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.
Our sailing was on July 24 from New York City. Embarkation was a breeze. After waiting about 5 minutes in line and then going through a metal detector, we went to a priority check-in for Skipper's Club (i.e., those who book Cat. 11 or 12). We were on the ship by 12:30 p.m.
We were in Suite 6197. At first we were a bit disappointed with the size of the room. I expected it to be quite luxurious. When we looked at the regular balcony cabins later, as a comparison, I was thankful that we decided to book the suite, and I would do it again. There was so much closet space and drawer space that we didn't even use all of it. I like the idea of a separate dressing area and two sinks in the bathroom. The tub was a Jacuzzi, which my husband thoroughly enjoyed. There was also a bar with every kind of glass you could imagine. There were too many mirrors, however -- I really didn't need to see myself at so many angles, especially at the end of the cruise!
Our cabin stewardess, Linda, wasthe best I ever had on any cruise. She was efficient, friendly, and accommodating. She told us that she was responsible for 15 cabins. We tipped her at the beginning of the cruise and again at the end, in addition to the suggested amount placed on the sail-and-sign card. I spent quite a bit of time in the casino so I got to know the host, Kgosi. He is a fine young man who even made losing fun. (So I guess I had lots of fun.) Mark Hawkins, the cruise director, does take some getting used to, but I found him to be extremely helpful and warm. The wait staff, bar staff, and all the assistant cruise directors were very good. I only had one negative reaction, and that was with the shore excursion host. He was bordering on rude and was not at all helpful. We just wanted a simple question answered, and he was useless.
I admit it; I am a foodie. I was a bit disappointed in the quality and quantity of the food in the main dining room. Sure, you could have extras of anything on the menu, but some evenings the choices were not that great. Our waiter always said he would bring more of anything we wanted; or if we didn't like something, he would bring something else. Especially disappointing were the desserts - no comparison to Celebrity Cruises. We did go to Nick and Nora's on the second formal night, and it was wonderful. We met a couple who had eaten there four nights. Food at the buffet was good. I especially liked the grill choices and quality. The tables were cleared often, and we never had difficulty finding a place to sit except for breakfast on busy days.
They were varied and plentiful when we were at sea (my favorite days). My suggestion would be to repeat some of the activities between 5 and 7. The late seating dinner guests could take advantage of them during that time. Also, why not repeat some of the tours on port days? Not everyone on the ship wants to go to Disney World.
We didn't choose this ship because of the ports. Port Canaveral was a waste of time for us -- we never even got off the ship. We have been to Florida many times, so we took advantage of the lack of children on the ship that day.
In Nassau, we toured Atlantis, which is a fantastic property. The shops in town only were open until 5 p.m., so you could not comfortably do an excursion and then shop. Freeport/Lucaya is beautiful. There is a great beach at the Sheraton. Again, we docked early, but the shops did not open until 10 a.m. We had to be back on the ship by 12:30. There is a casino by the Sheraton which was fun.
I am not really a sun worshipper, but those who were said that the pools were too small for the number of people on the ship. The one day that we did try to use the adult pool, other than while in port, it was so crowded that I had to wait for a spot to stand. My husband had to go to the infirmary because he got water from the pool in his eyes, and had trouble with burning and blurred vision. He was charged $14 for eye drops.
We did self-assist, where you carry your own bags off the ship, and you do not have to put them out the night before. This was great. It was a very orderly debarkation, even considering being awakened at 4 a.m.
Carnival has come a long way since we sailed on the Celebration 20 years ago. The Miracle is a beautiful ship, and sometimes we felt as if we were on a very elegant line. Sailing from New York was great, and we met lots of nice people. The kids on the ship were mostly well behaved. There are always those few who travel in packs and spoil the fun for the adults. I see no reason for children to be at an adult, R-rated comedy show, or running around the ship at 2 a.m.
All in all we had a good time, but I would reconsider taking a Carnival ship again. Great for families, so I guess next time we'll give Princess or NCL a try.
