Live From Carnival Magic: First Impressions (Plus One Way You Can Get Soaked by 300 Gallons of Water)
The most drastic differences between Carnival Dream, its predecessor, and Magic are visible before you get onboard — the expansion of the WaterWorks aqua park (a riotous coil of waterslides) and the introduction of SportsSquare. The latter includes a full-size, net-covered basketball court, an outdoor pod of cardio machines so people can watch you pant and sweat, a two-deck mini-golf course and a ropes course that looks deceptively easy (but most likely is not). I’ll be checking all of these things out as the week progresses, but I’m impressed by the cohesion among the water slides, the pools (the main watering hole is surrounded by three separate decks of loungers — some with plush cushions — and a giant screen for movies) and SportSquare. Even when the areas are packed, they’re easily navigable.
I have to give a special shout out for the Power Drencher, a massive bucket that holds 300 gallons of water. Every few minutes it refills, a bell rings and its contents are dumped on folks waiting to be properly soaked below. One perhaps unintentional benefit: The thing sprays water everywhere, so if you’re on one of the loungers three decks below, you get a fine mist while you’re broiling in the sun. Sweet.
The public spaces inside are similarly impressive, particularly the Atrium, a gorgeous three-deck gathering place-cum-amphitheater. A piano plopped on a glass shelf two decks up serves as a performance space for the musicians who’ve already raised the roof there. Ok, the decorations on the walls here — hundreds of green-and-white-glass mounds topped by what appear at first glance to be eyeballs — gave me the willies the first time I saw them.
Corridors are uniformly wide, restaurants and shops well-marked, and signage clear-cut. Still haven’t made my way to the spa, but I’m sure it’s out there somewhere. I just know it is.
The restaurants have been mostly good, and sometimes great (a dinner mate at Prime Steakhouse Monday evening had a cut of beef so big I”m surprised it didn’t jump off the plate and start grazing on the fake grass on the mini-golf course). There have been some service bumps, but inasmuch as the ship hasn’t even cut its baby teeth yet, that’s to be expected. I got to the Lido Marketplace (read: buffet) just as it was closing for lunch, and as I reached for some food, the dude behind the counter pulled the tray away and asked me to hand over the tongs. I obliged, tong-tied as I was. But, really, it’s impossible to go hungry on a cruise ship, so I headed to the burrito bar, where I was greeted with a smile and a honkin’ big plate of chow.
I’m looking forward to a meal at Cucina del Capitano, the for-fee alternative restaurant ($10) proffering family-style Italian at dinnertime; it’s an evocative space tucked above the buffet, and the staff couldn’t be sweeter. (When I toured the spot on Day 1, I told a server that the entrance up a flight of steps is easy to miss. He looked at me, smiled and said, “Hmm. We’ll put up some posters.” Hey, it wouldn’t hurt . . .)
That said, service is unsurprisingly superb just about everywhere on Magic. The team at the RedFrog Pub, which appears to be everyone’s favorite hot spot now, seems to be overwhelmed by the crowds at times, but the photos of tipplers that flash on the screens behind the bar keep everyone busy. I can’t imagine things won’t improve, and quickly.
And the cabins? I’m in a balcony unit on Deck 9, and it’s a cheery little haven with an orange-and-brown palette (it’s not as Halloweeny as it sounds), flowery prints on the walls, enough storage that nine days of clothing for two are completely concealed and a tight but otherwise lovely balcony. A single door leads outside, but a large window really opens the space up. The bathroom is serviceable, with a shower and curtain, a single sink and a standard toilet that makes that horrifying swoooooosh every time you flush it.
Got any questions about a section of the ship you want to know more about? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I’ll get you some answers.