Carnival Magic is big, new, and typically Carnival, but there are some problems. Some they can fix, and a few that can't be fixed. I went on the Magic on its first Jamaica, Cayman, Cozumel cruise so some of the issues may be worked out as they get more experience with these ports. Here's what happened;
First sea day there was a meeting for veterans listed on the schedule. It was to be in the Piano Bar that afternoon. When we arrived for the meeting, the Piano bar was closed and the only crew member present, the guy cleaning the room, knew nothing at all about any meetings. Finally a call to the pursers desk brought a member of the Cruise Directors staff down to conduct a totally adlib meeting for a group of about 30 vets including two from WW II and two recently returned from Iraq. No explanation, no apology, no open bar, nothing at all was provided. Normally at things like this they at least have the bar open early, but this time they seem to have totally forgotten about this event! Same day my wife went to a "shopping show" but found that the "art auction" had run over and cancelled the shopping show. As we all know, the art auction is a scam anyway, so why let them take over and cancel planned events!
Finally we got to Jamaica, and began sailing in circles in Montego Bay. Now the "excuses" started. OK I know they emphasize safety, and that bay is small for a ship this size, but two hours of circling actually didn't change conditions that much. Also think about it, if the wind and sea conditions were bad enough to prevent us entering the bay, wouldn't the same conditions that evening have prevented us from leaving? We were two hours late arriving, but they extended the stay by only thirty minutes (which turned into an hour because tours were late getting back). The whole thing was explained as a "safety issue" without even noting that the ship, and it's Captain, had never been to Montego Bay before and were concerned about their ability to handle a ship that size in a bay that small. Conquest would have had no problem at all. Then there is still the question, if there was so much concern about getting into the bay, why was there no concern about getting out under almost identical conditions? We used the forward departure area in Jamaica, and found the first design flaw in the new ship. The stairs narrowed down once you get to deck one and going on down to deck zero to the departure area was a mess. The mob scene was worse than usual, and the pushing and shoving was getting bad. More on this later.
Next came Grand Cayman. Well we missed Cayman because of the high winds and seas that prevent tendering. This does happen all the time, but many ships use Scott's Bay and the landing there to tender. Yes Georgetown anchorage was closed, but Scott's Bay was offered by Cayman officials. Time for more excuses. We were told that Scott's Bay only had one tender we could use! OK that's a first, I've never seen only one tender at Scott's Bay since they bring them around from Georgetown. They also described the pier there as "made of two by fours"! I guess they have never been to the pier at Scott's Bay before. It's not that I think they were really wrong in passing on Cayman, it's more that I would like to be told the real reasons, not a bunch of silly excuses intended to make them look better.
Cozumel turned out to be a normal stop, but then they had been to Cozumel before on the first trip after arriving in Galveston. But then there was another small "design flaw" to mention. They used the "midships gangway" at Cozumel. As usual, there was a mob scene on the stairs going down to this area, but this one had a reason. The stairs again ended on deck one. To get down to deck zero they had opened the door into the crew area and sent you down the crew stairs. This meant the mob on those wide passenger stairs got compressed down to almost single file on the crew stairs! To me this is just plain design flaw of the worst kind. Access to the gangways needs to be adequate for the size ship and this ship has almost no access. Again, the pushing and shoving was getting bad! Also there are a lot of us long time cruisers who like to stand at the rail and watch the last few passengers rushing to make the ship. It can be quite a show sometimes, but never on the Magic. You see, there is NO place from which you can see the people getting on the ship! The way the life boats are positioned, you can't see over them from above and the only decks below them have cabins. If you had a cove balcony on that side of the ship you might have a good view but otherwise no such luck. Another note here, deck three has no "outside" area at all, and deck four the only outside area is the life boat stations which are closed to the passengers. This means that the only "outside" access below the life boats are the "cove balconies" on deck two. If you like to stand at the rail and look straight down at the water running along the side of the ship, get a balcony cabin on deck two, or forget it! Even the bridge has no view of the side of the ship below the life boats, they use TV cameras when docking to see that area! In my opinion, just plain poor design.
Now we come to the "past guest" party on the last sea day. This is always crowded, and was held in the theater on the main floor. After a while, I finally got the attention of a ships officer who was directing the servers and pointed out that the entire center section of the row we were on had never been served anything. The ends could catch servers going down the aisles. Well she got one server with a half empty drink tray to serve us, and then made sure she was never again where we could get her attention. Yes most of the guests probably had fairly good service, but when the Officer was told we were not being served, her response was minimal and then she left the area and took a position farther away from our location. She never checked back on the problem, and we never got decent service. I suppose she really just didn't care.
OK now for the usual points. We had a "cove balcony" on deck two and they are really nice! Our steward was efficient and did a good job, but we hardly ever actually saw him. We used the "anytime" dining and for the most part the service was fairly good. Twice it was rather slow, and once the food was cold as a result. Buffets were OK but could be crowded (as usual). Overall impression of the crew was that frankly too many of them just don't really care. With that same attitude in the Officers like we saw at the past guest party, I can see why. We saw none of the honest friendliness from crew that we have seen on other ships in the past.
Perhaps the highlight of the whole trip for me was going on the "behind the fun" tour. The crew areas are really nice, with good facilities including a gym and a training center. The size and complexity of the ship made the technical areas interesting, but there was always some problem hearing due to high noise levels in some areas. Finally we got to the bridge, which was, of course, the latest and best equipment to be found. Here we also got to meet the Captain. He was nice, and tried to be friendly, but we also got to hear all the same excuses about Jamaica and Cayman again. Again, it's not the decisions I didn't agree with, it's the way he chose to try to explain them. He seemed more concerned about "image" than simple truth. There also wasn't a lot of time to ask questions. Another thing I found unusual with this Captain was the issue of fog. I have seen several other cruise ship Captains who have said very emphatically that they can't understand why Galveston closes due to fog when they have all the modern equipment . This Captain made a point of saying that he wanted no part of entering a port in fog because he couldn't see with his own eyes. It just left me with the impression that he lacked some confidence in himself when it came to handling a ship this size.
Finally we arrived back in Galveston and the Captain chose to dock with the port side to the dock. That is he didn't turn the ship around first. The problem was that it still took him about thirty minutes from the time we were about ten feet from the dock to being tied up in the final location. From my "cove balcony" I could hear the crew on the pier yelling to the ship that the gangway wouldn't work where we were and they had to move the ship again. That's part of the reason for the thirty minutes it took. Again, the Captain's performance didn't inspire confidence. One final note, the debarking back at Galveston was actually rather easy for us since we are platinum, but I did see another problem. By about seven AM, the lobby area and elevator lobby on deck three. It was so crowded that people couldn't get off the elevators! Naturally they had made the usual announcements asking people not to come down yet, but what was worse was there was no attempt to control this crowd at all. If this continues, and gets any worse, some day there will be an altercation break out in this crowd and the results are going to be very bad. I know it's hard to control so many people in that situation, but you would think they would at least try to do something! I'm really afraid they will pay the price one day.
For personal reasons, this was most likely my last cruise. I'm sorry it was on this ship under these conditions. I think I would much rather have been on the Conquest or even a smaller ship. There just wasn't any "Magic" there.