This cruise was our first on the Carnival cruise line. For years we had heard about the "party ships" and had always been apprehensive about cruising on a Carnival ship. One previous Carnival passenger told us that "Carnival" was a bad word. Another told us not to expect much and therefore we would not be disappointed. Then a seasoned traveler told us that he and his wife enjoyed traveling on Carnival ships.
Our grandchildren had Thanksgiving break so we agreed to this cruise as a family get togather. There were 10 of us on the cruise. It took only a day for our concerns to turn to a really fun trip. We are both in our seventies. This does not in any way mean that every other passenger reflects these same views. We talked with some passengers that unfortunately had cabins close to passengers that apparently did not conduct themselves in a very good manner. We know of incidents where there was excessive drinking and loud language that was far from being acceptable. On next to the last day some "punk" threw a ceramic cup from the 9th deck, down the atriumto the lounge below. The cup narrowly missed a crew member, with the cup shattering into many pieces. Had that cup hit a person, death or serious injury would have occurred. We learned from security that other such incidents have occurred with ice cream being the object thrown. Unfortunately we learned there were no security cameras in that exact area. Toward the end of the cruise we saw gangs of young teen age children roaming the ship and basically acting like savages. Parents were nowhere to be seen. These had to be the exception on this cruise and we feel for those who encounter such nonsense and negatively impact an otherwise good cruise for other passengers.
The ship, the Carnival Miracle, was launched in 2004, therefore the ship is in a "like new" condition. Just three weeks ago we left another ship under the same "umbrella" and we are often led to comparisons between the two ships. The ship is actually very clean and a beautiful ship. There is nothing wrong with the cruise ship itself.
EMBARKATION We departed from Port Everglades, Florida on this eight day cruise. Upon entering the terminal we found long lines everywhere. Since this was our first Carnival cruise we could not take advantage of the "VIP" lines. We were routed to a line where there was only one cruise person checking in passengers. The line moved very slowly. Eventually four additional employees were added and the line moved a little faster. It appeared that every passenger was encountering some type of problem. Finally it was our turn and it wasn't long before we learned we had a problem. We were advised the credit card that we had used for pre-registration could not be located in the system and the computer could not pull up the information at this time. Even though we produced papers showing we had submitted a valid credit card number, we found it necessary to provide that credit card number again. We noticed the number was handwritten on a credit card invoice (like from years ago). There is more to this, and thus the reason for mentioning the issue.
We noticed the party next to us was having the same problem. About 6 hours later when we attempted to make a purchase aboard the ship I was told the credit card number "had not made it to the system". We went to the purser's desk and for the third time we presented the credit card and this time the cruise line apparently was able to retain the information that had been previously provided them. One of the other parties traveling with us was also advised the cruise line needed to have their credit card number since the data was "not available".
This is annoying to say the least, especially on our first cruise with Carnival.
DEBARKATION This was a total nightmare. We went to breakfast at 6:15AM and without a copy of our cabin statement. After breakfast we returned to the cabin where we found our statement. It was correct. We were advised that if we had only carry off baggage we could proceed to Deck 3 for an expedited debarkation. We never heard any orderly process being announced on the public address system. It is estimated that well over half the passengers were trying to carry their baggage off the ship themselves. There were hundreds of passengers already on decks 2 and 3. Lines begin to form all the way into the ship. Some passengers were trying to lug 4 and 5 large suitcases and keep up with three children at the same time. It was a total mess. It took an hour for the line to start moving. Once we got off the ship the process through customs was quick. We then learned that the taxi cab drivers had gone on strike and there were no cabs. We managed to get the last three seats on a van going to the airport. As we left hundreds were on the docks trying to get some form or transportation.
THE SHIP This is actually a very nice ship. Although it is a mega ship, we found getting around not to be a major issue as the ship was clean and appeared to be well maintained. We of course kept in mind this was just a four year old ship. The sailing through the Caribbean, even with some rough waves, was quite smooth. Getting off and on the ship at port stops was very easy. Carnival takes a photo of each passenger at the time of boarding with that photo matching one's cabin card. We did note that some passengers had problems with this. A trip to the purser's office could get this corrected so the cabin card and picture in the computer system will match.
CABIN We were on Deck 8 with a balcony. The room was well appointed with nice colors. The main thing was that it was very clean as was the bathroom. The mattress was excellent. The amount of space was about average for this level of cabin. We found it very adequate. There was plenty of drawers and closet space. The cabin contained both a safe and mini bar which one could use for refrigeration. The cost of sodas in the mini bar was one of the lowest we have encountered anywhere in the travel industry ($1.95) per can. Lighting in the room was excellent. The door to the balcony worked well and opened easily. The cabin was always kept clean during our cruise. Upon entering the bathroom, one might be shocked at the various colors. The sink was green, the floor and shower dark blue and the shower walls light green. We got used to it after just one day. Everything in the room worked well including a TV set that had the most channels we have seen in a long time.
DINING OK, we know you are dying to learn about the food. First there is a fee for meals at Nick & Nora's Supper Club. This is a nice restaurant on decks 11 & 12 serving excellent entrees. The Bacchus Restaurant located on the Promenade and Atlantic decks offers two seating in the main dining room. The service at our table was very good and the food very good. The early seating is somewhat difficult to obtain as many passengers opt for the early seating. The late seating starts at 8:15PM. There is also food service at Horaito's Restaurant on deck 9. Food service stations are located throughout the deck and we found the food better than many other similar cruise line self serve cafeteria style restaurants. Entrees were very good and the custom made sandwiches excellent. There is a pizza area, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken strips, etc. A self serve ice cream bar is available in several places also. In general the food aboard this Carnival ship is better than other cruise lines we have been on. This was one the pleasant surprises we found on the Carnival Miracle. There is excellent seating throughout the area or you may take your food to an outside area close to one of the pools. Avoid the crowds by going early or late for lunch, as 12 noon will be very busy. The lines move rather quickly.
Late Night Buffets: There are late night buffets starting at midnight. If you stay up late and are afraid you are going to miss a meal between dinner and breakfast then by all means avail yourself of an excellent late night snack area.
There is drink service by the wait staff which we found to be professional and accommodating. Bar drinks were reasonably priced with lemonade and tea being free at lunch. Dinner was much less crowded however not as many food service stations were open. Only one night did we eat there as menu was somewhat smaller than the menu found in the main dining room.
