92 Barcelona to Europe - Western Mediterranean Carnival Magic Cruise Reviews

Booked this cruise last minute with my husband and got what I think was the last room. Despite being an inside it did not disappoint if a little limited in space but that is to be expected. Spotlessly clean and well maintained by the ... Read More
Booked this cruise last minute with my husband and got what I think was the last room. Despite being an inside it did not disappoint if a little limited in space but that is to be expected. Spotlessly clean and well maintained by the steward who was attentive and friendly. Loved coming back to my towel animals at night! Only negative was that I did not realise I was being charge 4 dollars per day for mineral water not from the mini-bar. Spending 50 dollars on water without me knowing was hard to swallow-pardon the pun! A bit sneaky I think.Embarkation in Barcelona was very well organised and from arriving in our taxi, to entering our cabin, only took one and a half hour which is amazing when you consider there were 3000 people to get onboard and it was only the 2nd cruise for this ship.The Carnival Magic is beautifully appointed. I cannot find anything negative to say about any of the public spaces or fixtures and furnishing. Very modern yet with a nod to the Art Deco era in the Atrium I thought. It is comparable to 5 star hotels I have stayed in.Entertainment is one area that could do with a little spruce up. Two shows I saw were totally amazing. One was an illusionist, I cannot remember the name but it was totally Las Vegas standard. The other was called Grooveline and was a 70 style review-that was great. The show on the last evening was not to my taste at all, sorry Carnival I did not enjoy the male singing country. The onboard band were very good, Blood Power, doing all the classic rock tracks.I did not attend the Piano Bar but it was always busy. The constant acoustic music in the Red Frog Bar quickly became very waring which is a shame cos the bar was great. I did not rate the other male/female singers who played in the Atrium at all. Food was fabulous overall the ship and the service was great. Only thing I didn;t like was the sweets at the buffet, not good. I recommend visiting the Italian restaurant for lunch it was great with no sur charge (sea days). Didn't attend the steak house.Spa was really beautiful but at double the price of home maybe out of some folks price range.The gym was excellent.Pool areas/loungers, the usual problem of only 20% of loungers being used at anyone time due to selfish people leaving towels on them all day without use.The ports of call were great and amazing value for money.Disembarkation was very swift and easy if a little early for my flight, 6am! All in all a fantastic holiday I will never forget. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The Carnival Magic is a beautiful ship. We were looking forward to our second Med cruise with Carnival. New port of departure for us; Barcelona was dazzling and different from what we experienced in other trips to Europe. Nice weather, ... Read More
The Carnival Magic is a beautiful ship. We were looking forward to our second Med cruise with Carnival. New port of departure for us; Barcelona was dazzling and different from what we experienced in other trips to Europe. Nice weather, nice food, friendly (for an urban setting) people, and breathtaking architecture and history. This cruise was a month after the maiden cruise and it was interesting for us to see crews still hurrying about finishing "the punch list": corrections (prior table/umbrella design didn't hold up on rear deck so they were being retrofitted); chaise and chairs were breaking and being replaced so initial tight budget items being re-examined; finishing certain repairs every morning had hammering and drilling waking my wife up early. Thank goodness for good coffee. These are things you might think about with new buildings, interesting to see it apply to a big, beautiful ship. I learned that that was part of advantage for Carnival to sail in Med after maiden trip: closer to construction company. The crew was friendly and trying hard to get into the groove that helps them in their time onboard. Some were still learning differences between the Magic and where ever they had last served. The cruise director, John Heald, was already on script by our trip; an odd advantage of CruiseCritic reviews was that we had already heard his "Nice & Ezy" joke online. The itinerary was fantastic -- like going through a dessert buffet where everything looks good: Monaco, Rome, Florence/Pisa, Naples, Dubrovnik, Venice and Messina. We stuck with the menu theme and tried a little of everything: some ports on our own, some with excursions, and even one staying on the boat (we had cruised to Messina the previous summer; had the hat and scarf already). Looking forward to future Med Cruises. Still haven't seen Istanbul! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The ship was 5 star with a 3 star entertainment and dining experience. Breakfast was predictable nothing exciting, and lunch was not much better. The food in the dining room was often cold, we did complain a few times, it wasn't the ... Read More
The ship was 5 star with a 3 star entertainment and dining experience. Breakfast was predictable nothing exciting, and lunch was not much better. The food in the dining room was often cold, we did complain a few times, it wasn't the fault of the waiters, they did their best.The entertainment was poor out of the 12 days on board only 3 shows stood out, and there was not a show every night.The cabin was very nice, we had a balcony it was clean.Our steward was helpful, so was the guest reception. There is a standard charge for gratuities per person per day which we were aware of for the crew, but were asked time and again towards the end of the cruise not to forget the maitre'd and to tip more if we felt waiters, room stewards deserved it.How cheap can you get!! Disembarkation was efficient we had to be off the ship by 8.30 am Would I cruise with Carnival again? No I don't think so I've cruised with better!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
we boarded the magic in barcelona on the 22nd may great excitement sudden disappointment the cabin was good unfortunately the ship has lost all its glitz and glamour the design was cold and uninviting compared to the costa serena, pacifica ... Read More
we boarded the magic in barcelona on the 22nd may great excitement sudden disappointment the cabin was good unfortunately the ship has lost all its glitz and glamour the design was cold and uninviting compared to the costa serena, pacifica concordia as all the ships are built in the same shipyard in italy. Everything is geared to money making they have done away with little gifts etc for previous passengers everything is impersonal if you want to smoke you have to go outside one small area in the casino or the nightclub where the music is so loud its unpleasant so therefore no drink sales to us. The service on the buffet deck nobody bothers to clean the tables as the staff are to busy chatting no sabbath service no mass service the only ship I have ever been on without this. Having previously been with carnival 7 times previously my expectations were completley dashed the evening shows were very disappointing john heald has lost his way the head line shows were dreadful everybody americans included were complaining it was the worst carnival ship they had ever been on. No captains cocktail party unless you were a previous client like ourselves disgraceful also the captain didnt even bother to attend it. shows how little carnival past clients mean to them food not great either never mind wont bother to book again with carnival. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Since it was the newest ship in the line, we were expecting much more. We have cruised on Carnival before on three occasions, the last being about 7 years ago. It will probably be at least that long before we sail on Carnival again. We ... Read More
Since it was the newest ship in the line, we were expecting much more. We have cruised on Carnival before on three occasions, the last being about 7 years ago. It will probably be at least that long before we sail on Carnival again. We took the Barcelona tour on the way to the ship which was a good value for the price, but did not offer any opportunity for lunch. We got on board about 3PM and went to the lido, they call it the marketplace, to eat. Since we ate lunch so late, we did not go to the dining room that evening. We placed the card provided outside the door to order morning coffee. We specified it be delivered between 7 and 7:30. When our coffee had not arrived at 7:30, I called room service, who told me it was on it's way. At 7:43, I called again and we finally got coffee at 7:57. I know it was 7:43 when I called room service the second time because that was the time on the bar receipt the waiter brought with the coffee. No idea where the original order went. I tried calling guest services using the button the phone marked as such and was only able to reach an automated system that provided no option to reach a real person. I later spoke to guest services in person and registered my complaint. The next morning, not only did my coffee arrive on time, it was followed by a call from room service asking if my order had arrived. Each room has an interactive TV on which you can check your account balance, see what shore excursions are available, and, supposedly, view the menus for the various dining locations. The only menus available were for the Italian, Red Frog, and Steak locations which cost extra and the menu never changes. I asked guest services about the availability of a menu and was told it was only on the TV. I later asked the head waiter and was told they could post a printed copy of the menu outside the dining if they got permission from Carnival. This might seem like a trivial matter, but knowing what will be served in the main dining room allows choosing which days to explore the other dining possibilities. We ate breakfast most mornings in "the marketplace". The offerings were reasonable, but everything was prepared in advance. Toast was barely toasted and always cold. They offered waffles and French toast,but again prepared in advance and lukewarm at best. Evening meals in the dining room were adequate, which is the best I can say. The menu had 4 pages, wine by the glass, today's selection, available everyday, and desert. Our waiter expected you to order everything at once. There must have been a wine list with available bottles of wine, but I never saw it or a wine steward. My wine was delivered by one of the assistant waiters. This was better that the marketplace; however, there you had to go to the bar if you wanted wine with your meal. After we arrived in Marseilles, we wanted to exchange dollars for Euros, but found that you could only do that in the casino during an hour in the morning and an hour and a half in the evening. Every other ship I've been on you could do that at guest services anytime. We try to include exercise into our routine to avoid weight gain. As such we weigh ourselves at the beginning of the cruise so we know how much the ship's scale says we weigh. Scales are usually found either in the exercise facility or the locker rooms adjacent. Finding one in neither location, I inquired and was told the scale was broken. This is a new ship? The second sea day out of Venice was cold, windy and raining. So much for the wonderful outside theater or the pools, unlike other ships there is no removable cover for those areas. You could stay in your stateroom and watch TV except they had 2 movie channels which showed the same two movies all day. There was a limited selection of movies to order at $10.99 per view. Other cruise lines have a much larger choice of viewing options. The one thing they have a lot of is photographers. They try to take your picture, for a price, everywhere you go. And the photo shop takes up a third of the deck it's on. I do have good to report concerning the casino. There was a no smoking area, but that did not include the tables. And, if you accumulated 1500 points on your card, you got free drinks as long as you were playing. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
I am married and 47 and a history buff while my wife is 43 and still likes to bar hop and sit in the sun. We boarded in Barcelona on May 22 for a 12 night cruise to the Mediterranean. We stayed in Barcelona for 2 days prior to the cruise ... Read More
I am married and 47 and a history buff while my wife is 43 and still likes to bar hop and sit in the sun. We boarded in Barcelona on May 22 for a 12 night cruise to the Mediterranean. We stayed in Barcelona for 2 days prior to the cruise with my mom, her sister, and my cousin (ages 69, 74, and 48) to acclimate to the time change which was a good idea. We did the hop on hop off buss (ho-ho bus) to tour Barcelona which was a great deal and the best way to see the city. Most of the the food and the drinks off the Las Ramblas were fairly priced while the ones on the main strip were extremely high. We thought the Tapas were okay but the best meal we had was off of the Las Ramblas and was a take away restaurant selling a burrito that was made with meat from a rotating slab (like you see in a Gyro)...actually we all agreed it was the best meal of the trip!! Of course the wife wanted to go to the Hard Rock Cafe and after 2 beers and 2 cheeseburgers and $63 later I have reflected that it was horrible!! We boarded the ship on a Sunday and it was very efficient and easy which is always nice. The first thing I should say is the drink prices will kill you on this cruise. We not only had to pay the 15% gratuity but also an additional 3% or so VAT tax. They have a beer that they have made for them called the Red Frog at the Red Frog Pub which is the best deal at $5.50 for 20 oz, but with taxes it is closer to $6.75. You get a slight break for a picture but very little. You can also get a bucket of beers for $17 (4 beers @$5/beer but they take $3 off). The best deal is Fosters Lager for $8 for a 25 oz can. Mixed drinks like a Mojito will run you $10.50 or so. Wine with tax runs about $7-15 a glass. The ship itself is really nice and the rooms were well kept. We found the staff to be very good as usual and Sirema (from Thailand) in the the dining room was awesome. Another stand out was Timmy Pierce who is an acoustic guitar singer and was a lot of fun to hear and talk to. If you go on board make sure to look him up and tell him Jeff Warwick says hi....we bought his CD and watched several of his shows. We did find the other entertainment to be lacking considerable on this cruise and it was disappointing. The ports we all good and we always found things to do. In Marseille we took the Little Train tour for 6 euro which was a great deal to see the church of Notre Dame which was awesome. Savona was fun to just walk around and get some drinks at the local off the beaten path places but we also took a 1/2 day trip with the cruiseline to do Genoa on our own. In Naples we successfully took the train to Pompeii for 6 euro round trip instead of the $90 the cruise line wanted. Go here for directions (http://www.europeportreviews.com/Naples5.htm ) as it worked great!! The best pasta I had on the trip was at Pompeii and it was reasonable price. In Rome we prearranged a tour driver and it was great but cost about $1200 for the 12 hours....we spent too much time at the Vatican and should have left sooner....too much art for all of us and we got board. In Messina we just wondered around and it was a nice place to do that and get a drink or two. The thing with Italy that I was disappointed in was the amount of graffiti everywhere and just how dirty everything was. The exception was Venice which was awesome and great to explore on your own. The best thing is to buy a water taxi pass for at least 12 hours but the 24 hour one is only 2 euro more so it is a better deal since you stay over night there. The food was greatly over priced through out Italy and I did not think it was very good. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Carnival Magic 10 May 2011 sailingWe had a fabulous cruise on the Carnival Magic in Europe. Some background: We are an older couple who cruise about 5-8 times a year. We mostly cruise on Carnival lately, but have we cruised other lines in ... Read More
