This is more a “diary” I kept rather than a review. We all have our own opinions and I will let you make your own, particularly with all the Carnival Cheerleaders on this site who just cannot believe anything can go wrong on a “beloved” Carnival ship. I will say that despite the shortcomings, we had a great time. Like everyone else in this world, we adapt to our circumstances and do not let bad things get us down. That does not mean those things did not happen or that they should be excused though. This certainly isn’t perfect and all inclusive, but was what I chose to write at the time.
In the morning we had breakfast at the motel. We confirmed our arrangements to leave the car there and get Discount Cruise Parking to pick us up at the motel and take us to the terminal, along with a trip back upon our return. The cost for this was $20. They took us right to the front of the Carnival Magic, who arrived at the port early in the morning. We started toward the entry area and found where to drop off our main bags and left them. We continued walking and found a separate entry door for VIP’s that prevented us from having to go all the way to the end. Inside this door was a trail with few people that led to the room where VIP cruises are checked in. After a very easy check in we were sent on our way, without having to wait in zones like everyone else to get our picture taken for the card and sent to board the ship. The whole process took about 30 minutes and we were on board at 11:30.
We relaxed for a while before heading to the Lido deck for lunch. There are several different varieties to choose from. The same obnoxious people who stand in the walkway, stop for no reason, cut in front of you, crowd you in line, take their sweet assed time, etc. that are on every cruise were on this one. With 3700 people on the ship, that can’t be good. I eventually found somewhere to get a salad, coleslaw, and chicken marsala to call lunch.
Elevators are typical of a Carnival ship. There is no logic to where and when they stop. Everyone has caught on early to just get on one and ride it out whether it is going the direction you want to go or not. I’ve never seen a whole load of people who want to go up get on an elevator that goes down and back up above the original floor without anyone getting off until that point. This makes every time you need to use the elevator a chore. Not easy to use the stairs with everything so spaced out on the ship.
After lunch we were able to get into the room. There was a bottle of wine along with a notice we would be getting drink and photo coupons from Bon Voyage, courtesy of the casino. We also got a plate of 6 double dipped chocolate covered strawberries from them this afternoon. We spent the afternoon getting familiar with the ship, particularly the casino. Being a new ship, this casino has all newer slot machines, most of which require at least a quarter to play. That should be interesting.
The room was the typical small inside cabin. The television actually is more user friendly than before…it shows exactly what channel is showing, and it is easy to check menus, account charges and other information. The muster drill was held in inside areas around the ship. We were in the main theatre…they noted about 1,000 people were meeting in that location. It is about time Carnival stepped up from the lunacy of having it on the outside walking areas.
We went to dinner and after a short wait were led to our table. We were presented our drink tickets (8!) and two $15 off photo coupons at our table. I had a pasta dish for a starter and sweet and sour shrimp for the entre. Chocolate melting cake for dessert. We tried the “tofu steak” on the side…pretty gross stuff. Spent the rest of the evening in the shops and casino. I went to a Superstar Live karaoke type show (good) and the welcome aboard show (bad) for about 10 minutes before callint it a night.
Day 2: Went to the Lido deck for a lackluster breakfast. My omelet was pretty good, but the powdered eggs and slimy bacon wasn’t worth much. Used some of the eggs and ham to make a sandwich and went with that. Omelets take too long to make…seems like the heating plates are not as hot as they should be. The cook even seemed impatient, using the time to do some other tasks behind the counter as they were cooking…this resulted in burning my wife’s omelet. There were at least ten people waiting for an omelet…my first experience of the long lines to come. Relaxed a bit in the casino and went to work out in the gym before lunch. They no longer use lockers with keys, but instead have a bank of 16 lockers with cheap plastic knobs and light metal mechanisms. Many of the lockers do not work properly, from the plastic knobs being stripped to the metal catches being bent. One three foot bench sits in front of the lockers that apparently is supposed to serve 16 people. There are two nice large showers, but otherwise, the locker room is insufficient for its needs. Carnival has bigger locker rooms on smaller ships. Went to Cucina del Capitano for lunch. They offer a free pasta bar for lunch. Very good food, I had linguini with meat sauce, Italian sausage, and chicken, and some lasagna that had roast beef for the meat. Relaxed a while before going to the cabin crawl arranged by the cruise critic group. When we returned to the room, a bottle of wine and a plate of double dipped chocolate covered strawberries were waiting for us. Someone special sent these upon request on his website. Yummy! Shortly before dinner, the gross “crepes” provided to Platinum guests were delivered. We ate one piece of shrimp and two small pieces of bread, and some unidentified fruit before throwing the rest away. What is it with the raw fish anyway…if Carnival thinks that is this popular a dish, they need to invest in a market study. Dinner was a pasta dish for a starter and pork ribs for the entrée. Went to the show of Marcus Monroe, a “comedy juggler”. So so.