AFTERNOON TEA This frankly was a disaster as too many passengers showed up and it was not possible to accommodate each of them. We usually got our tea and horsdoeuvres and went to the Lido deck where we could find seating.
BARS & LOUNGES There are many good places to meet and obtain a drink throughout the ship. There are 13 nightclubs and lounges throughout the ship. Finding seating space in at least one lounge, each time we tried, was always successful. The lounges and bars cater to the fun crown so don't expect quiet solitude places in many sections of the ship. Wait staff was excellent.
PHOTOS The snapshots were generally good with the photographers not too intrusive. We had several family portraits made at different locations on the ship and not one was suitable for purchase. Lighting was poor in some places, and the quality of the photos just left a lot to be desired. When getting a photo of your choice, look for an area that has "fill in lighting" available. That will be the large black reflectors. The reason, there just isn't enough light from the camera's flash to fill in shadows for you or anyone with you. Portraits were priced at approximately $21 depending upon the size. Some were of passable quality. We suggest purchasing one or two snapshots (they were $7.95) and leaving the portraits for a professional photo session back home. The staff was generally helpful and not too intrusive.
STORES & GIFT SHOP Really very good, well stocked and reasonable prices. In addition we found helpful staff maintaining the areas. Many passengers seemed to want to stock up on cigarettes and liquor. Not knowing where these passengers came from we are unable to know if the prices were good for each of them. For us, the liquor was better priced back home. We are non-smokers however we know that our home state sells cigarettes at a better price then the ship's prices.
SWIMMING POOLS All over the place and each very nice. Somewhat crowded on sea days when the weather was great. Some are for children and some primarily adults. Be prepared for a lot of rough play around the pools as the children were out of control most of the time. Kiddie pools had security close by thus small children fared much better.
SECURITY I have never included a paragraph in any of my reviews about security. Have you ever been on a cruise ship when you wished there was security close by because someone was disorderly? This ship had visible security officers in various places on the ship and we were most appreciative. They were non-intrusive and very professional. This is a real plus for this ship. They just need to double or triple the size of the unit with all the rowdy kids on board.
CHILDREN'S AREA This ship had many children aboard and the areas and activities offered for children of all ages appeared to be great. We saw many having a great time in supervised activities. We don't know full details as we didn't have children on board.
CHAPEL Very nice and large enough to accommodate several people. We did not witness any weddings while we were aboard, nor did we see any services being held in the chapel. It was always open when we passed by and could have been used for meditation at any time.
LIBRARY The library has limited open hours. While there were several books in the library, we have been on cruises with a better selection and more accommodating hours. There are also internet connections in the library. If you plan to read on a Carnival cruise -- good luck. It may be hard to find a quiet place.
INTERNET As with many modern day ships there is limited internet service aboard. This just means that one should not expect the same level of service one might have back home. Service is highly dependent upon the weather and the ship's location. The service is expensive by today's standards and with a short cruise we decided not to purchase the service. It was apparent that many others made that same decision as we never found the internet areas to be busy. There were hot spots throughout the ship but we seldom found any passengers with their laptops. Wait until you return home and enjoy being away from the internet for a week.
PORTS St. Maarten: We passed on the shore tours for this stop and we are glad we did after seeing bus after bus packed like sardines with ship passengers. After many years of traveling we believe that for the most part the ship's tours are overpriced and repeatedly go to places where all the rest of the cruise ship passengers go. A much better alternative is to find other passengers willing to take an adventurous trip with a local driver. I know this is always a risk as you could end up with a driver that takes you to the same places as the ship's tours. We talked with several passengers that hired a local driver and van to cover some of the usual sights but additional sights not normally visited by others. We also learned that the cost was just a fraction of what it would cost individually on board ship.
A word of caution about St. Maarten. We reserved a car at Avis as we were told the rental car company was at the pier. At the pier we found several major rental companies; however Avis was not to be found. We finally located Avis about a half mile from the pier and the vehicle offered us was not only rusted but in a deplorable condition. It was more a "Rent A Wreck" type vehicle. Then I was asked for a $500 deposit (to make certain I returned the car). I refused and was eventually told I could leave a $500 deposit on my credit card. I once again refused and cancelled the reservations. I went back to the pier and rented an almost new vehicle from Hertz for $10 less. Personally I will never again make reservations for St. Maarten since there were many cars available right at the pier for walk ups.
Driving in St. Maarten can be a challenge, therefore unless you are willing the take the chance you might be better off not renting in St. Maarten. Traffic is not bad in the outlying areas, however traffic in major towns is a nightmare. Expect constant stop and go traffic and expect to encounter a lot of local vehicle drivers that have little regard for traffic laws and traffic courtesies.
St. Lucia: Renting a car in St. Lucia is at the airport which is located about a mile or so from the docks. The companies there are professional and if you make arrangements before docking most will pick you up at the cruise ship docks and return you at the end of the rental. A tip -- stay away from the cruise ship dock when ships arrive. The traffic is bumper to bumper and as in St. Marrten, there may be little regard for traffic regulations. We did find some of the drivers though to be very courteous. Out on the open road there are little or no center stripes, thus expect to meet oncoming vehicles on your side of the road or curve. In some areas you may encounter lots of people walking on the narrow roads. Be especially careful during school hours as hundreds of students will be walking on the roads.
In small villages you may be approached by locals begging, people appearing to be under some type of influence running in front of your car or even blocking the narrow street. I would strongly suggest that you not travel in these areas after dark. If you must drive at night, check with the rental car company or local authorities before making that decision. Note -- a special driver's license is required in St. Lucia. Be sure and talk with your rental car company at the time you make your reservations as some rental companies may have the required license while others will send you a long distance to the local government office. Cost can be anywhere from $17 to $25 depending on fees added by the rental company.
St. Kitts: St. Kitts has an excellent ship pier with lots of souvenir shopping. We did not rent a car at this location however people traveling with us hired a local driver and van to take them on a trip around the island. They were well pleased with the trip and cost which was $140 for eight people. They felt it was a bargain when compared with ship tour prices.
