Before I start let me tell you something about us so you can see the kind of people we are. I cruised with my girlfriend. I am 38 and she is 43 (had her birthday on the ship). We have been on 2 Carnival Cruises before on the Carnival Conquest at Christmas 2009 (Western Caribbean) and Carnival Glory at Christmas 2010 (Eastern Caribbean). We enjoyed both of those cruises so were really looking forward to the Mediterranean Carnival Magic Cruise. We live in a small island called Guernsey in the Channel Islands which is in between the UK and France. The island is a UK Crown dependency although we do not like to think as ourselves from the UK. We are Guerns !
This is a 100% honest review and as much as I love Carnival and its product I am not going to say Carnival is amazing and the staff are the best and the food was perfect etc. There were some good and bad points on this cruise and we will write them here.
Please remember these are our opinions which we are entitled too.
We left Heathrow Airport in the UK on time and flew to Barcelona where we were met with some Carnival representatives. We gave them our details (we had pre booked transfers) and they took our luggage from us and that was the last we saw of it until we got on the ship. This was really nice to not have to worry about luggage and drag it round with us. We highly recommend the pre cruise transfer. It enables you to relax as soon as you give your luggage to the porter.
We then had to wait about 30 minutes for other people who had just flown it before getting on the bus to go to the ship. This was quite a long wait, especially as there seems to be a very serious lack of seats in Barcelona airport which of course is NOT Carnivals fault. We also found a lack of seats when leaving Barcelona airport too.
Once on the bus we had a 30 ish minutes drive to the ship. Once at the pier the check in process was the best. We did not have any luggage of course as the porters had it so we were able to just walk into the terminal building to check in. Other people were outside trying to sort their luggage out.
We went through security in minutes and then went to get our sail and sign cards and again that took minutes. We then just got straight on to the ship with no queuing. I really cannot see how this could be improved when you think about the number of people trying to get on the ship the embarkation was excellent. I think I would have been aggrieved to have VIP embarkation as I can't see they would have got on the ship any faster than us.
We went to try to find our cabin and when nearly there we saw some signs saying we could not get into our cabin until at least 13:30. We later found out that it appears that the whole ship is like that and not just our deck. It would have been nice to have known this in advance even though it is not a big issue as we just went to the Lido deck to have lunch.
At 13:40 we went to see if we could get into our cabin and sure enough all the signs had gone and we got into our cabin to get changed.
On this cruise we decided to go for an interior cabin on deck 1. In the past we have had an interior cabin on deck 7 and a balcony on deck 8.
I have to say that I was never really a fan of having an interior cabin on deck 1 but we decided that it cost so much more for a balcony that we could use the saved money to pay for another cruise!
(Some negatives on the way! Keep reading as positives on the way too :-))
Now our cabin was number 1357. The cabin itself was fine. Just your normal run of the mill Carnival interior stateroom. The problem as we soon found out was the noise. The walls when you touched them vibrated 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Before booking this cabin I looked on the deck plans and I could see a large area behind our cabin of just white. That raised my suspicions straight away but I was not able to find out what was in this large area. Now I think it was an air conditioning room (not 100% sure). When you walked along the corridor to and from the stateroom you could feel the floor vibrating. Was this a problem ? Not really. In a way it was quite soothing. The noise was not loud just always there. It certainly did not stop you sleeping. My girlfriend said it helped to send her to sleep.
The noise meant that you could never tell if the ship was at sea or docked. To be honest I don't think we will be staying on deck 1 again in the future on any cruise. I like my balcony room too much! The other reason we did not get a balcony was because of the itinerary. We got to ports early in the morning and then left quite late so there would not be much time to enjoy the balcony really.
While I am on the subject of the cabin we did notice a smell of sewage from time to time. I thought when I had read this in the past it was not real. Unfortunately on certain decks at certain times you can smell sewage. It seems to me that this smell appears when there is a lot of wind outside. Almost like the sewage vent is to close to the air conditioning vent and the smell gets sucked into the air conditioning. I am no expert but that's what it seemed like to us. My girlfriend said you can smell your way to our cabin because of the smell! No it wasn't us! The shower was great and did not flood the floor like past cruises.
