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Carnival Cruise Lines: Carnival Miracle

Fodorite Reviews

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Feb 5, 2017

Mexican Riviera

This was my 7th cruise on Carnival and must admit I was completely disappointed. The money I spent for services and beverages were really overvalued. $40.00 for a bottle of $8 wine! Really? Pay for wifi? Really? The food was mediocre at best. The majority of the staff were just off a 15 day Hawaiian cruise and were so indifferent to the customers. We all felt they couldn't care less. Had I known this would be the way we'd be treated, I would

not have paid the upfront gratuities. Trouble is, they don't know who pays upfront and who doesn't so they just treated all of us like we didn't matter. So sad. The ship is run down and cabin's very small. The lines were long for everything and getting a chair by the pool was nearly impossible. People would leave their towels on the chair and then disappear for hours. But the thing that got me the most disgusted was that using had disinfectant was not mandatory before entering dining areas. I even mentioned this to the hostess and she just shrugged her shoulders. Small and not particularly clean cabin. Found cookie bits under edge of sofa that was from previous guests. The shows seemed like they were put on by high school kids. There was no "wow" factor at all. Compared to other lines I've been on, theirs were like Vegas shows. There was nothing noteworthy about any of the activities. Didn't sign up for excursions because they are way overpriced. Opted for local companies that really worked hard to provide good service. Getting back onto the boat in Cabo was a nightmare. 2 tenders for 2K plus passengers. It took any extra hour to get everyone onto the ship. You really don't want to hear it all. on a scale of 1 to 10, I'd give it a 3.

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Aug 2, 2015

Mexican Rivera

This was my first time going on a cruise. I was really expecting something different, as in comparing it to the beautiful pictures that they have on their website. I have to say it was something completly different and dissapointing. Also, I would think that after spending near $4000 between my boyfriend and I, we would have AT LEAST gotten free wif-fi, but that was not the case. The wi-fi that they offered was overpriced, (45min = $30) I mean, common!!

You go to McDonalds and the offer free wi-fli, and all you have to do is buy a ONE DOLLAR BURGER. They also charged $180 for housekeeping tip without consulting the customer first, and when we went to customer service to ask about the charge, the lady explained to us the percentage on how the money gets divided between the employees. The food was so typical, burgers, pizza, pasta same thing over and over the 7 days that we were on the cruise. I was not impressed. Rooms were so small, bathroom you can barely fit inside. The only good thing was that housekeeping would go and clean the room twice a day. Overall, it was an okay trip, but I wouldn't waste my money on this again.

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May 25, 2014

Glacier Bay

well the food was mediocre - never hot - crew was super friendly and efficient - what ticked us ALL off was they changed ports then i had heard from someone who took the exact cruise the week before that due to "huge swells" that no guests were allowed to go to Victoria BC - our last port. BUT since we were in international waters they had to tender off with a crew member with Canadian documents but no passengers were allowed to go. When i got on

the ship I asked specifically would we go to Victoria - and was told UNLESS there were large swells we would definitely go - they did not want us to know until the day we were supposed to dock in Victoria that it had been determined a week ago we would not get off the ship - they gave us a whopping $24 shipboard credit - and we were told that the swells were just too big for us to dock - well that was the glassiest calm water I have ever seen. cold/cold/bland/not enough choices - they would serve the same thing at dinner one night and then serve it again for lunch the next day.... fine cabin Did not care for activities we had a really crappy excursion in Sitka which i think is now not even one of the ports for the Miracle. cabin was fine/crew was outstanding/not being told about the port changes upset me.

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Jan 14, 2014

Alaska

This was a wonderful cruise. We had a blast. Glacier Bay was amazing. If you are going on an Alaskan cruise, don't even think about picking an itinerary that doesn't include it! The food was and always is great! I would like a bigger selection for us non-sea food people, but I made do! The flat iron steak is always yummy and is a good fall back item if there is nothing else that sounds good. We had a french door state room and it

was fantastic! The doors opened and we could get fresh air. The view is obstructed by lifeboats but we were in between two of them so we had a pretty good view. So you get the price of an inside cabin with outside light and fresh air!! Would absolutely recommend it! There is always something to do. I really enjoy the casino, but there are shows and all kinds of things going on all the time. The Alaska cruise went to Skagway and the highlight of the trip was definitely the White Pass & Yukon Route Railroad. It was spectacular! It was a little pricey but totally worth every penny!!! You must do it if you can! We always have a great time on any Carnival cruise. This trip was no exception. I wish we could stay in port a little longer in Ketchikan and Skagway, but it is still good.

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Nov 28, 2013

Mexican Rivera

We had a relaxing cruise aboard the Miracle in an aft extended view balcony and wanted to share the good, the great, and the minor bummers. I am 40, my husband 50 and our son is 4. This was a 40th birthday cruise for me. Probably our 14th cruise or so, but who is counting?! We'd repeat this trip because it was an overall excellent value and great experience. Faster to the Fun: I'll start with major props on the Faster to the Fun concept.

For $50 we are so glad we made the investment. We were some of the first on the ship (by 12:30pm due to a slower than usual disembarkation process from the prior Hawaii cruise) and praise the staff for always recognizing us as FTTF and whisking us to priority tenders, priority self assist debarkation, etc. We will always cruise this way as long as Carnival makes this option available at such a good price. And YES, FTTF is listed on the priority check in sign, right next to Platinum, etc. This was really nice for us traveling with a 4 year old and arriving to the port at 10:30am. A front desk agent surveyed us on our FTTF experience mid way through the cruise by phoning our cabin. The only less than perfect feedback I had for her (when asked) was that our luggage wasn't in our room when we arrived on embarkation day, but we didn't care one bit about that since it arrived shortly thereafter. Our dining experience: We dined at the Steakhouse, Nick and Nora's, twice on this voyage. The first experience was on the night of our cruise - after learning that we weren't happy with our main dining room table assignment. Shortly after boarding, we visited the main dining room and were told we were to be seated at a big table with others (we'd chosen assigned /6pm, table of 4 for the three of us). So, until this was resolved, we decided to pay the premium and hit Nick and Nora's. We dined there a second time on the second formal night. It was wonderful! Both times, I had the lobster bisque, Caesar salad, surf and turf (Lobster & 4 oz filet mignon) and chocolate dessert (the one with 4 different treats). My husband had the tomato and mozzarella salad, filet mignon, crab cake and cheesecake both times. The matre 'D explained to us that there aren't many small tables in the assigned dining room, and that he'd do what he could, but for the first night, we were stuck. We really like to dine along when we cruise because this is our family time, so we hit the steakhouse and learned mid day on the first sea day that our dining request had been met, and we spent the rest of the cruise in a nice booth in the dining room. They delivered a nice notice to our stateroom letting us know we had been accommodated. We don't know if Faster to the Fun helped in this situation, but we never mentioned it when making our request so that remains a mystery. I know that "priority dining room reservations" are a part of FTTF, so I probably should have mentioned it but it just didn't feel right to me. I should mention there seemed to be a lot of people needing to change their dining arrangements. As other posters have mentioned, this could be avoided if Carnival would just HONOR what people request on the website at booking. Sheesh! My biggest beef with this trip was the food. I wasn't crazy about most of our meals in the dining room. It was certainly fine, and sort of what I have come to expect when cruising (especially on Carnival that can be excellent one cruise and sub par on others). We ate twice at the steakhouse on this cruise, which we never do. That was in part due to the fact that we weren't really grooving on the choices or quality in the dining room. Food is very personal, so I'll share what I didn't like, but bear in mind there is always ample food and we didn't go hungry: 1) food was sometimes not hot enough 2) entree choices seemed weird because of the "available every day" salmon, chicken, etc, we found the main course entrees to often be lacking in the chicken and fish department. I don't want pork, lamb and hard to chew beef or pasta every night, so in my opinion, it wasn't the greatest. I should add that the Horatio's buffet does a great job for breakfast and lunch. LOVE the different stations because it disperses the crowd, and food was always hot, high quality and super tasty. Same with room service- wow, a Reuben (hot and delicious) on a cruise from room service?? Now, THAT'S what I'm talking about! The chicken wrap is good too! We could have potato salad, chips, or coleslaw as sides. Pretty nice selection. Though, no room service French fries. Pretty standard. On sea days, the main dining room offers "Sea Day Brunch" leaving the dining room open continuously from breakfast through 1pm. Breakfast and a few lunch options were available. The first day, we loved this and enjoyed the food and service. The last sea day, we had to leave the dining room after 20 minutes of sitting at our table without even a hello. We opted for the buffet instead, and let the hostess know we weren't served. Sadly, she said this was a big issue that day, and that others were complaining too. No big deal, but with a 4 year old, we weren't about to wait it out OR make a huge fuss. Nick and Nora's was great. A few members of the staff sometimes seemed a little bit to be "deer in the headlights". No big deal, but here's an example: our son, who is 4 went with us both times to the steakhouse. Normally, when taking our order, the server will offer to bring something for our little guy, off the menu. This didn't happen either time- we had to ask, which was fine and they made him a seriously scrumptious mac and cheese that was to die for. They didn't charge for it, and we tipped well thanks to their kindness and thoughtfulness. BUT, we have had better experiences accommodating him both on other Carnival cruises and on Princess in the steakhouse. It certainly must have to do with the fact that the steakhouse is many floors away from the MDR-they can't just grab the kid a corn dog and bring it to the table. I get it, and it was still a lovely dining experience. Our first night in the steakhouse they brought us a FREE bottle of wine, which was so cool! It wasn't fancy (screw top), but hey, what a nice gesture to all the guests that night. Maybe this was because the steakhouse is quiet on night one? I don't know, but we thought that was classy to be sure! Here is our video tour of aft extended balcony cabin #7351. http://youtu.be/2pHH-PCarA0 We loved this cabin. It was quiet (staterooms above and below), clean, and located quite conveniently to the Horatio's restaurant (LOVE that I only had to take two quick flights of stairs for our morning coffee run!). The bed was among the top three most comfortable on any ship we've ever experienced. We pack our own pillows, but still, the mattress was just soft enough, the sheets were soft and we slept like babies. My 4 year old son slept on the couch converted to a bed, and he loved the gentle rumble of the engines lulling him to sleep each night. There was less engine vibration and noise on the aft of the Miracle than we''ve experienced on other ships. Just enough to be soothing and rock you to sleep. The balcony was showing a bit of wear and wasn't super clean, and I didn't care for the food smell that wafts toward the aft when you are on the back of the ship, but the lack of wind makes that part bearable. There was never a time when we couldn't be out on the balcony. Even late at night on the coolest of evenings it was calm and lovely to watch the wake. Storage was ample, closet space rocked, and the shower seemed bigger to me than most. We'd choose this cabin again and again. The staff & ship: Here's our video of the ship video: http://youtu.be/Gd3qb3UWaJE The ship is in better condition than I expected and the wacky Joe Farcus decor was fun! We're going to put together a ship tour video soon, so stay tuned! Staff was good in most areas (awesome dining room attendance and room steward, very nice front desk staff). Room service staff was always fast and competent and the cruise director and captain were gracious. Entertainment: We missed the first performance show in the main show lounge, but truly enjoyed the hypnotist mid cruise. That was hilarious, and appropriate for our son. We found the 2nd performance (Beatles review) to be lacking. The wigs looked cheap and distracting, and while the dancers and talent were excellent, the show tried a little too hard to cram too many Beatles songs into one show. I also don't really care for seeing the dancer's bums (thongs), this isn't Vegas, but hey, I guess that's what you get on the "fun ships! LOL! The ports: As California residents, we love to take this cruise because it means we get to go to Cabo and PV without the cost or hassle of a flight. We have our little routines in both ports, but this time, we wanted to do something different. So, here's how we spent our days: Cabo Day 1: We went to a resort for the early part of the day and enjoyed the pool (Playa Grande). This happened on accident as we tried to go to the Finnistera to eat and use their pool (we always do this) and were told the hotel is now a very pricey all inclusive and day passes would be $90 pp. walking down the hill to figure out plan b, a nice man (employee of Playa Grande resort, on the Pacific side) told us to head over there, and that we could swim and eat no problem. We did. It was great and nobody hassled us. We were spending money, buying drinks and appetizers, so I'm sure they were fine with us being there. For the later part of the day, we intended to take a water taxi to Lover's beach, but our water taxi driver suggested Pelican Beach, the little stretch just closer to land near Lover's beach. WE enjoyed swimming and walking there, and there was less of a crowd here than Lover's. Cabo Day 2: We hit Billygans at Medano beach, drank coronas, ate tacos and enchiladas (all while lounging on comfy leather chaise lounges) and swam in the calm beach. Party scene was average that day- not too many drunk people, but plenty of fun. Vendors were out of control in our face, but we don't care. We are used to it. The ocean was so calm that my son could romp in the waves. We probably spent less than $50 for 2 Coronas, 4 sodas, and 2 meal entrees. Very fair for half day access to the best swimming in Cabo. Puerto Vallarta: We bought day passes at Now Amber resort for $65 a person (child free) for a wonderful day of swimming in the pool and all inclusive drinks and food. Service in the restaurant overlooking the beach was great. It was seafood, but simple and very tasty. Drinks were awesome and because they were strong, I enjoyed a pina colada, and margarita. They made a virgin pina colada for our son. We chose this hotel because it had a waterslide for our boy, and we're so glad we spent the day there. Cab fare from the ship was cheap and the ride was short (less than 10 minutes). We would totally do this again. The resort is stunning and we relaxed so much this day. Weather in PV was cloudy, but the hot tub came in handy when it drizzled. Overall this was a terrific trip, and we would definitely do it again

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By JOAN_CR

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Sep 4, 2013

Inside Passage Way

If you are taking your first trip to the Inside Passage Way you would probable think this was an excellent experience. But having been three times and two different Cruise Lines this was the worst cruise I have been on from employees, to food, to on board assistance. My husband is on oxygen 24/7 they offered no relief for him during the cruise, stand in line like the other people. Way to many photographers. Everyone was talking

about how bad in the dining room was, mostly preferred to eat in the Buffet for variety. No seasoning, presentation was not there. For example, menu stated Idaho Potato with Sour Cream and Butter, none was available when served, had to request then no one from the team of three brought the sides to the table. Two days before the end of the cruise they ran out of Diet Coke on the whole ship. We had open seating therefore we had a different server on the nights we went to the dining room. the formal night we had a previous cruiser tell us to order the BBQ Ribs they were better than the steak or lobster!! Only one electrical outlet in the stateroom, could not charge my husbands oxygen in a timely matter, when we requested an adapter, they said there are a lot of people on the cruise if everyone received an adapter the ship would have an electrical shortage! No clocks in the Stateroom, bring your own clock for the room. Can not rely on your Cellphone, ship time is different than United States and Canada. The TV information channel was always 12 to 24 hours behind; you never knew the temperature outside, the exact time, or where the ship was currently located. A lot of in house promotions for the Spa; Detox, Acupuncture, Cellulite Reduction, Cosmetics, A lot of Trivia, Guess the songs, Bean Bag Toss, Casino had electronic Poker not a dealer On a Senior Budget the price of the excursions were not something we could afford. We used public transportation, free to go hop on and off. The weather was excellent. Ship location upon departure was in a great location in Skagway, Juneau, and Ketchikan. My husband did receive wheeler chair assistance Boarding the ship, Skagway and departure. The wheel chair cost for the week was $125.00

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Feb 11, 2013

bahamas

have gone on many cruises , did not expect a fantastic cruise from ny , the price was low , it was a 9 year old ship going to bahamas in feb ., i knew we would have fun however i knew not to expect too much . going to give my opinion from beginning to end ............ i hope this is helpful to someone undecided about going on carnival from ny ...... the port was an absolute breeze , unexpectedly on the ship within 40

mins , dropped off by driver roughly at noon and found the port experience smooth and most carnival employees cheerful as well as helpful that was a Plus ! Overall we Enjoyed our Carnival Cruise on the MIRACLE . surprisingly we found the dining room food to be very good , our waiter staff was friendly and on the ball at all times , honestly could not complain about dining room staff , everyone pleasant , friendly , on top of things seemed to be run very smooth we were pleasantly surprised , made a reservation for the steakhouse $ 70. add'l for a couple , we cancelled found it not necessary , we enjoyed the restaurant and chose to Donate our $ 70. to the Horrific Mr Lucky's Casino , STAY AWAY !!! 7th Floor our Steward was Eugene and he was wonderful , had a clean well kept room for our whole trip could not complain at all !! our first day sat , i brought out items to be pressed as i usually do , have learned to ask politely the first day to have what items we will want neatly pressed and they are always brought back by the following day on hangers in plastic that way the rest of our cruise no matter what we do we dont have to worry that our clothes need to be pressed ............ btw , we had toothpaste , l , skin softener , breathe rights , and a few other items that were placed in the shell on the bathroom counter , there is shower gel and lemon scented hair shampoo in the shower , Of course I bring all my own supplies any way but i tried the shampoo and it was fine .........we always had plenty of clean towels OH AND A NEW TOWEL ANIMAL EVERY NIGHT ! WE ARE CASINO PLAYERS , however Mr Lucky's Casino was THE WORST I have ever seen as far as a ship casino and i have been on at least 20 cruises , even free cruises through the casinos this ship really has a tight reign on the machines and truly the worst i have ever seen , everyone complained especially real players , we knew who each other were because you were in there all the time by the last 2 days it was sickening to see how BAD it was never one time did we see bells go off with a jackpot ,, that is unheard of in a casino even a ship casino ! We reached a certain level of play the 2nd day and drank free the rest of the cruise while gambling in the casino saved us somewheres around 4 to 5 hundred on our alcohol , we were surprised with CHOCOLATE COVERED STRAWBERRIES sent to our room one day and a bottle of wine at dinner one evening we were given the chioce by surprise at dinner one evening , no excursions bahamas to us is like the keys , we got off and back on , we enjoyed the back of the ship serenity pool , redone , new hammocks , chairs , towels NO KIDS , a little small but simple and nice . over all we enjoyed this cruise it was relaxing , we were in the newly wed game we are married 35 years so we were called the oldie weds !! we also went to the hynotist show and enjoyed that too ;

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Aug 3, 2012

Carribbean

Entertainment was poor. Any cruise ship that promotes a party environment and that leaves out of NYC should include live music, and/or at least, a Latin band. The shows were ok at best. Cruise director - I can't say that I spotted the cruise director at all during the cruise. I must give him credit for the one-man show he put on. That was probably the only night he earned his money. Food and house-keeping Service was great.

Our steward was also great, but it was obvious that there have been cutbacks with respect to staffing. Many of the food stations on the Lido deck were closed thus creating huge lines. Staff is clearly being over-worked. Some staff we spoke with expressed discontent. The ports of call were great, but debarkation in Grand Turk can be compared to an apocalyptic rush of people visibly upset at the disorder and disorganization. Debarkation upon return to NYC was also disorganized. Overall, Carnival should do more to make a cruise leaving from NYC (capital of the world) a more pleasant, memorable and enjoyable experience. I understand the Splendor will be setting sail from NYC in order to replace the Miracle. Let's hope that ship provides a more rewarding experience than the Miracle. If you dont mind some of the shortcomings I pointed out above then you can take this cruise. My family and i always do our best to enjoy ourselves. Meaning if you enjoy family time and make do then no worries. Would I sail again on the Miracle, probably NOT. Buffet food is what it is: fried stuff, scrambled stuff, juices, salads and fruits. The food at the main dinning is definitely better than the buffet food. Variety was ok. Our stateroom was taken care appropriately by our steward who did a great job. Bean bag toss, trivia games, pool side music line dancing, bingo, casino, art auction, empty night club sum up basically most of the onboard activities. All the ports of call visited were great. If you dont like heat or a little walking then stay on the ship. Clean ship. The ship was just dry docked for improvement in Jan 2012. The decor is what you would find on other ships. cruise lines try to stand out with respect to how they decorate their ships. This one is no different. paintings, lights, multi colored rugs, glass sculptures here and there, and water running. I was not impressed with the decor or colors used in the pool area. A pool area should not be painting in dark brown or beige.

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Aug 3, 2012

Carribbean

Entertainment was poor. Any cruise ship that promotes a party environment and that leaves out of NYC should include live music, and/or at least, a Latin band. The shows were ok at best. Cruise director - I can't say that I spotted the cruise director at all during the cruise. I must give him credit for the one-man show he put on. That was probably the only night he earned his money. Food and house-keeping Service was great.

Our steward was also great, but it was obvious that there have been cutbacks with respect to staffing. Many of the food stations on the Lido deck were closed thus creating huge lines. Staff is clearly being over-worked. Some staff we spoke with expressed discontent. The ports of call were great, but debarkation in Grand Turk can be compared to an apocalyptic rush of people visibly upset at the disorder and disorganization. Debarkation upon return to NYC was also disorganized. Overall, Carnival should do more to make a cruise leaving from NYC (capital of the world) a more pleasant, memorable and enjoyable experience. I understand the Splendor will be setting sail from NYC in order to replace the Miracle. Let's hope that ship provides a more rewarding experience than the Miracle. If you dont mind some of the shortcomings I pointed out above then you can take this cruise. My family and i always do our best to enjoy ourselves. Meaning if you enjoy family time and make do then no worries. Would I sail again on the Miracle, probably NOT. Buffet food is what it is: fried stuff, scrambled stuff, juices, salads and fruits. The food at the main dinning is definitely better than the buffet food. Variety was ok. Our stateroom was taken care appropriately by our steward who did a great job. Bean bag toss, trivia games, pool side music line dancing, bingo, casino, art auction, empty night club sum up basically most of the onboard activities. All the ports of call visited were great. If you dont like heat or a little walking then stay on the ship. Clean ship. The ship was just dry docked for improvement in Jan 2012. The decor is what you would find on other ships. cruise lines try to stand out with respect to how they decorate their ships. This one is no different. paintings, lights, multi colored rugs, glass sculptures here and there, and water running. I was not impressed with the decor or colors used in the pool area. A pool area should not be painting in dark brown or beige.

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By Dino_CR

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Jun 15, 2012

Carribean

My first cruise was on the Carnival Victory several years ago, and that was excellent. My second was on the Norwegian Dawn, and that was just as good. My, has Carnival dropped the ball on the Miracle. What an incredible disappointment. The cost cutting in personnel is palpable and blatant. At the price I paid for a family of four, I could've easily flown to the Mediterranean and rented a beach house. Perhaps we should have. Service

was lazy and it felt that staff were just going through the motions without sincerity. Bar service was horrible, as they only kept a small portion of the bar open, with the remaining deck bar closed the entire trip without explanation, which forced you to stand at the one deck bar section in the smoking section, which was horrible for non smokers. Forget about getting drink service from the wait staff if you were on the Sun Deck, they came around perhaps once every 45 minutes or so, and it took another 30 minutes to get the drink. We eventually gave up, and walked to the bar for almost every round. And did I mention that gratuity was automatically added to each and every purchase? So there was absolutely NO incentive for the staff to work any harder than the bare minimum. And it showed. The only time you got any actual notable service was if you plied the staff with dollars first, then, oh boy, did they pay attention! I felt that the staff was there because they had to be, and were indifferent to us or anyone else. How did our cruise on the Victory go so well, but the Miracle wind up so poorly run? The food, the majority of times, was bland buffet fodder. Some notable exceptions were the fish served at the buffet, which was surprisingly good. The deli was good also, serving tasty corned beef and pastrami. The formal night lobster and shrimp tasted frozen and bland. Every meal that came out of the kitchen was lukewarm at best. Standouts were the Chateaubriand, and another night, Short Ribs. Most of the seafood prepared in the kitchen may have been ok when prepared, but by the time it got to the table, it was dry from sitting under the heat lamps. I don't recall getting a hot meal once. Some of the appetizers were creative and tasty, but not nearly enough to feel that any extraordinary effort was being put forth to wow the crowd. We tipped our waitress heavily in the beginning, so she would typically point out the better dishes, which weren't many. Advertised as a 24 hour pizza bar, the menu displayed several varieties, including calzones, which on paper, looked great. I NEVER, I mean, NOT ONCE, saw a calzone, or ANY other variety of pizza prepared except for cheese and pepperoni. My wife asked several times throughout the cruise for the pizza with goat cheese, and the staff always told her, "Oh it will take a while on that, you're going to have to wait at least 15 minutes." When she told them she would like to wait, she was told, "It may take longer, we don't have the ingredients here, we have to get them, it's going to take longer." She never did manage to get anything other than cheese pizza, despite the tasty menu displayed. Burgers and fries, how do you screw that up? Use CHEAP grade beef, which was tasteless. The chicken nuggets for the kids were great though. The effort was there by the kitchen, to serve up some interesting variety, which was repeatedly let down by blandness and lack of flavor. The Asian food was ok, but overall, it seemed that most foods were overly greasy. How do you run out of bananas two days into a seven day cruise? Desserts were bland. I cruised with my two sons, ages two and four. It was MURDER getting a milk or cup of apple juice if it was one minute after noon. Sometimes I would ask one station, and they would tell me it wasn't available. Asking at another station to find a sympathetic crewmember would usually do the trick, but there were several times I had to RETURN TO MY ROOM and ORDER ROOM SERVICE to get milk for the kids. Unacceptable! Average prices for booze, except the pours were so precise that you could taste the cost cutting as well. Even tipping above the automatically added gratuity per drink rarely resulted in a good drink. Switching to doubles just cost more. We departed from New York, and upon arrival at our cabin, the toilet smelled like urine. Since the toilet operated on a vacuum rather than a water tank, the inside lip never got wet, except as used. I repeatedly asked the steward to clean it, but they never managed to actually clean it, and the bathroom smelled like urine for the entire cruise. Otherwise, the cabin service was average, and they did a fairly decent job of cleaning the floors and bedding. What astounded me was that in numerous areas of the ship, there were plainly visible handprints on glass, or metal areas around the elevators and such, that were never attended to. Numerous glass display cases at the stairwells looked as though they were wiped with a greasy cloth. On the 6th night, some idiot dropped a piece of chocolate cake in the hallway in front of the forward elevators on Deck 5. When we passed again 3 hours later, it was still there. It was embarrassing. Waitstaff regularly left ashtrays on the table stuffed with butts and garbage, with no effort - I literally watched staff wipe a table off and leave the overflowing ashtray behind. Or walk past dirty tables with no attempt to clean them. The two Lido deck pools were absolutely too small for the size of the crowd. Not sure what the designer was thinking, but the pools could not accommodate more than 15 people without overcrowding. Several times, the staff closed the pool without explanation, and no effort to reopen the pools was made for the remainder of the afternoon. When I asked, I was told that someone vomited in the pool, but it was several hours before the pool was drained. When I asked why the forward pool was closed, they told me someone vomited in that one as well, but it was not drained either. The kiddie pool is a 5" deep pool on the upper aft section, barely big enough for 4 kids to play in. What mystified me was, this area was INACCESSIBLE by elevator, so if you had a stroller, forget it! Plus, there is nothing for the adults in that area, and with the non existent drink service, you had to pack the kids up and walk down two decks just to get something to drink. Felt like an afterthought. I was told the comedy was good, but did not attend, and cannot comment any further. The "Deck Games" on the Lido Deck were put on with barely any enthusiasm by the staff, and hardly any effort. It felt like they were going through the motions. For the duration of the cruise, there was a DJ who would appear in the atrium and Lido deck stages. .There was also a solo guitarist and a cover musician / keyboardist who sang mostly popular music. It was the bare minimum of effort on Carnival's part. For example, when on the Carnival Victory, we were treated to a live reggae band at poolside, which was great. On the Miracle, you get some kid in a crooked ball cap playing music off his laptop computer while bobbing his head. St Thomas was excellent, great beaches, attentive locals, and overall a great time. Fantastic. San Juan? Dirty. Litter everywhere. I didn't enjoy the port - after the castle closed, there wasn't much to do but drink at the bars. Grank Turk is perhaps the most offensive, because Carnival owns this resort area of beach where the ship was docked, so your access to the locals, or other areas of the island, were limited because you weren't in port long enough to really travel anywhere and enjoy it. The Margaritaville pool was fun, but drinks were $10 each, so it got expensive quickly, and service once again was scarce. I felt that the port arrival and departure was engineered to keep you at the Carnival area rather than allow enough time to explore. Overall, I'm not sure if it's the cost cutting by Carnival, or the staff of the Miracle, but this cruise was sub-par at best. CARNIVAL, LISTEN UP! CHARGE ME MORE FOR A ROOM, and BRING BACK THE SERVICE! I never have a problem paying for service and quality. I DO have a problem paying for it and never getting it. First time cruisers will like the Miracle, because they don't know any better. Seasoned cruisers, beware, this ship is a waste of a week of your life. We had a great time as a family, but were sorely disappointed in the experience.

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By Dino_CR

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Jun 15, 2012

Carribean

My first cruise was on the Carnival Victory several years ago, and that was excellent. My second was on the Norwegian Dawn, and that was just as good. My, has Carnival dropped the ball on the Miracle. What an incredible disappointment. The cost cutting in personnel is palpable and blatant. At the price I paid for a family of four, I could've easily flown to the Mediterranean and rented a beach house. Perhaps we should have. Service

was lazy and it felt that staff were just going through the motions without sincerity. Bar service was horrible, as they only kept a small portion of the bar open, with the remaining deck bar closed the entire trip without explanation, which forced you to stand at the one deck bar section in the smoking section, which was horrible for non smokers. Forget about getting drink service from the wait staff if you were on the Sun Deck, they came around perhaps once every 45 minutes or so, and it took another 30 minutes to get the drink. We eventually gave up, and walked to the bar for almost every round. And did I mention that gratuity was automatically added to each and every purchase? So there was absolutely NO incentive for the staff to work any harder than the bare minimum. And it showed. The only time you got any actual notable service was if you plied the staff with dollars first, then, oh boy, did they pay attention! I felt that the staff was there because they had to be, and were indifferent to us or anyone else. How did our cruise on the Victory go so well, but the Miracle wind up so poorly run? The food, the majority of times, was bland buffet fodder. Some notable exceptions were the fish served at the buffet, which was surprisingly good. The deli was good also, serving tasty corned beef and pastrami. The formal night lobster and shrimp tasted frozen and bland. Every meal that came out of the kitchen was lukewarm at best. Standouts were the Chateaubriand, and another night, Short Ribs. Most of the seafood prepared in the kitchen may have been ok when prepared, but by the time it got to the table, it was dry from sitting under the heat lamps. I don't recall getting a hot meal once. Some of the appetizers were creative and tasty, but not nearly enough to feel that any extraordinary effort was being put forth to wow the crowd. We tipped our waitress heavily in the beginning, so she would typically point out the better dishes, which weren't many. Advertised as a 24 hour pizza bar, the menu displayed several varieties, including calzones, which on paper, looked great. I NEVER, I mean, NOT ONCE, saw a calzone, or ANY other variety of pizza prepared except for cheese and pepperoni. My wife asked several times throughout the cruise for the pizza with goat cheese, and the staff always told her, "Oh it will take a while on that, you're going to have to wait at least 15 minutes." When she told them she would like to wait, she was told, "It may take longer, we don't have the ingredients here, we have to get them, it's going to take longer." She never did manage to get anything other than cheese pizza, despite the tasty menu displayed. Burgers and fries, how do you screw that up? Use CHEAP grade beef, which was tasteless. The chicken nuggets for the kids were great though. The effort was there by the kitchen, to serve up some interesting variety, which was repeatedly let down by blandness and lack of flavor. The Asian food was ok, but overall, it seemed that most foods were overly greasy. How do you run out of bananas two days into a seven day cruise? Desserts were bland. I cruised with my two sons, ages two and four. It was MURDER getting a milk or cup of apple juice if it was one minute after noon. Sometimes I would ask one station, and they would tell me it wasn't available. Asking at another station to find a sympathetic crewmember would usually do the trick, but there were several times I had to RETURN TO MY ROOM and ORDER ROOM SERVICE to get milk for the kids. Unacceptable! Average prices for booze, except the pours were so precise that you could taste the cost cutting as well. Even tipping above the automatically added gratuity per drink rarely resulted in a good drink. Switching to doubles just cost more. We departed from New York, and upon arrival at our cabin, the toilet smelled like urine. Since the toilet operated on a vacuum rather than a water tank, the inside lip never got wet, except as used. I repeatedly asked the steward to clean it, but they never managed to actually clean it, and the bathroom smelled like urine for the entire cruise. Otherwise, the cabin service was average, and they did a fairly decent job of cleaning the floors and bedding. What astounded me was that in numerous areas of the ship, there were plainly visible handprints on glass, or metal areas around the elevators and such, that were never attended to. Numerous glass display cases at the stairwells looked as though they were wiped with a greasy cloth. On the 6th night, some idiot dropped a piece of chocolate cake in the hallway in front of the forward elevators on Deck 5. When we passed again 3 hours later, it was still there. It was embarrassing. Waitstaff regularly left ashtrays on the table stuffed with butts and garbage, with no effort - I literally watched staff wipe a table off and leave the overflowing ashtray behind. Or walk past dirty tables with no attempt to clean them. The two Lido deck pools were absolutely too small for the size of the crowd. Not sure what the designer was thinking, but the pools could not accommodate more than 15 people without overcrowding. Several times, the staff closed the pool without explanation, and no effort to reopen the pools was made for the remainder of the afternoon. When I asked, I was told that someone vomited in the pool, but it was several hours before the pool was drained. When I asked why the forward pool was closed, they told me someone vomited in that one as well, but it was not drained either. The kiddie pool is a 5" deep pool on the upper aft section, barely big enough for 4 kids to play in. What mystified me was, this area was INACCESSIBLE by elevator, so if you had a stroller, forget it! Plus, there is nothing for the adults in that area, and with the non existent drink service, you had to pack the kids up and walk down two decks just to get something to drink. Felt like an afterthought. I was told the comedy was good, but did not attend, and cannot comment any further. The "Deck Games" on the Lido Deck were put on with barely any enthusiasm by the staff, and hardly any effort. It felt like they were going through the motions. For the duration of the cruise, there was a DJ who would appear in the atrium and Lido deck stages. .There was also a solo guitarist and a cover musician / keyboardist who sang mostly popular music. It was the bare minimum of effort on Carnival's part. For example, when on the Carnival Victory, we were treated to a live reggae band at poolside, which was great. On the Miracle, you get some kid in a crooked ball cap playing music off his laptop computer while bobbing his head. St Thomas was excellent, great beaches, attentive locals, and overall a great time. Fantastic. San Juan? Dirty. Litter everywhere. I didn't enjoy the port - after the castle closed, there wasn't much to do but drink at the bars. Grank Turk is perhaps the most offensive, because Carnival owns this resort area of beach where the ship was docked, so your access to the locals, or other areas of the island, were limited because you weren't in port long enough to really travel anywhere and enjoy it. The Margaritaville pool was fun, but drinks were $10 each, so it got expensive quickly, and service once again was scarce. I felt that the port arrival and departure was engineered to keep you at the Carnival area rather than allow enough time to explore. Overall, I'm not sure if it's the cost cutting by Carnival, or the staff of the Miracle, but this cruise was sub-par at best. CARNIVAL, LISTEN UP! CHARGE ME MORE FOR A ROOM, and BRING BACK THE SERVICE! I never have a problem paying for service and quality. I DO have a problem paying for it and never getting it. First time cruisers will like the Miracle, because they don't know any better. Seasoned cruisers, beware, this ship is a waste of a week of your life. We had a great time as a family, but were sorely disappointed in the experience.

