A few notes to share with everyone:
1. Currently, there is only 1 formal night on the 9 day cruise (now called "Elegant" night).
2. All ship taken photos can be viewed by slipping your "Sale and Sign Card" in a scanner in the photo gallery. (This eliminates the need to search for hours for your photos.)
3. The daily menu and all of your room charges can now be viewed on your in-room HDTV screen, along with other important information.
4. No clocks can be found in your cabins (bring a cheap travel clock).
5. Laundry on this ship is $3 to wash/$3 to dry (or $15 for all you can fit in their laundry bag).
6. Unlike past cruises, you can order room service the morning of your final departure.
7. "Self Assist" on Debarkation is encouraged and easy - no long lines to get off and easy to get an elevator. (Passengers allowed disembark off as early at 5:45 a.m. with all passengers off the ship by 9:00 a.m.)
8. The suites on this ship have a private vanity/dressing area with His/Her closets - wow, what a plus) with a large bathroom.
9. Dining room staff consisted of mostly women on our sailing and the food was excellent.
10. Deck 10 food options included the normal Pizza and Burger stations, with new concept stations - Deli (wonderful) Burrito Bar, Pizza, Tandori Indian Food (spicy), and Mongolian Wok (all of these were popular and very good).
11. Upgrade dinner options include the Italian Restaurant ("fair" meal but for only a $10 extra, who can complain) and the Steak House that friends raved about for $30. Make your steak house reservations the minute you get on the ship if interested.
12. Neat innovations include:
a. The Red Frog Pub (popular but not overcrowded, great micro brewed beer and hot snacks, friendly Caribbean staff - this place is a must!)
b. Serenity area for adults is just that and well done on top deck.
c. Spa is large and wonderful, but expensive and never discounted. Kids activities are all over the place - great waterpark, ropes course, 2 level miniature golf, on deck pool tables, foos ball, ping pong, etc, and a big arcade on deck 4 with fun games. Our sailing had 1000 passengers under age 21 and all seemed to have plenty to do.
13. Internet - Difficult to find internet in most ports. (Had hoped for free Wi-Fi, but found only a few hard to find places that offered Wi-Fi for paying customers or a fee.)
14. Entertainment On Board - all shows were great. Don't' miss the Magic Show in the big theater (not the small lounge show). Also, the 1970's show "Groovin" and the music of Samantha J (if on board for your sailing) as she has played for Prince Charles and the royal family over 50 times.
15. Excursions comments:
a. Barcelona - watch for pickpockets - they are everywhere! Don't carry money as even buttoned pockets are at risk. Try to avoid the subway and, if you do, watch for groups of predatory teenagers and gypsies. (Even several experienced travelers in our group were victimized.) Don't miss the Magic Fountains on nights they are illuminated. A city bus tour was interesting. Montserat Basilica is an hour train ride and fascinating.
b. Monaco - bus tour to Eze was great as was seeing Nice. Great flower market in town.
c. Livorno - we did wines of Tuscany. Not as much of an explanation of wine process as we would have liked. Enjoyed the wines and local foods. (Others enjoyed Pisa and Florence.)
d. Rome - saw the Vatican - Hot, hot, hot. Crowded. Be prepared as it is stifling with huge crowds (one of our group fainted from heat). Save this experience for off season.
e. Naples - Amalfi coast and Pompeii - Wow! Wow! Wow! Do not miss the Amalfi Coast drive or Pompei. Absolutely beautiful and fascinating. (Members of our group kept saying "unbelievable".) The drive includes many hairpin curves, so take a Dramamine if needed. (Did we mention this is unbelievable?)
f. Sicily - surprisingly dirty town of Messina. 98% of all shops close from 1:00 to 3:30. Folks who did beach said they enjoyed it.
g. Mallorca - Caves of Drach were interesting but not that impressive. Enjoy the pearl factory on way back. (Members of our group raved about the Flamenco show with authentic dancers, if you like that type of thing.)
h. Marseille - Don't miss a tour to any of the Provence areas. Our tour was called Le Castlellet and Bandol. Le Castlellet reminded us of Eze, but greener, covered with vineyards and with more spectacular views. Bandol is a beautiful seaside town. Clean, flowers everywhere, palm trees - a great place to go back to see again and again.
i. Toilets are hard to find in Europe and generally charge. Bring Euro coins with you (and never pass one up during these excursions).
A final note - this 3500 passenger ship offers so much to do that we felt like we saw only 75% of it. So much more to see and do! Our group consisted of 55 family and friends and we enjoyed this great new ship. Many of us have booked our second trip on the Magic next summer out of Galveston.