Although the Magic is new this year it is not radical and its layout will be familiar to anyone who has sailed on the Carnival Conquest and subsequent ships. Whilst familiarity is reassuring perhaps the time has come for Carnival to consider something more radical? Changes made from recent ships such as the Freedom are mostly related to increasing cabin capacity with the Lido deck being on level 10 instead of 9. A pub is provided on deck 5 which extends both inside and outside so smokers are accommodated. This was popular and a welcome addition although one thinks its themed to try to compete with the likes of Senor Frogs and Carlos and Charlies. Since the Ship will spend the majority of its life sailing in the Caribbean a contrasting theme might be more appropriate. The Piano Bar has been opened out into the main level 5 corridor and is non-smoking. It was therefore less risque than usual and not well supported. The cigar bar has gone and has been replaced with a teenager facility which I think makes a lot of sense. The steak house is much smaller than on other ships and is provided on the fifth level near the disco. The disco itself seemed quite small and the step down to the dance floor has been eliminated so will save on twisted ankles! An Italian themed eatery is provided above the lido cafe for which a surcharge is payable. This was a very popular alternative dining spot throughout the cruise.
The Lido cafe was very busy throughout the day but with the exception of the Mongolian Wok station lines were never an issue. The food served was very familiar but I ate most days at the deli. Evening dinner was in the main dining room late sitting. The menus were also very familiar and followed the general Carnival trend of serving cheaper main dishes i.e. fried chicken and burgers on the menu! The days of filet and chateaubriand now seem past but having said that I always left the dining room full and the food was good. However the service was the worst ever. The Maitre D fancies himself as a Frank Sinatra karoke singer so instead of taking care of service he was more concerned with inflicting his singing on diners so twenty minutes were spent listening to him and the servers prancing around. This meant it was typically a hour and a half before we received our entrees as we had to wait for the Maitre D to indulge his ego. He really is at a career crossroads and needs to decide if his future lies in being a karaoke singer or organising a dining room because right now he is doing both very badly. Incidentally, on the ship dessert had to be ordered at the same time as the appetiser and entree so one would expected this would have speeded dining up but this wasn't the case. Dinner typical took nearly two and a half hours so be prepared to miss the start of the 10-30 show.
The cruise was very port intensive so it was hard to assess the capacity for deck chairs etc. On the one sea day there didn't seem to be an issue but there were a lot of kids and teenagers on the Ship that weren't bothered with lounging in the sun.
We were supposed to go to Majorca but as a result of a strike this wasn't possible, Carnival were somehow able to reschedule Marseille at less than 24 hours notice a day early and still provide all their tours. This was either an incredible feat of logistics or Carnival knew well in advance that Majorca wasn't going to happen. As a result of this there was controversy should the Ship have a sea day or return a day early to Barcelona. The powers that be decided to return to Barcelona a day early. This must have cost Carnival quite a loss of income from closing the casino a day early and other sales that result from a sea day. Personally I would have preferred another day at sea. Overnight in port always creates an eerie onboard atmosphere.
Embarkation and disembarkation was fast and smooth no doubt when the Ship crosses the Atlantic this will deterioate significantly!
Generally, the ship is as one would expect very clean, bright and much less gaudy than other Carnival vessels. It will be a good work horse if not memorable for Carnival over the years.
The cruise was fantastic value for money vacation and whilst the poor service in the main dining room was disappointing it certainly didn't detract from the overall super cruise experience.