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May 14, 2012

Carribean

We shipped out of New York and visited the ports of San Juan, St. Thomas and Turks. We got on the ship very quickly, luggage arrived in a timely fashion. That's just about the only good things I can say about our time on the ship. The people that worked there were very evasive and looked like they didn't want to bother with anyone. Gave the impression that they hated their job or were coming to the end of their 6 months so they didn't really care.

They constantly closed off sections of the upper deck for hours at a time without warning to clean during Sea Days which made you have to go down a level or two in order to get around it. On the last night of the Cruise, they closed off all of the Upper deck pools. After cleaning, most of the area's still looked dirty and grimy. Buffet food was very bland and sub-par, ex: Most deserts were dry even though they were just put out, anything that was fried was super greasy, you could actually squeeze the oil out of the tater tots, ex: Bacon, hash browns. Not many choices for toddlers. All food that we were served came to us in about 5 minutes after seating. The portions were smaller than past cruises and the food was luke warm. Not one meal was hot. Seemed that they had everything made before hand and had been sitting on hot plates. Also, if you weren't usually tipping the waiting staff you were not being served the same way. The rooms looked dirty, sheets were stained. The beds were well worn in (sagging in the middle). We were missing the following when first entering the room, door stop (Very important when transporting a toddler in a stroller), beach towels, an ice bucket (but what was funny was they had 2 wine glasses there). Room stewards were horrible, when we called to notify of the missing articles, we got "It is there, I put it on your couch." every time we asked. I ended up going down to the customer service center and complaining. Good for adults, but nothing for toddlers. We will never go on another Carnival cruise again after this experience. You spend over $1000 a person to relax, not be aggravated by the simple things that can be fixed. I have written a letter to Carnival about our experience so that they might look into it.

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Mar 29, 2011

southern caribbean

While our last experience in 2006 on the carnival Elation was less then lousy, we prepared for a similar experience this time on the Miracle. To our surprise, the ship was fantastic!! Traveling with 2 children, Carnival was my first choice because of the Camp Carnival programs which I find to be the best at sea. My first real surprise was the first night at dinner. Our Waiter was very friendly, the food better than Holland America. Then each meal

after that no matter where you ate was fantastic. The Baccus dining room was perfect ever night. Horatio's resturant on deck 9 rear was great for breakfast and lunch. Lots to choose from. We had room 4179, a balcony room which was about mid ship. The four of us had plenty of room. The couch converts to a bed, and folds out of the ceiling for a bunk. Closet space was large 3 in total, with shelving in one. Bathroom was average as in most ships. We spent every evening on the balcony after the kids went to sleep. Well worth the price for a balcony. Will never get a window room again. Only balcony rooms from here on. The kids club provided plenty of activities for our children. We are sun worshipers, and this let us relax during the three sea days this itinerary had. The shows were average, nothing special. Pool games were geared for young adults to teenagers. Our cruise mainly consisted of middle age couples to families. Our only excursion was on Grand Turk. We took the Gibbs cay Sting Ray adventure which we did last time we were there. You go to a small little barren island where sting rays swim all over. You get snorkle too. Very beautiful. I always find my own way around each port by doing my homework at each location. For example, at Curacao, we took a cab to Mambo beach about four miles away. The ship offered this same beach as an excursion for $49 per person. We paid $15 for a cab each way, plus $3 admission onto Mambo beach. So for four of us it cost only $42 instead of the $196 it would have costed if we booked it on board. The 8 day itinerary was perfect. Only rained in Curacao. My only complaint was that the top deck always was closed for heavy wind during time at sea. The design of the ship was flawed in this respect that most ships have built in wind deflectors in the design. I have been on 17 cruises, and this one was the windiest. When the top deck was closed, this forced everyone to be piled on top of one another, plus shortages of lounge chairs.

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Feb 24, 2010

Western Carribean

We departed Tampa late in the afternoon. I walk with a cane and all the standing-in-lines the terminal was painful for me. I was finally spotted by an ombudsman and provided a wheelchair. A real relief as we were another hour being processed. We boarded and found our stateroom without a problem. The maps provided were very helpful. The room was adequate in size and the balcony was a special blessing. We enjoyed all of our shipboard experiences. My

only complaint is the crew takes up all the deck chairs at night and I wanted a place to sit on the fantail at night. The view of the night sky was spectacular! Without lights and pollution, the stars popped out in blazing glory. The ship's shops were excellent, and the wife found some nice clothes and I a new HI Def video camera. The liqueur store had some very different libations, however, we were not permitted to store them in our rooms. I did find the lack of Coke products distressing, but made up for it in coffee, which was excellent and available from 24 hour room service. The service was impeccable and the staff friendly and helpful. We attended several shows, and the comedian was excellent. There was live music till late at night in many of the ship's lounges, and an upscale smoking lounge where one can purchase real Cuban cigars along with several brands of excellent brandies. All in all, I can't wait for our next trip out! Mostly the food was grand. I can't eat shellfish or shrimp so any comments do not include such dishes. The dinner courses were all very good and very creative. One I was impressed with was a strawberry bisque, which was served cold. The curried fish was also excellent. On the Lido deck you could get anything from apples to pizza and the iced tea is good. The dessert bar was a cornucopia of gastric excess, and excess I did. The French pastries and English torts are outstanding, and best consumed with the ship's excellent coffees. One caveat, bring pepto bisdmal and alka selzer, as you will over indulge! The stateroom was beautiful, well equipped and state-of-the-art. My only complaint was the toilet which due to my handicap was a little difficult to use. The shower was small, but ok. The balcony was the hit of the cruise. I would sit out there at night, with a pot of coffee and hour devours, and watch the stars most of the night. The chairs could have used more padding, but the view made up for it. I could see other cruise ships 10 miles away and many commercial vessels too. Sunrise and sunsets were always photo worthy. we made liberal use of the mini bar and the on board cameras showing the forward view from the bridge and aft view of the wake were favorites. Of all, we enjoyed the reef swim and beach in Belize best. We went on the Stingray swim in Cancun, and it was the worst, and most dangerous. 50 of us were herded onto a boat with a max capacity of 12, and with almost no free-board headed out to the sholes. Waves were constantly breaking over the sides and washing in the stern. The boarding ladder broke and the crew tied it to the stern. With the boat flopping about it was a challenge for most of the women to re-board, and I was not an exception. I do not recommend this tour. The Day at the beach was terrific. Sitting under coconut palms and sipping rum. Just the relaxation I needed. We also got a small paddle boat and tracked lazily about the cove for an hour. Be careful about seaborne excursions. The operators are not subject to U.S. Coast Guard safety standards, and many of the boats and vessels broke down during the excursions. Especially in Mexico. Apparently it happens so often, there is a fast ferry to catch the cruise ship and re-board stranded passengers. Wonderful

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Sep 24, 2009

Western Carib

Hands down, this was the best cruise I have been on. From the food to the service to the entertainment and the ship theme, there was nary a complaint. The food in the dining room was excellent every night and we did the deli with their rubens and pastrami and rye, which was press toasted like a Cubano sandwich. Finally we made reservations at Nick and Nora's which was a $30 P/P surcharge. A bit strong but worth it. The lobster bisque came out

with a large lump of lobster in the bowl and then they poured the bisque over it. The fillet you could cut with a fork and the chocotate deserts were to die for. The views of the sea as we crashed through the waves was beautiful and the wait staff was there without being overly attentive. I know you can dine for free in the dining room but take one night and eat at Nick and Nora's. It was possibly the best I have ever had. Here is a tip: Don't do the breakfast buffet. Go to the dining room, sit down, get served and enjoy your meal. Be pampered, not sitting in a lounge chair with a plate on your lap that you waited for 15 minutes at the omelet station for. You are on a ship that loves to pamper you. Start it off that way and finish it off with a late dinner. Don't forget the Sushi/Sashimi bar which is no cost on Carnival. We got a balcony and the stateroom was large with a nice balcony. I smoke cigars and really enjoyed sitting out on the balcony with a good book and a cigar. It was sooooo much better than fighting for a seat on the pool deck with kids trying to outscream the reggae band (who were very good). The Beatles review was the best I have ever seen. This is one of the few ships left that carry a full orchestra and the music was incredible. Several times we received complimentary drinks at the shows which was very nice of the Carnival folks because I know that the drinks are where the profits are. Never do the excursions. I usually pick the ones I want and make arrangements directly with the company. The boat was supposed to go to Panama and Costa Rica but had one of the engines as half power and were afraid to do the Canal with it so we went to Rootan and Belize instead. This was announced about 6 weeks before the cruise so no problem. Guests were allowed to change dates and ships if they wanted to. This was a great trip and the ship was superb. The butterfly and bird farm was nice on Rootan. Get a cab who will take you around the island, stopping at all the hot spots, attractions, etc for aboutr 25 a person. or 50 for the cab. Our guy gave us a great tour of about 3.5 hours, stopping at a store for cigars for me and also a grocery store for beer and snacks. (Like we didn't have enough to eat on board!). Cozumel was great as always, and so was Belize. The staff on this boat is professional and has been with it for years. Ride this boat!

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Oct 28, 2008

Panama Canal

We have been on the Miracle 3 times, it is one of our favorite ships, not too big but very easy to get around. As usual, the Crew was outstanding. Lots of activities. The weather on this trip was not the best, but we still had a great time. We travel with our family, this time we had 12 people, from age 20 to age 73. We really enjoy the excursions, and this trip - they were outstanding. My husband is 73 and he went on the canopy trip-zip lining

and had a ball. The best one we took was with Cave-tubing.com. We rode ATV's and then went tubing. Had an outstanding time. We could not book this thru Carnival, as they have suspended this excursion, but we read reviews and had learned of this group from friends who booked on line, and it was extremely safe and we had a great time. We have always enjoyed the food and dining experience on Carnival, and this trip everything was wonderful. We always have a balcony stateroom, it is plenty of room for 2 people. Closets and storage for everything. Always something to do, from trivia to bean bag toss!! The crew works very hard to make sure everyone has a good time. The best excursions from the last 6 years has been the Cave tubing and ATV's from Cave-tubing.com. The excursion to the Panama Canal was great. It is something everyone should see, but it was not good for small children. Not a lot of action, so they were pretty bored. We were on a ferry, and it was full. Not a lot of bathroom facilities, so the wait was long. Again Carnival came through with a great cruise, very high marks for the crew, the ship and the activities. We had a wonderful time, and we are already to book again next year.

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Mar 20, 2008

Western Caribbean

The ship is absolutely beautiful. It took us a couple of days to learn our way around. We had a balcony cabin on the Upper deck. Embarkation at Jax Port was a little long, mostly due to the pictures and they didn't have sail and sign cards for us. We had to get them from the purser's desk. The cruise director, Todd, and his staff were great. There were so many planned activities onboard. Never a dull moment! We especially liked

the karaoke with KJ Foxx in the Mad Hatter's Ball. He is very talented! The shows in the Phantom Lounge were excellent. One of them was a tribute show to the Beatles. The itinerary was good. Day one at sea, Cozumel, Costa Maya, another sea day and Freeport. I enjoyed Cozumel. We spent the day at Chankanaab Park, where my daughter did the dolphin swim. It was a nice park. They had a restaurant, shops, a nice beach area and a beautiful lagoon. In Costa Maya we did the Jungle Beach Break excursion for $39 per person. The beach was nice. They had paddle boats and and an open bar. There was food available at a reasonable cost and there was a little gift shop as well. You could also get your hair braided or get a henna tattoo. You could also rent snorkel equipment for $10 and wave runners for $50 for 30 minutes( I think). They played games with the kids and adults. The men had a race to see who could drink 3 cups of beer the fastest ( with a straw). For the ladies, they had to drink beer from a bottle. It was funny. Freeport was not my favorite stop. Not much to do there. We signed up for the glass bottom boat. There were alot of waves that day and it was a rough ride! Several people got sick. Not fun at all! Next time in Freeport, I will stay on the ship. Food on the ship was good and plentiful! Our waiters Mario and Martina were great! The room stewards kept the cabin clean and we always had ice and fresh towels. The most difficult thing is keeping up with your beach towels. My daughter left one in my sister's cabin and her room steward picked it up, but didn't replace it. It took her a couple of days to get it back. Debarkation was long, but we were off the ship by 10:30am. If you can carry off your own bags , you can leave the ship first. We had too many people and too much luggage to do that this time. It will be hard to go back to an older ship after sailing on the Miracle. I am spoiled for life!

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Oct 18, 2007

Cruise To Nowhere

On October 18th my husband, my 8 year old son and I sailed on the 2 night Cruise To Nowhere. We chose this cruise for several reasons. One my husband and son 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. 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 goes.) 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 pass 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 my husband had two lobster tails and two prime ribs. The warm chocolate melting was good, not great but good. The boys 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. My husband 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 wifi 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.

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By Mike_CR

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Aug 31, 2007

Eastern Caribbean

On 8/31/07, I sailed with my girlfriend and 6 other friends on the Miracle out of New York for our 8-night cruise to the Eastern Caribbean (San Juan, St. Thomas, Tortola). Overall, we had an amazing time and we are already looking forward to going again next year. EMBARKATION We arrived at the NY Cruise Terminal around 11:45am, with a scheduled sailing time of 4:00pm. I believe that we actually boarded the ship around 1:30pm. When

we first arrived, a baggage porter found us within seconds and took our bags from us. We were then directed to the waiting area where the lines were relatively slow. While waiting to register for our Sign and Sail account, we could see unoccupied Carnival staff just standing around – not sure why they weren’t helping with such a long line, but we were too excited for the cruise to really care. When we did board, we went straight to the Excursion desk (no line) and then to find some lunch. We were allowed in our rooms at 2:00 pm, where we met out very friendly cabin steward Fabian and received our luggage shortly after. Despite some overcast, leaving from NY was very cool – plenty of great views to take pictures of. I’ve lived in NY my whole life and was still pretty impressed, so it must be amazing for anyone from out of town. THE SHIP The Miracle is a great ship – very clean, easy to get around, plenty of places to hang out. The decorations can be very over the top – most areas are themed by a particular fictional character with full size statues, bright colors, or gaudy decorations – which we enjoyed because it gave the ship a more fun and crazy, “vacation” feel to it. We had an extended balcony room and loved it! Though we didn’t spend tons of time on the balcony, it was great for the times we did go on it (early in the morning, before dinner, at night, usually). Our friends had breakfast on theirs most mornings. It was nice to get a great view while entering or leaving a port, while not having to deal with the crowds on the upper decks. One of my favorite things to do was to enjoy a few drinks on the balcony before dinner. We actually slept on it for an hour or so one night. Unfortunately, we are now spoiled and will need a balcony every time! The buffet food was always very good. The lines could get a bit long for the “international” food of the day, and it would have been nice to have a few more indoor chairs, but getting food was never difficult. The 24 hour pizza was surprisingly good, and 24 ice cream/frozen yogurt was sometimes impossible to pass and not get some (they also had times where a variety of sundae toppings were available). For something simple, you can always go to the deli station and get a good sandwich. On most afternoons, they had a free sushi bar. I never planned on going to the sushi bar, but found myself there almost everyday before dinner – the sushi was pretty good, and it made a nice snack before my late dinner seating at 8:15pm. Personally, I’m not big on the shows, so I can’t comment too much on that. But we did go to the passenger talent show which was pretty good (one guy gave a “promise ring” to his girlfriend of 8 years after his fantastic performance – COM’ON MAN! 8 years?? How often do you get such a great opportunity to make a PROPOSAL!?! Sorry, had to get that out – I think everyone watching assumed he actually proposed, and were a bit shocked and disappointed when we learned it was only a “promise”. The comedian was decent, but to be fair we only caught the end of his performance. Throughout the day they had trivia contests, game shows, a ping pong tournament, hairy chest contest, belly flop contests, a galley tour, art auctions, wine tasting, classes, gambling tournaments etc., etc., etc. – all that stuff that can be fun to do, but also not a big deal if you miss it. I actually won Fun Ship Fear Factor – they randomly choose 6 volunteers, then eliminated them though a dance contest, balloon pooping contest (“fear of balloons”), and a gross eating competition (from what I could tell, it was a large bowl of curry, rice, grapes, and some other stuff – I was blindfolded so I’m not totally sure). It was a lot of fun, but then they replayed me dancing on the ship’s TV system for the entire cruise! By the end of the week, random people had begun to recognize me. When my friends and I were not taking part in organized activities, we liked to lie out in the sun on the very back deck at the “adults only” pool. I’ve heard people complain that this pool is always full of kids anyway, but we didn’t have this problem – most likely due to the fact that our sailing date was right when school started so there were very few kids on the ship to begin with. We used the gym just about every day and, aside from early in the morning, had no problem getting the machines we wanted. There was also another hot tub in there, which was usually empty. There were a variety of bars with different types of music, so most people could find a fun place to be at night. My favorite was Music Boardwalk – a great cover band. We went to Frankenstein’s Lab (the dance club) a few nights and had a good time there, as well. They had a few nighttime pool parties, where there were more games, a buffet, drinks, music etc. One of my favorite things to do at night was to hang out on the top decks with my friends, where there weren’t many people, and we could just do what we want without bothering anyone – we are a loud group! Dinner in the Bacchus Dining Room was great each night, thanks largely to our waiter, Alex, and assistant waitress, Jeannette. Both of them were extremely friendly. Almost every night, Alex would come by after dessert and would show us all kinds of tricks using silverware, napkins and other things. The food itself was great – the only night that I didn’t love my dinner was when I got the jerk pork, and that’s only because it tasted like the Fear Factor food I had eaten earlier ha ha. The chocolate melting cake is definitely worth getting at least once, but there were also a variety of other tasty desserts to choose from. I was very happy with the 8:15 seating – we never had to rush back from the ports, had some extra time around the pools, and could take our time getting ready. PORTS San Juan We only had a half day in San Juan – from around 3:30pm till Midnight. Since we had signed up for an excursion, we only had enough time to grab a bite to eat before we needed to meet back at the pier. Overall, I was not at all impressed with San Juan, but I’m not sure that it’s a fair judgment because of the small amount of time we had to explore. If I were to go back, I would check out Old San Juan which I hear is a great time. Our excursion was the Bioluminescent Bay Kayak tour, and I HIGHLY recommend it. Without going into the science of it, the water in this bay glows whenever it is agitated. With every stroke of the kayak oar, the water around it glows. I wasn’t sure what to expect when we first started, so I was a bit shocked when it became dark enough to really see the glow. You could even scoop up the water and pour it down you body, and watch tons of little sparkles blink on you for a few seconds. If a fish were to swim near you, you could see a wake of light behind it. VERY COOL. I wish the camera could have caught this, but I was too afraid of dropping it in the water to bring it. Just be aware that there is a long bus ride to get to the bay (1 – 1.5 hours) – you can use the bus ride as a tour of Puerto Rico, or catch a nap. St. Thomas St. Thomas is great for shopping, but my bit of advice is to be prepared. What I mean is that you should know your prices – every salesman will make you feel like you are getting the best deal in the world, but you need to have done a bit of research so that you know if it really is a good price compared to what you would pay at home. The merchants can be a bit pushy, but are willing to negotiate if you find something you like (NEVER accept the first, second, or maybe even third price for jewelry). Carnival will give you a list of “trusted” stores, so that you can feel more comfortable with your more expensive purchases. I also have friends that regularly buy from the other, non-Carnival sponsored stores and get great deals, but it all comes down to how much your trust your merchant. Apparently there are some great beaches to be found (My parents recently visited and recommended Sapphire), but since we had another excursion we didn’t go to any of them. Instead, we did the Kayak, Hike and Snorkel tour through the mangroves. It was lots of fun – we choose it because my friends and I are big into sports and active tours, and these seemed like one that would help us work off some of the buffet calories. Though never difficult, we did kayak for a total of about 2 miles. The hike portion included tour of a blowhole, where you could pick up sea urchins and take some great pics. We then had a good amount of time to snorkel in the bay – not the best snorkeling I have ever done, but I still saw some very colorful fish and had a good time (My friends who had never snorkeled before thought it was amazing). The guides were funny and friendly, and organized a hermit crab race halfway though the tour – everyone was told to grab one of the many hermit crabs on the island, which we then raced, and the winner got a free ice cream. Tortola Another half day, and my favorite port on this trip! It was much less developed than the other islands. We didn’t do a tour here, but instead decided to spend the morning at Cane Garden Bay. If your heart can handle the ride up and then down the mountain to get there (very narrow, and VERY steep roads at points – fun!), you will be rewarded with a picture perfect bay with crystal clear water. There are a handful of shops and places to get food and drinks along the beach. We swam, tossed the Frisbee, and just hung out under the palm trees – exactly what you expect when going to the Caribbean. There were also guys going around selling fresh coconuts – they would chop off the top and so that you could drink the milk, and for a few dollars more add some rum. Warning: they let you add as much rum as you want, and you will be tempted to add plenty to get your money’s worth. The coconut milk is not very strongly flavored, and is warm, so it will not mask the potent rum flavor much. So, unless you really like drinking warm rum, either skip the booze or just add a little. I’m no light weight when it comes to drinking, but I went a bit heavy on the rum and had trouble finishing it. Live and learn! I would also suggest that you get there early – we left around 11:30, and it had begun to get a little crowded. We were forced to leave Tortola an hour early due to a tropical storm brewing in the Atlantic. That night the boat was ROCKING. I don’t get sick, but a few of my friends weren’t quite as lucky. Everyone looked drunk as they zigzagged down the hallways. The staff actually had to tape barf bags up in the hallways and in the elevators! I don’t know how big the swells were, but the wind was strong enough to blow water all the way up to our balcony on the 7th floor, and the ping pong tables on the top deck were covered with sea salt the next morning. Aside from that night, our weather was perfect for the entire cruise. DEBARKATION I live about an hour from the pier, so had it just been my girlfriend and myself, I would have chosen normal debarkation. However, we were with some friends from upstate who wanted to get an early start home, so we decided to do the “self-assist” debarkation (first off the ship). Assuming you are able to carry ALL of your luggage around the ship (including up or down a few stairs), this is a pretty good option. The elevators did get pretty crowded, but that’s to be expected. You basically form a line that snakes around one of the lower decks of the ship. I was surprised by how laid back US customs was – I’ve traveled out of the country many times before, and have gotten through quickly a few times, but these guys barely looked at the Declaration Form before letting me through. I guess I shouldn’t complain, but I’d much rather wait on a longer line if it meant catching someone dangerous. Anyway, by that point severe post cruise depression had begun to set in. As we were walking out, I could see people forming a line to begin their Miracle cruise. It almost made me mad that these people were just starting their vacation on MY ship ha ha! Getting back to reality is very tough after such an amazing week – all of us are already looking forward to future cruises. I would definitely sail with Carnival again, but I must admit that the Royal Caribbean’s Voyager class is very tempting – I’m a sucker for the bigger ships with tons of activities. Whatever line I sail with next, I hope it’s soon. Feel free to ask any questions you like.

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May 19, 2007

Eastern Caribbean

This was my third cruise, and my husband’s fourth. I can honestly say that every cruise has been better than the last. I really didn’t think anything could top our honeymoon cruise on the Carnival Conquest last year, but our trip on the Miracle did. All week I was marveling over things I could include in my review, so I’m going to get pretty in depth. I hope this will help others considering the Miracle as other cruisers’ reviews

have helped me. EMBARKATION Our cruise on the Miracle was an 8-day Eastern Caribbean, leaving out of New York City and stopping at San Juan, St. Thomas and Tortola. The Miracle, which previously left out of Florida, just recently began this itinerary. This was our second Carnival cruise, and we’d planned to try a new line every year, but wanted to save some money this time and got a great deal as returning Carnival cruisers. We chose NYC as the embarkation port because I hate flying and was sick of feeling stressed out both before and during the vacation due to the flights. So we drove to NYC from Michigan, which was about a 12-hour drive. It was boring but, in my opinion, well worth it. Despite the horror stories we’d heard about driving in NYC, we found it to be surprisingly easy. In fact, the area we passed through was less obnoxious than rush hour traffic in suburban Detroit. This may have been because we came in on a Saturday morning and only had to skirt around a small part of the city. Don’t rely solely on Mapquest, because it occasionally generates directions that defy all common sense and logic. Just follow the signs to the ship terminal — the ships are hard to miss! We arrived around 11 a.m., and after parking in the garage (which cost $180 for the eight days), we gave our luggage to a porter and sat in folding chairs for about an hour. We were able to board the ship around 12-12:30 p.m. Everything seemed very well organized and the wait once the line began moving was very minimal. Our rooms weren’t immediately ready, so we went to Lido to begin our eight-day food bender. ;) Overall, we were very impressed by how smoothly everything went. SHIP/DÉCOR/ETC. Our room was an oceanview obstructed on Main Forward (Level 4). If you can get a deal like this through your travel agent, do it. We paid the same price as an interior room, but we had French doors that could open to let in fresh air. A railing was directly in front of the doors and there were lifeboats in front of our window, but we knew that going in and it was nice to be able to get sunshine without having to pay for an oceanview. If you’ve never been on Carnival, I can pretty much guarantee you that your first impression will be that the ships are incredibly gaudy — and they are. But I’ve found that after the initial visual shock, I begin noticing all of the interesting details and within a few hours, I’m totally in love with it. The Miracle’s theme is “fictional characters,” so the rooms are named accordingly. There’s Sam’s, a Moroccan-themed piano bar inspired by Casablanca; Frankie & Johnnie’s, a nightclub with metal spires and spheres protruding from the ceiling; the Phantom Lounge, inspired by The Phantom of the Opera; and Dr. Frankenstein’s Lab, complete with a giant Frankenstein statue, to name a few. One of the gaudiest rooms, but one that I ended up liking the best, was the Mad Hatter’s Ball. It featured giant statues of the Mad Hatter and March Hare from Alice in Wonderland, and it had heart-adorned tables, bar stools and chairs. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the “grapes” in the Bacchus Dining Room. :) Almost every review I’ve read alluded to the lighted purple orbs throughout the room and how gaudy they were. But they didn’t bother me as much as they apparently did some people … and it wouldn’t be Carnival if it weren’t totally over the top. ;) Having been on the Conquest, which is larger, last year, I wondered if we would find the slightly smaller Miracle to be less interesting/exciting/etc. It definitely wasn’t; in fact, my husband and I decided we liked the Miracle better. Its layout makes much more sense, and by the first full day, we had figured out where everything was. The atrium was the only aspect that we thought was more spectacular on the Conquest. Overall, the Miracle seemed to have more amenities and rooms to hang out in. We were constantly coming across “new” things to awe us. One of the things we were happiest about was, unlike on the Conquest, the Adults Only pool was ALWAYS adults only. (We like kids, but not when they’re shrieking and doing cannonballs in the only area that’s supposed to be reserved for the adults. There are three other pools for the youngsters…save one for the more sedate crowd!) I read a few reviews that said the Miracle was the rockiest ship the reviewers had ever been on. Our cruise was perfect until Friday. On that day, we hit 15-foot swells. Everyone was turning green. I was violently ill despite my prescription motion sickness patch. But you’re on a ship, so what do you expect? The other seven days were far more calm and peaceful than the other two ships I’ve been on. The ship was absolutely spotless. Employees were constantly cleaning, wiping down walls, washing the floors, swabbing the ceilings. We were very impressed. EVENTS/SERVICES ONBOARD I have to say up front that my husband and I are not big “show” people. So we skipped most of the shows that involved singing and dancing. I’ve heard they’re very good, though, if you like that sort of thing. We walked out of a juggling show because the people kept dropping their objects — I felt like we were at a second-rate dress rehearsal. The Carnival Legends show, featuring passengers, was mildly entertaining. Peter Michael, an “R-rated” comedian, was pretty funny. All of the shows mirrored the ones on the Conquest; it would have been nice if there were some different ones so that the many people who had sailed Carnival before wouldn’t be seeing practically the same things. My husband and I adored the art auctions through Park West. For us, they truly were the highlights of the trip. There were four throughout the week and we ended up purchasing several items. We also attended multiple seminars about art during the cruise. Believe me, I’m the last person I would have ever thought would be interested in art, but we got hooked last year through the Park West events on the Conquest. This year’s Park West presenters, Ram and Tawra, were great. Ram was hilarious and the auctions were quite popular. Even if you’re not sure if you’re an art aficionado, check it out…there’s free champagne, and you might just discover a new hobby! There were a few very nice receptions with free drinks and appetizers, including one exclusively for past guests, and a huge buffet with impressive fruit carvings, etc. on one of the last nights. There also was Bingo and various wacky activities like the hairy chest and belly flop contests, but we didn’t take part in any of that. We enjoyed listening to Buster Freeze in the piano bar — he’s a British guy with a sharp sense of humor and a great voice — but we found that some louder (read: obnoxious) guests liked to commandeer the entire room so we didn’t spend much time there. We also enjoyed a group called Music Boardwalk, who played covers in Frankie & Johnnie’s each night. I splurged this time and got a massage at the spa. I was pretty pleased with it. I would advise signing up the first day and waiting for them to call you with deals. I got a $119 massage for $79. Of course, you can get it much cheaper at home. ;) Also, they do try to sell you products, but a firm “no thank you” should take care of it. I used the Miracle’s gym daily, and it was very well-stocked. I never had a problem finding a machine. FOOD Some people go in expecting four-star cuisine. I just go in expecting something far better than I’d eat at home. I thought the food was excellent, especially the desserts. If you have the chance, definitely try the warm chocolate melting cake, the apple strudel, the apple pie, the tiramisu, and the cappuccino pie. The Miracle only has one dining room, and I’ve heard some people disliked this because there tended to be a line up right before dinnertime. But everyone has assigned seating, so what’s the problem? Just get there two minutes late and go to your table. It all seemed to go smoothly to me. Horatio’s, the Lido restaurant, had various stations. I ended up eating pizza almost every day but there were tons of options, including a different kind of ethnic food daily. There’s also 24-hour soft serve ice cream. We ordered room service several times. They had many options, including sandwiches, veggies, salads, desserts, etc. The chocolate cake is awesome, as is the room service cheesecake, which far outshines the cheesecake you get at Horatio’s, probably because it’s kept chilled (the Horatio’s cheesecake seemed gel-like at times). My husband and I received shipboard credit from our travel agent to go to Nick & Nora’s, the onboard supper club, which is $30 per person. I had heard rave reviews, but we weren’t particularly impressed. I’m not really a steak or lobster kind of person, so that may explain my lack of interest. I much prefer the regular dining room. The dessert was amazing though; something involving chocolate and apples. (Can you tell I’m a sweet tooth? :) As a side note, I was impressed by the lengths Carnival went to accommodate people with special dietary needs. There are “Spa Carnival” selections with lower fat and calories available, and they even had plentiful skim milk, sugar-free pancake syrup, etc. I probably should have taken advantage of these options…but I didn’t. I paid for it when I got on the scale when I got home. ;) I did partake in the fat-free, sugar-free lattes available at the coffee shops for an extra fee, though. STAFF Brent Mitchell, the Canadian cruise director, was very energetic and upbeat. I think he was a little less visible than Todd, the director on the Conquest, but he did a good job. We seemed to see a lot of the captain, Antonio Marchetti, around the ship, which was cool. Our waiters, Carlos and Maryono, were very friendly. I loved Soni at the omelet station; he always put a smile on my face in the morning. I already mentioned that we adored Ram and Tawra, who ran the art auctions. Our cabin steward was polite, but not as friendly or effusive as those we’ve had in the past. PORTS San Juan was our first port, and our favorite. We’re not much for shore excursions or the chaotic mass tours, so we hired a guy named Victor from Taxi Turistico to take us around the area for $45. He was awesome. He gave us a comprehensive history of Puerto Rico and let us stop anywhere we wanted to snap photos. In our opinion, San Juan was beautiful, with multiple forts, gorgeous flowers and trees, colorful buildings, etc. We would love to go back. We had been to St. Thomas before, so it was no big deal for us. We walked around, shopped, then headed back to the ship to take advantage of the empty pools. :) Tortola was pretty, but dull. We hired a taxi driver to take us around, but I was convinced we were going to die because he took us up mountains and parked literally an inch from the edge. I had a similar experience during my first trip to St. Thomas, and have since vowed never to let a local take me up a mountain again. ;) There really isn’t a whole lot to see in Tortola. My husband and I enjoy taking photos, but how many pictures do you need of green trees and blue water? ;) DISEMBARKATION Disembarkation was perfect. We had a bad experience with self-assist (where you carry all of your own bags off the ship) on the Conquest last year; people were jammed into the lobbies and screaming at each other and accusing each other of cutting in line. So this time, we put out our larger bags the night before and waited for our luggage tag color to be called the next morning. We ate breakfast at Horatio’s, then waited in our stateroom until our steward politely told us he needed to start cleaning for the next cruisers. Then we headed down to Level 3 and waited about 30 minutes. The line to get off, once our color was called, was short and orderly. We found a porter quickly and were in our car and heading off in no time. We were highly impressed with how organized everything seemed to be. ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT… We would give the cruise an A+, but of course, there’s always something that can be done better, such as: (1) Nothing ever seemed to start on time. The ship left port three hours late, which probably was not Carnival’s fault, but it did seem to be a general trend for the entire vacation. The buffets opened late, the shows started late, etc., etc. Not a big deal, but a little annoying. (2) The retractable roof, which can cover one of the Lido pools in bad weather, was never used, even though it was rainy and cold when we left NYC. On the Conquest, the roof was closed every night. (3) The 24-hour pizzeria was extremely popular, but only one guy worked it the entire week. That meant there were a lot of lines and waiting that could have been resolved if they just assigned a second employee during peak times. SUMMARY Overall, we adored this cruise and would cruise Carnival again in a heartbeat. We plan to try Royal Caribbean next year, but we’ll definitely be back on another Carnival ship in the future. If I can leave you with any parting advice, it would be to CHECK OUT THE ART AUCTIONS! Seriously, you will be surprised. Please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected] with any questions; I’d be happy to answer them! Enjoy your cruise!

