Not Magical Yet!!
After several previous cruises our decision to try a brand new ship on its first western Caribbean trip proved a mistake. The ships and passenger numbers get ever larger but the ports and surprisingly the exit gangways are unchanged, so issues like marginal weather or inexperienced staff quickly leads to missed ports of call and very long lines.
The embarkation at Galveston was very good and efficient.
Despite the size of the ship the public areas feel no larger than on smaller ships and surprisingly not overcrowded unless a problem or popular activity occurs when lines quickly build and service level fall. Although new it feels no newer than a lot of 10 year old well maintained ships. The ships layout is typical of several carnival ships with a rather confusing promenade layout around levels 3-5 , I much prefer the interior mall style of the RCL ships. But in fairness the standard of meals on Carnival and this ship are to very good standard lots of variety and in my view better than RCL. We dined in the southern lights and the Maitre/d ( Ken) was excellent , helpful with great staff and entertainment on the main floor. However Ken was an exception and in general the attentiveness of the staff was fairly average reflecting the large impersonal nature of the ship. Popular shows will become full well before the starting times and I still do not understand why every cruise ship still push the very poor value art auctions.
The size of the ship became more of a major problem when it came to dock the ship in two new ports. There was a two hour delay and many circles before docking in Montego Bay (and a lot of stirred up sand), we missed Grand Caymen completely due to high winds although other Carnival ships were docked and 30min delay in Galveston due to Fog. The captain totally blamed everyone else (weather, port authorities etc), just wished he been more honest and admitted part of the problem was bringing such a large ship into those ports for the first time. The $14 refund for missing a port of call is a bit of a joke, especially when the new ship and itinerary was a major factor. Once docked in Montego Bay and Cozumel getting 4,000 passengers through one door with just two scanners was complete chaos with huge lines, and real safety risks.
Don't want to sound too negative though in fairness all carnival cruises are very good value for money, I got an balcony for the price I'd pay for a window on other cruise lines and the food is actually better than most other lines. The cabin unlike some other ships was very quiet and comfortable and you can easily relax on your balcony.
I will use Carnival again but will stick to a smaller ship with proven performance. The Magic isn't magical yet but if the management team works hard they may be able to turn things around.