I had high hopes for the new Carnival Magic, since the only other Carnival cruise we've taken was a three day disaster to Cozumel. This ship is far superior and the ports were, for the most part, wonderful.
However, there were a lot of areas where improvement is called for.
SERVICE: Since we reserved a suite on the 7th deck, we received VIP boarding. What that meant was that we were ushered to the second floor of the departure terminal, while our standard cabin friends went to a longer line below. We were kept waiting, seated outside the registration room for about 10 minutes. When we were called in, we registered and then took an escalator back downstairs. There, we ended up in line almost next to our friends! We had checked in close to noon, the earliest time possible, but our luggage never materialized until 6 p.m. All of our friends got their luggage much sooner, even the ones in standard cabins. Some VIP service.
Our cabin steward was friendly and efficient, though we rarely saw him on the trip. The room was cleaned twice daily and the ubiquitous towel animals appeared each evening, until we had 8 of the creatures occupying space in the room!
Wait staff in the Southern Lights dining room was efficient, though not very friendly, unlike what we've experienced on other cruise lines. Around dessert time every evening, the staff were forced to put on a show which meant coffee wasn't served with dessert most nights and second cups were slow to come. The shows were silly, if mildly entertaining, but the staff would have been more appreciated at the tables! They seemed embarrassed to be performing, too.
ROOMS: Our room was fantastic with storage space to spare. The little vanity room was a nice touch, however the over-sized stool didn't fit under the vanity and was always in the way. When I was seated at it, my husband could barely get by it and into the bathroom or his closet. The hairdryer was installed inside a drawer, so when I was using it, the bathroom door couldn't be fully opened--a real inconvenience when we were both hurrying to get ready for early-morning excursions. The bed was super comfy and plush linens were high quality. The mini fridge was fully stocked with pricey bar items, leaving no room for chilling a bottle of wine or storing anything else. The only option was to keep it locked. The TV stations were very limited with a couple of constantly repeating movies on the movie channels. Fortunately, we weren't there to watch TV. The private balcony was nice with two chairs, a tiny table and a lounge chair. Apparently a herd of elephants roomed above us, and we heard slamming doors or jumping children at all hours--not very well sound-proofed.
There were only three laundry rooms for the entire ship, so they were always packed with people waiting to claim one of the three washers or dryers. For $15, ship personnel would wash and fold one bag of dirty clothes, so we took advantage of that to save time. The washers and dryers cost $3 per load, so that was not much more expense either.
FOOD: The dining room food grew better every day after a few mediocre meals early in the cruise. The Lido deck cafeterias had all kinds of interesting stations, such as a Mongolian Wok, deli sandwiches, omelette bar and burrito bar, but lines were always long, so we tried only a few of those. Wait staff was efficient, however the seating areas always seemed packed.
SHOPS: The shops were amazingly devoid of merchandise other than jewelry and apparel copiously labeled with "Carnival." I tried to find a can of hair spray in the tiny sundries section of one store and they didn't carry any. The photo sales area took up an entire floor! They did have screens into which you could insert your Ship card and through facial recognition matching your ID photo, the pictures of you would pop up on the screen--very Big Brotherish, but convenient. Unfortunately, it wasn't perfect and we missed a few group photos that showed up on other people's screens.
SHOWS: After long days of touring, we weren't too interested in further entertainment, however friends who tried some of the late-night shows said they were corny and the friends often fell asleep or left early.
FITNESS AREAS: The work out room was huge and seemed well equipped. The walking/jogging track was short and took 7 laps to make a mile. No other deck had a wrap-around waling area like other ships we've been on. The two pools were always crowded, especially with jumping, splashing, noisy children. There was a huge water park area with two huge slides and fun splash areas for children, as well as a creative ropes course on the 12th deck.
DEPARTURE: Very easy! Thanks to the televised bills, we were able to review our charges easily. They encouraged taking your own luggage off the ship for early, privately arranged departures, and that avoided the dreaded night-before, suitcases in the hall nightmare that other ships use, although that was possible.
CONCLUSION: Overall, we had a delightful time and enjoyed our cruise very much thanks to some interesting excursions and great friends who accompanied us. The ship needs to work our a lot of kinks to be truly "magic" however!