Grandma Bert and Grandpa Roy learned about the Carnival Miracle cruise from Grandpa's retirement organization. But, as always, he wanted a larger cabin than they were offering, so he contacted the cruise line directly on their Web site and made reservations for the same type cabin Grandma and he had on their last cruise: a mini suite with a twin-sink bathroom and Jacuzzi tub. The shower, of course, had sliding glass doors, just as on their last cruise. The only difference between this cabin and the one on the Conquest was this one was a mirror image of the previous one. The Miracle is a slightly smaller ship than the Conquest, too, but you'd never know it until you start to look around. For example, there only was one dining room on the Miracle.
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In addition, the cigar club was about half the size of the one on the Conquest. The ship's decor was authors and literature. Grandpa Roy liked it a lot, especially the Phantom Lounge, where the shows took place every night after dinner. Grandpa did something he hasn't done on previous cruises: He took a lot of pictures of the ship with his new camera. He hopes you will get a real feel for the beauty of the ship and what the Miracle has to offer when you see them.
Because of the hurricanes in the Caribbean, the itinerary of the ship was changed. Previously, the ship was to have docked in Key West, Florida, (called the Conch Republic by some), Nassau, the Bahamas, and Freeport, the Bahamas. Grandma and Grandpa had been to Nassau on another cruise; however, Grandpa was hoping to see the Pirate Museum again. But, because of the storm, the cruise line changed the ports-of-call to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Tortolla, British Virgin Islands. Still, Grandma and Grandpa didn't mind. What was important was they would be sailing from the Port of Baltimore, which meant they would drive 45 minutes to the port, drop off their bags, park the car, and get onto the ship. Which basically is exactly what happened. It was nice driving up and getting rid of those heavy bags, then going back to park. A few moments after parking, a bus picked them up and took them to the terminal. After a delay waiting in various lines for about 45 minutes, Grandma and Grandpa were on board the Miracle by 1:30 in the afternoon and enjoying lunch on the Lido deck by 2:00. The ship departed about 4:30 p.m. and headed out of the Chesapeake Bay toward the Atlantic Ocean, passing beneath both the Key and Bay Bridges on the way.
The first two days of the cruise were just like their previous cruise aboard the Conquest: sailing, sailing, over the bounding main. Grandma spoiled herself again the first day and paid for both an expensive facial and a massage. She had the same massage as the last cruise: the one that used hot lava rocks placed on her body. She loved it! The rest of the time Grandma spent lounging in the sun or using the treadmill in the on-board gym. Grandpa, of course, spent his time hiding from the sun... and taking pictures.
On the second day at sea, the captain made an announcement over the public address system. He said that because of a new storm that had developed, we now would be stopping at Nassau, the Bahamas, and Port Canaveral, Florida. While Grandma and Grandpa overheard one woman say how upset she was by the change, Grandma was very happy. She knew she would get to go back to Disney World, somewhere she had wanted to visit again for a long time. Not only that, but Carnival gave every passenger a credit for $25.00 because they had to change the itinerary a second time.
Grandpa made reservations for a tour of Atlantis and the Pirate Museum in Nassau and for EPCOT Center at Disney in Florida. In the meantime, Grandma had been amazed at the beautiful weather during the whole cruise. It was as if the captain looked for where the sun would be shining. Grandma was all prepared for gray days and perhaps even rain because of the hurricanes. As it turned out, the only gray day was late Saturday afternoon as the ship approached the Chesapeake Bay on the way back to Baltimore.
Friends of Grandpa's agreed to sail on this trip with Grandma and Grandpa at his urging. Each night they had dinner together at a table for six. Persons five and six never showed up, so the four of them could talk about things they had in common and did not have to make small talk and get to know another couple. The waiter was from Jamaica, a very happy guy who had been sailing with Carnival for a number of years. He had some great stories to tell. After supper, Grandma, Grandpa and the other couple usually attended the after-dinner show together, and then Grandma and Grandpa would go to bed, while their friends usually went to one of the bars on board to listen to music or a comedian. He is seen here on entertainment night, wearing a wig.