SHIP'S ENTERTAINMENT The Phantom Lounge is the venue for the ship's entertainment. The Carnival singers and dancers are actually several notches above the usual on board entertainers that one finds on cruise ships. We found the sound system in the upstairs section to be deplorable. Not sure if it is the equipment or the people responsible for the sound. Some of the single entertainers were okay however we didn't always stay until the end of the program. There are several other entertainment spots throughout the ship in other lounges. For example there was classical music in the Metropolis Lobby, Fun Music in the Gotham Lounge, Karaoke in the Mad Hatter's Ball, Rock, Pop & More in the Casino, Deck party Music on Lido Deck 9 and the Latest Party Music at Dr. Frankenstein's. A visit to Dr. Frankenstein's is worth the time to see this 20 foot giant. This is a "kids area" during a portion of the daylight time and a disco at night.
MOVIES Movies are shown in the Phantom Lounge and in Mad Hatter's Ball however not on a regular basis. We found occasional listings in the ship's daily program. We never found any worth watching.
BINGO Lots of bingo held at various times throughout the cruise. There did not appear to be a set time for each such event. You will have to review the daily Carnival Capers to see time and location. There also does not appear to be a systematic payout for winnings. Apparently Carnival keeps the entire sales and decides an amount to pay out on each game.
CASINO The busiest casino we have ever seen on a cruise ship. There is no doubt this is a very big moneymaker for Carnival. There were adequate tables for cards, craps and roulette, all of which were busy most of the four sea days of the cruise. There is also one automated Texas hold-em poker table and lots of slot machines. Going to a ship's casino is strictly for fun and entertainment. They are not going to lose and you are not going to win.
SUMMARY If you don't mind the few negatives we have discussed then the Carnival Cruise Lines might be a real bargain. The prices are usually among the lowest in the cruise industry, the food was exceptional, the Miracle a very clean ship and service good. Would we travel again? Probably but at a time when there is a better possibility that the kids will be in school. We really can't recommend this type cruise for those accustomed to Holland America and the more senior passengers. For honeymooners there are better alternatives. If you are party persons then consider the Carnival cruises.
We sailed on the Miracle last year with our son and found many activities we could do as a family. This year, same cruise, same itinerary, there were only segregated activities. Children could so stuff alone at the camp without parents and adults could do stuff alone, nothing for the three of us at all. Last year, we played bean bag toss etc together, while this year,that was for grown ups only. They had bean bag for kids in the Camp but again, you couldn't do anything with parents and kids together. Last year, there was a family welcome dance, this year, nothing at all. I mean, seriously people, what is going to happen if a kid plays bean bag toss ... what? Someone's going to put an eye out? I don't think so.
So, if you want to drink and leave your kids playing video games in the bowels of the ship, this cruise is for you. If you intend to spend time with your kids, don't cruise on The Miracle. I will never cruise with Carnival again. I really looked forward to more of what they had last yearand can't figure out what happened in just one year. I mean, they even had 'water wars' for adults that weren't listed as adult in the daily ship news that you get. It was at two in the afternoon ... what would you think? I thought surely that would be fun, maybe water balloons or something. Nope, just adults, and guess what? They had only four people show up for that anyway.
Also, if there is only one pool able to be open due to weather or for any other reason, it should automatically become a family pool. The children and family pool was closed for much of our journey because of their position on the ship and weather. The adult one, which is identical in dimension and depth, was open, no one was in it, and we were still denied entry. So literally, there was nothing to do. If only one pool remains open, it should be deemed to be family temporarily and when the others open, the children and families can go back to their own leaving adults to their own pool once again. I paid for my son to go on a cruise. We got ripped off.
I don't mean that children should be in adult areas, that would be irritating to most people. I'm saying that Carnival needs to get their entertainment staff together to come up with family stuff.
I will keep this short and sweet -- but the bottom line is DO NOT CRUISE WITH THE MIRACLE, you will be highly disappointed. This was our first cruise, so our expectations were high -- boy were we disappointed. We will never, ever cruise with Carnival again -- basically:They kept charging us for drinks and wine that we did not order and the only way to have them removed is by going to the purser's desk and filling out a report. The staff is rude and acts as if you are trying to get away with free drinks. We never got an apology or even an acknowledgment from them. Nothing.
I had jewelery stolen from my stateroom. Once yet another report was filed and security did a complete search of our room -- leaving the door open so that everyone walking by was peeking in the room and wondering what we had done. Again the staff was less than friendly. We were told that we would hear later as to the status of their investigation -- of course we never heard a word from them. Again no apologies whatsoever.
As fordirections given by the staff, they have to be the most disorganized staff I have ever met -- I swear that if you ask exactly the same question to 3 staff members, you will get 3 different answers (believe me, we tried it!).
As for the food, it was just horrible -- I would not have believed it myself, but everything was overcooked in the Bachus Restaurant and as for the Buffet, for dinner, only 2 stations were open, which meant not much variety.
The last day of the trip was totally chaotic at the Purser's desk as there was an extravagant amount of people lined up and complaining of being overcharged with various things going from drinks, to shore tours. We actually ran into a woman that was in tears because she had been charged for 5 shore tours that she never took -- again the staff was less than friendly and totally rude.
Finally, when we were lining up for disembarkation we quickly found out that EVERYBODY we talked to thought this was the worst cruise they had ever done. As one woman put it when I told her that this was our first cruise -- "do not think you know what cruising is about based on this cruise -- this is NOT WHAT CRUISING IS ALL ABOUT."
In summary, I think Carnival should be ashamed of how they operate the Miracle ship. It lacks quality and professionalism. The cruise director told us at the end of the cruise that Carnival wants not to meet our expectations, but rather exceed them. Boy, did they miss that goal!
SHAME ON YOU, CARNIVAL.
by Barry Cooper - March 4, 2007 Who: Barry & Kathy Cooper and Barry's Brother and Sister-In-Law. Last Cruise: Carnival Glory (Eastern) - May 06 Next Cruise: Carnival Glory (Eastern) - May 07Getting started
Drove down from Virginia on Fri/Sat before Sun cruise. Note to self: don't drive to Florida on the days before Beach Week in Daytona Beach - loads of cars towing Motorcycles! Other than lots of traffic (but no real slow downs), drive was uneventful. Spent Sat night with my brother in Lake Mary, Fl (north of Orlando).
