Embarkation was very smooth and well-coordinated. We had absolutely no wait to board the ship and were on by about 11:15. The Life Boat drill was also the most painless we have experienced in 23 cruises - kudos to Carnival for smoothing out that entire process. Disembarkation was another story entirely. For the first time in a long time we did not select the self-assist option which was a huge mistake. We were Zone 22 and did not get off the ship until about 10:30. Last time on Carnival in Galveston we were on the road home by 8:30!
We were disappointed in the Magic. The entire ship seems to be chopped into small boxy areas which were always very crowded. It was impossible to participate in Trivia at the Ocean Plaza because all of the tables were occupied with card and domino players. They obviously had no other location to gather. There seem to be very few public rooms for the passenger capacity of the ship. Poor design throughout leaving no circulation room for the crowds of adults and mobs of children. (Aren't kids supposed to be in school in February?) Even the fitness center was small, dark and almost depressing. Every single public area seemed tiny when taking into account the passenger capacity.
Our stateroom was very nice with plenty of storage. Cabin Attendant, Artawan, did a great job. The room was always very promptly and thoroughly cleaned.
Since early dining was booked we opted for the anytime dining. Another mistake since your only option is Northern Lights which is another enclosed, almost claustrophobic, room which smelled like smoke even though it is designated non-smoking. Our window table (115) for two looked out at the bottom of a life boat and was separated from the next table by about 12 inches. Such ambiance?!? We did, however, have some very good meals. The lobster was excellent as were many of the other fish options. Our service in the dining room was wonderful. Headwaiter Mitchel and his assistants, Edy and Adrian, took great care of us. Each evening we knew that Doris, our very lovely hostess, would escort us to our table with genuine enthusiasm.
The Lido buffet is awful...very small serving stations, long lines and no place to sit. Most of the tables/booths are for four and occupied by two leaving everyone aimlessly wandering. Another troublesome thing is that they only had one person making sandwiches, one making pizza, one making hamburgers while the lines grew and grew! The Mongolian Wok was excellent but is too labor intensive when you are trying to feed the hordes on this ship. We were able to try it on a port day and really enjoyed it. Another option to avoid the Lido is Cucina del Capitano which has a free pasta bar at lunch and was very good.
Most of the entertainment was good. My husband enjoyed all of the comedians and said the kid-friendly and adult shows were equally entertaining. The illusionist was probably the most elaborate production I have ever seen on any ship....Las Vegas quality. Other activities were pretty much non-existent except for lots of trivia but no place to enjoy it. I am used to having high quality guest lecturers, computer classes and other demonstrations. I most enjoyed the cooking demonstration at the Prime Steakhouse but seating was very limited. Fortunately we got there about 35 minutes early so we found good seats! The Casino was impossible to enjoy because it was so smoky and smelled so very bad!!
This was our fifth cruise on Carnival. We sailed on the Conquest three times and loved that ship. The Elation was fine -- not our favorite ship but we didn't dislike it nearly as much as we did the Magic. Prices on Carnival are always very competitive which was the reason we booked this cruise but we definitely won't sail on the Magic again. I overheard a comment by a woman who said "you just can't go from Celebrity in November to Carnival in February" which was a judgmental error on our part. We don't necessarily cruise for the ports, we simply enjoy the shipboard experience. While all cruises are wonderful and we enjoyed ourselves we left very disappointed in the "Mega-Magic".