It is not surprising that many people write negative reviews. There is always something one can find to write about that didn't meet their satisfaction. However, having spent 16 days on the Magic across the Atlantic and reading the experiences of some I really can't fathom how people could have had such an awful time when I was on the exact same cruise.
Barcelona was great, an amazing city to explore and depart from. It rained but the last time I checked it is a city on this planet that is subject to weather. So sometimes it rains. We took a raincoat and an umbrella, stayed dry and had a marvellous time.
Mallorca, Malaga and Las Palmas were likewise all great ports to visit. We looked after ourselves in each and every port and made the most of the scenery and local dining options to enjoy. We do a lot of walking and in each port walked on average 15 kilometres (10 miles).
The crossing itself was very relaxing. There was for us too much activity to enjoy. On the first day of the crossing we tried to do everything and ended up exhausted with the day just flying by. So we decided on Day two to spend more time relaxing.
Mornings we spent having breakfast and then enjoying the hot tub on Deck 5. I noted that a comment from one person was the hot tubs were not hot. I think by my count there were 7 hot tubs to choose from and whilst the temperatures were not consistent in each, each one seemed to be a consistent temperature. So if you wanted a nice hot jacuzzi the one on the starboard side aft was nice and hot. If you wanted something not so hot then the port side aft Deck 10 was a good one. You just had to get around and find what was going to be right for you.
After a hot tub we would read and journal for about an hour before taking a ballroom dancing lesson. Then it was lunchtime. Off to Cucina el Capitano for some fantastic gourmet pasta watching the ocean go by. Back down to Deck 11 starboard side to lie down on the deck chairs, some sudoku, reading and mah jong on the iPad whilst enjoying the band playing some fantastic music. I can appreciate that had the style of music been something I didn't like then had I stayed in that location maybe I would have found the music overbearing and not enjoyed myself. Had that been the case I would have moved to another part of the ship and found the music or entertainment that was more in keeping with my likes.
At 330pm there was always a movie on at the Seaside Theatre (Lido Deck) that could be watched from Deck 10, 11 or 12 each of which had a different atmosphere. We are not Lido people so we always used Deck 11 as against Deck 10 by the pool. If we didn't catch the movie it was because we were snoozing enjoying the motion of the ship a million miles away from the tensions and stress of life.
After the movie it was off to do an hours exercise and then to Cloud 9 to enjoy each of the saunas and the other facilities. Whilst we enjoyed Cloud 9 I do not think it worth spending the extra money. The gym and hot tubs would have sufficed for us. I noted one writer complained of people talking and it was always busy. If the beds weren't available we sat in the sauna or used the Thallossotherapy pool until a bed became available. Whilst it was always busy I found this to be a very peaceful area of the ship and people did not talk whilst relaxing. After an hour in Cloud 9 it was off for a shower and clean up for dinner. Every other night there was a family comedy show before the 815pm seating for dinner that we took in. We always enjoyed the comedy show and they seemed to be of good quality. Some complained at the type of humour. I have Christian values and beliefs and I guess some humour I might not appreciate but that is life. Some things are going to be consistent with my values and beliefs and others not. It is a ship of 3690 passengers and the cruise line can't cater for all tastes but it does a pretty good job of it on balance. If you didn't like the type of humour then like most other things on a ship this size you could go and find something more to your liking. After the comedy we would go to dinner and enjoy 2 hours over a lovely meal with new found friends.
The dining experience - We tried breakfast at first in the Southern Lights dining room. We thought the menu was limited and didn't enjoy it. So ... we didn't eat there for breakfast anymore we took our business elsewhere and we enjoyed brekky from the buffet on Lido every morning. Don't let anybody tell you the meals were poor or not cooked. These people I believe will complain about anything. Had they gone back they could have got the meal cooked to their liking or found something that would have satisfied them. Without spending too much more time here the meal choices are astounding. You can have pre- prepared food and serve yourself or you can get an omelette cooked to your liking in front of you. There is the usual fruit, cereals, meats, salads, pastries, pancakes, syrups and if you are so inclined - ice cream. The last time I checked, my breakfast at home consists of a piece of toast and a cup of hot tea. There are more options than I can describe on the Magic. Same for lunch and dinner. If you didn't like something then you could always try somewhere else.