Carnival Magic 10 May 2011 sailingWe had a fabulous cruise on the Carnival Magic in Europe. Some background: We are an older couple who cruise about 5-8 times a year. We mostly cruise on Carnival lately, but have we cruised other lines in the past. We have been to Europe many times before but, this was our first cruise in Europe. My husband likes history and I am a writer who booked this cruise for historical research for a series of books, and to write some articles on the Magic cruising in Europe.We flew from New York City 2 days early and stayed in Barcelona with friends. We have been here before and it is a great pre-cruise port. Streets are clean and safe except for pickpockets. We have never had a personal problem with them in Europe but there are countless stories, so watch your possessions.Embarkation: We are platinum a used VIP checkin which would have been quick except for the fact that it was first embarkation in Barcelona and there were some scanners that didn't work, that slowed things down. I am sure these things were fixed by the next cruise.Ship: It is new and the dEcor is nice. Our cabin was a suite balcony that, due to the port intensive itinerary, we never got to use. If you choose to do this cruise on the cheap in an inside cabin on a lower deck, on this particular cruise, you will not notice. The all day ports keep you pretty tired and the cabin tends to be used just for a quick sleep before the next day's port. The smoking restrictions were nice as the air was clean and we didn't find any of the usual smoke filled rooms to avoid. The piano bar is not only non-smoking but, there is a wall removed making it open seating blending with the promenade deck. The waterworks area is very nice and they had an abundance of sport themed activities out on the deck including exercise equipment. Of note, this is necessary because the pay-for-spa/spa cabins have reduced the gym itself to about ¼ the size of the smaller ships as far as equipment goes. It is obvious that to make room for the fancy spa rooms, they sacrificed quite a bit of the gym. It seems they make up for this by putting machines up on the sports deck. The ropes course is OK, in my opinion, it is not that difficult and once you do it, you are done. Some ziplines definitely would make this more appealing. It is also "one time" activity, so if you cruise this ship again, it becomes a "been there, done that" attraction. I really think that once the novelty of walking around on a walkway up in the air wears off, it isn't something that is going to attract people over and over. Some better water rides, another pool or maybe a big tube slide like Disney has would have been something that could be used over and over. The casino was nice and big but lacked video poker machines which seemed odd. They had 4 machines back to back in one spot making 8 machines, and 6 along the back wall for smokers. 14 video poker machines - definitely not enough as these are really popular games and we actually gave up trying to get one on a sea day or in the evening. The times we visited, and walked through there were no machines available for video poker so we left. The pools were larger than we have seen on ships and the water was heated. They were salt water pools.Staff: Can't say enough here, everyone was great. There wasn't an employee who didn't go out of their way for us and there we have no complaints here. Food: Typical Carnival that we really like so, we have no complaints about the quality. We did have problems with the room service for the continental breakfast. The first day in Monaco it came at 6:15am as requested, after that is was downhill from there. I believe the problem was the port intensive itinerary with everyone trying to use it as most excursions left very early. Our 6:15am breakfast never arrived after the first day and even with phone calls, we left the cabin at 8am, almost 2 hours after we ordered it. We left hungry as it never arrived two days in a row. After day 3 we gave up and went with the Lido breakfast and never ordered it again.Ports: We did all Carnival excursions and we couldn't be more pleased with the excursions. The guides were very good and did cover a lot of ground. They are a bit fast and a little rushed, but we expected that with the amount of things we saw and the distance from the ports, as well as the distance of the venues from each other. The buses were all top notch and we felt safe at all times with our drivers. Bathroom stops were a little lacking but it was in all areas of Italy, as we already know from traveling there previously. The rule in Italy is, if you see a bathroom, use it and don't wait. It is not like the USA and you will pay anywhere from .25 cent Euros on the coast of France to 1.50 Euros in Venice.Entertainment: We had John Heald as a cruise director and we have had him before. You will never be disappointed in his shows as the effort he puts forth shows he truly loves his job. He puts his all into the job of entertaining the passengers. We were too busy to go to the shows and this is not usually a big part of our cruise so I really can't comment on them. Because this was only the second cruise, there were shows that were not ready yet so, it was a little sparse in that area for people who were expecting big productions shows every night. Although, how you would stay up that late every night on this itinerary is beyond me.Internet: As usual it was expensive, but it is something we expect to pay, and the rates were the same as other Caribbean rates on the ships. The problem this cruise was that the wireless did not work for days for your own equipment, and articles I write have to be submitted from my laptop, so this became a problem for me as I missed deadlines. Interesting I was writing an article on the Magic and the cruise we were on and missing a deadline because their internet didn't work, didn't help the article. Many writers make their presence known on cruises, but I like to write my articles from a passenger perspective that you do not get if they know you are writing about their company. I ended up contacting the Rome office of the New York publishing house and they came and met me when we were in Rome to pick up the material.Ports: They were all great! Livorno, Rome, & Venice are the absolute standouts. We have been in Venice and actually lived there for a short time while I was writing a book, but nothing beat sailing in and out of Venice on the Magic. Eze, France on the Monaco stop should not be missed and we will be definitely returning there in the future. Monaco is great to see once, but it is small and after seeing it, I would use the Monaco stop to journey into France. It is much more interesting than the small Monaco. Dubrovnik is a surprising gem of a port, easy to do on your own as it is a walled city. There is enough to see in 2 visits before you would have to venture out into the countryside and coastline for more to do.Overall, this is a great cruise, well worth the price they are charging for it. We booked the Transatlantic on the ship through their "book on the ship incentive" so we will be enjoying this ship on the transatlantic. That part is nice because, with the number of port stops, we actually missed doing a lot of things on the ship that we would have like to have done. Watch out for that salesman at the future cruise desk, not only did they get us for the TA on the Magic, but 2 more cruises on the new Breeze. They have a great product, and since we were having such a great time, it is easy to come back for more on the next ship. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
After reading many reviews of many ships it seems that some people have a great cruise and rate everything very highly and others who travel on exactly the same cruise at the same time have a terrible cruise and rate poorly. So i Guess it ... Read More
After reading many reviews of many ships it seems that some people have a great cruise and rate everything very highly and others who travel on exactly the same cruise at the same time have a terrible cruise and rate poorly. So i Guess it comes down to what you expect and how high your standards are.To paint the picture my wife and I are in our early 40s and this was our first cruise. We chose carnival after viewing these boards as carnival was consistently scoring pretty well (unlike some others - MSC to mention one), the price of the cruise was very good for the 12 days and a balcony and the number of stops. We also chose this cruise as my wife always wanted to go to Paris so we found a cruise that was interesting and left near there (Barcelona).i must admit i was more keen that she was to try a cruise. By the way, we travelled from Australia to get here.Departure It was the third voyage of Magic and they obviously hadn't worked out the kinks as the boarding on the 1st day took forever. We arrived at about 12:45 (midday was the start) and we didn't get on the ship until about 2pm. Veteran cruises told us that this was terrible (we had lots of time to talk).RoomWe were the third balcony room from the back of the ship on level 8. I was surprised at how big the room was - plenty of room to move around and store clothes etc. there was a safe which was very useful. The bathroom was fine (enough room to move around) and very clean and well stocked with soap, shampoo etc. the bed was extremely comfortable with good pillows and nice sheets. I slept the best i did for my whole trip on the ship (out of 5 weeks of traveling around Europe). the room was quiet (level 8 is between two cabin only floors, we weren't near lifts, stairs or high traffic areas and I couldn't hear the rooms on either side of us). There did seem to be a problem with bed bugs in some rooms - people we had dinner with got attacked and I noticed a few others with bites on their legs during sea days. The ship denied it was that, however, although i have read carnival has had problems in the past with this issue. I'm no doctor so maybe it was something else. i would suggest a room near the back as we did have one rough day/night (many passengers and crew were ill) and the back of the ship was by far the most stable with the front being the worst and it got better the closer you got to the rear. We were on the port side which was great for view when in port - especially leaving Venice.FoodOne of the main reasons i wanted to cruise! The food was between 'good' and áverage' mostly and it took a few days to find what was best. The buffet was not much good and we stayed away from here for most of the cruise. Don't get me wrong the food wasn't bad or cold or stale it just wasn't as good as i expected. the burrito bar (in the buffet)was nice though and I had that a few times. the tandoori bar (lunch only) was very good as was the pizza - 24 hrs (if you like áAmerican style') the sushi bar (late afternoon only) was excellent as was the deli (sandwiches freshly made how you want and loaded up - choices of fillings and breads, toasted or not) and the nachos (all day) wasn't bad either. We ate breakfast and dinner in the dining room virtually every day which was nice. the food was always cooked well and served hot and the choice of 10 mains each night was great - 5 remained the same while 5 changed each night of course there were 5 entree and 5 desserts too. I love steak and had it a few times and it was always cooked how i liked it (yes they asked) and always tender. the service was quick and friendly and the waiters always asked if we wanted more rolls and constantly filled the water glasses. Our head waiter Thomas went out of his way to make our dinner experience a pleasant one (even one night showing us how to make those towel creatures you find in your room every night). My biggest complaint were the desserts. Only once did we have a dessert that i would call very good (apple pie) and that was only offered once. The banana split (which you have to ask for as it's not offered on the menu is nice) but everything else is stuff you get in a box from the supermarket taste or worse.CrowdsThis ship has one of the lowest passenger/space ratios out of any ship (that's bad)  but I found the ship to be uncrowded most of the time. the buffet was never so crowded you couldn't get a seat. Food lines moved pretty fast if you had to line up at all - usually only one or two people in front of you (except the outside BBQ which only operated on sea days was very busy). there was never a line getting off and on the ship and tours were well organised. We always got a seat in the smaller shows even if we turned up right on start but the big shows you did need to get there about 10 minutes before to get a good seat. the pool decks were very crowded during sea days and you had to get out early to get a seat. Carnival never police their rule of seats left vacate that towels will be removed. i sat outside for 3 hours one morning and the never saw anyone sit in the 4 seats next to me yet their towels were there the whole time. We only had 120 kids out of 4500 passengers and i never saw them. the pools and spars always had space.there was too much hard sell of tipping at the end of the cruise and tours. Shops specials were also pushed although the shops number 4 total and sell average junk. Although i did buy 3 $10 t shirts. And they are still going strong.The shows weren't fantastic but not bad either. The comedy was pretty funny and the close up magic each night is personal and clever (only 10:30pm) and worth a look.The number of ports was fantastic and obviously some were better than other but i won't go into that as this is a cruise review. My advice get a cruise with lots of stops. Sea days can get boring unless you love eating, drinking, sitting around or gambling all day and night. that's not us but I'm sure some of you do love all those.The cleaning staff were always working and the rooms were very clean but they atrted early in the morning and banged and crashed around the hallways making sleeping in impossibleMY BEST TIPDrinks are expensive. You can bring on two bottles of wine at the beginning of the cruise. Some people try to smuggle on extra drinks in their luggage but the ship can take it as they scan bags before loading them.HOWEVER, at each port we always took a backpack with us. Filled it with alcohol or soft drink bought cheaply at a supermarket whilst on shore. Then when you come back through they scan the bag - they are looking for weapons, bombs and other dangerous stuff (yes i asked) - not drinks. Carnival has a table placed right after the scanner for passengers to hand in drinks/alcohol bought on shore - THIS IS VOLUNTARY. Under law you can't have your bags checked twice - so the scanner checks for dangerous objects and carnival can't ask to check again. We did this at every port - at first just with one bottle of beer to see but by the last port we had two bags with wine coolers, beers, champagne etc and not once did they take it. Then it goes straight into the fridge in the cabin. and the service staff take away the empty bottles when your done! We told others on the ship this trick who had travelled many cruises yet were too scared to try it. My advice, if you don't believe me just by one bottle at the first port, if they take it from you (which they won't) so what -you can't be fined, they'll just give it back to you on the last night. Let me know if it works out for you.OVERALLWould i go on another cruise again? - yesWould I go carnival again?- probably not - I'd like to try another line preferably celebrity or royal caribbean.Tick my review if this was helpful in anyway or email me if you want to ask something. Happy cruising. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