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Apr 1, 2007

Western Caribbean

This was the first cruise ever for our family. We, together with 2 other families, started to make plans for our trip of a lifetime last July. After much research, we all decided that a cruise would probably give us the most bang for our buck, and give all our children lasting memories. We weren’t disappointed on the Carnival Miracle. We paid for ocean view rooms and were pleasantly surprised when we were upgraded to balcony rooms at

no additional cost. We heard that this was because we made our reservations so early, and then they could sell the other lower-rate rooms quicker at a discount price. We also decided to pay the additional fees to have the cruise line book our hotel/air to and from Tampa. This ended up being a very wise choice. This was not only the economical way to go, but the cruise line took care of everything – and we did not have to worry about any of the fine details. We left from Spokane Airport on Saturday morning, and the cruise line had us stay at the Marriott in the Tampa airport that night. This was incredibly convenient, as the airport was like a mall, airport, hotel, all wrapped up in one so there was plenty to keep us all entertained for the evening. They had us meet the Carnival staff at 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning, and again – they took great care of us, and we did not have to think of a thing. We were transported to the port and were scheduled to board the ship by 1:00. Again we were pleasantly surprised that they actually had us boarding right away – at about noon. Lunch buffets were available to us upon our embarkation. We never waited in any line at the port. Our friends, who have traveled via cruises in the past, said they never had such an easy process boarding a ship. It was a full ship as this was spring break week. There was a nice variety of guests on the ship – families, older folks, and honeymooners. We were a bit curious prior to getting on the ship, as we had heard that cruising was the new popular vacation destination for college kids on spring break. We never had a problem with this. Upon getting on the ship I wasn’t overly impressed with the décor. It seemed a bit gaudy, but I later understood the “themes” of each area, and kind of got used to it by week’s end. Monday was a “fun day at sea”. We spent the day out on the decks around the pool. It was quite windy in the morning, but it didn’t stop us from soaking up the sun. A few of the adults enjoyed the spa and workout rooms. We were a bit disappointed that there was a hard sell of beauty products by the spa staff when we were trying to relax with our massages. Speaking of pampering, all the ladies in our group enjoyed having our staterooms made up twice each day. What a treat! The cabin stewards did a wonderful job of making up our rooms around our schedule. They always seemed to know when we’d be out and never needed to knock on our door. We never worried about our kids roaming the ship (they ranged in ages 14-17). They didn’t particularly want to hang in the Camp 02 that is provided for their age group for entertainment, but found ways to entertain themselves in the evening. We chose the late dinner seating at 8:15 p.m. in the dining room each evening. This worked out well for us as it allowed for a little nap after a day at each port. All 12 of us had a wonderful table together by a window. Our servers were great, but not as entertaining as some of our friends have said made their cruises in the past. But they were always so kind and we always left happy and never left hungry. There was a nice variety on the menu each night, and we enjoyed the pampering immensely. We didn’t particularly enjoy the big push on photographs. It was always fun to see all the nice pictures taken of us displayed that you could purchase, but not so fun that you didn’t have the opportunity to purchase smaller sized prints and had to pay for 8x10s. After dinner most evenings we’d enjoy one of the shows in the Phantom Lounge or one of the cruise adult activities. The activities and shows were all entertaining and fun. Our first port was Grand Cayman. We decided not to book an excursion and just hang out at 7-mile beach. It was a beautiful beach and everyone enjoyed snorkeling. After a couple hours on the beach, it got pretty crowded, so we thought we’d do a little shopping. It was a bit spendy so we instead ended up in Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville bar & grille, which was a lot of fun, but probably quite the education for our kids! The second port was Cozumel. Here, we booked an excursion to the Mayan Ruins at Tulume. While the ruins were very educational, we were disappointed that we had to first take a 40-minute ferry ride to the mainland to Playa del Carmen, and then another 45-minute bus ride to the Ruins. The tour first stopped at a gift shop, which we felt was a bit tacky and took away from our time at the actual Ruin site. Once finally at the Ruins, we enjoyed the tour and especially the little bit of time we had to take a dip in the beautiful sea. We had hoped to actually have a little time to see Cozumel, but there just wasn’t enough time! Our next stop on Thursday was Belize. We enjoyed this day immensely. We booked the cave tubing tour, which we would highly recommend. Again we had about a 45-minute bus ride, but we thoroughly enjoyed learning about Belize from our entertaining tour guide. We were told to book a tour in Belize as the town itself was not necessarily safe to hang out in, and we agree. Our last excursion was in Costa Maya. We enjoyed that we docked right at the port and had the opportunity to snorkel in the most majestic waters we’ve ever seen. We decided to do the dolphin encounter excursion. This excursion was just a half day, and we all decided that if we were to do a cruise again, we would book excursions this way so that we also had time to adventure out and see some of the towns as well. Saturday was another “fun day at sea”. The weather was a bit questionable and cloudy, but we all enjoyed sleeping in and relaxing. Since we were on the ship during Holy Week, we were happy that a special service for Easter was offered. This was a nice touch that would have been a void for our family if it had not been offered. We would definitely do a cruise again, but probably not book as many excursions – or at least not as many full-day excursions. Disembarkation on Sunday morning was as smooth as embarking. We were very impressed that the entire process was so painless. What a memorable trip. We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation on the Carnival Miracle, and hope to be “cruising” again.

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Mar 11, 2007

Western Caribbean

This was our first cruise. Never having been to the Caribbean or Mexico before, and never having been on a cruise before, I had a bit of anxiety planning it all and hoping that I was doing everything right. We decided we wanted to go on a cruise just 4 weeks in advance of my wife's vacation week, so not much time to plan. It all worked out great though and we had a wonderful time! I initially tried booking through Carnival's web site

but it kept giving errors on some of the pages. I instead called them up and was able to book that way... I told them what week we wanted and that we were thinking of a western Caribbean cruise, then we had a choice of 2 ships; the Miracle was newer, so I said to go with that one. I did NOT book a flight through Carnival because their system doesn't let you have any say in what airline or what time the flight will get there -- I like to be in control and can't stand randomness in my vacation plans, so I separately booked a flight with Jet Blue that got us there at 10:30am (kind of early, but I like to leave plenty of room for flight delay since missing the ship would be a disaster! We made good use of the time by eating and relaxing, plus we got on the ship early and could start getting acquainted with it right away). The only difficult part of booking the trip was deciding what shore excursions we wanted. Nearly every excursion said availability was "Limited" so that made me a bit panicked to decide as fast as possible, so I did so, although even just one week before sailing the excursions still had openings. I also said to go with their shuttle service from the airport to the ship, but for some reason it didn't get recorded in the computer and we didn't notice until we got to Tampa; no big deal, the Carnival lady at the airport pointed me to the taxis and we got there quickly. There's plenty of ways to get to the ship and no stressing or planning is needed... just show up looking lost and confused, and say you need to get to the ship. When the taxi got to the terminal, I found the terminal to be quite hectic and chaotic. People and vehicles everywhere, hurrying around. If you stand in one place for more than 5 seconds (which is necessary to do to get your bearings and figure out what to do next), someone comes over and tells you that you can't stand there and to keep moving. I saw a Carnival lady, and she pointed me to the baggage people that MUST take any larger luggage (you aren't let into the terminal with large luggage)... I went over there and some guy came to put my luggage on a cart, but I was uncertain about whether he worked for Carnival or not, so I asked him, and he said he's collecting the luggage for an unrelated bus trip! I almost lost my luggage there... then I found another guy that actually did work for Carnival; he took the luggage then the Carnival lady let us into the terminal. There was a long line but we were on the ship within about half an hour at 1:45pm, well in advance of the sailing time which helped give us time to get acquainted with the ship and settled in. We first went to our room, but I was a bit surprised and wondered if we had the right room; I had paid for an interior room but we had a balcony! Free upgrade without asking! Woo hoo! (We later found several other guests that also got free upgrades.) The room was very nice, at least as good as any hotel I've stayed in. It was spacious and plenty of closet space to stash our stuff. The bathroom was great and the shower controls worked better than any I've ever seen in a hotel room before (it actually has a temperature setting on the knob). There is only one plug outlet, so if you're going to be charging several PDAs and cell phones, bring a little extension cord with you. The bed was by far the most comfortable I have ever had in a hotel room; I have difficulty with most beds causing me pain, but this one was perfect! As good as the one at home. We met Ling, our cabin steward right away. He was very nice and helpful. Whenever we left our cabin even for just 5 minutes, when we returned we'd find the room already cleaned. I don't know how they do it! My wife isn't much of a pool person but I am, so I spent several hours the first day in the 3 pools. It wasn't too crowded. The chairs around the pools did get taken up quite frequently though (but always plenty of space on the sundeck areas). The Jacuzzis were quite popular but I still managed to get to use them several times during the trip (mainly by floating around in the nearby pool until I see people leave it). People are always walking up to you offering various alcoholic drinks... I usually said yes and they were quite good. I'm not much of a drinker so having several drinks a day every day for a week was new to me. The ship was just beautiful. Some of the decor was a bit puzzling but it didn't bother me. The grape theme in the Baccus dining room was rather unique but I liked it in a strange kind of way. (I never did figure out who that lady was that staring at me with a stack of books, from every elevator in the ship.) I loved the food; they had a wide variety of food, all of it good, and I could eat as much as I wanted. I gained about 6 pounds. I ate from Horatio's each morning for breakfast... that was buffet style, quite a few choices and we stuffed ourselves. We had dinner every night in the Baccus dining area, also very good. They give you assigned seat numbers for the duration of the cruise, and we were assigned at a 4 person table with a nice mother/daughter combo from Canada on their first cruise too. We enjoyed our conversations with them every night. (The tables to the left and right of us were empty because those guests for some reason stayed in their cabins for the ENTIRE CRUISE and ordered room service all day long... what a sad waste.) All the people who served us were just wonderful. The employees of the ship are from all over the world, places like Bosnia, Thailand, Philippines (lots from there), etc. Be sure to take the opportunity to chat with them. They even remembered specifics about our preferences. Two of the dining nights are formal (end of first full day at sea and end of 4th shore excursion day), so be sure to dress appropriately. I wore a suit and my wife wore a cocktail dress. I was a bit unprepared for the non-formal dining nights though; they only specifically exclude shorts and T-shirts from the dining room but most people at least dressed semi-casually... I had only brought sneakers other than my dress shoes, so I had nothing in between that was appropriate. No one pointed me out though. We saw the main show every evening; those were well done. I loved the comedians as well as this amazing guy that does a balancing act (on a moving ship too), and a juggler. There was also the "R-rated comedy hypnotist" that was hilarious -- I've never seen guys on stage get it on with chairs before. The final show included guests that were picked during karaoke and several of them were amazingly good performers for non-professionals. Get to the shows 10 minutes early as the better seats fill up quickly. Now, shore excursions: Grand Cayman: We picked the stingray city and tour. This was great! They take you something like 10 miles or so out into the middle of the ocean to the sandbar where its waist deep... what beautiful water. And lots of stingrays merrily swimming around. The tour operators will grab a stingray for you and you can get a picture of yourself with it including kissing it if you like. The trip included snorkels but I couldn't get the mask to seal on my face and I returned the snorkel -- no big deal though since I was quite content just standing and floating around with the stingrays, and the waves were rather large, enough to go over the top of the snorkel and go down in. We also saw the turtle farm and it was more interesting than you might think. I got to pick up a large turtle and get some pictures of me with it. We walked around the port area too, but the shops were closed before the tour, and after the tour was over there was only 30 minutes left to get back on the ship. Cozumel: This was the only port where we had a problem getting to shore. The delay was about 2 hours, the majority of which was standing in line in the stairwells waiting to get on the tender, so that rather stunk. It was apparently due to large swells, but they still should have handled this better. This island was still showing the effects of a hurricane a few years ago. They are currently rebuilding and many other buildings lay in rubble. Half the trees on the island are dead (yet still standing -- I don't quite understand that). The shopping area at the port was nice, and it was all very new looking (just rebuilt). I bought a very nice onyx chess set with Aztec designs on it for a mere $22 (which I later had fun carrying home since it weighs 30lbs). The island left me with the impression that it was nearly empty before the ships started arriving, and even now it is still quite empty and most of what's there is oriented towards the ships. Lots of beach resorts along the shore. I kept our shore excursion for the day simple -- Playa Mia Beach. This was a beautiful popular (crowded) beach with plenty of things to do. I had never been on a jet ski before so I rented one for 1/2 an our for $60 -- that was fun! The clear green water below the jet ski looked amazing. The food was rather costly there, $15 per buffet ticket. I had a good time here; best thing to do here is probably the beach. Belize: We loved Belize! I can't understand why some reviewers decided to stay on ship or thought it was an awful place. Its sad that anyone would miss out on seeing Belize. We took the Airboat adventure and city tour combo. We enjoyed the city tour, seeing both rich and poor houses and everything in between. We went by several schools, where the children all wear uniforms, and when they see the tour bus they all run up to the fence yelling and waving happily at us -- so cute! The people who did the tour were both humorous and informative. The airboat was great! It zoomed through the mangroves where we saw lots of birds that they identified for us, plus a few crocodiles. After returning, we had plenty of time to walk around the port area... its very safe, thousands of tourists and lots of security, very beautiful, clean and new looking. Around the edge of the shopping area are some flea market booths that we also went to... I bought a beautiful hand-carved dolphin for $20 from a local who was carving new ones right there while he waited for customers. This tender was far away but the boat was also very fast (50mph maybe?) so it was no big deal and also was fun. Costa Maya: What a beautiful place! This was our favorite port with Belize being second. And, the only port where we could dock. Cruise ships started arriving here just 6 years ago and there's a huge amount of building in progress; I hope they keep its beauty and character without turning it into another Cancun; our tour guide did explain that the gov't is trying to control the building up of the area to keep it nice. We did the excursion that has both a beach break and a tour of Costa Maya. The tour was very interesting, and the guides were amusing and very nice. Most of the tour felt like the middle of nowhere, long straight roads through tropical woods with an occasional house. The tour took us to a remote beach that was truly remote... our open-air truck was the first to arrive, and 1/2 an hour later the dune buggy tour arrived, so in total just a few dozen people on a beach with no one else around. By far the most beautiful beach we've seen on the trip. Note that you have to travel to get to a beach at Costa Maya because the port is not swim able. The port area was nice too, quite large with lots and lots of shops and bars. In the middle of it is the largest swimming pool I've ever seen, and in that pool is a pool bar! With the bar stools beneath the water! Very cool! I swam across to the bar, paid $10 for a tequila sunrise that was a couple feet tall, then swam back across again and enjoyed it. This pool area was very popular, lots of attractive young people hanging around drinking. The water around Costa Maya was an amazing clear green color, even along the dock, and fish could easily be seen swimming below. In summary, you'll want to go on this cruise! Great ship, wonderful people who work on it, and lots of fun and sights to be had at the various ports. We're already thinking of what our next Carnival cruise will be, not that I wouldn't mind doing a repeat of this one as I can always choose different excursions (like the cave tubing that everyone raves about in Belize).

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By Matt_CR

  • New

Feb 24, 2007

Western Caribbean

This was our 5th cruise and all have been with Carnival. We try to go on a cruise every 2-3 years. My wife and I went alone this cruise. We have gone with another couple, with a group of 6 couples and gone alone. We prefer going by ourselves. We flew down from Wisconsin the day before sailing. It was a good thing too as there was a foot of snow that night and next day. We stayed at a hotel about 10 miles from the port and took a cab ride

to the ship. We got to the ship around 12:15 and were on the boat by 1:00. This was the easiest time we have ever had getting on a ship. The ship was a little over the top as far as decor goes but we didn't mind. It was very clean and it looked in tip-top shape. Of all the ships that we have cruised on, this one was the nicest. The only thing we didn't care for was that the pool areas were too small. There is plenty of space to lay out in the sun because of the decks above the pools but when they had a gathering around the pool, there wasn't enough room. One of the days at sea, they had to close down the upper decks due to high winds and then they ran short of lounge chairs. The first day was a day at sea. We did a little of everything that day as we laid in the sun some. We played some of their games - either in the pool area or the lounges or in the showroom. We pretty much wanted to see the ship and see what the crowd was like. Our fellow travelers were from every walk of life. We saw every age from infant to people in their 90's. There were 2230 passengers on board of which 350 were considered children. My wife and I don't care much for kids on our vacations and we hardly saw any of the 350 that whole week. We assume that that speaks volumes about the kid's programs on the ship. Anyway, we enjoyed our first day just relaxing and getting to know the ship. The second day was in Grand Cayman. We went on a jeep tour bought through the ship. It cost about $100 per person. It lasted about 3 1/2 hours. It was our best tour of the week. The second day was in Cozumel. We were there 3 years ago on our last cruise and it was easy to see all of the devastation since their hurricane. They are trying to rebuild but it's going to take a lot of time. We took a beach break that day on a tour called "Play Mia Beach break". The tour was over-priced. If you are big drinkers then you may feel differently as the tour included free drinks but if you drink normally, then it was expensive. For $59 you got a lounge chair on the beach, free use of a pool, free drinks, and use of a kayak if you chose. The tour did not include food which wasn't cheap. ($7 burger) The tour also didn't include $28 round trip cab fare (plus tip). The next day was in Belize. If you are going to go out past the cruise terminal areas in Belize, I would recommend getting a tour through the ship. Belize doesn't look safe. The houses and businesses all have their windows barred and many have fences as well. I didn't hear of any trouble but you never know. We took a tour that was supposed to be a "rain forest nature walk." There was no rain forest. It was a forest near a river. It was pretty interesting but we were looking forward to a rain forest as we were in one a couple of cruises ago and thought it was great. The tour also included a tour of the city, lunch, and about an hour around a very nice pool area near the forest. The tour wasn't bad but it wasn't what we signed up for and for nearly $100 per person we wouldn't do it again. The people in all the ports that we talked to were nice. We didn't have any problems. The next stop was supposed to be Costa Maya. When we got there, the seas were too rough to be able to dock so we had an extra day at sea. A dealer in the casino said this was the 3rd time in the last 2 months that that had happened. The cruise ship gave everyone $25 to make up for it. We didn't really mind as we enjoy our time on the boat. I spent some time in the casino or playing some of the organized games and I took a nap. My wife spent a lot of time reading in one of the scarce lounge chairs. The last day was at sea also. It was hot with no breeze as the boat was going with the wind. We laid out in the sun for a couple hours and then headed for the A/C. There is always something going on if you want to participate. The food was better than I had expected. The choices in the buffet lines were abundant. I did have some items that weren't hot enough but it's a buffet. We ate dinner every night except one in the dining room. We had a booth by ourselves. We asked the Maitre d' for this as soon as we got on the ship. He did it with no questions asked. Our service was outstanding and we have no complaints about the food. We ate at the extra cost supper club, "Nick and Nora's" on one night. We really enjoyed the atmosphere and the service was top notch. My steak was perfectly cooked as was my wife's veal. My wife wishes there were a few more choices for entrees as she thought they would have a couple choices with shrimp being it is supposed to be a "steak and seafood joint." All in all, it was our best cruise. The ship was the nicest with a very friendly staff. It was by far the easiest to get on and off for embarkation and debarkation. We didn't like tendering at the ports we did get to see as we would prefer docks. Our only other complaint would be the prices of some of the tours were questionable. We think that the Miracle is doing a fabulous job.

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By JK_CR

  • New

Jan 31, 2007

Western Caribbean

This is my 2nd time cruising with Carnival. The first time was in 11/05 on the Imagination out of Miami. I must say that Tampa is a much better place to cruise in and out of all around. Weather for the 7 days was absolutely beautiful the whole week save the last day before sailing home (Costa Maya) when it got rainy and overcast and windy but was still very warm. Our feeling on both cruises is that we are on vacation and out to have fun

and relax therefore we didn’t want to pack a suit and related dress clothing for formal nights so I can’t tell you about the Bacchus dining room food or Captain’s dinner. If you’ve read other reviews you’ll note that the décor is a little over the top with grapes and purple lights and I certainly wouldn’t decorate my house like that but it’s a cruise ship that someone thought would look good so it is what it is. We didn’t take in any of the nightly shows save for the last night “Carnival Legends” show which is passengers impersonating singers and performing as them, it’s not a bad show in all honesty. We didn’t use the casino either as I try to avoid smoking areas. There are a lot of things to do on board during the day, just read the Carnival capers that gets deposited in your room each day. I did take part in some activities like Bingo and TV theme song trivia and the past cruisers gathering which was nice. The cruise director “Tory” was friendly and outgoing always on the p.a. telling you what’s up. One thing that was coincidental was the Captain of the ship on the 1st 3 days was the Captain who was on the Imagination when I last cruised. Ironically, he departed the Imagination at the end of the cruise to move to another ship and this time around too was his last time before moving to another ship. You can use your laptop & cell phone the entire time you are on the ship and people did but you might get hit with international roaming charges unless your plan allows etc. I wanted to be unavailable for a week so I turned my cell phone off once I left the confines of Tampa. If you’ve cruised before you know what to expect, if not then you’ll be nickel and dimed all week long. I knew this, I was on vacation, and I didn’t care. We booked this cruise back in April of 2006 from Carnival direct via personal vacation planner Cindy Poland (x82508) My first cruise was via a travel agent and that won’t be done that way again. She was very helpful and accommodating. I talked to her many times throughout the months leading up to my cruise. (Note: if you are a veteran of the military and possess a DD214 [Honorable] fax it to Carnival and that will save you some $$$, I wish I had known that on my first cruise but being my first cruise, inexperience and using a travel agent I missed out on that one) I bought airline tickets for the day before we cruised in late summer from Jet Blue (great airline BTW) as living in the Northeast we didn’t want to run the risk of a snowstorm interfering with the cruise even though we had travel insurance. I had originally booked roughly the same dates and itinerary for the Valor out of Miami but changed the booking probably a day or 2 later after reading some reviews on this site of Tampa and the Miracle. I had never been to Tampa and like to check out different places. The Miracle and Tampa had lots of positive reviews and of course, a few average reviews. My sense is that some people are as hard to please on land as they are on the ocean. The Miracle is bigger and newer than the Imagination. Embarkation/Sailing day: We awoke and ate our complimentary continental breakfast and checked out. We had signed up the day before on the list at the front counter for the complimentary shuttle to the seaport. We, along with 4 others staying in the hotel left the hotel at 11 and were at the seaport terminal 10 minutes later (no kidding) It was nice seeing the ship docked alongside as we got closer. It seemed like the 9 months since I had booked my cruise melted away overnight and my vacation was finally here. Tampa has its act together as far as embarkation/debarkation provided you come prepared. I read reviews of “nightmares” and having to wait 40 minutes to get on the ship but give me a break, you’re can’t expect to show up curbside and expect to walk onto the ship in this post 9/11 era. The terminal was busy as others were arriving but unlike in Miami it didn’t feel busy. We removed our bags and handed them to porters who greeted the shuttle. In Miami they bum-rushed us and were aggressive in grabbing our bags and wanting “tips” but this wasn’t the case here). The porter I dealt with was friendly and cordial. Once we surrendered our bags we were directed into the terminal and up the escalator where we had to go through the metal detector and on to the front counter. (Note: next to the escalators in the terminal will be a guy asking you to buy tickets/sign up now to get transportation before you cruise for a trip to the airport when you come back for $9. If this is something you want to do feel free but you will have to wait until enough people who signed up for the coach bus to exit the ship upon your return and until that happens you’ll wait to go to the airport) I told the guy I’ll get a cab and he said “good luck with 2500 people trying to get one when you get back”. Since we had cruised before we knew to do self-checkout from the ship (which means you carry your bags off the ship by yourself and you are in the first groups to leave the ship) Believe me there are plenty of cabs waiting for you when you leave. This was the same case in Miami. They charge a flat rate, I felt spending $25 (fare + tip) was well worth a fast 15 minute cab ride vs. a 30 minute bus ride (and who knows how much waiting) from seaport to airport. By now it was about 11:30 a.m. and we walked right up to the counter where the friendly counter people greeted us. We had already had our “fun pass” completed months prior to sailing. The counter people checked our I.D’s and got some paperwork from the blue Carnival folder that gets mailed to you beforehand. We were given a number written down that we were told when it is called that is the group that will board. We were then told to have a seat in the waiting area until that number is called. The waiting area was crowded but we got 2 seats and waited. Once our number was called we proceeded through the security area where your picture is taken for the sail and sign card, a departing souvenir photo and onto the gangway we went. At the end was friendly ship staff welcoming us aboard. They told us to head up to the Lido deck (deck 9) and have lunch. We were told we couldn’t access the rooms until 1:30 as they were still cleaning them. The time was now approximately 12 noon. We ate lunch and walked around taking pictures, calling friends and family and some minor exploring. At 1:30 we proceeded to our room. I had a cabin on the Panorama deck (deck 8) with an extended balcony. I enjoyed having a balcony on my previous cruise and wouldn’t ever take another cruise without a balcony. I don’t mind spending the extra $$. Having a balcony to enjoy a cup of coffee in the a.m. while watching the sunrise is the best in my opinion. When I booked the cruise all the cabins forward of the one I chose were booked up. I wanted to be as far forward as possible and on the starboard side (personal preference) I was a little leery about the one I had chosen due to the layout of the ship. Cabins forward of mine (8131) provided a 180 degree view from the balcony whereas mine was a 90 degree view. This is just personal preference of mine though. The Miracle being bigger and newer and of the “Spirit class” of Carnival ships afforded a lot more balcony staterooms than my previous cruise on the Imagination. The room was nice and clean. I think it was slightly smaller than my first cruise and I attribute that to the extended balcony, it may be the same size but I don’t think so. The room did have a mini-bar but we didn’t utilize it and remained locked the entire time. We met our room stewards as well (Florin/Romania and Nadia/Ukraine) we introduced ourselves and they never forgot our names, they were very friendly people. Let me also say that at no time on my 7-day cruise did I encounter any member who was negative or unfriendly in any way. Anytime I spoke to a crewmember anywhere on the ship (and I spoke to many) they were friendly, cordial and eager to assist. They were always busy working, cleaning, repairing etc. I took the time to speak to many of crewmembers, as I was curious about their backgrounds and countries. Considering that these people (come to find out) work on contract for upwards of 6 months at a time, 7 days a week with no days off setting sail with a whole new group of people each week says a lot. We relaxed in the room until the mandatory lifeboat drill that occurred about 3:45 p.m. During the drill, lines were cast off. After the drill we went back to the cabin to get rid of the lifejacket and head on up to the forward observation deck to watch Tampa slowly disappear on our way to open sea. There were dolphins accompanying the ship while in the bay catching much attention, I managed to get a few pictures of them as they rode the bow wave. Later on we ate in the Lido deck restaurant (Horatio’s) and during dinner an announcement was made that we would be passing under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge and to go out on deck as we went under it, which we did. That was kind of neat. We relaxed on the first night and didn’t do much and turned in early, as we were beat. Day 2 – “Fun day at sea” We awoke and ate in Horatio’s on the Lido deck. All meals we ate were in this restaurant. We did find the Bacchus dining room and looked in at the menu but it wasn’t something we were interested in. At certain times Horatio’s was crowded but not overly congested, as there are 2 sides to the restaurant plus the pool areas fore and aft. There are 6 serving stations you can eat at with pizza, salads, Asian, rotisserie, seafood and sandwiches. I enjoyed all meals and my waistline proves it. The desserts were awesome too. As I had said we didn’t want to take part in any formal night seating nor did we possess clothing to do so. There is also another restaurant on board in addition to the dining room and Horatio’s called Nick and Nora’s. The per-person charge to eat there is $30. We chose not to eat there, as Horatio’s was perfectly fine for our lifestyle. I didn’t ever see the place filled to capacity with diners as there are windows at deck level to see in, it looked like a nice place though with an acrylic semi-spiral staircase 9 stories above the atrium and the red glass ceiling. We took the opportunity to explore the ship and see what it had to offer. Frankenstein’s lounge was a neat place as were the other places we discovered. Even up to the last day there were still some nooks and crannies we were still discovering. It’s kind of amazing that for as large as the ship was people seemed to disappear after the pool closed, it was like I was on board with 100 people. In fact I met people on the first day and never saw them again the entire 7-day cruise. The ship will keep you busy with things to do & places to go on-board. You can choose to do as little or as much as you want. During the evening I would walk around the perimeter of the ship on deck 10 and look at the dark sky and stars while enjoying an ice cream from the deck 9 ice cream station. I probably should’ve jogged that perimeter, as it’s quite a good long run. Day 3 – Grand Cayman This is a tender port. We awoke and had breakfast and waited until 9 to grab the tender to head to shore. Our excursion was at 10. We proceeded right down to Deck A and onto the tender, no wait, nor crowd. Having been here before on the last cruise we knew what it was like. We had booked the excursion via the TV set in your room (a feature not available on my first cruise and so much easier than standing in line at the excursion desk) to do the stingray and sandbar tour. This was a great time. You leave the ship on your own and wait at the dock where the tender docks. There are signs tacked up for the various excursions for you to go stand by until your excursion begins. 5 other cruise ships all pull in around the same time and this was a busy, crowded place. There is someone to take a picture of you when you disembark as there is at all ports of call. It’s a short (10 minute) bus ride to the channel where you board the boat for a 30-minute ride out to the sandbar. Once there you hop in the water where stingrays are swimming all around you completely unafraid of humans. We were given food to feed them as well as snorkel equipment to use. You can hold them too and have someone take a picture of you. After the excursion we went back, walked a little bit around and then re-boarded the tender to return to the ship. Grand Cayman is by far my favorite of ports that we’ve visited. Day 4 – Cozumel We arrived in the early a.m. The ship pulls up alongside and you can get on/off at your leisure. In speaking with some crewmembers they said that the hurricanes of 2005 did a lot of damage to the docks. There was a lot of construction going on at this port and they were rebuilding the destroyed and sunken piers. We didn’t book an excursion at this port but we took a cab ride to town and bought t-shirts/souvenirs etc. Locals always want you to come in to their stores and buy something. They’re friendly enough but you just say no thanks to going in the store and they’ll leave you alone. I’m guessing that when ships aren’t in port that it’s a ghost town there. We then went back to the ship after a few hours and had lunch. When it’s a port day the ship is practically devoid of people so we walked around and explored a bit. A few hours later I met up with some crew members I had befriended and we went snorkeling not 100 yards away from the ship at the El Cid hotel until it was time to return. This was a good time. Day 5 – Belize Again, here we didn’t book an excursion. This is a tender port but unlike in Grand Cayman where you tender close to shore here you tender about 3-4 miles out to sea. Once ashore there are several hundred locals all vying for your $$$. The stores at each port all appear to be the same (diamonds and tanzanite), we purchased some souvenirs and decided to try and walk to a maritime museum. We walked out on the street and were immediately struck at how run down the area is around the port. We were constantly barraged by offers to take a tour or cab ride. We managed to walk about ¼ mile before we decided to turn around and head back. It’s a dirty, run down area just outside of the docks. On the walk back I saw this decrepit, sickly looking stray dog that took a drink from the litter filled gutter. I hated seeing that. We re-boarded the tender and got back on the ship. If I take another cruise that stops at Belize, I’m doing en excursion or I’m not getting off the ship. In speaking with other people on the ship that did do an excursion they said it’s nice when you get away from the downtown/dock area. Day 6 – Costa Maya We arrived and the ship pulled up alongside which is nice when you can come and go as you please. The dock is further out than Cozumel presumably to handle more ships and is nice walk to the shops/staging area for tours. You are in the middle of nowhere, you see nothing from the ship except trees and coastline. There were no signs of any sort of civilization from the ship. It looks like there’s the docks, the shops right by the docks and nothing else. On the bus ride to our beach there was nothing but a few shanties here and there. For this port we booked the “Uvero Jungle Beach” tour. You take a 30-minute bus ride to a private beach where you can swim or lay out. Unfortunately at this port the weather wasn’t that well. It was cloudy, overcast and rainy off and on. We laid out on the beach loungers for about 10 minutes before it started to rain. We then decided to say to heck with it and eat something. Buses run on the hour so we decided we’d head back to the ship as it was just raining and getting windy. One plus on this tour is it’s an open bar so drink up!! We got henna tattoos while we were waiting for the time to depart. It just continued to rain so we got back on the ship figuring we’d have lunch but it seems everyone else had the same idea. It was crowded but I think weather had a lot to do with this. They had rolled the glass roof over the aft pool, which is a nice feature the ship offers. I decided to go to the spa and did the “spa sampler”. This was a nice 1-hour spa experience. Day 7 “Fun day at sea” We hung out by the pool, bought items in the gift shop and just sort of readied for our arrival the next a.m. in Tampa. I couldn’t believe how fast the week went, my vacation was over. Debarkation We arrived early a.m. so we ate a good breakfast (which was ready and being served before they “officially” opened at 7 a.m. and readied for the announcement for self-debarkation to occur. This is by far the best thing to do. They however never announced the calls to self debark but kept calling names over the p.a. for passengers to go to the purser desk for whatever reason. At about 7:45 a.m. I went down to the gangway area and a line had formed ready to leave. I went back to the room, said our goodbyes to our room stewards, gave them a generous tip, grabbed our bags and made our way down. We breezed through the gangway, down the escalator through customs and out to the line of cabs waiting. We left and with it being a Sunday there was no traffic. Honestly, from cabin to Jet Blue terminal was 20 minutes! My 7 day vacation I had eagerly waited months for was over. I really hated to leave I had a great time. I have already booked another cruise for early 2008.