Cucina el Capitano. We only ate at the one specialty restaurant and this was outstanding. The service was impeccable, the food was extraordinary and the evening memorable. We only ate here once because we so enjoyed the dining experience in the Southern Lights with our group of fellow cruisers and our wait staff. When you are on a good thing, stick to it.
Coffee shop - there is a specialty coffee shop on Deck 5 and I had as a ritual a Soy Chai Latte every morning when I was reading or writing. The staff got used to me and I didn't even have to ask after a day or two. They saw me coming and would just about have my cuppa ready by the time I was ready to ask for it. They also sold specialty cakes here that were huge and tasty for the meagre sum of just over two dollars. That is if you couldn't get enough from anywhere else on the ship!!
It was my wife's birthday during the cruise and I ordered a cake, that I would have been happy to pay probably 30 dollars for but fell over when it cost only 6 dollars and fed our table of 8 people over dinner. I could also order fresh flowers, choose a lovely present have it gift wrapped and delivered to our cabin whilst we were out and about for the day. A nice surprise for my wife when we returned to our cabin. The flowers lasted for almost two weeks.
Shops - All good with a good range of stock. Unfortunately the prices are always too good and we come away well stocked with jewellery and clothes. No complaints here.
Showtime Theatre - One previous comment regarded inadequate seating in this theatre for the size of the ship. It holds 1300 people which will not take the whole ship in the planned two seatings each night. BUT.. there was only one night this was an issue and this was when John Heald flew in for the night. Everybody wanted to see him so the first seating was overwhelmed. I think this an extraordinary event as there is this fascination with John Heald (I have cruised with him and agree he is an outstanding asset and adds significantly to any cruise) so everybody wanted to see and listen to him. The second seating was also nearly packed but there were seats available. Every other show during the cruise there were always spare seats available. I think the comment made in a separate post is not justified. The size of the theatre is appropriate for the size of the ship. Any bigger and it would be space wasted.
We also sampled the Piano Bar, yes there are seats around the bar and if you sit in the lounge area I guess you can't see the performer but you get the atmosphere and the music (another previous comment). The Red Frog pub was great. We tried the Sushi Bar and enjoyed this most nights. There is a special salad bar for lunch and it is just a salad bar. On Royal Caribbean the salad bar is amazing and we would do this for lunch every day. Don't expect the same experience. But if you don't like the salad bar then do as we did and go to the gourmet Italian, or have Burritos, or pizza or burgers or the Outdoor BBQ or the other 20 or so selections one of which will be to your taste. If you can't find one then maybe you shouldn't cruise.
Whilst on the ship we heard many complaints about the movement of the ship during the crossing. I would refer to my previous weather in Barcelona comment. Being a planet (Earth) that has weather the sea does tend to get whipped up by wind and storms. The average swell on the crossing was at times in the order of 4-5 metres (10-15feet). If the distance between swells is not great the ship can ride over these better. If there is a reasonable distance the ship will go up and down. Most cruise ships have stabilisers that mitigate the effects of roll due to sea state and being a 25 year Navy man I can safely state the Magic was quite stable in roll. There is not a great deal you can do with ship pitch movement. Suffice to say that once you start cruising on anything other than a lake, cruise often enough and the ship WILL move. The best defence against ship movement is to either not cruise or ensure you come armed with the wrist bands and medications that will aid in prevention of motion sickness.
