First off let me say that we were way happy to be a part of the inaugural cruise on the Magic out of Galveston. We originally booked it because we were excited that John Heald would be cruise director and Ken Byrne was the maitre d'. As it turned out, both of them were not in their positions. It really didn't affect our cruise, but I will say it was a little disappointing especially Ken being out do to the unfortunate altercation with a waiter. He was GREATLY missed in the dining room (more on that later). As far as John Heald, he was on the ship and we actually did bump in to him and had a short chat. James Charleton was the cruise director and did an outstanding job (although a little long winded on announcements).
Now on to the ship itself, she is a beautiful ship and I liked the common areas very much. I was glad to see that they realized the importance of having a stage area with room to dance on the promenade deck rather that blocking the walkways. The photographers still sometimes block the walkways but not as bad as on other ships and at least you aren't dodging musicians and dancers as well. The Casino Vault game however DOES block the walkway terribly and needs to be relocated.
We stayed on the 11th floor in a Spa Balcony room. The room was nice but about the same as any other balcony rooms we stayed in. Our room steward was good but he did miss our cabin service one evening which has never happened to us before. When we told him the next morning, he was very apologetic and did our room as soon as we left for breakfast but it was still another one of those, what the heck moments.
We never bothered using the spa facilities but they didn't look too busy any of the times we were through there to use the bathroom or the elevator to our room. I did enjoy the no smoking aspect of our balcony though, that was a huge thumbs up. However, our room carpet had horrible stains throughout. I was kind of shocked at the condition of the ship since she is new. Many of the light fixtures (that are low) in the elevators were dented and dinged due to scooter damage. We saw chunks out of wall corners as well probably from the same thing.
We loved the Serenity area; I was honestly very worried about this area because in our experience there is never enough seating. Especially with the refurbishments and the clamshell chairs, hammocks and such. However, there was never a time in the six days we were on board where there wasn't some sort of seating available. We did notice though that many of the clamshells no longer had a cover over them and quite a few were broken. The addition of the bar area to Serenity was nice and also nice was not being bombarded every 10 minutes by waiters asking if we want a drink. Offering light lunch options on sea days up there is very nice as well. The big complaint with the Serenity deck is the close proximity of the Water Works entrance. Who in the heck designs these things? I don't want to hear kids as well as adults SCREAMING all the way down the slides non stop throughout the day. Not very serene, for that they get a thumbs down. Several in our party enjoyed the mini golf area and the ropes course, and although I think it just makes the deck look cluttered, it was a hit.
We'll now discuss our dining experiences on the Magic. We had 8:15 p.m. dining in the Southern Lights dining room. We were seated up right behind the Captain's table and had the head waiter as our waiter. I truly wish I could say we had an outstanding experience but we did not. We had many nights when someone in our party of 7 did not get their appetizer, or were missing an entrÃ©e, and they never got my husband's tea correct. We were never asked if our meal was ok. One night I ordered Macaroni and Cheese off the kids menu because there was nothing on the other menu I wanted. It was stone cold, not tepid but tasted like it had come out of the refrigerator. I should have complained but by that time, I was just done. This was our 8th cruise and the dining room service was severely lacking. We overlooked it at first because we knew about the maitre d' being out and figured the staff was preoccupied but it never got any better. We ate in the dining room every morning for breakfast and not once did they get our orders correct. The majority of the time our food was given to someone else at the table, eggs weren't cooked correctly, omelets weren't made to specifications, toast was warmed bread, and jelly never came, coffee cups remained empty until one of us got up and went to get more, never got juice or fruit. It truly was the WORST breakfast service we've had in all of our cruises.
My husband and I never ate at the Lido buffet. Several of those in our party did and other than the length of the lines they said the food was adequate. My husband and I ate at the Cucina del Capitano for lunch twice and it was very good. We tried the Seaside Bar-B-Q (which for those from Texas, it's not Bar-B-Q as we know it, so be prepared) and enjoyed it quite a bit. We ordered room service for lunch once and other than the 40 minute wait for the food, it was good. We ate at the Prime Steakhouse our first night on the ship and enjoyed our meal it was not as good as we had on the Conquest but better than we've had on other ships. Still worth every penny! But honestly, hands down the BEST food on the ship was the Pub Grub in the Red Frog Pub. We were shocked by how good the food was is there, we enjoyed the sliders, the pulled pork sandwiches, and the wings very much. Yummy!
