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113 Carnival Barcelona Cruise Reviews

We were traveling around Europe for two months and decided it would be nice to break the trip with a few days of living the easy life and not being hassled by street beggars, pickpockets and conmen continually trying to fleece us as we ... Read More
We were traveling around Europe for two months and decided it would be nice to break the trip with a few days of living the easy life and not being hassled by street beggars, pickpockets and conmen continually trying to fleece us as we toured. But they were on the Carnival Magic waiting for us! I won't give a long winded tirade of the way Carnival Magics staff continually harass those on board to spend more. I'll just say that it is unrelenting. The ship is all glitz and bling but very little class. Poor quality materials are beginning to show damage already in the corridors and lifts. The food is of cafeteria quality on the lido deck and about average restaurant quality in the other dining areas. The wine list and the availability of the wine on it was appalling. Our cabin was a stern extended balcony. A great room but the fittings again were only average. The bathroom door would not stay shut and a large picture on the wall was anchored into place crookedly. (drove me crazy lol) The staff were all from central Europe (Bosnians etc.) and sadly many were a miserable lot, who gave the impression they resented being there. But in fairness they were polite. Because the prices of tickets is quite cheap, prospective cruisers must realize that the class of clientele might not be all they hope for. It is apparently ok in the USA to attend dining areas in your bathrobe ! Entertainment was not up to the standard we have experienced in the past. It was left to the customer to entertain themselves a lot, Line dancing, bingo, karaoke etc. No handy advice on getting around the ports was a constant complaint from those on board who chose not to join an excursion. I guess if you were not spending money with them they did not care about you! We enjoyed ourselves on the cruise because we pretty much wanted to do our own thing and did so, but if we had relied on Carnival to provide us with more than that, we would be very disappointed. We almost certainly will not sail with them again. . Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
My family's opinions and experience on Carnival Magic were probably very different from many others as we were not prepared to spend massive amounts of money on overpriced things. We also had the lowest price cabins and we are ... Read More
My family's opinions and experience on Carnival Magic were probably very different from many others as we were not prepared to spend massive amounts of money on overpriced things. We also had the lowest price cabins and we are British/New Zealanders and the ship was American with many American's. Kids Club: My 14 year old said this was one of the best holidays she has had. All staff aboard were amazing. I have never had such wonderful service. Gym: Fantastic machines but far too hot to train at a really high intensity. Cabins: Not nice,noisy,could not sleep and had to sleep in a single bed without my husband. Tiny T.V.near my husbands bed but there was nothing to watch anyway. Food: The main restaurant on Lido deck it had a variety of food and it is open more or less all the time. It surprised me that the plates and glasses were plastic. I did not mind, in a way it is a good idea. There was a large range of nice food. The other restaurant was formal, the food was great but my husband hates anything formal so from the elegant night onwards we did not go there. Many extra costs came up which made us angry, tips $10 a day per person, paying to get off the boat e.g. paying 5 euro's at various ports (shuttle bus) with lots of long queues. Overpriced Carnival trip e.g. Pompeii $199 per person, if you go yourself train plus entry cost 15 euro (children under 18 free at Pomeii). Very crowded on the ship if you were not avoiding other passengers you were avoiding staff and even when you were relaxing people were busy everywhere. Everywhere you were bombarded all the time with things that Carnival pushed you to buy, they pushed you into photos, entertainment was things like bingo or the casino which you would have to walk through. Most of the other entertainment was just quiz's, however there was a fantastic illusions show. Plastic painted gold was the general decor throughout the ship - cheap looking.Lovely and quiet in the evening on lido deck under the stars watching Cinema with free popcorn. Stops: Great places to see but hard work as after you got to each port there was still a lot of travelling. I think you need more time to see some of these places as they are so amazing. Although we had some very good times on board we could not wait to get off and go home to relax. We felt like black sheep being herded with white sheep a lot of the time. We now realise that cruises don't really suit us but everyone else seem to love it. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
My wife and I took our first Med cruise in 2010 with the 12-day Ruby Princess Grand Med itinerary. We loved it so much, that we couldn't wait to get back and bring our kids. We thought a 9-day itinerary on a brand new ship that was ... Read More
My wife and I took our first Med cruise in 2010 with the 12-day Ruby Princess Grand Med itinerary. We loved it so much, that we couldn't wait to get back and bring our kids. We thought a 9-day itinerary on a brand new ship that was very affordable would be a great way to get back. The pricing was great and Carnival makes Med cruises affordable to our family of four. I am a firm believer that ports are much more important than Cruise lines or ships. We had a great time and did a lot of planning. We did ZERO cruise line excursions. Here is a quick summary of what we did in each port: Barcelona: Hop On Hop Off, Funicular, Parc Guell, Casa Batllo, Casa Mila, Beach, Gothic Quarter, dinners at Cerveceria Catalana (great tapas and dinner) and Mariscco. Monaco: Bus to Nice, Cours Saleya, Hotel Negresco, Oceanographic Aquarium & Museum in Monaco Livorno: Papillon Tour to Florence, Accademia to see the David, Piazza Signoree, Bargello Museum, climbed Giotto's Bell Tower, shopping in leather markets, lunch at Ristorante Toto Civitavechhia: Train to Rome, Walking tour of Ancient Rome with Roman Candle, lunch in Piazza Navona, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps Naples: Hydrofoil to Capri, 3-hour boat ride with Gianni's Boat and swimming in grottos, funicular to Capri Town Messina: Tour with Mario Astone to Mount Etna, Taormina Mallorca: canceled port strike Marseille: Tour with Provence Reservation to Provence (Arles, Les Baux, and Pont du Gard) No matter what else we did, with the lineup of attractions and itinerary above, we were going to have a great time. We did. Mission accomplished. Okay, on to the Magic, Carnival's newest ship. Cabin: Spa Balcony Cabin 12023 sleeps four and we were comfortable. Great cabin comes with spa benefits including free gym classes, use of T Pool in spa, and thermal suite in spa. I would do one of these cabins again in a second. Dining: Did anytime dining. When we got there before 7:30, we never had to wait for a table of four. Service on two nights was bad to awful. Servers never checked after serving any course how things were. They seemed preoccupied and overworked. We once waited too long for our meal and server apologized and blamed our section of the galley who were concentrating more on Chef's Table dinner. RIDICULOUS. Food was okay. Some meals were good while others were forgettable. Didn't spend much time in the buffet with only one sea day. Entertainment: Subpar. Carnival seems to have cut back in this area too. No show on the first night and on the last night, there was the "legends show" which is an excuse to not use professional entertainment and instead rely on passengers to sing and dance. UGH!!!! Other nights had game shows hosted by cruise director, John Heald. The one production show we caught was pretty good. Alternative entertainment in other lounge was comedy, which we skipped. Some nights, just used the spa because of boredom. Pool deck: a bit of an improvement as the Magic has the sports square with ropes course, which kids loved and a nice mini golf course, among other things. Hot tubs really didn't have hot water. Oh well. Carnival pools still are too small. Other venues: New Red Frog Pub is a major hit. The bar itself works. It's a fun atmosphere with a guitarist/singer (two take shifts and one was better and much more fun than the guy in the piano bar) who play contemporary music of the 70's, 80's to Now. Bar food, even with the small charge, is well worth it. Steakhouse is much smaller on this ship than others. Book it early and avoid getting shut out. New family Italian restaurant is pretty good and one of the waiters sings Amore around 7:30 with others with him. Very nice touch. Carnival keeps their cruises affordable and the Magic is a great way to do a family cruise in the Med. The cutbacks are evident and we would think twice about ever booking another Carnival cruise in the Caribbean or anywhere else. But I would recommend their new ship coming out next year (Breeze) for an affordable family Med cruise for anyone. There were hits and misses. But we had a great time and saw great things and had great experiences. It didn't come close to our Ruby Princess Grand Med cruise. But that's a different product. My scores are tough on the ship. But the experience was a 5. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
