.
There was an odd lack of vegetables. One night the only vegetable besides the salad bar was mashed potatoes!
Ship Activities Shockingly, I didn't attend many activities this time around. I think the newness has worn off and I'm not quite as "wowed" by the games. The art auction was tons of fun and so was movie trivia. I skipped bingo and came out slightly ahead in the casino on roulette and slots.
Entertainment Sadly, this is the area in which I am most disappointed. The entertainment on the Fantasy was superb. On the Glory it was downright fabulous. On the Miracle it was nothing short of uninspired. The dancers looked as though they were simply going thru the motions. The choreography was so simple it made me wonder if these folks were singers first and dancers second, so maybe the choreography had been "dumbed down" for them. The lead female singer (name escapes me) was quite good, however. That being said, we walked out of Ticket to Ride.
All of this is from someone who NEVER missed a single show on her previous 2 cruises. I look forward to the entertainment more than almost any element of cruising. Maybe I just got a bad "batch" of performers, who knows? Carnival continues to pump lots of money into it's entertainment. The sets are elaborate, the sound system great. I'm hoping this was a fluke.
The hypnotist didn't really do it for me, but he seemed popular and lots of people attended his lecture the next day.
Overall cruise experience I love cruising Carnival, but realized on this cruise I'm ready to try another line. I'm not unhappy with Carnival for the most part, but just want to see what else is out there. The cruise struck me as being a bit more "Wal-mart" than what I would have liked. I like the luxury part of cruising and I suspect I might get a bit more of that on another line. I hope to be trying Royal Caribbean in the next few months and Celebrity next year.
The ports were the highlight of this cruise for me and my husband. Not going to all the activities allowed me to set a gentler, more relaxed pace. I had read on the teen board that some teens make "friends for life" on a cruise. My teen declared this his best cruise ever. The teens exchanged emails and IM's and have been happily "talking" to each other since their return! We all got what we wanted and can't wait to cruise again - both on Carnival and other lines.
Age: 50+ (don't ask about the +) Occupation: IT Project Manager (for how much longer? who knows something to do with the +) Number of Cruises: 2 (who's counting, we should have started much sooner) Cruise Line: Carnival Ship: Miracle (very nice) Sailing Date: May 15, 2005 Itinerary: Western Caribbean
Summary, rating (and the bottom line): This cruise on the Miracle was our first with Carnival. It was a replacement cruise for sister ship the Pride which we unfortunately missed on April 10th because of a surprise blizzard that hit Denver airport at 4:00 AM and closed DIA for 2 days (DIA is advertised as not closing because of snow, but trying to fly a plane with un-melted ice is not advisable). This was a great cruise for various reasons such as: traveling with my beautiful Caribbean princess wife Ann - whom I have been happily married to for over 31 years. And also traveling with our friends Scott and Julie (very cool). On a scale from 1-10, I rated this cruise a 9.3 which is very high because the only cruise I expect will ever get a 10 is thatlast hoped for one to Heaven. Cruising is a great way to vacation and travel, because you always know where your room is, but each day you wake up and your are in a new exciting place. We flew into Tampa a day early this time (to avoid another surprise) and spent a night near the airport. This is far better then waking up at 3:00 AM and rushing through airports hoping nothing goes wrong on day of cruise that could prevent you from getting to the port before ship leaves. I recommend that you cruise, dance and enjoy the scenery with someone you love for as long as you can afford it. It is far better then staying in just one place, and there is always something exciting to do on board especially spending quality time with your mate. This cruise was a Miracle for some folks (4-6) from Cuba, who's small boat's engine broke down and they had drifted for 6 days before being rescued at sea half way between Cuba and Mexico. As we departed for Costa Maya the next morning we learned that Mexico had agreed to receive these folks so they would not have to be returned to Cuba where their fate would be very uncertain to say the least. Wow.
Embarkation: We met up with our friends for breakfast at the motel and took a shuttle for $10 each to the cruise port early arriving around 11:00 AM. Some folks carry way too much luggage (unless it is used to carry some wine and vodka). Anyway it is great to get to the port early, because you are relaxed, don't have any lines, can board ship early, have a great first lunch onboard this awesome ship. Afterwards we checked out the pools (look for the table with sliding glass window to catch a nice breeze) and we ordered our first drinks with keeper logo glasses (you can use these to make your own if you can). We did all this all well before the famous muster drill (avoid blowing that whistle in your vest, it is probably has much residue left over from others). First day tip: bring a carry-on bag with bathing suit, sunscreen, and other necessities, so that you can enjoy early arrival at poolside, because your luggage will not likely show up till late that afternoon, or early evening.
First Impressions This great newer ship (launched 2004) presented an awesome view of Tampa Bay port area from deck 10. Tampa has a nice clean port area compared to Galveston. Boarding the ship early gave us time to eat a great lunch, drink, swim, and tour the ship which is a really nice sight to see - both inside and out, prior to our first dinner in Bacchus restaurant. We were fortunate that our luggage was delivered to our stateroom about 2 hrs. before our 5:45 PM dinner seating, which was not the case for many others guests including our friends.