I have also read some comments about ship vibration. I think it depends where you are located on a ship as to the experience of noise that you have. We choose the aft facing cabins on these ships as we enjoy the vibration of the ships propellors and the view down the ship's wash. But you do get that vibration and because you are lower and closer to engine rooms and so on you will experience more machinery noise. If you are on Deck 11 it will be quiet because you are further away. So if you are a Deck 11 cruiser and then you take a cruise that puts you on Deck 2 aft you will I guess be somewhat surprised at the propellor vibration and machinery noise from time to time. For my part I have always found it still quite peaceful on the lower decks. But I am sure there are some cabins that have extra noise because they sit over a staff recreational area or something like that. We did a cruise on a Royal Caribbean ship and had cabins that from previous reviews warned against ever having these because of the proximity of the night club and ice rink. We found them to be the quietest cabins we had experienced and would actually ask for them next time.
Stern Thruster issue - The ship is a moving city with over 5000 people on it. I am an ex military and now a commercial pilot. My military pilot experience was in the Navy. It would likely surprise most people that pretty much every flight you go on the aircraft breaks. It is a piece of complex machinery with many moving parts and passengers that take little care of that they are sitting in. A ship is a massive piece of engineering and things break. On the Magic there was an issue with the stern thrusters. This required a change in the itinerary from Grand Turk to Freeport in the Bahamas and an extra day in port. I can well understand that people would be disappointed in not going to the original port. I can also see that Freeport as a port and shopping destination also loses its shine after an hour or two. But as with most things it is what you make of it. We hired a scooter and found a private beach off the beaten track with some magnificent swimming and snorkelling. We also did other things and had a grand time. There is always something to do. We took the time to look at normal community life and count our blessings for the way in which we live. The ship did make some effort at compensation with a credit of $25 each to our cruise account. It was a nice gesture for my part.
If I was to be critical on the stern thruster issue I think Carnival, the Captain and Cruise Director could have been more pro-active about it. Sailing from Freeport we didn't receive any advice as to how the repairs had progressed. There was great interest in this and I believe would have been well received by the passengers. One passenger comment that I heard was "how interesting would it have been for a camera to have been set up and the repairs being shown on the ship's TV." Maybe a short interview with the Ship's engineer explaining the nature of the problem. On the last Royal Caribbean Cruise we enjoyed the Captain made himself available in the Theatre for a couple of hours to answer any questions regarding anything about the ship. There wasn't an issue with the ship but it was interetsing to hear the questions and level of interest people had for the life of a Ship's Cpatain and his perspectives. Needless to say it was very well received. Something similar would have been well received by the passengers just on this issue let alone as something of general interest.
Captain - The Captain gave a daily address that consisted of a prepared format regarding weather conditions and a safety message of the day. Whilst this captain may have been lacking in personality and may have been excellent at his job, as a ship's captain, perhaps Carnival can give some training here so the daily address could be a little more "fun"??
I read a comment about James the Cruise Director. I do agree some of the comments about his style. He seemed to be a franchised Cruise Director that is there is a format and that is what he did. But compared to who? I think most cruisers were expecting John Heald for this cruise. So if you get anybody else you will be disappointed. John Heald is outstanding so he will always be a hard act to follow.
I think I have said enough. We are seasoned travellers and there is always going to be a problem that arises or something you don't like when you travel. I have always found it best to address the issue if you can, If you can't, then get over it and find something else to do or somewhere else to eat. You can on a ship this size. That's our experience anyway.
That said we paid $849 for an outside cabin for 16 nights visiting six ports. That comes to the grand total of $53 per day per person. Heck I can't have dinner out in Sydney for that yet I was getting accommodation, all meals, transport, entertainment and then some. Outstanding value.
I think on that basis alone this review should be a 5 however I think the military pilot in me will only allow a 4 because there will always be areas for improvement. Having said that we had a 5 star time. Thanks to Carnival but as some other cruisers have stated it is what you make of it mostly. So I think also thanks to my lovely wife for joining me and for us both choosing to have a fantastic time. But that was a pretty easy choice.