We also noticed the smell of fuel oil being pumped into the ship. Then we had an announcement to say the ship is being refuelled so everyone is to refrain from smoking everywhere. That smell did not last too long.
One day we had the smell of white spirit too but again that did not last long. Where do these smells come from?
Our room steward was not as good as on our previous cruises. I don't want to name him as maybe he was having a bad day. The first 3 nights we had chocolates left in our stateroom. After that none!
Also one day he took the cushion covers off and left them in the room. Then moved them in the evening. Sometimes the cushions where stuffed into the bed side cabinets and other times not. Also had the same with pillow cases. The old ones were left in the room then later on removed. We also had no ice on several occasions as he forgot to fill up the ice bucket. One night our fun times was just pushed under the door instead of being left in the cabin. Now don't think this bloke is really fussy. We are not. This certainly did not stop us from enjoying our cruise. This is just something we have not experienced before on Carnival. We still gave the steward an extra tip as the room was always clean.
This brings me on to the subject of the amount of people on the ship and the staff. OUR PERSONAL feeling is that there are too many people on the ship and not enough staff. Maybe this is why the room steward appears to forget stuff ? Maybe he was too busy ?
Staff in the rest of the ship do not seem to happy either. In the past you walk past staff and they smile or say hello. We did not see so much of that on Magic. Again I think the staff are worked too hard. Also I think that so many of the passengers were not able to speak English or were so rude to the staff that probably the staff did not want to be friendly! The staff we met and spoke too were all friendly which I think backs up my theory about them being too busy most of the time. (John Heald has also said this was his worst Mediterranean cruise so maybe this was a one off)
The tables on Lido deck did not seem to be cleared quite as quickly as we have seen in the past. I think that again this was down to the sheer number of people on the ship and the staff already working flat out.
We were also surprised to find quite a few staff that really had a limited amount of English. The nice thing was that they did try to speak to us in English even if they struggled a bit. This was difficult sometimes when trying to order just a cheese burger with no bun. I have a wheat allergy so I cannot eat wheat. I am not so allergic that if something like a bun touches the burger I can't eat it I can but it is a waste of food. In the past this was not an issue as the burgers sees to be prepared as you need them. On the Carnival Magic the burgers are prepared in advance and put in a tray for you to help yourself. This is a brilliant idea (usually) I tried to ask the cook for just a burger but he did not really understand. I still ended up with a bun I cannot eat. I felt so guilty for wasting this food.
The Pizza station was better but for some reason I got a huge gluten free pizza. The cook was upset because I did not take the whole pizza! How can I eat a whole pizza! They make the goats cheese pizza quite small so why don't they make the gluten free ones that size? I can only assume they buy the gluten free pizzas in?
An issue we did not like are these new plates on Lido. The plates themselves are great but with no tray to carry stuff there are more people milling around going backwards and forwards. For example at breakfast on Lido we would get our cutlery (which I would put in my pocket) and then get a plate and a bowl. The cereals went unopened in the bowl and some milk. The spoon went in there too. The scrambled eggs etc. went on to the place. Now how do I get a cup of coffee? I have no spare hands. A tray would have been ideal. You have to go and put your food down and then hope that the hard working staff do not clear it away while you have gone to get your coffee! PLEASE bring backs trays!
I am nearly finished with the negatives.
I have to say that Calvyn the assistant cruise director is so irritating he drove me mad! Make up your own mind but be warned!
One thing that we did find that was nice on previous cruises was the fact that staff were really good with remembering our names. This did not happen on Carnival Magic.
There is a face recognition system in place for the photographs that are taken on board. For some reason it just did not work. We had 2 photographs available for the whole 9 days. We had photographs taken during the 9 days but they never turned up. Even when you click on the photos not displayed button they still did not appear. It did not bother us as we don't like photos and in the end it just got to be a bit of fun, have a photo taken just to see if the photo recognition worked! It is a really good idea but it does not seem to be quite right yet.
