This was our first ever cruise and we chose Carnival Magic because of its ports of call. As cruise novices we worried about choosing the right room - we didn't like the sound of an 'inside room' but didn't think we'd need a balcony, so taking the advice of our Virgin Cruise rep we went with his suggestion of room 2497 on the second floor that had a window overlooking the rear of the ship. This was a huge mistake and one I blame solely on our Virgin rep who actually laughed when we asked the seemingly ridiculous question, "Can you hear the noise of the engine from the lower decks, as we are light sleepers?" "There is no noise on modern cruise ships," was the reply. So he booked us in stateroom 2497 and we spent twelve nights in a room that shook, rumbled and rattled, especially when the ship went in and out of port. We actually filmed it to capture the level of noise and vibration, but after compaining the best the steward could offer was to suggest we pack towels round everything! Sleep was often difficult and an alarm call really not needed as the engines had us awake by 5 -6am most mornings.
For a first time 'cruiser' I have to say the ship itself was pretty spectacular - I doubt they can all look that amazing, and the level of service and cleanliness was excellent. A plus was definitely the food served in the two main dining rooms, which was very good - we couldn't fault it. We didn't try the ships Italian restaraunt because we were travelling around Italy and had a few meals off the ship, but as it was our anniversary during the trip we booked a table in the Steakhouse, where the staff tried so hard to make us welcome that they never left us alone for a minute, to the point that we wondered if they were rushing us through our meal because they were after our table!! It spoiled the evening and to be frank the food was no better than that served in the dining room. The Lido on the 10th floor was a general buffet that looked great but somehow never tasted quite as good as it looked, and other eateries such as the Tandoori, the Deli, the Pizza place and the Grill were much the same. Hit and miss - great hotdogs and Indian, tasteless low quality icecream and coffee.
The same could be said for the entertainment - it was never quite as good as it could or should have been. A lot of the acts and shows in my opinion were second rate, but we really enjoyed the Red Frog Pub and the band Blood Power were excellent, but sadly undersold because they were usually on in the Ocean Plaza, a walk through bar/food area that had all the hospitality and atmosphere of an airport lounge. Yet the Spotlight Lounge was a lovely setting that was very poorly used. My husband was looking forward to the promised opportunity of 'singing karaoke with a live band', which had been advertised but in reality didn't exist. On the few occasions we saw karaoke it was a limp, sad affair, poorly presented and struggling to be heard over music played through the ship's piped music system.
Cheesy John Heald, the Entertainment Director took every opportunity to go for the hard sell on everything from tours to ladies watches and he was fond of reminding us we were on a 'luxury cruise' - a bit more time spent organising better entertainment and upgrading the uninformative Fun Times bulletin would have been a better use of his time.
I'm not sure we'll do another cruise - the theory is great, but the cost is high and the ship was full to over capacity, so it was impossible to get a sunbed or find a quiet place away from the Las Vegas - holiday camp vibe espiecally on 'fun days' at sea. But seeing Florence and Venice for the first time was fantastic and something we'll remember always!