I know a lot has probably been written about this voyage and the thruster problems and missing Costa Maya but honestly, the cruise was fine. I wasn't disappointed about missing Costa Maya but was disappointed about missing a sea day. They truly are my favorite days on the ship. I felt the staff did an excellent job explaining the problem and yes, it was an ongoing problem but as my husband asked one complainer, "would you have rather Carnival canceled the trip?"
I saved the Entertainment part for last because honestly, it was the highlight of the cruise. Before I get into it though, I have a request from those in our party who tried to watch the movies on the Seaside Theater...twice the movies were cut off 10-15 minutes before the ending because something else was scheduled on the Lido deck at that time. You really need to check the time of the movies you are offering and adjust your other activities. They really felt this was very poor planning on the part of the Entertainment staff. Our party consisted of 7 ranging in age from 22 to 60, so a pretty wide variety of tastes.
First off the big production shows were hit and miss. We went to the new Welcome Aboard show which was somewhat better than the old one but still not great. Instead of being all sunshiny rainbows like the last one, they are now trying to be all "street" and it kind of falls flat. We attended The Groove Line which was FANTASTIC. The male lead singer whose name I never caught was fabulous and a true asset to the cast. Destination Unknown was ok, not great but ok. So many of the illusions were things I've seen explained on other shows so, not completely impressive. The juggler Marcus Monroe was awful. That's just the only way to put it. He had about 15 min worth of material to fill a 60 min show. We didn't see The Legend's show so I can't comment on that. We've tried them before and they just aren't out thing, so we skipped it. Most of our party went to see the comedians on a couple of different nights they liked them both.
This ship had an abundance of great musicians on board and we were really thankful for that. First off, Blood Power which we have seen before on another ship and they still rock the crowd. They aren't the most personable group but they do a great job. The Carnival Magic Show band was really good as well. We only heard Dimas a short time and they were decent and the crowd that was around them seemed to enjoy their music. We talked with several people who hung out in the piano bar with Ron and said he was fantastic. Guitarist/singer Will Marion was very good and played a lot of different types of music. However, the best entertainment we found on board was Mike Archer who played the Red Frog Pub every night except one night. He was awesome. He kept us all entertained and involved from the time he started until closing time night after night. He is a very personable entertainer and this was his very first cruise and first gig with Carnival. I know he was only brought in for this one cruise and then will be going out on a contract mid-January but whoever hired him needs a big bonus because the man was great. The Red Frog Pub became our Cheers for the week and we got to know a lot of Pub Rats throughout the cruise. The great thing about Mike is that he appealed to the 20 something college kids from Austin to the 60 & 70 year old patrons. He had us all in there singing, dancing, and buying lots and lots of Fishbowls and Yards of beer. The biggest complaint was our last night at about 1 a.m.; a security guard came into the pub and asked Mike to quiet down because they had noise complaints. I mean, seriously...we were in a PUB, buying drinks (lots of them judging from my sign and sail account), and having FUN on a Carnival FUNship and you want us to quiet down. What is wrong with this picture? Anyway, the majority of the entertainment on this ship was top notch and they should all be commended for that.
Overall, our cruise was good. We all had fun and my husband and I are sailing again next month on the Triumph. Prior to the cruise I was worried about the size of the ship but have to say that, it didn't bother me like I thought it would. You could definitely tell there were more people as the walkways tended to get crowded but nothing to be excited about. Misses on this cruise, the dining room experience all the way around. It was very lacking. Water Works entrance too close to the Serenity deck. Hits on this cruise, overall the Serenity Deck was nice and enjoyed by all. The musicians were all very good. But, the one single thing that stood out and made our trip was The Red Frog Pub. (Mind you I had no intention of ever going in there, we heard good music as we were walking by and wandered in there the first night of our cruise.) The food was fantastic, the bartenders were amazing, the wait staff phenomenal especially Jens who is leaving next week on a two month break and really, really should be sent back to The Magic and to the Red Frog Pub. He is in his element there and never without a smile. Last but certainly not least was guitarist/singer, Mike Archer, who really and truly made our evening's fun and very MAGICal.