As seasoned cruisers who have travelled the world extensively and who rated the Carnival Liberty as our favourite cruise a few summers ago out of Civitavecchia (Rome), it was a shock to experience our Cruise from Hell aboard ... Read More
As seasoned cruisers who have travelled the world extensively and who rated the Carnival Liberty as our favourite cruise a few summers ago out of Civitavecchia (Rome), it was a shock to experience our Cruise from Hell aboard Carnival's new Magic from Barcelona. We knew it was a big ship with about 4600 passengers and 1400 crew members but we expected smooth sailing with lots of amenities. The ship has the potential to be great and the crew in general were polite and friendly but we were put off by all the extra costs for things that used to be included on a cruise. For example, we both like the spa and used the (free) dry sauna daily BUT were shocked to learn that the steam sauna was located on a different floor and at a cost of $175 per person for the duration of the cruise. Locating the saunas on different levels doesn't make any sense and only means inconvenience. The food was quite good both in the dining room and in the Lido buffet area although we did notice the absence of fresh berries and smoked salmon. The dining room assigned us a table for eight even though we had requested a table for two many months in advance. We ended up walking out of the Southern Lights dining room the first evening and managed to secure a table for two at the Northern Lights. We were happy with our servers who were personable and very bright. We ordered some wraps, salad and dessert through room service only once: the food was satsifactory but the dressing arrived with no salad. We enjoy watching movies on our t.v. to relax but the choice was pitiful: they played the same James Bond movie (a few years old) every 3 hours and then replayed the same movie a few days later (!) There was a movie preview channel that only showed previews in the hope that we would fork over our dollars to watch what used to be free. We did enjoy, however CNN, the BBC and Sky News, as well as a French channel to follow current events. Luckily we brought some good books with us to read. As wonderful as the ports were, we were dismayed to find no city history/background information; instead just a list of stores to spend your money plus a blank page to keep 'notes.' We appreciated the complimentary ice cream and frozen yogurt station, as well as the tandoor and pizza stations. The pizzas are well done but you need to order and wait for a specialty pizza like goat cheese. The complimentary coffee was okay but my first - and last -pay for latte on the lobby deck following a smooth embarkation was terrible. Our cabin was kept clean but when we asked for another stool to sit on our attendant promptly refused. And now for the worst part that ruined our cruise: directly across from us were two teenagers whose parents decided to have a separate holiday six decks up. Unfortunately they and all their friends had decided to party all night and they used their cabin as Party Central all night (they went to bed at 6 a.m. and got up at 4 p.m.). After a couple of sleepness nights we complained to Guest Relations and Security but little was actually done besides a couple of visits and warnings by security. The problem continued until the very last night and this ruined what was supposed to be a relaxing and memorable cruise. Carnival supposedly has policies but doesn't enforce its own rules with consequences and that is the core problem. We saw this several times,such as passengers placing towels on deck chairs first thing in the morning, then walking away and leaving their chairs empty for hours at a time. My partner and I walked by early one morning at sea and were amazed to see every single deck chair - we're talking hundreds! - covered with a blue towel and/or a magazine but nobody occupying them. We watched with dismay one evening as four young unattended boys fought in the hot tub in the aft of the ship and pushed each other under the water. Nobody intervened, whether it be passenger or crew member. The huge outdoor entertainment screen overlooking the pool would blast noise (only on some occasions would it actually be something akin to music) and this translated into headaches and cacophony. We were constantly put off by all the rude passengers who walked right in front of you without saying 'Excuse me.' It was quite upsetting after a few days of this. The crew members were all polite and well mannered, it must be said. The entertainment in the main lounge was substandard with the exception of one British singer who impersonated several female singers. Overall, a big disappointment. We skipped the comedians as we prefer intelligent humour without all the swearing. Being both non-smokers, we were upset to have to inhale second hand smoke further down our corridor each time we had to navigate to a different part of the ship. It would be nice to sail on a truly smoke free ship one day! Disembarking took longer than normal and there was a terribly long lineup for taxis (well over an hour) as there were other cruise ships that had docked that day. Lastly, the cruise review questionnaire that was supposed to be emailed to us two days after disembarking has not yet arrived almost 3 weeks later. Nor have any of the postcards we handed over to Guest Relations at the end of our cruise after purchasing $22 worth of European stamps. We're keeping our fingers crossed but right now we're not impressed. Think we'll vote with our feet and our pocketbooks - sorry, Carnival, but we're not happy customers. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Good points: 1. Children's programming seems quite good. 2. Housekeeping staff keep the cabins very clean and tidy. 3. Three coin laundries for guest use. 4. Section of deck dedicated for adults (no children) so adults can ... Read More
Good points: 1. Children's programming seems quite good. 2. Housekeeping staff keep the cabins very clean and tidy. 3. Three coin laundries for guest use. 4. Section of deck dedicated for adults (no children) so adults can get away from noise. 5. Nice water slide (although need to increase water volume because you can feel seems in tubes as you are passing through) 6. Plenty of hot tubs. 7. Plenty of bars 8. Sochi bar in afternoon seems popular with passengers 9. Pizza bar seems popular with kids 10. Ice cream machines are popular with passengers 11. Wait staff in dining rooms very good 12. A very good female vocalist accompanied the show band sometimes. Bad points: 1. Heavy emphasis on commercializing passengers. Frequent exposure to marketing messages throughout cruise. 2. Art auction continually promoted. 3. No more free motion sickness pills from Carnival. There is now a premium price for this once free service. 4. No midnight buffet 5. No captain's greeting or reception. 6. Price of drinks has increased. Mixed drinks around $10. Beer around $6. a. It seemed to us that a much smaller proportion of passengers were buying beverages than what we have seen in our previous cruises. 7. Shore excursions too expensive. For example, a round trip bus ride offered by the cruise cost us $60/person and another passenger took the public bus for $12. 