My boyfriend and I cruised on the Magic July 2012 and had a really great time. I was nervous we would be overrun with children and that the full ship would just be too crowded; however, we were pleasantly surprised that most of the children seemed to be pre-teens and teens who were under control and there was plenty of space throughout the ship.
We drove from the DFW area to Galveston and were on the ship by about 2PM. We left a little late from DFW (about 8AM) because we received information from Carnival that our boarding time was pushed back to 1:30. We had no problems or delays getting through security or getting checked in. We booked our parking online ahead of time at Lighthouse parking for $50 for the week and had a great experience with them as well.
Dining: We were originally placed at a table for 4 in the Northern Lights Dining room (Late seating); this dining room has a glass wall that is by a corridor where guests walk throughout the day and dinner. Since we were traveling with just 2 and didn't like the "fish bowl" feel of the Northern Lights, we requested a table with a large group in the Southern Lights Dining room. This was a great choice for us. We loved the larger group and the Southern Lights Dining Room was a nicer experience. I was a bit disappointed that the after dinner coffee drinks (lattes, cappuccinos, etc) are no longer included.
Beyond the main dining room, the Indian buffet on the back of the lido is EXCELLENT. We ate there several times. We never did the steakhouse or the Italian restaurant, as we really enjoyed the included food and our table mates.
Ship: The Magic is super nice. It is a Carnival ship, so if you've been on a Carnival cruise, you'll recognize things like the atrium, general layout and decorative style. However, as many have mentioned, we loved the Reg Frog Pub (including the bar games and the mojitos). The ropes course, while not super challenging, was also a fun "Day at Sea" Activity. The ship was very clean.
Cabin: We love a dark interior cabin. We brought a small fan for noise and a little extra circulation. It was a little hot. We had the air checked and they said it met Carnival standards. Our shower drain clogged, but they came within about 15 min of a call to unclog it. Very great service where our cabin was concerned.
Activities: Besides laying around the Tides Pool (a little calmer) and the Serenity Deck, we also played trivia, went to tea time, enjoyed the comedy brunch and comedy shows, visited the fun shops, and played more of those pub games at the Red Frog...we were addicted to shuffle board and the hook game :).
Entertainment: Because several of the shows for the late seating have been moved to an early time (7PM), we didn't really make it to many. The comedians were good, but are held in a smaller theater. The lines to get in are long and there aren't enough seats. Carnival should consider moving the comedy shows to the main theater.
Service: Our room steward was excellent. The dining room staff was attentive and friendly, but it seems they might have a few more tables than on previous cruises. I did have a charge put on my bill that was not mine. It took 2 trips to guest services to resolve the issue.
Shore excursions: 2 of our shore excursions were with Carnival and one was an off-Carnival excursion that we booked online. We booked all excursions ahead of time.
Jamaica - Dolphin Swim and Beach Break (booked through Carnival). This was very fun, but we were disappointed that they would not let us use our water camera. The pictures they snapped were not professional and weren't very good, however, you could purchase them for $66. We passed. The dolphins were amazing! A great experience. Doctors Cave Beach was our stop and we loved that. We had the jerk chicken at the restaurant on the beach and it was delicious. Our guide was very good as well.
Grand Cayman - Booked through Island Marketing Ltd. http://grandcaymancruiseexcursions.com/ This was by far the BEST deal. We went to stingray city and 2 other snorkel spots (Coral Garden and Barrier Reef) for $40/person. The tour is billed as a "boutique" tour, and our boat probably had between 20-30 guests. We were on a catamaran, but weren't crammed in like some of the other boats. This tour was similar to tours offered through the ship at about $30 less. The transportation was reliable and the company is well reviewed. I recommend checking this company out.
Cozumel - Fly High Zip line - Zip lines were fun and safe. The beach that is included in the excursion is on a man-made beach with a view of the cruise ships and a disappointment. We enjoyed the zip line, but might want to cab it to a real beach next time.
Our disembarkation was a breeze. We did self-assist. Our deck was called at 7:30. We were through customs, rode the shuttle and to our car by 8AM. A great experience.
This is my 9th Carnival cruise, so as long as I have one more by the end of 2013 I will be platinum. I'll definitely do that as I'm excited for some of those perks. In the mean time, the free drink coupon in my room when I got on board came in handy one day at sea (Bloody Mary). We had a fun time (as Carnival promises) and my boyfriend (who went for the first time) enjoyed himself and will cruise again. The Magic is a great ship and the people really made it a wonderful experience.