Aaron Saunders, Live Voyage Reports
Friday, June 5, 2015
Today, guests aboard Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Miracle – including myself – are all asking the same question: where did the time go?! A week at work never goes so fast, yet as our weeklong cruise to the Mexican Riviera comes to a close, I’m not sure where the past six days went.
Our Full Live Voyage Report from onboard Carnival Miracle:
|Day 1||Embarkation in Long Beach|
|Day 2||At Sea|
|Day 3||Cabo San Lucas, Mexico|
|Day 4||Mazatlan, Mexico|
|Day 5||Puerto Vallarta, Mexico|
|Day 6||Cruising The Pacific Coast|
|Day 7||One Last Fun Day At Sea|
Of course, just because it’s our last day onboard doesn’t mean that there’s any shortage of things to do! In fact, the Fun Times daily program for today lists an astonishing 63 different activities for the day, from a bright-and-early Sunrise Stretch at 7:00a.m. to the 11:30p.m. Late Night After Party in Frankenstein’s Night Club on Deck 2 aft.
So how did the week stack up? Very well. This was my third experience with Carnival after voyages to the Eastern Caribbean aboard Carnival Breeze and the Western Caribbean from Galveston with Carnival Freedom. I knew what to expect, and I was pleased to see that Carnival’s product is fairly consistent on a fleetwide basis. Sure, I missed the BlueIguana Cantina and the odd burger at Guy’s Burger Joint, but the staples that make Carnival great – from the fun onboard atmosphere to the better-than-average food to the wonderful crews – were all present here onboard the Carnival Miracle.
The verdict? This is a cruise I’d have no issues repeating.
- You want to sail to the Mexican Riviera. Carnival is the only game in town during the summer months, and offers the most regularly-scheduled departures during the prime winter season of October to March.
- You want a good, big-ship cruise at an affordable price. Carnival’s strength has always been their attractive price-point; a balcony stateroom aboard Carnival Miracle can run significantly less than an oceanview stateroom on, say, Disney Cruise Line.
- You’re travelling with friends or as a multi-generational family. There’s nothing like a Fun Ship for friends and family travelling together; every Carnival ship really does offers something for people of all ages and interests.
- You want to have FUN! There’s nothing dull or boring about this cruise experience!
- You’re looking for a quiet, peaceful cruise. This isn’t it – though Carnival Miracle does offer an unusual amount of quiet, peaceful spots onboard.
- You prefer sailing with a wide mix of international passengers. Carnival’s passengers are predominantly American, with a few Canadians and the odd Brit thrown in for good measure. Expect a lot of jokes from the onboard comedians at the expense of people and cultures that aren’t American, eh?
- You don’t like kids. They’re everywhere – as they should be. Carnival is a very family-friendly cruise line. Expect to see kids (and plenty of them) on any sailing, at any time of the year.
- You’re on a budget. I know this might sound odd given Carnival’s very affordable prices, but guests that book should know that there are many add-on costs onboard, from drinks to gratuities to excursions. Just because the cruise costs $699 per person doesn’t mean the buck stops there.*
*I debated about putting that last note in the list, but I think it might be worthwhile in this case. I’ve seen a lot of very worried people pouring over multi-page printouts of their onboard accounts this afternoon, debating with each other about what this or that charge was, then resolving firmly to go down to the front desk and fight it. Basically, the last day of the cruise is when it really hits everyone that those buckets of beer by the pool weren’t free, after all.
Of course, if you budget and plan for these onboard expenses, what you spend onboard shouldn’t be a problem at all. Still, I’ve been borderline stingy with what I’ve purchased this week – two drinks, maximum, per day, plus a Chai Latte each morning, all of which runs me about $27 USD per day. It’d be cheaper if I ordered the more affordable beer ($5.25), but I gave up beer a few months ago…apparently in favor of $11 martinis.
Personally: I had a budget for my week here onboard, and I stayed well within it. I’m pleased. Not everyone, I think, feels the same: Horatio’s buffet up on Lido Deck 9 was an absolute madhouse this afternoon. Food therapy?
Of course, onboard expenses aren’t unique to Carnival, nor is the fretting and the massive queue at Guest Relations on the last day: I see the same thing on every mainstream cruise line. But it’s just so dang affordable to book a Carnival Cruise that I figured the above was worth a note.
I also think its worth mentioning the Carnival Miracle and her sisters, Carnival Spirit, Carnival Pride, and Carnival Legend. If you’ve never sailed with Carnival before, give one of these four ships a try. They’re some of the most spacious and beautiful vessels in the fleet, and second in my mind only to the brand-spankin’ new Carnival Breeze.
At 965 feet in length and towering 12 decks in height, they carry just 2,124 guests apiece – barely more than Holland America Line’s Vista Class (Zuiderdam, Oosterdam etc), and fewer than Princess Cruises’ Grand Class ships, which pack another couple hundred bodies into a vessel that is only marginally larger.
Carnival Miracle is the perfect ship to get your Fun Ship feet wet if you’re new to the line. Personally, I’ll be actively seeking my next Carnival trip out on one of her sister-ships; they’re that good.
Carnival’s also branching out from their mainly weeklong voyages: their new Carnival Journeys program will feature up 28 individual sailings that will last from nine to 15 nights in duration and will call on 40 different ports of call throughout the Bahamas, Caribbean, Central America, Hawaii and the Mexican Riviera.
Thanks to their longer durations, Carnival Journeys’ sailings are able to call on more out-of-the-way ports of call that tend to be less frequently visited by large mainstream cruise ships, like Tobago, Grenada, La Paz, Martinique, Bonaire and Ixtapa.
The launch cruise for Carnival’s new Journeys program will be the 11-night New Orleans to San Juan voyage aboard Carnival Dream that departs on October 4, 2015. Currently, Carnival’s new longer sailings are on offer right through November of 2016, all of which depart from eight convenient North American homeports that include Los Angeles, Galveston, New Orleans, Miami, Port Canaveral, New York, Baltimore, and San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Carnival Journeys will also have some cool special features. I’m particularly excited about the Throwback Sea Day, which takes guest waaaay back to 1987 and recreate a fun day at sea with retro pool and deck games, old school dining options like Baked Alaska and the gala midnight buffet, a white glove Captain’s Celebration, popular movies from that era, and even a circa 1987 version of the Carnival Capers shipboard newsletter. Radical!
And, if you like cruising to Europe, you’re in luck: Carnival returns there after a bit of a prolonged absence with their brand-new, still-under-construction, Carnival Vista. She’ll make her deubt next year with a season in the sun-splashed Mediterranean before sailing across the Atlantic to North America.
With that being said, I hope you’ll excuse me: there’s a lot of fun activities going on tonight, and with one last night aboard the fantastic Carnival Miracle, I intend to put the camera down and the laptop away and just enjoy one last night on my Fun Ship!