8. Quality of food is not characteristic of fine dining. a. You could make reservations at the "upscale" steak house for an extra $30/passenger. b. Poor quality of coffee on Lido deck and room service. You could get good coffee by ordering a cappuccino in the dining rooms (free) or at the cafe on the ship for a fee. 9. Unenthusiastic entertainment staff. Weak presence among passengers. Little passenger interaction or involvement. Seemed disinterested. a. Cruise director (John Heald) needs to do a better job at learning how to be humorous without lowering the dignity of passengers. b. Surprisingly little on-ship entertainment (trivia contests, etc.) offered during port days 10. Salt water pools are too small for a ship this size (too crowded) a. Salt water in pools not changed at night. 11. Insufficient pool side music during cruise. I've been on smaller ships that offered much more. 12. Noise travels easily into cabins from other cabins and hallway. 13. Need a king size matrice instead of two twins pushed together. 14. Need more variety of television programming a. Now emphasizing pay television 15. Internet is too expensive at 75 cents/minute for a slow connection. 16. Quality of entertainment could be improved. a. Generally it feels like you're getting B list talent. b. An emphasis on comedians, but quality was inconsistent. c. The show band was good but small. d. The main shows emphasized scenery, lighting, and costuming. There were two productions which were weak on story but strong on the singing of the two performers with microphones. Only two performers ever sang. The rest danced 17. Heavy emphasis on preparing passengers for a quick debarkation that began two days before end of cruise. Overall ratings: Ports of call A Entertainment B Emphasis on selling D Entertainment B Cruise director & staff B Dining experience B+ Cabin B+ Sleep quality B Overall B Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
(1) BACKGROUND I am a 22 year old soon to be college graduate from central Texas. Go Texas State Bobcats! :) This was my 7th cruise (4th with Carnival). Other ships that I have travelled on include: Carnival- Celebration and Conquest ... Read More
(1) BACKGROUND I am a 22 year old soon to be college graduate from central Texas. Go Texas State Bobcats! :) This was my 7th cruise (4th with Carnival). Other ships that I have travelled on include: Carnival- Celebration and Conquest (2x), and Royal Caribbean- Voyager OTS, Freedom OTS, and Oasis OTS (amazing! try it out if you haven't!). For this trip I travelled with my mom (got old after 9 days and over 30 hours total on planes) and we chose this sailing and ship because of the price. Was it worth the price? YES. Was I impressed? NO with the ship, YES with the ports. Since Magic is coming and staying Galveston very soon, I'll try to direct as much to the Texas/Caribbean market as possible. (2) THE SHIP Ok, if you are an avid Carnival person then I'm sure you will be impressed and like this ship. Basically it looks like every other Carnival ship (lots of plastic and cheesy decorations that scream trashy instead of classy). To me, it was like the Conquest, but on steroids. Thats basically the layout. Things I was impressed with: Waterworks (really fun and fast slides!), Serenity (ONLY when it was not crowded otherwise it sucked), service from all the staff (they are GREAT), Red Frog Pub (this will be a hit Texas people!), the spa (mom paid for a massage one day because the Europe itinerary is a killer!)... and that's about it. Now, the things that SUCKED! (in my opinion): #1 HOT TUBS. More like COLD TUBS! It's pretty pathetic when you have to go in a hot tub to cool down when you are in the sun. That is SAD! They sucked hardcore! #2 POOL SPACE. There is not enough for the Caribbean sea days. Not even close. Enough said. Go in the middle of the night and save a spot. #3 ENTERTAINMENT. Maybe since I like Royal Caribbeans entertainment that's why I wasn't impressed or else maybe Carnival's just sucked. Not sure. Either way, I wasn't impressed. If anything, the shows were OK, but nothing to be talked about long (although other people we heard were floored by them... they must have not seen Freedom OTS or Oasis OTS?) ... Those were my biggies. Other stuff that I didn't like was pretty miniscule and didn't apply much to Texas/Caribbean (ie. rude foreign passengers... one night I, an adult, was cussed out by what had to be two 7 year old boys... no joke). But overall, basically this ship didn't give me the WOW factor that Royal Caribbean ships do. (3) THE PORTS We did the 7 day Mediterranean with an additional night in Barcelona before. Our itinerary was- Barcelona/Barcelona/Monaco/Rome/Livorno/Naples/Messina/Sea day/Barcelona. The ports were AMAZING. AMAZING! I won't ramble on and on about them because I'm sure a majority of people reading this will be looking for their future Caribbean trips, but if you are looking for Carnival's Europe excursions, these are the ones we did and I HIGHLY recommend them. Monaco- Nice & Eze, Rome- Rome at its best, Livorno- Pisa & Florence (with tower enterance), Naples- Taste of Sorrento & Pompeii, Messina- Winery & Mt. Etna. Of them all, the Naples and Messina ones are the best! They are more personalized and offer a lot less people than the others did. Plus enjoying homeade Italian food and wine in a vineyard or on an authentic Italian farm, who wouldn't love it?! In Barcelona we did the Hop on and Off bus which is good for seeing the city on your own in a day. Sagrada Familia is a highly recommended stop there. (4) FAT JOHNNY John Heald is a loser. He thinks he is funny but he is not. Even though we had a really busy trip and only one sea day, we did have a little time on the ship where we went to shows or other events around the ship. Did I ever EVER see John Heald (whom I nicknamed Fat Johnny)? NO!!!!!! The only time I saw him, and this is not a lie, is when we were walking on deck 5 and we saw him sitting in his office. Oh and at the past guest party (which was a staged piece of crap on his part) I thought the cruise director did more than that. I know Richard Spacey on Oasis did! (Side note, go on Oasis OTS just for him) I got so tired of hearing Fat Johnny's lame jokes over the PA and his set up "entertainment" at the past guest party. Whatever. He is a crappy cruise director in my opinion. But that's just me. ... Go Richard Spacey! :P (5) OTHER STUFF This ship will do good in the Texas/Caribbean market, if they make some changes... mainly in the pool/hot tub area. After this trip, we have decided that we will be going back to Royal Caribbean all the time, unless we can make a fantastic cheap deal with Carnival on a trip with lots of ports where we don't have to see that god awful Joe Farcus design a lot. If you like Carnival, you will like this ship, if you are thinking of trying out Carnival after doing other lines, such as Royal Caribbean, don't. (Unless you get a really good deal). ... Don't get me wrong, this was a FANTASTIC trip, but mainly because of the ports, had I done this same ship from Galveston, I would have been disappointed. The crew of the ship is amazing (other than Fat Johnny) and the food is certainly better than Royal Caribbean, but I'm still not sold on Carnival. Hope this review is useful to anyone that reads it! Happy travels! :) Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Upon flying into Barcelona, we were met by Carnival representatives and efficiently transferred to the ship. The boarding process was extremely well done. So far, so good. Our balcony cabin was a decent size. Very comparable to our ... Read More
Upon flying into Barcelona, we were met by Carnival representatives and efficiently transferred to the ship. The boarding process was extremely well done. So far, so good. Our balcony cabin was a decent size. Very comparable to our last cabin on Holland America except there was a shower and no tub. The balcony was a little smaller but perfectly adequate. The bed was very comfortable. Our cabin steward provided first rate service. Magic is a very large (4500+ passengers)brand new ship. It was quite attractive but did not have the "wow" factor of the new Royal Caribbean ships or the elegance of the Holland America ships. Nohing bad, but nothing special. We had open dining and ate in the dining room five nights and in the specialty restaurants twice. Two of the meals I had in the dining room were good, two were tasteless and one was awful. The specialty restaurant served one of the best steaks (a porterhouse) I've ever had, although $30 per person is steep. We ate the other night at La Cocina di Captaino. We were surprised to find the menu to be limited and the food nothing special. The dining room and restaurant service was excellent. My wife has mobility issues so we only took tours described as Easy. Easy Rome was a problem. The bus dropped us quite a distance from St. Peter's. Much too far to walk in the summer heat. Many on the tour just gave up walking to the Vatican and went to grab some pizza a place to sit in the shade. Our tour in Messina was a ride to Mt. Etna and a visit to a jewelry factory. The sightseeing at Mt. Etna was very interesting but my wife was very upset when we found that the factory was in a villa and it was necessary to climb an eleven step marble staircase, without a banister. We wound up sitting outside for an hour. I believe that Carnival did not adequately describe these two excursions. We had a major problem with Guest Relations that I won't get into other than to say that they had the worst attitude I've encountered on any cruise. Overall, I was disappointed in this cruise. The ship was okay but nothing special. The food was not up to the competition. The attitude at Guest Relations was totally unacceptable. I don't expect to cruise on Carnival again. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
