The March 5 repositioning was excellent from Miami to the Miracle's new home (we hope) in San Francisco. Although there was some concern about the novel coronavirus, it was the best ship in the world to sail on. The Miracle was coming off of 15 days in dry dock in Freeport with replacement of many furnishings and plenty of time for any residual virus to die (published studies say maximum of 3-day survival on surfaces depending on moisture and temperature). Cartagena had a beautiful old town and artisan market; very much worthwhile. The full Panama Canal transit was magnificent; worth every penny and extra days at sea. On the Atlantic side, we transited the three Gatun Locks up to Gatun Lake. On the Pacific side, went through Pedro Miguel Lock, then proceeded to the two Miraflores Locks. At the first one, we stopped briefly to board three (health?) officials. Then we stopped for over an hour at the final lock to disembark a passenger, who reportedly had immediate surgical needs, and his wife and the three officials. For the stop in Puntarenas, Costa Rica, we simply walked around the small town taking in the basic aquarium and plenty of shopping. We had a couple of beers at a nearby bar and used their excellent WiFi to check email. Next port of call was Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala where we booked the only excursion; "Top 10 Sights of Antigua with lunch". Manny was a very knowledgeable and understandable guide; he has a degree n anthropology and a Masters degree in tourism business. The ship skipped our scheduled port of call at Cabo San Lucas. We were denied permission to dock at the Miracle's future home port of San Francisco. For several days, we did not know where or if we would be given permission to dock. Finally, the port of LA allowed us to dock at San Pedro, one day earlier than our scheduled San Francisco termination port. All of the crew, especially the Cruise Director, were very emotional as we ended the cruise since they were unsure of the future of the cruise industry. The short term financial crisis and the long term health concerns over the cruise industry. Donald Trump's good friend and donor, Micky Arison, offered to use Carnival cruise ships to alleviate housing needs during the novel coronavirus crisis and the ships' hiatus from cruise itineraries.
On the refurbished Miracle's first journey after dry dock, food, cabins, entertainment, and service were all very good. I was sad that there was no show band to play with the big theater productions. All music was pre-recorded and lacked the amazing sound of live musicians. The entertainment director said all ships had gone that route since it is almost impossible to find quality musicians who are willing to sign-on as ship staff for several months at a time.
Importantly, for extra hygiene during this time of coronavirus concern, the staff added protocols for serving guests all food, including many condiments. This meant that staff had to work extra hours to man all of the stations that are usually self-serve. I am sure the extra protocols helped the ship to have no reported cases of novel coronavirus or flu on the entire sailing. Congratulations to staff and passengers for sanitizing hands frequently. Staff gently reminded guests at every opportunity to use the sanitizing stations all around the ship.
The Miracle is an excellent ship with 2,500 passenger capacity. That is not too big, but big enough to have full staffing. It never felt crowded, except occasionally having to wait up to 10-15 minutes for a table for anytime dining.
On deck 8, the extended balcony cabins are set back slightly with deck 9 hanging over to block any view of the sky. It was not made clear that stargazing is not possible from those cabins.
Antigua is a beautiful UNESCO World Heritage site for its colonial architecture.