Just in off the Magic Inaugural cruise, and it's probably the worst cruise I have experienced, for an array of reasons. Food was just OK, service was spotty, music was great, but all in all, nothing like what we expected. Breakdowns, port changes (that they knew about BEFORE they sailed away, I am convinced).
The ship is beautiful, with a more muted and less obnoxious theme than the Ecstasy and Conquest. Less garish colors assaulting you, more of a refined feel.
SOME of the staff were wonderful, and to them, I tip my hat- our room steward, who was named Reidy, was quite attentive, and a great guy.
Our dining room waitress was from Romania, and I can't for the life of me recall her name, (I think it starts with an A) but she was the best...we became friends with her, she is a single mom with a 13-year old daughter back home, on the boat until March. That's gotta be tough.
The guys in the Red Frog Pub were a lot of fun as well, and seemed to be having a good time together.
The hostess in the dining room was named Elizabeth, she was awesome. Saw her in other venues from time to time as well, very professional and friendly. She should be the maitre d'.
The entertainment was really good- the magic show was incredible, and they must have a million bucks invested in the stage. The sound in the Showroom was great as well. Downside is the size of the showroom- we only got to see two shows there, as the lines were almost always beyond capacity. Heard the comedian, Mutzie, was hilarious, but we never got in to see him, they were over-capacity in the back Spotlight Lounge as well.
The musicians were all really good, the solo acoustic guys are both accomplished (I should know, I am a musician as well), and the band Blood Power is always packing the house. The show band was tight and well-rehearsed as well.
The elevators are much faster than the ones on the Ecstasy or the Conquest, reducing wait times. This is a good thing on a ship this size. Despite there being some 3000+ pax onboard, it didn't feel crowded.
Some of the passengers were quite rude. Of course, this is to be expected out of any group of people this size, but it seemed that there was some hostility, lack of decorum, and just plain bad manners on display. Most were great, but there were a few groups of bad seeds that seemed to pop up from time to time. Not making excuses for anyone, but there may have been cultural differences at work here, as they were definitely not American.
The area on 5-6 near the front elevators (and our room) smelled like raw sewage nearly constantly. I didn't notice it further away or up, but sometimes even the Atrium smelled like a$$. This is a big problem, as we did not pay all that money to shack up in a room next to a sewage treatment plant.
The layout of the ship is somewhat of a mixed bag- it kind of works by keeping groups of people apart by several decks, but the ship is 1003' long, so bring comfy shoes if you plan on exploring! Certain functions are held at opposite ends of the ship with times nearly overlapping, so choose carefully, and if your primary interest is seeing shows, be there early.
The Northern Lights maitre d' was a bit of an a$$, an opinion that was confirmed when one of his waiters downstairs and he got into a fight at dinner on the second night. Wish I would have gotten that on tape, it would have been all over YouTube by now.
The portions at dinner were tiny. The first night, we had one appetizer, one entree, and dessert, and we left hungry. This was rectified on subsequent nights by ordering two appetizers, two entrees, and a dessert. The portion size crept up as the cruise wore on, however. I think they were still in "Europe Mode", and not used to Texans' appetites.
Carnival management knew prior to embarkation that they would substitute Progresso for Costa Maya. I think they even knew ahead of time that they were going to stick us there for two days as well. Despite this, the only compensation we got was a $25 OBC. That stinks (literally). Progresso is a slum, and not yet ready to be a cruise destination. The beards must have some deal made with the Mexican government. We weren't even told that we were being diverted until hours after we sailed.
We were given no choice whether to go ahead and cruise with the alternate destination, or to rebook for a later date. I know this was known in advance, because they had parts waiting to repair the broken thrusters that help the ship dock in Progresso, as well as dive teams. Another strategic omission by Carnival. They knew full well the ship had some major problems, on the Trans-Atlantic, they skipped Grand Turk in favor of a two-day layover in Freeport for the same reason.
From talking to some of the crew, there were a bunch of crew that were supposed to get off in Grand Turk and go home, being replaced by others. That didn't happen, and many were a little peeved by this, being stuck onboard for an unwanted extension of their tour.
I feel that Carnival should have at least given us a choice as to whether to accept the port substitution, or to have 'fessed up on the problems that this boat was having (major), and let us decide.
But all the poor Guest Services could do was point out that line in the carriage contract that Carnival reserves the right to substitute ports at their whimsy, and get screamed at by thousands of pissed off pax. I don't envy them, some of these people screaming and cursing were really coming unhinged. That said, I feel lied to by the Carnival corporation, and will likely never cruise with them again as a result.
Mediocre food, tired crew that are overworked, and multiple problems with the boat are only worth a $25 OBC? I don't think so!
Another incident was the loss of hot water for many cabins on the last two days of the cruise, for reasons unknown.
All of this taken together, as well as other points I have missed, resulted in a cruise that in no way resembled the cruise we were sold- the fabled "Inauguration Cruise". I know that new boats have little problems here and there, but this was a crew that had been aboard for quite a few months, and the mechanical problems should have been addressed prior to it being sent to Galveston as the "flagship" offering.
I know things happen, but there was precious little communication to the pax about the situation. Had there been more effort to inform us on Carnival's part, instead of obfuscating and twisting the truth to keep up the veneer, if not outright lying, I would have had a much different opinion of Carnival and the Magic. This was not the case, however, and I do not feel it fair of Carnival to treat its customers and crew this way. I believe I will be contacting Carnival directly about this cruise, as it was so far below par from what was presented.
Did I receive value? Yes, somewhat...but not what I paid for. I am not a complainer, and am a very easy-going guy. It is the betrayal of trust that I feel will keep me from cruising with Carnival again. I am most certainly not trying to get something for nothing, I wasn't raised that way. But I've spent lots of money with Carnival over the years, and their lack of respect for their passengers (customers) and crew on this voyage tells me that it will be my last. I am very disappointed in Carnival now, previously a big fan, but no longer. It has become painfully apparent that they care more about the bottom line than the customers.