I was excited to get on board Carnival's new ship, the Magic, when I booked our sailing back in the early part of the year. She looked like she was going to be an amazing ship and one we would enjoy immensely. The itinerary was ... Read More
I was excited to get on board Carnival's new ship, the Magic, when I booked our sailing back in the early part of the year. She looked like she was going to be an amazing ship and one we would enjoy immensely. The itinerary was absolutely outstanding sailing out of Barcelona and hitting the ports of Monaco, Civitavecchia, Livorno, Naples, Venice, Dubrovnick and Messina. The itinerary and ports of call did not disappoint, however, the Magic did! While the ship is beautiful and magnificent in many ways, at the end of the day it is simply too big. Finding space on the deck during the sea days was next to impossible unless you were able to get up at 6am to secure a chair. There was never enough seating in the theater, part of the problem here was the fact there were at least 25-30 Carnival employees taking up seating for the paying passengers, but even had they not been there, the seating capacity was simply not enough. While I'm on the subject of the theater, specifically the entertainment, outside of 1 show (the 70's show the first show of the trip) the entertainment was below average at best. The comedians and juggler were the best shows the entire trip. The piano bar, usually a frequent stop for me, was not the case this trip. The piano player had a very small selection of songs that he knew and even with some of those, he didn't know all of the lyrics. Back to the Carnival employees that were ever present in the theater and in the Red Frog pub and Vibe dance club. I had never seen so many employees hanging out, drinking, socializing before on a cruise. Maybe it was the fact that this cruise was longer than 7 days that the company allowed them to be out in force like they were but I found it to be very unprofessional. At times the employees would be engaging in public displays of affection with children and families present, which in my eyes is just wrong. As a business owner, it would seem like they are setting themselves up for potential lawsuits or other problems should a passenger take offense to an employees advances or overindulgence. Back to what I found to be another major problem, we joined some friends for anytime seating and had to wait for nearly an hour to be seated. The buffet lines were ridiculously long for breakfast and many other meals as well. I met a gentleman while waiting in one of these lines who informed me that he had taken 17, yes that's right, SEVENTEEN Carnival sailings and he'd never written a complaint before but he was going to for the first time after this trip on the Magic. There simply just isn't enough space to handle all the passengers on this ship. At the end of the day we made some amazing new friends and saw some wonderfully, beautiful places and the trip was one we will remember forever. However, there simply was no Magic provided by Carnival. One final note, Blood Power is an absolutely amazing band and a great group of guys. Please support them as much as you can. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
We sailed on the Carnival Magic from July 17 to 24. We are a family of four and this was our third cruise as a family in the last three years. We booked extended aft cabins, with our teenagers in the cabin next to us. Overall, I ... Read More
We sailed on the Carnival Magic from July 17 to 24. We are a family of four and this was our third cruise as a family in the last three years. We booked extended aft cabins, with our teenagers in the cabin next to us. Overall, I was quite satisfied with the cruise. There are aspects to Carnival of which I'm not terribly fond, but there are other things they do that make their cruises ideal. There was, unfortunately, a grievous lack of communication on board from Carnival about a significant last minute itinerary change. However, vacations rarely go perfectly and I think it is a mistake to do anything but bring your best attitude with you and roll with the punches. We had a fabulous time with great weather as well as fun and interesting ports. We enjoyed being on the ship immensely. We had arrived in Venice a week earlier and flew to Barcelona two days before our sailing. When we arrived at the port by taxi, it was unclear what the system was for loading luggage. I'm used to the "porter intimidation" system, where you are more or less forced to pay a couple dollars per bag to porters who will "strongly discourage" you from simply loading your own bags into the luggage bins. At the Barcelona port, the bags were loaded onto a long conveyor outside the terminal building. There appeared to be two or three porters "servicing" the taxis that arrived nearest to the conveyor. However, if your taxi stopped 30 feet up the curb and you walked up with your own bags, it was just a matter of throwing them on the conveyor. The porters did seem to be "shooing" passengers away from the conveyor, but they didn't seem to be directing them anywhere else. Nor did they seem to be intercepting passengers to take their bags from them (for a fee, obviously). We loaded our own bags and since we could see them run up the long conveyor and disappear through an opening into the building, we couldn't see any reason why loading our own bags might put them in jeopardy. We entered the terminal building and went through the regular round of security screening and check-in. The process was very quick with no delays and no "holding areas". This is in significant contrast to our most recent Carnival boarding process in Galveston, which must have taken an hour and a half. The boarding photo was fast and efficient and didn't cause any sort of bottleneck. We were on the ship within 25 minutes of dropping off our bags. The Magic is a new, large ship, but other than minor (in my view) details, it is largely indistinguishable from other large Carnival vessels. Compared to the Conquest, for example, the Magic is 1 deck larger (14 rather than 13) and only about 5% longer. As a result, it doesn't have the "feel" of being a monster ship (at least, not any more than the Conquest class ships do). Overall, the Magic has exactly the same look and feel of other larger ships in the Carnival fleet. As we were on one of its first few sailings, I was actually a little surprised that there weren't more things that made it stand out as being obviously new. Had I been led into my cabin blindfolded, nothing would have jumped out at me to reveal I was in a brand new ship. Perhaps that just says something positive about the state of the rest of Carnival's fleet. The food was excellent. We always ate breakfast at the Lido Buffet and dinner in the main dining room. With the exception of the sea day and one day when we just didn't get hungry in port, we ate all our lunches off the ship. Our first two bags arrived within a couple hours. We found our third bag in front of another cabin a little later (three digits of the cabin number matched, but the second digit did not match). Our properly-numbered tag was still attached to the bag. My daughter's suitcase didn't arrive until late in the evening. We go on cruises to spend time together as a couple and as a family, so we didn't attend any of the entertainment (other than watching about 25 minutes of a movie on the poolside big screen), so I can't really