Just off the Carnival Magic. The good, the bad, the ugly and dispelling the myths.
First, we arrived into Barcelona a day and a half early. We stayed at the ME Hotel, absolutely amazing hotel. If you are into the W hotels and like that super contemporary vibe and cosmopolitan feel, you will love it. The pool was amazing, the lounges were awesome. It is however, not located in the most central part of Barcelona, but walking distance to the beach. Our flight arrived 10 hours late, so, we did not get a chance to really explore the areas around the hotel as much as we would have liked to, but the hotel in and of itself was a great place to explore.
We arrived at the Carnival Magic around 2:00 pm. When we arrived, we saw a line outside of the terminal doors, zigzagging around into the terminal entrance for security screening. It moves relatively quickly so no reason to be alarmed, if you arrive and see the same thing. Once through security, you are divided into 2 areas based on the deck your cabin is located. Decks 1-7 are on the upper concourse, decks 8-12, you are located on the ground concourse level. Once you are divided into your area, our cabin was on deck 8, we were greeted with yet, another line. This line takes a little longer. This line is the line where you register either cash deposits or credit card deposits and check in for the ship (you get your keys, maps, etc.). We stood in line for probably about 45 mins or so, but once we registered our Credit Cards, got our Sail and sign cards, we took the escalator up to the second level. We were given a zone number, but they were just collecting them and allowing people on board, it was very quick! In the terminal where Carnival was docked, they have a few shops with alcohol, flip flops, and misc. items you can purchase before getting on board. Well worth the stop. You can carry your alcohol purchases right onboard.
Off to the ship. We boarded the Carnival Magic, nothing to be overly wowed at. It's a nice ship, larger than some others I've been on. But, if you've been on 1, you've been on them all. It was very nice and clean, still had the new smell. We took, what bags we had to our room, changed into flip flops and headed up to the Lido deck.
The Cabin. We had a balcony cabin on deck 8. Standard Carnival orange. The room was well appointed, with a sofa, flat screen, bar and ample storage. I read in another review that things were falling apart and falling off the walls, etc., we didn't happen to see that in our cabin. Everything was in great condition, the room still had its new smell. Our cabin Steward Noor, was great. He kept the room clean, the ice bucket filled and the balcony doors and windows clean.
Lido Deck. We ran up to the Lido deck to get food. I think Carnival learned a lot from past ships. The Lido food deck is broken into 8 areas. You have your burgers and pizza on the outside close to the pool; you then have The Wok just one level inside broken into two separate lines. Directly across from that, you have general food and whatever they are serving for the day, broken into another 2 lines. Down a little ways, heading to the back of the ship, you have another 2 areas of food, usually serving whatever the food of the day is and dinner. Across from that area is desserts and ice cream and the stairs that lead to El Capitano, the private Italian restaurant. I'll talk about that later. Just outside, by the adult pool, you have Tandoor (Indian Food) and the sandwich shop, which serves, you've guessed it...sandwiches, Panini's etc. With all of the reviews I've read, they said this area is crowded and people had to wait in long lines, well, I didn't really see that. You have to wait for the wok, as they are cooking your food to order. You may have to wait for an omelet, again, they are cooking to order; otherwise, we didn't wait very long for much throughout our entire trip. We had a chance to eat at El Capitano, it was great. The service was good and the pasta amazing. Worth the $10.
The Ship. Okay after eating we decided to do some exploring to see what was new. Immediately, we noticed how they changed the main pool area. I love the comfortable chairs with cushions and padding aligning the pool area they've added on deck 10 and 11. It's a great area to relax and watch a movie under the stars or catch some sun. Another great new thing was the rear eating area. They've added an additional eating area on the rear of the ship with padded seats in a Tiki feel. Very nice look. On the other decks. We walked down to ocean plaza on deck 5, loved the Vibe night club, the piano bar area and the 4 cantilevered hot tubs hanging over the ships edge, nice touch. The highlight of Ocean Plaza is Red Frog Pub. What a great idea this was. It's set in island colors and all the staff are from one of the islands, you almost feel like you are on a beach somewhere. The Spa on this ship is 3 decks high. Very Very nice. We did manage to get in some spa time and it was well worth it. The best time to purchase is at the beginning after we've sailed, and towards the end of the cruise.
Side Bar. We generally book Carnival during off peak times to avoid being overrun with kids in the pools etc. I could count the number of kids on board. The information desk stated the cruise before ours they had 900 children between 3-16 and this sailing they had roughly about 90. It was good. Please don't get me wrong, I love kids, but not when I am on vacation. Now back to my review.
Entertainment: I went to 2 of the shows and the first one called "win" was cheesy and half way through, people were walking out. The 2nd show, which was like a Broadway production was GREAT! It totally made up for the previous night's show. I don't for the life of me, know why Carnival is still doing the Carnival Legend's show. It is truly time to let it go. We've been on multiple Carnival ships and they've done it on every single ship. Let it go already, think outside the box.
Ports: I won't detail you with all of the Port details but some highlights. If you have a balcony cabin in Monaco, it is well worth it. I sat on my balcony for hours watching the yachts come in and out of the Port...AMAZING! Livorno, if you aren't going to Florence, no need to stop in Livorno. The city was pretty rundown, some decent shopping, but not worth spending much more than an hour there. Rome...the Port is about an hour and a half form the city. OMG! We had the best tour guide I met off line and it was well worth the price. He took us to Trevi Fountain, Palatine Hill, The Coliseum, The Vatican/Sistine Chapel (Totally buy the skip the line tickets...we did, walked out of the car right into the front doors, past thousands of people), The Roman Forum, The Pantheon and a Secret Garden...AMAZING TOUR! Naples, we walked right off the ship, did some shopping, ate some authentic pizza and took a small tour. Napoli, as it's called, is a very large city and has some beautiful beaches and the tour of the Amalfi Coast, AMAZING!! Messina, we walked off the ship again. There is a Cathedral that sits at the highest point of the island and has the most spectacular views. Amazing! But be prepared if you walk, it's a steep climb uphill. On the way down, we walked through some great shopping and tasted a few local wines. Good stuff! Palma De Mallorca, beautiful beach day. The weather was great. Marseilles was the last port. We took the shuttle from the ship into town, walked, shopped, ate. Great Port.
All in all, we had a fantastic trip. The ship was great, the staff was amazing and the ports were all well worth the trek.