We spent Sat. night with a friend in Galveston and were able to get to the ship earlier than we ever have. At 10:15 we were worried that we might be too early, but things worked out beautifully. We parked at EZ Cruise, took their shuttle over to the ship, dropped off our bags then headed into the terminal for a flawless check-in. We were actually up on the Lido enjoying lunch by 11:15. After some exploring, we went to our cabin and enjoyed a quick nap before our bags arrived.
Although the Magic wasn't the biggest ship we've sailed on, it felt like it. I don't think I've ever done so much walking to get somewhere on a ship. And although walking isn't bad and I do enjoy walking, this ship would probably not be a good choice for physically impaired or very elderly people. There always seemed to be lines, no matter where you were. And as strange as this may sound, many times I felt rather "closed in" because of partitions...inside as well as outside on open decks in some areas.
The two main dining rooms seemed to be very different...Southern Lights more elegant and traditional for a cruise ship main dining room, and Northern Lights more contemporary with an almost casual air, and open to public view thru windows from two different halls. We had early seating in the Southern Lights and enjoyed the dining experience there. One thing that can really make or break the dining room experience is your table mates, and ours were fabulous. Our service was mediocre and the food was good. I can't say that the food was outstanding, but I certainly managed to find something every night that I thoroughly enjoyed. They didn't offer escargot at all and even tho I was quite disappointed, they did offer lobster, for which I was very glad. You could check menus any time on your interactive TV, as well as check your Sign & Sail account and access many other helpful things, including ordering from room service. I must say I was quite surprised by the dining room dress code, or lack thereof. Shorts are allowed in the dining room at night, and I saw many people who I felt were really under dressed to be in that particular venue. Formal night is now called Elegant Night on the Magic, and even tho many did dress quite elegantly, many did not.
One area that may go unnoticed is the Lanai. It's an outside area on deck 5, and right outside the Northern Lights dining room there's a lovely quaint sitting area with small tables & chairs, as well as a hot tub. It's a rather private area, even tho it's out on an open deck. It's a great area not to be missed. Then there's the Serenity area, the adults only section with big double hammocks, huge round double loungers, as well as other loungers & seating, 2 hot tubs, and a bar...well of course, they're everywhere! This was a very popular area and every time I walked thru there it was pretty well full. There is no charge to enjoy this area. Photographers hound you constantly to take your picture, but surprisingly bar staff did not drive us crazy trying to sell drinks.
The decor of the Magic was typical Carnival, gaudy; some places more so than others. That's really just the public areas; the cabins were very tasteful and pleasing to the eye...except the orange vanity stool. The cabins have pretty nice hair dryers that actually blow hard and get hot, but you still have to hold your thumb on the button. The down side is that they are in a drawer at the vanity and take up valuable storage space for things like make-up. Less than 1/4 of the drawer is available for storage and it's a very small area and not much will fit in there. Closet storage is ample and bathroom shelves are more than adequate to handle bathroom articles. I did not like the hangers in the closet at all. I'm sure they were designed for getting the most out of the space available, but they were quite a nuisance.
The Magic has more elevators that I've ever seen on a cruise ship. Many are panoramic glass elevators overlooking the atrium, but those are very small. We never had to wait long at all for an elevator, no matter what floor we were on. There were plenty of hot tubs and located in many different areas. The casino is strategically located on deck 5 where you have to walk thru it going just about anywhere on that deck. The smoke is staggering, but the nice thing is that there is a nice wide tiled walkway thru it. You don't have to weave thru the slot machines, dodge the gamblers or stumble over chairs. We didn't think they offered a very good variety of slot machines, and they certainly didn't seem to pay well.
One thing that's very interesting on the Magic is the computers and WiFi hot spots. They aren't just located in the library or internet cafe, they are all over the ship. Of course that makes them very accessible to many people, but some are located in very public areas with no privacy. The Magic's library is the smallest, most "nothing" library I've ever seen on a cruise ship. I walked thru it several times and there were hardly any books on the shelves... just empty bare shelves. This ship has self-serve guest laundry facilities with irons & ironing boards. The one on my deck (deck 2) was busy all the time. It was conveniently located directly in the middle of the ship on the port side. Cost is $3 per wash & $3 per dry. If you have only bills, there is a change machine in there to get quarters.
