Carnival Miracle Day 6: Sailing the Pacific Ocean

Relaxing On the Pacific with Carnival

Out ahead: nothing but open ocean. This has been one of the calmer voyages north; traditionally, the last sea days on a Mexican Riviera voyage can be pretty bumpy as you head north against the current and, quite frequently, the prevailing winds that blow from the north down. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Out ahead: nothing but open ocean. This has been one of the calmer voyages north; traditionally, the last sea days on a Mexican Riviera voyage can be pretty bumpy as you head north against the current and, quite frequently, the prevailing winds that blow from the north down. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports

Thursday, June 4, 2015

It’s a gorgeous, sunny day at sea here aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Miracle as we cruise the Pacific Ocean, set on a course for Long Beach, California after nearly a solid week in the beautiful Mexican Riviera.

But it’s not just my “classic” Mexican Riviera itinerary that Carnival offers aboard Carnival Miracle. The line also offers two other itineraries: a six-night sailing that includes stops in Cabo San Lucas and Puerto Vallarta; a weeklong voyage that includes two days in Cabo San Lucas and a stop in Puerto Vallarta; and an alternate weeklong sailing that includes an overnight stay in Puerto Vallarta, along with a call on Cabo San Lucas.

Cruising the Pacific Ocean on a gorgeous afternoon! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Cruising the Pacific Ocean on a gorgeous afternoon! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

The latter seems particularly attractive, as it would allow guests to experience Puerto Vallarta’s legendary nightlife and enjoy additional excursions the following day. There’s much to see and do in this vibrant Mexican city; moreso, I’d reckon, than many of the country’s port cities on the Caribbean side.

The itinerary featuring two days in Cabo is also attractive, though it’s important to note that because this is a tender port, Carnival Miracle will have to weigh anchor in the evening and proceed offshore overnight, returning to anchor early the next morning for tender operations to resume.

This afternoon, I made time to kick back and relax with a book at Serenity. Located on the aft end of Deck 9, Serenity is only for guests 21 and over. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
This afternoon, I made time to kick back and relax with a book at Serenity. Located on the aft end of Deck 9, Serenity is only for guests 21 and over. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Serenity also features plush loungers, a dedicated swimming pool, hot tub, and what I consider to be the best views on the ships. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Serenity also features plush loungers, a dedicated swimming pool, hot tub, and what I consider to be the best views on the ships. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Did I mention it’s quiet? No running kids! Open from 8:00am until Midnight. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Did I mention it’s quiet? No running kids! Open from 8:00am until Midnight. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Carnival also offers shorter West Coast sailings that “dip” their collective toes into the northernmost tip of Mexico. Three night sailings calling on Ensenada depart on Fridays from Long Beach aboard the smaller, 2,056-guest Carnival Imagination; while four night sailings that call on Ensenada and Catalina Island depart roundtrip from Long Beach on Mondays.

Here onboard the Carnival Miracle, I tested out the Salon at Spa Carnival this morning. My hair was getting wildly out of control in the heat and humidity here, and stylist Astrid from the Netherlands had me looking (and feeling) better in no time. A Men’s Cut runs $35 from the spa, which is operated by shipboard spa provider, Steiner.

Although smaller than spas on other similarly-sized ships, Spa Carnival aboard the Carnival Miracle has nearly every conceivable treatment you could possibly want. There’s a full menu of facials, massages, exotic treatments like Elemis Aroma Seaweed Wraps and Lime & Ginger Salt glows; anti-cellulite; acupuncture; fitness; salon, nail and waxing services; and even a special “Elemis Grooming Services for Men” menu.

The Salon aboard Carnival Miracle is located on the starboard side of Spa Carnival. Photo taken on Day 1 in Long Beach. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Salon aboard Carnival Miracle is located on the starboard side of Spa Carnival. Photo taken on Day 1 in Long Beach. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Prices are reasonable and well within what you’d expect for a shipboard spa. A 50-minute Aroma Stone Therapy massage will run you $149, while a standard 50-minute Swedish Massage clocks in at $119.

Because it’s a relaxing day at sea today, that gives me the excellent opportunity (excuse) to showcase more of the Carnival Miracle. There’s a lot to like about this comfortable ship, from its décor (which is tame by Farcus-era standards), to the way she handles passengers. There are very few choke points, and the entire ship seems far more spacious than some of Carnival’s other vessels. Except for prime moments (the nightly comedy events in the Mad Hatter’s Ball on Deck 1, or poolside during on-deck events) finding a space to sit hasn’t been a problem for the entire week.

