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modernscarlett

Carnival Miracle Review May 26 - June 2, 2019 with photos

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Tampa/Embarkation

 

This was our 5th cruise, first on the Miracle.  We were celebrating my husband's retirement and our upcoming 25th anniversary. Traveling with our college student daughter and another family.

 

We cruised out of Tampa and flew in late Friday night to have a full day in Tampa.  We chose the Hampton Inn Ybor City after suggestions here on the boards.  We were happy with the hotel, but coming in late at night we were a bit concerned because the neighborhood looked a bit sketchy, and we saw no less than 12 police cars coming and going lights and sirens blazing. It turned out to be just fine, and they have added security.  The staff was very friendly, and the shuttle to the port and around town was a great convenience.

 

On Saturday, we Ubered to the International Plaza to do some shopping for my daughter as they have some high end shops we don't have anywhere close to us in NC.  To me it rivaled the shopping in Vegas, and we enjoyed some nice time in the air conditioning as it was quite hot that day.  The late afternoon we spent in Ybor City as my husband is a cigar lover. He thoroughly enjoyed all of the local cigar shops and seeing the handrolling operations. 

 

We finished the evening at the original Columbia restaurant. What a wonderful experience! Such a beautiful restaurant, and the tableside sangria was to die for! Food was good, and ambiance outstanding.

 

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We left the hotel around noon for the ship via the hotel shuttle. Very short drive.  We had Faster to the Fun, but the lines were so short, we really didn't need it.  It was such a smooth and quick process.  We were quickly on the ship and went straight to our rooms to drop our carryons.  There wasn't a seat to be had on the lido, so we got our lunch and took it back to our room.  We roamed the ship a bit and went up to the decks for the sail away.

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Posted (edited)

Sea Day/Grand Cayman

 

We really enjoyed our first sea day exploring the ship and taking advantage of the large Serenity area.  We were able to find loungers with no problem.  There were quite a few folks in the pool, but there was plenty of room for us to hang out.  The hot tubs did get full pretty regularly.  We had our first elegant night, and I was really surprised at just how dressed up folks were.  We saw a good number of floor length evening gowns. The photo lines were very long, but we went up to the 3rd deck where there was no line like on deck 2.

 

For Grand Cayman, thanks to the info I found on the boards, we went with Captain Marvin's for the Stingray City/One Stop Snorkel tour. What a great experience! We all had lots of time in the crystal blue waters surrounded by stingrays.  A couple of them got really "fresh" with my friend and me. The crew made sure every person had one on one time with a HUGE stingray and that we all got great pictures.

 

The waters were a bit choppy that day, so snorkeling was a little more challenging for me as I'm not the best swimmer, but my daughter and the others in my group really enjoyed it.  The weather was a little overcast, and it rained on the boat ride out, but it kept it from being hot.  

 

Such a great day, and the $60 we paid for the pictures was completely worth it due to the high quality.  We were back at the port with a good amount of time to browse the shops before getting back on the ship.

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Edited by modernscarlett

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Great review so far.  We are booked in a balcony on the Miracle in Sept.  Looking forward to reading more about your experiences and thoughts on the ship.  She is our first Spirit class ship.

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Going on this cruise in August, excited for the rest of the review. I love Ybor (I live about a mile away) but outside of 7th and 8th avenues it can be kind of sketchy at night.

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Roatan

 

I was very excited about this port as it was our first time there.  I had read reviews here and knew exactly what we wanted to do - Sloths and Little French Key.

 

We booked with Rony's Tours, and he met us just where he indicated he would.  It does seem like a bit of a hike to get to the area where the independent operators are staged.  The van was roomy and comfortable for the six of us.  We had initially planned to go to Daniel Johnsons, but Rony suggested Manawakie Park, and we loved it.  It's small and very intimate, and our guide, William, loves his culture and has a passion for sharing it.  We thoroughly enjoyed learning about the native plants and medicinal herbs, and as it is a smaller park, we had a lot of time with the monkeys. Pancho is a little devil, but a cute one.  The monkeys really loved my husband and were all over him, in his shirt, on his head, etc.  We then got to see the sloths which was the one thing my daughter really wanted to do.  We were only able to hold one sloth as the female had just had a baby which we were able to see.  

 

From there we went to Little French Key. It looks just like a postcard.  We had about 3.5 hours there, but we all wanted more! Only complaint is that our waiter really struggled with our orders. I finally communicated with him in Spanish which seemed to help, but it took a good while for our lunch to come.  When we did get it, it was very good, and the smaller chicken plate was all that DH and I could eat.  We took advantage of riding the horses in the ocean which was magnificent, and my daughter and I got massages which were so reasonably priced.  We timed it just right because we were told that the day before they had 900 people there, and 500 scheduled for the next day.  The day we were there it was maybe 100. PERFECT!  We all really hated to leave.  Rony was there exactly at the agreed upon time to get us back to the ship with time to browse for souvenirs in the shops.

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Loving your review. We’re leaving Sunday on the Miracle. So excited!

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Belize

 

The majority of us found this excursion to be our favorite.  We booked with the wonderful King David Castillo of Altournative Belize and were so pleased with our day.  David met us exactly where he said he would in his detailed instructions.  His communication before the trip is excellent and tells you exactly what to expect and what you need to bring.

