102 Carnival Magic Europe - Western Mediterranean Cruise Reviews

I was skeptical to take another cruise out of Galveston with Carnival. My last cruise on the Ecstasy was five nights with stops in Progreso and Cozumel in June of 2008. On that cruise, I had an obstructed ocean view and felt like a ... Read More
I was skeptical to take another cruise out of Galveston with Carnival. My last cruise on the Ecstasy was five nights with stops in Progreso and Cozumel in June of 2008. On that cruise, I had an obstructed ocean view and felt like a stranger in a strange land. I’m not Texan. I don’t like country music. I have no tolerance for children running around in my vicinity. I don’t even like frozen sweet tropical drinks or mass-produced American beers. This August my in-laws invited my spouse and me to join them for a 7 night cruise on the Carnival Magic in mid November. They are in their late Seventies. This was an invitation I couldn’t pass up. Spending time with parents is a limited commodity as we get older. I did a lot of research mostly at Cruise Critic to find out how to maximize the potential with what could have been a disastrously disappointing experience. It completely paid off. This cruise converted me to a Carnival aficionado, and now I’ve caught the cruise bug. My experience on the Magic for the Eastern Caribbean itinerary wasn’t only incredibly luxurious, despite some minor nits, it was ‘magical.’ The Ship This liner is very large, accommodating nearly 3700 passengers with 15 decks. However, the common areas where I found myself were never overcrowded. The décor of the ship is sort of an Eighties rainbow tropical mash up. It’s a little Vegas, but not in bad taste. The strobing lights in the lobby, hallways, and Ocean plaza were pretty. There are so many areas to explore, I was discovering new venues even on the last day. Deck 5 has a wide Lanai which circles the entire ship--a fabulous opportunity for some walking exercise and some sea spray. I found myself meeting others in the Ocean plaza on deck five for trivia games. This was the same venue for live entertainment at other times on the ship. It opens onto a special zone on the Lanai, which was one of the few areas of the ship where smokers were welcome. An occasional waft of smoke was the price to pay if one sits here because the automatic doors open often to the outside of the ship. As for smoking in general, the ship was very clean. However, it is allowed in the casino, which is unavoidable, since it takes up the entire midship of the promenade, deck 5. Frankly, the casino stunk of cigarette smoke. I’m not much for gambling, but there was a Carnival Player’s Club event for my cruise which had the casino buzzing with a lot of activity. I hear the odds are very bad at sea relative to land casinos, but someone won $2500 and a free cruise there. The sports deck on 12 had a lot of family activity toward the aft of the ship with a full sized basketball court, mini golf, foosball, ping pong, outdoor exercise equipment, the ropes course (which looked fun but never got the chance to try), and the waterworks area with two different large water slides, a big soaker bucket and two smaller slides. I never lounged around the two pools on deck 10, the Lido, where the majority of activity was centered. There were always chairs available, but the area was too crowded for me. I noticed one in the aft pool one morning all by herself. Mornings might be the best time to avoid crowds for taking a dip. The hot tubs tended to be bustling with groups of 4 to 6 sipping frozen tropical drinks and buckets of beer. There are 8 public hot tubs on the ship: two in the adults-only Serenity area, two on the Lido at the aft pool, and 4 on the Lanai around the ship. I suspect that the Lanai hot tubs were used less frequently because they were a little out of the way of most ship cruiser traffic. However, I was happy with my Thalassotherapy spa where it was always quieter. One night I saw a couple drinking beer in the spa hot tub. I was surprised that the Spa attendants didn’t say anything. I’d liken this behavior to smoking weed during yoga—gauche. The Serenity area is large, with aqua cushions on chaises, round loungers big enough for two, hammocks, and shaded seating. There was also a separate bar with seats for about 12. A waiter strolled the area to take drink orders. This was my deck hang out. Our weather was overcast with quite a bit of overnight rain, and Serenity was practically deserted. There were also a couple of smaller areas on the Sun Deck one deck below just aft of the Serenity flanking the Waterworks which had comfy chairs and great sea views. Faster To The Fun A $49 upgrade from the base fare per cabin gave us some premium level benefits only otherwise afforded to Platinum and Diamond cruisers with 10+ cruises on Carnival. If you can snag one of these, offered as an excursion, I couldn’t recommend them enough. It starts with special luggage tags that cue the embarkation port attendants to expedite your luggage to your room. They asked us to march straight to the front of the line where they had separate embarkation agents checking our IDs and medical affidavits before we got our Sign and Sail cards. FTF does not give you access to the premium lounge, however. We were considered priority boarding and got on in this order: wedding parties, diamond, platinum VIFP groups, suites, Carnival Players Club, FTF, then in the numbered boarding groups by zone. From luggage drop off to boarding was about 30 minutes, as we arrived around 10:30A. Upon boarding, our cabins were already cleaned and ready for us to drop off our carry-ons. We had finished lunch before more than half of the people had boarded. By the time we were done with lunch, our luggage was in our rooms. We were first to debark as well, after the