Day 3: Went to the Lido for breakfast to find the same long lines. Settled for another egg sandwich for breakfast. We spotted a “steak and egg” that looked pretty good, but the steak was rarer than rare. More good food in the trash if they can’t cook it right. Had my morning workout at the gym. We had lunch at the Oceanside BBQ on the 5th deck. Another long line for an outdoor cookout that sent smoke to all the balconies above it. I had small thick burgers and soft chicken tacos. Many people tried to take up the small seating area near the grille, some placing their garbage on the table to “save” it. There are plenty of better places to eat inside and on the other side of the ship though. Only thing close to drink was soft and hard drinks for sale at the “temporary bar” they put out there. I went to the one inside and got water. Seems like a dumb place for a cookout…common sense says put it on Lido. I went to the cruise critic meet and mingle. This cruise critic group was the best planned one I have ever been a part of, having set up events on board and excursions on land. In mid afternoon, I noticed less than 10 people in the burrito bar for the first time and took advantage of that even if I wasn’t hungry. Very nice selection of items to put in the burrito. One strange thing is you tell them of your choice of a wheat or jalapeno tortilla, and they walk to an area behind them, grab a tortilla and put it in a bin, apparently heating it up. This takes about a minute, so ten minutes of every line of ten people is spent on this task alone. They fill the tortilla with what you tell them, roll it up, and put it in a plastic basket with tortilla chips. Would be nice to have some queso there for them…oh well. Burrito was delicious. There was a pretty sorry menu at the restaurant tonight so we went to the Lido area for the first time for dinner. Surprisingly few people were there – and they apparently expected it, using only one main food serving area, resulting in still another long, slow line. We went to the deli in back and found few people and quick service. My Turkey on a Country Roll sandwich was delicious as always. There is actually no show tonight. They are having what appears to be some dance class with the band and Carnival Magic Dancers, where “lucky contestants will be chosen to have one on one training with a Carnival Magic Dancer and to perform in our Carnival Legends Production”. What a rip. There will be a beach party at 10 on Lido.
Day 4 – Jamaica – Docking was delayed 2 hours due to the wind. We shopped the pier shops including a few that were open in the shopping center next to the pier. This is the first time we have noticed anything open in this area. Only got a few drinks. We had breakfast in the restaurant and I got an omelet and eggs benedict without having to endure the lines. We went to the Burrito Bar for lunch, the line being much shorter with everyone off the ship. Couldn’t find anything better than the gourmet burger in the restaurant for dinner. I don’t believe it was 8 oz as advertised, and they forgot the guacamole. The show was a boring magician act, although some of the stuff he did was pretty good. Magicians nowadays put so much fluff, lights, and music in their shows very little of what they do is actually a magic performance.
Day 5 – Skipped Port – The winds in Grand Cayman did not allow safe operation of the tenders so the port authority closed the port. They supposedly considered another area of the island but decided not to do that either. They said that spending the day at sea would allow us to arrive at Cozumel an hour early…interesting math there. Oh well. Breakfast in the buffet, waiting in line for an omelet. The guy was fiddling with the plug and knobs on one burner, which apparently had quit operating altogether. Still pretty slow getting these out. I still think they are not heating properly. We had lunch in the Lido deck – nothing special there. At dinner in the restaurant, they put us in about the worst table available, next to two food stands next to the side door in and out of the restaurant. Very entertaining as we watched them drop our starter lasagnas on the floor, requiring them to reorder. They also gave us two different dessert menus. We both had filet mignon with contort ribs, which was ok, though they indicated our order preference of “well done” actually meant we wanted them “burnt throughout”. Great. The show was an initial performance of a bunch of 70’s music…a day early due to not stopping into the port where the Motown guy was flying into. They moved that show to tomorrow. The performance was pretty good and a lot went into the stage sets and costumes. They had in interesting event in the 3rd floor lobby. This is an atrium to the top where they put a snow machine at the top. Turning this on sprayed “snow” in the air to flow down to the bottom, creating a nice winter scene. This area is one of the music areas provided that allow one to just relax, read, or do nothing.
