MIRACLE To Mexico, Part Three

Peter Knego wraps up his seven night cruise aboard Carnival Cruises’ 88,500-gt, 2,124-guest CARNIVAL MIRACLE from Long Beach to the Mexican Riviera with visits to Puerto Vallarta and Cabo San Lucas and more time at sea.

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THE SANDS OF ALANG: The latest DVD about shipbreaking in Alang, India

All photos by and copyright Peter Knego 2015 unless otherwise noted.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

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Puerto Vallarta portal.

Even with the slight sea breeze as CARNIVAL MIRACLE pivoted into Puerto Vallarta, the humidity and heat (91 degrees and climbing) overruled any desire to head ashore and explore.

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CARNIVAL MIRACLE Metropolis Lobby, facing aft from starboard Deck 3.

With a good deal more of the MIRACLE left to document, I grabbed a cappuccino from the Fountainhead Cafe and sought out the remaining public spaces that had not yet succumbed to the cameras earlier in the cruise. So nice to have an empty ship at my disposal!

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CARNIVAL MIRACLE Thai Chicken tenders.

After another good workout in the excellent gym (where I had a nice overview of Puerto Vallarta to distract me from the tedium of the ellipticals), I joined my friend Tom Nicolai for second seating dinner in Bacchus. Once again, props to Carnival for its catering, which is far better than the line often gets credit for. Say what you will about the décor, this line delivers well beyond it mass market price point in food and service.

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MV CARNIVAL MIRACLE chilled asparagus vichyssoise.

Even the delicious, chilled asparagus vichyssoise was presented with panache.

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Benedict and Tom Nicolai.

Both Tom and I were continually impressed not only with the food but with the friendly and efficient wait staff, who, even well into their second seating dinner service, were so very attentive, friendly and efficient.

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Moon over MIRACLE in Puerto Vallarta.

After dinner, we wandered ashore just long enough to get some shots of the ship from the quayside before the local authorities ordered us out of there.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

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Mariposa Mexicana.

Another sweltering day kept us aboard until late morning, when we headed to the terminal’s internet cafe to upload photos with a land-based high speed connection. En route, exquisite local fauna flitted in the flora.

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Gangham, Bacchanalia style!

After lunch, I retreated to Gatsby’s Garden to do some more work, peering out its porthole-style windows as we pulled away from Puerto Vallarta and headed westward for Cabo. I would finish off a routine but relaxing day with dinner in Bacchus. Again, our wait staff never ceased to impress. Even their synchronized, Gangham-style dance moves were energetic and admirable.

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Bacchanal detailing.

As for the Bacchus Restaurant, after a few glasses of red wine, I was intoxicated with its completely unabashed, take-no-prisoners tribute to all things grape.  Entertainment décor to the max.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

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From Serenity to Los Arcos.

CARNIVAL MIRACLE entered the anchorage off Cabo San Lucas in the pre-dawn hours. When we awoke, she was in a sea of local tenders, patiently awaiting clearance so they could pull alongside and usher the ship’s complement ashore for a day of shopping, boozing and beaching. As the sun cast its first rays upon Los Arcos, another hot, impossibly humid day was already in the works.

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Cabo Dorado pool.

We ponied up $89.99 a piece for the Exclusive Resort Beach Getaway excursion that included a shuttle transfer to the Cabo Dorado Timeshare Resort and a buffet lunch. The pool area was nice, although not over-the-top deluxe. It was sweltering and the sun was relentless, so it would have been ideal if there was a nice cool corner to escape to after taking a swim.

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Footsteps in the sand.

Part of my “mission” in Cabo was to get good shots of the ship for a Cruise Travel story, so I hiked a mile or so down the beach, passing numerous “vendors” hawking pot and other sundries. One mysterious stranger even offered to take me off on a “short cut”, which I politely declined.

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MIRACLE versus Los Arcos.

After getting the MIRACLE in the best available lighting, I retraced my steps back to Cabo Dorado, sealed up the camera gear and plunged into the gorgeous sea.

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Cabo foot fest.

For those few sweet minutes in the brine, the excursion was well worth its cost and then some.

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On the tender ride back to the MIRACLE, I had one last opportunity to capture the ship before my batteries fizzled out.

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Basking on the balcony. Photo by Tom Nicolai.

A few hours later, CARNIVAL MIRACLE was pivoting out of the anchorage. Our cabin was on the starboard side and we were more than content to watch from the balcony as the ship rounded Los Arcos and motored into the deep blue Pacific.

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“Getaway Island” in 3-D.

As much as I prefer second seating dining, I am not fond of having to go to the mainstage show before dinner. Perhaps having earlier shows is easier on the staff but for this weary cruiser, it’s counter intuitive. Nonetheless, we made a point of getting to the Phantom Theater at 7:30 for the “Getaway Island” show featuring music from a range of sources from the Beach Boys to Jimmy Buffet.

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Chicken Siciliana.

Another excellent dinner ensued, the stand-out course being a sensational Chicken Siciliana doused in fresh-grated Parmigiano Reggiano.

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Ole!, Bacchus-style.

As it turned out, the prior night’s wait staff performance was merely a warm-up for the one staged this evening in the Bacchus Restaurant.

Friday, September 25, 2015

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Alain Lopez.
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With Captain Vito Giacolone.

In the early afternoon, I had the honor of being able to visit with Hotel Director Alain Lopez and Captain Vito Giacalone. Both gentlemen have worked their way up the ranks from prior ships in the fleet and seem most smitten with the SPIRIT Class ships, not only for their well-conceived layout but for their quality Finnish construction. Captain Giacaolne shared that he went to the naval academy in Genoa and had fond memories of those last great Italian liners like the LEONARDO DA VINCI, MICHELANGELO and RAFFAELLO.

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Carnival Finland.
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As CARNIVAL MIRACLE continued on her northerly course, the humidity finally relented. Out on deck, it was just about as good as it gets…

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Piano Time in Phantom.

“88 Keys: The Rock ‘N Roll Piano Show” featuring tunes from Little Richard, Billy Joel, Elton John and more, was the main evening event in the Phantom.

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Indian Vegetarian feast.

For my final dinner, I decided to try out the Indian Vegetarian option. Carnival even does Indian food justice, presenting it with fresh papadams, raita and chutney.

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Grand Marnier Soufflé.

Tom finished off with a Grand Marnier Soufflé, which was much more photogenic than my simple sorbet.

And that basically ended a pleasantly low-key week on the CARNIVAL MIRACLE. We put our luggage out that evening and were among the first to disembark the following morning.

End of MIRACLE To Mexico

Very special thanks: Vance Gulliksen, Alain Lopez, Thomas Nicolai-Vargas

Peter Knego

Peter Knego

Having documented over 400 passenger ships and taken more than 200 cruises, MaritimeMatters’ co-editor Peter Knego is a leading freelance cruise writer, a respected ocean liner historian and frequent maritime lecturer both on land and at sea.  With his work regularly featured in cruise industry trades and consumer publications.  Knego also runs the www.midshipcentury.com website which offers MidCentury cruise ship furniture, artwork and fittings rescued from the shipbreaking yards of Alang, India.  He has produced several videos on the subject, including his latest, The Sands Of Alang and the best-selling On The Road To Alang."
Peter Knego

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