The ship is very, very nice--as you would expect a new ship to be. This March 25 sailing from Galveston was marred by an unexpectedly large amount of children--over 1,000 as announced by the Cruise Director. These children ranged in ages from infants (no problems) to young teenagers (mild problems) to college spring breakers (big problems). But we were told we were "lucky", as the week before had 2,000 children on board. With a stated capacity of 3,960 pax, the announced passenger count was in excess of 4,500. WAAAAAY crowded, noisy, a bit unruly with unsupervised teens running (literally) about at all hours of the day and night, and dirty (kids make a mess in the buffet areas).
It appears that Carnival has been cutting its budget everywhere in order to avoid large fare increases or the dreaded fuel-surcharge. The onboard activities were vastly fewer in number than just 2 or 3 years ago. The entertainers in the main showroom were strictly off the D-List. In fact, one of the waiters in the Southern Lights MDR sang better than any of the professional singers in the shows. The juggler was mildly entertaining, if you were OK with him dropping stuff (NOT part of his act). The comics in the Punchliners Club were hit-or-miss: Percy Crews was a foul-mouthed person who had but one or two funny jokes in his 35 minute R-Rated routine, but it was largely just a tirade of coarse, bathroom humor. Cowboy Bill Martin, however, was very funny and worth the wait to get into the lounge.
Food: Someone at Carnival probably got a large bonus when they initiated the current cut-rate menu. Gone are popular items, and replaced by some rather tepid fare (I am no foodie, but I know what Carnival used to serve and what tastes good). The beef in MDR was tough and without that beefy-flavor. If you want a great steak, you must pay $30/pp in the Prime Steakhouse (if you can get a reservation--book in advance if you can). Overall, the food in both MDR and Lido was average to above average--and that is several steps down from before. It was 'good', but any cruiseline can do 'good'.
I don't know why Carnival even bothers to publish a dress-code for dining as it is NOT enforced. It is absolutely disgusting to have men, especially those "of size" (I am being politically correct) eating in the Lido area without shirts on. Yes, they come in from the pool area, but Carnival should have someone turn them away at the door unless they put a shirt on. There are outside food venues like the hamburger/hot dog grill, tandoori grill, deli, and pizza that they don't have to have wear shirts. But in the indoor seating area? Seriously??? In MDR, just about anything goes at dinner--short-shorts, sleeveless shirts, baseball caps, etc.
Finally, kudos to the ENTIRE staff and crew of the MAGIC during a medical emergency on Saturday night. The US Coast Guard was called out to sea to airlift a passenger. It was a sight to see: That chopper hovering over the aft portion of the ship and a Guardsman coming down in a harness, followed by a stretcher-basket. The patient was then lifted up into the chopper in the basket, followed by the Guardsman and what was likely a family-member. The whole process took only 15 minutes once the helicopter arrived at the ship. I have seen this this stuff on TV, but this was first-hand. Gutsy moves by the Coast Guard, pulled off with precision. Definitely the true HEROES OF THE WEEK.
The debarkation process was the best ever. No waits, no worries.