We sailed on Carnival Magic on March 22nd to Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel. We've sailed on cruises 6 times with our kids (8, 17, and 19) and have traveled both the eastern and western Caribbean. This was our 2nd cruise on Carnival in the last 3 years and the first on the Magic.
I'll make this brief as I read lots of reviews before we booked any of our cruises. This cruise is ok but definitely NOT Royal Caribbean (but easily could be much closer). The cost savings for 2 rooms (balcony and inside on deck 8) was almost $600 over RC.
We traveled out of Galveston and got down a day early and stayed at The Hilton in Galveston which was nice and offered free parking for the week for those that drive. Embarkation was very smooth and took about an hour from the time we left until we were on the ship.
The ship is nice but the common areas are laid out very poorly. The rooms, both balcony and inside, felt slightly larger than RC, Disney, or NCL. An important note on the balcony rooms is that they had an outside door that automatically closed as opposed to a sliding glass door that you cox leave open on other ships. Sounds petty but it really made a difference. As for the common areas, too many hallways to get from one end of ship to the other. The promenades on RC are laid out much better and do not feel as crowded. The pools are surprisingly small for a ship this large. The food in the Lido on deck 10 is ok but just like RC and NCL. I STRONGLY recommend a reservation at the steakhouse and italian restaurant as both were very good.
Now for some good news. The kids play area was large and comfortable and had lots of activities but the water park and obstacle course on the top of the ship was outstanding. Lines were a little long but that was to be expected on sea days. The spa is VERY nice and recommended albeit a little expensive.
The ship very clean with workers constantly cleaning and wiping all over the ship. Rooms were spotless and the cabin stewards were very friendly. They did a very cool thing on the 2nd to last day and made towel animals on ALL pool deck chairs in the morning. Lots of people taking pictures.
Disembarking was by far, the fastest we have ever experienced. Off the ship, got our bags, through customs, and in our car in 1 hour. Very pleasant.
Things Carnival needs to do better to compete with the larger RC ships; ship layout, dining lines at lunch (very long but expected), better entertainment and more of it (kinda cheesy and not what you'd expect), different ports of call would be recommended as Jamaica is really BAD and the stop at Grand Cayman is only 6 hours but you only get about 4.5 with the tendering process.
All in all, we all rated it a 3.5 out of 5. We gave RC Freedom of the Seas a 4.25 last year. Its not bad at all but RC is definitely better and we've travel RC 3 times on 3 different ships. You get what you pay for.