Subscribe today
Get Cruise Critic in your inbox

Carnival Magic Review

Home > Cruise Ship Reviews > Carnival > Carnival Magic Review
74% of cruisers loved it
  • Adults-only Serenity area covers large area
  • Carnival's first at-sea pub with private label beer
  • Fitness and adventure options at SportsSquare

Show the Lowest Price
Departure Month
Please select at least one vendor.
Carnival.com
Avoya Travel
Travelocity.com
CheapCruises.com
American Discount Cruises
Expedia
CruiseDirector.com
Cruise.com
Priceline.com

Carnival Magic Overview

(4.5) 4.5 out of 5+ star rating
With some intriguing innovations, inventive twists on old themes and a more refined look than any of its predecessors in the Carnival fleet, this 130,000-ton, 3,690-passenger behemoth debuted in May 2011 and instantaneously became one of the coolest ships on the high seas.

Carnival Magic marks the end of the line for longtime Carnival interior architect Joe Farcus, and he's going out in style. While you can still expect a heaping dose of neon, mirrored surfaces and other eye-popping glam (what's with all the creepy eyeball-ish orbs in the atrium?), his touch is more limited here than on his other ships, inasmuch as other designers lent a helping hand. As such, there's a scintillating sophistication to many spaces, from the main dining rooms (Southern Lights and Northern Lights) to the sun deck (particularly the Serenity adults-only retreat).

Much of what's found onboard Carnival Magic came from first-in-class sib Carnival Dream, including the Seaside Theatre; the massive two-deck Cloud 9 spa; the WaterWorks aqua park (Magic has two waterslides -- a corkscrew and a bowl slide -- to Dream's one); and special family cabins designed to accommodate five passengers (featuring two bathrooms).

But Magic isn't simply a more polished version of Dream. The ship has ushered in a handful of new features, including Cucina del Capitano, an Italian restaurant serving up handmade pastas and singing waiters for a $10 fee; Cherry on Top, a perky little candy shop-cum-tux rental place off the atrium; and the industry's first water "dump bucket," which complements the ship's waterslides.

Candy? Ravioli? A drenching torrent? All pale in comparison to the rousing success that is the RedFrog Pub, a new Caribbean-themed watering hole that became an instant icon the moment it started serving its own home brew, Thirsty Frog Red Ale -- suds so satisfying that the taps ran dry during the ship's inaugural cruise, and so popular that they're now available nearly fleetwide. The pub is located on the Lanai, the promenade ringing Deck 5, a perfect setting for a sunset happy hour that rivals any afloat.

Then there's the new-to-Magic SportSquare outdoor recreation area, an in-your-face challenge to Royal Caribbean's heretofore lock on adrenaline-pumping onboard adventures. Featuring the first-ever ropes course at sea (it only looks easy), an outdoor fitness area (Sky Fitness) and two-level mini-golf course, SportSquare is a welcome addition to the cruise world. Whether it's truly a notch above Royal's zip lines and surf simulators is open to debate.

Don't worry: This is still a Carnival ship, so there's a rocking night scene (take it from us: if you stand on a table in the disco at 2 a.m., you will be noticed by security), soft-serve ice cream whenever you want it, photographers nagging you for shots at every corner and poolside contests galore. Kids get a lot of attention with several glittery playrooms with a clubby vibe, and you can still buy gold-by-the-inch.

After spending its inaugural summer 2011 season plying the waters of the Mediterranean, Carnival Magic now homeports in Galveston, offering weeklong journeys to both the Western and Eastern Caribbean. It's a major get for the surging Texas port.

So what did it get? One doozy of a newcomer. Of course, there are some things that don't quite gel (buffet mob scenes, room service blandness, loud cabins, a disappointing spa -- read on for details), but it's okay: These worries are likely to pull a disappearing act. You're on a ship named Magic, after all.
Carnival Magic Fellow Passengers
It's a Fun Ship, so expect Fun People. It's a diverse group -- we saw everyone from toddlers to somebody celebrating his 90th birthday -- but they're typically upbeat and ready for action. Leaving one port, a woman next to us pulled out an air horn and started blasting away, startling folks on the pier and anyone within earshot on deck. Try that on a Crystal cruise.

The average age appears to be early 40s, but we found plenty of multigenerational families onboard. Many are diehard Carnivalistas, so don't be surprised if you get engaged in a conversation over which Carnival ship has this and that and which one is best. When Magic is homeporting in Galveston, expect a bevy of Texans and heat-seekers from the Midwest. Summer and holidays mean more young children.
Carnival Magic Dress Code
On the "cruise elegant" nights in the main dining rooms (typically two on a seven-night cruise), most passengers look dressed up (think jackets for men, dresses for women), but evening gowns and tuxedos are the exception, especially in the Your Time Dining area. On casual nights, the norm for men is a collared shirt and nice jeans or khakis, and most women wear sundresses or capri-blouse combos -- but you'll see T-shirts and shorts. During the day, just about anything goes, although you won't (or shouldn't) see bathing suits in Southern Lights or Cucina del Capitano.
Carnival Magic Gratuity
Carnival recommends $11.50 per person, per day. The guidelines allocate $5.80 to dining room services, $3.70 to cabin services and $2 per day for alternative services, which include kitchen, entertainment, guest services and other hotel staff members. The amount is automatically added to your shipboard account, but can be adjusted in either direction at the guest services desk. A 15 percent gratuity is automatically added to bar bills. Tipping for room service at delivery is expected (and appreciated) by the service staff.
Print the entire ship review


Carnival Magic Member Reviews 523 Reviews
   HORRIBLE EXPERIENCE!!
March 2014

This was not my first cruise with Carnival, we actually chose to go with Carnival over Royal Caribbean and now Im just wishing we went with Royal Caribbean. The experience we had was awful! The first few days were fun, my husband and two ...continue


   Good & Bad
March 2014

This was our first cruise and we were very excited. After reading a lot of reviews we were expecting long lines to embark on the ship, and since we had to fly out from out west, we had been up since 2 a.m. We were pleasantly surprised that within ...continue


Not Rated
   2nd time on Magic, 5th cruise. was ok
March 2014

We had such a good time on the magic 2 years ago we decided to try it again but with a different itinerary. The ship itself is great. After all it is still carnival's flagship. Great layout, plenty of spaces to feel less like you're not onboard ...continue


1 - 3 of 523 Reviews


Overview   Cabins   Dining   Activities   Family   Itineraries   Deck Plans   More Reviews  
 

Show the Lowest Price
Departure Month
Please select at least one vendor.
Carnival.com
Avoya Travel
Travelocity.com
CheapCruises.com
American Discount Cruises
Expedia
CruiseDirector.com
Cruise.com
Priceline.com
Sponsored Listings:
About UsAdvertisingEditorial DisclaimerPress
PrivacySite MapStoreSubscribe
X

Thank You For Signing Up!

Please Note: To ensure delivery of your free e-letters, please add news@cruisecritic.com to your address book.

We're committed to protecting your privacy and will not rent or sell your e-mail address. By proceeding, you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.