Four days back from our cruise and I am still felling relaxed! Would I say that it was the best vacation I ever took? No. But, I am an amusement park junky. As for relaxation and time away from your kids. Then cruising is the way to go. We have never been on a cruise before so I don't really have anything to compare this cruise ship to. I can only compare the overall vacation. As for embarking, things went very smooth. We were having lunch within an hour of arriving at the terminal. The staff was very nice all around. The entertainment was nice enough. The music a little too retro for my taste. The food overall left a little to be desired. My husband said I'm to used to ethnic food (I'm black and spanish).
I was dieing for some rice and peas.LOL!!! What I enjoyed the most was the kid carnival. The staff was awesome. My kids never wanted to leave. Not even for shore excursions.(except disney) I would recommend this cruise to any couple that needs couple time. My husband and I were able to have somuch together time. We could run away to our cabin in the middle of the day or have a quiet dinner together or party into the night. It was great. After ten they charge a small fee. Nothing to complain about.Overall I really did enjoy this cruise.
We are still in mourning over the end of our Fabulous experience on the Miracle this past May! We are in the process of looking into our next Carnival cruise for next spring, but we heard they may not be leaving out of Baltimore in 2005 *sigh*It was very organized & oh so convenient for us. I don't know which Todd the other reviwers met, but our cruise director was Awesome! He is 75% of the reason we had such a blast. We did the pub crawl, went to all the comedy shows & The Beatles Tribute, we had a blast at the late night deck parties & always, no matter the time, Todd was at his best. He & Tim, the Asst. remembered our names, always made us feel like we were special guests.I can't say enough wonderful things about him. The casino was great fun, the food was very good, the service was above par, the balcony room was wonderful.
We had fun at Key West, the corny tour was entertaining, we snorkeled in Nassau, it was great, we didnt get off the ship in Freeport, it lookedboring. The weather was perfection, the other passengers seemed to be having as much fun as we did. Loved the midnight "goodbye" song to our sister ship when we departed before they did--we had a million laughs on this cruise. Will be cruise Carnival again? Even if they dont leave from Balto. in 2005? You Bet! Todd is now on Alaska itinerary, if we had the courage to fly there, we would join his trip again, without a doubt! He is very entertaining & obviously loves his job. As usual, Carnival was 1st class all the way. The ship is gorgeous, we had too much fun to notice "pink grapes" in the dining room. Who cares, the food was great, the staff were "right on" and we loved it!
We (hubby and I) arrived late to the port at almost 3:00 after some major flight detour troubles. Our air was not booked by the cruiselines so this was not their fault. Anyway, we arrived frazzled and stressed out by just nearly not making the cruise and we were pleasantly surprised at how organized and quick the embarkation process was. There were lots of employees leading you in the right direction and they all knew just what they were doing.
The ship iteself is fantastic. I have heard reports of it being overdone, but for a cruise ship, I thought it was perfect. I would have been disappointed if it was all soft and pastel. It was very bright and brass and bold. We loved it.
The food was plentiful, hot and good. I cannot imagine someone not being able to find something they loved at all the various buffets (taste of the nations) grill, pizzaria (with garlic bread and ceasar salad) vegetable and fruit areas, dessert buffet and salad areas not to mention the dining room. There was choice galore in respect to food. We didn't even want to have lunchin the dining room because there was so many things we wanted to try at the buffet. The 24 hr. ice cream and frozen yogurt was awesome too.
