My wife and I have enjoyed about 7 cruises with various cruise lines.
We wanted to see Bermuda and felt that a cruise would give the benefit of enjoying 'cruise life' and keep costs down, hearing that Bermuda can be expensive for accommodation and restaurants.
Living on the west coast of Florida made getting to Port Everglades a breeze. We arrived (with friends) around 12.30 PM and was impressed with the embarkation procedure. From curbside to check-in desk people were very courteous and helpful. We were on board in less than an hour. Information indicated our 6th level balcony stateroom would be ready after 1.00PM but were advised that we should first go to the Bellagio buffet area for lunch. Not a good plan - the line was horrendous and we found it amazing that people were so patient! My wife had prepared a couple of sandwiches for 'the journey' and we were able to have these in the comfort of deck 10 which was empty - we found iced tea and coffee on that level.
After an hour we returned to the Bellagio and all was calm once again and we enjoyed our piece of cake and ice-cream.
On reaching our cabin we were delighted to find that both suitcases were placed inside. The cabin was spacious and clean.
After unpacking we looked around the ship and found it to be, basically, identical to the Carnival 'Valor' which we experienced in 2006. This helped with navigation. Many reviews talk about the difficulty in getting from bow to stern - remember Deck 5! For us we thought that the decor of the Costa Magica was actually a little better than the Valor.
We had reserved late dinner and was given table 223 in the Smeralda restaurant. This table was at the higher level and st very back and we could feel 'prop vibration' through the decks, which was a little uncomfortable.
Food - not good! Service - not good!
The menu was OK but we all found the food was on the cool side (always a cruise problem) but more of a problem was that there was very little flavor. To make the situation worse was that the waiter had 'no conversation' or 'apparent character'; he gave us all the impression that he was 'just doing his job' but nothing more.
specifically, the last straw was when my wife ordered "Selection of the world cheese board with crackers" and was served "a slice of 3 different, bland cheeses' with 4 x grapes". There were no 'crackers'? On requesting some crackers, which took about 5 minutes our waiter presented several cellophane wrapped salt crackers, without comment!!!
Not once were we offered a second cup of coffee without our trying to get the attention of waiter and there was no sign of him being busy - there were empty tables around us and we noted more empty as the days went by? The maitre'D did introduce himself with some standard line and always asked "how was your meal?". Like most passengers we usually replied "OK". On Wednesday we were more honest saying "so-so". The response was minimal and he went off to next table.
We did our best - continued to use the formal dining room up until Wednesday but after seeing no improvement in either area gave up and used the Bellagio buffet on deck 9.
Food quality was basically the same but we could at least pick and choose and relax in a more informal atmosphere. For me this was however a great disappointment as I do usually enjoy cruise evening meals and the friendly banter with the restaurant staff.
We found the same unfriendly problem with other members of the crew. If you were in line for example and a crew member moved in to clean or something there was no 'excuse me' or if you met going in different direction, no tendency for them to move to the side-quite strange. Even officer's had similar habits with non of the usual smile's and greetings.
Entertainment was OK, not great, but OK. Felt there were to many corner bars with music every evening. Diluted the patronage so only a few people in each area? Piano Bar was unlike anything experienced before. Usually a center of joviality, with a crowd singing requested tunes along with the pianist - on the "Costa Magica" simply a pianist doing his thing with electronic background and occasionally a violinist.
We read a lot about the "Toga Night". Certainly a fun idea and we got into the spirit. Basically a passenger talent show in the main theatre. We had some talented fellow passengers. If there was a problem it was that only about 30-40% 0f passengers wore a Toga. Suggestion - reserve the best seats in the theatre for Toga wearers ONLY. a) they deserve it b) it would motivate people to get involved and c) it would make the event more spectacular with a whole area of white Toga's and the wearers hooting their appreciation of acts (or otherwise!).
The main deck entertainment looked good. Fun games and dance lessons and the crew organizing seemed excellent at their jobs. It was also nice not to have deck waiters 'pushing drinks of the day' in your face every few minutes. Likewise not so many of those photographers around constantly!
We did not use the sips excursions. The daily ferry/bus ticket in Bermuda worked quite well although the ferry line was very long first day and bus journey's can be uncomfortable (crowded). Visited Hamilton but really just 'another town' and as shopping has no real value, better to visit St. George and south coast beaches (wonderful day at Horseshoe Bay beach).
We were blessed with great weather, great sailing and all in all we enjoyed ourselves - disembarkation was again the best and most efficient we have ever experienced.
As we wrote in the final 'comment card'. It would be an excellent plan to have the "Costa Magica" crew exchange places with the "Carnival Valor" crew for 3 months. Just a matter of training and motivation - we did cancel the daily gratuity payment on this cruise, preferring to tip the cabin staff directly - they did a good job.