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Jan 7, 2007

Western Caribbean

This is our 3rd Caribbean cruise and our first Carnival. Prior to this, we did an Eastern Caribbean on the Celebrity line and a Southwest Caribbean on the Princess Line. We sailed from Tampa. This was the first time at this port and we were pleasantly surprised at the ease and speed of processing to get on the ship. On past cruises we had sailed from either Fort Lauderdale or Miami and we stood in line and waited forever to board. I

must add that we elected to do our own transport to the ship by taxi to avoid the waiting times that are caused by the airport/bus mass transit system. The Carnival Miracle did a 7 day Western Caribbean itinerary with stops at Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize and Costa Maya. Day one at sea was pleasant. We had specifically selected this date to avoid the large numbers of families with children. We are seniors and do appreciate a quieter and more adult atmosphere. I did see a number of children but we were never overly aware of their presence. It seems Carnival has plenty of actives and spaces for them to play and they never became a problem. Monday was the first, and best, formal night. It came with free cocktails and hors d'oeurves. We met the captain and had a really good dinner. We always opt for late dinner seating. This arrangement allows us to take long shore excursions, and have time to take a nap and relax on our balcony for a few hours prior to dinner and evening activities. We are also non smokers and carefully avoid smokey areas. I am asthmatic and it can become a problem if I am not careful. We did avoid the casino because of the smoke as well as any cigar bar areas. They do allow smoking on the rear pool deck area but we discovered the smoke tended to blow in the windward direction and just avoided that side. Another reviewer mentioned that one can take inside stateroom hallways to avoid smoking areas and we did too and it worked out fine. Grand Cayman Port: This is a tender port and has always been a difficult one because the seas are rough and can delay departure from the ship. We knew this from prior visits. However the day we arrived there was no problem exiting. The seas were calm. The Stingray City/snorkeling tour is the most popular and is great fun I would recommend it. We have done it on past trips so did not do it this time. Instead, we elected to do a SeaSpi early morning trip which left at 8:30 and lasted till 10 AM. We didn't want to be laying out on the ocean in mid-day sun and risk sunburn. Unfortunately, the tour operator cancelled the 8AM outing and only offered the midday session. We didn't find out about this until we were ashore. The ship cheerfully refunded our money and offered us other options like bus tours so we didn't waste the morning. We opted for the Island bus tour. It was inexpensive but we found it boring. We did use the afternoon to shop. Cozumel Port: This port allows the ship to dock and we had a great time. We elected to do the Segway/Snorkeling adventure. You are bused a couple miles from the port to their business. They teach you how to ride the Segway and they take you on a bike path to local beach a few miles away and take you snorkeling. It was great fun! The 2 young men who run it as well as their helper are pleasant, funny and take great care to ensure you have a good time. We had about a dozen people on our tour and we had so much fun that whenever we spotted each other on the ship for the rest of the cruise we stopped and relived the great segway adventure ha ha. Belize Port: This was the first time we had been there. It is a tender port and it's a long tender due to very shallow water around Belize City. We were told that due to the money brought in by Carnival they do intend to dredge and build a mooring dock. We found Belize to be charming. The people are very glad to have you there. They are very proud of their country and history and culture. The port is not all commercialized and high priced yet. We took the City Sights and Sounds Cultural tour. Like the grand Hawaiian Cultural Center on Oahu, they have built their own Belize Cultural Center with museum and cultural dance show. It was very interesting and we thought they did a wonderful job with the show. If you appreciate self reliant people who are struggling to better their economy and situation, you will have a good time on this tour. Our guide took us through the city areas not yet developed so we could see how poor things had been before tourism. Our guide exemplified the pride of the people. We had a hard time tipping him, he wasn't expecting it. What a pleasure! Next visit, we will probably do the Cave Tubing or Jungle adventure. People who did these reported great fun. It does rain here frequently so if you are already doing water sports it shouldn't matter. Costa Maya: This port has a dock. We have been there before and have take trips to Mayan Ruins. It has great snorkeling beaches. We had scheduled a trip to one of the partially excavated sites but the weather didn't comply. There were high winds which lasted for the next 2 days actually. The sea swells and winds were so high the ship couldn't even dock. We were disappointed but what can you do. So we spent the next 2 days at sea heading back to Tampa at a leisurely pace along with another cruise ship who also couldn't dock. It was ok. The ship did try to schedule extra activities and we did get to read a couple books. The trip back around the north side of Cuba is always kind of rough. This trip was quite a rock and roller. Our dining room waiter's assistant was missing for a couple nights from sea sickness. I suppose there were some passengers who felt queasy but we were both fine. I must say that the Miracle rode much smoother than some other ships have been on in rough seas. We didn't attend all the nightly shows but did see 3 of them including the last night which is a hoot. They include cruise passengers who have competed during the week to get in the show. There was band playing in the lounges and also in some of the shows that was superb. 4 young men from the Philippines (sp?) who could play anything perfectly. Debarking was the best, most efficient that we have ever done. They allow you to choose "Self Assist" debarkation instead of having to pack your bags the night before and then have to wait to get off and then have to try and find your bag from the 5000 bags ashore later, they allow you to just take your own bag off the boat by yourself. Heck, we loved the option. We didn't have to pack up till the morning of departure, and we left the boat and were ashore by 9AM. We had the whole day in Tampa to play. I should mention, we learned not to try and fly out of any airport the same day all the cruise ships dock. Instead we always book a local hotel, spend Sunday in leisure and fly home on a Monday. No wait lines at the airport. I hope this will be helpful to someone.

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By Jill_CR

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Dec 17, 2006

Western Caribbean

This Exotic Western Caribbean Carnival Cruise was my second cruise, but the first for my mother and her friend. Our ports of call included Grand Cayman, Belize, Costa Maya and Cozumel. I had the pleasure of having cruised on the Carnival Victory (Western Caribbean, February, 2006). Since I live in southwest Florida, my mother and her friend had requested to leave out of the Port of Tampa because they were flying in from New York and

didn’t want to travel across the state while down on vacation . Despite a repeat for two of the ports of call (Grand Cayman & Costa Maya), for this cruise in comparison to my last, I had no reservations about doing so and happily booked the cruise. Port of Tampa: Fortunately, we had decided to take limo service to the port as we could never have fit all of our luggage into the trunk of my car. I immediately noticed that this made for a much smoother process when it came to unloading our gear at the terminal and was well worth the cost! The port itself is clean and surrounded by an array of restaurants and various points of interest for all ages. This came to be a nice way to wave goodbye from out balconies when departing; the pier restaurants were thriving with people cheering bon voyage! I did notice a tremendous amount of children eagerly standing in line (from the very young, to teenaged), however, this was to be expected as we were cruising during a holiday. I did share my observations over the much more efficient embarkation process with the Carnival Check-in crew and they replied that Miami is considered to be their model for revision as to make the process run in a better manner. Yes, the lines were long, but well organized and flowed without trouble. After check-in we were escorted through the usual gamut of photo opportunities prior to actually boarding the Miracle, but again, I will state that it was a much more speedy and less chaotic experience than in Miami. Décor: As usual, I had done quite a bit of research into the Miracle prior to the cruise, so there were no surprises in this category, with the exception of what I would state as a “over-decoration” of the main lobby/atrium for Christmas holiday. I do believe that had they left the decorations more on the simple-side, it would not have looked as cheesy. Regardless, the ship itself is quite beautiful and a bit more subdued than the Victory. The mural in the atrium is amazing and as an artist, found myself marveling once more at the ship’s design by Joe Farcas, as well as the other artisans who assisted with the Miracle’s ambiance. Perhaps the only public room that made me scratch my head, was the main dining room as I cannot figure out what Farcas was trying to achieve with it’s design and found it too busy in color and scheme for a formal dining area. The public rooms and cabins are just as Carnival advertises on their website. In quick summation, I would state that I preferred the Victory’s overall design, but liked the Miracle‘s blue color scheme of the bathroom, in comparison to the coral of the Victory‘s. Another notable surprise was that just prior to the cruise, Carnival had asked if we were interested in an upgrade from regular balcony cabins, to extended balcony cabins, which was a nice treat! The balcony feature was one of my mother’s favorite attributes to the ship. Our Cabin Steward was quite decent, but not as meticulous or attentive as on the Victory. Nonetheless, he provided good service, round-the-clock. Food: Main Dining Room - We had early seating for dinner, as compared to late seating on my last cruise. This was at the request of my mother and her friend. I did notice a difference in service between the two seating choices and prefer the later time. I felt as though we were a bit rushed through the early seating experience, although there is ample time to enjoy the delicious dinners and desserts. The wait staff was always courteous and professional, but not nearly as energetic as the dining crew onboard the Victory. I had prepared mom and her friend for the post-dinner dining room antics and this was another feature that they simply loved and looked forward to each evening. Our wait staff (we loved Lou), was very attentive, giving us great tips for the ports of call and making other recommendations. The food itself was yummy and we especially enjoyed the lobster and Caribbean Jerked Pork - oh my! Was this ever scrumptious! Matter of fact, I picked up several packages of the Caribbean Jerk Seasoning in Belize. I would highly recommend taking some back with you. Carnival has created a wonderful array of selections that would please mostly anyone’s taste and this includes the delicious Spa Selections if you are “trying” to count calories or are on a special diet. As usual, they are always willing to let you try more than one dish, or order doubles, should you want. Again, unless you are traveling with young children or have to eat early, I would recommend the later seating, as you will not feel as rushed as in comparison to the early seating. Buffet & Specialty Restaurants: Delicious and a wide variety of foods available. The Deli was a lunch favorite, and the 24-Hour Pizza was very good - all of the time! As with the Victory, the food - regardless of venue - was above average to excellent. My mother and her friend often took advantage of the 24-Hour Ice Cream and we had to laugh noting that all they had to do was walk out of their cabin, take a left, hit the elevator, go up to Lido and BAM! They were right in front of the ice cream! I would recommend trying a specialty omelet in the morning. I’m not a big breakfast eater but had to try it. Lots of veggies with a splash of meat and cooked to perfection, right in front of you! The service staff was always pleasurable and helpful and the restaurants kept clean and tidy. The only negative comment that I have about the dining experience on the Miracle has to do with the massive amounts of children running around in the buffet area. This was never an issue to this degree while voyaging on the Victory, but again, this was a holiday cruise. Regardless, as a mother of two teenagers myself, I found it a bit bothersome and distracting. Please note that this aspect did not apply to the quiet, formal dining room. Entertainment: Having been impressed with the Victory’s shows, I was expecting the same caliber on the Miracle. The entertainers are talented and shows are well-done - the variety is astounding. Without a doubt, Carnival performers give it their all! There is something to do, regardless of age. Personally, my party looked forward to the shows each evening. Carnival also sponsors Bingo, game shows and other silly contests throughout the day, in which case I would highly recommend taking along your Carnival Caper strips to help you remember the locations and times of the multitude of events. Ports of Call: Grand Cayman: Sunny and warm! This has to be one of my favorite ports. We had booked an excursion for the Island Tour & Stingray City for our first cruise on the Victory. This time we all decided to book an excursion to 7 Mile Beach/Sea Grape Beach. The weather was absolutely gorgeous and we merely floated in the water and relaxed in the sun. It was the perfect way to spend the better part of the day. Afterwards, we shopped through Georgetown and took some excellent photos of our ship which was tendered out in port. Belize: HOT and sunny! Wow! I did not expect it to be as blistering hot in mid-December, but I cannot complain. After taking a tender to the mainland, we shopped and ate lunch at one of the pier side restaurants. Very festive atmosphere but also very congested. A word of caution about this port: Exercise discretion over haggling with vendors. While visiting one shop, I had found myself fancying a lovely hand carved/painted wood mask. The store owner noticed my interest and quietly approached me, stating that she would give me the mask for half-price IF I went to one of the duty-free shops and bought her some alcohol (at my expense). This made me very uncomfortable and I refused. She kept insisting right up to the cash register, but I opted to pay the full price for my items, verses do something that seemed shady. She kept stating that this was a ‘secret’ between her and I, but I stuck to my guns and refused. On the way back to the tender, we stopped and had a few drinks at the pier and forgot all about the issues of drinking water. Rule # 1: Do not consume drinks that are made with water of the local regions. We were so parched and caught up in the party in the pub, that we forgot about this rule - until we had polished off a couple drinks each. Montezuma’s revenge happened within 24 hours and ruined my port of call for Costa Maya. My fault; tasted great going down, but not coming back out! Hold the frozen margaritas and daiquiris for the ship. Costa Maya, Mexico: More sunny and hot. It’s a good thing that I had visited this port on our last cruise, because after feeling very ill with a lower-digestive ‘disorder’ from the day prior’s drinks, I was only able to get off of the ship to buy a few souvenirs and then it was back to the cabin where I stayed for the entire afternoon and early evening. Everyone else enjoyed the rugged yet beautiful coastline of Costa Maya and the festive atmosphere in the shopping/dining complex. Overall, a nice port of call. Cozumel, Mexico: Initially, we had experienced a squall while onboard our tender to Playa Del Carmen, but once cleared, it was sunny, hot and humid. Getting back to the tender: The rough seas did not bother me at all, but made several passengers join the ‘chum’ club. An entire family became seasick, inclusive of their young children and older parents. I would recommend taking a Dramamine prior to embarking on any ferry/tenders, especially if weather is predicting rough seas. Fortunately, none in our party were ill. We did book an excursion to Xcaret and I would highly recommend this tour, especially if you have children, or love nature. I found myself wishing that my two sons were able to enjoy this park and was very impressed with the variety of activities that are included in the price of the excursion. Xcaret offers something for everyone inclusive of snorkeling, scuba, lounging at the beautiful beach or lagoon, the butterfly pavilion, the aquarium…the list goes on! We did not have enough time to enjoy the entire park or each activity, but I am sure that I will again return with my sons at some point in the future. Our Tour Guide, Jose, was absolutely fantastic! My mother and her friend are older and cannot keep up with us ‘young’ folk, but he stayed with them and gave them his undivided attention, inclusive of a special tour. They did buy him lunch and gave a gracious tip, but as they said, it was well-worth every penny. I would also recommend having lunch at the open-air grand pavilion by the sea; what ambiance! There was a beautiful breeze, the sun was shining, the view splendid and as a lovely touch, we were serenaded by a trio of musicians. We all had a wonderfully memorable day! Our last day at sea was very dreary. It showered for the entire day/night but this afforded us the opportunity to kick back, relax and pack for our return to Florida. I rented a couple of in-room movies and it was nice to regroup after the busy week cavorting around the southwestern Caribbean. Debarkation: The process is much more efficient if you are able to do the self-assist debarkation (carry your own luggage off). We had an issue with finding a couple of pieces of luggage in the sea of luggage in the terminal, so that delayed us a bit. Just be patient though and soon enough you’ll be out and headed home. Overall, I would have to say that again, Carnival provided us all with a wonderful cruise vacation! In comparing the two ships, the Victory and the Miracle, I would still state that I am partial to the Victory, but for very small reasons such as mentioned throughout this review. With all due respect, a Carnival Cruise is for those looking for high-energy, kid and family-friendly goers who want to have fun! Décor is always interesting, food is quite delicious and service very good. As usual, it is going to be whatever YOU make it, so enjoy! Yes, I have made comparisons between ships, but they are both lovely in their own light and again, Carnival offers a wonderful vacation opportunity. Before I forget, I would like to mention a few things that may help with planning your next cruise. 1. I found it very helpful to bring along my laptop and some blank discs. This way I could download my digital camera photos and burn onto the discs without fear of running out of memory card space or losing photos. It’s also a great way to relax in your cabin at the end of the day and review your journey! 2. If you are running late for early seating of dinner, do call the Maitre D and advise him, otherwise they will frown upon your untimely arrival. They truly do have a schedule to keep and it’s only respectful to notify them. I learned this from experience after being 20 minutes late - twice! Although our waiter, Lou, was understanding, we could tell that it threw him a curve. 3. Talk to your fellow cruisers! They are a wonderful source of information and part of the fun is meeting people and listening to their adventures. I gained some valuable insight from fellow cruisers and my mother and her friend had a lovely time chatting with people from around the world. 4. Midnight Buffet: Unless you have two stomachs, I would highly suggest that you eat minimally for dinner that evening and save room for the midnight buffet. The sight alone is amazing, so do take photos! The food creations/décor are incredible - and edible. I felt awful knowing that I could not sample some of the tasty creations that night, desserts included. 5. Seasickness: As the saying goes, if you think that you’ll get sick, you probably will. Keep a positive attitude and don’t get riled if you encounter some wave action. We had a few minimally rocky evenings that freaked some people out, but didn’t bother me at all. Captain advised us that we were in 10 foot seas, but in comparison to my last cruise, where we had 22 foot seas, it was nothing! Fresh air and open spaces is the way to go if you’re feeling woozy. 6. For Balcony Cabin Cruisers: Take advantage of your balcony, after all, you have paid for it! Try to enjoy a cup of coffee at sunrise, or cool drink at sunset from your private balcony. I would also recommend taking a little snooze at dusk. It’s a great way to rejuvenate yourself before the evening festivities begin…just don’t be late for dinner! 7. Listen to the Cruise Director! They are there to give you valuable information, not just to blab into the overhead paging system. I have nothing but good things to say about Dana (Carnival Victory), as well as Chris (Carnival Miracle). These two men deserve a round of applause for jobs well done! Best wishes on your next cruise. Going cruising with Carnival to the Eastern Caribbean in December, 2007! Hope to see you there! Feel free to contact me at [email protected], should you have any questions.

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Dec 3, 2006

Western Caribbean

Embarkation: We arrived at the port at around 11:30. There were already a lot of people in the lines, but we were still on the ship around 12:15 pm. A word of advice is to carry on only the essential items, as a lot of people were having to sit around until 1:30 before they let you go to your cabins. This port was a lot better than Miami. Cabin: We booked an inside cabin because my wife needs total darkness at night to sleep. We were

in 7234, on the Veranda deck. There was plenty of room for the 2 of us, but My 2 sons and mother-n-law were in 7230 right next door and it seemed cramped for them. The ship moved a little, but it wasn’t bad at all. Food: I would say the food in the dining room and Lido Deck was very good. The dining room staff did a very good job at taking care of us. There were 10 all together in our group, and our waitress, Katrina, never complained even though some first timers seemed to run her a lot. Entertainment: There were different comedians almost every night. The first 2 were great, and the others were good. The shows the staff put on were either fantastic or a bore. There was a juggler 1 night that was amazing. It would have been astonishing on land, much less on a moving ship. All in all, I’d say the shows were great and the cruise director, Chris, did a great job. He is the first director I’ve ever seen actually take part in the shows. The last show, Carnival Legends is a must see…. Ports: Grand Cayman: We all did the City Tour with Max. We found him when we got off the boat and he was great. He has a bus like van that has a wheel chair lift on it. Ask for him if you need a handicap accessible vehicle. Cozumel: We didn’t get off the boat until after 1pm because of tendering problems. I went online and booked an excursion for the 10 of us, but we lost our deposit because we couldn’t get off the boat. When I asked on the boat, they just said we should have booked an excursion through them and they would of got us off in time! Belize: We stayed around the port area, but did go outside the gates to the shops right around the port. The people were nice right around there, but I would not go walking too far from the port. You can by prescription drugs like 45 crème, which is for skin disease) without the prescription here. Costa Maya: This was by far our favorite port. We went to the little fishing village for the day. Went snorkeling for just $10 per person, and my wife had a deep tissue massage on the beach for just $20. Everyone was offering free lounge chairs and umbrellas for the beach, if we would just sit in their section. They all wanted you to come into their shops also. It was a beautiful place. Cannot wait to back here again. Disembarking: We haven’t ever had a better and easier time getting off a cruise before. Home Based Travel Agent

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Oct 1, 2006

Western Caribbean

Contrary to many of the reviews that I have read prior to sailing on the Miracle, I have to say that this was a very disappointing vacation for my wife and I. This is the 4th cruise I have taken. Had it been the first, I never would have gone again. This ship caters to smokers. The aft deck, which contains one of three pools is a smoking area. You would think that a 20 knot wind would blow the smoke over the side and not affect the guests….wrong!

Not only were the puffers out there every day, but the crew came out there for their cigarette breaks as well. These people were smoking while standing in the swimming pool, smoking at the bar, smoking at most of the tables, leaning over the balcony, flicking their ashes over the side despite the very stern warning we all received about the danger of fire at sea. We couldn’t stand it, so we went to the Lido deck where the other two pools are located. Smokers weren’t allowed there, but the live band that was selected for the poolside entertainment was terrible. They could not sing, so they apparently made up for their lack of vocalization by cranking up the volume to 100dB. We tried to go to the other pool on the Lido to get away from that cacophony, only to find that that the music was piped through to the other side using several large speakers… so there was no escape. That evening, after a so-so dinner in the Bacchus dining room, we tried to find a quiet place to listen to some decent music. The cigar/smoking area on deck three, which featured guitar, bass, and drums was obviously out, so we pushed on to the piano bar. Once again, full of smoke. Of course, in order to get there we had to go through the casino which was once again, full of smokers. So we decided to try the atrium bar, where three very talented musicians (piano, flute, and violin) were performing. These young ladies were easily the most talented musicians on the ship, but their beautiful classical music was repeatedly interrupted by the idiot bartender who fired up the blender every two minutes. I guess that was to be expected, since the trio was positioned on top of the bar area and were forced to compete with typical bar noise. Day one was really a long day, so we decided at last to just go back to our cabin and sit out on the balcony and enjoy the evening. Once again, guess what? Our neighbors to the right and left of us were smokers, and they were out there non-stop during the entire cruise. They were also a bunch of drunks, who spent every evening screaming at each other and keeping us awake until two, or sometimes three o’clock in the morning. We put up with this nonsense for seven days. I have never been imprisoned with so many grossly overweight, annoying, unhealthy people in my life. We didn’t see this behavior on Holland America (although I understand Carnival owns them). It rained in every port of call we visited, to the extent that every shore excursion that we purchased was cancelled, so our visits to Grand Cayman, Belize City, and Costa Maya were limited to the tacky tourist trap concessions within walking distance of the ship. We could have booked a tour with another operator that was not sanctioned by Carnival, but we were told that if something happened and we returned late, the ship would sail without us. The only halfway enjoyable experience we had was at the new Margaritaville bar and restaurant in Cozumel. Other than that, the shore excursions were a complete bust. I know, I know, I can’t blame Carnival for the weather. It’s just one of those things. The food in the Bacchus dining room was average, the service was average, the atmosphere was abominable unless you happen to like purple. We were surprised at all of the empty tables at the 8:30 seating, despite the notice at the purser’s desk that stated that this was a full ship. We surmised that a significant number of passengers had eaten themselves into oblivion in the Lido dining hall and were unable to negotiate their way to an elevator. No fun for us, or for anyone who has the expectation of a healthy environment. Do yourselves a favor. Spend the extra money and book a suite on Seabourn or Windstar. Most of the riff raff that we were forced to contend with on this cruise can’t afford the ticket. Home Based Travel Agent

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Sep 10, 2006

Western Caribbean

My wife and I have now made a tradition of going on a cruise in September. Our anniversary is Sept 11 (not the best of dates, I know). Three years ago she surprised me with a 3 day cruise on our anniversary, we had so much fun it is now our yearly tradition. This year we picked the Miracle to go on. We have wanted to sail on it for some time but this has been our first opportunity. We were really looking forward to having a balcony cabin.

I did a lot of research of the ship prior to booking so I knew what to expect. We have been to Grand Cayman and Cozumel before so we were prepared for to expect there as well. Costa Maya was a new destination for us so we were eager to check it out.Boarding was easy and painless (We live near Tampa so we drove) the line to board the ship went very quickly. We spent the next couple of hours walking around the ship and waiting for the ship to go under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. My wife took a few really nice photos as we left Tampa Bay. One of our first stops on board was to have our seating changed to a Two Person table. On our other cruises the dinning rooms mostly had large 8 person tables which my wife and I found a little uncomfortable. I was rather pleased when we it was switched for us. The Miracle has numerous two place and four place tables which I liked. They also had live music in the dinning room on a couple of the nights. The meals at dinners were great. I decided to try all of George Blanc’s signature dishes (except for the duck). I’m a steak and potatoes kind of person so I use the cruises to explore different kinds of food. My wife was aghast when I tried escargot, but to my amazement I liked it a lot. The dining room has ugly decorations but it didn’t seem to change to taste of my meals so it didn’t bother me any. The desserts were excellent, the descriptions on the menu always made me say to myself hmmm I wonder if I’m going to like this but I was never disappointed. We tried Nick and Nora’s supper club one night. Talk about well worth the money! It is fine dinning and we felt a bit nervous because it is pretty classy for us. I had a 24 oz steak that left me very full. The wife had lobster and we were surprised at the quantity on the plate. At $30 a head this is well worth it if you want a really nice, special dinner. We had a window seat and had a spectacular view while having a relaxing dinner. The happy glow in my wife’s eyes made it well worth it. Breakfasts at the buffet aren’t anything special. Reminded me of being back in the Army. We expected that though so breakfast became a quick affair to get us going for the day. The buffet can also get kind of crowded so its best to plan what you want to do before you stand in the middle of a crowded space with your tray gazing around in total like your lost (you people know who you are). Lunch was always a hit or miss kind of thing. Sometimes we’d find something great sometimes it was only okay. The pizza was great all the time and the have killer hot dogs at the grill. Cruising in September is always nice because the ships aren’t full. We never had a problem finding a deck chair. The pool area is always noisy so we go further on deck where the noise level is manageable. It’s hot in September but not any hotter the Tampa so that was fine. Our room was a nice size and the balcony was great! I normally wake up at 5:00 am and sit out on the balcony until sunrise. It is quiet and peaceful, very relaxing. Now if I can just figure out how to have a cup of coffee lowered down to me so I wouldn’t wake up the wife I’d be in heaven. We have a growing collection of pictures of towel animals. Our room steward was great. He always had a smile and a hello for us. We found we could avoid busy sections of the ship by simple walking down the cabin corridor then taking the elevator up to where we wanted to go. The elevators were rarely busy. I liked that the bathrooms were very clean and easy to find. Beware the funny looking coconut monkey souvenir glass, $17. The shows were okay, nothing to write home about but I didn’t mind I’d rather do that then sit in the room. Our cruise director Chris was great, this was the second time we had him. We picked late seating so I did struggle to stay awake for the shows. The mature comic was funny, the one time I managed to stay awake that late. Grand Cayman was great. Having been there before we were ready for the tender ride and the chaos at the dock. We wanted to go to a resort for the day. I always laugh when they put the word resort in the description. Resort; place with a beach chair, bar and a bathroom. What we wanted was a hassle free trip to the “resort”. The Beach was as expected nothing special but the crystal clear water is what we wanted. I brought my goggles and spent hours swimming around looking at the fish. There were some rock formations 50 meters off the beach that had some nice fish. It was nothing like going on a snorkeling excursion but fun none-the-less. My wife rented a snorkel and mask. Neither of us could make a seal with it. My recommendations are bring your own. Next trip we will swim the stingrays.Our next stop was Belize. We decided to go see the ruins and take a ride on the river Wallace. This excursion involves a long bus ride down so very poorly maintained roads. Our tour guide talked non-stop for 45 minutes. We really got a feel for the country and even though they are very poor the pride the have in it is obvious. Most people in Belize make about 1.25$ dollars a day (American) and they have extended families in their homes. I didn’t mind tipping here at all. This was the first set of ruins we have seen so we were very impressed. Locals approach you with this like snakes and lizards to take pictures with. For a small tip we have all kinds of funky pictures. The Trip down the river Wallace was a little uneventful but okay. We spotted a number of iguanas, which our guide Mel informed us they refer to as jungle chicken. This made my wife gulp because we had chicken at the local restaurant before riding the boat. Mel reassured her it was really chicken. If you want a feel of the country and aren’t looking for an exciting excursion then this is it. This is a poor country and you will really see that on the bus ride. We had a good time, next cruise Cave Tubing. I told my wife that we would arrange our own excursion at Cozumel. We had visited this stop before the last hurricane hit it. It felt like it wasn’t quite as up beat as last time we were there. I rented a jeep from the port. This was very easy to do and we were driving in under a 15 minutes. I figured how hard can this be it’s an island after all and not very big to boot. We started out and I noticed there weren’t any speed limit signs. It was kind of like driving in the middle on nowhere because there wasn’t very much traffic on this two lane road. The different “Resorts” are clearly marked. At the tip of the island we came upon a guy in a little hut with a sign that said “Information” at the side of the road. Apparently this is the entrance to the local park, for a fee of $10 you can go to the park see the Lighthouse, take a guided tour of the park, get a boat ride and enjoy a time at the beach. Okay so I said that sounds great lets do that. I didn’t know it would take 20 minutes to get to the Lighthouse going 15 mph. We actually enjoy the trip down there though. Once at the Lighthouse you learn that you have to park your car there and they will take you the rest of the way unless your on a excursion in which case you follow their truck down to the beach. It took a while at Lighthouse waiting for the Truck to arrive and then for more people to come. My wife made the mistake of looking at one of the little shops. They wouldn’t leave her alone after that. That kind of spoiled it a little, because they even followed us back to our jeep. We finally got on the truck and it was another 20 minutes to the beach. The tour guide was very informative and talked the whole way. By the time we finally reached the beach it was getting to be time to leave and we could see storm clouds at the ship. I was determined to go swimming, that last about 10 minutes before I figured I didn’t want to push it and we should start the whole process to get back to the ship. This beach is fantastic just don’t try to get there via rented jeep. We had a wonderful dinner at a local restaurant at pier. Costa Maya was my favorite stop. It is new and clean. The dock is nice and the shore excursions are easy to find at the end of the pier. We took the jeep adventure. If you are a off road expert then this isn’t for you but if your like me and only get to drive on the freeway then this is a blast. Our guide was professional and friendly as he told us the rules and what to expect. First stop was the little fishing village nearby, driving there was interesting because it has been a while since I’ve driven a manual. Nobody in our group enjoyed the fishing village. It’s a very poor area and bathroom facilities are very bad. The next portion was 30 minutes of sort of off road driving. This was great, racing down a crappy road with the foliage brushing the jeep on either side. I had a grin on my face from ear to ear. I’d lag behind a little so I could punch it on the worst spots. The couple behind would do the same thing. The jeep a head of us blew a tire and the tour guide and ride a long mechanic had it replace in under 5 minutes and off we went again. They took us to a little beach in the middle of nowhere where we had drinks and tortinos and fresh guacamole. The food was simple but it tasted very good. Our guide cut fresh coconuts for us and we got to try the milk and eat fresh coconut meat. There was a lot of sea grass so we couldn’t swim here but we could go get wet, which was nice. From here get into the jeeps you drive back the way you came skipping the fishing village. We definitely got our moneys worth, especially since I hit every bump, rock and pothole I could find. Our jeeps steering was a little loose when I was done. The pools at the port are really nice. We hung out at the seaside pool drinking palm tree drinks (overpriced but you get this funky palm tree container). We got a great picture of us in the pool with the ocean and ship in the background. We joined the Carnival Vacation Club while on board so getting off the ship was a snap. Excellent weather, enjoyed the ports, Balcony cabin was incredible. Next cruise in January! The crew on these cruise ships work all day every day with few breaks. They have to sign contracts to work for something like 6 months at a time. They are allowed off the ship once a month. They live in cramped quarters and eat the same food you see in the buffet lines. They come for all around the globe for a chance to get a job. They have my respect and thanks for all their hard work. When on board I always make it a priority to say hello and acknowledge the crew. Showing respect and personal recognition can make a big difference on the level of service you receive on ship. Home Based Travel Agent

