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Carnival Miracle 10/10/04, my first Carnival sailing.



 
 
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  #1  
Old October 25th, 2004, 12:31 AM
Charles
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Default Carnival Miracle 10/10/04, my first Carnival sailing.

The October 10 sailing of the Carnival Miracle was my 17th cruise, my
first cruise on Carnival. Previously I had cruised on RCI, Celebrity
and Princess. I wanted to try Carnival and this sailing on a "Spirit"
class ship out of Baltimore worked out best with my vacation time. The
Spirit Class has been getting good reviews so the Miracle seemed a good
one to try for getting a feel for the Carnival cruise experience. I
booked with Lori at Skyscraper travel who got me a very good deal. She
had group space available and space on the Baltimore sailings was hard
to come by. I booked a category 4A inside guarantee. I was upgraded to
a 5A obstructed view. These cruises out of Baltimore were oversold and
there were several local newspaper articles about people being bumped.
Carnival was caught short because there fewer than usual cancellations.
Right now Carnival does not have any more sailing's scheduled out of
Baltimore in the near future.

I drove to the Port of Baltimore which is about a 45 minute drive from
my home near Washington D.C. The Port of Baltimore is somewhat of a
pain. I arrived at port 11:30 am. The luggage drop off and parking lots
were changed from last years arrangement when I drove there for a
Celebrity Galaxy sailing. Guaranteed to be a clog the way they did it
which required a drive in front of the ship to drop off luggage and
then a trip to the parking lot, and a return trip from the lot in a
bus. The previous year luggage was dropped off at a container at the
entrance to the lot which meant only one line up of cars. The main
problem in Baltimore is that it is not designed for cruise passengers,
it is a freight terminal that has been adapted for a few ships that are
sailing from Baltimore. There needs to be a cruise terminal and cruise
friendly setup built if there are going to be more than a few
sailing's out of Baltimore, something the local governments will have
to decide to do if they want cruise ships using the port.

Actual Carnival embarkation was very well organized. I preferred it to
the Celebrity Galaxy embarkation at Baltimore. The Celebrity
embarkation was more of a free for all. I arrived at port about 11:30
am and was on board around 1:00 pm. Had to wait until 2:00 pm until
cabins were ready so I had a long lunch at the buffet.

The Miracle is a new ship so everything still looks new and shiny. In
addition to being new there was a lot of cleaning and vacuuming going
on during the cruise. I am not sure how exactly how to describe the
decor. It is not as elegant or refined as the decor on on Celebrity,
Princess and RCI. It is somewhat overdone in my opinion and not to my
taste. Also the ceilings seem lower which to me makes a more closed in
feeling. The staircases are narrow. The artwork seemed fairly cheap. I
did not like the panels all over the cabin hallways with Hercole
Periot, Mata Hari, Simon Maigrait, etc. repeated throughout. The
color schemes and combinations were not to my taste either. I thought
the atrium was pretty ugly. More like a large shaft. It was however the
only place with a bar where there was no smoking. The many small
lounges were too smokey for me to stay at long. I usually have no
problem on other ships coexisting in spaces with smokers but this ship
was an exception. Too smokey for me in most lounges. Not sure if it is
a design problem or if there were more smokers. The only similar
problem I had in the past was with the casino on Celebrity Zenith. The
casino on Miracle was also very smokey. And why did they put an open
Cigar Bar right outside the dining room? Super bad smell. The outside
promenade deck is not wrap around. I prefer wrap around but what I
really hated was that there are no chairs on the outside promenade
deck.

