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.
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.)
Wow. I was completely overwhelmed when I got onboard. The ship is truly a sight to see – both inside and out.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.