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Sep 3, 2006

Western Caribbean

This was our second cruise. Our first cruise was 3 years ago on the Carnival Sensation and we loved it so much we wanted to try it again. We live in Tampa so getting to the port is easy. We boarded the boat within about 30 min of arriving. We were on board by 12:00. The rooms were not ready until about 1:30 so we headed up to the lido deck for lunch. We were very surprised to find so many options at Horatio’s (the indoor casual dining

area). They have different stations with different themes. There is something for everyone from a New York style deli to Chinese. They also have a grill out by the pool where you can get burgers, chicken sandwiches and hot dogs that were good, quick and easy. Next we were off to our room. We had an indoor cabin on the empress deck. It was spacious and clean and just right for the 2 of us. Let me tell you about the bed! It was the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. The down comforter was big and fluffy and the pillows were perfect. I could live in that bed. The room had a huge vanity area and lots of closet space. The ship was pretty and interesting, although I would have preferred a more elegant look. The mad hatters lounge was my favorite spot for martinis and karaoke. We hit that place every night after dinner. We also had a great time singing and making friends at Sam’s piano bar. We went to the welcome aboard show the first night and left in the middle. It was too corny and high school play-ish. Just not our taste. The hypnotist and comedians were good. We ended several late nights at Frankenstein’s lounge, the dance club. After about 12:30-1:00 am, that is really the only thing open. There was plenty to do during the day and most of the night. There was a mix of guests of all ages. I didn’t notice that many kids out and about. They may have been at camp carnival or it could have been that we had late seating dining and mostly hung out in adult areas. Dinner in the Bacchus dining room was a bit disappointing. Our server explained he was new and was trying his best. Although he was very friendly and funny, the first 2 nights we didn’t get out of dinner until almost 10:30. We finally explained dinner was moving too slow and there was too much of a gap between courses. Once we told him, he sped things along and we were satisfied with the service. The food was good, but sometimes a bit over cooked. I read so much about the high quality of the food that I have to admit, it was a bit of a let down. Don’t get me wrong, it was good, but not GREAT like I expected from all the research I did. They have a sushi bar in the afternoon that was a great before dinner snack. Our first port was Grand Cayman. We did the swimming with the stingrays excursion that came with the turtle farm and hell tour. The turtle farm was fun, and the stingrays were awesome. I loved it. You really can get up close and personal with them. The water was beautiful. I really enjoyed this and would highly recommend it. Next we went to Cozumel. We did the ATV Beach break. It was a lot of fun but we got filthy!! If you do this, wear ratty jeans and sneakers because you will get muddy and dirty. I am not the outdoorsy type, but I had a blast. We rode through the jungle to a private beach that was beyond beautiful. It was the most tranquil and relaxing place. I had a huge pina colada on the beach. It was like paradise. After that was Belize. We were so tired from the ATV ride and decided to take a break from the excursions. We walked around the shops for a bit and sat in a bar on the water and had a drink. There wasn’t much to see but we didn’t really explore. We had to tender to all 3 of these ports but it wasn’t bad. There were boats running constantly so we never had to wait. Our last stop was Costa Maya. We were able to dock here. The water was unreal. It is a turquoise blue and you can see the fish swimming right off the pier! This was my favorite. We did the clear kayak excursion. It was fun but I wouldn’t do it again. I had never been kayaking before and it was very tiring and a lot of work. It was also a little frustrating because we didn’t see any fish. One thing that really bothered me is on the beach, there were stray dogs. One poor dog looked like he was dying and was skin and bones. He was heaving and crying and sitting right next to us. This was VERY depressing for me being an animal lover. I know this exists in these countries but I didn’t expect it to be right next to me on the beach. The best part of Costa Maya to me was the huge pool bar that is right in the heart of the “town square area” You can swim and have some drinks. They play music and it is free to hang out in that pool. We spent all afternoon there. It was so relaxing and soothing and fun. That is my idea of vacation. A pool bar, some music and a nice cold swim! I recommend hanging out by the pool and shopping in Costa Maya. You don’t even need to do an excursion there. There were lots of activities on the boat. They even had a party on the lido deck where everyone wore their robe. There are photo stations every night where you can take tons of pictures, especially on formal nights. One thing to mention about formal nights; people are not as formal as I expected. They were a bit casual if you ask me. My opinion of formal is just that, formal. Gowns and suits or tuxes. Most ladies wore a cocktail or party dress (think going out dancing at the local night club) I am 28 and was dressed formally, but most my age were not. Mostly the older crowd was dressed up. I didn’t mind, any excuse to dress up in a lovely gown is good for me! Getting off the boat was pretty easy and didn’t take much time at all. There was no particular order, you just came down when you were ready and started lining up to go. Overall we had a wonderful time. It was the best vacation so far. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would recommend this ship to everyone. The boat was great; we took tons of pictures, ate, drank and relaxed. What else is vacation about?? Home Based Travel Agent

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Jul 30, 2006

Western Caribbean

Wonderful! We had the best time. Tampa - it was a breeze to get on the boat. We decided to stay at the Chase Suites hotel in Tampa. They have all suites which was really nice. They have a package that includes one night's stay, parking for your vehicle for the entire time of your cruise, transportation to the port and pickup at the end of your cruise. It was great. They took you right to the door and were right there within minutes

upon return. The porter takes the bags right from the shuttle so there is little to lug around. Just a short line, a short wait for your group number to be called and then you board. We left the hotel a little after 11am and were on the boat a little after noon. There are plenty of people on board to give you directions once you are on the ship. We went straight to the Lido deck for lunch. It was a little crowded since everyone was eating at the same time and sitting around waiting on the cabins to get ready but it worked. We went to our cabin a little after 1 but it wasn't quite ready. Our cabin steward was nice. It was great that it seemed every time you left your room, the steward would straighten up and it would look great when you returned. They give out lanyards on the 2nd floor around mid ship to help you to keep up with your sail and sign card. This also works good to keep up with your Carnival Caper tear off sheet summary for the day. It folds to fit easily in the holder with your card. Our kids didn't have any trouble keeping up with their card this way. We were in cabins 5107 (balcony) with adjourning room 5105 (inside). This worked great for us with the two kids. It gave everyone their own bed, two bathrooms and an extended balcony which was plenty big enough for all of us to share. The room was so roomy compared to our past experience with another cruise line. The only problem that we had was the choice of TV stations. We had several Carnival stations, CNN, and the local news out of Denver, CO (go figure). My husband wanted ESPN to try to keep up with the baseball trades. I would have liked to have the weather but other than that there is so much to do on the boat that TV is the last thing that you really want to do. Our cabin was on the floor with Camp Carnival just a few doors down. No problem with noise. We never heard any of the kids. It was great to be so close for when our daughter wanted to go for just a little time. This floor was also pretty when right in the middle of everything ,a few floors down for diner and the shows, a few floors up for the pools and casual dining. Our room was on the starboard side, forward. There was a good bit of wind on the balcony but since it was warm out - it actually felt good. I haven't had a balcony room before to be able to compare. We slept in most mornings so I didn't get any sunrise photos. We also stayed so busy that I never saw a sunset as well so I can't say which side of the boat is best for either of those. We had table 362 for dining. This is a table for four, upstairs in the very rear of the boat. It was near the windows so we could see out while eating. Our waiters were WONDERFUL. I cried on the last night to have to tell them bye. Deo was the main waiter. He was so happy to get us whatever we wanted. He called us by name each night and also memorized our likes and would bring some things just because he remembered we liked it. The kids wouldn't miss dinner because they wanted to see Deo and Rico (the helper). Our waiters were both from the Philippines. Rico was going home after our cruise so he was really excited to be seeing his family soon. Deo had a few more cruises before he could go home. Deo did a card trick one night and napkin creations one night to entertain the kids. The food was great. We had Prime Rib two nights and Filet Minon two nights (thanks to Deo). My daughter wanted more filet minion one night when it wasn't on the menu. Deo brought it to all of us that night as it was our choice as well. We asked for baked potatoes several nights and he started bringing them from memory. He would bring a plate of chips or french fries for the kids as well. Like I said he was happy to serve us whatever we wanted. My daughter thought it was great that room service was free. We ordered that several times especially for breakfast. It was nice to have breakfast in bead or out on the balcony. If you order room service, you have to get the chocolate cake!!! My son loved the 24 hour Pizza. My daughter also loved the 24 hour ice cream. One day she had ice cream at least 6 times!! It was nice when by the pool to cool down with a cone of chocolate ice cream - YUM. The pools seemed to be a little crowded a lot of the time. Of course, port days is a good time to go swimming as a lot of people aren't even on the boat. The pool on the lido deck forward was usually the one that was least crowded as there was no band or food right by the pool. Of course, you could still hear music and it was only a short walk to the food. Carnival issues beach towels to each guest. They swap these out anytime they see them in your cabin as they have been used. The only problem is that if you lose one, you are charged $22 unless you report it to the purser's desk. We had two stolen by the pool one day. Everyone has towels that look just alike so I think it was just a mistake but I was glad to know that since we reported it we didn't have to pay the fee. WHEW! Horatio's restaurant was great for casual dining. There was a good variety. It took a minute to get acquainted with all that they had as it was in stations but after that, it was great as it made for shorter lines as people were in more than one line. We loved the breakfast there. My husband had an omelet each morning made especially for him. The entertainment was good. The first night the comic was the best. The second night was good as well but we didn't care for the one the third night near as well. We still went to all of the shows though. We also liked the adult comedy shows at 11 or 12 each night. Several nights they only have one show so go early as it gets really crowded and you might not be able to sit together if you have several people. The other nights, the late seating dinner people have their show at 7pm. The early seating have their show at 8 something. That works well. You need to look over your Carnival Caper each day and highlight all that you want to do. Believe me, you will be having such a good time that you can't make it to all that you want to or you are relaxing and decide to skip a few things. We loved the Newlywed Game, Family Feud, Towel folding demo, hairy chest contest, etc. Also pay attention to the times for trivia on your TV where you call in your answer for a chance at a prize. They video tape all of the events, some excursions, and other things going on throughout the cruise and you can purchase a copy. If you get involved, you are bound to be on there several times. The photos that they take are pretty good but pricey. An 8X10 is $20. We easily spend over $100 for just a few shots. Oh well - it is a good keepsake. The "Super Shopper" Robert is wonderful. If you plan to do any shopping at all, you have to go to his talks. He tells you where all of the deals are, how much you should negotiate, gives our coupons, maps, and free items at these talks. You will be glad you went and will probably go each day before you go out to a port. They also replay his talks on the TV in your room if you just can't make it to the talk in person. He also has a station on the 2nd floor where you can stop by and ask personal shopping questions or just pick up info for the ports. We didn't make it to any of the midnight buffets so no comment other than I heard several people talk about how good they were. We also missed the bathroom party. I hated that but I was feeling a little seasick that night. I had two nights that I didn't do that well. I was wearing the patch but the seas were a little rough. It usually got me during dinner when we were at the back of the boat. Nothing too bad - I kept going but I just couldn't make it past midnight. Ports: Grand Cayman - My husband LOVES to shop so we spend a lot of time shopping with him. He loves collecting Hard Rock shirts and had to get one there. He was also looking for a new watch that Robert told him about that reduces stress. We looked at several stores for just the right one. We took a local taxi to 7 mile beach. This was great. The water was so clear that you could see your feet! That doesn't happen on the east coast so we were so amazed. We had a great time. Cozumel - We shopped the whole day. We took a taxi to the Forum shops and shopped our way back almost to the pier. We did walk across the street to put our feel in the ocean but didn't really swim as it wasn’t a pretty beach at this particular place. Several of the shops give away items to get you in the door. We got 4 pair of free earrings and free drinks by some of these vendors. It was warm so the free drinks were nice. Several stores gave out bottled water and sodas in cans. Belize - We did a little shopping in the tourist village at the pier. You can go through the vacant jewelry store to go out back to visit with the locals. My daughter got her hair braided. The locals were so nice. We also negotiated with a local to get a tour of Belize City. IT was so informative. He took us to see where the rich live (not that there are any rich by US standards), where the poor live, the main businesses, special sites, etc. He was great. He did the tour for $20 for all four of us. The excursion people in the village wanted $30 / person for a very similar tour (in a much larger group). If you want to go on this personal tour, ask for Anthony and tell him Jimmy and Cheryl said hi. They also have a lot of hand made items for sale. Of course, they ask you a thousand times to come look at their wares but they all mean well. This was my favorite port and I love history and feel that we got to see more of the actual location than in the other ports where we saw what they wanted the tourist to see. Costa Maya - this was the favorite for both of our kids. Mainly because we swam most of the day. The pool in the tourist section is huge. They had another pool closer to shore as well. You can't swim in the ocean at this place. You have to rent a taxi to go to the beach. We had such a great time here that we didn't make it to the beach. You have to go out by the shore though and try the hammocks. I could have taken a nap!! We decided to let our daughter pick up a local item with her money. She learned well the art of negotiation. She is 8 years old. She picked out a clay, hand painted turtle where its head bobs. They started out at $10. After walking away twice, she got it for $3. She had seen us negotiate at the other ports and learned well. My son (age 13) and husband picked up two pair of Oakley sunglasses for $47. They started at $35 each so that was pretty good negotiating as well. We had to take a tender boat to all ports except for the last one at Costa Maya where we were able to dock. The tender boats were a lot better than our prior experience with another cruise line. Most of them were air conditioned and quick. The one at Belize was open but it was fun as it was a speed boat and you could sit on the back and watch the wake that it made. The kids loved this until they discovered that the water comes over the back and their seat was wet. Oh well. I could go on and on about how much fun we had. We also had a lot of time to just relax as well. There were a lot of activities that we were able to do as a family which was nice to create memories together. We participated anytime we were picked at the shows, etc. We got to demonstrate how to make a towel elephant. We were also picked for the family feud show. Get involved - it was a blast. The decoration of the ship was a little gaudy but unless you are going for the decor, it didn't really matter. Yes, the grapes in the dining room are ugly. Even the crew will tell you that. My daughter was a little uncomfortable with all of the nudity on the ship with the art. We tried to explain that in some countries it is really considered art but at her young age she didn't really understand. That is the only change that I would suggest especially for the young ones. Otherwise, it wasn't a problem. Oh yeah, they give out decks of cards with Carnival on them if you just go ask at the purser's desk. We didn't know for a few days but then someone was nice enough to let us in on it so the kids played cards a lot after that. If anyone has any questions and wanted to email me - [email protected] - I will be glad to try to help. If you are already booked on Miracle - happy sailing. I know you will have a blast!! Home Based Travel Agent

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Jul 24, 2006

Western Caribbean

Embarking and Disembarking was no problem. The ship was very clean and the staff was very friendly. The food was good. Nick and Nora's served a fabulous meal. The Bacchus dining room food was great, but not enough as the portions were too small. The dining room is covered in pink lights. The lido deck food is good. There were plenty of different items and they were all fresh, it compared to a Golden Corral type of food. The juices were

watered down so I drank water. There were hotdogs and hamburgers at the pool, they were great. I had my digital camera stolen Thursday night of the cruise. It was put down in one of the shops and when we went back it was gone. Strange behavior from the ship store clerk led me to believe he knew something, but I couldn't prove it. The camera reported missing was never found. Ports of call-Grand Cayman, book the calls yourself and save money. Cozumel-Go to Passion Island. It was great. Belize-don't even get off the boat. Costa Maya-Go to Jungle Beach early and leave about 1. I have been on Carnival and Holland America and have had suites on both ships. I had rooms 4228 and 4230 on the Miracle. They were nice, the balcony on 4228 is about 7 feet wide by 45 feet long making it quite massive off the end of the boat, it was a very nice suite. Carnival is a family boat. If you have a family of young kids, go Carnival. If you are alone, I do not recommend this ship. Home Based Travel Agent

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Jul 2, 2006

Western Caribbean

Tampa port was great. We got to the port around 12:30 and were on board the ship by 1:30. The ship itself was very nice and clean. I did not understand the reasoning behind some of the decor. If you are looking for luxury, this is more of a fun style cruise. Our cabin was great. We were category 8F with a balcony. The room was very spacious, and the room steward always attentive. My husband and I were not very impressed with the dining

room food. It was okay but not what you would expect. I did gain weight however. The food on the Lido deck was fine as well. We really enjoyed Grand Cayman and swimming with the stingrays. Would love to go there someday and just stay on the island. The Cozumel dune buggy adventure was fun too. As for Belize, I would never go there again. Costa Maya-My husband got food poisoning on Thursday night and we were not able to get off the ship. I would have really liked to see the beach everyone raves over. I do want to add that the cruise staff was very kind and checked on him quite a bit. The weather was also really bad that day and many people were not able to get off the ship, winds were at 60mph. The ship was very rocky on Friday, dining room staff even said they had never rocked that much. It was a great trip for the money. My husband and I have decided that the next vacation for just the two of us will be an all inclusive resort. Home Based Travel Agent

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Jun 11, 2006

Western Caribbean

Hi, having cruised on the same route with Carnivals Inspiration 2 years ago, I offer this pro and con overall view of the Miracle. First off, the ship was fully booked. It actually holds about the same as the former smaller ship, the Inspiration, that sailed the same route from Tampa. The gaudy wallpaper is a turn-off and so is the huge 2 story dining area in the aft of the ship. Forget about great food. The buffet up on the Lido deck (top

aft) is no better than Ryan's Steak House but is much cleaner and the staff gets right after spills, etc. Midnight buffet was a joke. Every night was chili and fries....thats it, no new things and some nights had hot dogs to pour the chili over. There was 24 hour pizza which really was not bad at all. They have a sandwich bar that operates at somewhat buffet hours and you can get pressed sandwiches, Rueben's, wraps, etc., and the meats are sliced in front of you. Better than the buffet itself. Still juices (concentrate) from the juice 'bars' and always ice and clean water. Salad bar was nice, always fresh. The funny thing was the hours. They changed every day. One day open till 3 PM, next until 4 PM, next in between, always shutting down mid-line and moving right across to a similar buffet bar. No reason was given for that. Breakfast was dreary with inedible oatmeal and grits, usual sausage links, and hard bacon with lots of sweets. Omelet bar was great but wait was long. Dinner was another story. While the waiters were top shelve, the food was painted up with slashes of garnish and generally bland. Nobody could eat the lobster as it had been boiled way past the eating stage. Formal night?? Your kidding?? While I wore a tux and other guests dressed nice, here comes the guy in the table cross from me in a t-shirt and shower shoes.......wife with tank top with Mortally Cruel on it with denim mini-skirt. Not one of the maitre-de's stopped people like this on formal night or any other night that required 'smart elegance dress'. This would not have happened on Holland-American. Some guys wore redneck baseball caps on formal night with sandals. This was very disappointing and actually insulting to those who dressed up. I am not a prude and am very open minded but formal night is ...ah, well.....formal night and it was not observed whatsoever. We had a balcony room. In the center of the balcony Plexiglas wall is a 1 inch gap separating the two glass panels. There were yellow stains around the glass and the floor. I asked the cabin steward what it was and could it be cleaned off. She replied that the former tenants were pissing off the deck and it was piss stains and so was the floor stains! Every day this went unheeded and she told us that she DID NOT clean up piss. Simple as that. To get to a supervisor is impossible and I contacted the purser and nothing was done there either. Then magically one morning, an announcement came over saying that the balconies would be cleaned and to remove all loose things. Still no cleaning......nothing. Finally I cleaned up the mess myself and was so mad I went to the pursers office and took off all the tip charges for everybody in the room. This was on Friday and I had complained all week. Now the beds were comfortable, the showers had adequate pressure and the showers at the gym/spa are real roomy and powerful. I stand by all my statements above. Departing was another thing. I made it to the 2nd floor at 9 AM and got ready to bull my way thru the line and by 9:40 AM I was off the ship and had the car out of the parking garage and on my way. So all in all, some areas were nice and some were not kept up (rooms especially as I heard similar complaints). Forget about booking anything in the Caymans. Do it yourself when you get there. There is mass confusion after you get off the ship and no Carnival people there to help. Just the photo people wanting pictures. Comedy is lame.......dancers so-so.....really nothing to write home about. Really disappointed but it was better than nothing. You are better off on the smaller ships, the Inspiration, Valor, etc., in my opinion. Thanks Home Based Travel Agent

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May 28, 2006

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Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Miracle Cruise Review Western Caribbean Roy Embarkation was a breeze in Tampa. Best port I've gone out of. We pulled up, dropped our bags off with the porters. Wife and sons 18 and 6 watched the bags while I took the car back across the street to the parking garage. ($12 a day) Don't bother with valet parking as they don't go get your car after the cruise. The cruise was terrific. We stopped at Grand

Cayman Island where we did the Carnival Sting Ray City Excursion. We all loved that and the water was beautiful. The next port was Cozumel where we were able to dock. The four of us caught a cab over to Paradise Beach ($12) and had a wonderful day. Wristbands are $8 if you want to use the floats and water trampolines etc. Chairs and umbrellas are free if you spend some money there. Drinks were reasonable (compared to the ship) and the beach, water and facilities were great. The next port was Belize where only my 18 yr old got off the ship (another tender port) He enjoyed some shopping, some food and some local beverages. If you don't do a tour I wouldn't bother and the pools on board were empty for a change. The only other dock where the ship could tie up was Costa Maya. It is a very long concrete dock but there is a shuttle that continually goes back and forth. After a tour of the shopping village we had lunch on the ship and then took a cab down to the so called village of Mahahual. Looks more like a flea market next to the beach. However, the water is nice, the beers are cold and cheap and everyone was having a good time. ($3pp cab there and $2pp yellow cab back.) Food on board was hit and miss in the dining room. Some nights great,( filet and don't miss the pumpkin soup) and others disappointing. Food in the casual dining (Horatio's) was good in some places, burgers/dogs, deli section, and the 24 hr pizza was great. The other sections very so/so. I found the service on board to be very good for the most part although the bartenders don't hustle since the tips are going to be added anyway. Camp Carnival for my 6 yr old was fabulous. We gave him the options on dinner etc. and he always wanted to go to camp. The camp is closed at lunch time except for port days. Babysitting after 10pm was also fun for him and very well done. Great Job Camp Carnival. Shows were ok. Our older son enjoyed the comedy shows and I thought the Legends show was pretty entertaining where cruisers performed. All in all a good trip but don't forget to budget for that sign and sail tab.........ouch.  

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May 21, 2006

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Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Miracle Cruise Review Western Caribbean Jodie This was my first cruise and even though I had read many reviews before leaving, I still didn't know exactly what to expect. There were 6 of us on this cruise and we all had a great time. We flew down to Tampa the day before and stayed in a hotel about a mile from the pier which had free shuttle service to the ship, so it only cost us $20 for a cab ride

from the airport to the hotel. Embarkation Our travel booklet said that embarkation for us was at 1:30, so we signed up for the hotel shuttle for noon. Two of the people with us did not get their luggage the night before so they went back to the airport in the morning. They called us at about 11am and said that they had met up with a bus driver for Carnival and he would let them get on his bus and he would take them right to the ship. They called us back at around 11:45 and they were already checked in and just waiting to go through security. So even though the packet says do not go to the ship until 1, they let you in much earlier. We arrived at about 12:30 and only had to wait about 30 minutes for our number to be called. Since our room was not going to be ready until 2:30, we got some lunch and hung out on the lido deck taking everything in. Cabin We had booked the Ocean view guarantee room and it was a nice surprise to find out that all 6 of us (3 rooms) were upgraded to a balcony on deck 6. We were all within 6 rooms of each other. Although we didn't spend much time sitting out on the balcony, we loved being able to wake up and just walk out on to it to see what the weather was like. Our cabin steward, Bogden was great. He came into our room on the first day to introduce himself and see if we had any questions and he always greeted us by name everyday when we saw him. Only 4 of us had Bogden, but he said hello by name to all 6 of us which I thought was a nice touch. The couple that did not have Bogden never even saw their cabin steward so when they needed luggage tags on our last night, Bogden helped them out. He couldn't do enough for us and the towel animals were great. Ship The ship was very clean. I have read many reviews that people thought the dining room was very ugly and they were right. We never could figure out the reason for all the gaudy pink lights. I was a little nervous because past cruisers were saying how you needed to get up at the crack of dawn to get a pool chair, but we had no problems on the one day we went to the pools, and it was a day at sea. The pools were smaller than I thought they would be, but being this was my first time, I really had nothing to compare it to. All of the staff was very friendly and we had no issues at all our whole time there. The one thing I would suggest is to bring a few pairs of pants and long sleeve shirts. I figured that since I was in the Carribean that I wouldn't only need tanks and shorts, but that ship is freezing and I had to wear the same jeans and sweater the whole week. Thank goodness for the laundry room! The only other issue I encountered (and this is not Carnival's fault) was that is was a bit rocky from Tuesday through Friday night. I can't really compare this to any other ship and say it was more or less rocky than normal. We did wake up a few mornings and our balcony was wet so I'm assuming we hit some storms during the night. Although none of us got seasick, it was more of an annoyance because you're trying to walk in a straight line and you're bumping into the walls. I think it was most annoying at dinner because you just want to sit still and eat your meal and you just sway back and forth. The first night it was ok, but after 4 consecutive nights it was bothersome. My cousin had done a cruise to the Bahamas a year or two ago and she said it was like 3 times more rocky on that cruise than it was on this one, so maybe it was just me. The good thing is that it was very very smooth on our two at sea days which was great because I can't image being on the boat rocking back and forth for over 24 hours at a time. Food First let me start off by saying that I am a very plain eater and usually am not willing to try new things. We ate in the dining room every night and although everything I had was great, some nights it was hard for me to find something that I thought I would like. I ended up eating a lot of steak and beef. The other 5 loved the food and our server, Rodika was great and so was her assistant Winston. Rodika always brought out other dishes for us to try and always pointed out what she recommended. The first night Winston asked if anyone wanted coffee or tea. From that night on, Winston always brought coffee and tea without having to ask. I think that's what makes it so special, they remember what each and every person liked and wanted. Entertainment There was something to do every minute of the day. The only problem is that we were so tired from going to the ports everyday and being out in the hot sun that the only thing we wanted to do was take a nap before dinner and relax a bit after dinner before the shows. I wanted to do much more but my body was not having it. We did manage to go to the shows every night except for the night of the juggler since we all wanted to watch the American Idol finally instead. The shows were good, the comedians were good, the hypnotist was ok. We went to two of the adult only comedy shows and they were good too. I didn't really care too much for the Carnival Legends show at the end but that might be because none of the singers were really that great. All in all I'd have to say the entertainment was decent. Spa I didn't use the spa or the gym although I did walk through the gym and it looked pretty nice and they had some good classes you could go to. My boyfriend did go to get a massage and I should've never let him go alone. I didn't mind that he spent $89.00 on the massage, but when he told me they talked him into buying over $100.00 in oils and stuff, I was not too happy. They are still sitting at home and will probably never be touched. Ports and Excursions Grand Cayman You have to tender to this port. We did the Stingray Sandbar excursion. It was excellent. The staff was really friendly. The water was just beautiful. I would recommend this excursion to anyone. After the excursion we had some time to eat and shop. We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe. The food was your typical Hard Rock food, but I think because of the exchange rate it's a little pricy. I think it cost us about $50 a couple which I thought was expensive since it was only lunch. The gift shop is a little more expensive than the ones in the states too. Cozumel We had a tender boat for this port also. This was the only port that we did not do an excursion on. We took a cab downtown to go shopping. There are a lot of jewelry stores here. Do not pay full price for anything, they expect you to bargain with them. Belize Everybody recommended that we do an excursion in Belize because there is not much else to do there. We booked the Land Rover and Cave exploration excursion. We had a blast. Prepare to get muddy! I also recommend a hiking boot for this excursion. It had rained earlier in the morning, so when we walked through the rainforest, our sneakers were covered in mud. It took me two washings to get most of the mud off. The Land Rover part of the trip was so much fun, I think because all 6 of us got to ride together in one vehicle. If we had other people we didn't know with us, we might not of had as much fun because we were bumped around all over the place. There is room for 2 in the front and 4 in the back. The back does not have any seatbelts so you have to hold on for dear life to the bars. If you're only going on this excursion to see the caves, don't bother. It's basically 1 cave that you pretty much just step into and that's it. Then you take the Land Rover to it's final destination. There, they have fruit for you to eat and for $5 you can have a plate of rice and beans, chicken and a couple other items to eat. We got the food and it was excellent. The guys all went up for seconds. From there we took a speed boat back to the port. All in all it was a great excursion and lasted a good 5 hours. We shopped around for only about a half hour because we were so tired and dirty, then we went back to the ship. I have to say this was probably my favorite port because the people were so friendly. Costa Maya Our only port where we docked. We did the Chacchobian Mayan Ruins tour here. It was pretty good, but after our action packed Land Rover excursion it seemed a little boring. It was raining when we left and they had given us the option of getting a refund for the tour but everyone stayed on the bus and I'm glad we did because after the hour bus ride to the Ruins, the sun was shining and it did not rain one bit. When we arrived back at the port we thought we had a couple of hours to shop around but the tour guide came back on the bus and said he was just informed that we had 20 minutes to get back to the ship. It was really windy and it looked like a storm was coming and later on the Captain had informed everyone that the water had changed direction and we were in danger of the ship smacking into the dock and damaging it, so we had to get out of there. I know everyone says to book the excursions outside of Carnival, but because of this experience I'm a fan of booking through Carnival. If we were out on our own we would've never known to come back to the ship early. I know they at least waited for the Carnival excursions because when we got back we went to the Lido deck to eat lunch and the Captain came on and said we were waiting for two more tours and then we were taking off. Disembarkation We left our luggage outside the door the night before. It's kind of a pain because you have to remember to keep out anything you will need for the next day and then pack that into your carry on. You can re-pack that stuff into your suitcase once you get it from the big warehouse. I thought it was going to take a really long time to get off the ship because we were the third group they were going to call. The first was the people who were taking their luggage with them, the second are those with early flights, and then the general public. It wasn't too bad. I think they called us as 9:30. Of course this is the bulk of the people so everyone is rushing to get out. It still wasn't too bad. I think we waited maybe 15 minutes in line. The warehouse luggage hunt wasn't as bad as I thought either. They separate your luggage into color groups, so it's not like you need to look through 2,000 people's luggage to find yours. I do recommend that you buy those neon straps they sell to put around the outside of the suitcase because if your luggage is black like everyone else's, it's much easier to find if it stands out a bit from the crowd. All in all I had a great time and I hope to one day go on another cruise. I would probably choose Carnival again because it is such a good price for what you get. The only other cruise line I would consider choosing over Carnival would be Royal Caribbean just to compare the two. I would recommend Carnival and I would recommend the Carnival Miracle.  

