WOW...Alaska as your first cruise! Outstanding!! As for your concern about the best deal versus the number of ports...your itinerary was originally supposed to include Ketchikan. Due to speed issues, the Miracle had to change itineraries. This was announced months ago and I seem to recall that all the passengers, got $50 on-board credit as well as a 25% discount on a future cruise. This, combined with the already comparatively low cost of Carnival pretty much guarantees you got the best deal for your money. I am glad you enjoyed your first cruise and I hope you will enjoy many more...including the one with the 25% discount. Next year, the Legend will be taking the Alaska runs. It has many upgrades as far as dining aboard. The Miracle will undergo the upgrades next year as well.