My Significant Other (Sig-O)and I usually travel on our own and like to stay in one place for 3 to 7 days to settle in a little and get some feel for the area. Last year we signed up for 2 cruises, this one and on MSC Orchestra last ... Read More
My Significant Other (Sig-O)and I usually travel on our own and like to stay in one place for 3 to 7 days to settle in a little and get some feel for the area. Last year we signed up for 2 cruises, this one and on MSC Orchestra last September (see my review there). After the bad experience on MSC and some negative remarks from others about Carnival, we were worried. Let me tell you up front, our experience was very positive on the Magic. The food was from good to excellent, the overall environment was relaxed and non-stressful, and there was as much (or as little) activity as you wanted. I may have some negatives, but Sig-O and I would go again in a heartbeat.Embarkation was a bit slower than we expected, as buses from the airport started arriving before embarkation started, so quite a queue had built up when we arrived at the start time. Also apparently luggage left at dockside was delivered to cabins last-in first-out, and I stupidly gave them my large bag of medicines and CPAP. I did not receive the bag until 5 minutes before we sailed, so I was stressed. Although I would have preferred another go-round, disembarkation could not have been smoother. I understand there was at least one person who refused to get off, although they did not want another 12 day cruise.Out cabin was center ship, about 3 decks above the water, with a cove balcony. I felt like like I had my own private area, just above the water. I chose that location for minimum movement, and to be close, but not too close, to the the mid-ship lifts, and it was perfect. The cabin steward kept the room clean and well supplied, and fulfilled our need quite well. The crew was friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.We signed up for Any Time dining so we did not have to worry about time back from excursions. It turns out we need not have worried as most excursions get back in time for early seating. The plus on Any Time is of course its flexibility, and you can meet lots of people at dinner, but the negative is you meet them and your servers, but don't get to know them. The food and service in Main Dining Room for lunch and dinner was always very good to excellent. The service for breakfast was not to those standards. Sometimes at breakfast we were not offered juice, coffee or rolls/danish, on other occasions two or three waiters asked. The order of dishes served sometimes were reversed or served at the same time, or were cold or over cooked, and one occasion not served. Part of the problem is that they tried to fill every chair at a 10 person table, even if some at the table had been seated 10 minutes earlier, when the room was mostly empty tables.We ate one night at the Steakhouse and one night at the Chef's Table. For $30 each extra, we did not feel we got the added value - the ambiance is nicer but the food was not significantly better. On the other hand the Chef's Table at I think $75 each was a definite must do if you are into food like we are. All the food served in MDR is well presented, but the dishes at the Chef's Table are, well, stunning.Not so stunning, though, is the wine list. For the main part the list is low-end, mass production wines of little note other than the well known label. It would appear that all the wine first went through US distribution before being sent to the ship, which means European wines are "pre-aged". The wine service was also spotty; sometimes pouring too much into the glass and one of the "Sommeliers" not knowing the difference between a Pinot Gris and a Vin Gris. On the other hand, when I found I did not like a bottle I had selected (weak vintage or too many ocean crossings) the bottle was exchanged for another selection without a problem.The ship, even with 3500+ guest, did not seem crowded, except on one at-sea lunch, when all 3500+ want to eat at about the same time and the MDR is closed. Some of the lines did get pretty long then. There are so many different venues for eating and entertainment that with a little looking, you can find a quiet area. I think Carnival has heard prior comments about adults wanting these areas and responded. My Sig-O and I generally do not like excursions, but we signed up for one in Marseille before boarding to be sure we could go to Arles and Aix. While on board we signed up for excursions to Pompeii and Taormina. All of the excursions were well organized and executed. Arles and Aix were OK but of course could only skim the surface, but Pompeii and Taormina are strictly tourist trap crap. Carnival has nothing to do with that: these towns are doing what brings in the money. When we made our reservations last year for the Magic, the second port was to be Livorno, which would allow us to visit wineries in Tuscany. That ended up being changed to Savona, which does not have many "attractions". It turned out to be our favorite port, because the city is not a tourist spot - it is a mid-sized town, easily walkable, friendly, with very good prices.Overall, as I said, a great experience and we will probably book another cruise in a year or two. A few things could/should be tuned up, and I think Carnival management should realize the guest going to Europe may be more interested in wines than the Caribbean cruiser, and do more tailoring of the wine list. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
One word for this cruise= AMAZING :) This trip was 12 nights (May 22-June 3) We went on the sister ship Carnival Dream last year, so this was our second cruise and again with Carnival. It was also our first time on Europe which was ... Read More
One word for this cruise= AMAZING :) This trip was 12 nights (May 22-June 3) We went on the sister ship Carnival Dream last year, so this was our second cruise and again with Carnival. It was also our first time on Europe which was FASCINATING! So here is a brief summary about everything:PORT & EMBARKATION: We flew the day before to Barcelona, Spain. With all the connections the whole flight lasted 12 hours! (PS: If you're traveling long, DONT choose American airlines :S) We got there the day of embarkation. My first impression of Europe was.. WOW! We took a taxi from the airport then drove to the port... when I saw the Magic it instantly brought memories of the Dream.. so beautiful (; Embarkation was very smooth and fast.THE SHIP: Pretty much the same as the Dream but BETTER :) The design was ok. It had new features like Cherry On Top, we loved that candy store! The Sportsquare was awesome! We met new friends and played mini golf, foosball, etc. Oh and the SkyCourse was my favorite! The first day I was really scared but then I did all the hard ones! The crew staff were nice and friendly! Oh and the Redfrog Pub reminded me of my home.. the Caribbean haha :p Also enjoyed the Waterworks and other old features! Sometimes it got chilly to go in the pools and stuff, but we were brave!! :DCABIN: We stayed on the same cabin as last year! It was the same except the room steward who was so nice and friendly!FOOD & DINING: We had late dining on the Southern Lights. The food was very good! Especially my famous caesar salad and warm chocolate melting cake [already miss them :( ] We ate on night at the prime steakhouse, my God BEST FOOD EVER! :) The steak was the best I had ever tried! Unfortunately we didn't went to Cucina del Capitano. I didn't really eat that much of pasta, how could I've missed it!PORTS: It would take me a lifetime to describe each of them! We stopped at Marseilles (France), Savona, Rome, Naples, Messina, Venice (Italy) and Palma de Mallorca (Spain). All the ports were beautiful and we enjoyed each one of them! My favorites were Marseilles and Rome. We booked all tours with Carnival, also great! Though the euro is expensive.. but I would definitely come back to Europe, that's for sure! :)ENTERTAINMENT: For us, we were never bored on the cruise. We went to the teen clubs... we saw the shows "Destination: Unknown" and "WIN!" they were fantastic! The senior cruise director (John) was hilarious! And Dick Little hahaha! There were so many activities also! Like the Venice mask parade, the contests, etc. There was always something to do on the cruise!DEBARKATION: Since we booked a tour on Barcelona for the last day, we were called early by our tour number to get our luggage and onto the bus. We took the tour then they left us on the airport but we stayed in an hotel for one more day to explore Barcelona more. OVERALL EXPERIENCE: Though there were some rough days... like one day the ship was shaking all day because of the winds and everything was cancelled... it was a disaster :S I got sick and all... but overall I would say this has been the best vacations so far! We met so many people and new friends (like Henry and Wilhelmina from the dining room, well never forget you guys!) And also the crew members, waiters, and staff on the cruise were so friendly and nice! I had the best time ever! It was FUN! :DSo far, best vacations ever! I will really miss this ship! We heard there was the new ship Carnival Breeze... but were gonna take a break from Carnival and try Royal Caribbean. But Carnival will always be in our hearts, and someday well definitely cruise with them again :) Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
Mediterranean Cruise - Carnival Magic - May 10-22, 2011Overall, this was a wonderful 12-day cruise on the Magic. This was my ninth cruise, and the fifth time on a Carnival ship. I was travelling "solo", however, it was nice to ... Read More
Mediterranean Cruise - Carnival Magic - May 10-22, 2011Overall, this was a wonderful 12-day cruise on the Magic. This was my ninth cruise, and the fifth time on a Carnival ship. I was travelling "solo", however, it was nice to meet many wonderful people (a number of whom were Cruise Critic members).THE SHIP:The Magic was a huge ship. It was brand spanking new (second voyage). My porthole stateroom (Category 1A) was on Deck 2, cabin 2212. It was close to the bow and the cabin was much larger than a regular inside cabin but not quite as large as a balcony cabin (approx. 160 sq. ft.), bright with 2 large porthole windows and could easily sleep 2 people. It had a very comfortable single-sized bed with lovely linens, etc. There was a sofa that converted into a single bed which was a treat - most 1A cabins only have a chair to sit on, no sofa. There was plenty of closet and storage space. The bathroom was a decent size (shower only; no tub) with lots of room to put away toiletries, etc. The towels were plush and the bathrobe was very comfortable. There was a desk/vanity and chair, a flat screen tv and a refrigerator. There were two electrical outlets in the room (above the desk) and one outlet in the bathroom (up high near the ceiling). There was a hairdryer in the top drawer of the desk/vanity that worked quite well. The cabin was quiet except for the early mornings when we were docking and then I would wake up to the sound of the thrusters and the ropes being lowered. There were small laundry areas on three of the decks with coin operated washers and dryers and there were "pressing rooms" with irons/ironing boards on a few of the decks. The dEcor of the ship was quite understated for a Carnival ship. The main colours were gold/brown and green/blue. The artwork was bright with a Caribbean feel. There was a large atrium in the center of the ship that went all the way from Deck 2 to Deck 12. At the very top of the forward part of the ship (Serenity Deck) was the "Serenity" area (an adult only area outside with deck chairs, lounges, hammocks, hot tub, etc.). Below that was Deck 14 which contained the Spa. Deck 12 (there was no Deck 13) contained the Gym and fitness area and Cloud 9 Spa Cabins. The gym was located at the very front of the ship and had walls of glass. The gym had lots of modern equipment and it was normally quite busy. I never used the spa facilities nor the hair salon, however, it always seemed busy (especially on "formal night" sea days). Also on this level at mid-ship was the entrance to the waterslides, and then towards the back of the ship was a sports area (basketball/volleyball), mini-golf, ropes course, ping pong table, pool table, foozeball tables, an outdoor fitness area and a jogging track. The track was 7 laps to a mile long and busy on sea days with runners and walkers out getting their exercise. Deck 11 had cabins at the front of the ship and then a large area of open decks overlooking the main pool. Also on this deck was the Camp Carnival for children and the Cucina del Capitano Restaurant (an Italian themed "family-style" restaurant that is free at lunchtime and has a cover charge of $10/person for dinner). There was a large pool in the center of the Lido Deck (Deck 10). And at the very back of the ship was a pool and 2 hot tubs. All the pools seemed to be very popular. The surrounding decks were always full of people relaxing on deck chairs, etc. Above the main pool area on the Lido Deck was a large theatre screen. There were movies and concerts playing on the screen throughout the day and evening. Because the outdoor area was so large, it never felt overly crowded. There were lots of deck chairs and tables/chairs