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May 7, 2006

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Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Miracle Cruise Review Western Caribbean Audrey This was only my second cruise, my first was a year ago on Royal Caribbean, so I did compare this ship with the Royal Caribbean ship. I wanted to try Carnival because it was significantly less expensive and I have several friends who have cruised Carnival many times. Any way, I hope someone will find this review helpful. Embarkation We sailed out of Tampa

and bought the travel vouchers from Carnival. The bus driver was very courteous and was waiting for us at baggage claim. He took care of our luggage for us and was very informative on the way to the port. He gave us facts and information about Tampa and made the short drive fun. We arrived at the port and only stood in line about ten minutes to get checked in and retrieve our Sail and Sign card. Everyone was then given a number and asked to sit in the waiting area for our number to be called. We were told that we could not board the ship until our number was called. I thought this was strange because on Royal Caribbean we checked in and walked onto the ship. Our number was 29, and they were on group number 13. We waited for about 40 minutes to board the ship. We then went to lunch and our luggage was in our cabin when we returned. Cabin We had a balcony cabin and it was great. It was very clean and looked brand new. I thought that it appeared more spacious than our previous cabin. The balcony was defiantly bigger. I was also pleased that we had been upgraded two floors. Our cabin steward, Edgar, was fantastic. He knew my name from day one and was very nice. We always had clean beach towels and ice. Whenever we passed him in the hall, he always spoke and asked about our day. We were very pleased with Edgar because the steward on our previous cruise was not that great. By the way, if you forget razors, lotion, shampoo, or toothpaste, they have some in the room for you. I thought this was a great touch. Ship The layout and décor of the ship was very different than my previous experience. The décor was o.k., but not very grand. It was just kind of blah to me. I had read several reviews about the dining room décor and how so many people hated it. I will admit it was a little strange with all the pink lights, but it did not bother me. We did take the guided ship tour on the first day and the host even called the dining room ugly. The ship had a movie theme, which was cool. The Gotham lounge, mad-hatters lounge, the phantom lounge, and etc. I did think that the Mad-Hatters lounge was very well decorated, like Alice In Wonderland. I also thought the pools were great. They were much nicer than the one’s on Royal Caribbean. There were two main pools and an adults only pool. All the pools had a hot tub. The pools were very big compared to what I was expecting. The ship also had a water slide. It was great, you have to give it a try. We never had a problem finding a pool chair and I did not find the ship to be crowded anywhere. Although, I did not care for the décor of the ship, I will say that it was very clean. Also, if you are cold natured like me, bring a jacket or sweatshirt. The ship was freezing. I was very cold inside the ship, especially in the dining room and phantom lounge. Luckily, I had worn jeans on the plane and had brought one sweatshirt. I ended up having to change after dinner almost every night so I did not freeze in the shows. I saw many women wearing their husbands jackets. The staff was even wearing jackets. I heard a man talking to a crew member and stating that he had to take three showers a day just to get warm. Food I was not impressed with the food in the dining room. It was o.k. , but this is supposed to be 5 star. The lobster was very good and the desserts were great, but everything else was just o.k.. If this food was supposed to be 5 star, then the food on Royal Caribbean is 10 star. The food in the casual dining restaurant, Horatio’s, was good. We only ate dinner in Horatio’s once and I thought it was just about the same quality as the dining room. The breakfast and lunch were the same thing everyday. For breakfast it was typical breakfast food. For lunch, they had a deli sandwich station, an Asian station, and a carving station. They also had hamburgers and hotdogs by the pool. I thought they were all very good. The 24 hour pizza station was above average and we visited it several times. They had a sushi station elsewhere in the ship, but we are not sushi people. They also have a reservation only restaurant, but we did not go there either. All in all the food was just o.k. I expected so much more out of the dining room cuisine. Entertainment I’d like to say something positive about the shows, but I just can’t. The opening dance show as awful. The dancing and singing were horrible. You know I can think of something positive to say, the shows were very short. The comedian on the second night was very unfunny. He also had an adult only late night show, so we gave it another shot. Again we were disappointed. The comedian on the third night did not show up for some reason or another, so they replaced him with a very boring and poorly run game show. The newlywed game and the hypnotist were also bad. The comedian on the fourth night really bombed. I felt so sorry for him and I really thought that he was going to get booed. I actually fell asleep during that show. We would not have even went to the shows, but there was little else to do while the shows were going on. The only show that was decent was the Carnival Idol on the last night. I guess it was good because the guests were singing and not the staff. I was really very shocked that the shows were that bad. I loved the shows on the other cruise and isn’t Carnival the fun ship?????????? Spa We are not really spa people and don’t usually go because it is so expensive. However, we did visit this time. You need to go to the very first art auction. We love them and go to all of them. Even if you don’t like art, go to the first one. During the auction the spa manager comes in to promote the spa and gives away a free spa package. The auctioneer then starts taking bids for a $300.00 spa package. He ended up giving it to everyone who wanted it for $85.00. My husband and I both got one. It included a full body massage, a shiatsu foot massage, a scalp massage, a facial, and an eyezone treatment. It was fantastic. I wouldn’t have paid $300.00 for it, but for $85.00 it was a deal. My husband actually fell asleep, I was so embarrassed. He snored during half of his massage. It was so relaxing. They spa had many different services and a sauna. Many people don’t realize it, but the sauna is free. Like I said the spa was great, but be advised they will try to sell you every lotion and cream they have at a very high price. Ports and Excursions Grand Cayman You have to tender to this port , but if you have and excursion you get to go first. We had booked the Turtle farm, Tortuga rum factory, Hell tour. Beware of this tour. This is a tourist trap. The so called run factory was about the size of a convenient store and that is all it was. Yeah, you can get free samples of rum and rum cake right beside the cash register. The factory is the same Tortuga rum store that is at every block right beside all the other stores. We did buy some rum cakes from one of the other stores and they are great, but I did not need to drive 3 miles inland on a bus to visit that store when I saw about 4 of them right beside the area where the tender docked. The “Hell” spot was a t-shirt store with rocks behind it. It was really stupid. The turtle farm was neat. The turtles were interesting and they let you hold one, but don’t be surprised that turtle is on the menu at the snack bar. So much for conservation. The tour was bad, but the shopping was o.k.. There were many shops right where you get off the tender. We ate a Breezes restaurant and it was excellent. It was a little pricey for a chicken sandwich, but it was very good. Also don’t forget that the U.S dollar is about 20 cent less than their dollar, so you need to add 20 cent to every dollar. It is really not a big deal unless you are shopping for jewelry. Grand Cayman also had a Hard Rock Café and a Senor Frogs. Cozumel Royal Caribbean docked, but we had to tender. I was told that they docked because they owned the dock. I don’t know how true that is. The other dock was completely destroyed by the hurricanes and has not even began to be built again. If you don’t have an excursion, they give you tender stickers. I don’t know why because they didn’t care which number you had. We sat on the tender for over half an hour waiting on them to fill it up. When we finally got to Cozumel, we took a taxi to downtown. They do have several stores near the dock, but we wanted to go downtown and look around. They have really rebuilt most of the stores. If you are looking for a tropical paradise you will be disappointed. No palm trees or any vegetation. Everything was completely devastated during the storm. The shopping was great and if you want to shop for jewelry this is the place. There are tons of jewelry stores. I bought a beautiful tanzanite ring for a great price. Never pay sticker. Always bargain, they expect you to. We didn’t do an excursion because we wanted to spend the day shopping. We also went to Carlos and Charlies for a drink and it was very cool. If you are with other adults it is a good time. Belize We had booked the Snuba excursion and were really excited about it. We went to mad-hatters at 8:00 like our tickets said and we waited with approximately 100 other people for our excursion to be called. The host told us that when the boats came to pick us up that she would send us to the gangway. She sent the beach break people, approximately 60 people, to the gangway at 8:30. She then sent the deep sea fishing people to the gangway about ten minutes later. That left the Snuba and the power snorkel people, about 20 of us all together. At about 9:30 she advised us that she had made a mistake and should have sent us with the beach break people. She then told us that our boat had left and we would not be going on our excursion. My husband and I were very upset. We were really looking forward to this excursion and was one reason that we chose this itinerary. She did tell us that she would refund our money and book us on a snorkel excursion at 12:00 for free. When one gentleman expressed his disappointment, her response was “ I could have just lied to you and blamed it on someone else”. I was very shocked by her attitude. She was introduced on the first day as one of the four social hosts and I thought that she would have known how to do her job. The snorkeling excursion that went on was fun, but we had booked one for the following day and had to do it two days in a row. If you are planning on getting off the boat in Belize then you really need to book an excursion. There is little else to do there. Costa Maya It was beautiful. Tropical, Tropical, Tropical. Palm trees and clear blue water. There are many shops at the dock, but the coolest thing is the pool. There is a huge swimming pool in between all the stores. There are lounge chairs, sand, and free showers. The pool is beside a Mexican restaurant and you can swim up to the bar. Have I mentioned how huge this pool is???? This is the kind of pool you find at a resort. We swam in the pool and ate in the restaurant. The food was fantastic and the service was great. We then went on a catamaran snorkeling excursion. It was a lot of fun. We even went back after the excursion and did more shopping. By far, my favorite port. Disembarkation On my previous cruise, we had an early flight and chose to keep our luggage with us. This time we had a much later flight, 2:55 p.m., so we left the luggage outside the door to be picked up. In the morning the people that used the self assist (kept their luggage) and the ones with early flights were permitted to leave first. They did not do the exit the ship by color of you luggage tag thing. Big mistake. They just let everyone off together. Huge lines to get out. Luckily, we were close to the exit when they made the announcement. When then went to pick up our luggage. Our luggage tags were black, so we proceed to the sign that said black. We found two of our bags, but were missing one. I looked up and down the black section several times and in the red section beside us. We then looked in the lost and found section. No luck. I asked two ladies who were apparently in charge. They both told me if I could not find it (in the at least 1,000 pieces of luggage there) that I would need to fill out a claim form and turn it in. There was no way I was leaving without my garment bag. It just happen to be my luck that the bag missing contained all my most expensive clothes and my husbands suits. We started looking from the first row. I finally found it in the second to last row about 45 minutes later. The row it was in was the gold row. I guess to somebody, black resembles gold. I was fit to be tied at that point. The customs was a breeze. We then got on the transport bus with the voucher we had purchased and went to the airport. Again, the transportation was stress free. Summary I hope I have not made it seem as thought I did not have a good time. I really did. I just was not blown away by my experience. For the price it was great and I guess you get what you pay for. I just really enjoyed Royal Caribbean so much more. I will say that the boat was not crowded anywhere and children were not running around unsupervised as they were on Royal Caribbean. The cabin was awesome and the pools were so nice. If you have booked this ship or are thinking about it, then I am sure you will have a good time. I am defiantly glad that I went and will use this experience to decide what type of cruise I will book next year. I am not sure if I would cruise Carnival again, but I will defiantly not rule it out.

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May 7, 2006

Western Caribbean

Hi, having cruised on the same route with Carnivals Inspiration 2 years ago, I offer this pro and con overall view of the Miracle.First off, the ship was fully booked. It actually holds about the same as the former smaller ship, the Inspiration, that sailed the same route from Tampa. The gaudy wallpaper is a turn-off and so is the huge 2 story dining area in the aft of the ship. Forget about great food. The buffet up on the Lido deck (top

aft) is no better than Ryan's Steak House, but is much cleaner and the staff gets right-after spills, etc. Midnight buffet was a joke. Every night was chili and fries....that's it! no new things and some nights had hot dogs to pour the chili over. There was 24 hour pizza which really was not bad at all. They have a sandwich bar that operates at somewhat buffet hours and you can get pressed sandwiches, Rueben's, wraps, etc., and the meats are sliced in front of you. Better than the buffet itself. Still juices (concentrate) from the juice 'bars' and always ice and clean water. Salad bar was nice, always fresh. The funny thing was the hours. They changed every day. One day open till 3 PM, next until 4 PM, next in-between, always shutting down mid-line and moving right across to a similar buffet bar. No reason was given for that. Breakfast was dreary with inedible oatmeal and grits, usual sausage links, and hard bacon with lots of sweets. Omelet bar was great but wait was long. Dinner was another story. While the waiters were top shelf, the food was painted up with slashes of garnish and generally bland. Nobody could eat the lobster as it had been boiled way past the eating stage. Formal night?? You're kidding?? While I wore a tux and other guests dressed nice, here comes the guy in the table cross from me in a t-shirt and shower shoes.......wife with tank top with "Mortally Cruel" on it with a denim mini-skirt. Not one of the maitre-d's stopped people like this on formal night or any other night that required 'smart elegance dress'. This would not have happened on Holland-American. Some guys wore redneck baseball caps on formal night with sandals. This was very disappointing and actually insulting to those who dressed up. I am not a prude and am very open minded but formal night is ...ah, well,.....formal night and it was not observed whatsoever. We had a balcony room. In the center of the balcony was a plexi-glass wall with a 1 inch gap separating the two glass panels. There were yellow stains around the glass and the floor. I asked the cabin steward what it was and could it be cleaned off? She replied that the former tenants were urinating off the deck and it was urine stains and so was the floor stains! Every day this went unheeded and she told us that she did not clean up urine. Simple as that. To get to a supervisor is impossible and I contacted the purser and nothing was done there either. Then magically one morning, an announcement came over saying that the balconies would be cleaned and to remove all loose things. Still no cleaning......nothing. Finally I cleaned up the mess myself and was so mad I went to the pursers office and took off all the tip charges for everybody in the room. This was on Friday and I had complained all week. Now the beds were comfortable, the showers had adequate pressure and the showers at the gym/spa are real roomy and powerful. I stand by all my statements above. Departing was another thing. I made it to the 2nd floor at 9 AM and got ready to bull my way thru the line, but by 9:40 AM I was off the ship and had the car out of the parking garage and was on my way! So all in all, some areas were nice and some were not kept up (rooms especially as I heard similar complaints). Forget about booking anything in the Caymans. Do it yourself when you get there. There is mass confusion after you get off the ship and no Carnival people there to help. Just the photo people wanting pictures. Comedy is lame.......dancers so-so.....really nothing to write home about. Really disappointed but it was better than nothing. You are better off on the smaller ships, the Inspiration, Valor, etc., in my opinion. Thanks. Home Based Travel Agent

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Apr 30, 2006

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Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Miracle Cruise Review Western Caribbean Monique Williams My husband and I took this cruise to celebrate our 1st wedding anniversary. We chose the cruise line and the ship because the price was reasonable and we both liked the itinerary plus the cruise port was within a reasonable driving distance. This was my 3rd cruise and my husbands 4th. All of our previous cruises have been with Royal Caribbean so from

the beginning we were in a comparison mode. Both of us had heard positive things about Carnival so we went into the experience with very open minds. My first impression of the ship was not that enthusiastic. I wasn’t very impressed with the main lobby or the decorations but it was clean and the crew was friendly. We were able to get on the ship in little of no time and by the time we got on our room was ready for us. Carnival definitely has the upper hand here. The cabin was huge in comparison to the cabins on Royal Caribbean. Everything was neat and clean and we were happy to see the free shampoo and razors!! Lol. Plus we had been bumped up to a cabin with a balcony from the belly of the ship. I highly recommend that you book early through Carnival and leave your room choice open; they will probably bump you up too. The food was ok but nothing really special overall it wasn’t the best. I was disappointed and the entrees were just average. I was pregnant so I couldn’t enjoy as much of the Lobster and Shrimp as I would have liked but my husband said everything was just ok. In comparison to Royal Caribbean we would rate it about 6 out of 10. We loved our waiter and his assistance they were the best, but I’m sure that most people thought that because the crew was top notch on this ship. From our room attendant to the guy making the hamburgers at lunch everyone was great. I know a lot of people have commented about the décor of this ship and I have to agree. The dinning room was very ugly but it didn’t really bother me or take away from my dinning experience. Overall the ship was very uniquely decorated and I’ll leave it at that. The cruise ports were all very nice with the exception of Costa Maya. There just wasn’t much of anything to do there. I would recommend you wait for this day to go snorkeling or to the beach. That is the only port that we would never want to visit again. One thing we did learn was to make friends on the ship and stick together. We were able to do excursions with our new friends and save money. We didn’t book anything through the cruise ship and I recommend that you don’t either. We found every excursion that we wanted once we were off the ship and the price was usually less than half of what the charges were on the ship. We made the mistake on our previous cruises of booking through the ship….never again! Save some money and book your excursions through the locals. They are all very professional and they know the ships schedule so they will have you back to the ship on time. I was also disappointed with the number of activities planned. I thought this was supposed to be the fun ship. We spent our days as sea trying to find something to do. We didn’t want to lay by the pool all day but there was nothing else to do. The other cruises we’ve been on there was just too much stuff going on to do it all. Plus on some days it seemed that they only had 1 show and if you had the late seating you were just out of luck. The only other negative thing I have to say about this cruise are the charges that you get when you get money from the casino on your sail and sign card. We were used to Royal Caribbean and they don’t charge you for getting money from the casino. The charge for withdrawing money from the casino is 3% of the withdrawal! I think that is pretty high after all we are going to use that money in the casino most likely. The next time we take a Carnival cruise we are going to take cash we need with us so that we can avoid all of the fees. We ended up paying about $15 in withdrawal fees. There’s a safe in the room so you can keep your money there. We will sail Carnival again if the price is right and the itinerary good. Otherwise our first choice for now is Royal Caribbean. By the way….leaving the ship was the easiest thing ever! If Royal Caribbean doesn’t catch on to this method soon they will lose points. We were off the ship at 9:30 AM and we expected to be there until noon based on our previous experiences. Give this cruise a try I’m sure you’ll have a wonderful time and make many wonderful memories.

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Apr 23, 2006

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Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Miracle Cruise Review Western Caribbean Tweety My husband and I cruised on the Miracle on April 23, 2006 for 7 nights. It was truly an unforgettable experience. Sunday – Embarkation Embarkation was a breeze. We flew into Tampa on Saturday night, and Carnival provided us with a one-night stay at the Tampa Airport Marriott hotel. On Sunday morning, we waited for our shuttle to take us to the ferry terminal.

We were at the terminal at approximately 11:30 am, and we boarded the Miracle by 12:30 pm. We immediately went for lunch on Deck 9 – the Lido Deck. There was a great variety of food ranging from burgers, to homemade sandwiches, to fish and chicken. After we stuffed our faces, we went to purchase a Fountain Card (well worth it if you drink lots of pop and juice). We then did a thorough walkthrough of the ship, since we were waiting for our luggage to be delivered to our cabin. As I’m prone to motion sickness, my travel agent advised me to book an inside cabin toward the middle of the ship. Our cabin wasn’t large, but it was sufficient for the two of us. The bathroom was small, but clean. We loved the shower. After conducting a thorough tour of the ship, we were called to attend the muster drill (what a bore – but it’s absolutely mandatory all passengers of the ship attend the drill). Shortly after, we returned to our cabin, and our luggage was delivered right to our door. We unpacked, settled in, and then headed to the Bacchus Dining room for our first dinner (early seating). We asked for a small table, and we were given table/booth 117. The booth could have seated 4 people, but we had it to ourselves throughout the cruise. We were extremely happy with our table and the serving team. We had Ida (from Indonesia), Daria (from Russia), and Bu (from Thailand). They were extremely friendly, helpful, and fun to converse with. After our feast, we watched the welcome onboard show. It was alright. Monday – Day at Sea My husband participated in a game show trivia and won a carnival medallion, then we watched the belly flop contest (large, hairy men doing belly flops in the swimming pool). We also soaked up some sun, sat in the pool, ate, drank, and walked around. It was formal night tonight, so we returned to our cabin at 3:30 pm to get ready for the captain’s cocktail party at 5:00 pm. It was held in the Phantom Lounge, and there were free drinks and appies. The captain reminded me of Robert DeNiro. The Cruise Director, Mark Hawkins, is whacked or on crack……..We then headed to dinner in the Bacchus Dining room, and to our surprise, the serving team remembered our names and what we wanted to drink. My husband ordered prime rib and a lobster tail (two main courses), and I ordered a lobster tail (it was alright). After dinner, we watched a Vegas-style show called Generations. It was pretty entertaining. Tuesday – Grand Cayman This was our favorite port of all. We did the Stingray & Island Tour, but we booked online through Nativeway Watersports (excellent! I highly recommend them). We swam with the stingrays in the beautiful, warm Caribbean water. Our guide Charlie, was a hoot. There were only 6 of us on the tour, so we all had lots of time with the stingrays. The Miracle group had about 60 people, and they were packed like sardines on the catamaran. We were lucky that we had such a small group. In addition, Charlie even took us to a small reef to snorkel (this wasn’t even included in our tour). Afterwards, we visited the Turtle Farm, Hell, and the Tortuga Rum Factory. Their rum cakes are sooo delicious. My husband and I were quite sad when the tour ended. Dinner as usual in the Bacchus Dining Room. Wednesday – Cozumel There was still some serious damage left from the hurricane. We planned on going to Chankanaab Park by taxi, but they told us it was closed due to all the hurricane damage. We were really, really disappointed. We had no choice but to venture to Playa Uvas, the beach closest to Chankanaab Park. Entrance fee was $7 US per person, but it included 2 drinks. When we arrived, we were awestruck by the beauty of the beach and the water. We were the first ones there, so we had first pick of the loungers. We rented a locker for $5 US, and a lifejacket. We soaked up some sun, got our drinks, and then headed into the crystal-clear water for some snorkeling. Luckily we brought our own snorkel gear. We saw lots of colorful fish (some blue tangs, a variety of angelfish, some gobies, and even a large puffer fish). The puffer fish was our highlight of the day. My husband swam/chased it until it hid under a small reef. I swam up to my husband, and found the puffer fish. We both stared at it for a good 10 minutes. The fish glared right back at us. We left it alone after a while, and swam to look at other species of fish. When I returned to the puffer fish’s hideout, it already escaped….oh well. After snorkeling, we returned to the beach and ordered some nachos. It was absolutely amazing! Delicious melted cheese, and the best guacamole we’ve ever had! By mid-afternoon, the beach became quite crowded, so we left. We walked around Cozumel for a bit, and headed back to the ship. We ate dinner at Nick & Nora’s tonight. My husband ordered a massive 24 oz. Porterhouse Steak, and I ordered the Surf & Turf (lobster tail and filet mignon). The atmosphere and service was well worth the extra $30 per person. Unfortunately, I couldn’t enjoy my entire meal, as a bout of motion sickness hit me. I think I had one bite each out of the lobster tail and filet mignon. The food was very good and impressive, but too bad I lost my appetite. Our evening ended shortly after dinner. Thursday – Belize Like other reviewers have mentioned, don’t get off the ship unless you book an excursion. Belize is definitely a third-world country. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such frail dogs and cats roaming the streets. We booked a Cave Tubing excursion through Hammerhead Watersports (previously Coral Breeze Limited), and we had an awesome time. Our guide was Carlos, and he was quite entertaining. We only had 4 people in our group. We got there quite early, and walked right past the Miracle group (they had roughly 50 to 60 people). After walking for about 30 minutes, we reached the entrance to the river. The water was quite cool and refreshing, and Carlos joked, “When you jump in, don’t cry for your mama!!” Carlos was very experienced with the caves and pointed out many stalagmites. He was very organized, and never left any of our group members behind. The Carnival Miracle group couldn’t keep everyone together. We saw many single floaters drifting around. After approximately 1 hour of cave tubing, we stopped at a local restaurant for lunch. We had really tasty BBQ chicken, rice, banana muffin, salad, and fruit punch. On our ride back to the terminal, we were so bombed out we fell asleep in the air-conditioned van. Overall, we had a really great time. Friday – Costa Maya This was our least favorite port, although it’s the only one that didn’t require any tenders. We checked out the resort which included a swimming pool, a swim-up bar, many shops and restaurants. We decided to take a cab to Majahual, the fishing village. When we arrived, I was quite disappointed, as I heard many glowing reviews about that place. There were street vendors in every direction begging you to buy something. We walked quickly down the street until we reached the end of the beach. We decided to spend most of the day there. The water was again crystal-clear, and the beach was quite nice. There was a bar with swings right next to us. After a few drinks, we decided to do some snorkeling, since we had such a blast in Cozumel. Boy, I was disappointed. First of all, I was told there were sea urchins in the water, then we snorkeled out a bit, and didn’t see any nice fish (other than boring, silver fish – they all looked the same). To top it off, there were jet skiers and kayakers all over the place, and if you weren’t careful, you’d get your head knocked off your shoulders. After playing in the water for a short time, I decided to call it quits. I then walked to a nearby restaurant to order some mixed ceviche (shrimp, conch, octopus, tomatoes, red onions, marinated in a tangy lime dressing). It was alright, but I didn’t think it was worth $10 US. Shortly after, we left Majahual and headed back to the port. We had some nachos at the resort’s restaurant, and it was awful. Definitely nothing like the nachos we had at Playa Uvas in Cozumel. After a disappointing day in Costa Maya, we headed back to the ship. Tonight was the second formal night, and we dressed up again. We took lots of pictures on the ship, and purchased quite a few onboard. After dinner at the Bacchus Dining room, we watched another Vegas-style production called ‘Tribute to the Beatles’ or something like that. It was worth watching. Saturday – Day at Sea The seas were very, very rough today. Swells between 6 – 8 feet. Motion sickness hit me again (even after I took a dose of Bonamine). Couldn’t eat breakfast or lunch. My husband and I tried to keep busy to keep my mind off of the constant rocking back and forth of the ship. We played bingo (won $200), went to the casino and won $60 from blackjack. Shortly after, we headed to the Lido Deck for dinner. I didn’t have much of an appetite to have a sit-down dinner in the Bacchus Dining room. I was craving French Fries, so that was what I had for dinner. Afterwards, we walked over to the Bacchus Dining room to say adios to the serving team, and to thank them for their excellent service. Then, we headed back to the cabin to pack our luggage, and we hit the sack shortly after that. Sunday – Debarkation Although motion sickness hit me a couple of times during the cruise, I must say we still had a very fun and relaxing vacation. We (especially my husband) were sad to leave the beautiful ship. As we were given VIP tags, we were one of the first to debark. We were off the ship by 9:00 am, and we boarded the shuttle to head back to the airport. Boo hoo….

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Apr 2, 2006

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Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Miracle Cruise Review Western Caribbean Brenda We had waited 6 months for this cruise and was so excited the morning we flew to Tampa my husband, my sister & brother-in-law and myself. Embarking was very easy and well organized. Our room was very nice and had plenty of room with the balcony. My sister & brother-in-law had the room right beside us so we had them open up the balcony so we could

have adjoining space. It was great sitting on the balcony and reading in the early morning with coffee. The Ship was great; we enjoyed the evening shows and the comedians. We had late dinning room setting but had the most unfriendly waiter ever. He was so rude to the assistant waiter, we complemented her every chance we got. We even tipped her on our last night, but not him. The dinning room looked like a cheap attempt to decorate. What was watermelon colored lights was suppose to be grapes. It was so loud at times you couldn’t carry on a conversation. We walked around the Grand Cayman downtown for a couple of hours and headed back to the ship. Our next stop was Cozumel, we spent the day on a beach with a food bar and open bar. We booked threw the ship. We could have gotten it half price if we had just waited until we got on the island. But we still enjoyed the day. It was heart breaking to see the damage done from the hurricane. Belize was a nice port, but we didn’t venture out of the area. Due to weather, ruff waves, we didn’t get to stop at Costa Maya. I do have to say our next Cruise will be back on the Royal C. The food was nothing to write home about. The best thing we had onboard was the grilled hot dogs. Saturday night we gave the plates back to the waiter the food was so bad. We still didn’t let this ruin our vacation.

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Apr 2, 2006

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Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Miracle Cruise Review Western Caribbean Christina Cramer Embarkation was a breeze. Luckily, my husband and I were traveling with other family members that obtained VIP status, so we were included in their privileges that morning. Thank goodness, the lines looked LONG! The balcony room (cabin 8196) was very clean and a nice size. The cabin had plenty of room to store our luggage and all the stuff we brought

with us (we tend to pack heavily). We only saw our room steward once the entire 7 nights! Granted, our room was always cleaned up and our bed was always turned down each day/night when we returned from excursions, etc...but I thought the steward was there for personal service? Perhaps I miss understood. The food was not what I expected. In my opinion, the buffet was awful. It was standard issues cafeteria food; pretty bland - nothing really stood out. Lots of choices but not very tasty. The food in the dining room was very tasty; lots of good choices on the menu but it was NEVER hot when it was delivered to the table. It wasn't cold (except for the chilled soups and ice creams) but it was ALWAYS room temp or borderline chilly. I could understand the temp issue if the food being delivered to the table was taking a excessively long time but it was quick. So, I'm not sure what the problem was. (FYI....we had the early seating and our area of the dining room was mostly empty each night - maybe 4 occupied tables total.) The dining room staff was wonderful! Tata, Tio and Sergie made dinner an experience we all looked forward to attending. All three of those guys were so friendly, so eager to help and just fun. The ports were okay, Grand Cayman and Cozumel are beaten up from past Hurricanes. Don't get me wrong, the water is still beautiful, locals are very friendly but the structures are seriously damaged as are the islands themselves. Belize was lots of fun. We participated in the "Lost World Canopy Tour" - it was fantastic. SO MUCH FUN; worth every penny! As for Costa Maya, we weren't able to go. The wind kicked up and the Captain deemed it unsafe to dock, so Carnival provided everyone onboard with a $25 credit, more onboard activities and took their sweet time back to Tampa (we were traveling at 20 knots but the captain decided to travel at 10 knots all the way back to Tampa). The day we were supposed to go to Costa Maya, the water was horrible. HUGE swells, maybe 8 to 10 feet. lots of people became sea sick that day. (FYI...even after we made it through the swells...the captain maintained traveling at half speed). Onboard activities were not my style buts lots of other people appeared to have a great time. There were constant bingo games, trivia games, comedy performances, movies, teen and kids groups, sing-a-longs, etc.... The pools were very nice but very crowded. The casino was also nice (I won $250) but laid out kind of funny. It seemed very crowded on one side and not on the other. Weird! Souvenirs and drinks were priced very fair and a good selection were on hand. There were constant sales on gold, diamonds and other gemstones. My husband bought a beautiful Tag watch for $300 less that we could of in Tampa (plus, it was duty free). Debarkation was a joke. Since my husband and I live in Tampa we opted to do the "Self Assist" debarkation. Self Assist, I think, is a new option. If you are a US citizen, that can handle your own luggage and can stay in your group (not miss or need to wait for other party members), supposedly, you can get off the boat first and quickly - say 7:30 AM or so...well, in our case, we waited and waited and an announcement was finally made around 8:45 AM for the self assist persons (everyone must be off the boat by 9:30 AM). What a joke, because after that one announcement, they also announced "early flight" departures can debark as well.

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Mar 26, 2006

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Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Miracle Cruise Review Western Caribbean Alicia Guzman Embarkation: It was a breeze. The only problem we experienced was three weddings were. Being performed on the ship and we weren’t allowed to board and have lunch until they were all completed. Needless to say, it wasn’t until 12:15 till we boarded. Thank goodness! The crowds in the Port Authority building were getting large and restless. After lunch

instead of checking our room out we went to the Purser’s Desk to establish a Cash and Sail Account. We didn’t want to use our credit card for purchases on the boat and excursions so we set up a cash account. You can always check your account status by the TV in your room. Make sure you keep your receipts on your trip for any discrepancies before you leave. Our room (4232) was a balcony room at the end of the boat (by the flag) it was perfect. Our room steward always made sure to say hello and the room was always spotless. Of course, at night I liked coming back to the room to the chocolates and the newest towel display. My husband and I to this day are still debating about a couple of the towel shapes. For the days we had booked excursions we took advantage of the complementary room service. We just put out our food order on a door tag the night before and let them know the time of delivery. Don’t forget to extend a gratuity for the room service. We also used this instead of getting a wakeup call. Food: On the days at sea we ate breakfast and lunch at Horatio’s. The buffet food was very good and the variety was endless. They had it divided up into areas such as sandwiches, pizza’s, rotisserie and Chinese food. The only problem we had was we kept getting lost and never did find the Chinese food that was supposedly being served. Every day they had “The Taste of Nations” Where they featured a cuisine around the world everyday. We also tried the Nick and Nora’s Dinner Club. It was an extra $30 per person and you need reservations. We read previous reviews and had originally wanted three nights. But, there was so much food if you can believe that and we decided one night was enough. It was very romantic and the food presentation was excellent. The Bacchus Restaurant was great as well. That’s another reason why we didn’t return to Nick and Nora’s. For the same quality of food and the endless amount we didn’t have to pay extra. Besides we really enjoyed our new tablemates. We also visited the Sushi Bar 5-8pm nightly. We never had it before and it was really good. Activities We weren’t really into the on board activities with the exception of the slot tournament and the talent show. But, there were activities going on all the time for all ages and at all times of the day. Our first excursion we booked off the web because of the reviews. We booked the “Cayman Jeep Safari & Rum Point Beach” http://grandcaymancruiseexcursions.com/ it was $70 per person. We went to the Tortuga Rum Cake Factory (which was ok), Pedro’s Bluff, toured the island, and ended up at Rum Point for a couple of hours of relaxation. In Cozumel we decided to wing it and go on our own. Big mistake! I should have booked an excursion. Way to many people wanting you to buy things from them. It got really tiring. Belize was beautiful!! We booked this online (Coral Breeze Limited) it was a total of 5 hours long for $69 per person with lunch. We went site seeing along the cayes, snorkeling at Shark-Ray alley, snorkeled at the Coral Gardens, and had lunch at Caye Caulker. Caye is absolutely beautiful. Only three sanded roads and no cars allowed. The atmosphere was very relaxing, the food was plentiful and we even had some time to explore. Costa Maya I booked the “Costa Maya Reef Snorkeling & Resort Getaway” (Costa Maya Cruise Excursions) It was $45 per person and included lunch. It was very nice and totally secluded from everyone. Debarkation was very easy. We had a late flight and took advantage of staying on board until the last minute. You have to leave your rooms by nine so we ate our breakfast and read books outside on deck 9 till the rush was over. The cruise was a lot of fun with non-stop activities. Of course, it was after all spring break.

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Mar 6, 2006

Western Caribbean

This was the first cruise I had been on, and it was fantastic! We arrived in Tampa a day early (which I would recommend in case of delays). In fact, if we would have left the day of the cruise, we would have been delayed because of a SNOW STORM! Embarking was totally a breeze! Once on the ship, it was beautiful! The decorations, the wall murals….I was in awe. We headed for the Lido deck for lunch. It was a bit confusing at first, seeing

that Horatio’s is so big….you don’t know where to start. But after a few hours on the ship, you get to know your way around. When we got to our stateroom, our luggage was waiting for us. My mom and I had one room, and my brother stayed next door. They opened up the divider between the balconies, so it was now twice the size, and we could go room to room. We had to tender in at every port. I guess at Costa Maya you dock, but it was too windy that day, and the port was closed. Another day at sea! I found the excursions at each port very fun. We went swimming with the sting rays in Grand Cayman. We did not book it from Carnival however. In Cozumel, I went scuba diving. It was awesome. Belize—cave tubing (www.cavetubing.com). It was really cool, and by bookings with cavetubing.com, you get to go through more caves than if you book with the cruise ship. What else can I say….I thought the entertainment was great. One night they had an R rated comedian. Funniest thing I have ever seen! The food was really good. I loved the Bacchus dining room. It was hard coming home….I wanted people waiting on me hand and foot. Our staterooms were cleaned 2 times a day. I loved this cruise. I would recommend it to anyone. I am planning on my 2nd cruise already! Home Based Travel Agent

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Feb 26, 2006

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Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Miracle Cruise Reviews Western Caribbean Regism Cruising with Carnival – YUK! It’s time somebody took this cruise line to task! If you’ve ever taken a cruise before…drastically lower your expectations if you plan on joining them on one of their Fun Ships. If you’ve never cruised before…find another cruise line. My wife and I boarded the Carnival Miracle “Fun Ship” on a seven-day cruise

of the western Gulf of Mexico on February 26th, 2006. The ship itself is a magnificent feat of engineering and construction (many thanks to the Norwegian builders). The maintenance crew manages to keep the vessel nearly spotless. And the weather was equally glorious the entire cruise (kudos to Mother Nature). That however, is nearly the total extent of our positive impressions of Carnival. Rather than present an endless inventory of disappointments, I’ll just sum things up in general categories. The food in the main dining room was acceptable if you are use to dining in slightly upscale chain restaurants such as TGI FRIDAYS. etc. Not to worry about the dress code there either. Contrary to Carnival’s dress code for formal dining, we had people there for diner in sleeveless t-shirts, shorts and sandals. The service was prompt but hurried. The cafeteria style dining in the Lido restaurant was nothing short of dreadful! The food was barely edible and often cold. Ah yes, the memories of instant scrambled eggs and soggy pancakes takes me back to those wonderful summer camp breakfasts. The midnight buffet consisted of one pizza station and one station serving hot dogs and hamburgers. The night I was brave enough to try a burger, the bun was stale! And don’t think you’ll be saved by dining in the “upscale” Nick & Nora’s restaurant. We tried it twice. The first meal could rival the worst dining experience I ever had. The table location, directly in front of the expose kitchen, meant we were forced to smell cooking meat the entire diner. The food was cold, the service slow. And for all that, we had to pay $30 extra per person. The second night was much improved, but I can’t help but wonder if that was just because I had raised such a stink about the first night. I don’t want to spend a lot of time reviewing the ports of calls. I’ll limit my comments to pointing out that two of the stops were worthless. There is simply no reason to have stopped in Grand Cayman or Belize. These are tendered ports that only exist to sell tourist jewelry and trinkets. One of entertainers asked for a showing of hands for those that went ashore on Grand Cayman, and then asked “why”. Both Mexican ports were much more entertaining and at least the Mexican people seemed genuinely please to have us, unlike the hostility at the other ports of call. The Carnival onboard entertainment was poor, and that is putting it kindly. I realize that cruise lines cannot afford “A” level entertainers but Carnival has skipped all the way down to “D” level. On a positive note. Our cabin was adequate but not exceptional. Muted colors and plain styling dominate the décor. Our cabin stewards were thorough and responsive. However, that may have been indicative of the fact that we booked a penthouse rather than a standard cabin. If you are into gambling, the casino is huge and well appointed. For the most part, the service crew was friendly and tried to be helpful. Unfortunately, most were from non-English speaking countries, so communication was difficult. Carnival has made an attempt to teach them some English, but just imagine 900 people all asking, “how may I help you”, with the same intonation and cadence (it’s a good thing Truman Capote wasn’t the instructor). The officers and professional crew were very standoffish and definitely not friendly. The captain seemed genuinely bored to have had to welcome guests at the Captain’s cocktail party. During his introduction of the officers, I couldn’t help but note that not one of them had a smile on their face. But hey, he didn’t run us aground. Although we did stir up a lot of mud at one of our stops and something hit the hull with a heck of a bang late one night. My overall impression of the Carnival Miracle was that they are unquestionably downscaling the quality of food and service in order to cut costs. The flip side is that Carnival has made it cheap enough that almost anybody can afford to cruise with them (but why would you want to?). Future cruises aboard Carnival Fun Ships will definitely not include my wife and I.

