Carnival Magic's designers took Carnival Dream's good deck plan and made it great. By moving the WaterWorks aqua park forward on Deck 12, designers were able to introduce SportSquare, which comprises a two-level mini-golf course; outdoor cardio stations (not quite so successful, but kudos for trying); basketball courts; the SkyTrack running course (seven laps equal one mile); and the show-stopping SkyCourse.
The SkyCourse is an elevated ropes course in which passengers are fitted with a harness that clips to a track, then they must navigate eight segments with various degrees of difficulty. You can choose between the easy or difficult route, but . . . it's not for the faint of heart. Kids and many adults whiz through it after a few practice rounds, but if you're afraid of heights, have iffy balance or don't like the idea of dozens of people watching you panic, the course isn't for you. We found it generally wait-free and worth the effort, but there were some who told us, "Never again."
The Beach Pool on Deck 10 is the main watering hole and features two thatched-roof palapas on either side where you can sit in the water in the shade. Nice touch, but the pool is small considering the number onboard. You may have a bit more luck finding a seat and more quietude at the Tides Pool in the aft. The tiered decking around the pool is studded with big maroon umbrellas, and we were always able to squeeze in somewhere. Again, the pool is minuscule.
If you have to get wet, head to WaterWorks. We have to give a special shout-out to the Power Drencher, a massive bucket that holds 300 gallons of water. Every few minutes it refills, a bell rings and its contents are dumped on folks waiting to be properly soaked below. One perhaps unintentional benefit: The thing sprays water everywhere, so if you're on one of the loungers two decks below near the Beach Pool, you get a fine mist while you're broiling in the sun. Sweet.
Other WaterWorks components include a splash park for the little ones, the Twister Waterslide (faster and more furious than you'd expect) and the DrainPipe -- another slide, but you end up spinning around in a funnel like water swirling around a toilet.
Outdoor movies and concerts are shown on the 12-by-22 foot screen that overlooks the Beach Pool (we caught a Pavarotti performance one afternoon), and there's always some sort of contest or ice-carving demonstration going on. Our advice: Try to land one of the wonderful orange-padded loungers on the mezzanine one deck up. You still get to take in the scene, but it's far less peopled, it's shady because there's a deck above you, and the chairs are much more comfortable.
To really get away from it all (and you won't be the only one trying to do this), head to the adults-only Serenity area, with its own bar and seating, including shaded double loungers and hammocks. The two whirlpools here are predictably busy. Entry to Serenity is free, but the atmosphere is not always perfectly serene: It sits right next to the Power Drencher, which sounds the alarm via a ringing bell every time it's about to make a big splash.
Directly one deck below Serenity is the 22,700-square-foot Cloud 9 Spa, which, alas, was a disappointment. We liked its well-equipped fitness center (open 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.), which runs classes such as boot camp, spinning, abs attack and yoga. But the ambience and relative lack of privacy of the spa's thermal suite was off-putting. It's lovely, with colorful glass mosaics and stunning ocean vistas, but the suite -- accessed for either a daily ($40) or weekly ($149) fee -- leaves a lot to be desired. The thalassotherapy pool sits under a skylight through which passersby clutching fruity drinks can peer through … and did. Likewise, a large room with heated tiled loungers sits next to the spa's reception desk, and we could hear people chattering.
Cloud 9 offers dozens of pricey treatments, including acupuncture, body sculpting, hot-stone massages and facials. A 50-minute Swedish massage costs $119, the same price at which facials start. Look for deals on port days, though. There's also a salon providing traditional and exotic manicures (from $29), shaves ($45) and waxing, plus hair styling and coloring.