Rooms We had a nice balcony room located on deck 7 starboard side (left hand, facing front, towards back). This was very convenient as it was only two decks just below the Lido deck restaurant where you can always find good food with free beverages (coffee, tea, juices). My wife and I had plenty of room. Be careful opening the bathroom door which opens out to closet area and can slam into someone. Our room steward was great as we hardly saw her, but our room was always cleaned twice daily with mints and animal looking folded towels. We had a modified king bed with a couch in our room. The bathroom was just right size with a great shower - if you drop the soap you won't fall out trying to pick it up. Hair dryer was smartly installed in small top desk draw, the built in safe and TV above were positioned perfectly. Plenty of closet and storage space for suitcases under the bed. I liked the interactive TV where you can view, or book excursions, check status of your bill, and view schedule of events each day. No need to stand in line on last day to verify your bill when check-out time comes. But, let's not think the bill and our vacation ending so soon until the last night.
Other Amenities Jogging track on deck 11 is very tiny, deck 10 without the rubber tracking stuff is much larger. But the workout facilities at Roman Spa and gym are excellent where you can use a treadmill while you watch TV, or look out at the sea. Tip: In the Spa has a nice indoor Jacuzzi, steam room, sauna, great shower with 5 heads in locker rooms (essentially this is like getting a free water massage). For those who must, there is a wireless internet café on the ship. The ship is also was wired in a number of locations where you can also connect you're own laptop with wireless card. Access is pricey ($25 for 33 minutes), as it is for alcoholic beverages. But, if you must be online, or drink, and you're in the middle of an ocean, the price may be worth it (not for me dude - leave the laptop home and manage your drinking so you won't be shocked when you see the bill and start whining?
Food We ate dinner in the Bacchus Dining Room every night. The food was great - where you can ordered something new or different at no risk, because if you don't like it, you can always order another dinner (steak is always available) - so your always sure to be satisfied. Some nights, I ordered two entries and shared with friends so we could taste different meals and desserts. Don't miss the special midnight buffet, if you feel guilty you can always go back to the disco (Frankenstein's) and work off some of the extra calories. On a few occasions we had breakfast and lunch up onto the Lido Deck (where you can get custom omelet's and pastries etc. The lunches were great! You could sample various foods from all over each day - which was pretty awesome.
Ports Caymen (tendered close), and Cozumel (docked) were nice as always. Beautiful water, beaches, clean, many excursions, lots of shopping (the ladies loved that!). There are many places to party (if that's your thing). All of the vendors speak English. I believe these are the nicest destinations of the western Caribbean ports. The Duty Free shopping areas have many items for sale. You can purchase, but can't bring liquor back to your stateroom unless you get creative?
Costa Maya (docked) had a newer looking beach area, with a nice pool, shopping, eating area surrounded the large pool. From the ship It looked very rural and jungle like outside of the port area. But, I understand there are taxi's nearby that can take you to the old town where there is better beach area for $4? Belize is tendered very far from the ship (some 5-6 miles away). And distances to excursions are also far from the main port area.
Excursions In Cayman last year we did the stingray island excursion which was wonderful. This is time we spent a day at the 7 mile beach area - $4 shuttle ride per person each way. It was the best water we have ever swam in - perfect temperature, crystal clear blue/green, and we rented a $5 raft to float around with. In Cozumel last year we stayed at small beach area next to the ship - which was great, but watch our for the tequila it was very strong, This time my wife (a belated birthday gift) had a Dolphin encounter in at Chankannayuh Park (bet you can't say that word properly). I went along with her for the ride and negotiated for $20 a RT 10 minute ride, with entry to the park, and was able to observe - standing on mini-boardwalk just above her and others with the Dolphins below just 3-4 feet away. The water was fantastic and clear, and afterwards we went to a nice beach area at the park for some snorkeling. In Costa Maya we stayed right next to the dock at a small rocky beach area with a great pool where you could swim up and order food and beverages without leaving the water, or just hop up to a tables that sit right next to and above to pool with nice music all day. The police officers, or soldiers walking the beach/pool area with M-16's had us wondering if it was safe place to wander into town? But, since we already had been in two ports we decided this day we would hang out at beach near the ship. In Belize, Shallow reef (tendered) 4-5 miles out. And we learned that every excursion was quite a distance away. So., we choose to do the free speedboat excursion from ship to port, and then went shopping right there in port area that had fences (also makes one wonder if it is a risk wandering outside of dock area? Next time, I would consider booking an excursion that picks you up at the ship and goes directly to the snorkeling and beach areas without going back into main port area.
Days at Sea There were always lots of things to do on-board. Eat, hang out at the pools and Jacuzzi's, exercise and walk all the decks, take in all the shows, Karaoke any night in Mad Haters lounge, dancing in live band bar area, cool ya man disco shag dancing at Frankenstein's open till we hours, midnight buffets. More entertainment, more dancing. Opportunities to win Gold looking Plastic Ship trophy's.