comment on the quality of entertainment. I go on cruises to have a good time and I always do. But having a good time does not depend on, nor does it have much to do with "being entertained". Make no mistake about your European adventure on the Magic. This is an American vessel and you're signing up for an American experience. The fact that it was a sailing on the Mediterranean makes no difference when you're on board. All general announcements, as well as the safety briefing, are conducted in English only. Given that this is a sailing out of Spain that spends most of its time in Italy, I was very surprised that Carnival made no attempt to give the cruise any sort of international flavor. In fact, it wasn't so much that Carnival didn't give the cruise any European flavor; it's more that they suppressed any such flavor it might otherwise have had. It was hard to get a handle on the demographic breakdown of the passengers. Initially, it seemed that English speaking North Americans far outnumbered Europeans and others. At other times, it seemed that languages other than English prevailed. When we boarded the port shuttle bus in Civitavecchia to return to the Magic, the bus was packed full and everyone was talking, but there seemed to be only a handful of English voices among the 70-80 passengers. If I had to guess, I would estimate that about half the ship's passengers were North American with the other half Europeans and a few others. Languages other than English seemed as prevalent as English. To a certain extent, Carnival's approach was disappointing. Last year when we sailed with Louis Cruises out of Athens, the ship had much more of a European/international feel to it. All announcements were done in multiple languages (Greek, English and either French or Spanish, I can't remember - maybe both). There was no presumption that your fellow passengers spoke English, so if you started a conversation with a stranger, it always began by identifying your language. There was similarly not a presumption by the crew and staff that you were English speaking. The Magic had none of this and I imagine that local (i.e., European) passengers may have felt somewhat like second-class citizens. And even though I appreciate that the Magic is, other than its flag, an American ship destined eventually for an American route that just happens to be currently sailing in Europe, I was still not expecting the laundry facilities to require American quarters (which required me to go to Guest Services, which sent me to the Casino, which would not accept my Euro coins and would only issue quarters charged to my account with a 3% service charge at a $20 minimum). I realize that Carnival isn't going to get its washers, dryers and coin dispensers re-keyed to European currency for six months in the Mediterranean. But when you're in the middle of three weeks in Europe, you're not expecting to need U.S. quarters to be able to do your laundry. Overall, the cabin and dining room/buffet service was excellent. One of the buffet staff members made a special effort to get some fruit for me late one night so I would have something to eat the next morning (which was a problem because I had to be up well before the breakfast buffet was open). Although I was happy with the service, there are some areas in which I think they overdo it. Having received the on-line, post-cruise survey, it is obvious that Carnival devotes a lot of effort to generating high service/satisfaction ratings in these surveys. As a result, they devise crew practices that seem designed to generate the desired survey results, whether or not the practices actually result in better service. That is, they want to put you in a position where you can't help but give high ratings to questions about service, even if what they are actually doing is a little annoying and sometimes intrusive. For example, the dining room wait-staff practically hover over you during your meal. More frequently than you could ever possibly want, they ask whether you want something replenished (e.g., bread or water). Similarly, if you walk down the corridor to your cabin, every crew member will stop what he/she is doing to greet you. I'd probably criticize them if they were too far on the opposite end of the spectrum, so I don't want to be too harsh. However, after a while it is hard not to start feeling that the "service" is really more of an "act" or "performance", not so much designed to give you the best experience possible, but rather designed so that when you respond to the post-cruise survey, you have no choice other than to answer Carnival's carefully-worded questions in a manner that gives them the ability to posture about their high "service" rating. When I go to a good hotel or restaurant, I get good service. But I never feel as if the employees are making a show of things. On the Magic, I think they were overdoing it. That's not a criticism of staff. I'm sure they're doing exactly what they're being asked to do by management. The staff do an excellent job. Our cabins were great. We enjoyed the aft balconies, although the extent of the "extension" is fairly limited, especially with the angled balcony railings cutting into the usable space. If you get an aft extended balcony, get it for the "aft" part, not the "extended" party. I wouldn't necessarily turn down an aft balcony again, but I'm not sure I'd necessarily seek one out. You have the advantage of being able to see toward both sides of the ship. But you're also looking backward all the time. There were two single Type-B (i.e., standard North American) electrical outlets, as well as a single European socket in the main cabin. There was also a North American outlet in the bathroom (almost near the ceiling, I think), although I think it was a Type-A (ungrounded). As we had brought two 3-outlet extension cords, as well as a European socket adapter, we had plenty of outlets for our phone, camera, laptop, etc. This is the one area where the cabins have been improved. As usual with Carnival, there was more than enough storage space for suitcases, clothes, etc. I also found the shower design had been improved. Either the shower curtains were longer, or they had increased the height of the lip around the base of the shower stall. In any event, I didn't regularly flood the bathroom floor while showering, which has been a pet peeve of mine on past Carnival sailings. Our two teenagers (16 and 13) enjoyed the Carnival teen programs - not so much for the specific activities, but rather as an easy way to quickly meet people their own age and make new friends. As five of our six days were port days, our regular routine was to spend the day in port, get back an hour or two before the ship sailed and then have dinner together. Our kids were free to hang out with their new friends before and after dinner, so we didn't see them too much during those times. Carnival does a very good job in creating a venue for kids to come together and meet each other. In addition, because Carnival has a reputation of being family-friendly, there are plenty of passengers the same age as my kids, so they find it very easy to meet people their own age. This is one reason we generally favor Carnival as a cruise line. We attended the one elegant night. I'm not a big fan of "dressing up", because that's something I go on vacation to avoid. And I certainly wasn't going to lug a jacket, tie and dress/suit pants across to Europe just to wear for 90 minutes. Initially, it appeared that men who were more formally dressed up (jacket or tie or both) would outnumber the men who were not at our (early) seating, but mid-way through dinner I did a count and it was almost exactly 50-50. I saw no tuxes in our dining room, but we did see two on our way to dinner (they may have been in the other dining room, or just seated out of our view). I would estimate the breakdown of men's attire as 15% in suits, 15% in a sport coat/blazer and dress pants, 10% in a shirt and tie but no jacket, 10% in a jacket with no tie. The remaining 50% were in a range from khakis to dress pants and t-shirts through golf shirts to short-sleeve dress shirts. I didn't see anyone wearing anything I thought was inappropriate. My single biggest disappointment with the July 17 sailing of the Magic was the manner in which the itinerary change was announced to passengers. Sometime around 2:30 on embarkation day, the cruise director, John Heald, came on to the PA to invite passengers to the port briefing at 3:30. He mentioned that there was a "minor change" in the itinerary, but that it was nothing to