 

After agreeing on the time we wanted to get back to port, we headed out for cave tubing.  David knows his stuff and was able to get us to the river before anyone else.  We enjoyed our hike through the jungle on the well kept path to the river. Hiking across the stones in the shallow water made me feel like I was on a real adventure.  David's brother-in-law, Pablo, was at the river waiting for us with our tubes.  The caves were even more magnificent than I imagined. David guided our friends, and Pablo was our guide. He has the most beautiful spirit and has a vast knowledge about the cave system as he's been a guide there for 25 years. It was so peaceful and awe inspiring, and we had more time in the river than the cruise excursions.  As we were leaving, the Carnival hordes were descending carrying their own tubes. My husband later talked to a gentleman on that excursion, and their experience was nothing like ours.  We got to walk through the river a bit to go around the crowds, and DH relished the chance to swim down the river in the cool waters.

 

From there we stopped and got Belizean takeout and ate our delicious meals on the way to give us extra time at Altun Ha.  The chicken and rice was seriously delicious.  We did have quite a drive to the ruins, but I am glad to were able to visit this ancient place.  The climb to the top of the highest point is not an easy one, but the views were worth the effort.  David gave us lots of history and helped us get great pictures to remember our visit.  Afterwards, we perused the wares of locals by the ruins and got a couple souvenirs to remember our adventures.

 

David got us back to the port exactly at our agreed upon time with a little time to see the shops as DH was on a mission to find Cuban cigars which were not nearly as easy to find as he had hoped.  All in all just a wonderful day that we will cherish always.

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Cozumel

 

I had heard such good things about this place, and we were not disappointed. A great way to spend a relaxing day after a lot of busy days.  Our waiter was Hector, and not only did he keep the drinks and food coming, he was hilarious. We thought the food was good, but the drinks were better.  We met people at tables beside ours who were also on the Miracle, and we had the best time with them.  They were about 10 drinks in already and introduced us to the drink Liquid Marijuana - OH YES!!

 

I had told DH about the fish pedicures, and as a man who has never had a pedicure, for some reason he was all about getting one of these.  Five of us ended up doing this, and it was really fun.  The spa staff were so kind and friendly, and they take a video for you and air drop it for you to see your reaction.  The pools were really nice, and we met some other cruisers there.

 

The beach was really nice and not too crowded.  My friend and daughter also got massages. Just a note that they couldn't tip on the credit card, so we needed cash for that.  The wi-fi is also very spotty and really only works well in the dining area by the buffet.  DH wanted to hit the cigar shop, and their credit card machine wouldn't connect, and I had to hit up the ATM.

 

Only negative of the day is that we were all having such a good time (and a few of us were having an excellent time, lol) that no one wanted to leave, and DH and I didn't get to visit the restaurant where we ate on our honeymoon and missed the Havana Cigar shop in town.  So, for our anniversary next month I'm surprising him with a gift of another short cruise just us two!!

 

I can totally see how people miss the boat in Cozumel.  Our itinerary was billed as Cozumel plus, but we needed a little more time.

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Cabin/Dining

 

We were in an Aft Balcony 7351.  We had plenty of storage.  Our balcony was much smaller than we had on the Conquest, but we still enjoyed it, and it had a bit of shade.  Location was convenient for access to the Lido and Serenity. Our steward was not as friendly as others we have had, but he was efficient and fulfilled all of our requests, and the service was excellent.

 

We enjoyed all but one dinner in the MDR. Nicanora and I Gusti were a great team. I was surprised at how many people had abandoned the dining room by the end of the cruise.  We enjoyed our food. I only had one thing that I really didn't like - the canneloni that had green peas inside - yuck! But they got me a replacement. I would say the food wasn't as good as we had on the Conquest a few years back, but the service was outstanding.

 

We ate one night in the Steak House which was a first for us. What a treat! I had seen the menu, but I was surprised at the level of culinary art that they displayed. Really felt like very fine dining. I wish I had the video of the smoked oysters. That was something to see! I really like how the steak house is under the funnel, but didn't care for the music echoing up from the Atrium which really didn't match the ambiance.  Service was top notch and food was just amazing.

 

The lido was decent but not fabulous. Did miss Blue Iguana, but didn't miss Guys so much because the Lido Grill was pretty good.

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Debarkation/Tampa

 

With Faster to the Fun we had escorted debarkation which was great not waiting in line. FTTF had also been so great for our tender ports - Belize and Grand Cayman. Tampa debarkation and customs was super fast.  We waited for the hotel shuttle to take us back to our friends' vehicle as they were transporting our luggage - how nice is that?!

 

We had a few hours to kill and visited the Tampa Aquarium.  It was very nice, but in retrospect I would have gotten a hotel day pass because we were all so tired from all the adventures, and we stayed up way too late the night before not wanting the fun to end.  Tampa airport security lines were just a mess.  Very heavy screening and only one line open for non-precheck.

 

Final Thoughts

 

We absolutely loved the Western Caribbean loop, and we would love to visit these ports again and spend some more time at the places we loved and have new adventures.  Overall the ship was just ok. Crew was great, but the motion of the ship really is a bit of a turn off. I've never had any complaint of that with our other cruises.  But the Serenity area is a huge plus.  The ship also didn't have to me as much of a "fun" vibe as others, but that was ok because we have been there done that and were happy to relax a bit while on board. And every time I cruise, I'm ready to book another one, and this time I did.

 

I'm happy to answer any questions on the ports or the ship. Thanks for letting me share my wonderful trip. 

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What a wonderful review!  Thanks so much for taking us along on your vacation. 🙂

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Thank you for the great review. You’ve made me even more excited for my September cruise. 

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