There will be some that trash the January 15th trip on the Carnival Magic. I know this because I heard people on the ship planning it. So let's get past the 2 big complaints first, since they were really out of Carnival's control.
There were two very big problems this week. First, when getting on and off the ship in the Grand Caymans, tendering was outrageous., with those who were not taking excursions having to wait for hours to get off, and then waiting in line again to get back on before the last tender left at 3:30. While this seems a legitimate gripe, and I too stood in line to get back on board (I was on an excursion, so I didn't have problems getting off), there were half a dozen ships in port that day that the local tenders had to balance. Our ship was forced to wait on the others that came in before us or left before us. Trying to get over 20,000 people on and off ship would be an impossible task. Carnival could do nothing about it, and while frustrating, was a small inconvenience for the vacation.
As, too, was the fact that fog which closed the port of Galveston on our last day, meaning that we could not get off the ship until 7 hours after our expected arrival. Some got angry. And yet the whole crew of the Magic went way above and beyond to make those hours comfortable by allowing us to stay in our rooms (instead of telling us to go to a common area and wait), keeping bars and restaurants open, providing extra games and entertainment, and in general acting as if the cruise was still going on. It was a bad morning, but the entire staff made it a great time.
SO NOW THAT THIS IS OVER, LET'S LOOK AT THE MAGIC...
This is a great ship. Definitely the biggest I have cruised on, but when walking around, it didn't seem like that much more walking than others. But what makes the Magic so great is not the size, but the way they utilize the extra space.
The promenade deck (deck 5)showed some of the greatest advances over other ships I had been on. Since I am not a big bar goer, I don't normally spend that much time on the Promenade. But on the Magic, this is not simply a bar/shopping deck... In the open atrium (the Ocean Plaza, I believe it's called), there are regular activities going on throughout the day with games, bands playing, dancing, and food (yes, a small contentment breakfast, sandwich lunch, sushi bar dinner, even a barbeque going on sea days). This was the first cruise that this deck was part of my daily plan.
The deck space on 5 was also a great change. On the magic, it's not just a space to walk around, maybe sit in the sun. With the promenade having 6 hot tubs on the outer decks of the promenade, deck games (and for smoker like some I travel with, a smoking area away from the Lido deck), this was a great area. No doubt, it was nice. I would say that, since there was free food on this deck, as well as a smoking level, it would be nice to see the free drinks (coffee, tea, lemonade) in the ocean plaza instead of having to go up to the Lido deck... but that's every ship, so I shouldn't be surprised. Just hopefully that will come in time.
The Sports deck was also nice. I've played putt putt golf on a number of ships, but the two-tiered level was very cool. But what made the sports deck special to me was something I had not seen anywhere... the ropes course. I am 51 years old, and way out of shape, but I challenged my "inner-macho" to try it, and even though walking the ropes 20 feet up (and some 200 feet above the water) was frightening, the staff was there to give me tips and encouragement. It was an amazing experience.
The Serenity Deck was also awesome. This deck, just for adults, gave a great place of quiet away from the 1.000 or so kids on board. With a bar, 2 hot tubs, and lots of places for grown ups (as individuals or as couples) to relax, it was a wonderful addition to the ship.
the expanded water park on the Magic was also fun, even at my age. The large slides are not just for kids. What a blast.
I can't say too much great about the food. In general, it was good, standard cruise fair... though definitely more than you will find on smaller ships. The Prime Steakhouse was great for a premium restaurant, but the lido deck buffets, the pizza, the restaurants, were all standard.
As was the room. It was nice, and as I've grown accustom to on Carnival, roomy enough, but nothing beyond the norm... But then again, that's why I normally get an inner stateroom, since I don't stay in that often except to sleep.
One small noteworthy, however, was the TV selection. I did enjoy the fact that we had the camera giving views of from the front of the ship on the television. I like seeing us come into port while I am still in the room. On the negative, however, is the fact of the "AudioFunTimes" channel, where they have someone reading what is going on (yes reading, word for word, the FunTimes magazine that came into the room the night before). I thought it would be nice, but since we were at Wednesday, January 18 before they actually recorded a new one (who cares what happened on Saturday, January 14 before we got on the ship), and then they stayed a half a day behind after that). ALSO (on a personal note from every ship I have been on), if a ship is to carry local stations (the magic had three), is it too much to ask that you get local news from the home port? I am not concerned about what is happening in Miami or New York if I am traveling from and to the Texas coast... but that's a personal rant.
The Showtime Theater and the Spotlight Lounge were great areas for shows, and no doubt we saw some of the best shows I had ever seen on any ship (I enjoyed "Groove Line" more than any of the standard ship singers and dancer shows on any ship, but that might be because that's my generation. The genre is not usually my cup of tea, but this one was really good. Also, Jason Byrne's magic show was something really cool... I've never seen fireworks in a ship's theater. Marcus Monroe's juggling (who knew a juggler could be amazing) was just that, Amazing. Best and funniest show around.
Some will complain about the big ship, but the way the Carnival Magic is set up, it was wonderful.