Let me start by saying I find poor reviews of this ship suspect. I think it's impossible not to have a good time on this ship. So if you are on the fence just book it and go.
We flew into IAH the night before from Philly. We stayed at the Homewood Suites IAH. I will say that the Homewood suites is a bit out of the way and there's nothing around it, I'd stay somewhere else. Although there's nothing wrong with the Hotel itself. We used Carnival's transfer from IAH to Galveston. It's an hour plus drive but the Carnival transfer was very easy and non stressful, yes it costs $80 each but honestly it's a no hassle way to get to the ship.
I was unimpressed with Galveston as a home port. There's nothing there, it's industrial and It didn't impress me as someplace where I'd like to spend time pre or post cruise. The sail out was marred by oil Riggs, not to pretty, I certainly prefer a Florida home port.
We arrived around noon and after a lengthy security line (about 45minutes) we were checked in and on the ship by 1:30. Our room was ready upon check in. We had an outside on deck 1. The cabin was the best we've has for 4. Two bathrooms are you kidding, awesome. It was a huge help in getting ready each day.
We had lunch at the Marketplace Buffet on the lido deck. The buffet on this ship is excellent, there are a lot of choices. I was impressed by the quality of the buffet food. We really enjoyed the burrito bar,but I thought the Mongolian BBQ., wasn't worth the wait, there were very long lines for it the entire cruise. Checkout the Indian buffet by the aft pool. It was very tasty and the attendants were very helpful in helping me select something I'd like. One nit was that during breakfast French toast and pancakes were only offered at one station creating long lines, it's just silly.
We has my time dining in the Northern lights dining room. I will never go back to set time dining. It was done right, a nice touch was that the wait staff, were given your name and every team we had called us by name and took very good care of us. The dining room food was very good. The lobster was small but very good and they will gladly bring as many as you like. There were a few nights that the selections weren't that appealing but the everyday menu saved the day with flat iron steak or salmon.
There's lots to do for families on this ship. The ropes course, mini golf, football, corn toss, pool tables were all big hits with the kids. The water park was also a hit with our 12 & 13 year olds. We enjoyed the family friendly comedy club shows a first on any ship I've been on. In fact I enjoyed the comedy club each night taking in the family and adult only shows each night. The stage shows were good too. The illusionist and juggler were excellent.
I'm a port person and with 3 sea days that was the only negative of this cruise. Montego Bay was just ok, I recommend a shore excursion there. We did the catamaran snorkel, it was ok not enough time snorkeling in my opinion. Grand Cayman is a good beach day it's only $5 taxi ride to the beach and the island is very friendly we never take an excursion there. Finally, Cozumel honestly, my favorite port. We went to Nachi Cocom for the 1st time, it won't be the last we loved it. The kids might like something with more activities like Mr. Sancho's,we might try that next time.
All in all I was very impresses with the Magic and would definitely cruise on her again.