We had dinner in Nick and Nora's supper club the first night and the meal was outstanding. We had shrimp cocktail, lobster bisque, broiled lobster tail (huge) with other side dishes ( a medley of sauteed mushrooms and baked potatoe) and wonderful dessert. They also brought us a champagne and cream drink each (compliments of the chef) along with the odd little tidbit to try, compliments of the chef, the bread selection before the meal was great, pesto bread, foccocia, bread sticks, all fresh and warm with a selection of butters such as regular, paprika and garlic and herb butter. After dessert we were brought a tray (again unordered and compliments of the chef) of chocolate covered strawberries, chocolate bark with nuts, truffles and a few other delicacies. To die for. This meal was fabulous, from the service, to the beautiful presentation to the perfectly done lobster and the best lobster bisque I have ever had. This restaurant in my opinion is a huge bargain at $25 pp. We left our server $25 tip because she made it such a wonderfully romantic dinner for us. Plus she came over and removed the lobster from the shell for us. lol
I can't really say too much about Freeport because we went to Xanadu Beach Resort where we went on a boat and my husband did the dive with the sharks. He said it was super. It was one of the highlights of the trip for him. We have the video and it is great. Lots of sharks within a foot of him. A real thrill.
I felt the shows were really good. We saw Generations which was good but the "Ticket to Ride" was fantastic. A high energy show with lots of extras. It definitely was a do not miss. The comedian was hilarious on the Sunday night. We laughed like crazy. The Not so Newly wed games was a hoot too. Great fun.
Debarking was easy since it was self assist. Now being a Canadian, I was told on these forums that I would not be able to self assist. ANYBODY can self assist as long as you can carry your own bags. We had and 11:04 am flight home and were at the airport before 9:20, no problems.
Now for my overall general comments. The staff were very friendly, any time I passed one they would say "good day ma'am, or hello or how are you" I felt that 90 % of the staff were very friendly and that the ones that weren't smiling or laughing were just concentrating on their job. I felt service was great. Our room steward was effieicent and unobtrusive. Our ice was always full, room clean etc..
This was our first cruise but I must say, that anyone who says they were bored, or that there wasn't much selection for food, must be from a different kind of life than I have. There was tons of good food and activities and things to do constantly. You could be on the go all day or just lay around the pool all day, it's totally up to you. We went with an open mind because I didn't want to be disappointed, but I must say, I LOVED it, we're hooked and to avoid the dreaded Post Cruise Depression, we're booking another cruise for this fall.
Will we cruise with Carnival again, ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!! Now I know why they're called the fun ships. Don't get me wrong, we're not partiers and in fact only had 2 alcoholic drinks each (which are very strong, they don't scimp on booze that's for sure) But it was just lots of good ole fashioned fun and we enjoyed ourselves completely. We went with good attitudes and weren't going to let any little thing ruin this vacation for us, but we didn't really have to worry anyway, everthing was organized and fantastic.
Carnival Miracle gets a huge thumbs up from us.
If anybody has any specific questions, just e-mail me, I'm glad to answer any questions.
I had a lovely vacation until the very last night on board. We were a bit alarmed when at about 4 am the captain made an announcement for "all crew to abandon ship" We were only hours from docking back in New York City and all of us passengers thought that this was a terrorist attack for sure. The captain later explained that it was a prank- that some kids had somehow gotten into the dining room to make the announcement. Carnival apologized, but didn't take any of the blame. They explained in a letter to myself that "at no time was the security on board the vessel breached nor were unauthorized personnel granted access to the ship's navigational bridge.
" Well, I think that if teenagers could get into the dining area and use the Public Address system to scare the entire ship, there are some major security issues and that they should take some responsibility here! I will never cruise Carnival again, because they know nothing about customer service. I thought that my family and myself were going to die that night, and all that Carnival sent me was an"I'm sorry but Carnival did everything right" letter...Might be the most popular cruise line in the world, but it's definitely not the safest!
Just off Carnival Miracle today. This had to be the best cruise I have ever taken. The only thing that could have made it better was if my husband and son came with me. I sailed with a friend and other family members because my husband doesn't care for cruising.