I did not care for the dining room decor either, pink blobs and those
grapes. And the many booths, I disliked those also. There are a lot of
tables for two, those who prefer those should have no problem getting a
table for two. The lido buffet area is not badly designed but there
is not much ocean view seating. However there is a lot of outside ocean
view seating by all three pool areas. All the space under the
overhangs is taken with tables. Which I don't care for because there is
very little shaded space available for lounge chairs that those of us
who can't or don't sit out for long times directly in the sun prefer.
Only one very large hot tub in each pool area. There are three pool
areas and three outside hot tubs . There is an inside hot tub in the
gym/spa area. One pool area can be covered. The pool where the band
plays, the music was way too loud. I could not stay in that area long.
The aft pool area tended to be my favorite of the three. The pool and
hot tub there are adult only. Lounge chairs are not padded. A
different kind I have never seen before. No slats. Not all that
comfortable. For some reason i can't fathom around 3:00 pm they start
picking up and stacking the lounge chairs. Plenty of chairs though,
never was once I could not find an empty chair. Just above the aft
area is the slide. It was a lot of fun to go on.

The mens public restrooms have no towels, paper or cloth. Just flaky
hot air hand dryers which did not work 50% of the time.

The library is small, and also has the internet stations. Only few
books, and very little seating. The most pitiful library with a small
book collection, the smallest I have seen on board a ship. The wireless
internet access though was just about the best internet access I have
had on a ship. The actual wireless access points are not in the
library, actually a poor signal there, the best signal is in public
areas on deck three and two. It was up almost every time I used it and
fairly fast.

Cabin was somewhat plain. It was of good size, and as I mentioned an
obstructed view with French doors that can be opened. Can't say that
the French doors added anything for me. The view was 100% life boat.
There was a couch that could have been converted to a bed. Cabin
drawers and closet hardware are strange little rope pulls, the one on
mini-bar was hanging broken off. I did not like them. Storage areas
were okay but drawer and shelf space was not very good. There is a
credit card activated safe. Bed is one of the most comfortable I have
slept on in a cruise ship. Thick mattress, the usual two put together
to make a queen but much more comfortable than the beds on any of the
other cruise lines I have been on. Instead of a bedspread and blanket
they had a comforter. I liked that also. And four thick pillows, not
two small dinky pillows like on other cruise lines. Bathroom, icky
bright blue color tile, and that little tray of brand name stuff. No
French soaps, Lever 2000 was the soap. The sink kept clogging because
the stopper was defective., They could never do anything about it.
Interactive TV system for booking shore excursions and folio worked
okay. I think there was one movie available plus pay for view.
Sometimes CNN. Also they picked up broadcast channel from time to time
like local TV channels from Kentucky and Tennessee. First time I ever
saw local broadcast TV stations carried.

I would say the passenger complement is the most diverse I have ever
sailed with. Also I would say somewhat younger but very diverse age
wise too. Surprised at the number of children of all ages , I would
not have expected as many this time of year when school is in session.
Almost all passengers from USA. Did not meet any Canadians or UK
passengers which I have met often on other cruise lines. Not one
European either.

Dress was more casual than on the other cruise lines I have been on.
There were a lot of people wearing blue jeans. Very different than the
other cruise lines I have been on where you don't often see jeans on a
warm weather cruise. People did dress up for the formal nights though
although there were fewer tuxedos. They also made announcements in the
dining room the first evening, no shorts allowed at dinner.

The crew was pretty good on the whole. The wait staff was pretty good.
The Maitre D I did not care for. I had requested a large table. I
checked embarkation day and saw I was assigned to a booth of four. I
requested a change. He said he would look around and send another
assignment on a card to my room. He did not. I reminded him after first
dinner and again was told he would make another assignment. After that
I did not persist because my tablemates were fine and I did not feel
like persisting it further after two dinners with good tablemates. But
he should have handled the request right away. The cabin steward did a
good job cleaning but I have to say this is the first time in many
cruises that the stewards did not manage to do the work at times I was
away from the room. He knocked on the door several times. They don't
appear to use the little wads of paper method used on other lines that
indicates if a passenger is in the cabin. Towel animals every day. I
don't care for that but a lot of people like those. Service charges are
added automatically at $10 a day. This does not cover the maitre' D and
they request an additional tip for him in the Carnival Capers and even
give an envelope for him at the end of the cruise in your cabin.

