We just returned from a great week on the Carnival Magic! This was our family's tenth cruise, and we have sailed on Carnival, RCCL, and Princess. DH, 43, and I, 44, sailed with our two daughters, 12 and 16. We were quite concerned reading the negative reviews from previous months, but it turned out to be one of our favorite cruises ever despite a few bumps in the road. The ship was sparkling clean and beautiful. We were always busy, and often had a hard time deciding which activity to choose, and we loved our dinners in the Southern Lights Dining Room.
Embarkation Day: We spent New Year's Eve at the Country Inn and Suites in Galveston. They offered free breakfast and cruise parking and were a nice, clean option on the Seawall. We would go there again. We woke up very excited Sunday morning and walked to the pier to watch the ship come in, but it was missing! We soon got a text from friends on board the previous cruise that said the ship would be docking at 10:30 due to fog. We went to Starbucks and waited on the Harbor House deck. Sure enough, we saw the Magic round the corner and come our way! Wow! What a huge ship. We quickly walked back to the hotel (2 miles), grabbed our stuff, and headed back to the port. We were on board by 2- the unloading and loading process took longer than we had hoped. However, there was plenty of food at the Marketplace on board, and we got our first taste of the burrito bar- a GREAT development as far as my family is concerned. We explored the ship until the mandatory safety briefing, and then enjoyed the first of many great dinners in early seating in the Southern Lights Dining Room. We got a table for four, and a booth nonetheless. Our wait team of three were all very friendly, so we were as happy as could be. After that, both of our girls went to their kids' club meet and greets, where they both made good friends that they spent lots of time with during the week. We went to the Welcome Aboard Show (not so great), visited the Ocean Plaza for some great music, and headed to bed.
Sea Days 1 and 2:
We ate breakfast both days in the Marketplace, went walking on the track, and spent the morning reading and relaxing in circle loungers on the Serenity Deck while the girls slept late in their connecting stateroom. We went to Afternoon Tea with friends and had so much fun. We also played games in the library, went to trivia in the Ocean Plaza, and had lunch one day at the Cuchina del Capitano (yum) and the other at the Oceanside BBQ (also good). We enjoyed two wonderful dinners together, took portraits, and went to the shows. The 70s show was fantastic- not to be missed. The comedian/ juggler Marc Monroe, was hilarious! A word of advice- get there 30 minutes early. There is not enough seating for the shows, and they were both worth the time it took to wait.
We went to Sunset Beach. We had been there once before with the girls and had loved it, but this time we found it to be not as well maintained as we remember. Many of the chairs were in poor condition,and the games and ping pong equipment were falling apart. The food was plentiful, but not nearly as good as the ship's food we had grown accustomed to. The waterpark was cold but nice and had been expanded since our last visit. All in all, we thought it was a little expensive for what we got and will probably not return. We also booked with a private company who took us on a shuttle there. The shuttle arrived an hour AFTER our meeting time and brought us back two and a half hours early, which was the only time they said they could do it. We paid ten extra dollars each in advance for this service, so the shortened day was very annoying.
We went shore diving at Eden Rock, which is a short walk away and is always beautiful. We loved every minute! We were able to get back on the ship for a burrito lunch, and then went back our for shopping and a quick trip to Margaritaville. We topped off the day with Gelato from the candy store at the port. It was a very fun day!
We went to Paradise Beach and bought the water park wristbands to play on the inflatables with our girls. We had the best time! Everyone loved the water slides, teeter totter, jungle gym, and trampoline. Also included were paddle boards, kayaks, and a bungee trampoline. The beach was clean, the equipment was well maintained, and the heated pool felt great. We had the best nacho volcano! The servers were polite, and the day was sunny and peaceful. I was worried about overcrowding, but they only let so many people in. We will definitely go there again when cruising with teenagers. This was our favorite port day of all!
More Serenity, burritos, and board games. We tried (and LOVED) the ropes course and both water slides. We played Connect Four on the giant game board on deck as well as ping pong and foosball. We visited Cherry on Top for cheesecake balls on a stick, bridge mix, fudge, and Whoppers. What a great idea! We also rocked on the glider outside the Red Frog Pub and enjoyed conch fritters as the sun went down. We were sad to have to pack and leave our lovely room and great wait staff.
We ended up having to stay on the ship until 3 PM due to the Port of Galveston closing because of more fog. The cruise director and crew really shined in this difficult situation. James kept coming on with 45 minute updates, but with each one, he would give the crew a word of encouragement about going the extra mile (strong leader), and open up several more entertainment options for those of us still on board. They had live music, movies in the cabin and on the big screen, games set up in the Ocean Plaza, and even opened up the ropes course again. They served a full lunch, and kept serving pizza, ice cream, and honoring Coke cards all day. They let us stay in our rooms all day too. I was very impressed at how the crew continued being pleasant, even when it should have been their break.
Did I say we loved the burrito bar? Another great development was breakfast in the Marketplace. They had mini quiches one day, Eggs Benedict two days, and a great, great French toast bar by the beach pool with shaved chocolate, ricotta cheese, bananas foster, carmelized apples, walnuts, etc. every day. The pizza was wonderful, and my older daughter really enjoyed the Mongolian Grill. We loved the lobster, bacon mac and cheese, black bean enchiladas, and chocolate melting cake in the dining room. All of the soups and appetizers we tried were also great.
Service: A plus all the way around! We never encountered anyone the least bit unfriendly. Our servers and cabin steward were great. We were greeted nicely at every bar, counter, and in the hallways by every worker we saw.
70s show- wow!
Destination Unknown: great illusions and dancing, but very strange
Comedy Club- Love it! We went and saw every comedian. We especially enjoyed Joe Bronzi.
Marc Monroe- very funny
Wherever you go- GET THERE EARLY!!!
My only real complaints were that the library game cabinets need to be open more, the water slides and ropes course were often closed due to wind, and there is not enough seating at shows for a ship of this size.
We had a great time, loved the ship and crew, and definitely had a magical experience with our girls. What a lovely vacation!