surrounding the pools and also on Deck 11 and at the back of Deck 10 (where the smokers hung out). Inside the Lido Deck was the Marketplace Buffet which served a great variety of foods. There were stations on each side of the ship including a deli/sandwich area and a tandoori grill beside the aft pool, and at mid-ship a pizzeria on the port side and a grille area on the starboard side. The Mongolian Wok station was probably the most popular and always had a bit of a line up. There were salad bars, a burrito bar, carvery, and a dessert bar. There seemed to be a much larger range of food offerings on this ship. Although it was always busy, I never had a problem finding a place to sit. There were soft serve ice cream and yogurt stations located throughout the Lido area. Decks 9, 8, 7 and 6 all contain only passenger cabins. On the Promenade Deck (Deck 5) was where to find the upper level of the Showtime Theatre, the shops, the Casino, Fun Hub (Internet area - there were other Fun Hubs scattered through out the ship, so it meant that you had a choice as to where you sat at a computer and it meant that there were more computers for use), Red Frog Pub (a new addition to Carnival and very popular) and various bars/lounges, piano bar, and the Prime Steakhouse. At the back of the ship was the Spotlight Lounge, a smaller show lounge. The shops were typical and, for the most part, fairly expensive. The Casino was a decent size and always busy. Also on the Promenade Deck was an area called the "Lanai" - an area to sit out on deck and enjoy the scenery, have a smoke, or hop into one of the hot tubs that jut out over the side of the ship. The outdoor promenade completely encircled the ship, so it was a great place to walk with a bit of shelter. At lunch time they had an outdoor BBQ set up on this deck as well as a sandwich station and a sushi bar at 5 pm. On the Mezzanine Deck (Deck 4) was the mezzanine level of the Showtime Theatre and a small library and the photo gallery area. Circle C and Club O were located closer to the back of the ship. Also on this deck were the upper level of the Northern Lights Dining Room (mid-ship) and the upper level of the Southern Lights Dining Room (at the back of the ship). The last deck with public rooms was the Lobby Deck (Deck 3). The main level of the Showtime Theatre (were the daytime activities such as bingo and evening shows took place) was large and was very comfortable. The sight lines, sound system, lighting, etc. were all fine, with just a few seats blocked by pillars. The Northern Lights and Southern Lights Dining Rooms were large, well lit, well laid out, etc. I was sitting at a booth for 4 on the bottom level of the Southern Lights Dining Room at the back of the ship (6:00 pm; main seating). I never ate in the Prime Steakhouse, but everyone I spoke with who ate there really enjoyed themselves. I gather the food and service were very good. The guest services desk, shore excursions desk, front office, etc. were also found on the Lobby Deck. The atrium area on the Lobby Deck was always very busy. There was musical entertainment throughout the day and evening and a large dance floor. As well, there was a nice bar area for drinks before dinner.Decks 2 and 1 were cabins only. The infirmary was on the "0" deck and was very well equipped and prepared for pretty much any type of emergency. Overall, the ship was easy to navigate and there were lots of elevators and staircases and wide hallways, etc. Therefore, it never felt overly crowded. For the able-bodied, the ship was great. For those with mobility issues, there seemed to be good access to all the public spaces, with room for scooters, wheelchairs, walkers, etc. There were some bottleneck areas near the elevators in the atrium, and also near the entrance to the dining rooms. Similar to other ships with a dining room at mid-ship and at the back of the ship and the galley between the two dining rooms, you cannot walk through deck 3 (Lobby Deck) from front to back. You need to use either deck 2 or 4 and then use the stairs or elevator to access the main level of the dining rooms.THE PASSENGERS:Not so typical of Carnival, the majority of passengers were older. I believe the average age was about 60. About two-thirds of the passengers were from the United States and the rest were from Australia, Canada, the UK and assorted European countries. I think there were about 3,700 passengers on board. Overall, I found the majority of people on board to be friendly and kind. CREW and CUISINE and ENTERTAINMENT:I found all the crew members I dealt with to be friendly and professional. My cabin steward was amazing. The Guest Services desk staff were always very helpful. As were the Shore Excursion desk staff. The dining room staff were terrific and overall my dining experience was great. Our maitre d' was Ken Byrne, who sang every second evening and the waiters got up to dance with him. It was entertaining and lots of fun. However, entertainment in the dining room is not eveyone's cup of tea and there were some complaints. Personally, I really enjoyed it. The cruise director (John Heald) was terrific, and his staff (James, Calvyn, Christian, John, Katie, Leonnie and Ryan) were fun and energetic. Carnival makes a point of hiring staff from around the world and I expect that there were at least 30 countries represented.I thought the food on board the ship was very good. Every evening I got to try new things. The presentation was good and the food was always hot when it arrived at the table. The food in the Lido was also very good. I enjoyed all the variety of foods... a much larger selection than what I was expecting. I went to about half of the shows in the Showtime Theatre. The staff singers and dancers were very good and the 2 "production" shows that they put on were excellent. The rest of the shows were typical...comedians, jugglers, singers, etc. The orchestra was comprised of a very good group of musicians and they were excellent. There were good musicians performing in the various lounges. All in all, the entertainment was above par. PRE-CRUISE AND EMBARKATION:This cruise left from Barcelona, Spain. I flew to Barcelona before the cruise and spent two nights at the Hotel Jazz (Pelai 3 - very close to Plaza Cataluña and The Ramblas). This was a good choice as a pre-cruise hotel. I took the Airporter Bus from the airport to the Plaza Cataluña (5.30 Euros - about 30 minutes) and it was a short 10 minute walk to the hotel. The Hotel Jazz is fairly modern with comfortable rooms, a roof-top pool and deck, free WiFi, etc. I met 2 couples at the hotel (part of our Roll Call) and we shared a van to the cruise ship terminal. Taxis are plentiful in the city and the hotel can make arrangements for transportation to the port, airport, etc. Embarkation was similar to what I've experienced in the past at other ports. I had entered all my information online before hand, and it took about 15 minutes to check in. PORTS and SHORE EXCURSIONS:For this cruise I decided to book some shore excursions through Carnival. Because I was travelling solo, I found it easier (and safer) to book through the cruise line for certain ports of call. If I had been travelling with others, then researching and booking private excursions would have been appropriate.MonacoThe ship docked right in the harbour and it was a pleasant walk up to the Old Town where I toured the palace, museum, cathedral, and the public gardens. After lunch I took the "Bateau Boat" (1 Euro) from the pier over to the Casino area where it was a fairly short walk to the Casino, etc.Livorno, Italy"Beautiful Tuscany"This was a long, full day Carnival excursion by bus to San Gimignano and Volterra. Both towns were old, beautiful and interesting to walk around in. Lunch was served at a vineyard in the Tuscan countryside - couldn't get much better than that.Civitavecchia, ItalyThe port is about 1.5 hours from Rome. I took the train into the City (9 Euros, which included round trip train fare and unlimited use of the subway/bus system in Rome) and spent the day touring. The train takes about 1.5 hours to get to the city and is an inexpensive and easy way to travel - as opposed to paying for the Carnival bus transfer which was quite expensive and only gave you a few hours in the city.Naples, Italy"Amalfi Coast by Boat & Pompeii"This was a full day Carnival excursion. We travelled by bus from Naples to Salerno and then boarded a boat (with an open top deck) which slowly made its way up the Amalfi Coast to the town of Amalfi. The scenery along the way was great. We had time to wander around Amalfi on our own and then returned to Salerno by boat. We had lunch near the entrance to Pompeii and then toured the ruins. Pompeii was hot and dry, so remember to bring water with you and a light jacket would be good for the boat trip if you wish to sit outside on the top deck.Dubrovnik, CroatiaThere was a shuttle bus running from the port to the Old Town (8 Euros/return) that was very convenient. You can easily do this port on your own - just wander the Old Town and walk the City Walls, etc. This was a beautiful port of call.Venice, Italy"Murano and Burano Islands"This was a 5 hour Carnival excursion on the first afternoon that we arrived. You travel by boat and get to see Venice as you travel to the 2 islands. An interesting tour and 5 hours was plenty of time. You can walk into Venice quite easily from the port which I did the first evening and also on the second day. Part of the charm of Venice is getting lost and then easily finding your way back to your destination.Messina, Sicily"Taromina and Mt. Etna"This was a full day Carnival excursion by bus that drove through Messina and down the coast to Taormina. We toured the town and the Greek theatre and had time on our own to wander around. Lunch was in a town at the foot of Mt. Etna and then we drove up to Mt. Etna. The views were amazing. Remember to wear closed toe shoes and you'll need a jacket for Mt. Etna.This was a very port intensive cruise with only 3 "sea days". I found the sea days to be very relaxing. The weather was hot and sunny for the first 2 sea days, so I was able to be out on deck quite a bit walking or just sitting and reading a book, etc. There were lots of activities planned throughout the day, so there was never any chance to become bored. DON'T MISS MOMENTSThe sail into Venice at noon to 1:30 pm was wonderful. To see the city from the vantage point of the ship was an unexpected highlight. Sail away was at 7:30 pm - again an opportunity to see the city as the sun was setting.After leaving Messina, Sicily, we slowly sailed past Stromboli at 7:30 pm and saw it smoking and there was a small eruption - awesome to see!DISEMBARKATION:Disembarkation was very smooth and efficient. We arrived in port at 5 am and the ship was cleared by customs agents by 5:30 am. My zone was called at 6:30 am and I took the Carnival transfer bus ($29.99) to the Airport. Our luggage was waiting for us at the terminal close to the check-in area. It was so hard to say good-bye to the ship...I certainly wasn't prepared to leave.FINAL COMMENT:As stated at the beginning, I had a wonderful cruise vacation. The 12 days I was on board certainly lived up to all my expectations. Carnival is known for their 7-day "fun ship" cruises to Mexico and the Caribbean, so this whole experience of a longer cruise to European ports was great. I will certainly cruise Carnival again (long or short cruise, I don't care). Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We booked the cruise and flight separately as Barcelona has cheap flights from the Uk.We liked the itinary and the ports of call lived up to our expectation. However the ship did not.It is an American ship and as such be prepared for high ... Read More
We booked the cruise and flight separately as Barcelona has cheap flights from the Uk.We liked the itinary and the ports of call lived up to our expectation. However the ship did not.It is an American ship and as such be prepared for high drinks prices, cheapest bottle of wine 26$, can of fosters 6$.The entertainment was very poor, a show lasting 1 hour, only 3 cabaret shows and the others quest singers/comedians/jugglers. On 3 nights, John Heald cruise director uses the audience to entertain, the usual topic 'how long have you been married?'The kitchen is in the center of the ship located on deck 3, and all the food in the main restaurants comes from there although the standard is very good, it is luke warm when it arrives on your table, and for the 3 courses will take you almost 2 hours, they group nationalities together, so there were lots of tables with just 2 people on, incidently the tables were rectangle to accommodate the numbers.The Lido food is just OK, not a lot of choice at 3.30pm cleared away, all thats available till evening meal is burgers and pizza's, even on sea days.I am not a fussy eater or one to complain, this is the first time I have ever done a review on a cruise ship. I would compare this to Ocean Village which sadly we no longer have, and it is not in the league of celebrity, which has high prices but food to die for.The food is average, the entertainment is average, it is casual dining and should not be more than 3 stars.I have never seen so many shorts and T shirts worn on the evenings and even in the dining rooms, 2 formal evenings and about 60% made the effort. I strongly reccommend that you book an overnight stay at the end of your cruise.Carnivals policy is to empty the ship by 8.45am at the latest (only if you carry of your own luggage) if not they give you an earlier time to collect of the dock.As a result of this it was mayhem at the port in Barcelona, we were docked behind, Fred olsen Braemar, iberia, and NCL epic, and all 4 ships were using the port shuttle service, we waited well over an hour in the sun with our suitcases, the queue for taxi was even bigger.If you had a shuttle service from carnival booked to the airport, they took you straight there regardless of the time of your flight, the couple sharing our table, were shipped of to the airport at 8.15am and their flight was at 8.50pm. If you had an excursion they loaded your suitacases on the coach and dropped you off at the end.The only way to avoid lugging your suitcases around all day is to book a Hotel and go there to store them till you can check in.This ship leaves a lot to be desired and you feel all they want is money all the time and when its time to go, they want you off as quickly as possible, as if they do not care at all.I have been on 5 cruises and never experienced this before.LivornoWe docked with the cargo ships so the views were not good and you could not walk directly in. The shuttle service was 5 euro. We joined another group of people there were 8 of us and had a mini bus for the day for 320 euros, it took us to Florence about an hour and half away and then Pisa on the way back. 40 euros each, well worth it, as it would have cost us at least 22 euros to do shuttle, bus, and train, plus lots of waiting and lost time. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The Carnival Magic appealed to me initially as it was part of a well known brand and secondly as it was on its second voyage. I also loved the itinerary of its 12 night Mediterranean cruise visiting 7 ports. We departed from Barcelona - ... Read More