Embarkation in Tampa was very easy. Once again we got lost getting to the port in Tampa. The signs are not well marked. We missed the 1st exit because of the road construction and could not get to the exit. We got off in Downtown Tampa and of course, there was some kind of festival going on which closed some of the roads. Eventually, we made it. The four of us are all Platinum members, so the process was pretty easy as we skipped all the lines (once you get through Security). For a change, our dinner seating arrangements were correct,but we did go to the dining room to check out our table. It was a table for 4, which was perfect. Went to our rooms at 1:30. Luggage arrived before Muster Drill at 4 which was pretty short and not too hot.
The Cabin We had booked two cabins (separately) as a Balcony guarantee. We both ended up on the Panorama Deck on opposite sides and direction. Cabin location was (we were on the Port side almost at the back) not bad, but we did hear lots of noise early in the morning from chairs being moved on the levels above us. Was not all that bad, but noticeable. I did forget to bring my power strip (even though it was on my list, but I guess if you don't check your list, you suffer the consequences). We definitely could have used it. Will NOT forget it on our Glory cruise this May.
The ship This was our first time on the Miracle, but since we had been on the Pride before, it all seemed familiar. The public rooms did not seem as cold as I was expecting, but I still wore long sleeves or a sweatshirt most of the time that I was inside. Only made it to the show room (Phantom) once for the repeaters party, so not sure if it was cold since I had a suit jacket on that night.
We never did make it to any of the shows, but were regulars in the casino. My wife even came in 3rd in one of the Slot tournaments.
Food & Service I thought the dinners were really good. My brother and his wife were not as enthusiastic (they would be happy to eat in the supper club every night). Our dining room staff was a mixed bag - our Head Waitress, Natalia, was excellent, but her Assistant, Adrian, was new and somewhat slow. Both of them were extremely pleasant. We ate dinner twice (planned) in the supper club, Nick & Nora's. First meal was not that great to my wife and I (she was not feeling well and I think I ate too many appetizers at the repeater's party). Second time was much better as I ate less and enjoyed it more. Service in the Supper club was excellent.
3 of us had the Warm Chocolate Melting cake every night (I usually had another dessert as well) in the Main Dining room. It was definitely one of the highlights. Of course, I like all of the desserts!
Ports & Weather Weather was not great for the first part of the cruise and did not really warm up until the last few days.
Our ports were Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya.
Due to the windy conditions and having to tender in Grand Cayman, the port was closed to all ships. This was a big disappointment to me as I was planning on doing a personal Rum Cake tasting tour in Georgetown. A similar thing happened to us on the Pride with Key West (maybe it has something to do with the Spirit Class and our cruising :)). We just had another day at sea. Carnival did give us $25 each On Board Credit for missing the port.
We docked at downtown Cozumel (a first for us). We got off the ship and just window shopped in the stores on the main street.
My wife and I did not get off the boat in Belize and just stayed on the ship and relaxed. My brother and his wife took the tender in, stayed about 20 minutes and came right back. We have done Beize before and knew what to expect. I did the Cave Tubing excursion there on a previous cruise and thought it was excellent.
We all got off the ship in Costa Maya and shopped at the port. Was not as successful (to me) as Cozumel as my wife actually bought something there :)
Since this was our 14th Carnival cruise (and 17th overall), we have done all these ports at least 2 other times, but had only done Grand Cayman once, which is why we were disappointed.
Debarkation Getting off the ship was extremely easy since we were all Platinum Level members. We met in one of the lounges at 8:15 AM and got off the ship by around 8:40 AM. Our luggage was waiting for us and we were in the car and gone by 9:00 AM. We dropped my brother and his wife off at their house and continued our drive home to Virginia. Note to self: don't drive from Florida at the end of Beach Week. We ran into 3 separate slow downs in North Florida and South Georgia.
Overall This was our 14th cruise on Carnival and we were definitely not disappointed. We all thought the crew on the ship were excellent. No real negatives other than that darn casino keeps taking my money!
The cruise was a mixed bag of experiences.
The balcony cabin was tended to daily, but had an offensive odor near the bedside table. The cabin crew always greeted us when we saw them.
Was really disappointed with the food. The dining room butter consistently had a refrigerator smell, as did the "fresh" fruit cocktail. Apparently, the fruit was cut up early in the day and left uncovered. Much of the food looked greasy. The desserts were very good.
The food on the Lido Deck was better than the food in the dining room.
Disembarking was the usual nightmare; no organization, people milling about, no directions, no patrolling to keep people in lines, long waits. When will Carnival cruise ships get organized and actually plan a better disembarkment process?
As an aside; the trip to St Lucia should be dropped. A beautiful looking island, but dangerous roads with abandoned cars, half built homes, poverty everywhere, three men interfered with our tour at the old barracks (now community college) by taking over and describing the site and then asking to switch their coins for a dollar. A scary place.
Enjoyed St Kitts, a charming little city, andSt Maarten.
We love cruising out of New York, and since we live only 45 minutes away, we try to book one every couple of years. This was our 10th cruise from New York and the 3rd time on this run. The previous two times were aboard the Carnival Legend. About a month before the cruise we received a letter from Carnival saying that due to propulsion problems, Tortola would be dropped from the itinerary and Grand Turk would be added. This was fine by us, since we had been to Tortola, but never to Grand Turk.
For this cruise, we decided to make the 45 minute drive into New York and park at the pier. The Carnival Miracle was the only ship in port this day, so traffic was not too bad at all. We arrived at 11:00 am, and after dropping off our bags with the porters, we drove the car upstairs and paid the $240 fee for the 8 days. ($30./ day – ouch!!). For those not familiar, you park on the roof of the terminal buildings, though not necessarily on top of the pier you are leaving from.We were directed to park on pier 90, though we were sailing from pier 88. It's not a long walk, but we were told not to take any pictures or video from the parking deck, and warned not to loiter!! Once we reached pier 88, we proceeded downstairs to the check in area, and since we were platinum members, we were directed to the VIP check in line, and were checked in immediately. We were then directed to the VIP waiting room, and after waiting only 5 minutes, embarkation began, and we were among the first to board the ship. We were onboard by 11:45 am. A completely painless embarkation!!
