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I really wanted to write this review once I had figured out how to insert some pictures but as I am struggling I will proceed with my review & have to do my pikkies separately.
OK - Boarded the Beautiful Miracle on the Sunday lunchtime on a nice sunny day in Tampa, boarding took about an hour as we had pre-completed the fun pass on line. After being forced to stop for the boarding picture (we came to realise it was easier just to grin for the camera and not buy the picture afterwards than try to avoid the ships photographers!!) we set off to find our cabin. We had opted for an 8a balcony so we could put our son (Jamie) to bed and sit out with a book & glass of wine in the evening and also so we could have some peace & quiet in the sun without going up top! The cabin was spacious and the ship still felt very new as the she is only about 15 months old. A lot of people have mentioned the decor due to it being Myth & novel themed and there were lots of statues & art around but most of it was quite tasteful with the cherubs in the restaurant now being clothed ect there was a bit of neon but not too much, except in the dining room where they could do with taking a few of the "grapes" down from the walls! the Gatsby Garden was a very pleasant corridor to walk down or just to sit and relax and our rooms were lovely..
Left Tampa late afternoon and watched a couple of Dolphins playing in the bay before sailing under the bridge out to sea, sailing was very calm. After completing the emergency drill we started unpacking, went to the Camp Carnival meeting for Jamie and then got ready for dinner. We had been given the late sitting (contrary to our request at time of booking) in the Bacchus restaurant which we knew we would never be able to hold out for so went up to Lido for the first night. The following lunchtime we went to Bacchus and the Matre'd quickly got our sitting swapped to the early one at 5:45 in the upper floor of the restaurant. The food in Bacchus was excellent, portions not massive but adequate, and beautifully done. We got into the habit of ordering a bottle of wine with dinner each evening and by the 3rd night Jamie had his crayon, colouring book and drink waiting for him when we got to the table and we were handed the extensive wine menu. Most breakfasts and lunches were taken up on Lido deck in Horatio's and there was a choice of hot & cold breakfasts with complementary juices & coffee available and at lunch there was a choice of salads, hot meals, pizza (where you can also get a fab Chicken Caesar salad with a portion of Garlic bread), a different country theme everyday and a sweet counter, there is a counter near the main pool which does hot dogs, hamburgers, chilli ect but that was always quite busy (for some reason). It took us 4 days to suddenly find a counter we had managed to miss which did Chicken Tikka wraps which were also spot on!! The ice cream machines were open each day for the majority of the day which Jamie liked playing with and making his own cornets.
We had 2 formal nights during this 7 night sailing, the first being taken far more seriously than the 2nd. Everyone made a great effort for the captains cocktail party, the evening started quite early with several free drinks being handed out in the Phantom lounge, there was a speech from the captain and a bit of entertainment before going to Bacchus for dinner. The second formal night did see people making an effort but it appeared most people had worn their best frocks for the first one, everyone still looked nice though. The waiters & waitresses, servers ect were very helpful and loads of people made such a big effort with Jamie which kept him amused (not just in the main restaurant but throughout the whole ship) - I think we ran out of space to name people on the comment card at the end of the cruise.
Our first port of call was a day in Grand Cayman and we booked the Sea & see tour - Turtles, Hell & submarine/boat which was a good excursion if you have not been to Cayman before. We were the first ship in on the day and I sat out on the balcony and watched 2 Royal Caribbean, the Celebrity Century, 1 Princess ship, the Carnival Valour and another very small cruise ship sail into position before going down to get the tender over to George town.
The second port of call was due to be in Costa Maya but the captain announced that the swell was too rough too dock (wise choice after The Grandeur's mishap) so we took a leisurely day at sea up to Cozumel.
The third port of call was Cozumel where we went to Chankanaab Park and did the Dolphin encounter, Tatich was our Dolphin and even though he was quite a young Dolphin he was very entertaining and cute, well worth doing! we did a bit of shopping in the area built for the ships but disliked the rip off feel to it all - I wanted a silver necklace as a pressie for a friend and as silver is so cheap was looking to spend about $50ish, I saw a silver & pink coral one & asked how much it was and was told $150 so I said that was too much and went to leave & the guy asked how much I wanted to spend and gave it me for $53 - bit of a difference!!
Our last port of call was Belize, we did the Altun Ha & River Wallace excursion and apart from how rough the road was out to the temple it was a great excursion. We got to climb up the side of the biggest Mayan ruin which had good views of the rain forest and our guides were very informative. In the boat back to Belize we had kept the same guide & he pointed out Crocodiles, Bats, Howler monkey's (he shouted at them until they shouted back!) & Iguana's - also we were lucky to see 3 Dolphins in the river who seemed to have a bit of a play around the boat in front of us. One of the nice things about Belize is that the Ship is tendered quite a way out & the tender in & out of Belize goes past loads of little atolls/Islands which was slightly reminiscent of the Maldives.
On the last day at sea I took advantage of the final Spa offers and treated myself to one of the combination massage & facial packages - which was bliss (although did spend more than I would have liked on after treatment products!!) I sent my dear hubby to sit through the debarkation talk with Karl (with a K - for all who've encountered him before haha!) and Jamie went to camp, which he loved (he didn't even want to come to see the Dolphins once he found out he couldn't spend the day in camp when we were in cozumel) - just 1 point re Camp Carnival, if you have any worries that your kids wont enjoy an excursion that you want to do just send them to camp for the day - they are really looked after, fed by the Camp staff and generally kept happier than they would be out in the heat for hours with no toys to play with! the camp was a God send for us with Jamie being 5 years old as he would have really struggled climbing the ruins ect..
On the day of debarkation we were called down to the Mad Hatters lounge to go through the customs procedure and we were also asked to go & see the customs guys re the amount of goods we were taking off the ship - not impressed!! luckily as we were heading back to the U.K. the following day we were not charged any duty on our goods. As we were not flying home until the day after arrival back into Tampa we were in no rush to leave the Miracle so we went to grab some breakfast after immigration and then left the cabin at about 9am and went upto the Lido deck for an hour to allow people in more of a hurry to disembark, there were still a few breakfasts items around and juices ect so we grabbed a drink and sat and chatted to another passenger for a bit (she had a young son with her too so the boys were kept busy playing together for a while), when we did leave it took us about 10 mins as the queues were much shorter at that time and headed out to the terminal where a Dollar car hire guy kindly took us back to the depot to collect the car.
Overall I am really glad we did this itinerary, we got beautiful weather & some lovely excursions, the ship was as fun or as relaxing as you wanted it to be and we all had a great time.