As first timers, we spent a good bit of time learning about the cruise ships sailing out of Galveston and, in particular the specifics about The Magic. Sailing out of Galveston was a no brainer. We live in League City, TX - just 35 miles from our front door to the ship. We also liked the idea of being on a newer ship. Since we ride our motorcycle to Galveston often, we met casually others that had been on The Magic. Those informal reviews were nearly 100% positive. The one or two that weren't sounded a bit like "cruise snobs" to us, so we took their criticism with a grain of salt. We chose the Western Carribean for our first cruise - Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel.
My wife and I are still romantic and very close, so we wanted a feeling of privacy and selected an aft-view extended balcony. We absolutely loved our room from the moment of entry. I doubt we will ever have any other cabin on the Magic. The extra balcony space is quite significant. We heard no noise in the passageway during the trip. The crew servicing our end of the ship was awesome. We never waited long for ice or anything we asked for. We tipped them generously at the end of the cruise.
I noticed that one reviewer mentioned "prop" noise when the engine is docking. Yes there is some very slight vibration, but it is rather insignificant. I suspect the noise may be stern thrusters rather than the props. To me, it was like a gentle wake up nudge, notifying us to get up for an early morning view of each new port.
We did excursions in Grand Cayman and Cozumel. In Grand Cayman we did Stingray City and Snorkling and in Cozumel did the Harley Sportster excursion. We had a great time on both, but feel that on our cruise this year, we will not do excursions. Fpr us, it seemed like it made the day a bit rushed. We plan on just cruising the port towns, doing a little beach time,have lunch, shop a bit and return somewhat earlier to the ship.
We thought that the food in the formal dining was just fine. Service was good and friendly. Anything that wasn't to our liking, we returned and ordered something else. That only happened twice. I like that you don't have to dress up for the dining rooms, but I was disappointed that the maitre'd let in people with flip flops, shorts and T-shirts. I don't recall the name, but the little dark chocolate infused desert cake is "to die for" if you like chocolate. It's addicting. Try it.
We ate at the Italian restaurant one night. It was "OK". But our waiter was inexperienced; there was not a sense of intimacy, and the food was good, but nothing special. We won't do the Italian restaurant again.
We loved pretty much all the buffet food on deck 10. There is such an incredible selection and it was all very fresh. We were up for the breakfast buffet early each morning to beat the rush, typically after a walk or jog and a brief trip to the gym. I ate Indian food at least 4 times during the cruise. Unexpectedly good.
We hit the casino twice and had a very good time and spent several evenings in the Red Frog Pub as well as on the outside deck of the pub. The beer is awesome and the service was good. We did not take in any of the shows so no comment there, but it seemed that most people we talked to said they were OK to good, but certainly not up to Vegas quality.
We don't have anything to compare to but we felt that embarkation and debarkation went as well as it could. I guess it is a matter of perspective, but we see not point in getting in a rush for either. The point of a cruise is to relax. Right?
Overall, we both have traveled more than most, but for both of us cruising was a first. In the end, we decided it was one of the best bangs for the buck one could have in a week and we have already scheduled our next cruise on the Magic for the Eastern Carribean this November. If we have even 1/2 as much fun as the first, I suspect we will be on cruises each and every year.