DH and & cruised with our 14 y.o. son, and 13 friends. Given the not-so-great reviews since the Magic has been in Galveston (looks like they're getting better, though), we were a little apprehensive, since most in our group had never cruised before, and were following our recommendation for this sailing.
We flew from Seattle to Bush Intl, and stayed at the Holiday Inn by the airport - free shuttle to the hotel, and they even shuttled us to dinner and back - FOR FREE!!!!!! Transportation to the port the next morning took a lot of coordinating, but we nailed it with Sam's limo at abt. $20.00pp - they even upgraded us to a "party bus" - oh my!
Embarkation was shockingly smooth. There was a long line, but it was MOVING, and we were on board in about 30 minutes.
We have had two previous balcony rooms, with the last being a spa balcony. We decided to try an inside spa room, and the room was fine. Same bathroom, same square footage, but we're SPOILED with the natural light and balcony, so next time we'll pony-up. Moolie, our stateroom attendant was great - no complaints whatsoever. DH is addicted to the spa facilities, and spent a great deal of time there, but I didn't even go once. I refuse to be strong-armed by the spa staff trying to coerce me into buying stuff after paying for my ridiculously expensive treatments (can you tell I've been there, done that?!). DH simply loves the thalasso pool, and trepidarium. I would probably have spent time in these areas had we been cruising to AK - I just don't like to be in a hot pool/room when I'm in the beautiful, sunny Caribbean. If you like these amenities, & will use them often, then book a spa room.
The ship itself was INCREDIBLE!!! It was President's Break, and we were full, with almost 900 kids on board. I see people complain about the number of kids on board, but HELLO!!!! You are on CARNIVAL. The outdoor splash park, ropes course, sports deck, teen disco, Camp Carnival and Circle C should be a DEAD GIVEAWAY that there will most likely be lots o' kids on board, so relax or pick a line that caters more to the adults-only crowd. Given the number of people on board, we never felt crowded. When we last sailed, on the Splendor, each day was like a summer day in Disneyland - lines, lines, and more lines. But not on the Magic. I would go to the Lido Marketplace, see a line, then move a little farther aft to the other buffet, and voila - no line! The outdoor seating was phenomenal and COMFY!!!! Never had trouble finding a place to lay in the sun where I wanted to, which was typically the Serenity deck. Yes, it's hard to find a spot there if you show up at noon - most of the seating is already taken, and then starts to thin out around 2:00 p.m.
Drink service was wonderful, and the DOD's, when I had them were uncharacteristically strong ;).
We had early dining in the Northern Light DR, and is was fantastic. Our wait staff - Gaspar, and his asst's, made our cruise all the more special. Some nights, I would sit down and look at the menu, not so impressed. But once I ordered and the food came, it was remarkable. Dinner always flowed smoothly - no waits - virtually perfect. DH and I ate in the Steak House the last night, as we had never done this before. Although we paid additional $$$, we both agreed it was probably in the top 3 of best meals we've ever had. TRY IT!!!!!! A GF and I went to the Italian restaurant for lunch, and again - impressed. Sushi bar became a staple, and the Red Frog Pub...... probably the best part of the cruise. The bartenders (JAMAICA!!!!!!) were extreme!!!! Won't forget them! Drinks were great, and our only regret is that we never tried the bar food :(. Lido deli was yummy. Didn't have time to try to Tandoor(i) buffet or the outdoor barbecue. Room service? Don't go there unless you want to wait. And wait. And wait. One afternoon took 1 hour 50 minutes, and only 1, not 2 sandwiches got delivered. There's just an awful lot of folks on the ship, who want room service, apparently....
The layout of the ship was incredible. The Spotlight Theatre was great - but we only caught one production show (Illusion show - was pretty decent), and a couple of other HILARIOUS shows - Bedtime Story, Newlywed Game, etc.... Tore up the disco one night, & loved the music. Karaoke would have been fun, but we are just not fans of county music (sorry Southern friends), and since there were a lot of folks from Texas on board, that was the majority of the music, so we just chose to go to the Piano Bar, Pub or disco mostly.
Jamaica was beautiful. We had planned to get an all-inclusive pass to the Iberostar, but it was sold out for the day, even tho we got there early. Our awesome taxi driver took us to Aqua Sol beach, which was made up of locals primarily. The water was beautiful, the manager of the restaurant/bar was very helpful & hospitable, the jerk chix was magnificent, and the smell of.... Jamaica kept us entertained for the entire afternoon. We had two 14 y.o's with us, who had a great time as well.
Grand Cayman was everyone's (in our party) favorite - simply gorgeous. Yes, it really was THAT easy to catch the bus to & from Royal Palms (public beach on 7 Mile). There was almost no one there when we arrived. Small entry fee ($2.00, I think...). Son & I had two full lunches, soda, and a conch appetizer, and paid $42.00 US total. Not bad, I thought. The beach was stunning, and as the day went on, got more crowded. But if you moved down the beach either direction, about 50 feet, you practically had the place to yourself. HERE'S THE BEST PART: We were nervous abt. tendering since the last two cruises, it's taken FOREVER. When we were done playing on Cayman, we begrudgingly headed back to the port to stand in the long tender line. There were throngs of people, & we couldn't figure out where the line ended. I tapped about 4 people to find out what line they were standing in since there were 4 ships in port that day. All were in the RC line. I couldn't find the line for the Magic, so we walked right up to the Security point, and were told, with a smile, to walk right down the pier and get on our tender. NO LINE. NONE. ZIP. Folks in our party came back to the ship at all different times, and reported the same. Tendering in to Cayman was just as smooth. It was like Christmas!!!!
Cozumel was a little cloudy the day we were there. We went to Paradise Beach, & laid by the pool. We bought a wrist bracelet for our 14 y.o. for $12.00, which entitled him to use the bouncy things/trampolines/slides in the water. He met up with a friend, but ended up spending most of his time in the pool - huge!- as we did. Just bring sunscreen since we ran out and had to pay $17.00!!! I would go back to all three of these places!!!!
Debarkation was so fast that I didn't have time to grieve the end of our cruise :( We stayed overnight in Galveston, and left late the next day. So glad we did this, as we really though it was a pretty cool town. We went to the historic Strand Dist. twice, and had a great time. Stayed at the Sheraton Four Points, and really loved it - clean, modern, and accommodating.
Even though we were on the ship for 7 days, I never did see all of it, nor did I do everything I said I was going to. We all had the time of our lives, and many of us are already trying to decide if we should cruise the Magic again, or try the Breeze? My only complaints: room service was super slow (always over 1 hour), we practically NEVER saw our son since he was having the time of his life in Circle C ;) and finally, that our cruise came to an end. I also think that traveling with friends made a huge difference regarding the fun factor. I don't think we will travel friend-less again.
I cannot recommend the Magic enough. Staff, the ship itself, John the CD, and yes, even the food made this an incredibly memorable trip.