The Carnival Magic appealed to me initially as it was part of a well known brand and secondly as it was on its second voyage. I also loved the itinerary of its 12 night Mediterranean cruise visiting 7 ports. We departed from Barcelona - which is a beautiful city. So clean and the food, once you find the good restaurants, are delicious! We stayed in Barcelona 3 nights pre-cruise and 2 nights post cruise. We had travelled on the Disney Magic 3 years earlier with 2 young children so we were interested to see how the Carnival compared to Disney. Firstly, you cannot compare the 2 ships - its like comparing an apple to an orange. Disney is family orientated, with no casino and Disney themed activities, movies and on-board entertainment. Carnival has a casino on board (which we didn't visit as we are not gamblers), and a variety of entertainment to suit different tastes. The Carnival Magic was definitely a winner for us. Our room was 1312 on level 1, mid ship. It had an ocean view but no balcony - why pay for a balcony when you can meet wonderful people on the upper decks! We chose the lower deck so that we would have to walk up many levels to reach the food and pool decks (no lift for us). This way we hoped that we wouldn't put on too much weight. Unfortunately, this theory didn't work as the Italians sure know how to cook and on all our shore excursions we ate 5 full courses! Of course you must try a tartufo in Rome, a gelato in Venice and a cannoli in Messina!! The ship, being brand new, was very clean and beautiful. The staff work tirelessly day and night to make the ship sparkle. Our cabin was big enough for 2 and would have even slept 4 comfortably with a pull out. There were 2 bathrooms, one with toilet and sink, the other with a sink and shower/bath. the bed was king size and very comfortable. The only criticism is that the ship only has 1 type of pillow. My husband is asthmatic and needs a rubber pillow but they only had feather/down ones. He put a towel inside the pillow case and this made the pillow a bit firmer, so he was happy. Our cabin housekeeping team were amazing. We had Ernesto and his team. The cabin was spotless after breakfast each day and at night they turned down our blankets and left a program of the next days' activities and a towel creation on the bed (with 2 mint/chocolates too). Our main dining room was the Northern Lights. Initially we chose the 6pm seating but after having a couple of shore excursions returning around 7/7:30pm we asked to be moved to the 8:15pm seating instead. We thoroughly enjoyed our servers Martin, Chonthica & Erik. Very efficient, friendly and great fun! Our drink waiter was Zenobia - she was wonderful. She knew our order each day - service with a beautiful smile!! We met a wonderful group of Americans who were seated beside us at the late dinner seating. They were ordering 2 or 3 appetizers, then a main then dessert and coffee; so we started ordering this way too! Bad move - I now have to lose 5kg to get back to my pre-cruise weight!! Delicious food - no complaints. We ate most breakfasts in the Market place on the Lido Deck (level 10). A great variety to suit all tastes, from omelettes, to cereals, fresh fruit, cold cuts, cheeses, fruit compote, hot & cold selections. Out by the pool they had french toast, waffles and more! When we had very early shore excursions, we got room service - a small selection of continental items. Lunches we also ate either in the Market place on the Lido deck (buffet) or out by the pool (salad, pizza, sandwiches, burgers, mexican). Again, a huge selection of delicious foods to suits all tastes. Not fine dining by any means but what do you want from a buffet - good, clean and hearty food. We also found another place to eat salads and soups, inside on the casino level- Plaza Bites. We ate at both of the specialty restaurants on board. The steakhouse was exceptional - a true fine dining experience. There was a small additional charge for eating here but it was well worth it. We also tried the Italian restaurant - Cucina Del Capitano. This was not so enjoyable and we actually preferred the Lido deck to this restaurant. The ship has a couple of pools, one of which is adults only. The serenity deck was lovely for adults to relax. At this time of year there weren't many children on board so even spending time near the main pool was pleasant and relaxing. The water slides looked amazing although we didn't get a chance to try them out. We did try the suspended rope track. I only managed to walk 1/10th of the way around as I was too scared of the height and of course looking out at the ocean didn't help my vertigo! The evening shows were a fun way to end the night. There wasn't a show in the main showtime theatre every night, but I went to see all the ones they did have. We saw a funny comedian, a crazy magician, an amazing female soprano, a talented musician and a male singer (who reminded us of Jon Lovitz in the wedding singer). We didn't go to the piano bar or the night club. We did play bingo a few times which was fun. I booked all our shore excursions in advance before the cruise. The tour guides were excellent, all spoke at least a little english and were very knowledgeable. I would highly recommend taking the shore excursions as they are well organised and always ensure you make it back to the ship in time for departure. One couple actually missed the ship in Venice and had to spend a small fortune making their own way to the next port! Internet is terrible on board the ship. They don't guarantee you good reception so don't expect to get any. It's quite pricey too. I would definitely book another Carnival cruise. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
This was a cruise with the kids and grand kids, and some family friends, also with kids. Never cruised with Carnival before; our favorite cruise line is Royal Caribbean, and the Oasis of the Sea is our absolute favorite ship. The brand ... Read More
This was a cruise with the kids and grand kids, and some family friends, also with kids. Never cruised with Carnival before; our favorite cruise line is Royal Caribbean, and the Oasis of the Sea is our absolute favorite ship. The brand new Magic with it's 12 day Western Mediterranean destination, and that water slide, got us to take the chance. We're in our late 50s, and we've cruised with Princess, RCL, and NCL, and had always believed that Carnival ships had mediocre quality service, cabins, and food, and way too many noisy teenagers running around. But we'd been told that a European destination is too expensive for most younger people, so we thought it might be a fun cruise that both the adults and the grand kids could enjoy.To summarize our cruise - I would say that the ship itself was better than we expected, the food a little better than expected (although not enough choices), the cabin good, but not great, the value for the money was good, and the kids and grand kids loved the water slides. In the worst-than-expected category, the excursions were just barely okay, and definitely over-priced, and our biggest disappointment was the entertainment. We all agreed that the entertainment was the poorest we have ever experienced on a cruise ship, and needs a lot of work.Quickly, embarkation was a little slower than expected, and we spent about 1 1/2 hours getting from the shuttle bus to our cabins; this was longer than we've experienced before.The cabin was, as you'd expect, brand-spanking new, and clean. Our steward, Henry, was hard working and friendly. If we needed anything, he got it for us quickly. I was disappointed that the shower only had shower curtains, rather than the curved glass doors on the RCL ships. Otherwise, no issues with the cabins.I was a bit disappointed in the buffet - I had read that Carnival had the best buffets in the industry, but as far as we could tell, the food was standard buffet items that were available on all of the cruise ships we've been on before. There wasn't even a large variety of foods - ethnic or otherwise. It was all just the standard cruise ship buffet, morning, noon, and evening. It also closed at 9:30pm, which seemed too early to us. However, a BIG point in the Magic's favor - the 24 hour pizza was the best pizza we have ever eaten on a cruise ship, and the Goat Cheese, is now one of our all-time favorites. Also, the pool-side grill served an excellent cheeseburger. The main dining room was a pleasant surprise. I had expected, at best, mediocre quality; what I got was food that was better than NCL, as good as Princess, though not as good as RCL. The steaks were very good, the lobster was the best I've had on a cruise ship ever, and I had two prime ribs that were very, very good. One word to the chef - you guys are putting way too much salt in the soups! Our entire party agreed - your soups were the saltiest we've tasted on a cruise ship. Our head server was Raja, our assistant server was Andy, and their assistant was Arada. They took GREAT care of us, always had our sodas and juices prepared before we got to the table, and remembered our preferences. They were also some of the nicest cruise line employees we have ever met. A few words about the entertainment, the biggest disappointments in the entire trip. So we had 12 nights on our voyage, and I personally was looking forward to some good production shows, magicians, comedians, etc. What a let-down. The entertainment was terrible. The big productions (three I believe), were all huge disappointments. Poorly written and poorly choreographed, they were not entertaining, as much as they were embarrassing. And John Heald, the Cruise Director, was featured in three shows, where he spent a lot of time interviewing some passengers. It got tedious and embarrassing towards the end, and then to add insult to injury, he brought back two of the passengers, it some of the most pathetic attempts at humor I have ever witnessed. We wound up walking out before the end of most of the shows in the main theater. Also, there was a magic show in one of the lounges, featuring three different magicians, and they did some of the most unimpressive tricks and slight of hand, that I've ever seen performed. Also, on some nights, there was no major entertainment at all, another disappointment. Overall, the Entertainment on the Magic was very poor, and I think Carnival should do a major re-thinking of their program.As far as excursions - the trips were okay - and we had two outstanding lunches, in Rome and Pompeii (I didn't think that pasta could taste so good), but in general, I'd say the excursions were priced a bit high. Also, of the several guides we had, only one spoke English well enough to really understand with no difficulty, and a couple of the others were barely intelligible. The Colosseum in Rome, the Vatican, and Pompeii, were truly awesome to experience, and they were definitely well-worth the time and expense.Finally, a huge thumbs-up to customer service. We had a problem with noise in our cabin in the evening, and the Magic's customer service manager, Anna Marie, went the extra mile to make it right. She was terrific - responsive to our needs, and became personally involved to make sure all of our issues were resolved to our satisfaction. So hats off to Anna Marie, and the Magic's customer service team. Overall, the trip was a huge success, and while the Magic was not perfect, it definitely was more than adequate for the task, and we thought Carnival did a reasonably good job of delivering a European trip, at an good price. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
The ship is VERY big, yet, with the exception of breakfast the first day, I never was aware of the large number of fellow passengers. Embarkation was a breeze. Our cabin was perfectly located on deck 11 with easy access to my favorite area ... Read More
The ship is VERY big, yet, with the exception of breakfast the first day, I never was aware of the large number of fellow passengers. Embarkation was a breeze. Our cabin was perfectly located on deck 11 with easy access to my favorite area (the spa). Our cabin steward was attentive and as requested kept a constant supply of clean fresh towels in our room. The foreward walkway at the end of the hall provided a fantastic panorama for those of us without balconies. Food was very good and offered a more highly seasoned and ethnic variety than I remember (a plus for us). Drinks overpriced but we took a wine package which gave us a nice offering of fairly priced wines to enjoy nightly with dinner. We did most of our tours privately though we had on board credit that we used for a few. Of the ship's tours, one was mediocre, other two very good. As has been stated previously, the pools on the Dream class of ships on Carnival are too few and too small and there exists a major problem with people saving deck chairs for the day to have them available when they wanted, leaving a shortage for others. Shops on board were same old same old, but heck I don't cruise to shop (though I did have to pay 5.50 for a $2 tube of toothpaste and resented it). This trip there were less than 10 children on board (that's why we chose to travel at this time!!) and a more international crowd than Carnival usually gets. Shows very okay, nothing great, but we chose the ship for the itinerary. We got GREAT VALUE for our money and would do this trip again in a heartbeat. Debarkation was even easier than embarkation. We could have made an early flight out but not realizing it would be that easy we stayed an extra day in Barcelona. Barcelona: We enjoyed a wonderful variety of sights, museums, artifacts, food and entertainment. Experienced tapas, Flamenco, Gaudi, Monsterrat, tour of the city, Picasso museum and people watching. Had no problems with pick pockets but maybe that's, because having grown up in NY, our antennas are always up. Monaco: What an unexpectedly terrific port. We hired Sylvie DiCristo who did a private tour for 8 of us. She showed us the Grand Prix track, the Princess Grace Rose Garden and took us on a magnificent tour of Nice and Eze. Beautiful day. Pisa/Florence: Finally fulfilled my lifelong dream of seeing Michaelangelo's David. He lived up to my expectations and Pisa exceeded them. We had a guide from Easitalytours and Marco showed us "his" city. What a joy. Rome: A month wouldn't be long enough to spend in Rome. What a fantastic day with Antonello of Easitalytours. I don't think there was anything we missed except for not having enough time in the Vatican due to the large crowds that day. Antonello's knowledge of the city and its history and his love for his city was definitely a trip highlight. It was an exhausting day but one never to be forgotten. The Sistine, the Pieta, the Colosseum, Circus Maximus, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps and more and more and more. Naples and Amalfi Coast: While everyone ran to Pompeii we had Herculaneum all to ourselves. Fantastic. Only surpassed by the views of the Amalfi Coast and our visit to Sorrento and Positano. Mauro arranged for us to dine at a family run restaurant with dramatic views and great food. Dubrovnik: Quaint city with great views, but not one I'd rush back to. Perhaps nothing could compete with the previous ports. Messina: Mt. Etna was terrific. Guide from Sicily Life stopped at a winery and honey factory for us to sample and enjoy. Then off to Taormina with its history and views. This cruise was a balance between beauty, art, history, culture and food. We used the ship as a floating hotel. We were off it by 8 am and didn't return until dinner time, which is why we chose n inside cabin. We (wisely) saved out money for the excursions. Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