Embarking: Arrived at the pier in NYC which was about a 45 minute drive from my house around 11:30 AM. This was a disaster. It was not a pleasant experience. There were 4 ships leaving that same day. The Miracle the Victory, Celebrity and The Queen Mary 2. I am not sure if the Queen Mary 2 was what made it so crowded. The people from the previous cruise June 12-19 were still getting off the ship after 1:00 pm on the Miracle so obviously we did not board until 2:00 PM. Once we were on line to board it moved quickly thankfully. At this point it was pretty painless. I guess the waiting and crowds made it very unpleasant. Once upon the ship we went directly to our cabin Empress Deck 6150. The cabin was large and plently enough roomfor the two of us. Plently of storage space. We booked an 8A Gty and were in an 8D Empress Balcony cabin. I would never go back to having no balcony again I absolutely loved it. There was 2 soft terry robes and a basket of goodies...tylenol, shavers, rolaids, shampoo, conditioner and lotion. There is also 2 dispensers in the shower for soap (leaver 2000) and shampoo. There was also a blow dryer in the cabin. Met our room steward her name was Felecia.
She was very pleasant and always had a smile on her face. We gave her $20 on the first day and told her it was in addition to our tip on the sail and sign card. We also gave her another $20 half way through the cruise. She was worth it. We were expecting to meet my sister in law, her hubby and two daughters (15 and 18). They didn't arrive to the ship until around 2:00 and they said their wait to get on was very very bad. Shortly after we were in our cabin we went up to the Lido deck for lunch. The lunch buffet was great. No complaints at all. The corned beef sandwich was incredible. I think I ate them about times throughout the cruise. Surprisingly we were not bombarded with drink specials like my previous cruise. Because of the late debarkmentation of the previous cruise it put us behind and we did not leave port until around 5:45 pm. We were supposed to leave at 4:00. We had the late dinner seating on the first level (deck 2). This was different than other ships I have been on. There is usually 2 dining rooms one at each end. I think this was better. Our headwaiters name was Ben and his assistant Martina. Those two were the bomb. I could not have had better service. Even the bar waitress for our table was the best I ever had. On the 2nd night she had my drink waiting for me at the table. Ben our waiter remembered that I liked the end cut of beef. I had asked for that one night with prime rib and another night there was Chateau Briannn (spelling??) and I did not ask but he brought it to me. This team made my dining experience a pleasure. The food was wonderful. No complaints at all. If we wanted 2 entrees we had it. Anything we wanted we received. Ken the Maitre'd was the best I have ever seen. He sang a song every night which I never even heard of a maitre'd singing. On previous cruises I sometimes never even knew who the maitre'd was. We had a table for 6 at the very back of the ship at the window PERFECT!!! Never made it to the midnight buffet because of the late dinner seating.
On to the Cruise Director. Tod. What can I say expect PERFECTION. He was personable, funny, entertaining, energenic and not to mention very nice to look at. He kind of reminds me of Ryan Seacrest from American Idol. This man truly loves his job and u can tell.
Shows.....comedians nightly. Very funny. We went to the late adult shows. They had the comedians also do the earlier shows for familys. Hypnotist Show was hysterical. My sister-in-law was hypnotized and this made it extremely funny for me. The best show was Ticket to Ride a tribute to the beatles DO NOT MISS THIS. Great show.
Casino....I did spend a lot of time in the casino. Jill the Casino host was unbelievable. She even bought me drinks on several occassions which I had heard from other posters did not happen. Untrue. If they see u playing they do pamper u with perks. I used the sail and sign card for the slot machines and received points. I got the points up to over 10,000 and on my next cruise I will be able to book my cruise directly though a special players package.
Ports.....Port Canaveral YUK YUK YUK I had no interest in even getting off the ship at this one so opted to stay on the ship and sit at the pool while most guests left and made the pools very nice without all the kids. Nassau...we had a comp room at the Atlantis...AWESOME....having this room enabled us to swim in the lagoon, walk through the Dig, use the pools and slides have lunch for free and use a beautiful room to rest and change and even shower. Freeport....didn't get off the ship at this port either. This was the day I decided to sleep in late. We were only in port from 7Am until 1PM. I did not care for this itinerary. could have spent more time in Nassau and did away with Port Canaveral. Days at sea were great. Plently of activities. There was 900 kids on this cruise but I think camp carnival did a great job in keeping them occupied. There was an incident that I saw that was....a boy around 10 years old in the bar connected to the casino....sitting at the slot machine at the bar playing...the bartender did nothing. I think we embarrassed the grandmother talking loudly how wrong it was what she was letting him do.
