Veteran Cruiser – Honest Review
In summary: the Carnival Magic is a really nice ship. She is huge (130K tons) which is a departure from the older and smaller ships that normally take the 3 or 4 day Bahamas run from Port Canaveral. ... Read More
Veteran Cruiser – Honest Review
In summary: the Carnival Magic is a really nice ship. She is huge (130K tons) which is a departure from the older and smaller ships that normally take the 3 or 4 day Bahamas run from Port Canaveral. After five years of service, she was immaculate, comfortable, and the service in general was on target. This cruise was a three-day repositioning cruise of sorts, scheduling the Magic for week long Caribbean cruises out of Canaveral. The crew had just enjoyed a three-day trip from Galveston without any guests. They seemed happy and well rested. That being said, here is my honest and detailed review.
Embarkation: Port Canaveral is undergoing major enhancements to provide for larger ships and increasing passenger counts. This effort is in progress. Accordingly, the facilities aren’t there yet. Most noticeably, parking is an issue. It took much too long to park and we ended up against a yellow curb, as directed by a parking attendant, as the lot was out of room. Consider that you have 3600 passengers parking in a lot designed for 2000. After parking, boarding was effortless. We are Platinum Cruisers on Carnival. We went through a priority security lane, were directed to the Captain’s Lounge, and within 15 minutes were aboard and in our cabin.
The embarkation day buffet was about what we’ve come to expect…. chaos. There were too many passengers not knowing where to go. The lines were long. I attribute this in part to our not arriving until 2:00 p.m. Those who intelligently arrived around noon reported a lovely lunch experience in multiple lido deck based venues.
The Cabin: We booked at the last minute, five days before sailing, and paid top dollar for a Cloud 9 Spa balcony stateroom. The location was all the way forward on Deck 12. The location, while a little remote, was quiet, immaculate, well serviced, and extremely comfortable. There was more than sufficient space for the two of us and it would have been ample for a week-long cruise. The slippers, robes, toiletries, and unlimited access to the spa pool and thermal suite were nice touches as well.
Dining: The dining on this ship ranged from fine to exceptional. The dining room fare seemed pared down a bit from previous cruises, but arrived hot and was tasty. It was just nothing exceptional. Service was fine the one night we ate in the main dining room. We were at a table for 10, and the wait staff had no issue keeping up.
The second night we dined in the steakhouse. It was fantastic. My wife had surf and turf, I had the seasoned rib-eye which was as good as any steak I have ever had in a premium steakhouse. I actually thanked the chef when we left. Everything was perfect. The service, selections, and presentation were off the chart. I would strongly recommend splurging, paying the $35 upcharge, and treating yourself to this experience. I’m still thinking about that steak.
The third and final night, we paid the $15 upcharge and dined in the Cucina del Capitano. It too was awesome. My wife had eggplant and I had another steak. Both were tremendous. I also ordered off the menu and was able to have the spaghetti carbonara I remembered so fondly from the old Mardi Gras. Everything was terrific and I was even provided a copy of the recipe for the carbonara.
Fellow Cruisers: These weekend cruisers are always a mixed bag. You definitely have the party crowd including some low-rent undesirables. This was a better mix and was more upscale than I noted on previous cruises on the Sensation. All in all, we met many wonderful and friendly people and never had an issue striking up meaningful conversation.
Entertainment: This was a category that seemed to have slipped, in my opinion. In fairness, we only saw part of one stage presentation. The set design seemed innovative and the performers were talented, but it just didn’t “grab” us. The one comedian we saw was racist and offensive. I’m bi-racial and my wife is Northern European (and looks it, blond/blue/fair). I think we have a pretty well developed sense of humor regarding ethnicity and comedy in general. The crowd at the show was diverse and we all seemed equally offended. The piano bar was fun and the player/singer was a great showman. He couldn’t sing, however, which made it difficult to sing along.
Bar Staff: I was impressed with how attentive the bar staff was and how hard they worked. We had the Cheers! Package, and tipped on top of that, so perhaps that was why. Everyone remembered our names. That caused us to spend too much time at the bars, probably, which we regretted disembarkation morning.
Newer Venues: The Red Frog Pub is the coolest thing I have ever seen on a cruise ship. It was a blast. The service was great and the “Pub Grub” was tasty and a deal at the $3 upcharge. I had conch salad and conch fritters. Both were great. They also have numerous draft beers, including Carnival’s new signature ale. We loved this place and returned many times. The Tasting Bar was new to us as well. Samples of various dishes were provided. Each night they came from a different onboard dining venue. Also located on Deck Five was a salad bar where salads were custom mixed to individual preferences. I loved it.
The Tandor on the Lido serves Indian cuisine. I didn’t try it, but fellow travelers seemed to like it. On our deck we also had mini-golf, a ropes course, and a basketball court. Movies under the Stars was fun. The movies aren’t first run (we watched The Hunger Games), but it was a great setting and very enjoyable. All were well attended. Guy’s Burger Joint, the Blue Iguana taco/burrito bar, and the Mongolian Wok were all great. I’m going on a diet.
This almost new generation of Carnival ships was clearly designed to serve more passengers with fewer staff. This seems to be a trend in the industry. While some service discrepancies will be noted vis a vie previous Carnival cruises, they didn’t lessen our enjoyment of the trip. The only truly annoying issue was room service. While 24-hour room service is advertised, trying to get it is problematic. The first night I waited on hold for 10 minutes then opted to go pick up pizza on the back deck. The next time I waited 15 minutes, became frustrated, and called Guest Services. Guest services hung up on me. This made me mad, so I went downstairs to Guest Services, went to the Platinum/Diamond line and complained. They were able to get through to room service quickly and our order arrived 20 minutes later. I thought that was too much effort.
Port of Call: Nassau is Nassau. I’ve been too many times to get much out of it. Our souvenirs consisted of cologne and a corkscrew. We did stop for a drink also. Nothing to comment about occurred.
Disembarkation: This was pretty seamless. It did annoy me that we received an unsolicited wake up call followed by a hang up at 7:15. My alarm was set for 7:30. We had breakfast and departed around 9:30. Given the huge stacks of luggage, I’m guessing that most of the ship had not been disembarked. Again, we’re Platinum, so pretty much leave when we feel like it. Transition through customs was quick and painless, as was our departure from parking.
In a nutshell, this was a great quick getaway for us and we met many lovely people. I would definitely sail on this ship again if the price is right. It wasn’t this time. I think that given our options in Central Florida, assuming the accommodation were at the same rate, I would opt for Royal Caribbean. Even though the RCCL cabins are smaller, the service seems better. Understand that my wife and I are in our 50’s and we may be nearing the end of our appreciation for the weekend party cruises. That being said, I departed happy with a hangover. We spent two days at the beach recovering from our consumption. All in all, a very happy time. Read Less