Where to begin to describe this inaugural transatlantic cruise on the Carnival Magic?
1. Spacious cabins, but small balconies.
2. New ship, but gaudy dÃ©cor.
3. The ship's "wine card" which offered a discount on the selections of wines on that card is a great idea and welcomed feature.
1. Cabin service. Cabin stewards were generally competent and eager to please.
2. Red Frog Pub. This is a novel idea on a ship, and the draught beer was welcomed. Unfortunately, waiter service was hit or miss.
3. Rope obstacle course--when it was open and attended by a cruise staff person.
4. Water slide--when it was open and attended by a cruise staff person.
Not so good:
1. Food service was the worst I have experienced in over 25 cruises. Servers frequently took orders from the men ahead of the ladies at the table. Servers did not refill wine glasses--the diners had to refill their own glasses. Food was often served cold. Frequently food was not served as requested, e. g. served a well done steaks when medium rare was ordered. Servers often reached across a diner with a plate to another diner. Menu selection was adequate, and food was generally tasty, but the presentation was mediocre at best.
2. Diner was interrupted by the excessively loud singing of the matre d' each evening in the Southern Lights restaurant. The volume was so loud that you could not hear anything but the singing. Additionally, he would frequently engage the waiters in little dances and skits which took them away from serving and exacerbated an already slow service. This was not a FUN event.
3. Although the ship offered a wine card discounting a selection of wines, our waiters informed us that the dining room had run out of 3 of the 5 reds offered on the wine card and we would have to choose from the remaining 2 red wines. However, the piano bar and lounge one deck up had those wines in stock that the dining room did not have. The dining waiters said they could not use the Piano Bar's stock, so I had to walk up to the Piano Bar and get a bottle using my wine card and take it down to dinner. What kind of service is that?
4. Entertainment was the worst I have experienced on any cruise. In 16 nights of cruising, we only saw the dance ensemble for two shows. The second show was a new magic stage presentation that marginally involved the dance ensemble. Often the "fly on" entertainers were second tier at best, especially the hypnotist.
5. The primary show room had some of the worst sight lines you can imagine. The main floor was not inclined and it was hard to see the stage from mid to rear seats. There were several seats in both the main floor and balcony that had poles blocking the view of the stage. To get a seat for one of the shows, you would have to get into the theater at least 45 minutes prior to show time. (Show time as was many other activities would start on "Carnival Time" instead of the published time. It seemed that the Cruise Director and his staff did not have properly functioning timepieces.)
6. Cruise Director and Cruise Staff. Despite a meager selection of activities on the transatlantic cruise, those that did take place often began late due to either the cruise staff showing up late or forgetting to show up at all. At least on two occasions one cruise staff member forgot he was hosting trivia and had to be summoned. The cruise director was well spoken, but he continually changed the timing of activities from what was published in the FUN Times schedule. The uniforms (more accurately described as gym attire) of the cruise staff were sloppy and did not portray a professional appearance.
7. At a ceremony to honor the military and veterans of the US, Canada, and UK, the ship's captain showed up nearly 15 minutes late for a wreath laying ceremony which disrupted the sequencing of the entire ceremony. And when he finally showed, he appeared like a deer caught in the headlights at the ceremony--not the captain's finest hour.
8. Plumbing issues were apparent everywhere. Our cabin steward tried to convince us that the pitching motion of the ship was the cause of our sink and shower backing up on two occasions. I did not buy that, would you?
9. Bar service outside was practically non-existent. Every time I had to go to a bar and get my own drink because I couldn't find a bar waiter.
10. Bar service in the Piano Bar's lounge was slow. Only one bar waitress was usually on duty even though the lounge was filled with passengers in the early evening.
11. It was admirable that the ship's crew cleaned and vacuumed common areas often. However, it would seem that the crew could have picked a more opportune time to clean and vacuum the rear staircase and elevator areas than during the time when passengers were using those stairs and elevators to get to first dinner seating each evening. Walking on a pitching ship and trying to step over or around power cords and vacuum hoses on the way to dinner was bothersome and unsafe.
12. Disembarkation/embarkation at each stop was crowded, slow and cumbersome.
13. Port information was almost non-existent. The cruise director gave a couple of port talks that consisted solely of advertisements of the ship-sponsored tours and activities. Rarely was any information available about transportation available at the ports (except Freeport when it was incorrect) for those not taking a ship-sponsored tour. No maps or printed information about ports were available. Set sail time was incorrectly given for two ports, but was corrected on the port day after some passengers had already disembarked. On one occasion the ship was an hour late in departing due to ship-sponsored tours to Granada arriving at the dock an hour later than the announced set sail time. In carrying on with the misinformation put forth by the ship's crew, several days into the cruise passengers were informed that the ship had to divert into Freeport, Bahamas instead of going to Grand Turk to repair an aft thruster. However, some of the engine room and deck crew revealed that the thruster was malfunctioning days before arriving in Barcelona, and the decision to go to Freeport was made prior to departing Barcelona--not a mid-cruise decision as was told to the passengers. Twenty-five dollars of cabin credit and tough, over cooked shrimp at dinner did not make up for docking in Freeport for two days instead of one day at Grand Turk
Summary: Although this was my third Carnival cruise, it convinced me that it will be my last. There are too many other better cruise lines available at competitive pricing.