I was apprehensive taking this cruise as it was my first time on Carnival. My other cruises have been on Royal Carribean (out of Miami and Galveston), my husband has cruised before as well on 10+ cruises on multiple cruise lines. We chose Carnival this time because our son was going to be coming for the first time with us and had heard great things about Camp Carnival.
After reading the reviews about the new Magic ship and its first few trips from Galaveston I was worried as people seemed quite unhappy. Honestly I realize that people will be upset about issues like port changes and poor service but overall I think people are being WAY TOO HARD on everything else. We had a really really great trip! I would cruise on Carnival again and on the Magic any day.
Service was great, the staff always seemed chipper and happy and to any parents wanting to learn/hear more about Camp Carnival....IT'S AWESOME! Our son didn't want to leave (he was with the youngest group of 2-5 year olds). They were always having great funfilled activities for them and half the time our son wanted to eat dinner at Camp Carnival (which is offered every night). They all go eat together and have there own kids menus. It was nice for us to enjoy a few dinners alone and know that he was having a fun dinner too.
There are 3 differences between Carnival and Royal (going out of Galveston)worth special note, the first is that "in my opinion" the food selection on Royal is quite a bit better. Secondly, I felt like the minority on Royal being under the age of fourty....absolutely NOTHING wrong with that but for younger families I think Carnival is the better option...but if you want a cruise for just the adults/couples Royal may be the better choice. Third the embarkation/debarkation on Carnival is SO much faster. It took us 30 minutes boarding/20 minutes unboarding (WOW) and lets face it when you have kids with you the quicker the process the better. Royal last year took my husband and I nearly 2 hours to board and 1 hour getting off.
There were 2 unexpected occurences on our cruise but all were handeled VERY WELL by Carnival. The first was that we had to return to port about 3 hours after leaving Galveston for a medical emergency. It handled quickly, the person was taken care of and we STILL made it to port on time in Cozumel (props to the Captain). The seond was that on our way back to Galveston (night 6 of 7)there was a "potential" man overboard....this nearly never happens...the entire staff was so attentive when the signal was called on the overcom so as to be prompt without causing a panic. The ship stopped immediately, made sure all guests were accounted for, put out search lights and fortunately all was well and in the end a false alarm. The bottom line, they resolved it/made sure everyone was ok asap!
So overall, the experience was GREAT, food was good, service very good (loved our waitstaff btw), Camp Carnival was wonderful and a must for all families, overall the experience was priceless and I would actually prefer Carnival now over Royal.
My opinion, everyone has different tastes and preferences. I want to know that every dollar and minute I take on a vacation was well worth it and I DEFINITELY got that on this cruise. My advice, take this cruise despite other reviews.