The food on board the Miracle was supposed to be excellent according to everything Grandpa had read. However, he had a couple meals in the dining room that weren't up to par: his lobster was underdone, although the other couple said their lobster was fantastic. On another night, Grandpa had the veal while Grandma had the Jamaican pork. Grandpa really made a mistake. The veal was not very tasty. He tried Grandma's pork and it was tender and delicious. She gave him a couple pieces, but the waiter's assistant whisked it away when Grandpa wasn't looking, thinking Grandma was done with it. Sigh! The third meal Grandpa disliked was his steak. While the others, including Grandma, said their steaks were delicious, Grandpa's was tough. Grandpa's favorite meals were prawns (big shrimp) on the first night and shrimp (small prawns) later in the week. In addition, the onion soup was good, and Grandpa tried the dessert cheese several nights. One evening he couldn't make up his mind about the entree, so the waiter brought him two meals! Grandpa waddled out of the dining room that evening.
Meals on the Lido deck, which is the location of the main all-you-can-eat buffet, were in fact fantastic! The chicken they ate before the ship left Baltimore was delicious. The Chinese-style tomato soup was fantastic (there was a Chinese buffet line every day with different entrees.) The Jamaican meal was delicious! The pizza was delicious (Grandma had her little fishies (anchovies) twice while on-board.) A bleu cheese crusted pork near the end of the cruise was fantastic. The desserts were fantastic. The food in general on the Lido was fantastic! There was plenty to drink on the Lido deck: hot and iced tea, coffee, lemonade, fruit punch and apple juice. Cruisers also could buy sodas, beer or mixed drinks if they wished. Grandpa thought the prices for those were very reasonable.
Even breakfast was great on the Lido. To drink, besides coffee and tea, there were several fruit juices, skimmed milk, regular milk, and chocolate milk. Fresh fruit and yogurts always were available, too. There were hard scrambled eggs each day and pancakes or French toast on alternate days. Although Grandpa wasn't that happy with the pancakes, he was able to enjoy his favorite breakfast several times during the week. The best, however, was that the cooks would prepare omelets or fry eggs for breakfast right in front of you to your order. They were perfect every time, while the only day Grandma and Grandpa ate breakfast in the main dining room, the eggs were disappointing.
Grandma and Grandpa never made it to a midnight buffet. One night there were two: One on the Lido deck as always, and one in the main dining room. Guests were invited to walk through and photograph the buffet in the dining room an hour before they allowed anyone in to eat. So, Grandma and Grandpa took some photos, but they didn't make it to the buffet itself. They were sleeping. Besides, they didn't need it. As Grandma said after the cruise, she didn't want to see food for a week!
Speaking of the shows, the Beatles Review the second night was outstanding! Grandma said she had never seen such a great show. It had wonderful lighting, including lasers, great singers, good dancers, and more. There was another Broadway-style show later in the cruise. It also was outstanding. But, Grandma and Grandpa understood at that show that it was their last performance. The cast had been the star act (doing the Beatles and Broadway) since the ship began to operate early in the year. Grandma and Grandpa hope later passengers will be treated to shows that are just as good.
Security was high for this cruise, just as it had been for their cruise on the Conquest. After Grandma and Grandpa received their "sail and sign" cards (a plastic card that doubles as a key to the cabin and the only thing you can use as money - except for gambling - while on board), they gave the card to a Carnival security employee and bent over a box while their pictures were taken. The security people asked Grandpa to remove his glasses. They had not done that for the Conquest cruise. Whenever someone left the ship at a port, he or she slid the "sail and sign" card into and out of a slot in another box. When he or she returned, he or she did the same, and the security guard could see on his monitor the picture taken the afternoon the person boarded. Nice! No chance anyone could rob a passenger and use that passenger's card to get on board the ship.
At Port Canaveral, all passengers had to go through immigration control even if they were not getting off the ship. Grandma and Grandpa now have passports, so that made things a lot easier for them. Anyone who cruises should use a passport, because it is so much easier to carry and show than a wrinkly old birth certificate and a photo identification card.
Grandma and Grandpa had yet another nice cruise. In fact, the weather on this cruise was the best they ever had of their four cruises so far. Grandma is anxious, though, for the date of the next cruise to arrive. Grandma and Grandpa will be sailing to the Panama Canal and back the end of February, into early March 2005, aboard the Coral Princess. Of course they will have another mini suite with balcony. They have never sailed with Princess Lines before and they have heard it is even better than Carnival Lines. Wow!!