We went on the January 27th sailing from Galveston with a group of friends to celebrate a 50th birthday.
Before this cruise, we have only been on one other Carnival cruise - the Ecstasy out of Galveston on a five day cruise. Other than that, our other two cruises were on Celebrity and Paul Gauguin.
Things I liked about the Magic:
1) Very pretty ship. Enough neon to make it interesting, but I didn't feel it was gaudy.
2 Loved the fact that there are so many areas out on deck with comfortable seating and hot tubs. Unfortunately, our weather wasn't great, so we didn't get to use them as much as we would have liked.
3) Staff all seemed very accommodating. Most were very cheerful and we never really had any staff that were not helpful.
4) Red Frog pub is a very nice casual bar. Liked their Red Frog ale.
5) Liked the continental breakfast offered on the Promenade deck. It was right near the specialty coffee bar and it was always quiet and peaceful in the mornings.
6) Groove line show. I thought this was going to be disco music. It wasn't - just a mix of music from the 70's and 80's. Very impressive show. Didn't get to see the other shows, so can't comment on them.
7) Premium Vista Balcony cabin. Don't know if I would do it again because of cost, but really liked the layout and the balcony.
8) Cucina del Capitano for lunch on the first day. Food wasn't outstanding, but I liked the decor and it was a nice spot away from the crowds.
9) The spa with all its different steam/sauna rooms and thalassotherapy pool. We bought a day pass for one day and had a great time going from area to area. Not something I would do for several days, but it was fun for one day.
10) Aft pool. Again, much less crowded and crazy than the central pool (Probably starting to see a theme here - we liked areas where we could get away from the crowds).
Things I didn't like:
1) Crowds at the Lido Buffet. So many reviewers have commented on this - don't think I need to say more.
2) Not enough seating in the theater. This is one of the reasons we didn't see more shows. Just didn't feel like sitting for an hour to hour and a half before a show to have a seat.
3) Replacement of shows with "self-entertainment". Really don't like the trend of replacing real shows with shows starring the guests. We didn't see the Legends show on the last day, but we did see a Karaoke show where several of the people picked for the Legends show were performing. Oh my god, I felt sorry for anyone who went to see Legends - those people were BAD! I'm sure it varies by cruise - but how cheap can you get to make the guests do their own shows?
4) Quality of food in general. It was . . . ok. Even on the Ecstasy cruise there were several times at dinner that we got something we thought was fantastic. Not so much this time. Again, don't like the trend of replacing upscale food with "comfort food" - I can get fried chicken, burgers & meatloaf anytime, anywhere. And food at the Lido buffet was sometimes below average - cold, stale, etc. We went to the Steakhouse one night, but food was mixed there, some steaks were very good, some weren't. Plus the service was not at all attentive, as you would expect in a specialty restaurant.
5) Sports/games equipment already falling apart. The sports deck is in bad repair already. (Was probably a bad idea to try something like this on a ship anyways)
6) Serenity deck location was terrible. I don't mind stairs, but it was WAY at the top of the ship, near the entrance to the pool slides. The only elevator that gets you there, by the way, is the one in the Spa, so very inconvenient. I will say, once we were there, we didn't really notice any noise from the kids. However, the absolute worst thing about the location is the wind. With it being up top, it is completely unprotected and unpleasantly windy. Kind of hard for things to be serene when people are busy chasing down all their stuff that's blowing away!
7) Punchliner brunch replacing sit down breakfast. Hate it, hate it hate it. The brunch is crowded and disorganized; menu is a little strange. Really used to enjoy a sit-down breakfast once or twice per cruise. Now you can't do that unless you are skipping getting off in a port.
7) I don't think the whole mega ship trend is for us. So much waiting in lines for food, customer service, disembarking. I know the cruise lines make more money this way, but it definitely downgrades the experience. The point of a cruise is to relax - we saw so many people getting cranky about the lines ...
To conclude, there wasn't really one big thing that made us "disenchanted" with the Magic. It's more the fact that everywhere you turn, you are reminded of the changes that are being made for the sake of saving money. Totally personal choice, of course, but for us, we will choose to cruise a little less often, and pay a few hundred more.