worry about. We decided that my wife and daughter would attend. The port briefing is usually a snoozer filled with over-promotion of the ship's excursions. But we find it is good to have someone there, even if it is just for that one nugget of important or useful information. My son and I did not attend the briefing and stayed out on deck. However, when we overheard a portion of the briefing on the big screen on the Lido deck, we realized that the "minor change" in itinerary was actually a major overhaul of the itinerary. What they ended up doing (ostensibly to avoid bad weather) was reversing the order of the ports. Instead of touring the western Mediterranean in more or less a clockwise direction, starting with Monaco, we were heading for our last port first and doing it in a counter-clockwise manner (finishing with Monaco on our last full day). Given that we had made specific plans involving either train schedules or rental cars in four of the five ports and had two sets of museum/entry tickets, any change in plans would be a big deal. My son and I immediately headed to the theater to try to track down my wife so we could agree on what plans to try to start changing while we were still in port and what new plans, if any, to make. But the theater room was packed full and it was standing room out to the door, with nowhere to budge. I spend the next 20 minutes trying every entrance and scanning the audience for my wife and daughter, all to no avail. But I did pay enough attention to hear the cruise director doing his usual thing, which included providing extremely misleading "advice" to try to steer passengers toward expensive ship's excursions. Carnival is already infamous for telling Mediterranean passengers that if they want to visit Taormina, Italy from Messina, Sicily, they can't get there using public transportation. John repeated this statement at our briefing. They say that because the Taormina-Giardini train station is just outside the town of Taormina. However, even the train company's web site calls it the Taormina Station. There is a bus stop right in front of the station so it is a simple matter to take the train from Messina to the Taormina train station, then take the bus to Taormina. Saying you can't get to Taormina via public transportation is sort of like saying you can't travel by plane if you want to visit Manhattan. What Carnival gains from the few extra excursions it sells from this misleading information it must surely lose in goodwill from passengers who hear these things and know better. In any event, since I couldn't find my wife in the theater, we had to wait until the CD's talk was over and our family had reassembled in our cabin before we could start trying to change our plans. It wasn't until after we had returned, if my recollection is correct, that they announced the itinerary change more generally by PA. They also announced that they were doing this to give us the opportunity to visit Monaco on the last day of the cruise (instead of the first full day, when it was scheduled) because otherwise the Port of Monaco would be closed due to bad weather and we would have to skip it. This change was a big deal. We were still scrambling with internet connections and phone calls when dinner came at 6:00 pm. We took our laptop to dinner and worked on our personal itinerary changes through dinner. The phone calls and emails continued that night and well into the next day (a "day at sea"). My issue isn't with Carnival's decision to change the route. Seasoned passengers know that itinerary changes can happen. Passengers who let those changes ruin their experience will often be left disappointed. The fact that we were spending the first day at sea rather than in Monaco wasn't a big deal. That said, the decision to change the itinerary was really just a guess, which turned out to be wrong (more about that later). My issue is with the manner in which the change was communicated. The cruise director first alluded to the change some time around 2:30 pm (which leads me to believe the new route was charted and laid out hours before that). However, the change wasn't announced generally until some time around 5:00 pm. During that time, the ship left dock (which we missed because we were scrambling to make changes to our plans). There are only two reasons I can think of why the announcement was delayed: either Carnival was oblivious to the needs of passengers to change their plans, or Carnival deliberately withheld the information for business/profitability reasons. I would like to believe that there was a third reason, because I usually find Carnival to be a customer-focussed organization, but I can't think what it might be. I invited Mr. Heald to respond to my concerns via a private message to his website, but after about 10 days with no response, I assume he's chosen not to comment. I know that because of the delay, we didn't start making plans until we had left dock. So I wasn't able to use my pre-paid international cell phone plan minutes using the Barcelona/Spanish cellular system, nor was I able to use my smart-phone's 3G internet connection and my prepaid international data plan to send emails and make new arrangements. Instead, I had to use the ship's very expensive internet service and cell phone service. We spent $210 on internet service compared to something like $15 on our last cruise (when we didn't have to deal with planning changes). I also heard from other passengers who had made plans but realized they couldn't put together new plans at the last minute, so they just gave up and signed up for the expensive ship's excursion. While the CD indicated that passengers could get help from guest services, this came with mixed results. Some passengers reported that guest services took their plans and tickets and did all the work to get them corrected. The only service they offered us was to look up telephone numbers for us, which ultimately wasn't useful. They refused to grant us internet access and while they offered to place telephone calls for us, they were not able to do so the one time we took them up on their offer. Ultimately, the revised route worked out and we didn't miss out on any plans or incur any additional expense (other than the cell phone cost, which I have yet to see, and the $160 in shipboard internet charges, which I reluctantly paid). We did, however, end up spending 6-8 total hours revising our plans. Our car rental in Civitavecchia was easily changed. The Leaning Tower of Pisa and the Accademia in Florence (site of Michelangelo's David) both issued revised tickets for no extra charge. But that doesn't change my view of Carnival's communication and therefore their service related to this matter. Making it somewhat worse is the fact that after we returned home, I checked on the fortunes of other cruise ships that were also scheduled to be in Monaco with us on the first full day of our cruise (i.e., when the port was supposedly closed due to bad weather). The Star Princess arrived in Monaco that day without incident. Passengers have posted here and elsewhere that it was a warm sunny day. I don't necessarily fault Carnival on their decision to divert. They made their best guess based on the information they had. It happened to be the wrong guess, but I can't expect them to always be right. My issue is that they failed to communicate with us accurately and on a timely basis and its hard not to be cynical and question their motives for the delay in communication. This review contains many more words summarizing the problems we had than it does reporting on the positive things. However, I still view the cruise as an enjoyable, positive experience. It is just the way it is that we need more words to explain something that went poorly than we require to describe something that went well. In Messina, we took the 40 minute train to Taormina-Giardini station, then took the public bus up to the town of Taormina. It was a simple journey and it is disappointing that Carnival actively discourages passengers from taking it. The bus segment is a slow 10-minute ride up a steep winding hill. Looking on a map, a healthy person might think this is walkable. It is, if you're in great shape and you don't mind hiking uphill at an aggressive pace for more than an hour. I don't recommend it. Because there are so many people on the train and a limited number of busses, there is a long line-up for the bus at the Taormina train station. If possible, be the first off the train and dash through the train station to get to the bus stop. It is right in front of the train