First of all I'm a Dutch resident, so if my English sometimes is not correct, you know why. We were travelling as a couple ages 50-60. The cabin Our first cruise with Carnival. We took an inside cabin while the cruising ... Read More
First of all I'm a Dutch resident, so if my English sometimes is not correct, you know why. We were travelling as a couple ages 50-60. The cabin Our first cruise with Carnival. We took an inside cabin while the cruising is mostly at night and with one sea day, far away from land, there was no need for a balcony. The cabin space was sufficient, the beds were good. There are three closets that are a good size and a dresser with three small usable drawers. The bathroom small but efficient. Located mid-ships you're in the middle with everything. The beds are high enough to slide a good size suitcase under them. The cabin stewards were excellent, which we had aimed for since deck 7 is the deck with the most expensive cabins and the best staff is working there. We didn't miss the balcony at all. Pool deck The pools are rather small. But the music at the Seaside Theatre is sometimes that loud that after one hour we relocated to the side boards of the ship, where always was plenty of room. For a cool down you could use the showers at the spot. In general there were always loungers available. The band playing Blood Power was good. Entertainment I found the entertainment, with exception of the comedians in the Spotlight Lounge, a big disappointment. But why have one comedian perform for 30 minutes, pause 30 minutes, and than the second one. By the time you finally had gotten your drink the show was over! Some of the musicians playing at the ship were not up to level, sometimes really lousy, with a repertoire that is very limited. I guess that Carnival can do way better at this. Food The food was OK. Except for the day at sea there were hardly no queues. The Lido buffet is large but could do with a bit more variation in the food offered. Both Tandoori and Mongolion Wok were good. The dinner in the Southern Lights was in general good. Disappointment was that after purchasing a wine package we were informed that only half of the wines were available! So there was a very limited choice. Excursions The excursions offered are a rip off! So we organized everything, except for Naples, ourselves and that went perfectly. A Birg ticket to Rome that includes public transport in Rome, for example is about $ 5! The shuttle bus in Marseille, which you really need to avoid a more than 1 hour walk, costs € 12,00 rt. Also here Carnival could do much better. In Livorno we stayed aboard, since public transportation was on strike. Livorno has nothing to offer, it's a dirty city with pidgins everywhere. The advantage is that you have the ship for yourselves. Embarkation and debarkation went very smooth. Annoying Going from the Southern Lights dining room to the Spotlight Lounge you had to pass at least 6 or 7 photographers, all of them stepping in your way trying to push their photo's. Every night again! Well that is becoming really annoying. Conclusion Looking at the price/value this cruise in general met our expectations and sometimes exceeded it. Sure, there were some flaws, and some niggles need to be sorted out, but we would not hesitate to book another Carnival cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2010
We recently returned from our 12 day sail onboard the Carnival Magic departing from Barcelona 12/06/11. My Mum and I, both English, decided to go away on holiday as we needed a good break to relax and recharge after a stressful year; ... Read More
We recently returned from our 12 day sail onboard the Carnival Magic departing from Barcelona 12/06/11. My Mum and I, both English, decided to go away on holiday as we needed a good break to relax and recharge after a stressful year; unfortunately we didn't find this whilst onboard the Magic. This is our third cruise and our first and last aboard a Carnival ship. _Embarkation & Disembarkation This was a very smooth process. Before you arrive at the Barcelona dock be sure to find out the dock letter buried in the small print of your Carnival documents, so your cab driver knows where to go (there are 4 A-D). When you get to the dock, your bags will be snatched away and put on a conveyor belt straight into the ship. The rest is just some health questionnaires, embarkation photos and getting your cards. Disembarking was also easy. Carnival divide up the passengers by time slots based on what time your flight/tour/taxi is booked for. You then put your bags outside the room the night before and reclaim them in the terminal after you disembark meaning you avoid lugging them through the ship and the gangways. You have the option of getting off whenever you like if you don't want time restrictions, but you have to handle your luggage on your own. However, if you're waiting for a cab, be aware there's little seating at the dock terminal so you could spend a long time standing around waiting in the sun if your connection is delayed. _The Ship The ship itself is very large (with 4000+ passengers) and much larger than the previous cruise ships we had been on, which often made it confusing when trying to navigate around the ship. I'm not sure that we really understood where everything was onboard, or even saw all of the ship by the last day. The dEcor is quite loud, lots of shiny surfaces, neon lightings, bright colours, tropical paintings; it feels very much like you're in a giant casino. As the ship was only just over a month old at the time we boarded, everything was clean and new looking so no signs of wear and tear. They also seemed to be continuously painting and varnishing the ship whilst we were onboard, which often meant sunbathing was accompanied by paint fumes.. Whilst we were at sea, you could virtually forget you were on a moving object as there was very little movement on the ship. The only time we did experience a fair amount of rocking was on the return journey to Barcelona on our last night. When we looked down at the decks in the morning the Red Frog pub and most of the deck was soaked with water, so the crossing return is obviously a lot choppier than any other part of the trip. _The Room We booked a balcony stateroom, apparently the last one available, which was on deck 9. We wanted a balcony so that we could relax and enjoy the views in peace on sea days/returning from port. Unfortunately this never happened. Carnival unfortunately permits smoking onboard their ships, and surprising to us, they allow smoking in their staterooms and on balconies. Since neither of us are smokers, nor enjoy inhaling second-hand smoke, we try to avoid being around smokers when at all possible. Unluckily for us, the couple staying in the room forward from us (meaning we were downwind of them) were chain smokers, and seemed to spend almost all of the day on the balcony lighting up. This essentially meant as soon as we sat outside we would soon be breathing in lungs full of secondhand smoke. The UK outlawed smoking in public areas and places of work several years ago so we are used to clean air or at least being able to avoid smoke if we need to. However, when you've paid for a balcony and the people next to you have also paid, seemingly with the primary intention of smoking outside, you have nowhere to escape to, except inside your cabin. We may as well have not bothered to pay extra and just had an inside/seaview room instead. Aside from the obvious inconvenience to non-smokers, I would think the danger of fire and damage to the rooms, such as cigarette burns and nicotine stains would make it sensible to ban smoking in the rooms and balconies. We were informed that Carnival are working to reduce/ban smoking as of December. Not very much use to us as it ruined our enjoyment of this holiday and we definitely won't be cruising with Carnival in the future. Smoking was also permitted in the pub, bars, casino and certain areas on the open decks (although it was never obvious where and we never saw a "no smoking" sign anywhere). Gladly the dining room is smoke free. The room itself is very cramped, considering the cost and compared to previous cruises, it's a lot smaller than we expected. It was very clean though, and well maintained by our Room Steward who would clean our room every day and provide us with fresh ice each evening. It helps that the ship is new, so it hasn't had the chance to show signs of wear yet. The Staterooms bathrooms are equipped with a toilet, sink and shower and you are provided with some a few soaps, razors and shower gel. The bath towels, face clothes and hand towels provided were rough-starchy feeling, almost as though they've had years of washing to get to the brillo-pad stage they're at now. You are also provided with 2 bathrobes, which were very good quality, and felt new. Inside the top drawer of the dresser there is a hairdryer, which is handy as you don't need to take one with you. For Europeans, you'll need to take adapter plugs to convert your power cables to American sockets/voltage. Each night there was also the obligatory towel-origami animal that our Steward left on our bed, or hanging from the ceiling. Although these are a cute feature and a nice touch, I couldn't help feel it was a huge waste of their time as they have to create each of these towel animals for every room on the ship every night (you can even purchase a book from Carnival on how to recreate them). There isn't a huge amount of wardrobe space, and some of it's taken up with bunkbed ladders and life jackets, so we spent most of our time riffling through piles of scrunched-up clothing every day. I would recommend taking your own hangers if your luggage has room for it, since you'll quickly run out of hangers for your clothes (we left some behind in our cabin should they be any use for future occupants - though I suspect they probably got thrown away). Fortunately they had designed the beds to accommodate the suitcases underneath them so you don't have to dance around them the whole time, but even without this the room is awkward to move around. I really couldn't see how a family of 4 could comfortably share the same space without forever falling over each other. In terms of noise, we couldn't hear our neighbours through the walls, but we were forever being disturbed by people going in and out of the balcony letting the door slam behind them. The same is true of the stateroom door, which would be slammed shut along the corridor late into the evening, along with many post-casino revelers who felt the need to chat loudly as they returned to their room. Being on the 9th deck, the Lido deck was directly above us, which meant that through the night you could constantly hear trollies rolling back and forth, stiletto heals pounding the floor and children running around above your head. The balcony, when we attempted to use it, wasn't very large either with little space to move around or recline. You're provided with one reclining-backed chair, one fixed chair and a metal table. The dividers between the balconies have been designed to be metal doors that can be opened if you have adjoining cabins, or I guess to make it easier to clean. Unfortunately the huge gaps above and below the door also aid in the noise and smells from your next door neighbours traveling through to your balcony. Being port side and aft, the Red Frog Pub and the Vibe Nightclub were several floors below us. We'd read other reviews that noise from the Red Frog constantly disturbed their time on their balcony, but we only really found it noisy on our last day when people were outside playing drinking games and cheering loudly. The TV offers you several channels with webcam views of the ship and port - and this was often the most entertaining thing on TV we discovered. There are several news channels and a couple of french/italian/polish channels as well as a couple of free movie channels. These movies started every 3 hours, although we were never sure exactly when, and were a relay of the films played on the Seaside Theatre the night before. Not bad since they're free, but they were mainly kids films or ones we'd seen before. You can purchase a small selection of films from their interactive TV System at overpriced $10.99 a go if you get very bored. You can also view your account total, view restaurant menus and order room service through your TV which is very useful when you don't want to pick up the phone. _The Internet I was determined not to spend my holiday stuck on the internet since I do enough of that when I'm at home/work, but we decided it would be handy to have just to keep family up to date or do port research. This turned out to be essential when we booked some last minute excursions whilst onboard, but you'll discover the speed is extremely slow and you're being billed by the minute not data use. The best thing we found is to use it in the early hours or during port days when few people are accessing it and you should get a reasonably quick service. We took our own laptop and purchased the 240 minute package ($89) which we had to keep topping up. _The Food Before going on this cruise we'd read several reviews that rated the food mediocre and cold. We honestly didn't find this to be the case during our time onboard. We were seated in the Southern Lights dining room, late seating and we had requested to have a table for 2 during our cruise, which we did have every night. However, as we were seated on a table-for-four every day, we discovered from our waiter that there should have been a couple dining opposite us, but they never turned up for dinner. Had they been present for our meals I think we probably would have been unhappy that our request for a table for 2 was ignored, especially since upstairs there were quite a few 2 seaters that seemed unreserved. The daily specials menu changes each day, alongside a menu that remains the same throughout, with common staples such as steak, gourmet burgers, chicken, etc. We did find that towards the end a lot of the daily special menu seemed to be reworded/similar dishes to the previous days/week, and a lot of the options were fish based. The starters were often a choice of fish or soups too, and with some unusual choices, e.g. "chilled cherry bing soup". We didn't try any of the fruity/cold soups, but I can definitely recommend the more traditional soups for their flavour. However this said we never struggled to find something we wanted to eat and enjoyed virtually everything delivered to our