After doing thorough research leading up to my cruise on 4/29/12, I was a little concerned about the various reviews I have heard regarding the Carnival Magic. I have to say though, that any concerns you may have with some of the negative reviews shouldn't stop you. I had a great time!
My cruise consisted of my two brothers and I meeting 11 of our friends (all singles) in Galveston on 4/29/12. My brothers and I drove to Houston the night before and stayed overnight in a Hilton hotel. After a nice night's sleep we made the trip down to Galveston the next morning and got to the port around 11:00.
Embarkation process went quite smoothly, after the zigzag of lines and different presentations of paperwork, scanners, and credit cards, they had taken our security photos and we were on to the catwalk and looking at the magnificent ship! We boarded very quickly and walked on to Deck 3 at the Atrium, where we sat down to wait for the rest of our group. After a few minutes looking around in the Atrium, which was very eye popping and chrome lined, our friends arrived. We took a quick look in the main theater on the front of the ship since it was empty, and had our photos taken on the stage. This ship's main theater is huge compared to the Carnival Ecstasy, and we all just looked around for 10 minutes or so. We went up to the lido deck from there and had our first buffet lunch. The Indian food is good and spicy, if you like that sort of thing, and the other buffet food is really good as well. I never had the Mongolian Wok (heard mixed reviews about that) and never tried the burrito bar, though some others in our group did and quite liked it.
The two days at sea went very well, with always something to do. We worked out the first day, went to an art exhibition, laid out by the pool, used the water slides which are way more fun that I imagined, amongst other things. Never found ourselves getting bored. We ate at Cucina del Capitano for lunch both days and we couldn't be more pleased! Most people aren't aware of the place at all, and they especially don't know about the free lunches there. Be prepared to eat pasta, as they don't serve anything else for lunch, but as good as this pasta is, you won't want anything else!
The dinners were always good with food ranging from mediocre to really good depending on what you got. We quickly got in the habit of ordering two entrees so that we got to try everything we wanted and of course, the chocolate melting cake is as good as always. After dinner we generally would go to the pub (my favorite place on the ship), the casino, adult comedy shows, and club vibe. All of which were entertaining and I don't think I got to bed any earlier than 1:30 on any night of the cruise.
Of all the shows we watched, the juggler was the best! Really entertaining and funny, not really what you might expect from a juggling act. We also sat in the second row to enhance the experience. The main magic show in the front theater is really good as well, but the late night adult centered one in the small theater on the aft of the ship is not any good, they only do about 3 tricks and the dancers just put on a cheesy burlesque show. The Carnival Legends show was quite a let down too, especially since its on the last day of the cruise. I was expecting more on the last night of the cruise. The comedians were all pretty decent, both adult and family shows, as we saw about 5 different comedy acts.
The destinations, simply put, Jamaica is rubbish, Grand Cayman is amazing, and Cozumel is good. We did not have an excursion booked in Jamaica so we decided to wing it. The port is the least pretty facility of all the destinations, but the island itself is beautiful. We had a driver take us to Margaritaville, and he kept trying to get us to go to a beach he clearly worked for, but after insisting on Margaritaville he finally took us there. Margaritaville was nice and we spent about 3 hours there just sitting on the deck and playing around in the water. As soon as we left, BOOM! We got hit from every direction by beggars, hustlers, and cab drivers all competing for our attention and money. We tried to walk up the street to do shopping but we couldn't make it two feet without getting hustled by someone. I think each of us got offered marijuana about 6 times in the 20 minutes we were outside, with one guy offering us a host of harder substances. We looked in a couple shops, but the sales people were not very friendly and we got hustled even more. At this point we decided to cut our losses and run for the ship. We found our original cab driver and he took us back. Really felt like Mogadishu to me.
Grand Cayman, the next day, was heaven on Earth. Absolutely gorgeous, nice people, and you can tell the island has a lot of money. We did the Deluxe Stingray City Sandbar excursion and absolutely loved it! After swimming with the rays in the middle of the sea, we went back to a beach on the island and it was easily one of the best beaches any of us have ever seen! The water was crystal clear, the sand soft and light, and we snorkeled and swam for nearly 3 hours!
Cozumel was great as well. We took a cab to Paradise beach, which was nice, but not quite as nice as Cayman. Then headed downtown to Senor Frogs (rubbish), quickly got out of there to see real Cozumel. Hiked about a mile north on the main strip to buy some vanilla for some loved ones back home and really loved all the shops and storekeepers you see along the way. They do try to sell you things, but they are way nicer than Jamaica.
Our stateroom was always nice and clean even with the 3 of us staying in there, a little cramped at times, but we're cheap and wanted a cheap room. The service was always great on the ship, and the ship was always spic and span. I've heard several people making negative reviews of the ship, and with the experience we had, I don't see how that's possible to have a bad time there. The only thing I noticed is that the service wasn't quite as top notch as it was when we were on the Carnival Ecstasy two years ago. With that being said, it was by no means bad or mediocre. Still very good, and they really take care of you. All in all, a good cruise, and we're already planning another in 2013!