station (same side of the street, with busses coming from left to right). If you are not one of the first 30-40 people in line for the bus, I suggest doing what we did, which was to walk back (to your left, toward the oncoming busses) to the preceding bus stop (it is maybe a 5 minute walk). That will guarantee you a seat on the next available bus. We boarded the bus there and took it back to the train station, where people who had been on our train still couldn't get on and had to wait for the third bus. When boarding the bus, just make sure you ask the driver whether the bus is going to Taormina. In Naples, we took the train from the Napoli-port station to Pompeii. We listened to an audio tour (downloaded from home) and generally toured the area for about 3 hours. Then we went to Herculaneum (Ercolano train station), which is a less well-known and much smaller, but better-preserved site than Pompeii. We got back to the ship at 4:15 pm. In Civitavecchia, we rented a car (booked in advance) and drove to Lake Bracciano. We had been to Rome last year and didn't feel we missed anything. Not wanting to go back to see the same sites again, and not wanting to visit more obscure sites in Rome, we decided instead to see the countryside, visit the Orsini-Odescalchi Castle and generally have a low-stress day. In Livorno our original plan was to take the train to Pisa and then take the train to Florence. We had tickets to go up the Leaning Tower at 10:40 am and tickets to enter the Accademia to see the statue of David at 1:45 pm. However, the CD announced the night before that there would be a train strike the next day. We spent a good part of the evening making alternate plans that involved renting a car in Pisa. However, the next morning we stepped off the ship on to the dock to find an Avis desk set up on a folding table with the rental cars sitting right there on the dock. We quickly snapped up a vehicle for 100 Euros and had a very-low stress day of driving rather than rushing for trains and worrying about buying the right tickets, finding the right platform and getting back to the port in time. The cost of the car worked out to about 35 Euros each, including gas and parking. But that was only about 15 Euros more than we would have spent each on train tickets and a whole lot more comfortable and convenient. If you drive into Pisa or Florence, you need to know the zones (generally the city centers) where driving without a specific permit results in an automatic fine. For Pisa it was easy to stay out of the no-go zone and park within a 5 minute walk of the Leaning Tower. In Florence, we identified in advance a parkade where we would stop, which was about a 30 minute walk away from the Accademia. We walked from the parkade to the Accademia, but decided to take an 8 Euro cab ride to get back to our car a the end of our visit to Florence. In Monaco, we just got off the ship and walked around. We happened to be not too far from the Prince's Palace at 11:30 or so when we realized the changing of the guard was at noon (11:55 am, it turns out), so we quickly made our way to the plaza in time to see it, albeit behind a bit of a crush of other tourists. We just enjoyed walking around Monaco and I went into the Grand Casino at Monte Carlo for about 5 minutes, just to say I did. We had paid for eight hours of internet time and on our departure day, I still had 10 minutes left (90% of the remainder went to changing our port-day plans on the fly and checking train schedules). The Magic theoretically has "bow to stern" wi-fi, but it is extremely weak. In fact, we would routinely disconnect in our cabin until I realized that the signal would remain (barely) strong enough if I left my cabin door propped open. But that morning, instead of struggling with the spotty service, I went down to the "fun hub" (internet/computer area) and checked our flight for later that day and looked up laundromats in the area of Barcelona where we'd be spending the day. I realized there was a steady stream of customers coming to the internet service clerk to complain about their bill. Carnival does something very sneaky with their internet service charges. First, they charge you something like $4.70 for the first minute. Complain if you like, I suppose, but if you don't like the cost, don't use the service. Then what happens is that you either pay by the minute (75 cents per minute) or you can buy a plan (37-50 cents a minute if purchased in 2 or 4 hour increments). However, if you've purchased a plan and are logged in when the time runs out, the terms of the agreement are that "for your convenience" (as they word it) the service continues at the per-minute rate (i.e., 75 cents per minute) "so that your browsing session will not be disconnected." The problem with this is that they don't tell you when your prepaid time is up. They just keep letting you use the system and they keep billing you at the high per-minute rate. The obvious solution to the problem they claim to be trying to avoid with this price gouging would be simply to have a pop-up that warns you that your session is coming to an end and asks you if you want to extend. Most pay-for-use systems I've used have an applet that continually counts down your unused time so you can check regularly. But it appears that Carnival's "automatic extension" practice is more for their benefit than for any passenger's "convenience". Even better, if you are logged in and end your session by shutting down your browser (i.e., without logging out), you are still considered logged in and your charges will continue to accrue (or your prepaid minutes will erode). This happened to us once, although we caught it immediately because we shut down our own wireless device and went to use the ship's computer and found we couldn't log in because we were already logged in. Of course at that point we couldn't log out either. The wi-fi instructions are that when you want to log out, you're supposed to type "logout.com" into the address bar. This is the only example I can recall of having to log out of a system by manually typing a URL. On that last day, as I sat looking up laundromats, there was a line of passengers coming in to complain about the account statements they had received overnight. Each one of them complained about the same issue - charges accumulating without them knowing about it. One passenger was clearly very knowledgeable about IT systems and standards and even explained back to the clerk how Carnival's system did work, how it should work and how it was designed to gouge the customers. He was particularly incensed. Disembarkation was a chore. We self-assisted because we were in no hurry (our flight to Nice, France was at 6:00 pm) and stayed in our cabin until the very last minute. As a result, it was so busy that we waited for an elevator on our deck for probably 15 minutes before giving up. Eventually, we just hauled our large suitcases and carry-ons down three flights of stairs to get into the long line to exit. I appreciate that everyone needs to be off the ship more or less at once, but I can't help but wonder if there isn't a more efficient way to do it. Once outside, we got into the very large snaking line-up for taxis. We were in that line-up at least 50 minutes. With so many passengers heading either into the center of town, or to the airport, it is hard to believe that no one (the port, the city of Barcelona or Carnival) thinks they wouldn't be better off setting up a shuttle-bus service. The issue wasn't the cost of the taxis (we paid 17 Euros for our cab from the port into town) or even the time it took to get one. It was more the obvious inefficiency of having a giant line of people moved by individual car to the same place. I would have gladly spent 10 Euros per person for a shuttle into town. It didn't help that the taxi stand, although designed to accommodate at least 10 taxis loading at a time, was only loading two or three cabs at once. All in all, we had a great time on the cruise. Other than the first partial day of the cruise, the weather was perfect. I'm not sure I'd sail the same route again, because there are so many new and different places to explore. I don't think I'd choose to go back to the same place first. But I really enjoyed the opportunity to see those parts of Spain, Italy and Monaco. You can look at a cruise as either a great way to see Europe or as a very unsatisfying way. If the itinerary hits cities that interest you, then the cruise does all the work to get you there (at least, to the ports) and takes care of your accommodation. In that