There were the usual cruise activities, bingo, art auctions, pool games
etc. The cruise director makes a lot of announcements to sell stuff.
He is a funny guy but too much selling. The rest of the cruise
director staff was pretty unseen and made little impression. I don't
think there were any singles meets. Also they had a wine tasting but
not until the last day. Also there is no big island deck party like
they have on the other cruises I have been on. That was sorely missed
by me. They probably don't have it because there is a lot more partying
in the lounges at night. It definitely was very lively and jumping
late into the night unlike many other cruises I have been on.

The entertainment as a whole did not particularly impress me. They had
two production shows and they were not that good. I have seen better.
The orchestra though was great. Very jazzy sounding orchestra. The rest
of the musicians who played in the venues were only fair. The jazz
musicians did not impress me. The string trio was only fair. The group
that played a Frankie and Johnnies Lounge was good but the room was
too smoky to sit in long The player in the piano bar was not that
good. The guitar/trombone player in the atrium was okay but
repetitious. The juggler was okay but I have seen better. There was one
outside entertainer they brought in from Washington was excellent. A
comedian, William Troxler, saw him in the show lunge and at the Mad
Hatters putting on an after hours adult show. He was great. One evening
the talent show is the entertainment. On other lines the talent night
is not used like that as the show lounge entertainment.

The food was pretty good on the whole. The food was the best buffet
food I recall on cruise ships. Everything was very good at lunch. Many
selections. Good lemonade, apple juice, fruit punch and ice tea always
available. Coffee the usual cruise coffee, not that great. For extra
you can by "coffee shop coffee" which is a Carnival takeoff on
Starbucks. The lido buffet was great the whole week. This is a Carnival
strong point. I rate the lido food better than the other cruise lines.
No mystery foods like those that show up on other cruise lines buffets.
Actually the desserts were better than what they served in the dining
room. Lots of choices too. Soft ice cream always available. They have
international themes every day too. Pizza was very good and they have
a deli where they make some good sandwiches. Breakfast, they have
omelet only stations plus other stations where they cook eggs to order.
Fairly good breakfast buffet. I almost always had breakfast in the
dining room where they had Eggs Benedict and lox and bagels. the
pastries were small and only fair. For sushi lovers there is a sushi
bar in the evening on deck 3. And there is food 24 hours in the lido.

Dinner, the food quality was very good on the whole. I rate the dining
room food a little below Princess and Celebrity but above RCI. The
dining room does not feel very formal with all the pink blobs. There
are booths. I don't care for that. Dinner, they combine the starters,
that is appetizers and soup in one course but no problem ordering an
appetizer and soup. The main entrees mostly were very good. Soups
were fairly good but it came cold one evening. Sent it back. Appetizers
were not as good as on other lines and presentation is poor. Salads
were okay but nothing to get excited about. Breads and rolls fair.
Dessert, some were very good, others only good. Better desserts overall
on Celebrity and Princess. Limited selection of ice cream flavors.
While the waiter service was very good , the bar service, in the dining
room was poor. I ended up with wine only one night because I gave up
on asking for the bar waiter and the selection did not seem that good.
The dining room seems to be part of the cruise activities, we were
divided into teams. Dancing and singing waiters every night. I don't
care for that, but most passengers were loving it. No Baked Alaska
though. The Maitre d or his assistants never came by the table. Instead
of happy birthday and special occasions being celebrated at individual
tables the Maitre' d gets up and reads them all off to the whole
dining room.

The itinerary was not that great but I knew that when I booked. Key
West actually turned out better than I expected. We docked at what I
will call the Truman pier because it is across from the Truman annex.
Miracle was the only ship that day so it was a lot less crowded than
other time I was there. I went to the Mel Fisher museum which is fair
and the Hemingway House which was very good. Also did some shopping at
Divers Direct. Stopped at Sloppy Joes for a brew and it was a lot
better than on other visits because it was not too crowded.