table. There had also been reviews commenting on cold food, which we didn't find whilst we were dining there. The menus and in general, food onboard, is very skewed towards and American clientele so you'll discover "Grilled Reuben sandwiches" (cheese and ham to the rest of us), "Idaho potatoes", "Wisconsin Cheese", "FrootLoops" and Grits. You'll also struggle to get a decent cup of tea, or in some cases, to find milk to go with it. The staff are generally all very friendly onboard and our waiting staff in the dining room were great. We were seated in level 3 Southern Lights with Inver, Ivan and Juan as our waiting staff who were very attentive and friendly; our ice water was regularly replenished without asking and we were always promptly served with bread as soon as we sat down. There isn't a time limit on dinner so if you arrive a little late they aren't going to boot you out; we saw people still arriving for dinner after 9pm some evenings, and you'll still receive the same attentive service. They're also very keen to make sure you're happy with your meal, so if you have any problems, just let them know and they can bring you something else if you'd like. And despite serving countless passengers, they were still able to remember our preferences over food, so we were brought cappuccinos with our dessert without even asking. In regards to service, we felt the dining room was extremely good and probably better than we had experienced on other cruise lines. We purchased a wine package at the start of the cruise, which gives us 5 bottles of wine (at $126 - not especially cheap) to drink over the course of our 12 days. We always have wine with dinner, but just about managed to make the bottles last until our last day. Cocktails are also charger at a premium, around $8-£10, so we didn't spend a lot in this direction, although I do have a soft spot for a Pina Colada. Certain food/drink areas around the ship incur and additional charge, such as the coffee bar and the Red Frog Pub, so these places will certainly rack up your Sail & Sign account if you use them regularly. We never used the Red Frog, because aside the cost, the pub seemed to be extremely noisy and full of people whooping and hollering the whole time. During the day the primary food source is the Lido Marketplace, which is a large buffet of hot and cold food, providing breakfast, lunch and dinner (7am-9.30pm I believe). There was also a tandoori section and a sandwich deli making food to order. All of the tables are cleaned and cleared quickly and there was always plenty of cutlery/plates available. Outside on the mid Lido deck, pizza, hotdogs and burgers were served 24 hours a day; although we saw them packing in around 2am, which is roughly when the packs of teens stop herding through the food areas and chatting loudly in the stairwells. The dress code in the dining rooms is termed as "Casual Dining", meaning you can basically wear what you like with the exception of bikinis, flip flops, shorts etc. Most people abide by this and in general most people seemed to dress reasonably well during dinner - there were a few exceptions with people in sweat tops and denim shorts. In the open decks, lido and pool areas people mostly wander about in swimwear and shorts. We had two "Cruise Elegant" nights, which were intended for people to dress up more than they would usually. Most people did make an effort here, varying from prom-type dresses, cocktail dresses, smart skirts and men in shirt and ties, but again some people that didn't attempt to dress any differently. Room service is available free 24 hours a day, not something we'd experienced on previous cruises, so I have to give full marks to Carnival for this one. Another good innovation is that you can order directly through your TV saving the hassle of phoning down to the guest services desk. From room service you can arrange breakfast in your room at a time to suit you, and can order tea, coffee, juices, toast (will arrive cold), croissants, bagels, and smoked salmon. During the day you can also order sandwiches, salads, cookies and desserts. This service could sometimes take up to an hour, but generally was quite speedy and arrived well presented. _The Entertainment This is Carnival's biggest let down on this cruise. From what we could make of it the primary entertainment on the ship was eating, boozing and gambling, because it certainly wasn't the promised "Vegas-style shows". The Magic Theatre put on maybe 3 proper shows during our 12 days, and really we would only say that one of them was any good. The first three days on the ship, there seemed to be no entertainment to speak of at all, and in its place was the cruise director John Heald playing games of public humiliation with unfortunate members of the audience. One night this consisted of lengthy quizzing of around 6 people followed by a game of "pass the spoon on a piece of string through each others clothes". Whilst this raised a few laughs, it certainly shouldn't be the primary format for the evening shows. One evening the main entertainment consisted of a Dutch juggler, who, whilst talented, was like watching an hour-long Britain/America's Got Talent audition. Many of the shows seemed to consist of an opening game of bingo as well, which just added to the tedium and underlined the cheesy Butlins-style entertainment most evenings. Even though they usually do 2 shows a night, you'll still need to get to the theatre early to make sure you get a seat... if you actually want to watch it that is. The first properly organised performance, close to "Vegas-style" was a magician's show with a choreographed series of dance routines by Carnival dancers (who were onboard the whole time apparently and yet we saw only twice) and a singing duo of Monquez Pippins and Adriane Hall. This was very well put together and visually entertaining, even if the magic tricks were fairly tired, e.g. sawing a girl in half, making people disappear etc. However, the shows only lasted around an hour and when it was over with there seemed to be nothing to do afterwards, unless you enjoyed gambling or drinking, as everything apart from the casino closed around midnight. In chatting with some of the staff in the Spa, who seemed to be mainly British, they thought this was because Americans were too tired in the evening from their 10-12 hour coach tours to want to enjoy long shows. This clearly wasn't the case given the number of people propping up slot machines in the casino or aimlessly floating around the photo galleries every night. After giving up on the Theatre entertainment one night we did make it to the Spotlight lounge for the adult-only comedy, which we did find quite funny. Daily entertainment consisted of various trivia quizzes about Motown, 60's & 70's music, animal trivia etc., beanbag throws or conferences on losing weight. There also seemed to be a heavy leaning on art auctions and trying to sell you paintings and photos. "Friends of Bill W / Jimmy K" (often held in one of the bars, which I thought ironic) met every day, and Karaoke parties were common just about anywhere onboard. None of which interested us, so we generally avoided most of the entertainment on offer as none of it appealed. Due to the size of the ship it was often hard to find where exactly entertainment was onboard and we were usually disappointment when we got there. We did find one thing to do that lasted well into the early hours though... _Laundry Now, the fact Carnival have laundry rooms is pretty useful, and I don't think we've had these before on other ships. We stay up quite late anyway and usually discover it's quiet around the ship after about 1am, so we made the foolish assumption the laundry room would be empty at this time. We went down at 2am on the night of our first sea day, to discover a queue of people with bags of washing waiting to clean their clothes. This carried on throughout the night, but we were able to get our washing into a machine around 4am, but only after we had gone down to the Guest Services desk to get the few dollars I luckily happened to bring with me, exchanged into quarters. The soap dispensers, washers and driers are all American, so they will only accept quarters. The wash took half an hour, but the dryer takes an hour and a half... we eventually got to bed around 8am after having some pre-sleep breakfast and watching a beautiful sunrise over the sea, which sort of made the effort worth it.. but not really. This is not an experience we repeated again. Half way through the cruise there was a discounted offer on having your clothes laundered through your room steward who will deliver them to your room the same or next day. Definitely, definitely do this if you need something washed, or you'll spend a good portion of your night awake, waiting for a washing machine. If you have a lot of laundry to do.. well, you'll be in for a long night. I also couldn't help wonder how the people in the cabins nearby the laundry rooms felt since they must be subject to constant noise from the washer/dryers and people coming and going all hours and the only benefit being prime access to the washers. _The Spa This is one of the key features we were looking forward to on this ship for a bit of R&R. The treatments on offer vary from facials, mud therapies, massages, acupuncture and even Botox. Most of the prices for these started around the $100-200 range so we didn't try any of them. The spa itself is actually very nicely done, providing you with a quiet child-free zone on the ship to unwind after touring the ports. The thalassotherapy pool and thermal bed areas are relaxing and well maintained. You'll also find steam rooms, saunas and an aromatherapy shower which smells lovely. After you've finished steaming, boiling and mud scrubbing yourself there's a very peaceful lounge with sofas where you can sit in quiet and just watch the view with a glass of water or tea (only if you like it without milk!!). It would be nice if there were more drink options here, since we aren't all green tea and lemon water drinkers. Ignoring this, the views in the spa area of the ship are some of the best onboard as you're right at the front of the ship, and have a complete panorama view of the sea ahead, so take a book and have some chill time in peace. We didn't find the facilities very busy when we used them, but we usually went whilst most people were in port or during mealtimes/entertainment times. Had they been available at the time of booking, we would have selected a Spa stateroom or suite, as they are located in this area and are non-smoking. Unfortunately our stateroom was virtually at the opposite end of the ship, meaning we trudged from one side of the ship to the other in dressing gowns when we visited the spa. The facilities closed at 11pm port days and 10pm on sea days, which of course meant you couldn't access them in the evenings if you dared to try any of the entertainment on offer. When you access the spa the receptionist will give you a wristband to prove you've paid to access the area that day. Towards the end of our cruise the spa had implemented swipe cards to access the facilities, presumably because they only just realised people that hadn't paid were just going straight in without being charged. The gym is situated just below the Spa area and offers equipment you'd find in most gyms. We did use the gym once or twice, but found the equipment wasn't very easy to access/weight settings weren't the same as the UK and the room itself was very warm. Plus you don't really need a gym with the amount of trekking around the ship you'll end up doing. The "Serenity" area is situated above the Spa for adults only, but other guests commented that they often saw children around the area and the staff never asked them to leave. The same thing is true of people reserving loungers/deck chairs with towels, books, hats etc. The belongings would seem to sit there all day with no one using them, despite signs telling you not to. The staff said they weren't allowed to touch other peoples' property meaning there was often nowhere to sit, despite mostly unused chairs/loungers. This area is nice, when you can get a canopy beds, but if you sit in the wrong area you'll get blasted by the aircon exhaust and the noise from this.. not very serene. On one port day, where we had decided to skip the tours and stay onboard to do some sunbathing before everyone returned, however what we discovered was most of the area was out of bounds thanks to the deck areas being waxed. We found that many of the facilities, bars, cafes, etc. seemed to shut down or be out of bounds to passengers on port days, presumably because they think everyone's onshore so they needn't bother staffing it. _Onboard Shops Onboard shopping is great on this ship, if what you're looking for is overpriced jewellery, watches, cosmetics, booze or anything with the word "Carnival" tattooed all over it. There's also a candy store selling numerous sugary items, again with American favourites.. Hersheys, Saltwater taffy, Altoids, Reese's Pieces. If what you're actually looking for are essentials that you forgot to bring or couldn't fit in your case, good luck. On the last day we did eventually discover a very small shelf stack with plasters, razors etc. which is tucked in the corner of the alcohol area, and behind the till. _Excursions We aimed to book most of our own excursions, as we don't enjoy climbing on and off coaches for 10-12 hours a day. However, we did book a few of the shorter and "easy" tours that Carnival arranged for Monaco, Naples and Venice. We had a few more booked but following our trip in Naples we requested our other tours were cancelled for a refund. To their credit, the guest services guest were fine with us canceling and provided a full refund without any issue. In general the reviews you read of Carnival tours are accurate; they're overpriced, boring and give you little insight into the area you're visiting. Before you can get going on your Carnival arranged tour you have to be processed by the staff and wait in the magic theatre. We assumed the staff must be pretty used to calling numbers out given the amount of bingo they also host. The first day we did a tour, Monaco, we went down at the time indicated on the ticket, only to discover a queue of people all the way from one side of the lobby to the other and snaking around the dining room. All that's happening here, is the staff are asking your name, checking you off and giving you a sticky label with your coach number so I have no idea why it takes so long. After this you'll sit for what feels like an eternity, waiting for your number to be called, at which point a bunch of people you'll be traveling with will stand up, whoop and cheer and start stampeding down the staircases. You could use the lifts, but you'll soon discover that no matter what time of the day, trying to get a lift takes forever on the ship. Monaco - Carnival tour "Spectacular Riviera", takes you on a very brief drive of Monte Carlo and you spend most of your time driving around the hilly countryside where you'll stop periodically to take pictures and then stay at an uninspiring village for a cup of