About us: We were travelling with our son, a 9 month old. Second cruise for me (previous cruise on Royal Carribean), third for my wife (Royal Carribean and Princess). We are also vegetarians.
The ports of call: Key West -- Very touristy port. The pier where we docked was Downtown and was so close to most attractions.
Freeport -- The pier was in an industrial area and was around half an hour drive from the Port Lucaya area where most of the action and beaches seemed to be concentrated. Lots of shops at the Port Lucaya market.
Nassau -- The pier was very close to Atlantis where we spent most of our port day. Lots of shops near the pier.
Parking: We parked at the EZ parking lot very close to the cruise terminal. They had us park across the street this time and it took around 10 minutes for a bus to pick us up. With a previous cruise coupon, it was $45 for a 7 day cruise. On disembarkation, it took around 20 minutes wait for us to get into a van back to the parking lot. A good value for the money and the service wasn't exceptional but fairly decent.
Embarkation: We arrived around 2:00 pm and checked our bags using a porter. We then walked to the check-in after a 5 minute wait thru the security and there were no crowds. It took us only a couple of minutes to check-in and we were on the ship in another 5 minutes. A great experience!
Dis-Embarkation: This was decidedly far worse than embarkation. We were assigned group 26, which was the penultimate group to dis-embark. The dis-embarkation started around 7:30 am but by the time our group was called, it was 10 am! Another 30 minute wait for the porter and another 20 minute wait at the immigration/customs was no fun but I guess I couldn't blame Carnival for most of this except for assigning us such a late dis-embarkation!
The Ship: Carnival Magic looks and feels new. It is a beautiful ship and is very well maintained. However, the layout was pretty confusing (atleast for me). Royal Carribean's Voyager class of ships was easier to get around on than this ship. Once you get off the elevators, it is harder to intuitively know how to go to wherever you are planning to go since the walk ways are at a weird place. Maybe it's just me!
Common Areas: The swimming pools were all very good but I wish there were more seats since everything was packed most of the time. The Showtime Theater is well constructed. The outdoor theater was very nice but they showed pretty old movies most of the time (Batman with Jack Nicholson as Joker took the cake in their selections!). The sports deck was very nice and had some great looking water slides (which we didn't use). We used the golf course and it was not very challenging. The dining rooms were beautiful (Both Northern and Southern Lights). The walkways were nicely decorated and furnished. I wish the photographers did not take over most of the promenade sitting areas on level 5!
The Room: We were in a Cove Balcony room (Deck 2). It was great but didn't have a light. So couldn't sit there are read in the night. They cleaned the balcony as we were coming into Galveston at a time which we informed them wasn't convenient to us. That was a bummer. The room itself was nice a cozy with lots of shelves, which we loved. The bathroom was decent but we didn't like the shower curtain, which didn't prevent water going into the bathroom. There were plenty of hangars in the closet. There was an annoying sofa and a coffee table that we could've been happier without since they reduced the square footage, which was already reduced by the baby's pack and play.
The Daycare: Really really bad! We mainly went with Carnival because they advertise that they provide daycare for kids of all ages in the night between 10:30 pm and 2 am. However, their idea of daycare at night is putting kids of all ages together in a room with the TV blaring at a very loud volume with a party for older kids going on in the next room with loud music of course. No bottle warmers or fridge to store bottles if the baby woke up in the night. They didn't change our baby's diaper either when he had to be changed and our baby spent the two hours he was there wide awake after being woken up by the loud music. We never used it. Unless you are a parent whose idea of daycare for your child being played TV at a loud volume in the middle of the night, this daycare is not for you. Very disappointed!
The food: The breakfast at southern lights was decent but didn't have many items. The Lido deck breakfast buffet was always really crowded, so this is not for you if you don't like too much crowd. Lunch at Southern lights was decent but you'd have to put in your special food requests in person once you get on the ship even if you let Carnival know when you booked. We tried the Tandoor and though it was ok, we did find the same item we had at the dinner the night before. Maybe coincidence. We tried the Cucina Del Capitano for lunch and their made to order pasta was great. The Sushi place serves snack sized sushi (half a roll) which was good but for the sweet tasting rice. The pizza place was 24/7 and was fast and tasty. They served fresh but saltless popcorn during movies which was good. Dinner was pretty good with atleast one vegetarian and one Indian vegetarian alternative. Room service was bad. Very limited alternatives and I got sick after eating one of their sandwiches. We were disappointed with the steamed vegetables they gave us, that we had planned to feed the baby. They were not easily mashable except for potatoes.
Entertainment: Not really great. The dancers were pretty good but the lead male singer was pretty bad. Too many cruise guest performances. The juggler guy was pretty boring. The comedy shows weren't too bad. The magic show by Aakarsh and Prasad was very engaging and entertaining. They must get a bigger stage!
Staff: Very nice. Room attendant (Sri), servers (George, Alex), hostess (Seema) were wonderful and went out of their way to make us feel at home and were great with the baby. The cruise director seemed to be a funny guy but the way he talked ("ya") drove me nuts!
In Summary, we had a great time on the cruise but are "cruised out" for atleast a year!