You board onto the Promenade Deck, and enter into the Metropolis Lobby. This is an awesome space, and looking up 9 decks to the red skylight, (which is part of the funnel), is quite a sight! We stopped at the lobby bar for our first drink of the cruise, and to pick up soda cards for Patti and Kevin. The base price for an adult card was $48. ($6./day), and for the kids card was $36. ($4.50/day). Then add the 15% gratuity, AND 8% NYC tax!! I don't remember paying the NYC tax on my previous NYC cruises, but while the ship was docked ALL purchases (drinks included!!) were taxed. So my advice is not to buy the soda cards or any other large purchases until the ship is out to sea!! Nick & Nora's is the Supper Club on the Miracle, and they had a table set up in the lobby for reservations, so we made one for later in the cruise. The Supper club is not to be missed, and well worth the $30. pp charge. More on Nick & Nora's later! Even though Carnival says that your cabin won't be ready until 1:30, we went to ours to drop off our carry on bags, and ran into our room steward Nur and his assistant Ma'de who said ours was all ready. Our category 11 suite was cabin # 6195 on Empress deck, mid ship, a good central location. We had this same cabin on the Legend two years ago, so we were happy it was available to us again. The cabin is about 1 ½ times the size of a standard cabin, with loads of storage space, a good size balcony, whirlpool tub, separate dressing area, & VCR. We absolutely love the Carnival Comfort bedding on our king size bed. Kevin slept on the sofa bed, and Ryan had the upper berth. Upon entering the cabin, we noticed some goodies on the bed from our favorite cruise TA. Thanks so much!!!! We also enjoyed some of the platinum perks this week. These included canapés one evening, petit fours another evening, free entries into the slot or blackjack tournaments, concierge club thermos mugs, personalized stationary, and priority debarkation. There were other perks which we didn't utilize, such as spa treatments upgrades, or priority tender boarding (not needed), But Patti's favorite perk, as always was the free wash & fold laundry service which she used several times during the cruise. She loves not having to do mountains of laundry when we get home, and not having to pack as much in the first place!!
We then went up to Horatio's Restaurant on the Lido Deck for our embarkation lunch. We ate all of our lunches here, since we love the variety of food available. We love the way this area is set up on the Spirit Class ships. There is the Taste of the Nations, where a different cuisine is presented every day, a great deli for sandwiches, a rotisserie, the Asian corner, 24 hour pizzeria, and salad bar. Hot dogs, burgers, and steak sandwiches were available at the Uylsess Pool lines. There is something here for everyone. Ryan's favorite is the free ice cream, available 24 hours a day at four different locations. We also ate all our breakfasts at Horatio's. It's the usual standard buffet style stuff, and nothing special, so we always ordered the made to order eggs, or omelets. The one thing that I noticed was that there were hardly ever any lines for breakfast or lunch. Several times during the cruise, the omelet guy would see me coming and yell, 2 eggs over easy Mr. Jeff? There was nobody else there!! The best I could figure is that with 4 sea days, and 2 ports with afternoon arrivals, it spread out when people would want to eat. The early risers would eat early, the late risers would eat late, and the rest would be somewhere in the middle. It also helped that at least one line had breakfast until noon!! Lunch worked the same way, if you ate breakfast early, etc. etc.
We spent the afternoon exploring, relaxing on deck, enjoying a few frozen thing-ees, toasting our cruise-board friends, and getting to know the staff. Having been on the Legend three times, we knew our way around, though the décor was a bit different. We liked the décor on the Legend better, not for any particular reason. We were just very happy to be back on a Spirit Class ship again!. We returned to our cabin a little after 3pm to get ready for the muster drill at 3:30, which was over fairly quickly. Afterwards, we went back up to the Lido deck and hung out at the back of the ship by the Orpheus Bar and pool for sailaway. I still get goosebumps when we sail from New York, as there is so much history here. We take the same pictures every time we sail from here, but we don't care!! As you sail south down the Hudson River, everyone kind of congregates to the port side for views of Manhattan. It gets quiet when you sail past the World Trade Center site, and as soon as the ship clears the Battery, everyone scrambles over to the starboard side for a view of Ellis Island, and then Lady Liberty!! A little further on comes the Verazanno Bridge, and everyone cheers when the funnels clears the bridge, (was there any doubt?). Out past Sandy Hook to the Ambrose light, where the pilot debarks. It takes about an hour and a half to reach this point, but now we know that our cruise has officially started!!
After unpacking and freshening up, it was time to go to the Camp Carnival orientation meeting which was held at the Mad Hatter's Ball. Camp Carnival is broken up into the following age groups: 3-5 years, 6-8 years, 9-11 years, 12-14 years (Circle "C"), and 15-17 years (Club O2). Ryan was in the 9-11 or Intermediates group, and Kevin was in the Circle "C". Children ages 8 and under must be signed in and out of the program, while children ages 9 and above can sign themselves in and out of the program if you allow them. For those children that need to be signed in and out by a parent, be warned that the same parent that signs the child in must sign the child out. On sea days Camp Carnival is open from 9am – Noon, 2pm – 5pm, and 6pm – 10pm. On port days Camp Carnival is open from 7am – 5pm, and 6pm – 10pm. These hours may vary slightly depending on the port of call. Carnival suggests that a child's attendance on port days be limited to six-hour intervals, and if you are onboard during lunch, you should pick up your child. After 10pm, there is a slumber party for the younger children, (up to age 8), and an after hours party for the older children, (ages 9-11). These are available for $6 /hr. for the first child, and $4/hr for each additional child. They charge to the nearest 1/4 hour. These parties last until 3am, though you may pick up your child at any time. All children signed into the after hours parties, must be picked up regardless of age!! On one night, (the night after leaving Grand Turk), the 9-11's have a late night party, which runs from 10pm to 3:30am. The cost for this special party was $26.They do many activities all over the ship, and at 3:30 they are delivered back to their cabins by the counselors. Ryan really loved this, and so did we, since we didn't have to pick him up!!!
We had asked for, and received, late sitting (8:15pm) dinner. Our table for 4 was located on the port side of the lower level of the Bacchus Dining Room. We had heard much about the "grapes" in the dining room, and agree that they are a bit unusual, but keep in mind that Bacchus was the God of wine!! Our wait staff was excellent all cruise. They knew our preferences after the first night, and had our drinks and favorite bread ready when we arrived. Though I know that food is a very subjective subject, I'll just say that everything that we had this cruise was wonderful, and the menu selections each night were plentiful. I couldn't say the same about my RCI cruise on the Explorer of the Seas last year. I think Carnival outdoes them in the food department! As always, with the exception of the first night, the waiters did the usual singing and dancing routines. Some people don't like this practice, but even after 24 Carnival cruises, I still enjoy it. To me it's what Carnival is all about…Fun!!
