From booking, airport transfer, and embarkation to debarkation, we had a great time on Carnival Magic and plan to cruise again. As with all things in life, everything was not PERFECT 100% of the time, but Carnival met or exceeded my expectations in most areas and we had a blast! First off, let me say Carnival was a good cruise line for a beginner. The customer service agent from Carnival who helped me choose my cabin and my cruise did a great job. He was friendly, easy to speak with, and listened to my needs and expectations. As it turned out, he did a good job because we really loved our cabin location and the size of the cabin was just what we needed!
We chose to fly in (from two different cities) on the day of departure and that worked out perfectly. We arrived at Houston Bush Airport and the Carnival Cruise port transfer folks were right where the information I had said they would be and they were very friendly and easy to deal with. The ride to the ship was comfortable (certainly a good deal for the money) and our bags were taken straight from the bus to our stateroom after ID'ing that they were ours. This made things very easy. Because we took one of the last busses from airport to the ship, there were no lines at embarkation. It took about 10 minutes to get off the bus and onto the ship. The lady at the sail and sign desk was nice and helped move us along quickly.
As soon as we were on the ship, we, along with most folks, went to find food. This proved to be a simple experience and we enjoyed some buffet dining on the Lido deck. Again, being later arrivers, there were no lines, and still plenty of food. The food was of good quality, and about what I'd expect on a buffet line, especially just before sailing. Unfortunately, my sailing partner left her purse with money, ID, sail and sign, etc. in it, in the buffet area and we didn't recognize it until we returned to our stateroom. We went straight down to the guest services desk, and while we were standing in line, it was brought down and returned by a Carnival employee. Nothing was missing and we got it back very quickly.
We stayed in an interior stateroom, 6344, which turned out to be just what we needed. We had no plans to spend long periods of time in the stateroom, so we didn't feel we needed anything deluxe. We asked for two twin beds, and when we arrived, we found we had a king. It turns out, that the King beds are really two twins, which are seamlessly put together, but are easily separated. One quick note to our cabin steward and all was taken care of. Our shower drain was also slow, which we mentioned, and it was also taken care of before we returned to the stateroom the next time. We had no other issues with our room during the cruise. The suggestion (from this website!) to bring along a power strip or extension cord proved very useful and I would suggest it also if you need to plug in chargers or other items (there are only two 110V outlets in the room).
One of the things I liked most about our cruise was that you could truly choose to RELAX your days away or to party like a rockstar all the time. We choose to relax on most days, and found it very easy to do. We truly enjoyed the Cloud 9 Spa (especially the day pass), the Serenity Deck, and the room service. On the days we chose to venture out, we enjoyed the Red Frog Pub (loved the live music), the Piano Bar, and the Starlight Lounge.
We ate in the main dining room four times (Your Time Dining) during the cruise and it was decent every time. The only meal we didn't like as much was the prime rib. The meat was a bit fatty, but the rest of the meal was delicious. Service was very good across the board and we rarely ever had to wait for a seat. We also always asked for window seats and always got them, which was very nice! One minor complaint was that the ship's "cruise casual" dress code was not always enforced in the main dining room. While this did not detract from the quality of the food, it did detract (a bit) from the atmosphere.
We LOVED the pizza (24 hour) on the Lido Deck! It was always fresh, hot, and they used buffalo mozzarella cheese and just the right amount. They also had real, freshly grated parmesan, pizza seasoning, red peppers, and pizza oil available! YUM! The deli and burger bar were also tasty and delicious. The specialty buffets (mexican, chocolate, etc.) all proved very good as well, although lines at opening could be a bit long, they were always restocked and worth the wait.
We enjoyed meals at both the Prime Steakhouse and Cucina del Capitano Italian restaurant as well. The food at both was excellent and was worth the premium ($12 per person at Cucina, $35 per person at Prime). Our only complaint was that service at Cucina was a bit slow, but the food was worth the wait. We found the quality and taste of the items offered were far better than in the main dining room and both restaurants offered a great experience.
The onboard entertainment was fun (we tried all from Karaoke to big shows, Casino, and everything in between) and most was good for all ages. We did enjoy the adult entertainment options as well. None stood out particularly, but all were enjoyable and the price was always right! We did thoroughly enjoy the starlight movie theater on the
Our Cruise Director, James Charlton, turned out to be a good host for all, and was not overly obnoxious, nor too quiet. He let us know about daily goings on about the ship in time to enjoy them, and he provided some very fun family friendly entertainment at the beach bar most evenings as well.
The Magic had a huge fitness deck and water slide with a basketball court, mini-golf, and everything in between which was great! We really enjoyed walking and using the track at night here.
Overall, Carnival provided a safe, fun, and very relaxing, enjoyable cruising experience for the price. I would certainly recommend them, recommend the Carnival Magic, and would cruise with them again.