February 2014 - Carnival Miracle to Mexico
We purchased this cruise for our son and his family as a Christmas gift. We selected an aft facing balcony for us and my son had a port balcony. This was our tenth Carnival cruise and the third on a Spirit-class ship. Although not the largest of the Carnival ships, the Spirit-class ships are my favorite Carnival ships.
We have platinum cruise privileges with Carnival, so enjoyed the convenience of priority embarkation, debarkation and priority tendering in Cabo San Lucas. There are several other platinum perks we did not use.
Carnival staterooms are fairly standard and similarly decorated for almost all Carnival ships, so we knew what to expect for accommodations. We selected the aft balcony because it was extended. However, it did have it's drawbacks. It was on deck eight just below the adult pool area, so we did hear chair scraping and activity above us during the day. There was no cover over the balcony. The stern of the ship is cantilevered making it possible for people standing on the deck above to partially see onto our balcony. It also was a bit uncomfortable in full sun. Being on the stern of the ship also meant more vibration and movement, which I didn't mind at all but it did bother the wife, who is more prone to motion sickness. Overall, the extended, aft balcony was not worth the additional cost and we wished we had selected a midship port or starboard balcony.
Our room steward was excellent and kept our room spotless and orderly. Every night he had a different towel character on our bed. Our granddaughter loved to come to our room to see what we got and tell us about the towel characters in her room.
Carnival does a fairly good job of maintaining smoke-free areas on this ship. It was easy to avoid the areas where smoking was allowed. The only problem encountered with smoking, was on our balcony. We were unfortunate to have smokers on both sides of as well as below. This ship did not allow smoking in the staterooms but did on the balconies. The lady in the stateroom port of us was quite prompt (every 45 minutes) smoking on her balcony when not out about the ship and, even though sound insulation between rooms was adequate we often heard this lady strenuously coughing in her cabin many times, both day and night. My wife is an asthmatic and was unable to enjoy the balcony much of the cruise.
We were seated in a booth for four adults in the Bacchus Dining room (table 204), even though there were five of us, with our five year old granddaughter. A chair was placed at the end of the table, making the table a little congested but acceptable.. We must have also been directly under an air conditioning fan, as we were constantly feeling cold air blowing over us, consequently, we always dressed warm for dinner. Our waiter and assistant waiter took very good care of us and were attentive and adept at anticipating our desires.
Having been on nearly 70 cruises with various cruise companies, cruise line food really no longer offers us much of a surprise. Overall, the food quality and quantity were good. I like soups but found the soup selections somewhat lacking. My wife loves Carnival's chocolate melting cake and she was not disappointed. The food service was excellent as was the main dining room food presentation. We enjoyed the sea day brunches in the main dining room.
We didn't eat often at the buffet on deck nine. The food here was adequate and plentiful. I liked the omelets, Bistro sandwiches and the hot freshly made pizza. I also loved the 24 hour soft serve ice cream and yogurt. My wife was concerned there were not enough hand sanitizers available near the buffet-type dining areas. Gratis beverages included tea (iced/hot), coffee, tap water and lemonade.
I'm a Dr. Pepper drinker and few, if any, cruise ships offer Dr. Pepper, so I always bring my own supply on board. However, on the third night of this cruise, I discovered Mr. Pibb was offered, which, for me, is a suitable substitute for Dr. Pepper. Had I have known this at the beginning of the cruise, I would have purchased a beverage card and forgot about bringing my own soda supply with me.
My wife's and my perceptions are that Carnival encourages the interests of younger adults, providing a good children's program that allows the parents a break to enjoy the ship's entertainment. As for us, we like a nice break where we can be pampered and catered to for a few days. So we spend a lot of quiet time by ourselves on cruises. We were disappointed we were unable to use our balcony more but we did find many quiet spots on the ship where we could read and spend time together. Our son and his wife enjoyed the shipboard entertainment and parties and our granddaughter had a good time at Camp Carnival.
As for excursions in port, I seldom buy ship's tours. I purchased a zip line outing for my son and his wife from the internet at a much cheaper price than offered from the ship's tours. They also bartered a glass bottom boat tour from a vender on shore and the thoroughly enjoyed both excursions.
The crew on the Miracle were courteous, friendly and helpful. Many times we heard them welcoming us back with Carnival. Our overall experience was enjoyable and I would gladly cruise with Carnival again.