I read reviews and weigh the good with the bad. My general rule of thumb is...more good reviews or a close number of good and bad...try it then form my own opinion! I'm going into detail since I found very few really detailed positive reviews when I was searching. I will include any negatives but want to say the couple of those we experienced did not change our opinion of the Magic!
We book a suite because my husband is a big man and likes plenty of room and a king sized bed. I am an early riser and look forward to enjoying coffee delivered by room service (complimentary but I add a tip) every morning on the balcony, watching the sunrise.
1. Embarkation-we always arrive around 10 am. We use Galveston Park n Cruise indoor parking, it is great and reasonable at $60 for the week. Less expensive online than paying when you arrive @ $10/day. Since we are VIP (because of the suite), after security, we breeze through the terminal to the check-in where we set up our Sign & Sail accounts, get our cards, and most of the time are allowed right on the ship.
2. We were in our room by 11:45am. We had room 7153, my brother and SIL had room 7365 (both starboard, midship). Note: None of the balcony suites directly overlook the water, as with the other 2 ships. When standing and looking down, you see the wrap around deck 2 decks below. When sitting on the balcony, you only see the ocean. Our room was perfect in every way, my brother and SIL had a hot tub on Deck 5 below their balcony. This was not a problem until one afternoon when several children were in the hot tub squealing, laughing and talking loudly. My SIL could hear them in their cabin when they went to the room to nap before dinner.
3. The Ecstasy, Triumph and Magic are the only ships we've ever cruised as far as we can tell the suites on all 3 ships were identical.
4. We waited for the Maitre D to arrive in the main dining room around 1:30pm. We wanted a table for 4, early dining...we were first in line and were told they were already booked. So, we settled for late dining and decided we would try to improvise. I need to find out if we can reserve online or via e-mail prior to the cruise?
5. We booked the Prime Steakhouse for dinner the first night via email to the Maitre D prior to the cruise. At $35 pp, the steakhouse WILL NOT disappoint! You receive a complimentary bottle of wine when booking the steakhouse the 1st night. They always bring an appetizer (compliments of the chef)after which you choose a starter, salad, sides, entree' and finally dessert! The steaks were the best we've ever had (I highly recommend the Surf and Turf-Lobster and Filet Mignon)! The Yukon Gold Mash with Wasabe Horseradish is fabulous! We booked it that night for the following Saturday because it was SO good!
6. We were very pleased with the food and the service in the main dining room...BUT, my BIG negative...we were seated at table 608 in Southern Lights. The third night we dined there (Wednesday), we noticed a slight odor coming from the other side of the half wall (we believe this to be where dirty dishes are taken/rinsed). It was not so bad...yet, that we could not enjoy dinner and the wonderful entertainment from the dining room staff. The fourth night was a little worse so we brought it to the attention of one of the waitstaff. He told us it was coming from the drains and assured us that Clorox is poured in them nightly. He stated the gray water tanks are the culprit and that it is basically out of their control. There were no other tables for us to move to so we finished our meals. Due to the worsening odor, we attempted to book Cucina del Capitano or the Steakhouse again for the remaining nights, but found those to be completely booked for any reasonable times. We were told the only times they had for the rest of the cruise was 9 pm which was too late for us. So, we took dinner in the dining room the fifth and last nights although the last night was spent mostly with napkins over our noses.
7. We booked 2 on-board excursions which are a MUST! First, the Chef's Table! At $75pp one might think it quite pricey but this experience was worth EVERY cent! We were served appetizers and champagne, wine or ginger ale. We were then greeted by the Head Chef who explains how he chooses meats, vegetables, desserts, wines, etc, gives his background, training and experience then leads us (14 people for each Chef's Table experience) into the ships main galley. We were seated at a long table in the middle of the galley while dinner in the main dining rooms are being prepared/served. The Chef explains this was done to show us how they operate. VERY smooth operation! We are then served 6 more courses of gourmet-type dishes, all of which were fabulous! At some point during the meal the Chef led us into the "dessert" area where he demonstrated how the Chocolate Melting Cakes are made. I will attempt to post a copy of the Chef's Table menu. The second onboard excursion was the Behind the Fun Tour $95pp and again, well worth the money. On this tour you are taken to areas of the ship passengers do not see...Inside Deck 0 where you find food storage areas, cold storage, liquor, beer, soda storage, crew living spaces, dining areas,lounge, workout areas, engine control room, laundry facilities where laundry for the entire ship is done including sheets, towels, uniforms, etc, the galley, backstage in the theatre including performer dressing rooms, outside areas for crew members only and finally the bridge to meet the Captain! Photos will be taken in the outside area and with the Captain and at each stop someone will give a talk about the goings on in the area. Very interesting, informative and fun...lots of walking and stair climbing (but elevators are available). When we returned to our rooms, we find a plate of sweet goodies for each of us from the galley!
8. We were only able to experience Cuchina del Capitano for lunch but it was very good and remember, lunch is complimentary! We reserved the Lido Marketplace buffet, Red Frog Pub, Plaza Bar for breakfast and lunch. However, my SIL and I had breakfast in the Northern Lights dining room one morning and loved it! The Mongolian Wok station is great, my brother and I tried Tandoor (Indian cuisine) and really enjoyed most everything we sampled! We never tried the pizza nor found the BBQ place. The appetizers at the Red Frog Pub are great @ $3.33 each and yummy salads from the Plaza Bar at certain times.
9. Debarkation at the ports of call went very smoothly but getting back on and getting an elevator was quite tricky and very crowded. We will make it back to the ship a little earlier next time to see if it makes a difference, otherwise we will just suck it up and deal with it! We decided ahead to try Conch Fritters in all ports to see who had the best. Since we never had them before, we wanted to try them and did so on the ship in the Red Frog and LOVED them!
10. We experienced some rough seas the last two days. The sheer size of the Magic really helps with this. On the smaller ships, we've felt every movement but on the Magic, it was truly barely noticeable. My husband estimated 4-6ft waves and while we felt the occasional bump, it was much, much better than the smaller ships.
11. Debarkation...was a breeze! Once we were called, we were off the ship, had our porter, grabbed our luggage, through the porter customs line and at our vehicles! Literally 20 minutes, if that!
We had a wonderful time on the beautiful Carnival Magic! She is our ship from now on!