We never had a burning desire to book a cruise, we just didn't think it would be for us. Some family members were going and we decided we would tag along -- they had decided on the date, ship and itinerary. In the end they were not able to go, so we carried on without them, unsure about how we would enjoy the trip. We had a great time!
We have a preschooler and cruising worked out to be perfect for our whole family. They had activities for adults and kids each day and the range of excursions was very good for port days. We all felt like we had an equally enjoyable trip.
Embarkation -- the embarkation process seemed to take unnecessarily long. It was November, I can only imagine what it is like to line up as we did in the summer heat. This is the one area where I really think improvement could be made. We opted to carry our own luggage and I would advise doing that if you can. It helps keep the amount of luggage you bring to a reasonable amount and it means that you don't have to wait for your luggage onboard.
Stateroom -- we were pleasantly surprised by our balcony cabin. I was worried about the size with two adults, a child and luggage, but we were very comfortable. The cabin had lots of storage and we immediately unpacked all our bags and put them under the bed. I was very glad we opted for a balcony. This provided great views and a place for the adults to stay in the evenings and talk when the little one went to bed.
Ship Info -- the Magic was extremely well kept. The staff was constantly cleaning. I did notice some signs of wear, despite it being only two years old. This reinforced for me that I would likely only sail on the newer ships as it seems they can get run down rather quickly. The sushi bar is closed, despite still being marked on the map, which made my husband extremely sad -- he was really looking forward to it.
Dining -- my husband is quite a cook and even he was pleased with the options in the main dining room. We ate there every evening. The Lido buffet was not great, but neither is a buffet restaurant on dry land, in my opinion. It is hard to keep the food to the optimum temperature and prepared to the liking of the majority. I did enjoy the Mongolian wok station and while the line was generally long, it did move relatively quickly. This is a good lunch bet on a port day if you get back early. We opted for room service for breakfast most days. Except for the first day, when I am pretty sure they forgot about us, it was very efficient and arrived at the requested time. Ordering room service on the TV was also extremely convenient.
Activities -- we didn't partake in many of the planned activities. The towel folding demonstration was very fun. And we did enjoy the DJs after our nightly mini golf game.
Children's Clubs -- our daughter really enjoyed Camp Carnival. She didn't go every day or all day, but rather we read her the schedule each day and she picked from their activities which ones she wanted to participate in. Some days when we went to pick her up she asked us to come back a bit later. Any day they had face painting was a hit.
Staff & Service -- the service we received from our room steward Bonnie, through the restaurant team and the main ship staff was incredible. These employees are Carnival's greatest assets to be sure.
Entertainment -- we did not go to any of the shows because of our little one.
Shore Excursions -- the shore excursions we picked were: Montego Bay -- Ocho Rios & Dunns Rivers Falls; Grand Cayman -- Turtles, Turtles and More Turtles; Cozumel -- Dolphin Encounter & Lunch. I couldn't get enough information on the excursions, so I will get a bit of detail on each and how they worked for our family with a 4-year old.
Ocho Rios & Dunns Rivers Falls -- I would not recommend this for little one. The description on the website at the time said it was open to those 4 and up, it has since been updated to 6 and up, which is more appropriate.
Grand Cayman -- Turtles, Turtles and More Turtles - this was great for kids, they all got to hold a turtle at the farm. The snorkeling part was not great, we didn't see much in their lagoon, though they kept telling us they had turtles and fish in there to see.
Cozumel -- Dolphin Encounter & Lunch -- this one was a good one with kids. Expensive and the pictures after were even more so, but it was a highlight of the trip.
Disembarkation -- we chose the self-debarkation option and this was fantastic. We didn't have to wait in any lines for customs and we were in our car in less than 20 minutes from the time we left our cabin. If you are driving yourself and you can manage your own luggage, this is definitely the way to go.
Summary -- great experience. We are booked again, this time on the Breeze.