At Nassau, I decided to book a ships excursion, something I usually
avoid , Pearl Island snorkeling. Carnival really botched the port
debarkation. Everyone lined up in the hallways to get off for
excursions and there are cabins leading to the gangway. The stewards
have their cleaning stuff in the halls and passengers also were trying
to get in and out of cabins. It took about a half hour to get off and
all the excursions were delayed about a half hour. They should have had
excursions meet at the lounge and escorted them off first at another
gangway. The excursion itself, there were three at Pearl Island,
snorkeling, stingrays and a treasure hunt . They crammed everyone on
one boat. The snorkeling was good but the best snorkeling was outside
the marked snorkeling area. They kept whistling to me to come closer
in. The were not happy with me but it was hard to resist the area that
actually had good reef and lots of fish. I was bad.

At Freeport which this happened to be the first cruise back since the
hurricane, I also booked a ship excursion. I booked a snorkeling
excursion but it was canceled because it was raining when we arrived.
It cleared up so I took a taxi ride to see a little of the island.
There is nothing at the port but a shipyard, and a small straw market.
It was interesting to see the Ecstasy up in dry dock . My taxi ride
was interesting as the hurricane damage was unfortunately extensive,
still power lines down and uprooted trees all over.

Debarkation went very fast because I decided to try something I have
not seen offered on other cruise lines. In addition to the usual way of
putting you bags out the night before they have self-assisted
debarkation. You keep your bags and lug all of them off yourself. If
you can do that, you are not in a group and you are strong enough to
handle your bags, you go off in the first group. Not many did this so I
got off at 9:00 am, took a shuttle bus to my car and was home at 10:00
am.

I had a very nice cruise. I enjoyed the cruise and enjoyed trying a new
cruise line. The food was pretty good on the whole. The decor, I did
not care for, it felt somewhat cheap to me, but many probably won't
care about that or even notice. As I mentioned the ship was too smokey
for me which was not a problem on 16 previous cruises. The ship is
quite lively at night but I think I am past the age where the point
that is a major plus. I don't care for a ship that is dead at night
either, but something in between is fine. There was somewhat more
shilling going on than the other mass market lines I have been on. Oh,
and did I mention the photographers? They had casual photo stands all
over the atrium areas and really tried to overly hard to get you to
pose.

I had a feeling over the years when booking that Carnival would not be
the best fit for me. Several travel agents tried to get me to book
Carnival over the years. I think my instincts were correct that
Carnival might not be the best fit for me. If I book Carnival again it
would probably only be with a group. I don't say that because Carnival
is a bad cruise line. It is just that I that I prefer Celebrity,
Princess and RCI.

--
Charles
  #2  
Old October 25th, 2004, 01:12 AM
Howie
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Very nice review Charles. I wondered what you might like and dislike
about Carnival; and now I know. BTW, for some reason I have never heard
a good poolisde band on a Spirit class ship (and I have been on many),
while I have never heard a bad one on any other class of Carnival ship.
Thanks.

Howie

  #3  
Old October 25th, 2004, 01:30 AM
Charles
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In article , Howie
wrote:

Very nice review Charles. I wondered what you might like and dislike
about Carnival; and now I know. BTW, for some reason I have never heard
a good poolisde band on a Spirit class ship (and I have been on many),
while I have never heard a bad one on any other class of Carnival ship.


I think it might not be the band itself, but the poolside sound stage
conditions on the Spirit class.

--
Charles
  #5  
Old October 25th, 2004, 02:05 AM
Tom & Linda
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"Charles" wrote in message
d...
The October 10 sailing of the Carnival Miracle was my 17th cruise, my
first cruise on Carnival. Previously I had cruised on RCI, Celebrity
and Princess.


Norwegian Dawn might be another ship to consider one of these years to try
something different.

--Tom


  #6  
Old October 25th, 2004, 02:09 AM
Jean O'Boyle
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"Charles" wrote in message
d...
The Miracle is a new ship so everything still looks new and shiny. In
addition to being new there was a lot of cleaning and vacuuming going
on during the cruise.