To me, the best part of this itinerary is the amount of sea days. Two plus days, on the way down to San Juan, and two plus days, on the way back to New York from Grand Turk. Plenty of time to do nothing at all, or partake of the many activities that are going on at any given time. There is something for everyone. Though I've seen or participated in some of the activities before, I never get tired of them, since the people doing them are different. I played a lot of mini-golf and ping pong with the boys, though it was almost comical with the wind sometimes!! It's funny when you take a shot playing mini-golf and the wind blows the ball back at you!! Down in the Casino, which for some reason unknown to me, was named Mr. Lucky's, there were two slots tournaments, one on the way down and one on the way back that Patti and I entered but had no luck. There were also two blackjack tournaments, and I qualified for the finals both times. Lady luck didn't smile on me though, but at least I got a couple of free t-shirts that don't fit me, and some other trinkets for my efforts. Overall, Patti and I didn't fare to well in the casino this trip!! I guess we'll have to book this ship again to visit our money!! Patti enjoyed the shopping on this ship, and between my bar tab and her shopping, our sail and sign cards were smoking!! Lol. We did spend a good amount of time out on our balcony, soaking up the sun, and a enjoying a few buckets of beer. Very relaxing!!
The weather on the way down was sunny and warm, and the seas were calm. We arrived in San Juan at 3:00pm. As this was a Sunday, the Carnival Destiny and Adventure of the Seas were in port today, embarking their passengers for their weeklong cruises. The Granduer of the Seas was also in port with us today. We've all been to San Juan so many times, that we treat this day like another sea day. Ryan and I decided not to leave the ship, but instead have the pool and slide to ourselves, and just chill out. Patti and Kevin decided to debark and just walk around and shop a little bit. We all had dinner on the ship, and then at 11pm there is a deck party, with a Mexican buffet, for the midnight sail-away from San Juan. Quite a party!!!!
When we awoke the next morning, we were already docked at Havensight in St. Thomas, and it was raining. The outer bands from Hurricane Gustav were heaping some intermittent showers upon us. The Carnival Destiny had followed us over from San Juan, and the Granduer of the Seas had docked over in Crown Bay. I had booked the Sea Blaster excursion on line for me and the boys, which was a high powered speed boat that took you to a small island for snorkeling. We were going to get wet anyway, so we didn't mind the rain showers, and it was still very warm. Patti had decided when I booked this, that this wasn't going to be for her, and she would spend her day browsing the shops downtown and at Havensight, thank you very much!! We had a great time snorkeling, as there were many fish and coral to be seen. On the trip back, for the adults, the pineapple rum punch was flowing freely. Good thing I didn't have to drive!! We were all back on board around lunchtime, and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon on deck, as the sun had come out, until the ship sailed at 4 pm.
This was the night that Patti and I booked a quiet dinner for two at Nick & Nora's, which is the Carnival Miracle's supper club. The boys ate dinner with their new found friends, and they were both going to participate in the late night party, so we wouldn't see them until 3:30 am!! I'll say it again that Nick & Nora's is well worth the $30/pp surcharge!! The ambiance and service are just superb!! There was a duo singing love songs for your dancing and listening pleasure, and the menu is out of this world! Patti and I both had the GIANT tiger shrimp for our appetizer. For our entree's Patti had the Lobster tails and I had the 24oz Porterhouse steak, which could be cut with a butter knife!! Both were to die for!!! For dessert we both ordered the Apple Tart Tarte, which came in a shallow dish the size of a wash basin!!! OMG, there was no way we could have finished that!!!! We highly recommend at least one visit here!
The next afternoon at around 1pm, we arrived at our final port of call, Grand Turk. It was a beautiful sunny day, though there were some ominus clouds in the distance. (Gustav again!!) The ship literally docks just steps from the action. There is the beach, with a multitude of chairs available, and clamshells available for rent if you wanted shade, though there was an abundance of palm trees. The first thing you come to when you leave the pier is a shopping area, (of course). Patti spent some time here. Then there is Margaritaville with it's huge pool and swim up bar. Plenty of chairs, loungers, and umbrellas were available around the pool free of charge. There were also about a dozen cabanas available for rent. At the far end of the pool, between the pool and the beach, is the Flowrider, which had just recently been opened. As soon as we were informed that we would be stopping at Grand Turk instead of Tortola, the first thing I did was to book the Deluxe Flowrider session for the boys. At $34.pp it was well worth it. It is the last session of the day, is limited to 15 people, and lasts an hour and a half. They also take the center divider down so stand up surfing is permitted. It is not permitted the rest of the day. Everyone gets PLENTY of surf time and instruction. Both Ryan and Kevin were both standing up by the end of the session, even though they had never done this before. Patti and I were content to hang out in the pool and take pictures and video of the boys having a blast! A couple of trips to the swim-up bar didn't hurt either. Twice during our 5 hour day here, the skies opened up and it absolutely poured buckets of rain. Since there was no lightning or thunder, most people just carried on like nothing was happening! This was the first time it had rained here in over three months. Unfortunately for them, in the next week Hurricanes Hanna and Ike would devastate the island. Hopefully, everything can be restored the way it was, as we really enjoyed our stop here, and look forward to returning here in the future!!
After two more wonderful sea days, with mostly good weather, and fairly calm seas, we arrived back in New York. We had gotten out of the Carribean just in time as hurricanes Gustav, Hanna, & Ike came roaring through. In fact the very next cruise on the Miracle never got further than Florida. Our debarkation was the best we've ever experienced in New York. The people who could carry off all of their own luggage unassisted, were let off first at about 8:15am. I was surprised by the amount of people who took advantage of this. This would not be an option for us!! After our last breakfast at Horatio's, we went back to our cabin to collect our carry-ons and make our way down to the Jazz Club, where all the platinum members would meet to debark. Promptly at 9:15am, before any other colors were called, we were led off the ship and to the VIP area where our luggage was. Since we were the first group off the ship claiming their luggage inside, there were plenty of porters available to grab our luggage, and take it upstairs to the parking level. From the Jazz Club to the car in about 15 minutes. We were home by 10:30!!
