The Carnival Magic appealed to me initially as it was part of a well known brand and secondly as it was on its second voyage. I also loved the itinerary of its 12 night Mediterranean cruise visiting 7 ports. We departed from Barcelona - which is a beautiful city. So clean and the food, once you find the good restaurants, are delicious! We stayed in Barcelona 3 nights pre-cruise and 2 nights post cruise.
We had travelled on the Disney Magic 3 years earlier with 2 young children so we were interested to see how the Carnival compared to Disney.
Firstly, you cannot compare the 2 ships - its like comparing an apple to an orange. Disney is family orientated, with no casino and Disney themed activities, movies and on-board entertainment. Carnival has a casino on board (which we didn't visit as we are not gamblers), and a variety of entertainment to suit different tastes.
The Carnival Magic was definitely a winner for us. Our room was 1312 on level 1, mid ship. It had an ocean view but no balcony - why pay for a balcony when you can meet wonderful people on the upper decks! We chose the lower deck so that we would have to walk up many levels to reach the food and pool decks (no lift for us). This way we hoped that we wouldn't put on too much weight. Unfortunately, this theory didn't work as the Italians sure know how to cook and on all our shore excursions we ate 5 full courses! Of course you must try a tartufo in Rome, a gelato in Venice and a cannoli in Messina!!
The ship, being brand new, was very clean and beautiful. The staff work tirelessly day and night to make the ship sparkle. Our cabin was big enough for 2 and would have even slept 4 comfortably with a pull out. There were 2 bathrooms, one with toilet and sink, the other with a sink and shower/bath. the bed was king size and very comfortable. The only criticism is that the ship only has 1 type of pillow. My husband is asthmatic and needs a rubber pillow but they only had feather/down ones. He put a towel inside the pillow case and this made the pillow a bit firmer, so he was happy.
Our cabin housekeeping team were amazing. We had Ernesto and his team. The cabin was spotless after breakfast each day and at night they turned down our blankets and left a program of the next days' activities and a towel creation on the bed (with 2 mint/chocolates too).
Our main dining room was the Northern Lights. Initially we chose the 6pm seating but after having a couple of shore excursions returning around 7/7:30pm we asked to be moved to the 8:15pm seating instead. We thoroughly enjoyed our servers Martin, Chonthica & Erik. Very efficient, friendly and great fun! Our drink waiter was Zenobia - she was wonderful. She knew our order each day - service with a beautiful smile!! We met a wonderful group of Americans who were seated beside us at the late dinner seating. They were ordering 2 or 3 appetizers, then a main then dessert and coffee; so we started ordering this way too! Bad move - I now have to lose 5kg to get back to my pre-cruise weight!! Delicious food - no complaints.
We ate most breakfasts in the Market place on the Lido Deck (level 10). A great variety to suit all tastes, from omelettes, to cereals, fresh fruit, cold cuts, cheeses, fruit compote, hot & cold selections. Out by the pool they had french toast, waffles and more! When we had very early shore excursions, we got room service - a small selection of continental items.
Lunches we also ate either in the Market place on the Lido deck (buffet) or out by the pool (salad, pizza, sandwiches, burgers, mexican). Again, a huge selection of delicious foods to suits all tastes. Not fine dining by any means but what do you want from a buffet - good, clean and hearty food. We also found another place to eat salads and soups, inside on the casino level- Plaza Bites.
We ate at both of the specialty restaurants on board. The steakhouse was exceptional - a true fine dining experience. There was a small additional charge for eating here but it was well worth it. We also tried the Italian restaurant - Cucina Del Capitano. This was not so enjoyable and we actually preferred the Lido deck to this restaurant.
The ship has a couple of pools, one of which is adults only. The serenity deck was lovely for adults to relax. At this time of year there weren't many children on board so even spending time near the main pool was pleasant and relaxing. The water slides looked amazing although we didn't get a chance to try them out. We did try the suspended rope track. I only managed to walk 1/10th of the way around as I was too scared of the height and of course looking out at the ocean didn't help my vertigo!
The evening shows were a fun way to end the night. There wasn't a show in the main showtime theatre every night, but I went to see all the ones they did have. We saw a funny comedian, a crazy magician, an amazing female soprano, a talented musician and a male singer (who reminded us of Jon Lovitz in the wedding singer).
We didn't go to the piano bar or the night club. We did play bingo a few times which was fun.
I booked all our shore excursions in advance before the cruise. The tour guides were excellent, all spoke at least a little english and were very knowledgeable. I would highly recommend taking the shore excursions as they are well organised and always ensure you make it back to the ship in time for departure. One couple actually missed the ship in Venice and had to spend a small fortune making their own way to the next port!
Internet is terrible on board the ship. They don't guarantee you good reception so don't expect to get any. It's quite pricey too.
I would definitely book another Carnival cruise.