First the good. Excellent service! Dining room wait team (table 621, Ivan- Lobo, and Malaieiut) was really first class, the best I've had in six cruses. All three were always attentive, remembered our names from the first day. Always greeted us with a sincere smile and a cheerful greeting. Likewise, our room steward and his team were always cheerful, greeted us by name every time. Room steward's would drop whatever they were doing and respond immediately to whatever we requested. Whenever we left the cabin, it was tidied up upon our return. (room stewards Branimir and Chito).
Food in the main dining room was good; not haute cuisine by any means, but good. In my opinion, food was comparable to, say TGIF, Appleby's sort of places. Lobster one night only, prime rib twice.
A word about Tandoor. This was very good, authentic NW Indian/Pak cuisine! My friend, a physician from Pakistan, was full of praise, and frequently said this or that dish was as good as any he'd ever had! We ate at Tandoor for five of the five lunches we had onboard. On the first day, no to very short lines, but each day it seemed more and more people had "discovered" Tandoor, and the lines got longer and longer. Tandoor was, for us, a major positive on Magic.
We had VIP embarkation, and it was easy and quick (BUT, its a fairly long walk for the old folks (read: me) with few to no chairs or resting places along the way; regular line to embark was LOOOONG and jammed up, also with NO places to sit or rest.
The Ocean Suite cabin was very, very nice. LOTS of square footage compared to a "normal" 185 sq. ft. cabin. Big balcony was very quiet and private. Whirlpool bathtub is super; but, its short in the beam, so if you're a heavy, you might not fit! TONS of storage space, especially as the bags can go UNDER the bed, and out of the way. There is a "vanity" room on the way into the bath, and my DW LOVED it. She "swiped" a plastic/silver tray from a bon voyage gift (can-a-peas) and spread out her gee-gaas and fooflerey. Two sinks means no tie up at the wash stand and plenty of room for shaving kit AND her stuff, too!
We used room service frequently, both for morning coffee and for lunch once. Delivery was reasonably quick and friendly, even at peak lunch hour (35 minutes at noon). Morning coffee arrived at earliest time, or within 15 minutes of that time, every morning used (I forgot to put out the order card twice, and She-Who-Must-Have-COFFEE was displeased.) Several times we ordered tea or coffee when friends came to visit, and delivery was prompt (say, 15 minutes} and courteous.
This was the first cruise I used the bon voyage system to have liquor on board. I'll confess to sneaking some booze on board for my prior cruises, but I had heard that the controls had been toughened and, for sure, they were. Lots of liquor "confiscated", and containers like water bottles closely inspected and some seized. Bon voyage liquor was quite expensive, but in the end I did have liquor in my cabin.
The carry-on policy for soft drinks and water was also enforced. Bottles in checked bags were confiscated, and the 12 each 20 oz. bottle limits were enforced.
The food and grog at the Red Frog were both reasonably priced and very, very good.
Now, the not so good.....
I've sailed on Conquest three times. The size and layout of the public areas on Magic are nearly identical to Conquest, if perhaps a bit broader in the beam. However, there were more than 1000 additional passengers pushed into the same sized public areas. The result is predictable, with logjams of people EVERYWHERE for EVERYTHING. Food lines at all of the Lido deck venues were very, very long (talking about 50 people or more) and very, very slow. We could not get close to the burrito bar at any time it was open. The Mongolian grill, same. Really, all of the Lido food lines was way, way too long. This is a most serious and inexcusable failure on Carnival's part.
Elevators appeared to me to be the same number and size as Conquest, but, again, the addition of 1000 plus additional passengers meant long lines and waits for elevators almost all of the time, but especially in the evenings and during the lunch hours. The elevator system broke down entirely during disembarkation, with hundreds of people struggling to get big bags, carry ons and elderly and disable folks down the stairs. No attempt by the crew to manage the jams of people added to the confusion all the time.
Indeed, the crews COMPLETE failure to enforce any of their own rules (except smoking) increased the feeling that the "system", if there was one, was badly broken. For example, the pool areas and the "serenity" areas are clearly posted against holding seats. When I pointed out to an Officer that all of the seats on the serenity level were "taken" by towels, the Officer just shrugged and walked away. Several times I witnessed kids joy riding on the elevators, pushing all of the buttons, jumping up and down and shouting, with an Officer or crewman standing in the elevator, no corrective action was taken. My DW witnessed unaccompanied children asleep in elevators after 9 p.m., no action was taken to identify the children or to locate the absent parents. This laissez faire attitude is inexcusable coming from ship's officers.
The guest services were also badly understaffed. The jam in the lido dining areas was made worse by an almost total lack of timely bus service at tables. Drink service on Lido was also sparse to a fault. I never saw any bar service in the Lido dining areas, and any kind of beverage service so sparse as to be non existent. This lack of buss service and beverage service only increased the log jam on Lido deck, as tables were not timely cleared, and as folks had to get up from dining to refill coffee or tea, standing in the ever present long lines, and delaying the completion of their meals. Again, an inexcusable failure on behalf of management.
Seat holding by passengers (in some instances, entire rows "held" by one person) and the sheer size of the crowds meant that any attempt to see a show was doomed unless you arrived in force 30 min. to one hour prior.
The fact that the crew was uniformly (with one exception, below) of good cheer and hard working, could not make any real impression when the work force was stretched so thin, and the physical layout so obviously inadequate.
We did get very poor service from a waiter in the Red Frog. I complained to an "Assistant Bar Manager", who, based on her responses (offering a free beer or something, instead of immediately correcting the problem) was totally unprepared to train or correct her own staff.
I suppose, all in all, that the flaws in the design of Magic combined with the inadequate crew numbers, will keep me off Magic for now.