As I've said before this is one cruise I could do every year. Great itinerary, great ship, and great crew!!!! Cruising from New York is always a treat., but cruising on the Miracle from New York is even better!! Happy Cruising!!!
After changing our plans to cruise in Europe as we generally do each August, we found a last minute opportunity to take an 8 day cruise out of NY on the Miracle. Our group consisted of two couples in our early 50's, and our children ranging in ages 15, 18 and 26.
The check in was a breeze, and we found our cabins very quickly. They were adequate, roomy enough and fine for our purposes.
Having cruised on many ships both mega-sized and down to medium, Miracle felt "just right" to quote Goldilocks. Although fully booked the flow was very good and only when it was time for the dining room seatings did I notice any lines for anything. The only complaint I have regarding the ship's size was the pools were very small and few in number, and for an itinerary that consisted of many sea days that was not really adequate.
As I have discovered to be common on Carnival the people you deal with on land have no clue what they are saying with regards to what actually exists in reality on the ship and that fact was repeatedseveral times to me by various crew members from lower staff to the Maitre'D.
We had requested to be seated at a table for eight, late seating. From the minute we booked our cruise and both I and the other party we traveled with were assured that we were to be seated at such a table. When we got on board we were given tables without each other at either late or early seating, but not together. We had called Carnival numerous times prior to the cruise to make sure this did not happen, but it did. Then we found out that there are not many tables for eight on the Miracle and no request was ever received by the dining staff in the first place. Even our individual TA's put in such requests. We value our dinner times together due to the diverse ages of our group and so this was a big negative on our vacation.
The food was usually pretty O.K., sometimes really good, one or two times really terrible -- but the dining staff was very gracious when informed and took care of the goofs.
The entertainment was actually better than we anticipated, (our expectations are not the highest for cruises), the show we anticipated being better was the Beatles show, please spare us from schmaltzing up Beatle songs with corny backdrops and lounge singing or even worse, high pitched Whitney Houston wannabes, on a cruise on RCL some years ago out of Venice the house orchestra did a Beatles cover show that blew the roof off by just playing the songs like they were done originally.
Carnival's audience on this cruise was much hipper than this show would target, maybe they should try this show in a retirement complex in Florida.
The itinerary was good for relaxation, i.e., reading, eating and sleeping. Stopping in San Juan after 3 PM is useless. It's too late to go to the beach, even if the beach was close (which it is not). By the time you get there it is close to 5 PM. To walk around the area by the port is not a great idea after dark and there is nothing really there.
St. Thomas is nice, but most people have been there, done that.
Grand Turk was good for the free pool and beach at Margaritaville, almost like a private Island stop.
The most negative comment I can make here concerns the dining venue Nick and Noras, the steakhouse with the $30.00 cover. In theory it seemed like a good idea -- first class dining and service for $60.00 a couple. In reality, the food was mediocre at best, the lobster was horrible, tasted like preservatives, and the desserts were better at the buffet.
As for the ambience, I don't think the Art Deco atmosphere is enhanced by two lounge singers who sang like their last gig was the Holiday Inn at the Manila Airport.
All in all, we were expecting a relaxing cruise where all of us could be together before the demands of work and school tore us away from each other and that was what we had. If we were looking for action and bells and whistles we would not choose this ship for sure.
This cruise was a mess from the start. The ship came into port 1-1/2 hours late (due in at 9:00 am -- came in at 10:30 am), so we didn't start boarding until 4:00 pm. We were left standing in line for over 2-1/2 hours with no water, food, or even an "I'm sorry."
I was wondering why a few people were bringing cases of water on a cruise with them, and I soon found out. The ship's water was terrible, and even our waiter refused to drink it. They will not serve any drinks in the main restaurant except ship water, unless you pay for it.
They ran out of syrup during breakfast (which otherwise was good). The fried chicken was legs and thighs only. HOW CHEAP CAN YOU GET?
One of their feature shows was passenger karoake with the band. Sorry, but drunk, out of tune guests trying to sing is not what I paid for. A disappointment for sure.
The islands were nice. Our cabin was nice. The water slide was fun.
Disembarkation was as caotic as getting on the ship. I have crused before, on Royal Carribian, and was very,very dissapointed in this cruise. Carnival has lost a customer for life.
This was probable the prettiest and nicest cruise ships out of 14 that we have been on. The embarkation was very easy(though everyone has fun passes) and we were in the cafe for lunch by 12:30. Our cabins were not ready until,as they state, 1:30. On this ship they have large doors that block the entrance to the decks the cabins are on and mostly do not open them until 1:30. I thought the food was very good both in the dining room and the Lido Cafe.
Our cabin (inside on the 8th deck) was very nice and the bathroom even nicer. Both were good size for cruise ships. Our room steward, Angel, was excellent. We gave him an extra $20 as we did not spend any money( the cruise line will not want us to come back) so we decided just to tip him a little more as we did the dining room stewards.
The service in the dining room--we had Igor and Rudi--was superb and we certainly did not find the lack of service mentioned by some.
One question--why do they use so many dishes? It just seems such awaste. There would be a sufficent amount of food in these giant plates sitting on another giant plate.
The service people were always cleaning and we never observed them standing around talking but were always busy with some chore. They always spoke in a cheerful manner, never failed.
The return guests social was O.K. but not great. The Phanton Lounge was full and the social consisted of free drinks and snacks and a couple of games played with the audience.
We were sorta unlucky as we hit a rainy week which caused us not to get off the ship at Belize and Cozemel. It rained every morning and quite hard. some one said this was the rainy season in this area so that might be a reason to avoid this time of the year and that is probably why it is cheaper also.
We thought the ports left a lot to be desired. All the tours are very expensive and this is the first time out of 14 cruises that we did not take a tour in every port that we visited. Unless you are in to snorkling, beaches and shopping, there isn't much else to choose from.The Grand Cayman stop is nice and if you just want to tour the island, these tours can be gotten at dockside for $15 to $20. There is not much to see there except the Turtle Farm and the post office called Hell. They have completely cut out all the visits to to see the sting rays on any of the stops and this used to be a very interesting thing to do in Grand Cayman. Because of the rain we were unable to get off at Belize but those who did said there were only flea market shops and nothing much there. Neither did we get off at Cozumel It was long walk over and pouring down the rain.