Debarking: Chose the self help option on leaving the ship. We were off in 45 minutes. They let us wait in our cabins until we were called unlike any other cruise I had taken. They always made us wait in one of the show rooms. Not the case here. Great debarking this way.
This ship and cruise was perfect. I had an extremely wonderful time and can't wait until my next cruise. People will always have something to complain about. I don't like the pink lights the carpet needs cleaning etc. To hell with all that over look those things if they exist. I have nothing to complain about. I went on vacation to have a good time and that is exactly what I did.
I have copies of most of the capers and I can email them once I scan them in.
My husband and I sailed on the final Carnival Miracle cruise out of Jacksonville. What a blast! 6 days of fun and sun and, of course, food! Great ship, excellent service, and a super crew! Todd, the cruise director, is a riot!
Ship and Amenities - Excellent! The layout was great and we had plenty of places to go and hang out, have a drink, or play. Really enjoyed the balcony of our stateroom, the adult-only pool and spa, and Horatio's restaurant/Lido deck. Ladies, a warning! Do be careful about what you wear to Nick and Nora's supper club and which entrance you use! There is a clear staircase inside the ship over the main atrium that leads up to the restaurant, and if you wear a dress or skirt, you could be giving some folks around the area and in the glass elevators a free show!
Activities - Lots of them, except for the final day of the cruise in Freeport, when we really could have used ship-board activities or a planned excursion! I wish some of the times for the games and shows were spread out a little moreand would better accommodate the late dining guests, but we got in a good share of onboard activities nevertheless (see below). Todd Wittmer, the cruise director, was very entertaining and did a great job at getting people involved and making sure they had a good time.
Ports - Cozumel, Costa Maya, and Freeport. So many excursions in Cozumel, it was hard to decide. We did an ATV tour (four-wheeled bike) and had a blast! Explored the Chochoben ruins in Cosa Maya - very interesting. Freeport was a bust. We didn't book an excursion (regretfully!) and wound up taking a very expensive taxi to a tourist trap shopping area, Port Lucaya. Came back to the ship early and just hung out by the pool and caught up on some Z's.
Food - Very plentiful, but on the whole, only mediocre as far as flavor. (I was writing a newspaper review on cruise cuisine, so I made sure to try out as much as possible!) It's conceivable that the food was only average because of it being the last cruise from this port (why that would make a difference, I don't know), or that it was just a fluke, but there was not much to rave about. I will say that the self-serve of Horatio's was much better than the main dining room cuisine, possibly because Horatio's was fresher? In any case, the best food I sampled was the calzone in the 24-hour pizzaria, the sushi bar outside McGuire's, and the spread at the midnight gala buffet the last formal night of the cruise. We did not opt for Nick and Nora's because of food allergies, but the aromas coming from the restaurant smelled wonderful!
Shows - Attended both vegas-style shows, "Generations" and "Ticket to Ride" on the formal nights. "Generations" was entertaining enough, but I was distracted both by two things: First, the guy who sat next to me, then took off his shoes to display his nasty, funky feet, (we later referred to him as "Tofu Guy"); and second, by the fact that I was dying of thirst and it took two servers 30 minutes to bring me a glass of ice water. "Ticket to Ride" lived up to all the previous guest reviews I read. It was excellent. Also attended the Talent Show, Mexican Folkloric show, and both comedy acts.
The first adult comedy act was packed and featured Mike Panzeca. He was funny, but I expected more than a 25-30 minute show.
The second comedy show had to be improvised (literally), as the scheduled comedian had a family emergency and didn't board the ship. So the cruise director got some of the staff together, and they did a sort of "Who's Line is it Anyway" show. It was such a blast! I had tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard!
I really fell in love with the Miracle as it is a beautiful ship! I can't wait to say "hello" again when she returns to Jax for Superbowl 2005.
