We are frequent cruisers but have cruised the last few cruises on Celebrity. We came back to Carnival to give it another try because we had heard about how wonderful the Carnival Magic out of Galveston was.
It is a wonderful ship. Waterworks, rope course, comedians, cruise director Noonan, spa cabin- There is something for everyone on the ship.The Magic also had excellent service and food.. The ship was mostly Texans, a very friendly group.
We had beautiful weather for most of our cruise starting with sailaway from Galveston.
Montego Bay was sunny in the morning but rained in the afternoon after we went back to the ship. We were hesitant about going out on our own in Jamaica so we used up some OBC and chose the Catamaran Snorkeling with the stop at Margaritaville. Very fun! Had a great time on the inflatable toys out in the water at Margaritaville after trying the famous and very fast waterslide.
Grand Cayman started out very stressful. We purchased FTTF to get early tendering in Grand Cayman for a private excursion. We were at the service desk at 6:50 am to get the first tender. Told by staff to wait in lobby and as soon as tendering started, we would be escorted to first boat. Husband happened to look out the window after 7 to see tenders already leaving the ship while we patiently waited in the lobby. Had to ask several more times before we were escorted to the tender boat. Barely made our 8;30 meetup time. Tenders take their time loading even though there are always 3 or 4 other tenders circling waiting for passengers. Takes about 25 minutes to load the tenders. Magic's shiptime never changes so remember Grand Cayman time is 1 hour later if you book a private excursion.
We booked a snorkeling excursion with Acquarius Sea Tours here that was the highlight of our trip. Pickup at the dock, snorkeling, pizza, private one on one time with the rays at Stingray City (while watching, across the way, boats packed with hundreds of people all gathered around a single guide and ray), another stop at Starfish Point, delivery back to the dock and free pictures taken by the guide of the whole excursion available on the internet. Could not have had a better day!
Next port was Cozumel. Been there lots of times so decided to try America's Cup Racing to get out on the water on a sailboat. Captained the Canadian Boat to the win! I wanted to relax so I was made the Captain. My husband wanted to help sail so he was the Grinder. Fun!
So we had a wonderful week on the Magic that all came to a crashing halt when we hit fog and were delayed getting back to port. I know, that's not Carnival's fault. The way they handled debarkation is though.
The other reason we purchased FTTF was for getting quickly to the airport after the cruise.
Debarkation was the worst we have ever experienced in all of our many cruises. Again, we had FTTF specifically to get off the ship quickly. The FTTF letter delivered to our stateroom even states that we will be among the first to debark the ship. With fog delaying the ship's arrival, we thought FTTF would really help get us to the airport faster. WRONG. We got off the ship fairly quickly just to wait over 50 minutes staring at our luggage at the port, being yelled at by port staff and not being allowed to pick up our zone 1 luggage until all zones had their luggage placed in rows. I don't understand why this happened.
When finally allowed to proceed, we were put on a Carnival transport that then sat over 50 minutes to leave for the ride to IAH. The transport arrived 7 minutes before our rebooked plane left which was too late to make the flight. That meant incurring even more rebooking fees and hotel and food costs not to mention missing work and babysitting responsibilities Monday.
We had spent a fabulous 7 days on the Magic with all the employees going out of their way to make our vacation special only to be rudely yelled at and dismissed by the port staff. They kept yelling at us to get over in the corner as we watched most of the ship walk off. We were to wait until all luggage was off the boat until we could access ours.
The Carnival employee at the transport bus said she is allowed to hold us for an hour before she has to send the bus onto the airport. There were already about ten people on the bus before we got on and they waited the full hour plus for departure. Consequently everyone in front of us was missing their flights. We had to wait for the bus to fill up with a few more stragglers before we could leave.
Shame on Carnival. They treated their most valued guests (those with Diamond and Platinum Status and those who paid extra for FTTF) the worst. I wouldn't recommend paying the extra $50. Save your money!