We traveled to the Port of Galveston from Orange, Texas, by way of highways 73 and 87 and the Galveston ferry. No problems. Arrived at the port by 10:30. We were awed by our big, beautiful ship, the Magic. We paid our tips to the man who took our luggage and then the guys went to park down the street (I think parking was $70.) They were shuttled back and then we all boarded. Quick and easy. We were eating lunch at the buffet on the Lido deck before noon.
We heard a rumor that our rooms were ready, so by 12:30 we were indeed in our rooms checking it out. My husband and I who had never cruised before were surprised at how roomy and nice it was. Even our friends, who had cruised before on Royal C. and Norwegian, said it was the best room that they had ever had. And the balcony was great. We met and asked our room steward if the balcony could be opened between our two rooms and it was quickly done. Nice!
I'll describe the room: When you first walk in, to the left is 3 closets....the first one has hangers and at the bottom are the life preservers; we hung our dinner clothes in here. Plenty of hangers. The second closet had 2 robes and more hangers. The third closet had shelves. After that, there is a long mirror on the wall above a long cabinet that has drawers, a sitting area with a bench, refrigerator cabinet, safe cabinet. There's a couple of plugs along here, but I never saw any need for an extension cord or power strip. Lastly, is a little shelf where the glasses and ice bucket is; other little shelves under that. Above that area is the flat-screen TV. Then you walk straight to the door that goes out to your balcony. So, we had plenty of room for hanging clothes and storage for all of our stuff. Now, back to the entrance door, to the right, this time, there is the bathroom. Sure, it's small, but we found it to be a good, practical design. I was surprised that there was plenty of shelves to put all my bathroom things. So, I did NOT need that over-the-door clear shoe holder (back in the suitcase it went). Plus, there was 2 towel hangers on the door that I did not want to cover. I especially liked the clothesline that you can stretch across the shower. It was long enough to hang a couple of bathing suits, even though we usually clipped our bathing suits to our balcony chairs to dry out. After the bathroom is the couch and small table. Then the bed with an end table and lamp on each side. Then there's a big window. Summary: Although we have nothing to compare it to, we felt the design of the room was great. We had plenty of room to store everything. Our suitcases fit under the bed, so they were out of the way. And the bed was very comfortable. Loved the balcony for morning coffee!
The location of our room was great. We were close to the elevators, but we mostly took the stairs to work off some of that food we ate. The Lido deck was just a quick walk. And the casino was a little too convenient! The farthest we had to venture was to dinner each night, on level 3. The elevators were never crowded. It was very easy to get around. Unlike disembarkation, but I'll get to that later.
The room steward was great! I wish I could remember his name; I should have written it down; nice, polite guy. No matter what time of the day we came back to the room, it was MAGICally cleaned, bed made, towels replaced, ice bucket filled, beach towels replaced, if they were used, and that fold on the toilet paper roll. And in the evening, when we returned from dinner and activities, there was that towel animal (different one every night), 2 chocolates and the FUNTIMES laying on the turned-backed, ready to slide in, bed. I couldn't imagine any better service.
We quickly fell into a routine....balcony coffee, breakfast at the buffet (great assortment of food), sunning and chill' around the pools on the Lido deck, having the drink of the day, lunch either in the buffet (always good) or grabbing some pizza or a hamburger, hot tub to get out of the cool wind (it was very windy, with rough seas on the Gulf). At around 4:00, we would head back to the room to sit on the balcony and then get ready for dinner. We had early dining (6:00)in the Southern Lights Lower, table 607. Wonderful service (loved Diana from Lithuania) wonderful food, nice variety, something for everyone.
After dinner, we would stroll around either to the casino on deck 5, or to find the nightly band at the Ocean Plaza, also on deck 5, or to look at our pictures at the photo area on deck 4. We didn't watch any movies out on the Lido deck, even though there was one every night. We did play bingo ($20)in the Showtime Theatre, a few times before a show.
The cruise director, Butch, was great, so full of energy. We also liked the assistant, Meagan, who usually did the Bingo in the theatre. We thoroughly enjoyed all the shows we went to: Welcome Aboard Show,The Groove Line, Destination: Unknown!, Win! We were impressed by the singing talent of Jason Allen and, especially Ling Ling Gepte. The Carnival Dancers were also very good. We liked the juggler, Marcus, and the illusionist. We also attended, for a little while anyway, the Redfrog Caribbean beach party and the Magic's Latin Fiesta, both lasted from 10:00pm to about 12:30am. That's the only time we heard any noise in our room, those 2 nights. We heard the chairs being moved around above us, but it wasn't too bad. We always bring a fan with us on trips for background noise anyway. The Carnival Legends show on the last night was fun, as some of our fellow cruisers displayed their "talents".
We dressed up one night, for Cruise Elegant night. All though my husband dreaded it, it wasn't bad at all. And we had some great pictures taken that night too. (This was our biggest expense on the cruise, but it was a special night, time.) He wore a suit and I wore a sequined blouse with black pants and blingy shoes, with a small dressy purse. I noticed that everyone dressed nice and a very few men had tuxes and a couple of ladies wore formals. I noticed that everyone seemed to dress nice every night at dinner and the cruisers all were polite and friendly. Maybe it gets sloppy during the summer....I've read some wild reviews on here.
Make sure you have your picture taken with the Captain during the Captain's Celebration. I advise that you get there at 5:00, like we did.
Shore Excursions: We went with Carnival on the two we did. In Jamaica we did the Catamaran Sail & Snorkel. It was good, just not enough time at Margaritaville. In Grand Cayman, we did the Stingray Sandbar and Rum Point Beach Safari. That was cool! We especially enjoyed the relaxing time at Rum Point Beach eating nachos and drinking margaritas. In Cozumel, we went shopping at the pier area and ate lunch at Pancho's Backyard (highly recommended). Make sure to go and hear about the Cozumel specials and deals before you head out shopping.
We loved the Sail & Sign card used for everything, even the casino. You can keep up with our account on the room TV everyday. We also liked the map on the TV that showed where our ship was. TV wasn't really watched on this trip, but it was nice to have.
In summary, it was a great trip. Also, we had never cruised before, we couldn't imagine a cruise being better than this one. I wanted to do something special in honor of our 40th anniversary, but my husband was not fired up to go on a cruise. He and I are both hooked! We're going on another cruise next week!
Now, for the bad part......the disembarkation from Hell. We decided to carry all our own luggage. That morning, we waited for our deck to be called. When it was called, we entered a human traffic jam....it was awful. I guess, all because some people do not follow instructions. We asked one of the cruise workers that was standing in the hallway, why can't a Carnival person guard each elevator to make sure the correct people are leaving when called? She replied that there wasn't enough workers to do that. How sad.....the last moments on our perfect cruise ruined by this nightmare! Anyway, we finally got out of there and on the road, later than we expected, but determined that that one situation should not ruin our cruise. Carnival definitely needs to improve on that situation. We will be anxious to compare our two cruises....Happy sailing!