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Jan 8, 2006

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Carnival Cruise Line Carnival Miracle Cruise Review Western Caribbean Frances Evans Embarking was a breeze, we stood in line maybe 10 min. and we were ushered to waiting area it was about 35- 40 minutes, we were given numbers from 1 to 20 and they called them about every 8 to ten minutes, so we were onboard in a very short time we were ask not to go to our cabin till at least 1:30, so the stewards could finish up the housekeeping,

so we went to lunch, lunch over it was about 1:30 pm we took turns checking, the cabin to see if our luggage arrived it was all there by 3:00 pm, I unpacked a little then we went up to the sun deck to enjoy the sail away from Tampa and take in all the beautiful homes and scenery, we did the fire drill without a hitch was very short this time around, maybe we had a lot of seasoned cruisers who knew the drill as the quicker you get up there the sooner you finish, and got on with things, we went to the dining room and changed our dinner time I had request early, they had us for late, so that was done. we went back to cabin and finished unpacking, then we explored the ship to learn where everything was. We went to dinner it was casual and we did not dress the first nite, I was a bit disappointed in our waiter, he was not as attentive as the past 6 cruises we were on he was very preoccupied by a larger table across from us we had a booth, which I did not like much, but it was not a big deal, The many cruises I have been on the waiters fall over them selves to learn your names and to make you feel special this waiter was not to to be found and when you made eye contact he looked right through you as if you were not there. We waited 20 min or more after we were given the menus, to have our order taken we were offered bread twice which was ok. We decided maybe it was just a first night thing with every one on board it would be better the next night, well it was not any better we watched our waiter flutter around the larger table and ignore us completely we waited again for our order to be taken we thought of getting up and leaving but we were at the Captains night and we were all dressed up for this, my friend ordered prime rib and lobster, 2 separate meals which we have ordered many times before on previous cruises, I ordered the Lobster, and my son ordered the fish of the day, my friend got his prime rib, I my lobster, my son his fish, we were done with our meal and my friends lobster still not yet to be serve, he saved some of his prime rib so he could finish with the lobster, still no waiter and no lobster we searched the floor looking for him high and low and then all of sudden there he was over at the large table again pouring their wine and chatting away, I flagged down a passing waiter asked him if he could go find my friends lobster, our waiters assistant bought it out, about 4 minutes later our waiter came over and told us he was not allowed to bring him 2 dinners at the same time, which I know is not true because we have been on 4 other Carnival ships and never had the problem of ordering 2 entrees. so we had to wait till he finished his lobster while we sat there, finished with our meal needless to say he disappeared again, no seconds on bread, so I guess the assistant joined him where ever they were. So that ended our nights in the Dining room we choose not to go back for the remainder of the cruise we buffet the rest of the week,, which, was ok but I really enjoy the dining room, so sad that we missed out this time around, The ship only has one dining room and 2 sittings, so I guess the personal service sort of gets lost, when we were on other cruises the ships had 2 dining rooms and the waiters did not have alot of folks to keep track of, and more sittings, we had over 1000 guest in the dining room, so I could understand about the service, but in general this waiter was not up to Carnival par in my opinion, the Matrie'de ran in to my friend in the buffet one afternoon and he ask my friend how he enjoyed dinner the nite before and my friend told him we had not been in the dining room for 3 nights as the waiter we had su-ked, so that was that. Now on to the Supper Club Nick and Noras, My son won 2 free Dinners there so we choose to go there on Friday evening, it was nice but very pricey 30.00 a head the presentation was wonderful and we were waited on by the nicest people in their restaurant, we went early so there were not a lot of people there, I will most likely never go there again. the ports were great as always even though we tendered into Cozumel, we choose Playa Mia for the day been there before so we went swimming and snorkeling and of course drink and eat and shopped, Cayman was stingray city cost us 31.00 at Capt. Marvin's he is two blocks from terminal, great day there, Belize I chose to stay on board wash clothes, do a few on board activities, my son and our friend went on a Mayan ruins tour and river tour, it rained that day they came backed soaked, the last stop was Costa Maya, my new favorite place untouched and so cool, when you come off the pier you walk in a circle mall and there is a very big swimming pool and open air restaurant, we decided to rent Golf cart and go to the little beach town Mahahual spent a great day there at the beach front at a little bar who had a open second floor above, that we received massages for $20.00, what a way to end the week. debarking was the best ever they used a method called relaxed debarking you leave at your own time they give the folks who carry off their luggage 20 minutes, and then make an announcement that every one can leave when ever the mood strikes them, so we were in line to get of for maybe 7 min. if that, we were in and out in no time. If I were to rate the Miracle on a letter grade, I would give it a C, they were just not up to my expectations compared to the Victory-Legend- Holiday and the Celebration

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Dec 18, 2005

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Carnival Cruise Line Miracle Western Caribbean Patty Wike Eleven of us met to do a preholiday cruise. We had a ball. We loved the rooms with balconies. We had a problem with a handicapped room but the Carnival people went way out of their way to solve that problem. The ship was lovely except for the tacky dining room with its over-the-top, hot-pink lights. We ate breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck which was absolutely delicious and

fresh. There was a bit too much Carnival, employee talking at dinner and in the halls; however, we learned to tune that out. We got off at every stop. Use private tours once you are on shore. On Cayman Island we got a great tour to Stingray City which was longer and much cheaper. We had a great crew and photographer. Don’t miss swimming and feeding the stingrays. If you ever go to Belize City, contact Mark McField for the tour of your life. His email address is: [email protected] . He took two of us to the Altun Ha Mayan ruins. He was fascinating and very well educated. He trains many of the other tour guides. We had the best meal of the whole trip in a little, outdoor, thatched-roof restaurant near the ruins in the forest. He then took us to Old Belize City to see the beach and go through a museum. He will let you design your own tour. It was only $65 for 5.5 hours. If you have five or more people, it’s $55 each. It was the best $65 we ever spent. The other members of our group tubed down a river through a cave but didn’t rave about it. We all paid $20 each to go to a nice beach in Costa Maya. They probably lost money on us because it was all you can eat and drink which included alcoholic beverages. We shopped in Cozumel and had a great time bargaining with the locals. We bought most of the silver for $1.00 an ounce. All eleven of us had a great meal at an open-air restaurant a couple of blocks off the beach with a Mariachi band. The Mexican people are so open and friendly. Don’t miss the hypnotist on the ship especially the late night show. We never laughed so much and so hard in our whole lives. On the days at sea, I spent time at the water slide. It was fast and fun. A cruise is a great vacation for a group of people. We all did our own thing and met for dinner or other times. There is something for everyone to do. Carnival is a fun, lively, young cruise line.

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Oct 9, 2005

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Carnival Miracle Western Caribbean Bill Boyce Our experience aboard ships has been different than most: liveaboard dive boats in the late ‘80’s, a couple of Windjammer trips aboard the Fantome before it was lost and one trip out of Aruba on the Crown Cruise Line in March of 2000. We did have 2 other couples with whom we’ve talked about cruising for years, and so we came together aboard Carnival’s Miracle last week. They all

had more experience with the larger lines than my wife & I. We were concerned that the ship would seem huge, there would be kids running everywhere, old folks in their walkers would be blocking up the general area, food would be of poor quality, etc. By all accounts, we had a great experience aboard this ship. The one & a half hour check in process at the terminal was the worst of it. Fortunately we had taken a cab from the airport to the ship, paying $22 for the trip. The Carnival arranged transfers cost $36 per person, and required filling the vehicle prior to departure. Our friends had made transfer arrangements through Carnival and sat an additional hour and a half waiting in the van at the airport. This, added to the terminal check in, was not a good beginning for them. We had a balcony cabin on the 8th deck, below Horatio’s grill, which turned out to be very convenient. The room was spacious, well appointed and quiet. The bed and pillows were comfortable. We usually take our down pillows on vacations with us, so we’re pretty discerning in that regard. The room air conditioning blew constantly, was comfortable and served to mask noises. Generally, getting around the ship was a breeze. Easy to navigate, there are deck plans by all elevators and a pocket plan handed to us as soon as we stepped on board helped for the 1st 2 days. We’d been told at check-in that the ship was full, but I wondered where everyone was hiding. Unlike our cruise in 2000, the passageways were never blocked up by people. Having been on Cayman for two past trips, we chose to stay on board and had the ship to ourselves. We took two shore excursions, which I considered pricey. The Jungle Beach Blast in Costa Maya places you on a nice enough beach with a pier after a twenty minute, nice, air conditioned bus ride and costs you $45 each. I don’t care much for sitting on the beach, but I do like to snorkel, and always bring my own equipment. Snorkeling under the pier was okay, but, to be fair, the location was never advertised for snorkeling. There were plenty of beach chairs with shady areas and the water was calm. The saving grace: open bar. My recommendation: strawberry daiquiri. We’d been warned that you should schedule an excursion in Belize if you planned to get off the boat. Otherwise, you’re in for a long tender ride to an impoverished port area with nothing to recommend it. We took the Horseshoe Reef Snorkel Combo costing $82 per person. This is not for folks who’ve had a lot of snorkeling experience. The first stop, about a 30 minute trip, was a guided snorkel and the second was in shallow water. The stingrays here are attracted to the boat by throwing small dead fish in the water. On the plus side, the tour operator has a brand new boat and good equipment was provided to everyone. The crew gave a thorough orientation and kept the guided snorkeling groups very small. On the way back the rum punch flowed like Niagara Falls and a good time was had by all. In Cozumel we took the advice of Dale & Kathy Gardner who run Baldwin’s Guest House on the island and caught a taxi from the dock to Dzul-Ha. The taxis are lined up and the rates are posted for all to see. The $7 trip cost us $16 due to the fact that we had 8 people with luggage. Dzul-Ha was a beautiful spot right on the water, with chairs and little tables that had thatched umbrellas. There is a place to rent snorkel gear for $10 and lockers with locks for $2. The current runs south you can use the stairs to enter the water and swim at a 45 degree angle, out about 50 feet. This was the best snorkeling of the trip, by far. You can drift until you get opposite the pier, where the current really picks up. Don’t worry. Worst case is you can drift down to the next hotel and walk back along the road rather than trying to drown fighting the current. The guys at Dzul-Ha don’t really speak a lot of English, but you won’t have any problems. The beers are cold, the food good and plentiful and they even take credit cards. You’ll save quite a bit of money over taking an excursion from the ship. You’ll notice that most of the excursions bring their people to Dzul-Ha anyway. Taxis are usually waiting across the street for the 5 minute ride back to the dock. Our group of 4 paid $7 total for the ride back, but be sure to ask prior to getting in the cab. As for Grand Cayman, you can turn right from the dock and walk 5 minutes to Eden Rock to snorkel, if you are so inclined. They have a dive shop that’ll rent snorkel gear and lockers, in addition to dive equipment. We’d been there before and didn’t care to return. Carnival’s Bacchus dining room is as ugly as reported, with pink lights resembling pepto bismol tablets rather than the grapes they are supposed to represent. The nightly announcements were unintentionally comical and the dancing amounted to an unsettling end to an otherwise nice dining experience. That aside, the food was varied and good enough for some to order more than one entrée each night. Our waiter was from Haiti and worked hard to please, with a smile for everyone. Dinner wines started at $18 per bottle and went up from there. Speaking of alcohol, each day featured a special drink for $2.95, which helped if you’re watching costs. Most other drinks were 3.95 or 4.95, nothing outrageous. You are also allowed to bring aboard a bottle or two of wine for yourselves at the beginning of the trip only. The staff was uniformly friendly and helpful. Our cruise director, Mark, was both entertaining and knowledgeable at the same time. These people understand the service industry. Additionally, the photographers were hard working and professional. Take advantage of their experience and get pictures taken at every opportunity, especially formal nights. This costs you nothing and you only purchase the prints you like. Try going to a studio and getting away with buying an 8x10 for $19.95, not to mention the sitting fees. We never had to wait in line, getting dressed for the 8:15pm late seating and getting shots taken about 7pm. I shoot video for a living, so I recognized the value that was being offered and took full advantage of it. Well, this has gone on much longer than I intended. We had a wonderful trip, and I hope this will help fellow travelers. As I finish, hurricane Wilma has just hit the island of Cozumel, where I stood a week earlier enjoying a sunny afternoon on the beach of Dzul-Ha.

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Aug 21, 2005

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Carnival Miracle Western Caribbean Ken Gerbehy Hi i will make this review short . This was our 61st cruise myself wife and 2 teen boys . We left out of Tampa on 8/21/05 on the Carnival Miracle to the W Caribbean . This was our 4th cruise on Carnival .The ship and cruise were great !! I just wanted to say how we thought Carnival Sprit class ships are the best in Carnival's fleet . And this Carnival cruise was as good as the other cruise

we have been on recently !! Meaning RCCI Princess and HAL Even NCL .I no there are alot of na sayers out there about Carnival .And in the past they might has been right . But not now !! The food was really good .The shows were great . I love it that there's 3 pool areas on the Miracle unlike the other Carnival ships . We never had a hard time getting a seat be the pool on seas days !! We did hit the herrican the last day of the cruise .They couldn't bring us back to Tampa so we docked in Ft Louderdale . They bused us back to Tampa .Carnival I think handle it very good . This cruise would be a great cruise for first timers and Families we never saw our boys they had a great time .They love Carnival the best ! Well that's it for now . I just this week booked the brand new Crown Princess out of NYC for July 2nd 06 . Happy cruising to all Ken G........

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Jul 24, 2005

Western Caribbean

We sailed on the Carnival Miracle on July 24, 2005, and loved every minute of it. This was our first cruise and also our honeymoon. We had been told how wonderful a cruise could be, and now we believe it. You can do everything under the sun, or nothing at all. We visited Grand Cayman first. It is beautiful there. And at the suggestion of many people, we chose to swim with the stingrays as our shore excursion. This was not a mistake. After

a short bus ride, everyone boards onto a double Decker boat for a beautiful ride out into the sea near the sandbar. After some short instruction you are given snorkeling equipment and begin your excursion. The staff is very helpful and explain that there is no reason to be scared. They let you hold them, take pictures of them and even give a stingray a kiss. We were in the water for about 2 hours or so. The water is so clear and the sand on the bottom completely white. After going back to the tourist village, we had plenty of time to go shopping. My only regret is not having time to see Seven Mile Beach. Although this gives us a reason to come back. Our second stop was Costa Maya. We chose to go see the Mayan Ruins. This included about an hour drive to get to the site. But we were on air conditioned buses and were given quite a history of the area and the Mayans on the way. The ruins were beautiful, but it was very hot, and there are a lot of bugs. Don't forget very heavy repellent. We walked around several ruins with our tour guide Carlos, who was awesome. After the Ruins, he gave us some time to shop at the tourist village near the ruins. They had some beautiful hand crafted things. Our third stop was in Belize. Make sure you book an excursion for this stop. Although this is a beautiful country, it is also a third world country and there is no beach to go to anywhere near the tourist village. The locals are pretty aggressive with trying to get tourists to ride in their car, or buy their goods. We did not have any problems with anyone, but i would not want to have walked around Belize City all day by ourselves. We decided to do the Baboon Santurary tour. In our opinion, this was not really worth our one hundred dollars. We took a very long drive into the jungle. Again, on an air conditioned tour bus, so it was not bad. It was extremely hot, and there are a lot of mosquitoes and fire ants. Don't wear flip flops like I did. When you arrive you are taken to what they call their museum. This is actually a building with pictures of some animals. We were told there was a gift shop that would have insect repellent. The gift shop did not have anything available except some necklaces. After a very long and sweaty walk we saw about 3 monkeys that were so far up in the trees we could barely see them. I was covered in bites from head to toe. And the entire tour the only thing the guide told us about was the plants. We were quite disappointed. The drive out to the tour was longer than the actual walk through the jungle. After we got back to the city we had some time to shop. I did find some really nice jewelry in the tourist shops in the "mall". Our final stop, and by far the best one, was Cozemel. We did not book an excursion for this stop because we knew there would be alot to do. We took a cab from Punta Lagosta to San Francisco beach. This was a nice beach with lots to do, and bartenders bringing you drinks to your chairs. The water was nice and the weather was perfect. We stayed there for a few hours then took a cab back to the tourist area where we did alot of shopping. Everything was very clean and everyone was extremely nice. We spent most of our day at Carlos and Charlies where we drank all afternoon. We were in port until 10pm, so we had tons of time. The bar had great music and drinks. Alot of people having fun and getting drunk. I'm very glad we had the day to ourselves to just walk around. It was very easy to get a cab and get around. As for the cruise itself, everything was perfect. Our room was kept clean, the food was great (for the most part), and the bars are really fun. We enjoyed Frankensteins, which is more of a club atmosphere. But the pool bar was always hopping. And there are always Carnival people around keeping the party going. We did go to a couple of shows. The comedians on the boat were hysterical. And i must back track to the food and the dining rooms. We had the second seating for dinner. We were assigned a nice table for just the two of us on the upper level. So we did not have to sit with other people. Our head waiter Ida, from Indonesia, was awesome. We loved him. He made us laugh every night. I think the only two negative things on the ship were, the pools are very small and quite crowded, we did not go in them at all. And the spa services are extremely expensive. But those things did not impact our trip one bit. We can not wait to take another Carnival Cruise.

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Jul 24, 2005

Western Caribbean

We had a private shuttle pick us up at Tampa airport which made the whole process seamless. My immediate family stayed at the airport Marriott the night before our cruise and this made the experience less stressful and more relaxed. We had a late afternoon fight and we played in the arcade and had a leisurely dinner at TGIF Fridays in the airport. We got up the next morning and met the rest of our group and we were off to our ship. Once

we arrived at Port Tampa, boarding the ship was a breeze. We went to Lido for some lunch and then to straight to the pool which is where my son and I spent most of our time on the ship. We were in a connecting cabin 6112 (balcony) and 6108 (Inside) Our cabin was very perfect for our family of four. We had enough room and the children ages 11 and 8 enjoyed their time on their own. Our room stewards, were great and worked very hard all week to make us feel at home. They loaded my daughter with extra chocolates at her request. Think twice about booking in cabins 1101, 1103 and 1105 which are next to the Mad Hatter lounge and directly under the Phantom lounge if you want to get any sleep on the cruise. My sister and her friends were in these rooms and they did not get much sleep. The decor on the ship was for the most part confusing. I did not get what the Mask and Robin Hood had to do with Miracles. The pink bulb lights in the dining room were also a bit much. We switched from late seating to early which was a plus for our family group of young children and grandparents. The food was varied and excellently prepared and there were no complaints at our tables and all plates were clean at the end of our meals. Most of the entertainment was good with the exception of one of the comedians (Greg Ray) His jokes were not funny at all and he received very little laughs. Eugene was fantastic in the Casino and with the aide of my sister had everyone partying hard until the cruise director stepped in and told them they were too loud. After that the party was not the same and all you could hear is the sounds of the casino which is probably why they ended the party. Costa Maya is a new and exciting port and much fun can be had right in port without paying for transportation to another beach. Note: Transportation is $5 US roundtrip. Cozumel was great and although the beaches were eroded and the ocean floor was rocky we still had a very nice time. Grand Cayman had the best beach and transportation was $8 US roundtrip. Watch out for the buses that try to fill every conceivable seat. They tried that on us but after ten minutes of waiting we left and found someone else. Belize was a beach challenge because the prettiest beaches are a $45 US boat ride away. My group did not want to pay that so we shopped and returned to the ship pool which was surprisingly full. Debarkation was great. We left together with no wait. I would sail on the Miracle again.

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Jul 3, 2005

Western Caribbean

Carnival Miracle 7 Day Western Caribbean Stella Ahuero The ship itself was very nice. We had a room with a balcony and I’ll never sail any differently! Our room steward was the best; he was really on his toes and prompt with room service. I was very disappointed in the service from the majority of the crew. At every bar we went to, every bartender seemed really mad to be there and it took a long time to get served even if they weren’t

busy with other customers. Not one bartender served us with a smile. I was also very disappointed in our table service in the main dining room. The first night it took a half hour between meal portions to get served. We were in there for three hours when the folks next to us who had the same waiter were eating their dessert and we were barely getting our entrée. We brought it to his attention the second night and while he seemed to step it up a notch, it was still dissatisfactory. Needles to say we only ate in the main dining room 3 times during the entire week. The people who were fabulous were the social directors who really knew how to have a good time and really pushed to get everyone involved. You couldn’t ever say that you didn’t have anything to do on these ships. Our cruise director was the best! He’s the best I’ve ever experienced. Very disappointed in the food, as it was very ho-hum. I really felt like I was eating the same thing every day. I think prime rib was on the menu every day! The last night we ate at the really nice restaurant on the top deck and that was fabulous! The food was wonderful, the waiters/waitresses were wonderful. It was worth the extra $29 per person! The best parts of the trip were the ports and the excursions. I would definitely go on a cruise with this itinerary again as there is so much to see. In Grand Cayman we went kayaking which in that gorgeous water, why do anything else??? We went snorkeling along the way and I was overwhelmed with the beauty and the tranquility of the water! In Costa Maya we were taken by bus to a beach where we were beach bums all day long. The nicest surprise here was that it was an open bar all day long! Can anyone say another margarita please? Belize was the most exciting as we took a ½ hour bus ride to a rain forest. I must say the bus ride itself was a treat as you got to see so much countryside. Once in the rainforest we were given an inner tube and set off on a 40-minute walk through the forest till we reached the river where we mounted out inner tubes and rode the current through the caves and then through the forest with high cliffs along side. This was so much fun!!! The river wasn’t real high when we went so the water was literally knee deep. The caves weren’t super dark although we did have flashlights on our wrists. This was the best for the young and the old! Finally in Grand Cayman we went on a beach buggy ride all the way around the 44-mile island. We took turns driving the buggies, which was an adventure in itself. We stopped to snorkel, stopped at a beautiful beach for lunch, stopped at picture taking spots. Our tour guides were fun, charming and they really made our day as we were on the backend of hurricane Dennis so we got a lot of rain most of the day but we were troopers and went forward with our day! Disembarking was a nightmare! I’ve never been through one more excruciating! They gathered everyone on two floors of the ship, most of us with our luggage so that we could get off “first”. That was a joke! We all sat there for 5 hours!!! We had to be out of our rooms by 8pm, they didn’t let us off the ship till 1am! It was so ridiculous; you can’t tell me there isn’t a better organized way to get off the ship. I don’t think I’d ever travel on the Carnival Cruise line again, I think I’ll try an upgrade next time. While the excursions were the best, the stay on the actual ship was the biggest disappointment. Everyone always brags about the food on these cruises, myself not excluded. This left me craving for a really good meal once I got home!

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May 22, 2005

Western Caribbean

Once we arrived at Port Tampa, boarding the ship was very quick and easy. We went to Lido for some lunch and then to our cabin 5247. Our cabin was very spacious with plenty of drawer and closet space and our room stewards, Curly and Joseph, were great and worked very hard all week to make us feel at home. The bathroom was a little small, but as long as 2 people

didn't try to get in there at the same time, it was fine. The decor on the ship was for the most part tackey and not to my liking at all. The Miracle isn't nearly as pretty as the Glory and is not as easy to get around in either. We were scheduled for early seating, but because we wanted to eat with some friends we had met through one of the boards, we moved our dinner to the late seating. BIG MISTAKE. While we did enjoy being with the friends, our wait staff was so slow that it was nearly 11:00p.m. before we left the dining room each night. One evening, we had not received our entree when others around us were getting their dessert. And, we had arrived in the dining room before they did. On a couple of occasions, we had dinner on Lido just so we wouldn't be so late. For the most part, the food left something to be desired and we were extremely disappointed. We felt that way about our first cruise too, but just thought it might be unique to that ship. We now think it is probably the quality of Carnival food in general. With the exception of the band that played nightly in Frankey and Johnnies, the entertainment was HORRIBLE. The vegas style shows were more of the caliber of a high school dance class and my children are funnier than the comedians were. Also, the scheduling was just awful and with the exception of the main show, we missed a lot because of the late dinner seating. This was not the case when we sailed on the Glory in June 2004. For the size of the ship, there were too many picture backgrounds set up and therefore getting around the ship during the evening hours was quite a challenge. Costa Maya and Cozumel were very nice ports. Grand Cayman was ok but expensive and Belize was AWFUL. We felt very unsafe there and returned to the ship very quickly. Debarkation was horrendous. Although it started shortly after 8:00 a.m., we weren't called until almost 11:00. Although there were many things about this cruise we didn't like, we still had fun and met some wonderful people. We will not sail on the Miracle again and will probably even look at another cruise line the next time.

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May 15, 2005

Western Caribbean

 William & Marcia Markley This was our first cruise and for all intents and purposes it was okay. The food was awesome, especially in the dining room, courtesy of Shani and Marija. The were the BEST of the BEST. They made us feel very comfortable and always directed us to the right thing to order. Cabin service was another matter however. We couldn't

get pool towels delivered to the cabin. Most of the times they made the bed and nothing else. Our basket of toiletries we had to ask countless times to refill. Also the towels in the bathroom were not refilled in a timely manner. The shows on the Miracle were excellent and we had a lot of fun. The pools were small but they clean and it wasn't too crowded. However, on the last day, one of the pools was not usable so on that day, it was very crowded at the others. Embarkation was fine and debarkation is express recommended. The Miracle was always being cleaned and the crew for the most part was very nice. The casino is magnificent and a lot of fun. We only would like to have more activities without paying for them. If you are spending a lot of money to go on a cruise, the nickel and diming could be eliminated, such as paying for Bingo etc. Expect to dress formal two nights. The captain did mention it and asked that everybody adhere but unfortunately some didn't and it just didn't look right. On a scale of 1 - 10, we give it a 8. Also, if you enjoy bottled water, my husband and I brought some along in our suitcase. We didn't feel like paying $1.95 plus 15% gratuity for the bottled water.

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By Jill_CR

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May 1, 2005

Western Caribbean

Carnival Miracle Western Caribbean Jill My family arrived at Tampa Airport by car. We had no trouble finding the cruise terminal, however, once we arrived there was a 3 hour delay because the ship was late docking due to rough seas. Fortunately the Tampa Port had several nice shops and restaurants to keep us entertained. I had sailed on Royal Caribbean for my three previous cruises and was afraid Carnival would be a “step-down”.

I must say, however, I was very pleased with the ship amenities, décor and service and had a great time. I couldn’t help but notice Carnival’s shore excursion prices were steep! I wondered if all ships had raised their prices, so I checked Royal Caribbean’s web site and found their shore excursion prices to be more reasonable. It appears Carnival has a lower cruise price (in general), but higher shore excursion prices. Royal Caribbean has higher cruise prices (in general), with lower shore excursion prices. They tend to stick it to you one way or the other. I’ve read that many people found the ship décor to be “tacky”. I liked the décor. It was flashy and out there, but who wants to see the same old drab décor while on vacation? The only part that bothered me was that the “Yellow Brick Road” was blue – Does this make any sense? Each room was themed after a different classic tale and I enjoyed the whimsy. It took me back to my childhood. My favorite room on the ship was the “Mad Hatters Lounge” for it’s bounty of color and oversized Alice in Wonderland characters. My favorite quiet spot was “Gatsby’s Garden”. The aqua colored walls and white arbors were so peaceful. It would be a great place to curl up with a good book. There was very little traffic in this area. I found the dining room food to be fabulous! I am a VERY picky eater, but the wide variety of choices on the menu each night will suit everyone’s pallet. I especially enjoyed starting out with the fruit plate. I believe they use the pick of the litter in the dining room. I tried to find fruit at breakfast that was as tasty and sweet, without success. The Lido deck dining was confusing to me. Carnival has broken the buffet lunches into sections (i.e. sandwiches, grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, pizza, fruit, salads, desserts, taste of the nations, etc.) – too many sections. I felt you had to run all over the ship to see what your selections of the day were so you knew what you wanted to eat. Then you have to navigate your way back to those choices and stand in line to be served. It takes a long time. I would prefer to see one big buffet with all the choices right in front of you so you can pick and choose as you go along. Our room was an outside cabin on the Riviera (bottom) deck. It was good size and had everything you could need. Closet and bathroom size were both adequate. I wouldn’t recommend the Riviera deck, because each night we were awakened by the sound of workers beneath us, stacking pallets. It was so bad I had to request ear plugs to use and even then the sound filtered through. We also kept hearing a clanging sound, possibly from the anchor or anchor chain? Although the ship was full and there was nothing the pursers could do, they did offer us a $200 ship board credit towards a future cruise if we book with Carnival within the year. (And we have! Carnival Liberty departing 11/26/2005, 8 night cruise to the Panama Canal. We may not have booked with Carnival again if not for the credit, so this was probably a good move on the pursers part. It will give Carnival a second chance to win us over.) My favorite port was Costa Maya. This island is still relatively undiscovered and I like it that way! My husband and I took the “Beach, Boat & Snorkel” excursion. We were picked up at the dock and led to very nice, air-conditioned motor-coaches for a 45 minute bus ride to the beach. There we were given a brief orientation on our snorkel gear and how to operate the boats, then we were off in small two person watercrafts. What fun! We followed our guide in the boats for approximately 30 minutes, then docked on a platform out in the ocean. From there, we donned our snorkeling gear and were led on a 45 minute guided snorkeling tour. We then re-boarded the boats and headed back to the shore where we were treated to beach lounges and an open bar. Participants had the choice of several buses leaving for the ship at ½ hour intervals, so you could stay at the beach for as long as you liked. Overall my experience with Carnival was a positive one. I had a great time! For some reason, I still have a loyalty to Royal Caribbean and would prefer to sale with them. I can’t pinpoint exactly what the difference is, both are nice ships with good service, but something about RCCL keeps me coming back for more. However, Carnival tends to beat RCCL on pricing and that is why I have chosen to sail with Carnival on my latest two cruises.

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Apr 24, 2005

Western Caribbean

After our first cruise with the Celebrity Century, we decided to cruise with another couple & I'm glad we chose the Carnival Miracle. All four of us had a great time. The boarding experience was excellent. We didn't have to wait too long & got right onto the ship soon after we arrived at the Tampa port. The staff was very friendly &

the food was superb (except for the runny eggs at the Lido deck buffet, yuck)! Most of the shows were enjoyable. Carlo the Cruise Director made everyone feel at home. His 'helpers', Karl & Sam were friendly too. I really don't have anything negative to say about the cruise experience. The main thing that surprised all of us was the "tacky" decor. I guess I was comparing it to the elegance of the Century, but the Miracle really was "gaudy". From the over-the-top main dining hall to Phantom's lounge, subtlety was not in the designer's vocabulary. Frankenstein's Lab was laughable with a 12 ft shabby-made Franky himself, strapped to the side wall of a small dance floor. The pools were also quite small. The waterslide was neat, but we never got a chance to use it. The air conditioning was always cranked up, which meant it was VERY cold inside the ship, but very hot at the port of calls (which were all great). So, remember to bring a sweater! The gym was just awesome, aside from the fact that the main floor was not air conditioned enough, believe it or not! The equipment was top of the line. The photographers did a wonderful job with the formal night pictures. We bought several & were quite impressed with the quality. Overall, I'd rate the vacation a 9/10 & I would definitely sail Carnival again, maybe the Valor. Just want to reiterate that the food, especially the dinners in the main dining hall, were out of this world! The wait staff were second to none (Ivo, Arm, Agus, Made, Katut & the whole dining crew). Happy cruising!

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Mar 27, 2005

Western Caribbean

There is nothing to say, but being on this ship was a dream come true. It was everything my family and I had hoped for plus more. We were treated like we were the only family on board. Our junior suite was fantastic! Plenty of closet space, bathroom was super, bed was so comfortable and the balcony oh, the balcony wouldn't go any other way

than to have a balcony. Our room steward Fortune was so sweet and kind to us especially my two daughters ages 8 and 6. He was just so polite to us all. We had dinner at the 1st seating. Our waiters were nothing less than tremendous. I went to the spa twice and truly was made to feel like royalty. I can say nothing, but positive things about my 1st cruise experience. My daughters loved Camp Carnival and their counselors. Which made us feel quite comfortable and relaxed about leaving them there. After this great experience my husband and I will definately be repeat cruisers.

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Mar 13, 2005

Western Caribbean

The Cruise and staff I really enjoyed this cruise. This was my first cruise ever and it was my favorite vacation I have ever had. I enjoyed the food, the entertainment and everything on the boat. Everyone I met on the boat was extremely nice. The staff was the best. Mark Hawkins was the cruise director, not only was he good at his job but he was very funny

as well. His assistant was Karl, but he likes to be called Karl with a k. I got to meet Karl and I really liked him. The Entertainment Every night they put on a show at 8:45 P.M. and they were all fantastic. There were dancers, singers, jugglers, magicians and even had a hypnotist. They also had a bingo every night. The rooms The rooms took me by surprise, I thought they were really going to be small, but they were bigger then I imagined. I never went in the room, except to get changed and sleep. We had a balcony on ours and the view was terrific. The food The food was magnificent. There was 24-hour pizzeria, and they had everything you want. The food just wowed me when I saw it. Every night the dinnertime was the same, you would either be at the main seating, or the late seating. The drinks Everyday they had a different drink, and all of them were delicious. There were alot of fruit drinks. Overall I really loved this cruise I went on, and I wished I never had to get off. There were fantastic activities like the hairy chest contest, the pool Olympics, trivia and family feud. I loved this cruise so much that I want to go on another one as soon as possible. The hardest thing to give up was the food, the entertainment and saying bye to Karl. When the week is done and you get home, you'll have felt like on the boat you were treated like royalty. I hope that when everyone has seen my review, you will go on this cruise and be happy and have a good time. Edit: Chelsea sent this in addition to her first review. Hello, this is my second review, but I felt like I didn’t say enough. My name is Chelsea and I have only been on 1 cruise, but for my first experience on a cruise, I must say that I was very impressed with the ship, the staff, the service, and the activities. There were so many things to do on the ship, you would never have gotten board at all. The service and the staff were incredible. The people that served you were incredibly friendly, the staff always had something going on to entertain you. The activities were funny and enjoyable. Different things from the hairy chest contest to the pool Olympics to family feud to trivia. The ship had lots of places to go like Dr. Frankenstein’s lab were the teens can dance, Maguire’s bar were the adults can get beer and watch different sports games. Also there was the yellow brick road were you could do some shopping. You can go to the Raven’s library to talk with your friends on the Internet, You can go to Sam’s piano bar to listen to piano players. Go to Bacchus Dining room to eat your fancy dinner at the same time every night. For the midnight buffet you can go to Horatio’s, you can visit Mr. Lucky’s casino and win some money, you can even go to Adonis spas and relax. Head to the Phantom Lounge and watch the entertainment and shows, and go to Wizards to play some arcade games. This ship has everything you could want. When I got on the boat It was like a dream. The food was tremendous. Hamburgers, salads, pizza, chicken wings, Chinese food, Chicken, Shrimp, and anything you can even think of. The drinks were so tasty. There were non-alcoholic fruit drinks for young kids, beer for adults, and they had a new fruit drink every day. Anyone who reads this review will know I’m not lying about how good everything is on that boat, in fact I want to work on it when I’m old enough. It wasn’t just the food and drinks and places. The people who worked on it made it 100 times better. There was the cruise director Mark Hawkins, There was Karl w/a k, which I got to meet, and everyone who worked was nice. The places we visited were beautiful. Grand Cayman, Belize, Costa Maya, and Cozumel. Those places were so warm and beautiful. If you have a balcony from your room your lucky, we did, and the sights were amazing. So when you read this I hope that you will go on this cruise and see for yourself.