coffee. You have the option to hike up to Eze at this point if you wanted, but it was a steep climb up the hill and with only half an hour to go and return. This tour was only made interesting really by our tour guide Pascal, who was our friendly and funny insight into Monoco life and the tax dodging rich (ahem, Bono) that live there. You see little of Monte Carlo, the Grand Prix track, etc. on this tour which would have been more interesting. We selected tours that require little or no walking as we both struggle with long walks/hilly climbs. However when we looked at it, I think it would have been quite easy and more interesting to get a cab or walk into Monte Carlo to look around. The primary fun thing to watch are the rich and famous taking their yachts and jet skis' in and out of the harbour. Rome - We booked a private excursion in advance for this because we really wanted to see Rome properly. The tour company we used was Carratoni Tours (http://www.carratonitours.com/eng/tours.htm) who provided an excellent service and took us everywhere we asked. Mauricio picked us up at our pre-arranged time from the dockside and had our name on a sign. The car was air conditioned, very comfortable and modern. From here we drove into Rome, roughly a 45 minute drive where you can view the scenic coast line and hillsides. When we were in Rome we were driven to all the sights we'd asked to see and saw a few extras along the way - including the Coliseum (well worth seeing), Trevi Fountain, Mouth of Truth, Circus Maximus (you can't go inside sadly), St Peter's Basillica, Triumphal Arches and Pantheon. Mauricio was very skilled at driving through the narrow windy streets, giving us a great view of all the little side streets that you'd otherwise miss on a coach and giving us details about what we're seeing. We only wanted to spend a maximum of 4-5 hours doing tours, and we managed to accommodate everything in this time frame by doing it privately and we would definitely recommend Carratoni Tours if you want something personal. He also bought us each a little gift of a scarf and bottle of water which was a very charming touch. Collection from the dock, tour and return to the ship cost €350 and was well worth it (especially as the vehicle could have taken another 4 passengers for the same price). Livorno - We debated about whether to go into Florence or not, but because it's about a 1.5hour drive each way, we decided to skip this port and spend the day chilling on the ship instead. We enjoyed the break in the touring to have some quiet sunbathing at the back of the ship (gladly no one was painting this day) whilst watching the activity in the port and the beautiful sun setting on the sea. Naples - This was the worst port of the whole trip. We really should have done the Pompeii trip, but we were concerned it would involve a lot of walking in hot weather whilst trailing around after a tour guide. So instead we went for the Carnival Tour "Leisurely Naples". This started off badly with some very rude passengers on the coach which pretty much ruined the trip from the start for me. The incident largely occurred due to poor organisation from the staff arranging the tour, so could have been avoided. The tour itself consisted of driving around an ugly industrialised town, full of rubbish, then heading up the hill and stopping periodically to take pictures of the sea where our ship was docked. There was then a brief stop at a cafe along the shore-front to get a free ice cream or soft drink. If this trip is anything to go by, Naples isn't worth seeing. In hindsight we should have done Pompeii via private tour. Dubrovnik - In contrast this was our favourite port of the trip. Primarily I think because we didn't have any preconceived notions or hopes, so we were very pleasantly surprised to discover how beautiful Croatia is. We were booked on a Carnival tour but cancelled it because of the experience with the Naples tour the previous port day, so spent the evening searching for a taxi tour company using the super-slow onboard wireless internet. Amazingly we managed to book a tour and the following morning as we disembarked, we were met by our tour driver at our arranged time, who spoke English and took us on a breath-taking tour along the coast line and up into the hills. He drove us up into the highest point, along a very windy narrow road (pray no one is driving in the opposite direction) above Dubrovnik, which is where the Cable Car goes up to. The view over the bay, looking at the various islands is truly beautiful and well worth doing. We also drove into the little harbour villages of Mlini and Cavtat, which had crystal clear water, pretty little gift shops and people playing water volleyball. We then went into the Old Town, which is the walled area of the city with small markets, ice cream sellers, pretty cafes and restaurants. From here you can also arrange all sorts of boat tours taking you around the bay, three island tours, pirate ships and glass bottom boats. All the people in the town that we spoke to had good English, and in fact, better than in Italy or Spain so you won't have a problem arranging things within the city. For this tour we used Car Hire Dubrovnik (http://www.carhiredubrovnik.com/), and simply called to arrange a 3 hour tour of the area and the town which cost €120, and this was actually cheaper than the Carnival tour we had originally booked. We loved this port and on the basis of this tour intend to return to spend a longer holiday in the area to explore it further. Leaving Dubrovnik was also the most beautiful sight, as you pass through the islands as the sun is setting. The primary currency in the shops is the Kuna, but most are able to convert prices into Euro for you. Cash points in the town will give you the Kuna - I think €30 was around 70 Kunas. You'll also need your passport to leave the port as Croatia hasn't yet joined the EU. Venice - I was very excited about this port as I haven't ever been and have always wanted to experience it. The arrival into the port takes around an hour and gives you a view of the outer islands and St Marks Square as you travel down the Guidecca canal. If you want to see St Marks and Dodge's Palace you need to be on the starboard side of the ship, but the Cruise Director will inform you of this as you're sailing in. If you're on the lido deck during this, you'll be blasted by Pavarotti apparently - something we chose to avoid. I can only imagine which the Venetians make of a giant cruise ship ploughing down their canals, blasting out cheesy opera. We'd booked the Carnival Tour "Panoramic Tour by Motorlaunch", which I had little hopes for, but it didn't involve a coach - how bad could it be? To be fair it wasn't that bad, but it certainly wasn't that great either - or worth the money. It takes you on a lengthy journey around some of the Islands whilst someone talks to you over the intercom about the various insane asylums, black plague hospitals and churches you're looking at. We chose to sit outside at the back so we missed most of commentary, and instead chose to watch the sights and the water. It was quite a pleasant journey and at the midway point you're allowed to disembark at St Marks, where you'd have to find you own way back later on. We decided to do St Marks the following day so stayed onboard and returned to the ship. The following day we wanted to get into St Mark's on our own. We had contemplated getting a water taxi but were aware these were very costly, and also difficult to get on and off unless you're the athletic sort. We gave up anyway, after attempting to call some water taxi companies and discovered they hardly spoke English and wanted everything emailed to them. From where the ship docks there are booths where you can arrange water taxis and also a private water bus called the Alilaguna (http://www.alilaguna.it/linee.en.html - blue line, €13 return) which leaves every half an hour and goes directly from the port to St mark's, taking approximately 20 minutes down the Guidecca Canal. This essentially takes you the same route as the Carnival tour we took on the previous day, but without the roundabout tour of the islands, which weren't all that interesting to look at. When you arrive at San Marco pier (St Mark's) you'll get off at the ticket office, this is where you'll board your boat for the return journey. You can also purchase a tour of the Grand Canal and the Murano, Burano & Torcello islands from this ticket office. Unfortunately we didn't realise this until we were heading back to the ship otherwise we would have done the Grand Canal tour. These are all tours Carnival offer and charge ridiculous prices for. You can easily arrange these yourself by getting the Alilaguna into San Marco and purchasing the tours from the ticket office there. The alternative to this is to get the public water buses called vaporetto, run by Actv (http://www.actv.it/en/movinginvenice/waterbusservicestimetable), which you'll see all over the place. To do this from the ship you'd have to get on the people mover, which costs €1 each, and then transfer to the overcrowded public transport boats to get around. We had a feeling this would be a lot more complicated and less tourist friendly than the Alilaguna was. St Mark's itself wasn't all it was cracked up to be, or at least, that was my view. There were long queues to get into the Basilica, but frankly, I've seen far too many churches and cathedrals in my life to spend yet another trip doing this. The square itself is nothing amazing, I was expecting people playing music, stalls, people having coffee and Venetians milling around. All I saw were cafe chairs stacked up and tourists with cameras. The side streets are where the culture of Venice is. The narrow streets squeezed between canals offer you a bounty of places to part with your money; primarily Murano Glass, scarves, bags and masks. It's well worth walking beyond St Marks and exploring some of the little side streets where the prices are considerably cheaper, the goods are the same and the tourist volume is lower. Messina, Sicily - We originally booked a tour for this with Carnival, but again, decided to cancel it and just enjoy a day onboard doing some sunbathing. This is where we discovered the Serenity area was being waxed and so half of the deck chairs were piled up out of action and the rest were covered in towels with no one using them. The staff were also reluctant to help with seating in this area, but eventually put some more seating out after more people arrived with nowhere to sit. The options for this port were Mt Etna or Taormina. We weren't sold on either and had been told Messina itself is nothing special, so we thought we may as well skip this port. Later on that evening as we were leaving Sicily we sailed past the volcanic island of Stomboli. The Cruise Director, John Heald, claimed this was a special request just for us, but if you do a bit of reading you'll find most reviews say they did the same thing. So it's safe to say every trip that leaves Messina will sail past this island. The view was on the port side of the ship, so we were able to watch this beautiful sight from our own balcony.. although we did have to ignore the smoke coming from next door. The ship gets very close to the island, and you can see the little town built into the side of the volcano, then the ship turns to follow around the corner so you can see where the previous lava flows have slid down the side. Sadly the volcano wasn't erupting as we passed it, but you could clearly see the steam and smoke coming out of the top. Despite not getting off the ship we still managed to see a live Volcano from the comfort of our stateroom, which was as close as I felt I needed to get. Barcelona - We arranged to stay overnight in a hotel at the end of our trip so we weren't in a hurry to get to an airport. We'd prior arranged for a tour company (http://www.barcelonadaytours.com/) to collect us from the port in Barcelona and take us around the main sights. This was a half-day tour of Barcelona Highlights. We saw the Gothic Quarter, the Olympic stadium, Gaudi's Sagrada Familia, Guell Park, Casa Batillo and several other sights along the way. The tour was very comprehensive and our driver had an amazing knowledge of the area. The tour was around 4 hours long and cost €230 euros for two. In the evening we arranged to go to a Flamenco show on Las Ramblas, which we arranged through the hotel. The club was called Cordobes (http://www.tablaocordobes.com/) and offered dinner before the show or just a drink with the show. We looked at the menu and decided the food on offer was probably not very edible so we ate dinner in the hotel first instead, which was probably equally as bad. We went for the last show of the night and found that it was still packed in the room. You'll discover that the venue was probably once a cosy house, particularly judging by the number of times the dancers must have scraped the ceiling with a dramatic flourish of their hand. The show itself is a real experience and gives you an authentic not-too-touristy feeling of Spain. Overall the places we visited made the holiday worth doing, although the only memorable tours were the ones we arranged privately so I would strongly recommend you do your own excursions so you get the most out of your port days. It's a shame the port days are primarily in the first week and more sea days in the second week. If you want an evenly balanced cruise, you need the intensive port days to be more evenly spaced giving you a break in between. Had they been done this way I think we'd probably have gone into Florence for example and probably Pompeii, which we regret not experiencing. From the aspect of the cruise line or that particular ship, we were left very unimpressed after all the hype about how great it was going to be. Maybe this was because we weren't from the US, since the ship is very much tailored to Americans, but when we spoke with them, they sounded equally unimpressed with the general experience. One even told us this would be their first and last visit to Europe after this experience, which is a little sad, given how amazing most of Europe is. This is mostly down to the peculiar shore excursions Carnival arrange which provide a very polarised, uninspiring view of the place you're visiting. The onboard experience, despite the high quality service from the staff, feels very much designed to extract more money out of you especially as there's little entertainment to occupy you. Whether this be the pricey drinks, the extra charges for food, the tedious shops, the paintings, the internet, the over-priced excursions or even just the "convenient" service charges added to your bill. Rather than feeling thrilled to visit places like Rome and Venice, you could come away feeling exhausted, uninspired and ripped-off. Read Less
Sail Date June 2010
Carnival Magic Ratings
Category Editor Member
Cabins 4.0 4.3
Dining 4.0 3.7
Entertainment 4.5 3.6
Public Rooms 4.0 4.1
Fitness Recreation 4.0 4.0
Family 4.5 4.0
Shore Excursion 4.0 3.9
Enrichment 1.0 3.5
Service 5.0 4.1
Value For Money 5.0 3.9
Rates 4.0 4.1

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