The final negative was the lifts. The lifts are always busy. Normally that would not bother us as we use the stairs but due to having a cabin on deck 1 and the lido being on deck 10 it was along walk. It was very rare to just press the call button and the lift would be there. It usually took quite a few minutes of waiting for the lift to arrive. When it did arrive lazy people would get in to go up or down 1 deck! Makes the lift very slow. The lifts themselves were well decorated but due to what I think is a design fault some of them were damaged. I think this is due to people with ruck sacks getting in the lifts and walking backwards into the aluminium lighting. Also tiles were damaged which I think was due to people accidentally kicking them. Its such a shame people can't take more care!
OK No more negatives. Only positives !
The Carnival Magic design is brilliant. Just brilliant. It is definitely the best ship in the Carnival Fleet. The extra area on deck 5 and the hot tubs are a really good idea. The Serenity deck is brilliant even if it is too close to the water slides. The hammocks and clam shells are really comfortable and a good way to spend many hours.
Instead of having 1 Internet Cafe Carnival Magic has what are called Fun Hubs. These fun hubs are Internet connected computers which you can use (for a fee of course). I like the fact that there are so many all over the ship.
The Carnival Magic is very clean as you would expect and the staff work hard to keep it looking like that.
One of the best bits of Carnival Magic is on deck 5 and its the Red Frog Pub. Such a good idea. The pub has an amazing atmosphere. Has live music and of course has the Thirsty Frog Beer. Try it! That's all I can say. You won't regret it.
The Carnival Magic beds are the same as the rest of the fleet and that is really comfortable. We slept so well.
The Gym is very well appointed. In fact I think it has better equipment then our local land based Gym!
I unfortunately had to visit the medical centre. I always vowed I would not get sun burnt but I did this time and it hurt so much I had to visit them. They were not exactly friendly but professional. I suppose the amount of idiots like me that get sun burnt must drive them mad. Anyway the doctor sorted me out and I was out of them within a few minutes. With a reasonable bill too.
The cabin televisions have interactive capabilities that allow you to book shore excursions on the television. We found that really helpful. The television also has your sail and sign card statement, restaurant menus, audio fun times, messages etc. You can see the bridge web cam and the Lido deck web cam as well as the statistics on where the ship is and the speed etc. You can use it to watch TV too ! :-)
The food on the ship is brilliant. I have already mentioned that I have a wheat allergy and I made sure to tell Carnival before we sailed. I had a really helpful lady called Alina who would come and see me each night to choose what I was going to eat the following night. She was really helpful and friendly and made sure I always had something I wanted to eat, not just what they had made. I know I said no more negatives but I must get this one in. The Gluten Free bread on the ship is awful. It is not just Carnival Magic but Glory & Conquest too. I can only assume they buy the bread in from the same place for all the ships. It has a horrible after taste of Bicarbonate of soda (I think).
I am not ungrateful. I still ate it and I am very happy that Carnival could provide it.
We were in the Southern Lights dining room with the Maitre D Ken Bryne. He was really good. He would sing a song and then the servers would dance.
The cruise director was John Heald. We found him very funny. He was also informative when he needed to be and did not bombard us with PA announcements trying to sell stuff! The shows he was involved with were good.
The other ships shows were also good. It was hard sometimes to find seats in the theatre and I don't know if that s because the shows were so popular or because people went to the late show instead of the early one or maybe because are there so many people on this ship?
Well that's just about it. We loved Carnival Magic and if you get a chance to cruise on her do it. We did not particularly like the Mediterranean itinerary but maybe that is because we live in Europe already. I can imagine the Carnival Magic in the Caribbean is going to be amazing. There will be such a vibe that you don't get on a Mediterranean cruise.
Unfortunately we won't be cruising on Carnival Magic while she has a home port of Galveston. We found the Texans to be, well rude. Not all of them but a lot of them. They don't seem to be able to say please or thank you! (Just our opinions)
That saddens me as I really do believe you will not be able to beat Carnival Magic in the Caribbean.
I hope you found our review helpful.