The TV in the cabin is mounted to the wall, but it doesn't swivel. You can't see it at all from the dressing table, only from the sofa or bed. So when I was doing my hair or putting on make-up, all I could do is listen to the TV; couldn't watch it. I was pleased with the variety of channels we got; several movie channels, several news channels, the 3 major networks, and quite a bit more. And the reception was amazingly clear and reliable. The bathrooms are typical cruise ship bathrooms...small. The showers have those awful clingy curtains instead of the nice round plastic doors. They had dispensers on the wall with shampoo and shower gel, but no hair conditioner. Our cabin was located at the very front of the ship on deck 2. It proved to be a very, very noisy location when coming into port, docking and leaving port. They had music playing in the halls, which was rather bothersome.
The show theatre is quite beautiful and the seats are amazingly comfortable, at least on the lower level. (Most show theatres have notoriously uncomfortable seats.) There was an abundance of leg room, and convenient little oval tables spaced about 5 or 6 feet apart all along each row. The theatre was directly above our cabin but we didn't have any problem with noise there. The down side to the theatre was that there were great big gold pillars located throughout the theatre and many, many seats had completely blocked or partially blocked views of the stage, which made for a tremendous number of wasted seats in there.
I'd rate the entertainment as OK. There weren't many singers but there were lots of dancers. The dancers were very good, the singers not so much so, but overall I'd rate that part of the entertainment as only OK. We didn't go to all the other shows, but got mixed reviews from our table mates at dinner. Several shows were pretty late and we just couldn't stay up to go. The outdoor movie screen was nice. They didn't have as many movies out there as I would have liked, but they showed concerts and other things that I'm sure were entertaining to others. Some kind of "noise" was always going on outside by the pool.
The on-board shops were typical of what I've seen on most other ships; in a circle around the atrium on deck 5. They seemed to always be crowded, and always lines to pay for your purchases. Prices were typical of any cruise ship, and they did have some good "sales" on many things. The one shop that I thought was kind of "far out there" is the Cherry on Top...a candy store. It's just loaded with all kinds of candies you can imagine, and I was amazed at the number of people in there spending money. With all the sweets, ice cream and such on the ship which are free, I can't believe that it would be a money-making thing, but there sure were lots of people buying the sweet stuff.
The miniature golf course was quite unique. Each individual hole is different from most, which I really liked, but the thing that made the course so unique is that it's double-deckered. Holes 1-6 are on one level (deck 12) and holes 7-9 are on the deck right above. In that same area were other fun activities also.
Soft-serve ice cream machines are located on the Lido, strategically placed around where the buffet meals are served. They are open 24 hours. Hot chocolate machines are located where the coffee machines are and it's very good. On the Lido there are a number of eating venues. Hamburgers were served at the Grille, outside near the Beach pool (mid-ship), and they were truly outstanding (and I'm not a big hamburger lover). Grab some fries there too and put some queso dip on top and you have quite a yummy lunch. At this same location every morning, it is a made-to-order omelet station. Pizza is located just opposite there, on the same end of the pool. The Mongolian Wok was a very popular place, located inside in the Lido Marketplace. They offered many choices for made-to-order Chinese food, and it was always very crowded. The Burrito Bar was outstanding and the Deli had extremely good sandwiches & wraps. I found no potato chips served anywhere.
The gym was nice and well equipped, but it seemed rather "closed in" to me. It was smaller than I would have thought for a ship this size. All the equipment is dark, the carpet is dark and the ceiling is low. It just didn't have an open and airy feel about it. To get to the gym you go into the spa on deck 12 forward, down the hall, and thru a set of glass doors on the right.
Our debarkation was wonderful. We did the self-assist and were in the first group to be called (7:30). They stagger the deck numbers and call them at 15-minute intervals. According to the debarkation information sheet given to us, decks 1, 2 & 12 at 7:30; decks 6 & 11 at 7:45; decks 7 & 9 at 8:00 and decks 8 & 10 at 8:15. Then the "regular" debarkation began at 8:30 and the zones were called every 15 minutes also. Ours was perfectly flawless and we were in our car and pulling out of the parking lot before 8:00.
Our cruise on the Carnival Magic was very nice, and we accomplished the purpose for which we went, and that was total relaxation and doing almost nothing. It wasn't a truly outstanding experience, but it was definitely very enjoyable.