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Frank Hopkins

Age: 58


Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Miracle

Sailing Date: 2008-12-14

Itinerary: Western Carribean

We departed Tampa late in the afternoon. I walk with a cane and all the standing-in-lines the terminal was painful for me. I was finally spotted by an ombudsman and provided a wheelchair. A real relief as we were another hour being processed. We boarded and found our stateroom without a problem. The maps provided were very helpful. The room was adequate in size and the balcony was a special blessing. We enjoyed all of our shipboard experiences. My only complaint is the crew takes up all the deck chairs at night and I wanted a place to sit on the fantail at night. The view of the night sky was spectacular! Without lights and pollution, the stars popped out in blazing glory. The ship's shops were excellent, and the wife found some nice clothes and I a new HI Def video camera. The liqueur store had some very different libations, however, we were not permitted to store them in our rooms. I did find the lack of Coke products distressing, but made up for it in coffee, which was excellent and available from 24 hour room service. The service was impeccable and the staff friendly and helpful. We attended several shows, and the comedian was excellent. There was live music till late at night in many of the ship's lounges, and an upscale smoking lounge where one can purchase real Cuban cigars along with several brands of excellent brandies. All in all, I can't wait for our next trip out!

Mostly the food was grand. I can't eat shellfish or shrimp so any comments do not include such dishes. The dinner courses were all very good and very creative. One I was impressed with was a strawberry bisque, which was served cold. The curried fish was also excellent. On the Lido deck you could get anything from apples to pizza and the iced tea is good. The dessert bar was a cornucopia of gastric excess, and excess I did. The French pastries and English torts are outstanding, and best consumed with the ship's excellent coffees. One caveat, bring pepto bisdmal and alka selzer, as you will over indulge!

The stateroom was beautiful, well equipped and state-of-the-art. My only complaint was the toilet which due to my handicap was a little difficult to use. The shower was small, but ok. The balcony was the hit of the cruise. I would sit out there at night, with a pot of coffee and hour devours, and watch the stars most of the night. The chairs could have used more padding, but the view made up for it. I could see other cruise ships 10 miles away and many commercial vessels too. Sunrise and sunsets were always photo worthy. we made liberal use of the mini bar and the on board cameras showing the forward view from the bridge and aft view of the wake were favorites.

Of all, we enjoyed the reef swim and beach in Belize best. We went on the Stingray swim in Cancun, and it was the worst, and most dangerous. 50 of us were herded onto a boat with a max capacity of 12, and with almost no free-board headed out to the sholes. Waves were constantly breaking over the sides and washing in the stern. The boarding ladder broke and the crew tied it to the stern. With the boat flopping about it was a challenge for most of the women to re-board, and I was not an exception. I do not recommend this tour. The Day at the beach was terrific. Sitting under coconut palms and sipping rum. Just the relaxation I needed. We also got a small paddle boat and tracked lazily about the cove for an hour.

Be careful about seaborne excursions. The operators are not subject to U.S. Coast Guard safety standards, and many of the boats and vessels broke down during the excursions. Especially in Mexico. Apparently it happens so often, there is a fast ferry to catch the cruise ship and re-board stranded passengers.


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