Day 6 – Cozumel – Ship arrived shortly after 9. We didn’t even fool with a real breakfast today, just getting some French toast and waffles in the line by the pool. Got off the ship for a couple of hours. They actually had some lounge chairs on a sandy area where we could relax for a while on a make believe beach. An area was set up for massages as well. We didn’t take advantage of them, but it was nice to see more than just the cruise sponsored shops on the pier. We got a salad for lunch on Lido and relaxed in the room for the afternoon. The restaurant has nothing special so we skipped dressing up for formal night. I had a salad and steak in Lido. The show for the night was the Motown one that was supposed to be the night before. He was ok, but put a lot of fluff in the show, wasting time bringing people on stage to “dance” to whatever it was he was singing. Among the “Motown Classics” he sang was Twisting the Night Away, Friends in Low Places, Sweet Home Alabama, and Rocky Mountain High…what a joke. He didn’t have 45 minutes of Motown material for both shows combined. The later one had a couple of different songs as promised, but the same old BS wasting time he should have been singing. Saw our first bit of seat saving stupidity when after we took the time to go downstairs to the third row on the side, some idiot laid down across the bench saying it was all saved. This kind of crap is what happens when rules are not enforced. Carnival might as well start including “seat saved” pages with the electronic documents that we can all print off and use to save seats. It would have saved us the effort going for them this time. In between the shows, I went to the comedy club for a little R-rated comedy – the guy was a riot.
Day 7 – Sea Day – Breakfast in Lido with powdered eggs, bacon and sausage which I made a sandwich with. There was also a small dish labeled “Eggs, sausage, and fries” that was mostly made up of onions with some fries and barely any sausage and egg. They seem to be trying to invent different varieties of Eggs Benedict, using raw fish, rare steak, and now sausage, failing miserably. Room steward did not bother to clean our room this morning. We called about it and someone showed up about 3 pm claiming they would do it now…unfortunately we had all our clothes out packing, and could not allow it at that time. They did do the evening cleaning, but skipping the morning one when they usually provide the customs forms and disembarkment information meant we did not have it and had to go searching on the third floor to get it. Wanting to try the Wok dishes at least once this week, I went about 2:10 to find about 10 people in line in front of me. It took almost an hour to serve them and me. Lines were so slow people were snacking on the vegetables directly from the dishes in the line. Some of us got enough for two people so our family members would not have to endure the line. (This does not take additional time to cook in the wok). They were trying to put the food in two small bowls from the pan. They had no large trays that would have been perfect for the task, and of course there were none at the beginning of the wok lines. Some people went clear to the back of the ship where some were located and brought them back for several of us to use. Lines at this station were long all week. We went to dinner in the restaurant where I had frog legs and the Bacon Mac & Cheese…ho hum. We spent the rest of the time at the comedy club and the casino before calling it a night. Breakfast starts at 5am with Priority disembarkment scheduled for 7:45. They are kicking us off the ship earlier and earlier every time.
Day 8 – Kicked off the Ship – Shorter lines in Lido allowed me to get an omlet today. Add a little sausage and potatos and our final meal on the ship is done. Went back to the room and relaxed until 7:00 when we went to the restaurant to be escorted to the luggage area with other Platinum guests. As it was expected to happen at 7:45, I started to boot up my computer to kill some time. Soon everyone was getting up to leave. We heard no announcement about what was going on, so we followed the group assuming it was the Platinum cruisers that were leaving. Turned out this was the self assist group that was walking off. No luggage was yet placed in their areas, and we would have to wait off to the side before it is available. This occurred at around 8:00 am. So now we see why they do not normally let us off the ship until a certain time, and why you must carry ALL your luggage to self assist. It was interesting seeing the luggage being brought in and unloaded by staff and the porters. I always thought the porters were just a bunch of money grubbing bums preying on their catch. The wife went to get our pieces of luggage while I guarded those we carried off the ship and went to meet the wizard. He briefly looked over our passports and the customs form and sent up on our way. We had a short wait for the van from Discount Cruise Parking who loaded up the luggage and dropped us off at the Hotel.
The theatre is no bigger than the ones used for smaller ships. This makes it difficult to get ANY seat, much less a good one, unless you get there at least 30 minutes early. This is aggravated by holding bingo games before every show, as they do not clear out the theatre after the game to allow fair game at the seats.
I bet 90% of the announcements on the ship go unheard as you generally cannot hear them in the rooms. There should be a way to hear them directly in the room, either by a switch allow guests to turn on the speakers in the room or on one of the tv channels. As is, the only reason to make announcements that few hear are to cover their ass, so they can say they made them if something bad happens.
There seem to be the exact same number of elevators on this ship as there are on smaller ships, making it difficult to move the increased number of people. It was also noticed not all elevators were usable for whatever reason, by the big “X” noted on the display quite frequently. As usual, they do not stop on all floors where the buttons have been pushed, and full elevators seemingly stop on every floor only to have waiting guests run to an opening elevator and unable to get on. It would also seem that the banks of elevators that have an adjacent bank of atrium elevators could be linked together on the same buttons instead of guests having to push both. Carnival should seek the advice of large business owners who depend on having people where they need to be efficiently to make a profit to retrofit these elevators.
Lines for the omletes, burritos, and wok are excessive for the area they are in. These lines block access across the ship and to other food areas.
An outdoor barbeque on the 5th floor on the side of the ship with smoke going up the ship in the path of a bunch of balconies??? Yeah, that was a great idea. (NOT!)