Embarking: It was a breeze. We arrived at the port around 11:30. There were no lines at sign in. Very organized. They let us on at 12:15. We were having lunch on Lido deck by 12:45.
Room/Stewardess: Our room was on the Riviera deck , cabin #1184 outside stateroom. Our room stewardess' name was Delia. She was very efficient, friendly and left towel animals for us every night.
Food: Lido deck buffet was ver good. Bacchus Dining room: We also had a great meals, the best I've experienced so far.
Wait staff: We were seated at table #148. We lucked out getting this table. It was at the back of the dining room, right in front of a window. Our wait team was awesome....Nimesh from India and Katarina from Slovokia. They were always on their toes. The first night my daughter asked for a hot chocolate and every night thereafter they would bring her hot chocolate after dinner. They even did "tricks", which our children got a kick out of. We were usually the last ones to leave the dining room and they never made us feel rushed.
Ship decor: I did notthink it was over done. I've read many negative reviews about the dining room decor...personally it didn't bother me.
Shows: We did see "Generations" and "Ticket to Ride". I didn't care for either show, but my husband, sister-in-law and her husband all enjoyed them and thought they were really good. I thought Karl with a "k" was very entertaining. The comedian was also funny (can't remember his name).
Ports of Call: We didn't choose this ship for it's itinerary, we chose it because it was a brand new ship and my husband previously won win a cruise bingo on our Fascination cruise last year. We thought it was more important to sail a brand new ship. Anyway, we were supposed to stop in Key West, however due to strong winds and rough seas the captain was unable to dock after 2 attempts. So it was another sea day for us and he added Freeport on at the end. Our second scheduled port was Nassau. We did some shopping on Bay Street, had lunch on the ship, then grabbed a taxi and headed out for Cable Beach and had a relaxing time and the kids enjoyed playing in the water and on the beach. Freeport: We chose to do a little shopping at the straw market. Then we went back to the ship for lunch and relaxed on Lido deck while our daughter was at Camp Carnival. My sister-in-law, husband and son chose to go snorkeling. They really enjoyed it.
Camp Carnival: Our 5 year old loved it. My 11 year old nephew also enjoyed it (especially the scavenger hunts). I thought it was very well organized. The room was always clean, just wish it was a little more "open" and "airy"....kind of small and closed in but the children always appeared to be having a great time. I also thought that the age range 2-5 was too broad. I think they should put the 5 year olds in 5-8 or 5-7 age group.
Disembarking: I found it to be very organized. We had a noon flight. We were let off the ship at 9:00 and were at the airport by 9:40. We did not do the self disembark. We did it the traditional way - leave your bags out the night before. Grabbed our bags on the way out, waited about 5 minutes to go through Customs and were on our way back to the airport.
This was our third Carnival cruise. Our previous cruises were on the Ecstasy in 1992 and the Fascination in 2003. I would definetly take another cruise with Carnival and have no desire to change cruise lines at this time, as we have always had positive experiences with Carnival.
My wife and I just returned from our second cruise, a short three-day hop from Jacksonville to Freeport/Lucaya, Bahamas, and had a great time. This trip was our first on Carnival and "the newest cruise ship in the world", and the experience certainly was memorable. We previously sailed Royal Caribbean; however, we didn't take this Carnival cruise to make comparisons to RCCL, so we won't now either.
We traveled with friends (a couple celebrating their twentieth anniversary and taking their first cruise) and drove down from Atlanta the evening before our departure. Between us, we left seven children behind with our extended families; yee-haw! Embarkation was a breeze, with only 30 minutes interval between arrival at the port (there is road construction in process) and lunch on the Lido deck at 1pm.
