Here’s a look at some of the major dining options onboard Carnival Magic — this being the inaugural cruise, there’s little doubt that tweaks are still being made throughout.
Favorites: I’m a big fan of the Prime Steakhouse, the $30-per-person alternative space onboard, and now a Carnival standard. The service was just about the best, naturally, of any eatery onboard, and the three-hour meal sailed by. It’s kind of weird to see people walking by on the deck outside, but that’s negligible. Likewise, the unique-to-Magic Cucina del Capitana is a family-style Italian with singing waiters, a fantastic vibe, visits from the captain himself and a piddly $10 fee (truth be told, though, I liked the food during the free build-your-own pasta lunches served in the same space even better). The Tandoor at the Lido Marketplace is a terrific find (it’s outside near the aft pool), as are the RedFrog Pub’s tantalizing $3.33 bites — which include grouper fingers, conch fritters and roti.
Decent Standbys: Meals at the massive Southern Lights and Northern Lights main dining rooms have ranged from excellent to just so-so; surprisingly, the fried chicken that came highly recommended from a colleague was one of the best meals I’ve had onboard. (How come it always seems everyone else orders the good stuff, anyhow?) The other components of the Lido Marketplace are fine, particularly the burrito bar, though the congestion overall can really mar the experience. You can opt for Off the Grill options (burgers, salads, etc.) near the mid-ship pool to avoid the cluster, or at the deli in the ship’s aft behind the buffet. Pizza Pirate offers unexceptional but far-from-disagreeable grub; it’s a great spot to carb-up after a late night in the Vibe disco, though it closed at 4 a.m. one morning despite its billing as a 24/7 hub. After a dicey start, room service has picked up the pace as the week has progressed. The menu isn’t extensive (think continental breakfast, sandwiches, salads, etc.), but the food arrives relatively quickly and is attractively presented.
Needs Work: Yeah, something always needs work. I think the Sushi & More stand fits the bill — it’s only open for a few hours each evening, but it’s frequently busy. The sushi I’ve sampled has been pretty forgettable.
Looking for a cruise that’s all about the food? See our guide to gourmet theme cruises.