sense, it is great. Alternatively, you may distinguish between "vacationing" and "travelling" and feel that a European cruise is trying unsuccessfully to be both. You really can't "see" a whole city by arriving in the morning and leaving in late afternoon. In addition, the choice between taking your time and enjoying things vs. rushing around to try to "see everything" is heightened. So, for example, if you're only going to be in Rome for seven hours in your whole life, it doesn't make a lot of sense to sleep in and miss two of those hours. But given the heavy touring we did, it didn't make the trip particularly relaxing. Each day was sort of: up at 7:00, leave before 8:00, visit various sites with lots of walking all day, get back around 5:00, dinner from 6-7:30 or so, then we would have a couple hours to relax (although much of that time was spent re-jigging our plans for the next day) before starting again. So, while in some ways a cruise is a great way to see a good part of Europe, you really have to make a decision as to whether you're taking the cruise to travel and sight-see, or whether you're going to relax. It can't be both. All that is not a complaint, and it is more or less exactly what I signed up for. But when people ask me if the cruise was a good way to see that part of the Mediterranean, I explain that if they go, they will either see a lot, but it won't be very relaxing, or it will be very relaxing, but they won't see much. And there isn't really a compromise that gives you a good combination of both. Read Less
Sail Date July 2011
Having read many reviews before booking the Carnival Magic 12-day cruise, I feel compelled to return the favor and add my comments on the cruise we just finished yesterday(2 adults & 2 children):The ship is an awesome ship..even with ... Read More
Having read many reviews before booking the Carnival Magic 12-day cruise, I feel compelled to return the favor and add my comments on the cruise we just finished yesterday(2 adults & 2 children):The ship is an awesome ship..even with 4,000+ passengers, it was never crowded...many different things to do...the kids were never bored and had a great time.The food was okay...food at the main seating rooms was great...the food in the market place was so-so. The desserts at the Marketplace .looked great but tasted terrible.The service/staff for the room and main seating restaurant was exceptional. Very friendly and went out of their way to make the vacation memorable. The rest of the staff, mainly from Eastern Europe, were not friendly.One side comment....there was about 700+ kids on the ship(including 2 of mine)...there appeared to be many kids running around, with no supervision at all hours of the day/night. What bothered us the most was some of the kids were very rude, loud and intrusive. Several times I had to say something to these kids.Overall, the vacation/cruise was memorable. It was worth the price and we are glad that we went on the cruise. Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
Our one previous Carnival cruise was the worst experience I've ever had on a ship, so I was eager to give Carnival another chance with the promise of a cruise out of Barcelona on the inaugural cruise of the Magic. NOT SO VIP--The ... Read More
Our one previous Carnival cruise was the worst experience I've ever had on a ship, so I was eager to give Carnival another chance with the promise of a cruise out of Barcelona on the inaugural cruise of the Magic. NOT SO VIP--The disappointment began with our alleged VIP boarding. We parted from our friends who weren't booked in a suite, and we were ushered upstairs for the VIP treatment. We waited a long time on a sofa and were finally registered and on our way--only to find we were in line to board with our friends who had no VIP treatment! Since we boarded at the earliest boarding time (right after noon), we expected our luggage to be there fairly quickly. Wrong! Everyone in our group, including the non VIP boarders, got their luggage first--ours came at about 6 p.m. GREAT ROOMS--That disappointment aside, the room was marvelous with literally tons of storage space and room under the beds for our large suitcases. The only design flaw was that while I sat at the lovely, lighted vanity table, my husband could barely open his closet or the bathroom door. The hairdryer was installed in a drawer, that, when open, blocked the bathroom door as well. The over-sized vanity stool, blocked most of that room when pulled out, and it didn't completely fit under the counter. The mini refrigerator was stocked so tightly with mini bar items for sale, that we couldn't even put our gift champagne in it. Beds and linens were fabulously comfortable. SERVICE SKETCHY--My biggest complaint about the cruise was that service was very sketchy. Our wait staff in the dining room were not particularly friendly, though they improved as time went on. Much energy was wasted in "shows" that the wait staff were forced to perform each evening about dessert time. The shows were corny and time wasting and the staff seemed embarrassed to be forced to perform. The Lido deck cafeterias were crowded at all visits, and while there were many specialty stations, the lines were so long that we often didn't have time to enjoy them. Tables were cleared quickly, but the dining areas stayed full. Our room was kept clean and well-stocked, but we rarely saw our steward to ask for service. It was a very different level of service than we've experienced on other lines. OVER CROWDING--The adults-only pool was always full of children, and pools were crowded much of the time. It was a very family-oriented cruise, with more than a thousand children and teens. There were wonderful activities for kids including a fabulous water park area with large slides and other features. Because of the strenuous port schedule and the long drives to reach destinations such as Rome, we spent long days touring and then had little time to relax around the pools--then to find them so crowded was disappointing. FOOD--The food was good and got better as the days went by. Often the Lido deck food was actually better than the dining room food, which was a nice surprise. LAUNDRY--There were only three laundry rooms available for the entire ship and they were always full. I tried to iron several times, but could never get to the board inside the crowded laundry room. For $15 we could get "wash and fold" service for a bag of laundry--that was a bargain since the washers and driers were $3 each. It did take two days rather than the next day service promised. Overall, we really enjoyed the ports and the cruise in general, however Carnival needs to work out a lot of kinks for this ship to be truly "magic." Read Less
Sail Date June 2011
The ship was 5 star with a 3 star entertainment and dining experience. Breakfast was predictable nothing exciting, and lunch was not much better. The food in the dining room was often cold, we did complain a few times, it wasn't the ... Read More
The ship was 5 star with a 3 star entertainment and dining experience. Breakfast was predictable nothing exciting, and lunch was not much better. The food in the dining room was often cold, we did complain a few times, it wasn't the fault of the waiters, they did their best.The entertainment was poor out of the 12 days on board only 3 shows stood out, and there was not a show every night.The cabin was very nice, we had a balcony it was clean.Our steward was helpful, so was the guest reception. There is a standard charge for gratuities per person per day which we were aware of for the crew, but were asked time and again towards the end of the cruise not to forget the maitre'd and to tip more if we felt waiters, room stewards deserved it.How cheap can you get!! Disembarkation was efficient we had to be off the ship by 8.30 am Would I cruise with Carnival again? No I don't think so I've cruised with better!! Read Less
Sail Date May 2011
We booked the cruise and flight separately as Barcelona has cheap flights from the Uk.We liked the itinary and the ports of call lived up to our expectation. However the ship did not.It is an American ship and as such be prepared for high ... Read More
We booked the cruise and flight separately as Barcelona has cheap flights from the Uk.We liked the itinary and the ports of call lived up to our expectation. However the ship did not.It is an American ship and as such be prepared for high drinks prices, cheapest bottle of wine 26$, 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
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