We had a fabulous cruise on the Carnival Magic in Europe.
Some background: We are an older couple who cruise about 5-8 times a year. We mostly cruise on Carnival lately, but have we cruised other lines in the past. We have been to Europe many times before but, this was our first cruise in Europe. My husband likes history and I am a writer who booked this cruise for historical research for a series of books, and to write some articles on the Magic cruising in Europe.
We flew from New York City 2 days early and stayed in Barcelona with friends. We have been here before and it is a great pre-cruise port. Streets are clean and safe except for pickpockets. We have never had a personal problem with them in Europe but there are countless stories, so watch your possessions.
Embarkation: We are platinum a used VIP checkin which would have been quick except for the fact that it was first embarkation in Barcelona and there were some scanners that didn't work, that slowed things down. I am sure these things were fixed by the next cruise.
Ship: It is new and the dEcor is nice. Our cabin was a suite balcony that, due to the port intensive itinerary, we never got to use. If you choose to do this cruise on the cheap in an inside cabin on a lower deck, on this particular cruise, you will not notice. The all day ports keep you pretty tired and the cabin tends to be used just for a quick sleep before the next day's port. The smoking restrictions were nice as the air was clean and we didn't find any of the usual smoke filled rooms to avoid. The piano bar is not only non-smoking but, there is a wall removed making it open seating blending with the promenade deck. The waterworks area is very nice and they had an abundance of sport themed activities out on the deck including exercise equipment. Of note, this is necessary because the pay-for-spa/spa cabins have reduced the gym itself to about ¼ the size of the smaller ships as far as equipment goes. It is obvious that to make room for the fancy spa rooms, they sacrificed quite a bit of the gym. It seems they make up for this by putting machines up on the sports deck. The ropes course is OK, in my opinion, it is not that difficult and once you do it, you are done. Some ziplines definitely would make this more appealing. It is also "one time" activity, so if you cruise this ship again, it becomes a "been there, done that" attraction. I really think that once the novelty of walking around on a walkway up in the air wears off, it isn't something that is going to attract people over and over. Some better water rides, another pool or maybe a big tube slide like Disney has would have been something that could be used over and over. The casino was nice and big but lacked video poker machines which seemed odd. They had 4 machines back to back in one spot making 8 machines, and 6 along the back wall for smokers. 14 video poker machines - definitely not enough as these are really popular games and we actually gave up trying to get one on a sea day or in the evening. The times we visited, and walked through there were no machines available for video poker so we left. The pools were larger than we have seen on ships and the water was heated. They were salt water pools.
Staff: Can't say enough here, everyone was great. There wasn't an employee who didn't go out of their way for us and there we have no complaints here.
Food: Typical Carnival that we really like so, we have no complaints about the quality. We did have problems with the room service for the continental breakfast. The first day in Monaco it came at 6:15am as requested, after that is was downhill from there. I believe the problem was the port intensive itinerary with everyone trying to use it as most excursions left very early. Our 6:15am breakfast never arrived after the first day and even with phone calls, we left the cabin at 8am, almost 2 hours after we ordered it. We left hungry as it never arrived two days in a row. After day 3 we gave up and went with the Lido breakfast and never ordered it again.
Ports: We did all Carnival excursions and we couldn't be more pleased with the excursions. The guides were very good and did cover a lot of ground. They are a bit fast and a little rushed, but we expected that with the amount of things we saw and the distance from the ports, as well as the distance of the venues from each other. The buses were all top notch and we felt safe at all times with our drivers. Bathroom stops were a little lacking but it was in all areas of Italy, as we already know from traveling there previously. The rule in Italy is, if you see a bathroom, use it and don't wait. It is not like the USA and you will pay anywhere from .25 cent Euros on the coast of France to 1.50 Euros in Venice.
Entertainment: We had John Heald as a cruise director and we have had him before. You will never be disappointed in his shows as the effort he puts forth shows he truly loves his job. He puts his all into the job of entertaining the passengers. We were too busy to go to the shows and this is not usually a big part of our cruise so I really can't comment on them. Because this was only the second cruise, there were shows that were not ready yet so, it was a little sparse in that area for people who were expecting big productions shows every night. Although, how you would stay up that late every night on this itinerary is beyond me.
Internet: As usual it was expensive, but it is something we expect to pay, and the rates were the same as other Caribbean rates on the ships. The problem this cruise was that the wireless did not work for days for your own equipment, and articles I write have to be submitted from my laptop, so this became a problem for me as I missed deadlines. Interesting I was writing an article on the Magic and the cruise we were on and missing a deadline because their internet didn't work, didn't help the article. Many writers make their presence known on cruises, but I like to write my articles from a passenger perspective that you do not get if they know you are writing about their company. I ended up contacting the Rome office of the New York publishing house and they came and met me when we were in Rome to pick up the material.
Ports: They were all great! Livorno, Rome, & Venice are the absolute standouts. We have been in Venice and actually lived there for a short time while I was writing a book, but nothing beat sailing in and out of Venice on the Magic. Eze, France on the Monaco stop should not be missed and we will be definitely returning there in the future. Monaco is great to see once, but it is small and after seeing it, I would use the Monaco stop to journey into France. It is much more interesting than the small Monaco. Dubrovnik is a surprising gem of a port, easy to do on your own as it is a walled city. There is enough to see in 2 visits before you would have to venture out into the countryside and coastline for more to do.
Overall, this is a great cruise, well worth the price they are charging for it. We booked the Transatlantic on the ship through their "book on the ship incentive" so we will be enjoying this ship on the transatlantic. That part is nice because, with the number of port stops, we actually missed doing a lot of things on the ship that we would have like to have done. Watch out for that salesman at the future cruise desk, not only did they get us for the TA on the Magic, but 2 more cruises on the new Breeze. They have a great product, and since we were having such a great time, it is easy to come back for more on the next ship.