We always wanted to visit Italy and when we found out we could also be on a ship’s Inaugural Cruise we thought that was an opportunity not to be passed up. We really didn’t know what we were in for being on the first cruise of a ship, but to be honest, with very few exceptions, and some special events, you wouldn’t have even noticed it was the first time out for the ship and crew. Embarkation was a breeze, they had a great system setup and we were on the ship very fast. Rooms were ready as it was the first cruise. We were on the ship at 1pm. The crew did a great job and showed no signs of being unfamiliar with either the ship or their jobs. Our Room Steward Edwin was the best we ever had.
Before I get to that, let me talk about the ship. The Magic is not hugely different in appearance than the other 3 Carnival Ships we have been on, the Pride, Victory and Legend. The décor of the ship was tasteful and not overdone with a mixture of wallpaper with Tropical Birds and lots of Chrome and Glass Sconce lights that constantly changed colors. The balcony stateroom looked pretty much the same as the last one we were in with a few modern updates. Flat Screen TV’s. A safe that you don’t need a Credit card to open and close (You program a code and can change it as often as you like). When you first enter the room you have to put your room card in a slot in the wall to activate the cabin light switches. When you leave the room and take your card, the lights all go off in about a minute to save energy. Bathroom layout was exactly the same as the last ship we were on. Our room was 3 decks above the Red Frog Pub smoking area and we enjoyed second - hand smoke on our balcony most of the time.
The ships layout took a little getting used to. The Atrium and main lobby (glass elevators) were the forward most elevators and very close to the Main Theatre. There were also a couple elevator stops that were specifically for the Forward Dining Rooms and if they were closed your were at a dead end when you got off the elevator. (Central Elevators Deck 3 and 4 for example) You just needed to learn to avoid them unless you were going to the Forward Dining Room to eat.
Pools were nice, lots of room and rarely had a problem finding lounge chairs. Too cold most of the cruise to use them though. We did use the Hot Tubs on either side of Deck 5 that overhang the railings. Very cool, although the one nearest our cabin was again in a smoking area that made it unpleasant, The water Temp was also only 95 degrees which is not a very hot Hot tub.
The Serenity Lounge was nice but hard to get one of the Clamshell seats for two. They weren’t always occupied mind you, but always seem to have someone’s towels and books and shoes on them with no one around. I think the ship will need to address that looking forward. Another oddity was there were only two bars open on the Lido Deck sometimes and they were both on the starboard side. Not a big deal unless you sat down on the port side in the buffet and then realized you needed a soda. It was about a 100 yard walk each way. Food was the usual fare, not a lot different except for the Asian Food stop which seemed pretty popular. One very positive change we noticed was NO trays in the dining rooms on the Lido deck. Instead you get a huge plate that was plenty big for lots of food. We actually liked this better than trays, and one by-product of this chang (not sure if the was intended) was there was noticeably less clamor of trays and carts from the bus persons. We ate at the Steakhouse one night,great food, small and cozy with a Japanese feeling décor, bright reds and dark woods with no tablecloths. Service was perfect. We didn’t try the Italian Restaurant for Dinner, always seemed to be out of time, but we did go there for lunch and it was great. There is a $10 cover for dinner but not for lunch. The Red Frog Pub seemed very popular, ran out of beer once for a day or two, and was always packed. Almost made me want to take up drinking again. Almost.
Entertainment: Overall. Pretty good. John Heald is very entertaining as Cruise Director and did a great job of embarrassing a few selected guests for the benefit of the rest of us. That's why I sit in the upper deck. We took in all early shows because we had long excursions almost every day. The usual big production was absent on this cruise except for the last night. Individual singers and/or comedians were the show most nights. Motown singer Mark Anthony put on great show, and Female Impressionist Karen Grainger did an outstanding show. The final night was the debut of the ship’s singers and dancers and it revolved around Magician Jason Byrne. The show was pretty good, a very technical show with lots of disappearing and cutting a girl in two etc, and a great laser show.
On the rest of the ship we enjoyed “Blood Power”, a very entertaining rock group from the Philippines’.
Excursions: We did all private excursions and used “All Around Italy” with Fabrizio, the Company Owner as our guide, most days. I will simply say he was the best, entertained us all day and was a riot driving us around Italy. Can’t say enough about him. If you can book early and get him as tour driver, you won’t be disappointed.
Internet on Board: Tried it, it didn’t work with my I-Phone and I got my money back. Heard a lot of complaints regarding down time. Ended up finding Hotspots at Port or paying a few Euros for an hour at the dock when we returned to the ship in the evening.
We skipped Monaco due to High winds in the harbor. Special thanks to our Captain, Giovanni Cutugno for sailing us past the island of Stromboli and geeting us great nightime views of an erupting volcano. Never expected to see that in my lifetime!!