Let’s take a look at the ship:

The long promenade along the starboard side of Deck 3 provides additional seating, but hides the cozy Sam’s Piano Bar that’s located through the entrance off to the left side of the photo. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The long promenade along the starboard side of Deck 3 provides additional seating, but hides the cozy Sam’s Piano Bar that’s located through the entrance off to the left side of the photo. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Carnival’s Fun Shops are located midships on Deck 3. Note the new Cherry On Top, right, that takes the position formerly held by “Formalities.” Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Carnival’s Fun Shops are located midships on Deck 3. Note the new Cherry On Top, right, that takes the position formerly held by “Formalities.” Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Photo Gallery runs along the port and starboard sides of the atrium on Deck 3, making it one of the only real choke points aboard the ship. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Photo Gallery runs along the port and starboard sides of the atrium on Deck 3, making it one of the only real choke points aboard the ship. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Metropolis Atrium, as seen from Deck 3 starboard, facing forward. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The Metropolis Atrium, as seen from Deck 3 starboard, facing forward. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The RedFrog Pub is a new addition to Carnival Miracle (March 2015), but on my sailing, it’s already a huge hit – particularly for nightly Pub Trivia! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The RedFrog Pub is a new addition to Carnival Miracle (March 2015), but on my sailing, it’s already a huge hit – particularly for nightly Pub Trivia! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
There’s no need to grab a table in the RedFrog Pub if you don’t want one: plenty of seats are available up at the bar. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
There’s no need to grab a table in the RedFrog Pub if you don’t want one: plenty of seats are available up at the bar. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Mr. Lucky’s Casino is actually rather attractive for a shipboard casino, and features numerous nautical elements. The Casino Bar is also unusually welcoming, and there’s no trace of cigarette smoke. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Mr. Lucky’s Casino is actually rather attractive for a shipboard casino, and features numerous nautical elements. The Casino Bar is also unusually welcoming, and there’s no trace of cigarette smoke. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Casino Details: note the nautical touches on the entranceways to the public washrooms on the starboard side of Mr. Lucky’s Casino. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Casino Details: note the nautical touches on the entranceways to the public washrooms on the starboard side of Mr. Lucky’s Casino. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Guest corridors amidships feature windows that look out over the Metropolis Atrium. It’s a nice touch to accent what would otherwise be a boring stateroom hallway. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Guest corridors amidships feature windows that look out over the Metropolis Atrium. It’s a nice touch to accent what would otherwise be a boring stateroom hallway. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

A day at sea is also an excellent opportunity to answer some reader questions we’ve received over the past week:

Does Carnival Miracle have the new internet system that Carnival Freedom does?

No, unfortunately not. Right now, the system available aboard Carnival Freedom (which is ridiculously fast and insanely affordable) is confined to just a few ships in the Carnival fleet. But internet speeds aboard Carnival Miracle have been decent and reliable, though I will say it tends to work better very early in the morning or very late at night, when fewer guests are using it. A variety of time packages are available, including a pay-as-you-go option for $.075 cents per minute.

Where’s the BlueIguana Cantina?

Alas, while Carnival Miracle has been given other FunShip 2.0 enhancements like the RedFrog Pub and entertainment like Hasbro: The Game Show, you won’t find the BlueIguana Cantina onboard. The same goes for the BlueIguana Tequila Bar, the RedFrog RumBar, and Guy’s Burger Joint. The culprit might be physical size: there’s just not enough space on the Pool Deck to place all of these popular venues without dramatically altering its layout. Remember: Carnival Miracle is one of only a handful of Carnival ships that can fit through the Panama Canal. At 106 feet wide, she’s substantially narrower than, say, Carnival Breeze (122 feet abeam) or Carnival Freedom (116 feet abeam). It’s too bad: I absolutely love the BlueIguana Cantina!

Does Carnival have Anytime Dining?

Dinner in the Bacchus Dining Room! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Dinner in the Bacchus Dining Room! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Yes! But it’s called Your Time Dining. Aboard Carnival Miracle, guests can waltz right into Deck 3 of the Bacchus Dining Room anytime they’d like, between 5:45p.m. and 9:30 p.m. for open-seating dinner. Note that the daily dress code still applies.