That's good, I hope they keep it up. Did you have an Interantional crew,
Charles?

I am not sure how exactly how to describe the decor.


I thought that you would feel that way when you chose the Miracle..The
photos of her, especially the dining room were bordering on ghastly! As your
first cruise on Carnival, I had hoped that you would have tried a *quieter*
ship colorwise..
Well, you have been royally initiated...if you survived and enjoyed this
cruise, you will enjoy another Carnival ship even more while cruising with a
group someday! ;-)

. And why did they put an open
Cigar Bar right outside the dining room? Super bad smell. The outside
promenade deck is not wrap around. I prefer wrap around but what I
really hated was that there are no chairs on the outside promenade
deck.


Makes you wonder who does the planning of ships..with more and more people
not smoking these days, you would think that they would have more smoke free
areas..On the Zenith, the cigar bar was next to the library and internet
station...with the door wide open..The library reeked of cigar smoke.
I don't like that they had no lounge chairs on the side promenade
deck..usually that is the most peaceful place on sea days.

Glad you enjoyed the slide! I wondered if you would get on it!
I hate booths in the dining room, hot air hand driers and a tiny library..so
I guess this is not the ship for me!
The cabins tend to be the same on all Carnival ships, color and all... but
they are roomy..The rope pulls are something new to me. At least you had an
outstanding mattress and a nice comforter! Was the ship noisey at night?


. This does not cover the maitre' D and they request an additional tip for
him in the Carnival Capers and even
give an envelope for him at the end of the cruise in your cabin.


With his disregard for your two requests for a table change and not even
appearing at your table, he deserved no tip!

.. Instead of happy birthday and special occasions being celebrated at
individual
tables the Maitre' d gets up and reads them all off to the whole dining
room.


Something new...It seemed every day someone was having them sing, "Happy
Birthday" on other cruises..Guess they are simplifying things for the staff;
but not as meaningful to those celebrating birthdays and anniversaries..Glad
there was NO Baked Alaska!..one other thing I dislike and don't think I
would have enjoyed the singers and dancers in the dining room each night. I
think first and second time cruisers might enjoy it but after you have taken
many cruises, you could do without..I'd prefer they played soft piano music
during dinner instead.

Thank you for a very interesting review, Charles..It was fair and unbiased..

--Jean




  #7  
Old October 25th, 2004, 02:09 AM
Charles
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In article , Tom &
Linda wrote:

Norwegian Dawn might be another ship to consider one of these years to try
something different.


Only with a group. HAL will probably be before that.

--
Charles
  #8  
Old October 25th, 2004, 02:09 AM
Charles
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In article , Tom &
Linda wrote:

Norwegian Dawn might be another ship to consider one of these years to try
something different.


Only with a group. HAL will probably be before that.

--
Charles
  #9  
Old October 25th, 2004, 02:18 AM
Charles
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In article , Jean O'Boyle
wrote:

That's good, I hope they keep it up. Did you have an Interantional crew,
Charles?


Yes. Just like the crews on Celebrity, Princess and RCI.

Was the ship noisey at night?


Not at all. I was almost exactly mid-ship. I think I would avoid the
aft lower decks. Can't say for sure about those but there was quite a
bit of bad vibration in the dining room aft when the ship was moving at
24 knots or so on the way home.

--
Charles
  #10  
Old October 25th, 2004, 02:18 AM
Charles
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In article , Jean O'Boyle
wrote:

That's good, I hope they keep it up. Did you have an Interantional crew,
Charles?


Yes. Just like the crews on Celebrity, Princess and RCI.

Was the ship noisey at night?


Not at all. I was almost exactly mid-ship. I think I would avoid the
aft lower decks. Can't say for sure about those but there was quite a
bit of bad vibration in the dining room aft when the ship was moving at
24 knots or so on the way home.

--
Charles
 




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