What I liked (a lot). Being on board this very nice ship always. Learning to do the Shag at Frankenstein's (with great disco music). Our balcony room. The two Las Vegas-style shows. Great selection of food always. Reggae style live music at poolside (nice sounds man). The juggler was very talented. Being with old friends and making new friends onboard. Midnight buffet (consider exercise afterwards, or the next day). Dancing to live group at rock bar. Excise facilities. Great selection of excursions. Custom made Hamburgers (your way) at poolside, or try the great deli sandwich bar. Coffee, fruit drinks, and ice cream always available somewhere no extra charge. The live classical music trio in Atrium bar was very nice. Beautiful sunrise and sunsets any day, dancing everywhere we could. Last but not least - being on this ship anywhere spending quality time with my Caribbean princess.
What could be improved. Bingo in the theater just before show time - this needs to be moved elsewhere, or to end much sooner so that those who are not interested can get to the show early to get a nice seat upfront without having to listen to the loud sales pitches. The comedians were so-so - they should improve that. The hypnotist show was funny at times but not quite believable. Alcoholic beverages were a little pricey with tips always added. I would suggest Carnival allow customers to purchase wine, or alcohol on board the ship with option on the first evening to bring back a few bottles to your room similar to what RC allowed last year on our first cruise. I would have preferred more talented American, or British musicians especially for rock instead of the Philippine groups trying to do 50-70's rock and always a bit too late. Sometimes they just did not sound like Beetles, or perform Motown the way it was. Tip: loose the chimes and use more cow bell and lower the volume. The 3 entertainment assistants who marched around the ship often trying to drum up fun at the bars and various other places. We were already having so much fun listening to music and dancing without them trying to drum up stuff by interrupting the flow of music and caused these places to overcrowd. Save the money, hire a couple of more good entertainers instead that is what makes it enjoyable - not folks saying are we having fun. The woman singing California songs (with electronic music) at the pool one day was way too loud which caused many of us to leave pool area early and look for more fun elsewhere. The Muster drill (unavoidable) where we are squeezed together with warm vests on, and loud announcements blasting overhead. The soft reddish colored lights in dinning room got old after one day - change the color?
Worst of all - the cruise ended far too soon. Wishful thinking, it would be awesome if it could last longer at same price with more entertainment, more dancing, more shows and certainly more cowbell, and please move the bingo to a private room. If you improve all those things the rating will go all the way up to a 9.9, remember no cruise can get a 10 except for the final one.
Summary For a 2nd cruise, the Carnival Miracle was an awesome experience for the both of us. It compared very favorable with our first (30th anniversary) cruise last year on the RC Rhapsody of the Seas. We had another great quality time together in love (somewhat like another perfect honeymoon). We are hooked on cruising, if only I can keep on justifying spending the amounts of money two folks can easily spend. As long as I keep on working, then we will keep finding a way. Maybe we can get a job with Carnival so we can cruise almost forever. Since, Carnival provided us with a full cruise credit for the missed Pride blizzard cruise in April (thank you very much) - we are now getting ready to book our next cruise with Carnival early next year - this time to the Eastern, or Southern Caribbean. After then who knows and please don't forget the best is yet to come - that last hoped for greatest ever cruise to Heaven. Hope to get there with my princess and to see you there. Wish we could cruise forever, if only we had a never ending flow of money and more cow bell for when we are dancing to the live rock music, or at the cool disco where you can do the shag, or anything else you feel like making up. Who cares what happens on the ship stays on the ship unless you choose to share it with others.
Peace and best regards.. Emilio Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
I cannot say enough wonderful things about the Miracle. The embarkment process was so simple. We arrived at the Port Of Tampa about 11:30am. Zipped right through the Fun Pass line and was on the ship at 12:30pm. The ship was very impressive, you could still feel the newness of it.
Loved the cabin, got an upgrade from 8c to 8I. The balcony was very roomy, the views were wonderful, plenty of closet space.
The dining room was interesting, lots of pink grapes. The food was great, but the servers seemed to have to many tables. The first night in the dining room the wait for the meal was about 45 mins. I thought that was way too long, but the second night was much better.
The public rooms were very nice. The had a great variety of music, jazz, classical, popular, what ever suits your taste.
No problem getting a chair on the lido deck. The ship never seemed to be crowded even though the it was fully booked.
The shows were very entertaining. the comics were funny I laughed until I cried. When you returned to your cabin after a nightof fun you always found it spotless and a wonderful towel animal on your bed.
The ports of call were Grand Cayman, Cozemel, Costa Maya, and Belize. I enjoyed them all. We rented a golf cart in Costa Maya and drove to the Village of Mahauhala. The beach there was very pretty the water was crystal clear. The only excursion we bought through the ship was Goffs Caye in Belize, which was a small island that had the most beautiful beach and water that I have ever seen. The other ports we did on our own.
The best shopping was in Cozemel and Belize. We brought back plenty of liquor and perfume, and of course tee shirts.
Disembarkment was a breeze just had to wait until your area was called or you had the option of carrying your luggage of the ship gets you off almost immediately.
To sum it all up the Miracle is a beautiful ship, the staff, the cruise director are all there to see that you have a great time. To be very honest I would have liked to see more activities, Other than that I had a wonderful time and I would absolutely sail the Miracle again.