Our friends took advantage of an early "balcony guarantee" room rate and were very pleased with their cabin. We wanted to have an aft-facing cabin and therefore paid a little extra to lock in our room. And we felt well-rewarded, as it was just terrific: Panorama deck eight accommodations (#8272 - category 8I), 50% larger balcony (at least), and just steps tothe casual Horatio's Restaurant and the "adults-only" pool just one floor above. (Carnival staffers were even seen asking children to leave the pool on our sea day!) The extra balcony space was especially nice for entertaining our friends in the evenings, and many a "Bon Voyage" was heard. Our room was well-appointed and comfortable, and the bathroom layout really sharp. The only issue with our room was some periodic and unwanted vibration from the ship's engines; whether this is a ship-design issue or cabin location issue, I couldn't say.
Regarding the ship's interior design, the oft-maligned Carnival reputation for excessive and tasteless glitz may no longer be well-deserved. Except for some rather odd lighting fixtures and accessories in the main atrium, the overall look and ambiance of the ship was well-regarded (assuming one excludes the Bacchus dining room that looks, for lack of a better description, like a radioactive grape vine on steroids!). The ship's layout was easily grasped, the walkways never crowded, and the atmosphere relaxed. Wandering about and experiencing each of the ship's many venues was always an enjoyable experience.
As for the Bahamas, Freeport is not soft on the eyes, if you don't already know that; the container ships and cement plant do juxtapose nicely in color, sound, and texture, but all in all you're better off in most other ports (maybe all of them) if you're looking for a nice view. But we didn't take this cruise for the port. And by the way, Lucaya is a fun place to spend a few hours; shopping is varied with good selection, the casino energetic and busy, the beach pleasant, the straw market just normal, the tropical atmosphere omnipresent. The Rum Runners bar was packed at noon, the diamond and emerald exchange likewise humming along..
Back on board, our entertainment experiences were limited largely to the higher-energy shows, all of which were solid. The main theatre Vegas-style shows were entertaining, Music Unlimited provided thumping dance and rock music throughout the cruise, and the outdoor reggae band was (or course) jammin' late into the night. At all times the orchestra was tight, although the dancing and singing a little less so. Show production values, particularly the lighting and choreography, were top-notch and made each of the main shows outstanding, particularly the Beatles' tribute show. Cruise director Todd Wittmer was satisfactory, the games and activities about par for the course. Mike Panceni is a good comedian; the other comic act (her name escapes me) is not.
Food was reliable throughout the cruise though not remarkable, both in the formal dining room (dinner every night, breakfast once) and in the ever-open Horatio's. Choices were always plentiful, although I thought the quality and choices in green salads and fresh fruit below par. Presentation in the dining room was consistently good, and the mandatory (at least for Carnival) second lobster tail entrée was served just as enthusiastically as the first. Service in the dining room was such that we never considered Nick & Nora's, the reservations-only alternative restaurant. Indeed, all forms of service were good throughout the cruise, although somebody should do something about those ice buckets. (They're tiny! Go ahead and bring your own cooler; after all it's the "Fun Ship", right?) By the way, the crew appeared to be predominantly eastern European, of all things.
On the evening of our return to Jacksonville, a huge storm blew in. As we watched from our balcony and via closed-circuit TV, the crew navigated wildly to avoid the mushrooming storm, and zig-zagged across the Florida Gulf Stream in an effort to keep the ship dry; ultimately the ship was so dangerously close to the coast that they might have to close the casino, so the captain chose to brave the elements and plunged headlong into the storm, causing my wife to lose her dinner. Ten years from now, we'll have forgotten some of the pleasantries we enjoyed this weekend, but we'll never forget that wild joyride the last night..
Debarkation was rather slow; Carnival's new policy (allowing passengers carrying all their luggage to disembark first) might be good on many cruises, but resulted in excessive crowding in the main areas on this three-day itinerary. It's also possible that the problem was with U.S. Customs, though. Whatever the cause of the delays, people-watching at debarkation is always a hoot; come early for the best seats! In summary, a great time was had by all. Carnival and the crew of the Miracle did their jobs well, and we're better off having gone than dared not. We can't wait to again get the opportunity to leave our troubles (but next time, probably not our children) behind: to gaze across the blue sea, waiting for the next port of call, or the next adventure, or perhaps like this weekend anticipating nothing at all.