Fair disclosure: I've been on 20 previous cruises, mostly with Royal Caribbean but also with Celebrity, Azamara, Princess, and two with Carnival prior to this. My first Carnival cruise was on a floating dumpster, their oldest ship that was put out to pasture not too long after we disembarked. That was enough for me. I was done. But when my family decided to go on a cruise together the best option for us was a Carnival cruise on the Conquest that really turned out well. Great ship, great itinerary, great overall experience. Ah, the good old days.
First, embarkation in Galveston was a breeze. We parked, went through the line, and were on board in 15 minutes. The Magic is brand new and beautiful. It was not decorated like a Holiday Inn tiki bar -- the colors were muted and classy. We were really excited when we were assigned an aft cabin. They are normally larger than most with a triangle shape, not the usual box. Well... It was clean. That is the best I can say. There was no storage. We are light packers and we were flipping a coin for drawers and resorted to storing things in the bathroom.
But the piece de resistance was the ship was suffering from a thruster problem, which caused our cabin to vibrate like a 25 cent cheap Motel 6 bed ride. Everything in the area rattled all day and more importantly ALL NIGHT LONG. We stuffed paper and wash cloths into every nook and cranny to stop the god forsaken noise. I did not sleep for 3 nights straight. In our first port of Key West we stopped off at Sloppy Joe's for a drink, then headed straight to the drug store for Nyquil, Advil PM, and ear plugs. Soooo NOT KIDDING!
One thing you really look forward to when cruising is the food. This ship has not worked out the kinks in their kitchen operations yet and without a doubt had the worst food on any cruise we have ever been on. It is hard to find words that accurately describe the low budget, tasteless, garbage they shovel out every day. Trust me, I worked for a prison company and I'd rather eat in the commissary. The "meats" served on this ship, lacked any individual flavor. In other words, you cannot tell chicken from fish, or pork from beef. If you want to try and recreate the meat flavor from this ship, try sprinkling oregano on a piece of cardboard. And it was repetitive torture: prime rib 3 times, potato soup 2 days (not counting sweet potato soup), rubber shrimp every night...
The desserts? Oh, the desserts... They were mostly pre-made chocolate melting cake or cream tarts that they dress up with pie filling fruit or chocolate sauce. We stood in the buffet line and I told my husband words that he may never hear again: not one of these desserts even remotely looks appetizing.
We should have kept ourselves busy with activities but that wasn't to be. We had trivia EVERY hour, all day long: sports trivia, beverage trivia, 1800's trivia, bug trivia -- oh man, enough with the trivia. Want to go to a tasting? It's $17 for a martini tasting, $20 for a wine tasting... Tea time? Choose between Earl Grey and Camomile. No breakfast tea or lemon for you! Scone? Nay nay. At least there was no extra charge.
In all fairness, the staff was wonderful. Our cabin steward and waiters were very attentive. But being on a floating housing project with 3,600 others they never learned our names. I enjoy walking into a bar and being called by name greeted with my favorite drink in hand. Not here.
We opted for the self-assist debarkation and again were treated to a speedy escape. Very efficient, and we were happy to be home sleeping in our own beds. Hopefully Carnival Magic will fix their issues, or they won't have a big following in Texas.