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Feb 9, 2005

Bahamas

In a nutshell, this was a 3-night cruise as the ship was used in Jacksonville, FL previously as one of the "floating hotels" for the Super Bowl. Typically, this ship runs a 7-day itinerary. This will be a short review, but I want to share as I have benefited so much from others. This was my third Carnival cruise and I could not

believe the improvements this cruise line has made (at least on this ship) over the years! This was one terrific ship! First, the cabins were quite upscale with wonderful beds, delightful down comforters and pillows, high thread-count sheets, fluffy robes, Grohe fixtures in the bathroom, etc. Our balcony cabin was 8258, and the glass was clean on the glass doors and the balcony (this makes a difference when you can actually see out). There were two reclining chairs and a small table on the balcony, and it was large enough to have the breakfast tray delivered there in the morning. Tip: when you are on the 8th deck, the Lido deck just above juts out as a sort of sunshade, so your view of the sky is restricted. I would aim for a lower level balcony so that you can enjoy the view more from the balcony. The ship was clean and beautiful at one year of age. The ship left out of Port Everglades and our shipmates were delightful. I saw no rude or drunken behavior at any point in time. They seemed educated and friendly, relaxed and polite. I thought, “Am I really on Carnival??” I was surprisingly delighted on my 2001 Carnival cruise, which I took solely due to its location out of Galveston near my home. Yet this cruise outdid even the last! Staff were friendly and competent. Food was not exceptional, but it was good and I didn’t have to cook it. Activities were entertaining. Bands, shows, karaoke, art auctions all enjoyable. The pizzeria was done so well with fast, friendly service and good pizza, that I almost didn’t appreciate it until I remembered the “old Carnival” where you had the opposite with slow service, no prep done, nothing ready, etc. Ice cream machines worked when you wanted it on this cruise. If you haven’t been on a bad cruise, it is hard to appreciate these little details, but they can make a difference when they aren’t handled well. Improvements? I’d have enjoyed a Steel Drum Band at sail-away time. The food could be better. I’d like to see Carnival broaden the activity choices to include some more variety. But these complaints are minor in the grand scheme. In summary, you’d have thought you were on Royal Caribbean on this delightful cruise. I once swore that I would never take another Carnival cruise, but I have eaten my words and am happy to report that the improvements are amazing and I would feel very comfortable sending my parents on this cruise. Carnival has really made a believer out of me. I will still choose my ship carefully, and I can see now that newer is nicer overall regarding the ships (beds, fixtures, cleanliness, fast elevators), but I will definitely sail Carnival again. In fact, I am taking the whole family on Carnival in April! Hope this review helps! Bon Voyage!

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Oct 24, 2004

Bahamas

This was the third cruise that my wife and I have sailed on, having sailed on Royal Caribbean’s Enchantment of the Seas and Rhapsody of the Seas previously. We wanted to sail with Carnival for several reasons, one being Miracle is a new ship and two, the itinerary to the Bahamas was to our liking this time of the year. Embarkation/Sail-away:

We drove to Baltimore several weeks before sailing to find the cruise terminal and parking as we would do with any drive-to cruise. On sail day we arrived at approximately 12:30 PM, drove thru the main gates of the cruise terminal, and proceeded to the ‘staging area’ for embarking guests. After a long wait, we were told by parking authority staff that Miracle was three hours late in returning to Baltimore due to inclement weather someplace. So basically we sat in the car for three long hours waiting. Finally, the long line of cars were released from the parking area and we drove thru a long winding path around the ship and other loading areas to the embarkation area. From there we were directed to a building adjacent to the cruise terminal itself where we loaded our luggage into large holding areas for processing. We then drove around the terminal again to the long term parking area, parked the car, then took the shuttle bus back to the terminal to check in. Once we were in the terminal it was a short line to check in , where we received our Sail and Sign card and other paperwork needed to board the ship. Since we booked online, we were given a guaranteed cabin rate, not knowing exactly where our cabin would be. When we checked in we found we would be on the 6th or Upper deck. We boarded the ship and following the signs, made our way down a l-o-n-g corridor [this ship is 960 feet long] to our cabin at the stern of the ship. When we opened the door we were pleasantly surprised that our assigned cabin was a suite. We had actually booked an ocean-view with balcony and received a free upgrade to a suite. And a BIG suite it was with a huge balcony big enough for several lounge chairs and tables, a Jacuzzi bath instead of the usual shower, double sink and large seating areas. So no complaints so far. Also we figured at the stern of the ship, it there was any discernable movement during travel, we would not feel it. And for the most part we were correct, with the exception of Sunday night a few hundred miles south of Baltimore; the weather was choppy and the closet door banged to the extent that I had to stuff a sock in it to keep it from rattling. Other than that it was smooth sailing the rest of the cruise. The sail away from Baltimore was a bit dreary, considering there was light rain all day, but since we were on our way to the Bahamas, we did not let that bother us. The weird thing about Carnival, or at least this ship, was that the captain did not blow the ship’s horn upon leaving ports, as RCCL always had. After dinner, we took a walk to explore all decks and take some nighttime pictures. Comparing Carnival ships as far as decor against RCCL is a bit hard. RCCL ships seem to have a more nautical feel, while Carnival seem to have a more whimsical feel, with movie themes. Not good or bad, just different. And Carnival seems to have a ‘sight unseen’ format for their cabin stewards. Ours, Eduardo, did everything you expect of a steward, cleaning, up, supplying info and making animals out of towels. We just did not see him much. Again, sight unseen. One thing we did notice is that the cruise director, Mark Hawkins did all the shore excursion, shopping, debarkation and other speeches; but he was not involved in the normal poolside activities. This is opposite from other cruises we have been on. Food: We originally booked a table for two in the main dining room, the Bacchus, and each night were more than satisfied with the menu, eating fish, filet mignon, chicken, salad, and other delectables, plus many delicious deserts. Our waiter, Alex, was a funny guy who saw to it every need of ours. The wait staff danced and entertained nightly, but not with a specific theme per night. And like RCCL, the ‘wine steward’ is now also the server for all drinks other than ice tea. Entertainment: Almost all of the shows performed in the Phantom Lounge were excellent. The first one "Generations" is a musical tribute to 20's through 90's styles of music. And the second, a "Tribute to the Beatles". The other nights were comedians, magicians, jugglers, and even a hypnotist. We went to the early shows as we preferred to stroll the decks later or retire to our cabin. Shore Excursions: Key West: Having been to Key West previously and seen the usual sights such as Trolley Tour, Aquarium, and Shipreck Museum,we decided to take the Glass Bottom Boat tour of the harbor. A word to the wise : BRING DRAMAMINE!. This was the worst shore excursion we have ever been on. Half of the boat was either seasick or close to it.The shore excursion desk should have told passengers how rough it is. We were glad to get back to the pier and return to a normal walking tour after that. Nassau: Again we were in Nassau a few years back and this time took the Paradise Island tour. You sail via small boat across the harbor to the Island and walk the rest of the way thru the tour. They have restaurant, casinos, and underground aquarium, and other sights to see. If you actually stayed there the prices are outrageous, but it was worth the price for this tour. Upon returning to Nassau mainland we grabbed a bite at the local Hard Rock Café. One thing I can say about Hard Rock, is that no matter where you go in the world, you can count on decent food at reasonable prices. We really only had something to tide us over until dinner on the ship, but it was more than filling considering. Sail away from Nassau was supposed to be midnight, but was roughly 90 minutes late due to a few stragglers [drunks] on shore. Freeport: Upon taking a bus tour of the island it was apparent that hurricane damage was more evident here than on other islands. The driver explained that weeks after the store passed, there are still people without electricity or running water. We stopped at several shopping areas, most notable of them the Port Lucaya marketplace. This is your basic Bahamanian strip mall, with jewelry, food, clothing shops with a bit of live entertainment toward the rear. One of the bus passengers did manage to get themselves lost in this mall, which was not that big. The driver had to go looking for them, and I think they realized upon re-boarding the bus that the other passengers were not too happy with them. Debarkation: Debarkation in Baltimore was very easy. We were off the ship by 9:30, had our luggage, and were in the car driving home less than an hour later. Summary: All in all a good cruise with unexpected perks thrown in. There are differences in various cruise lines, but they are all great values.

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Jul 25, 2004

Bahamas

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 that Carnival has 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...Carnival may be the most popular cruise line in the world, but it is certainly not the safest!

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May 24, 2004

Bahamas

What can I say that has not already be posted concerning the Miracle. My wife and I celebrated her 50th birthday. The ship sailed out of Baltimore, Maryland...it just so happens that I live there so embarkation went without a hitch. Faster than even I thought it would be. I purchased the Birthday Package and the ship did an excellent job

and decorating our cabin...and the cake was excellent. Todd Wittmer our Cruise Director as well as his two assistants, Big Tex, and Karl with a "K" were informative as well as being funny! I gained 10 pounds eating the delicious food served and I was being good. On acouple of occasions I could not resist ordering two entrees....Filet Migon and Lobster Tails. And if you cannot find something that you like at the Liddo Deck Buffet, it does not exist. The two shows performed in the Phantom Lounge were excellent. The first one "Generations" is a musical tribute to 20's through 90's styles of music. And the second, a "Tribute to the Beatles". Along with the two Vegas style shows were comedians, magicians, jugglers, and even a hypnotist. All shows had both an early and late seating. But, the midnight "R" rated versions of the smaller acts were funny while not being that racey. Shore Excursions: Took the Trolley Tour in Key West. The trolleys are not allowed to stop except to stop signs and lights, so you tend to see everything as they pass by. I went on the Swimming with the Stingrays at the Blue Lagoon in Nassau...and I must say that this rates as one of the most exciting things that I have ever done while on a vacation or even in life. It was amazing. My wife did the Blue Lagoon. The Stingray swim portion of the Blue Lagoon excursion lasts about 45 minutes, the rest of the day can be spent enjoying the activities at the Lagoon. I went on the Garden of the Groves/City Tour while in Freeport. Of the 2.5 hour tour we spent 1 hour at the Garden and the rest of the time being dropped off at shopping venues. Some people might like taking the tour, so that they have any opportunity to shop, so please take this as only my opinion. I have nothing to say bad about the ship or crew. Our cabin steward Romeo did an excellent job of taking care of us as well as our waiter/waitress, George and his wife Julie. Debarkation was alittle slow due to arriving back in Baltimore. But, my wife and I didn't really want to leave the ship so we enjoyed ourselves eating fruit and having a beverage on the Liddo Deck. The only bad thing that I have to say about our vacation on the Miracle was that it had to end. We are all ready making plans to sail on her again next year....so, that I can celebrate my 50th birthday.

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Apr 25, 2004

Western Caribbean

Shana Hawkins Just this last week, my family and I sailed on the beautiful Carnival Miracle. This spacious boat created a home for us while on our 7 day cruise to the Bahamas. We stayed in room 1196 on the first floor with a window. This was my first cruise and it couldn't be more perfect. There were glass elevators that took you from the 2nd to the 9th floor, as well as a huge Atrium for guests to meet in. The food was wonderful.

You could have anything and everything you would every dream of having. The rooms were very roomy as were the bathrooms. The opportunities aboard this boat were unbelievable. There were activites constantly, including games and shows in the Phantom Theater, dancing in the bars like disco in Dr. Frankenstein's Lab, buffets with more food than you can imagine, and spectacular pools and hot tubs. The casino was very fun and I didn't lose all my money! The shows were awesome. The dancers put on a tribute to the Beatles that was great! They did an outstanding job all together. The service everywhere on the ship was excellent. Not only were the staff friendly, but all the people in general. Our cruise director was Todd Wittmer and he did a fantastic job of lining everything up. He was very organized and unique. His assistants were humorous and very friendly, including my favorite 'lil guy' Karl with a K. He had so much energy the whole time. We sailed out of Baltimore, Maryland on April 25, 2004 to Key West, Florida. We had 2 days on the boat, which were never boring. On the 3rd day, we docked at Key West. My excursion for the day was a tour of the beautiful city and then shopping. On the 4th day, we docked at Nassau on New Providence Island. I then took a boat to the Blue Lagoon for a Swim With The Dolphins. This encounter was the best experience and I recomend it to everyone, no matter what age. That night we went to a deck party on the boat, which was awesome! We danced the night away. Day 5 we found ourselves in Freeport on Grand Bahamas. I was suppose to go snorkeling, but unfortunately due to rough water and high winds my excursion was cancelled. I instead went to Lucayan Beach and laid out in the sun. Not long after that we were off into the Atlantic Ocean for the last time. Day 6 was spent aboard the boat. I played bingo, laid out on the deck and then danced the night away with Karl with a K. The next morning we docked at Baltimore too soon. Getting off of the ship was like leaving home. I think everyone who goes on a cruise leaves bonded to it and the crew. This cruise was the best vacation I've ever taken and I would recommend it to everyone looking to have a good time without worrying. Carnival Cruise Lines are great and they take care of you. I plan on returning to on of the ships as soon as possible.

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Apr 12, 2004

Bahamas

Carnival Cruise Lines has most definitely outdone themselves with their newest Spirit class ship, the Miracle. It is absolutely unbelievable! Having sailed with Carnival several other times, I thought I knew what to expect, but the Miracle has raised the bar for all other ships. This is 88,500 tons of absolute beauty! Our embarkation was from JAXPORT, in Jacksonville, Florida. Even though earlier reviews mentioned unorganized procedures,

we had no problems what so ever. Guests were even allowed to board the ship before the posted time of 1:30 PM. Carnival asked that we refrain from going to our cabins until 1:30, as the cabins were still being cleaned, but all of the public areas were available and the food was waiting when we boarded at 11:15 AM. How nice! The food selections were incredible for the whole 5 days, many, many choices, and varied themes. The activities were limitless, and the only problem, and it's a good problem to have, was that you couldn't do everything you wanted to do. The cruise director, Todd, was fantastic... high energy, and very visible! The crew staff was extremely friendly and willing to do whatever was needed to accommodate your needs. We were suppose to visit the Florida Keys on Wednesday, April 14, but high winds, in excess of 35 knots, would not allow the ship to safely dock. The cruise director advised use that we would proceed to Nassau, arriving a few hours early. Later that day, we were also advised that instead of having a full day at sea on Friday, we would make a stop at Freeport (Grand Bahama Island) because of our missed port of Key West. While on our way to Nassau, there was a need for a medical evacuation from our ship. Although there were all kinds of rumors, I'm not exactly sure what happened to the guest, but the evacuation was precarious due to the extremely high winds at sea. Fortunately, the evacuation was successful, and I hope the guest is doing much better! We arrived in Nassau at 7:15AM on Thursday and left for Freeport at 2:30 am on Friday. We arrived in Freeport around 7:30 AM on Friday and left for our journey back to JAXPORT around 4:00 PM. Debarkation was a smooth process, with Carnival now offering a new process called self-assist luggage. This is for guest who can carry all of their luggage from the ship, which means you don't have to sit your bags outside the door before midnight to be picked up. The self-assist guests are called first for debarkation. We were in the car and head home by 9:30 AM, already making plans for our next cruise!

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Apr 3, 2004

Western Caribbean

I had never been on a cruise ship before being on the Carnival Miracle. I had no idea what to expect aside from the experiences shared with me by friends and family. Though I have no basis for comparison with other ships or cruise lines - I can say, without a doubt, this was the best vacation I have ever had. We drove to Jacksonville on April 2 and stayed at the Ramada Limited near the Airport. We were only about 6 miles from JAXPORT.

There were lots of restaurants and hotels in this area. And the drive over to JAXPORT from this location was pretty easy. Embarkation On April 3rd at around 9:30am we arrived at JAXPORT. The signs say that the gates don't open until 11am, but they were open that morning pretty early. We had no problems getting on the ship. The folks at Carnival even let us board with the Skipper's Club people - because my mother- and father-in-law had booked one of the Penthouse Suites. Getting on the ship was super easy. It only took us about 1.5 hours from start to finish to get on the boat. (We thought we would have to wait much, much longer.) First Impressions Wow. I was completely overwhelmed when I got onboard. The ship is truly a sight to see - both inside and out. Rooms Our room was located on the 6th Deck, Starboard side, right near the main elevators. The room was amazing. My wife and I had plenty of room. We even had a balcony. Our rom steward was great. We hardly saw her or her assistant, but our room was always cleaned twice daily. We had a queen size bed and a couch in the room. There were lots of things to watch on TV too. Other Amenities Wireless internet was available on the ship - which was great if you needed to send quick emails to friends and families back home (to make them even more jealous!) The ship was wired up in a number of locations ... so if you bring a laptop with a wireless card, you don't have to stay in the Internet Cafe to get online. Access itself was pretty pricey ($25 for 33 minutes). But I suppose if you have to be online... and you're in the middle of the ocean, the price really doesn't matter all that much. Food We ate in the Bacchus Dining Room most nights. The food was great each and every night. I made it a point to try something new every night. I really enjoyed the Weiner Schnitzel they prepared one night... It had to one of the best meals I think I have ever had. On a few occasions we would go up onto the Lido Deck and eat at Horatio's. The Taste of the World lunch they had everyday was great! You could sample food from all over each day - which was pretty awesome. Ports Cozumel was awesome. There was lots of shopping to be done. (My wife loved that!) And there were quite a few places to party (if that's your thing). Everything was clean. All of the vendors spoke English pretty well. It was probably the nicest destination on the trip. The Duty Free shopping area had TONS of stuff for sale. Costa Maya was nearly as cool as Cozumel. I think it may have been a little smaller than Cozumel, but everything looked newer. Lots of shopping. Lots of bars/clubs to enjoy an adult beverage. There was even a swimming pool near the port that you could swim in. Excursions I went Deep Sea Fishing in Cozumel with my brother- and father-in-law. The waters were pretty fierce towards the north of the island. We didn't catch anything. The boat ride was pretty fun though. I don't know that I would do it again. It cost $139 to go on this excursion and seeing as we didn't even get a bite (or really touch a pole for that matter) I don't know if it was worth it. I went on the Beach Snorkeling Adventure in Costa Maya. For the price ($39) it was a pretty great excursion. We had to take a bus from the port to remote part of the area approximately 30 minutes away. We snorkeled in a privately owned beach area that was roped off. Refreshments were provided. I had a great time (and a great tan) while doing this. I was not impressed with Freeport. There were a few shops right near the port, but as I understand it - you had to drive into town to really experience the place (which we did not do.) If you do decide to do anything at Freeport, go on one of the Carnival sponsored excursions into town. The local cab drivers charge something like $6 to get into town and who know's how much to get back to the port. Days at Sea There were tons of on-board events. Lots of opportunities to earn 24 Karat Gold Plastic Ships. The casino was great. The arcade room was great. The internet cafe was great. I don't know that it wass possible to get bored on the ship. What didn't we like? • The comedian was so-so on the trip. • Adult beverages were a little pricey sometimes. • Default gratuities charged on anything purchased from the bar. What did we like? • Great selection of food. • Wireless Internet Access • The two Las Vegas-style shows. • Great selection of excursions to go on. • 24/7 Pizza. Yum. Summary For a first cruise, the Miracle was an awesome experience for me. I had an amazing time. I really enjoyed my vacation on this ship. My experience on this cruise has already convinced me to book a cruise for next year. May 28, 2005 - Ill be sailing on the Glory. I can't believe how great a value this trip was. For everything you get onboard, and everything you are able to do - you really can't beat the price.

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Mar 15, 2004

Bahamas

This was our first cruise so while we had read many reviews we still were not sure exactly what to expect. The Miracle is Carnival’s newest spirit class ship and we were told we would not be disappointed. I assure you we were not. Jacksonville is also a new port and they still have a long way to go in organization. Overall it was not a long wait to board but the confusion in the terminal was unreal. It seemed that the staff had know

idea which way to send you and having to go though 3 different lines seemed a little unnecessary. Once we boarded however everything fell into place and we were in for a fantastic trip. We arrived on board at about 1:15pm with our sailing time at 4:00pm. We settled right in and our Frannie (our room steward) was right on the ball to tell us if we needed anything at all just to ask and he would take care of it. Our first night was a little rough as the weather was rainy and the ships stabilizers seemed to be working overtime. We both weren’t feeling up to par and decided it was better to just get a good nights sleep and start again the next day. From this point forward everything just fell into place. The staff was extremely outgoing making sure all of our needs were met with a smile. Our wait staff was the best. Kinga from Hungary and Irena from Lithuania really put this cruise over the top. We actually found dinner to be the best part of the day. Tears were actually shed when it was time to say our goodbyes although we did exchange email addresses. The only negative thing I could say is that it seemed the hot tubs were filled with children from the time they opened until they closed at night. While I have no problem with children and almost every one of them were well behaved, many of them were dumped at the pool area unsupervised while the parents went off to do something else. In any case that being the only negative made this trip extremely worthwhile. We are already looking forward to making our next booking!!

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Jan 2, 2004

Western Caribbean

I will not post a long review here because I find they often are repetitious and provide more detail than I need. I will note only several of the best and worst parts of our cruise (I just returned yesterday.) Best parts: Boarding and debarkation were easily and relatively quick. Its nice that the cruise port and the airport are so near each other

in Tampa, so there's less anziety about making the sailing or missing the flight home. Service in the dining room was the best I've ever had on any cruise- from Yolanta and Julius. Knowledgeable, unhurried, prompt, fun, thoroughly professional. The cabin steward was also very good. My younger relatives loved the dance clubs (especially Frankenstein's)and karioke, and the sports bar was great. The adult hot tub was kept relatively free of children by alert security people and we used it a lot. The whole ship is spotlessly clean. Our balcony cabins on 9 aft were very quiet and the beds with big down comforters were fabulous. Aside from the vibration in the dining room (worse on the 1st level than on the 2nd) the ship seemed very stable. Belize is a wonderful new port, with so many interesting things to do. I treked thru the rainforest and tubed the caves. One of the best shore excursions ever. (I booked privately thru www.ecotoursbelize.com) Worst parts: Sadly, the other guests. I had read of this problem on the cruise chat boards, but had been on a number of Carnival ships and had never experienced it. I was amazed by the number of boorish, loud people (mostly male) who appeared to be dressed more for a trip to Home Depot or spring plowing, rather than a cruise ship. The choice of music on the pool decks was old, twangy rockabilly and country, so bad it drove me back to the quiet of my balcony even after I and a number of other guests complained. The maitre'd was obnoxiousy self-promoting, and seeking tips. The dining room no longer serves after dinner capuccino or expresso included in the meal. (You pay extra.) The hand dryers in the ladies' rooms thru out the ship simply DO NOT WORK and since no other means of drying your hands is provided, you are left to wipe them on your clothes. The slot machines in the casino were boring, and very tight. (However, the casino staff were very nice and upbeat.) The entertainment was amateurish and really pretty bad. I left two shows early. The cruise director, whose signature is wearing mismatched shoes, might be happier working in a circus or perhaps the Disney cruise line. The decor of the dining room is bizarre to the point where it interferes with your enjoyment of the food. In summary, it seems that Carnival has taken a lot of cost cutting measures that impact the quality of their product. I think we'll try Princess or RCCL next time, or perhaps return to the Conquest which I found to be more to my liking.

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Nov 30, -0001

Western Caribbean

Carnival Miracle Western Caribbean Shannon My husband and I have become cruising addicts thanks to Carnival Cruise Lines. Our first experience was a two day “cruise to nowhere” and our second cruise was to Bermuda (on the Legend and Victory). Being that we live in Maryland we were very pleased to see that a number of cruise lines were beginning to use the Port of Baltimore in 2003 and 2004. Unfortunately, now there are only one

to two cruise ships leaving from our area. The cruise to the Bahamas aboard the Miracle was nothing short of miraculous. We arrived at the Port of Baltimore around 11:00 a.m., the ship was already there and had been cleared from the previous sailing. We drove through the secured terminal area to a warehouse, there a porter unloaded our luggage and we proceeded to park our car in a gated lot. A shuttle bus took us to the terminal where we waited a short while to meet with an agent that issued our Sail and Sign cards and checked our documents. From luggage drop off to walking onto the boat the whole process was 30 – 45 minutes. We immediately went to see our room which was an inside on deck 7. Since we spend little “awake” time in our room we have always opted for an interior cabin. The room was what we expected- although the beds were separated into two twins instead of one king. I requested the change from our cabin steward- and he had the adjustments made prior to us returning. Unlike some other responders we saw our room steward quite often, I found him very friendly, accessible and attentive (we found he had been with CCL for 13 years). One thing I liked was always having fresh ice in our ice bucket. I swear he changed the ice a few times a day because I never found small ice cubes just floating in melted ice. After we checked out the room it was onto the Lido deck for some food. The buffet line was comparable to that of the other two cruises. I enjoyed the deli sandwiches and the fresh salads. The presentation, while not fancy, was adequate (clean serving areas and filled trays). The free beverage selection was ample with juices, tea and hot drinks. I purchased a soda-card for $30 or so dollars, if you drink two or more sodas a day then it is well worth the price. The boat left port on time and we sailed down the Chesapeake Bay. The weather was gorgeous (although a little chilly toward the evening on the deck). The first evening was a casual dinner. We had a late seating (which we prefer) and found we were seated with a larger group from our area (24 in all). First day at sea was wonderful. I ordered room service of bagels and juice. It arrived on time (which also served as our wake-up call). After getting dressed in our bathing suits we headed up to the Lido deck for our second breakfast, which we ate in a lounge chair while we watched the beautiful ocean pass by. We pretty much stayed camped out in those lounge chairs for the entire day. Occasionally we would get up to get a drink or get in the pool. After the sun was setting we checked out the fitness center. The equipment was in good working order and equivocal to that of our local gym. I think there might have been 10 people in the whole place. This was the first formal night, so we got ready and went down towards the restaurant. Of course CCL had their entire photo stations set up. We had our pictures taken (I found the price to be reasonable and the quality to be above average). The dinner menu offered a large selection for everybody. This was “lobster” night, and my husband being a seafood eater asked for two entrees- a lobster and steak. The food was presented nicely and came to the table quickly. The drink server seemed overwhelmed but seemed to get to the table twice during our dinner. The head waiter and assistant waiter were excellent. After dinner we went to the show which was a Las Vegas style musical. Following the show we decided to go to the dance club. We were disappointed to see that it was empty and the music selection was rap or hip-hop. This was the case the entire cruise. I would have liked some musical variety at the dance club. So, we ventured into another bar that had a live band playing, here people were dancing and the band sounded pretty good, so, we stayed. Day two at sea pretty much followed the schedule of the previous day. I enjoy just laying in the sun, so I had no complaints being left out on the deck. I did notice that finding a “prime” chair may be difficult because there are a lot of towel chair-holders out there. I personally did not leave my towel lying around since CCL checks the towels out under your cabin number and then you are held financially responsible for that towel. On a previous cruise two passengers got into an argument over a towel and who it belonged to. Late in the afternoon we sailed near Miami- we could see the coast well. This position enabled us to use our cell phones and call home to check on our kids. That evening there was a complimentary cocktail hour for “repeaters” which was nice. Another nice dinner and show followed by waking around the decks (which are nearly empty late in the night). Key West: We docked in Key West early in the morning ate breakfast and got off the boat to walk around the city before our excursion (which we booked through Carnival). Come to find out that right off the dock was the outfit Carnival contracted with offering the same excursion for less. I think we paid maybe $20-30 more to book it though CCL rather then through them directly. Nonetheless, we took a catamaran out to a coral reef about 30 minutes from shore. Here we jumped in and snorkeled. The snorkeling was not great- apparently because of the recent hurricanes. I began to feel kind of sea sick which swimming in the ocean (which I found to be quite odd), so I went back on the boat and waited to leave. One of the people running the tour said I was probably feeling sick from drinking salt water which snorkeling. I am not sure if that is what caused it, but I was glad to be back at shore. After the boat ride we walked about a mile through Key West to the Southern most point in the United States buoy. It was extremely hot, but we enjoyed stopping in the shops to look around and cool down as we strolled. Then, it was back to the boat and off to the Bahamas. If I were to go to Key West again I would rent one of these two person “golf-cart” like cars. Companies will meet you at the cruise ship and drop you back off again. Bahamas- Since we felt we overpaid on the catamaran excursion, we decided to go out on our own in Nassau. I had read up a good bit and thought I knew what to expect. I was wrong- now I know why in some cases it is better to just pay the extra and book the tour. We got off the boat and were immediately attacked by the vendors. If you just keep walking and don’t make eye-contact they will move onto the next person. I am sure the locals think we are all rude Americans, but if I want to buy something I will let the person know. We proceeded to walk toward Paradise Island- our intent was to take a tour to Blue Lagoon. After walking for about 10 minutes we got a taxi and he took us the rest of the way. We made it the Blue Lagoon ticket counter only to find the one shuttle to the beach had left with the boat passengers (which they picked up right at the dock). Since I had been misinformed that the boat left on the hour (which it does during the summer) we did not get to go to Blue Lagoon. So, we walked to the public beach and took some back way through the “public access” to get onto the beach. Walking through some trees up a hill there were a number of locals just hanging out. I am not sure why they were there, and we quickly went by them. The beach was nice- the ocean was quite rough, but the sand was clean and there was plenty of places to sit. Leaving the beach we decided to attempt to walk through Atlantis’ pool area to avoid the public access and the people. Somehow we got into the pool area- which was very nice- and made our way out through their lobby. We shared a cab with another couple and went back to the boat. We did go to the straw market – I was not impressed and did not buy anything. I was more than happy to get back on the boat and wait for our departure. In hindsight I should have booked the Blue Lagoon excursion (fellow cruisers raved about their experience there) through the ship- lesson learned. Port Canaveral Florida- since Freeport was still without electricity we bypassed Freeport and went to Port Canaveral. After being disappointed with Nassau I was glad to skip Freeport. We booked an excursion to Universal Studios. This was pricey- double the park admission- but did include bus transportation (one hour each way). Passengers with a booked excursion were first to disembark. Since we were back in the United States we had to go through Immigrations first. The process was quick and we were on our way to Universal by 9:00. The trip was worth the money- since there is nothing immediately available in port. I heard some people took a bus ($10.00) and went to a local shopping mall. Last day at sea- Another gorgeous day. The sun was shining the weather was warm and the ocean was calm. I could not have asked for anything better. My husband and I booked the supper club for this night. We had done this on the last cruise. The food is excellent and service superb; the atmosphere is quiet, relaxed and very romantic. This is well worth the nominal fee. Home in Baltimore- since we opted to self disembark we did not put our luggage out the night before. We were the first passengers called to get off the boat. I think we were walking down the gangway at 9:00 and we were home by 10:15. I can not say enough about cruising with Carnival; we are three for three and looking forward to our fourth in January 2006.

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Nov 30, -0001

'ljksdnv'

Where do I start? Everything was GREAT! Me and my wife had an idea to go on a vacation with my 2 daughters, but not a resort. My twin Daughters turned 16 this year, so we wanted to get them something amazing! We told them that we were going to Disney. We were going to Miami to Take off anyway, So this helped our plan fall into place, we got them passports luggage, new clothes, etc. When we got to the dock, they were so happy. It was great to see them

so happy. They got on Board and were very pleased - it was a 7 day cruise, through the Eastern Carribiean. My daughters said that was the best Brithday present they have ever gotten, but wait until they turn 18, and I take them on another cruise, to Alaska! It was very good, not to hot, not to cold, very fresh. Balcony, was amazing, had an amazing view, our neighbors were very friendly. There was alot to do, my daughters loved it! I enjoyed everything. Was in my range of pricing, the cave tubing was fun, I recommend it for anyone who likes adventure. Well it was for my twin daughters 16th birthdays and they loved it! This was all about them, they really liked the Formal dinners, this was like homecoming to them. Since they are home schooled, they loved they whole idea of getting dressed up like a princess and get treated like royalty. My daughter, Liz, said she loved it and it was something she would love to do again. We wanted to get them their own room but because they are under-aged, we couldn't. They really liked the cave tubing in Belize. All the beaches were beautiful and clean. We had a good time snorkleing, though we all had bad sunburn on our backs from it. They were really into the pool. They never left it during daytime hours, when we were not doing anything. If you have the chance, visit Lumienesince Bay, it is very cool. Nobody knows why, but if you go there at night, and splash the water a little but, it glows, it is very pretty, but does not show up in pictures. I was very upset about that. Overall, I had a very good time and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good, fun, adventureous, family vacation. My wife and kids also had a very plesent time and I hope if you go on a cruise you do the same.

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