I am writing a review before I finish unpacking from our 2-10 cruise to the Eastern Caribbean from Galveston on the Carnival Magic. Rates for this cruise were a little lower than other weeks in the late winter/early spring time period and we took advantage of that fact to book an aft wrap on deck 6. Cabin 6470 is an aft wrap, otherwise known as a premium vista balcony on the port side of the Magic. It has some great and not-so-great aspects which I will get into in a bit.
It was a relatively nice day for embarkation from Galveston, but I had waited too late to book our customary EZ Cruise parking (showed full online) and we ended up at Discount Cruise Parking on Harbourside right off I-45. They handed out sodas and beer as we waited in really long lines to board one of a few shuttles from their location. By the time we arrived at the pier... lines were moving decently and check-in progressed at a good pace. We still didn't get on the ship until after 1:30 pm. This process would have been miserable in bad weather, so I suggest parking with a lot that has more shuttles and a closer proximity to the pier to cut down turnaround time.
Once onboard the ship we made our way to the cabin where we unpacked immediately and met our steward. The room seemed freshened well, and our steward did a good job of providing us with ice. Bon Voyage had delivered the items they were allowed in port (sodas) and our gold pins were on the counter. We walked out on our wrap balcony which was expansive and the largest personal balcony we've ever had. We had two loungers... 4 chairs with room to spare. On Magic, none of these upper balconies overlooks the water; they just overlook other balconies or decks- and I found that to be a disadvantage, although our location only overlooked the promenade deck which was not crowded at any time. A lot of people could look down on us though all the way from the Lido on 10. So although there a little corners where you could actually get privacy... you need to be careful on that balcony as regards your attire.
Smoke from other passengers or the deck below was NOT an issue on the balcony. The wind blew too briskly mostly for that to be a problem in the back. Only once did we smell cigar smoke coming from a neighbor in the aft. Room was mostly quiet as well- we and our port neighbor shared a "mudroom" antechamber that got our main doors off the hallway. The room itself was spacious with three closets and a sofa plus chair- diagonal configuration. Great layout... typical small but adequate bathroom.
These aft rooms are located over the show lounge and you will hear bass thumps at night in bed. You will also feel thrusters quite strongly, and ship motion is accentuated back here and in the very front. We passed through several fronts and became queasy from motion on the last day especially. This was aggravated by the fact that the passengers were asked not to go out on the public decks due to wind for awhile and the interior common areas were congested.
This is not a good room for people with issues or small children. It is just too far away from lido food and fun to be convenient to someone needing elevators to get around. Elevator service was pretty slow on the ship, and as described- Magic common areas suffer a great deal of congestion and bottlenecking in the wrong circumstances. One particular issue we encountered was the inability to get into shows or venues comfortably. Even when at the doors early... we still could not get good seats for the shows. We could have zipped past the elders like some people did, but the common areas are built way too small for the amount of people on this ship. While they do spread out in the right conditions (sunny day out on lido and upper decks) lines are long on elegant nights outside the dining room- (hint) if your dining is designated, show up 5 minutes late. I've never seen bottlenecks like this on any ship we've been on- but most of the passengers on this longer cruise were polite and exhibited a great deal of class.
The Magic is a beautiful, relatively new showpiece of Carnival's fleet, and the morale of the crew seems to be pretty high. Our head waiter Antonio fielded the most able dining team we've had since 2004... and our Southern Lights entertainment (the singing waiter) was in one word... OUTSTANDING! What a talent! Cleaning going on all the time and you could eat off the bathroom floors. Litter immediately picked up... spills immediately mopped... tables immediately cleaned. Staff was sincerely friendly- can't praise them enough.
I was very surprised at the amount of wear and tear on carpets already though. We used the stairs a LOT and the landings already show a lot of beating. Love the decor on the ship...bright tropical colors and soft honey-toned wood predominate.
Biggest disappointment about the Magic was the quality of the food itself... in both the dining room and the lido. Uniformly cool to cold- listen, there is nothing appetizing about a cold crabcake. Cool Newburg and mahi mahi. Really bad Caesar salad in Cuccina del Capitano. Once, I had piping hot mushroom soup and a very good vegetarian plate. The lasagna in the pasta bar was also piping hot and delicious. We never, and I mean never- saw a pizza out on the pizza bar. We had sliders and quesadillas out on deck 5 which were freshly cooked and good for lunch. Paid for coconut shrimp in the Red Frog Pub which were decent. The steakhouse was good, but less so than the Spirit in June. Eastern European staff come across as a little less than friendly although I feel this is not their intent. The food issues are a direct reflection of designing Magic to pack in more passengers in my opinion. Even Tandoor Grill food was lukewarm... this is an area that needs improvement.
We liked having the four "extra" hot tubs on deck 5... although we did get to share one once with a delightful diapered baby. I don't really mind, but I cannot imagine that young parents believe that is going to be okay with a majority of people in a public tub. No Carnival personnel in sight to address the issue. Overall, the interaction between parents and children was wonderful to see on the Magic. Well behaved kids for the most part and a wonderful dad who danced to the showband in the atrium with his baby daughter. That was truly a "Magic" moment. Kid's areas on Magic are the best designed of any ship we have sailed on. On a side note- comedian Chas Elsner is a wonderful choice for a family comedy show... plus we heard that he did a good adult show as well that was not based on F-bombs for humor. Very refreshing. James as CD... meh- pretty much vanilla... but at least one doesn't get the sense he is talking down to the passengers in his shows or instructions. This is a fine art and appreciated. Another good note is that they have the "chair hogs" on the run:-) Hooray for that! People still are reserving their lounges but much less obnoxiously than what we have seen before.
Magic is not built for watching pier runners unless you are in a cove balcony. Even the promenade deck is a hard place to "cheer on" runners and trotters because the plexiglass extends past standing level in most places for safety's sake. You can heckle from the aft on the promenade, but otherwise, you are really up too high for this traditional activity. Our passengers were uniformly law-abiding in this respect, so kudos to them. Sailaways were on time.
Finally, we were on a double holiday cruise which Magic staff celebrated "brilliantly". We participated in the Mardi Gras parade... so much fun... and Valentine's day was marked with all the ladies receiving a flower. Nice touch, Carnival! Debarkation was fairly smooth, although we did not get off until 11am and had issues returning to Discount Parking because of a dearth of shuttles. A word to the Galveston port debarkation crew... if you want passengers to turn around after finding their suitcases... put up a sign (porters only) and stop yelling at us like we were morons.
We will not book another cruise for awhile. The cold food and venue crowding were dealbreakers for us this time around, even though we loved the ship and the staff. We will probably spend that money on an all-inclusive resort where we can get out of the madding crowd if need be. The ports of Key West, Freeport and Nassau were not "all that". Pleasant but not somewhere we absolutely need to see again... enjoyed seeing Atlantis, but don't even think we would spend vacation there on land if we had the choice. Spent a lot on extras on this cruise that could be better spent on land though... so the "value" received for the trouble incurred has lessened the cruising experience for us.