The Magic should, theoretically, provide more fun things to do than a smaller ship because there should be tons more space. Well, no. A lot of that free space is taken up by many more cabins and two more "premium" restaurants for a total of three. Since it's a new ship, it's obvious they're still getting the kinks out of their systems - figuring out how long they need to get everyone off and on the ship to shuttles for excursions, for example, is something they haven't quite gotten down. They stage departures for shore excursions from the main theater on this ship, and that is somewhat smooth, but if there's a port that requires a general shuttle into town, you'll want to go quite early to the theater if you don't want to wait for a long time.
The boat, which is nearly brand new, also "broke" and had to have a thruster repaired which meant this sailing missed Grand Turk to go to Freeport for repairs. They gave all passengers $25 credit as a "we're sorry" which, in my opinion, is completely inadequate since a cruise to Grand Turk costs quite a lot (and there are none coming out of Galveston), and considering that they managed to arrange and film a commercial from a helicopter in Freeport, there were a lot of people suspicious that Carnival had been planning to hit Freeport all along. On the other hand, apparently the ship has to go BACK to Freeport instead of its next itinerary to Costa Maya, so if that's true, then Carnival was telling the truth - but it still is Carnival's fault that we did not go to Grand Turk, and it would have been a great gesture to do more than they did.
Here are some of the good aspects: The best beds I've ever slept on in a cruise ship. Sleeping is very difficult for me, and I slept very well.
An amazing staff. Our stewardess, Jolanta, was wonderful as were her assistants. Our waiters, A.K., Dario, and Sergh were so hard working and very friendly as was the beverage steward, Marijana. I was very impressed with the staff in the Lido, the coffee shop, the piano bar, room service staff, and the chef, Daniel Anulraj.
The food was generally quite good. They seemed to have changed how they do things as they don't have both a starter and a salad at dinner, but, obviously, if you're still hungry after a three-course dinner, there's always more food to eat. If you enjoy the premium restaurants, the Magic's steakhouse was superb as was the Chef's Table event which is $75 per person, but provides seven courses, wine, and a tour of the spotless and impressive galley.
The entertainment staff were a fun bunch, and gosh did they have to put up with a lot of grouching from unreasonable passengers demanding live television in the middle of the ocean. Major kudos to Carnival for their unflagging good cheer.
Usually, I don't think of Carnival as a great line for "enrichment" but they had a number of useful photography classes led by Radu, and a photography competition that generated a lot of participation.
Last, cove balconies are fantastic. If you have trouble with the claustrophobia of being cooped up indoors on a ship for days on end, you need to try a cove balcony room. Seriously awesome.
Here are a couple suggestions for potential passengers: The "smoke-free" casino did not work out to be smoke-free (at all) as there are a few smoking areas, and the smoke permeates the entire area. If that's not going to work for you, perhaps start a petition to have a completely smoke free night like they do on Princess. Second, a lot of people caught a moderate cold on this sailing - They have Purell before you eat and before you use the computer, but you're touching the slot machines just as much as a computer keyboard and there's no Purell. Go around the corner to the "Fun Hub" (a computer/internet area - there are several on board) and use Purell before and after losing your money to the slots. :-)
If deck five is too crowded and noisy, there's a row of couches on four across from the teen disco where you can read or have a quiet conversation. There's no sea-view, but there are also no beverage servers, so it's an area where you can feel like you can sit as long as you want without needing to buy a drink.
Probably on most vessels it's difficult to get good seats for the shows unless you go very early and sit for an hour or more. Well, even though this ship is bigger, it doesn't seem like the theater is bigger nor are other venues, so even something like the "future cruise talk" can be jammed to capacity. Popular areas like the Ocean Plaza can be crowded with people playing cards instead of taking part in whatever activity is supposed to be taking place. So plan ahead and go early to the events you'd like to hit.
In all seriousness, it's apparent that a lot of mistakes were made when this ship was built based on facts such as the damaged, dinged, and cracked sconces in all the elevators from poorly driven hoverounds (they were removed in Freeport, by the way) - apparently no one predicted that. Well, they also didn't predict how overcrowded the buffet or other popular areas were going to be at peak periods. So when they get around to overhauling the ship, I hope they find a way to reduce congestion.
I love Carnival and will certainly sail with them again, but I wish I could hijack this wonderful crew and sail with them on a different vessel. Still this was a relaxing cruise, and, despite the Grand Turk mix up, the vast majority of guests seemed to be having a great time.