For guests (like me) that still prefer a more traditional dining experience, Carnival offers Early Seating Dinner on Deck 2 of the Bacchus Dining Room beginning at 6:00p.m., with a Late Seating starting at 8:15p.m. I always pick late seating whenever possible: it’s less rushed and hurried, and there’s fewer kids. It also tends to be less full; Early Seating dinner is almost always jam-packed.

On the menu tonight: basa fish! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
On the menu tonight: basa fish! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
I have no idea what Carnival puts in their sorbet, and I don’t want to know. It’s just darn good! From left to right: pineapple, lime, and mango. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
I have no idea what Carnival puts in their sorbet, and I don’t want to know. It’s just darn good! From left to right: pineapple, lime, and mango. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Is the Alchemy Bar really all it’s cracked up to be? Ten bucks is kinda expensive for a drink.

I’ll agree with you there – $10 isn’t exactly cheap for a cocktail. It’s not exactly expensive either; that award goes to the martini Holland America Line was offering a few years back that had a dollop of caviar on-top and commanded a $100 pricetag.

Alchemy is cool because it offers a more modern, elegant space than Carnival is usually known for aboard their ships. Their drinks are innovative and creative (try the Spicy Chipotle Martini to see what I mean). And the iteration aboard Carnival Miracle is the best I’ve seen yet, with glass coffeetables and ligthboxes filled with classic medicinal and alcoholic memorabilia. Remember, back in the day, medicine and booze weren’t mutually exclusive. Just be glad Carnival doesn’t weight their drinks down with gunpowder like many unscrupulous druggists were known to do at the turn of the last century.

It’s true: drinks are better in the sun! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
It’s true: drinks are better in the sun! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

We’ve never cruised with Carnival before, but we’re considering booking it. Will we like it?

I get this question literally every time I sail with Carnival: people who have always been curious about the line but haven’t yet sailed with them. I can understand that: vacation days are precious, and it might be hard for a Princess or Royal Caribbean loyalist to come over to “the dark side.” I get it, because I used to be one of those people: Carnival fascinated me. I heard nothing but nice things about the line from people I knew who had sailed with them, and nothing but horror stories in mainstream media.

The main Bar in the Metropolis Atrium is a popular social hub, and features live music on the stage above and behind the bar in the evening. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
The main Bar in the Metropolis Atrium is a popular social hub, and features live music on the stage above and behind the bar in the evening. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Tonight, the Taste Bar on Deck 2 was offering samples of cuisine from Cucina del Capitano – Carnival’s Italian-themed eatery that’s available onboard some of the fleet. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
Tonight, the Taste Bar on Deck 2 was offering samples of cuisine from Cucina del Capitano – Carnival’s Italian-themed eatery that’s available onboard some of the fleet. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Here’s what you need to ask yourself before sailing Carnival: do you like to have a good time? Do you like a big, glitzy ship filled with lots of fun diversions? Are you travelling with friends or family as a group, or a multigenerational group? Do you want a good, friendly cruise at a reasonable price? If you answered yes to any and all of the above, congratulations! You’ll probably love Carnival.

If you’re looking for a quiet, romantic getaway, this isn’t it. If you want an intellectual voyage, this isn’t it. But that’s why I love Carnival: they’re not pretending to be something they’re not. Everything about them, right down to the typeface and the alternating red-and-blue text on the Fun Times daily program, screams “fun!”

And that’s just what a Carnival cruise is: good fun for the whole family.

A look at Carnival’s iconic funnel, standing proudly atop Carnival Miracle. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders
A look at Carnival’s iconic funnel, standing proudly atop Carnival Miracle. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Carnival Miracle - Mexican Riviera

Day 1Embarkation in Long Beach
Day 2At Sea
Day 3Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
Day 4Mazatlan, Mexico
Day 5Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
Day 6Cruising The Pacific Coast
Day 7One Last Fun Day At Sea

Join the Conversation

Kathy says:

The pictures make me want to tear my eyes out….I am so glad that there is a cruise line that markets to that demographic . I cannot imagine ever cruising on Carnival, but can appreciate people younger than me wanting that experience.

Thank you for your enthusiastic and comprehensive review.

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