We went on the Carnival Magic in October for a 9 day cruise around the Mediterranean. The ship itself, even being so new, showed some signs of wear and tear but was for the most part very clean. Clientele was generally older and not as quite downscale or rowdy as you might find on Carnival ships sailing in the US.
The buffet food on the Lido deck, as many have mentioned, is cafeteria quality. It was difficult to find options that we really wanted or liked. It became repetitive, even with different options like the burrito bar. Typically, we think of cruises as a time where we will just eat constantly and come back satisfied (and a few pounds heavier). However, we found as the days went on, and especially with all the walking we were doing in port, we were bound to lose weight. We would look at the menu for the main dining room during the day and at times it was tough to find anything we were really excited about. I was also disappointed to see that there was not a lot of variation with the dessert selections from night to night. Overall, I would say the food that we did order in the MDR was decent, but I wasn't raving about anything. Although, I will say I was surprised how great the lobster was on lobster night.
Aside from the food, the service in the main dining room was disappointing. I didn't know that there had been such a trend towards smaller tables lately and I think this changed our service significantly. We were at a table of 4, and our wait staff had to look over about 8-10 other small tables. (I'd say as opposed to having 3-4 large 8 or 10 person tables) Because of this, our waiter had time to hand us menus and take our order, nothing more. No recommendations, no explanation of any dishes. Not sure if this is something we just took for granted on other cruise lines, but I had come to expect a little more interaction and recommendations. Our wine rarely got poured for us and our water sometimes got refilled often, sometimes never. All of the staff were very friendly and really worked their butts off to try and make sure everyone was happy, but it's just impossible to provide good service to that many tables when they all sit down at once. It would typically be about 45 minutes before we would see our appetizer and the whole meal would average about 2 hours. Let's just say we were lucky to have good table mates, otherwise we would have really noticed the huge gaps between courses.
We didn't go to all the shows on the ship, partly because we wouldn't make it out of dinner on time but mainly because none of them seemed too appealing. The ones we did go to were just ok - not the same quality that we have seen on other cruise lines. The other activities hosted throughout the days were fun, good variety. The 'shopping' sales were annoying to say the least, and the announcements that went along with them were even more nagging. Many other people have noted the fact that they excessively push merchandise and products on to you throughout the duration of the cruise. I feel like this is just part of being a business, but they could tone it down a bit. I wish there was also a way to access your photos from your stateroom, since the photo stations were always really crowded and congested.
We had a balcony stateroom on deck 8. We would have been frustrated to be lower than that since the main deck and jacuzzis would have been closer to us. It's definitely better to be up a few decks to get your privacy. Our stateroom was large enough and very clean. Nothing to complain about there.
Overall, I feel like if we had paid a lot more to go on a more upscale cruise line, it wouldn't have been worth it since we spent so much time in the ports. The site seeing was definitely more of the highlight of the trip, rather than the actual cruise. This made it easier to stay off the ship longer or even eat our meals in port and not feel like we were missing out on our cruise experience. Nevertheless, it was always nice and relaxing to come back to our ship everyday.