Do not fail to get off the ship at Costa Maya. This is a very long walk over but once you get on dockside, it is amazing what they have done to the port. They have put in a large swimming pool, picnic tables with thatched unbrellas over them and just made an interesting stop for cruise ships. If you missed the post office called Hell on Grand Cayman, you can see the formation that is behind the post office here at this port. But beware of the flea market shops. They are very pushy here. We stopped to look at a stone that I had had in costume jewelry and immediately, the merchant came up and said you can have that for $150 and when he saw we were not interested he brought it down $50. This was just plain costume jewelry so beware.
On each of the stair landings at the elevators were some of the worst art work, I have ever seen. A 6 year old could have done as well. Most of them were just bright colors dabbed on and made no sense. The enclosed glass things on these landings were beautiful though.
We both got colds after we got home. I wonder how many more get colds. We have done so on our last 2 cruises. I thought the grapes and pink lights in the dining room were sorta pretty and elegant. The shows each night were good but not great. the ship entertainers were very good and the night they put on "The Blues Brothers" show was very good.
This was not one of our best cruises but it was O.K.
On October 18th my husband (DH), my 8 year old son (DS) and I sailed on the 2 night cruise to NoWhere. We chose this cruise for several reasons. One, my DH and DS never cruised before, so they wanted to try it before we do a 7-day cruise to the Caribbean next summer for my birthday. Secondly, because previously I sailed on RCCL's Mariner of the Seas, I wanted to see if I would like Carnival being that the price is around $500 cheaper per person. Before I get to the bulk of my review on the Carnival, I will get the comparisons between the two cruise lines out of the way. Remember this is just my humble opinion:
Food - Dining Room: Carnival by a landslide (more choices and much better taste) However, RCCL has better dessert.
Food - Buffet: RCCL, but not by much (I will admit RCCL Windjammer does have more variety and is set up more efficiently.
Activities: Carnival-by a landslide.
Cabins: Tie, I heard Carnival has the largest cabins at sea, but I didn't really notice the size difference. Both are very modern looking and nicely appointed.
Service:Tie, as far as service in getting your needs met. However, the staff on Carnival was much more personable.
Ship Decor: RCCL by a landslide. It's true RCCL does have the nicest ships afloat (I'm speaking as far as the Voyager and Freedom class ships go.)
I know this is long review, but take a deep breath. Our cruise to NoWhere. We sailed from NYC and that was great because we live in Queens, NY. Embarkation was fine. When we first arrived at the cruise port the parking lot is at pier 92 therefore we had to walk over to pier 90. For a 2 night cruise there weren't any porters to assist with luggage. But that was fine, as we didn't bring a ton of clothes for 2 nights. When we first entered the terminal there was a nice size line. However, at about 2:30 they began to let us board. And the lines moved very quickly. The whole process was less than an hour. Upon seeing the Miracle, initially I was disappointed and right away decided I like RCCL better. However, as I started to venture, I decided the Miracle was actually a very nice ship, very nice. But again, the edge goes to RCCL. We had our embarkation lunch and drink of the day at Horatio's which is the buffet on the lido deck. The buffet area is very "spread-out" almost to a fault. For example, the "Taste of Nations" section was in one area, while the deli was across the way, the grill for the burgers and dogs were out, going through the doors past the pool and reggae band. Also, we did encounter lines there, but hey we're on vacation so no big deal. The dining room was pretty good. There was a lot of variety, the presentation was nice and the food had seasoning!!! The second night was formal night and DH had two lobster tails and two prime ribs. The warm chocolate melting was good, not great but good. DH and DS loved it. I did like the desserts better on RCCL. We ate breakfast and dinner for both days in the dining room, and used the buffet for lunch both days. At night Horatio's turns into a "Late Night Bistro", and it was great. At midnight they were grilling burgers and minute steaks. For the late night snack there were burgers, dogs, steak sandwiches, grilled chicken, crisp fries, chilling, cookies and brownies, with also 24-hour pizza and ice-cream available.
Speaking of ice cream, I did not like the 24-hour ice cream machine on the lido deck. It had a weird taste, like a fat free or sugar free. I don't know but something was definitely off with the taste. Hopefully Carnival in the near future will change that so that the taste is on par with "Carvel's" or any other good ice cream. We tried some of the cake from the dessert cafe. I agree with a previous cruise critic, the cakes definitely looked better than they actually tasted.
The cabins were very nice. The two beds were put together to make a king size bed and the couch was made up into a bed for our son. We all slept very comfortably. The bedding is wonderful, to the point I am thinking about ordering Carnival's bedding set. Also, in our cabin there were two bath robes for us to use. The cabins and bathrooms had lots of space for storage. I liked the free samples in the bathroom of: his and her razors, crest toothpaste, and other stuff. There are body wash and shampoo dispensers in the shower too. On thing I did like better on RCCL were shower doors instead of those shower curtains on Carnival.
Camp Carnival-definitely a hit with my son. DH and I had a vacation within a vacation. There are literally activities scheduled all day long for the kids. They only close for lunch and for an hour near dinner time. On the formal night, there was a "kids" dinner at Horatio's with plenty of kid friendly dishes. My son had a ball. Each time we went to pick him up from CC, it was like pulling teeth to get him out of there. Just some of the activities: scavenger hunts, treasure hunts for candy, tee shirt coloring, play station 2 video games, Nintendo wii games, board games, candy art, etc. That is just a fraction of the things they had planned.
Activities: I definitely had fun. Every hour there is something going on. We played bingo a few times, but we didn't win. Oh well. We participated in the battle of the sexes, went to see the "Sea Feud", went to the nightly shows for a little while, went to see one of the comedians-he was good. As far as fellow passengers, the crowd on Carnival was definitely more fun and friendly and not up tight like I noticed on RCCL.
Ship Decor and Public Rooms: Very nice. Furthermore, I liked the Bacchus Dining Room, purple grapes and all.
Everything being said, I can honestly say that I loved Carnival more than RCCL. For next year's cruise I am sold, and we will sail on Carnival for the 7 night cruise for my birthday.