We cruised to the Eastern Caribbean (Bahamas) out of Galveston on Apr 14, 2013. We were a party of 5 in two cove balcony cabins (rooms 2289 & 2293). Everyone had a wonderful time and our three first-time cruisers became converts who are already planning next year's trip.
We drove into Galveston that morning a little later than I had hoped due to some unexpected last minute packing and parked with EZ Cruise for the first time. The parking attendants/shuttle drivers were all friendly and helpful and it was nice not having to drop our luggage off with porters and then have one person drive back to park (which is what I have done before just using port parking). I'll almost certainly use EZ Cruise again. We arrived later than I intended that morning (maybe 11:30) and hit the expected crowds, but we were onboard in about an hour.
The Magic is a beautiful ship. It still feels new and shiny and clean. I personally don't like the decor I want wild and crazy and a surprise every time you turn a corner. This was borderline classy. I thought the AC ran a bit warm ship wide, especially in our rooms and at night, but it wasn't a problem. I did wish I had brought a fan. The dining areas were all cooler. The ship also rarely felt crowded. I'll certainly be happy to sail on the Magic again (and soon!), but it's not my favorite ship.
The highlight for me was our Cove balconies; they were incredible. I can't say enough good things about the shading, the privacy, the relative quiet and the extra space (in comparison to a normal balcony). We asked the room attendant to open the connecting balcony door as soon as we got onboard and sometime later that afternoon that door was opened. What a treat to have all that shared space. It was handy as well to go back and forth to each other's rooms at all hours and still maintain privacy with the curtains. If you are traveling with others and are debating between adjoining rooms vs. adjoining balconies, go with the balconies. I've now cruised interior, oceanview adjoining rooms, regular balcony and adjoining cove balcony. Cove balcony for the win.
I've always found cruise staff to be helpful and generally pleasant and the staff on the Magic was all that and then some. Our MDR staff, Francis, Jorge and Ekahardi, were easily the best wait staff I have ever encountered. At the bar, the pub, in the Lido, at Guest Services everyone I interacted with or even just passed on deck was great. I did not met our room attendant until the very last Sea Day (apparently the person I asked to open our balcony door on embarkation day was just passing through the area as I never saw him again) but our room was clean and always turned down at night, we usually had ice even without asking and the towel animals were better than I normally get. Good enough for me.
Food was great. We normally hit the Lido Marketplace for breakfast and lunch and then ate in the MDR at night late seating in Southern Lights. MDR food was excellent. The Lido food was just as good as I would expect eating at a buffet anywhere. Room service was quick and good. My favorite Lido offering would have to be the Deli sandwiches and the made to order omelets in the morning, but the Tandoor buffet was also excellent. Breakfast on the first sea day was probably the busiest I ever saw the Lido Marketplace, after which there was never a problem finding seats or waiting in a short line. I wasn't a fan of the pizza station, but the grill area (hamburgers & hotdogs) was more efficiently run than I've seen in the past. I do wish they kept the lunch buffet open a little longer in the afternoon. If we got a late start to the day or came back early from a port sometimes we did just miss the buffet portion. Other food is always available of course (burgers, sandwiches, room service).
I enjoyed the shows I managed to attend, which as usual was fewer than I intended. The singers (Luke Yelin & Lindsay Bridges) and dancers were excellent and the shows were much more interesting to me on this cruise (musical styles/costuming and song selection). Not a fan of 'the extraordinary illusions' of Jason Byrne, but an interesting spectacle nonetheless and a great use of the dancers. The burlesque show was also entertaining, but the Showtime Lounge is too small of a venue for the interest it generates. I would have enjoyed it more on a bigger stage or with more practical seating. We arrived 30 min before and still had fairly awful seats that night. The comedy that I saw was hilarious (Tommy Drake and Caroline Picard). Scotty K not so much, but still entertaining enough. Towards the end of the week we were all a bit sun weary and didn't make it to as many late night comedy shows as we would have liked. Again, a bigger venue for comedy would be nice as well.
The pools were smallish, but nice. The aft pool was usually less crowded and the music/noise level was better in that area. The Serenity area was not nearly as nice as what I experienced on the Spirit, but it was okay, if a bit windy some days. Didn't particularly notice chair hogs and always found a seat somewhere near a pool.
Our 9 year old friend loved Camp Carnival. We actually saw much less of her on this trip than expected because she was always running off with her new friends or eating with the Camp, etc. She begged to stay with them. The Warehouse (arcade) was also a big hit with her. I found it to be a bit pricey for games (about $1 each) but then I guess I don't know what the going rate is for arcade games.
There's never time to do everything and this cruise I did not find time to try the Punchliner Brunch, Pasta Lunch, BBQ or Mongolian Wok. We also started a game of putt-putt one day and intended to do the ropes course, but were quickly distracted by other activities. Others in my group went down the slides and loved them and the 9 year old thought the slides and the water park area was awesome. I walked up to the slide entrance, realized how high our ship rode and walked right back down. And I never make time for the Piano Bar and always regret it. Next time!
Debarkation and Customs in Galveston is a pain. I know this, but it's always a bad way to end a cruise. We were delayed getting off the ship (the card reader broke at one point?) and the Customs line was long and slow. I should have advised my traveling friends to do self-assist with us and I'm sure we would not have had any problems getting off the ship quickly. Instead we had to wait for their baggage zone to be called and it was easily 11 or 11:30 by the time we got to the car. I won't make that mistake again.