Just back from the 12/26 departure with my wife on the Carnival Magic out of Galveston. The ship was full with nearly 1500 kids on board. We are in our late 50's and didn't find the kids to be a problem. Overall an enjoyable cruise, so I thought I would share my observations about the boat etc.
Embarkation: No real problems, a little slower than we're used to but not bad.
Ship: The Magic is a nice ship with a good layout. There are most of the features that are incorporated into the new generation of cruise ships, with a focus on a large number of small venues. The variety is nice, but many of the stations were undermanned, causing some lines at the more popular ones. The pool areas are not the largest for a ship this size and finding a place by the pool was impossible due to the ever-present chair hogs that are on every ship. Getting in the pools was out of the question anyway because the water was freezing. The expanded number of hot tubs was a nice touch. There are a large number of elevators and getting one was seldom a problem.
Cabin: We had cabin #6501 a 9C extended balcony cabin on the aft. The balcony was a wrap-around and was really large. The cabin was typical for this type of room and was spacious with plenty of storage(3 large closets). This cabin is triangular in shape so the layout is a little different; the only bad point is that the built-in couch and the TV are on the same wall so you couldn't sit on the couch and watch TV. The one bad part to this room was the vibration. When the thrusters are used for maneuvering the whole room vibrates loudly. I assume other rooms do also as the vibration was by far the worst I've seen on the 10 ships I've been on. One other thing of note about this cabin is that it is directly over the Spotlight Lounge and sounds from there (primarily bass) could be heard at night. They were never very loud, nor did they keep us from sleeping, but they could be heard.
Dining: I would rate the food quality in the MDR as average to slightly above average. My biggest complaint was the limited menu choices. I seldom had to worry about deciding between two things, and sometimes had difficulty finding one. I'm not a picky eater, but the choices were very mundane. The portions are small, but not bad except for the night chateaubriand was on the menu; the portion was embarrassingly small, two thin slices of beef, probably 3 ounces. My other complaint was with the baked potatoes, they were undercooked and hard as rocks. Without some begging the only toppings offered were butter and sour cream. This is a problem on every cruise line I've been on so Carnival certainly isn't unique in this regard. Service was good to very good, and the food was always hot, with only one exception. We ate in the Northern Lights Dining Room on deck 4, any time dining, we only had to wait for a table one time on the first formal night. We did not go to the buffet (we never do), but did try the deli which was very good and the Oceanside grill, which was OK, but the Mexican food was not as good as we are used to. We did not try the Steakhouse because it was completely booked before anyone boarded the ship and we didn't plan that far in advance. We did try the cucina del Capitano and found the food and service to be excellent. One word or warning, go hungry because the portions are large.
Red Frog Pub: A wonderful place with the best service on the ship, excellent and plentiful staff. Great selection of beers even Caribbean brands (what a novelty).
Entertainment: The entertainment on board was varied and for the most part good. We enjoyed Blood Power in the atrium and Will in the Red Frog. The singers and dancers in the theater were good but were handicapped by numerous technical problems with the lights and the music. One show stopped and started four times. The comedians were good, but the venue they were in, the Spotlight Lounge was far too small for the crowd and was always SRO and hot. One annoying thing was that the Fun Times often listed the venue where the entertainers would be incorrectly. We couldn't find where the midnight buffet on the last was listed at all. It may have been there but it wasn't obvious.
Ports: We stopped in Costa Maya, Cozumel and Progresso. At Costa Maya we went to a fly fishing school with Nick Denbow and would highly recommend it. Snorkeling with Rosie Frury of Mystic snorkeling was the activity at Cozumel and it was fantastic. Rosie and her crew take good care of you and the snorkeling was at a leisurely pace, with three stops of progressively deeper water. We weren't sure what to expect at Progresso since so many people have a negative view of the place. The biggest problem was that the Conquest was there and docked at the same time. They just weren't set up to handle that many people. We went to the beach at the end of the pier and had a good time. The beach isn't nearly as bad as we were led to believe. The vendors are everywhere but generally were nice and would leave if you said you weren't interested. all in all a better experience than we anticipated.
Debarkation: We were 3.5 hours late arriving due to fog and the port was a chaotic mess. Absolutely the worst we've seen in 11 cruises. San Juan, PR is much better than this. Baggage collection was poorly organized and there were no porters available. Lines for customs were long and we weren't able to get on the road until 1pm.