Our winter cruise this year was with Carnival Cruise Lines, on Carnival Miracle. This was our second cruise with Carnival and although we liked the ship a lot better than the Carnival Fascination that we were on last summer, the service was not as good. As far as the cabin stewards went, they were great, but the dining staff left a lot to be desired. It seemed that if you didn’t order alcohol, then you didn’t get anyone asking you if you wanted anything else to drink, water refills were very slow. It seems that the tables in the dining hall were more cramped than on the other ship and a hell of a lot more noisier.
There were a lot more amenities on this ship and shopping was a little bit better than on the smaller Fascination. There were a number of buffet stations featuring a variety of different foods from Chinese to Italian and all points in between. The 24 hour pizza bar is a great stop for a slice between feedings. The food on Carnival ships that we’ve experienced so far has been great. Not a lot of variance from day to day, but good quality and very tasty. I was quite impressed that they offered Mahi Mahi, my favorite seafood, daily by special order in the buffet section and the chef got to know me my name, he never disappointed, each time delivering my meal with a different assortment of garnishments. A very nice touch that the dining room staff could learn from.
We chose this cruise for two reasons, first was the price, it was a great deal for the cost and leaving from Fort. Lauderdale meant a lower cost flight then leaving from San Juan, where most Southern Caribbean cruises depart from. Second, the itinerary; we wanted to see the Southern Caribbean and it offered 3 ports of call, St. Maarten, St. Lucia and St. Kitts.
Unfortunately when you cruise you don’t get to spend a lot of time on the island exploring, so you can only see what is in close proximity to the port. Shopping is the greatest attraction to the islands and they don’t disappoint. Jewelry, jewelry, jewelry…. lots and lots of it. So if you’re looking for Gold, you’ll certainly find it in the Caribbean.
The water at St. Maarten was absolutely incredible! The color, clarity and sheer inviting-ness would bring me back to the island for an extended stay. By taking the water taxi from the ship to the peer you land at a span of beach that was gorgeous.
The people on the island are very nice and helpful. There is even a McDonalds if you’re afraid of local cuisine. Beer is cheap and cold.
St. Lucia is a wonderfully green island. It had an inviting appeal, unfortunately it rained when we got into port so we didn’t venture farther then the local market at the end of the port. Again lots and lots of jewelry, a couple of small restaurants and beer tents. I was pleasantly surprised that the public washrooms were very clean and free! No one was waiting for your with a “donation” basket as you wash your hands. Again, as it seems to be custom in the Caribbean, the people are very friendly and helpful, the sales staff are attentive but not pushy, thus making the shopping experience a lot more enjoyable than say in Mexico.
Our final port of call was St. Kitts. This was a nice island to visit but not as pretty as St. Lucia or as clean as St. Maarten. The marketplace was a lot more developed than in St. Lucia, but seemed to be more expensive. There are a lot of monkeys here. The locals bring them to the port so that you can have your picture taken with them, but they’re not cheap! They charge US$10 per click, so if you take 3 pictures its US$30.00. A princely fee for a bunch of monkeys!
All in all, the trip was great, the weather was in the mid 80’s and sunny most of the time. It was 15 degrees when we left home! We’d cruise with Carnival again, as you can’t judge a cruiseline by one ships crew, especially since the first Carnival ship we went on, the staff were amazing, all of them, especially the dining room staff. I’d highly recommend it.
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