self-service cruisers who carried all of their luggage. FTF gives you access to a separate window with no line and priority attention at guest services which I used to quickly clear up a question about my account and get the tender for in Belize. I’m not sure, but it may have helped with my specialty dining reservations and request for Any Time Dining. In any case, it helped to avoid many more lines, which do not please me. The Spa The Cloud 9 spa is actually on two decks, the fitness center, locker room and saunas on 12, and with thermal suites and treatment rooms on 14. I loved the proximity to the gym from the balcony on 11. I could take a private elevator between 11 and all the way up to the Serenity deck on 15. I spent multiple mornings on the LifeFitness elliptical trainer gazing out to sea. Spa amenities also gave me two free yoga / Pilates classes which were not absolutely conveniently timed, but I did make one yoga class. There were 5 of us in that class led by an enthusiastic Aussie Kevin who was great. I also went to a fee-based ($15) spin class with Kevin (only three people in that class!) and burned serious calories as well as learned a few tricks to take back to the gym at home for spinning. On port days, the ship offers free morning stretch classes for all cruisers. I participated in a couple of those as well. They were more like Yoga-lite and perfectly adequate. There were never more than 6 people in these classes. Fitness wise, it was like we had private lessons. The thermal suites are a little piece of heaven! Don your bathing suit, put on your upgraded Cloud 9 bathrobe, and if you’re like me, try to stuff your size 13 foot into a size 8 slipper (they’re too small!), and take a trip to Nirvana. The medium warm tepidarium has six tiled, heated chaise lounges with a gorgeous private view of the sea. Just next to it was the warmer laconium, with two heated chaises and a wall of heated benches across the back. There are two separate steam baths: the oriental with a spicy herbal scent to it and the even warmer aroma steam bath which features menthol and eucalyptus in the air. None of these rooms ever had more than 4 people in them. It was so peaceful. Just around the corner from here is another semi private multi-head shower with color therapy. I probably spent the most time in the covered Thalassotherapy pool which amply fit about eleven people, but never exceeded about 6. There’s a long underwater chaise which maximizes the jets against the backs and the legs. The jets pushed me off the chaise they were so powerful. At the end of the pool there were two power showers which felt great to pour down against my shoulders and back. All of the spa facilities are available from 8AM – 10PM daily. Some nights I stole away just before retiring to catch some relaxation in that hot tub. I developed some strong shoulder pain that no ibuprofen would allay during the trip, so I considered a ’la carte spa services. I opted for a $129 special (don’t forget the automatic 15% tip surcharge) on day five that included exfoliation, hot stone back, neck, shoulder and scalp massage and a facial in 75 minutes of treatment. This was actually a good deal, and much cheaper than my initial recommended course. Having read the warnings about the hard product sell after treatments, I printed clearly on my intake form that I didn’t want any products. My very nice technician told me after I was finished that this made her feel sad and still pushed a face wash, scrub and mask on me. I eventually caved for the wash and scrub at an additional $77. Forewarned is forearmed when it comes to these services. The reason they include so many services in one package is that it gives them an opportunity to sell you exfoliator, shampoo/scalp, massage, facial, and even a very pricey detox program. The facial was good and so was the back massage. As a point of reference, at first I told them about my shoulder pain and they recommended acupuncture. These treatments are $150 a piece, and the specialist recommended 5 sessions at a $150 discount of $600. $pendy. I was also curious about the Botox / Dysport treatments on the ship so I consulted with the ship’s doctor day one about my crow’s feet (~$350). She recommended a total brow lift across my “much worse” forehead (~$450) and midbrow (~$350) for a discounted price of $800 if I booked them all together. These also included free touch ups during the cruise. I don’t know if this is a good deal, but it was definitely beyond my budget. The food There’s more food on this ship than anyone can eat, but I tried. :) The Prime Steakhouse I started out with a reservation on night one made well in advance at the Prime Steakhouse which included a free bottle of wine for our table of four. We tried to get another bottle saying that we were two cabins, but they balked. The free wine is passable, not the best. However, it was free and I love that price! I savored this intimate, upscale restaurant ($35 upcharge) which seats about 80 people. The service was extremely professional, from the chummy bartender at the entrance to the friendly wait staff. The nights began with a cocktail at the very small bar at the front of the restaurant. The absolutely charming Gabriela from Hungary took sweet care of us for my standard classic Crown Royal Manhattan on the rocks (she sought out Angostura bitters to finish the drink for me personally) and a Hendricks gin martini up for the husband. Both of these call brand cocktails come in at under $10. I’m used to $14 cocktails in the bars in Chicago, so the prices were reasonable to me. We got to know Gabriela, and she recognized us by name. This bar was so nice; we had pre-prandial cocktails there on four evenings. It made me feel like I was the only person on the ship for a swank, intimate encounter. We enjoyed the ambiance and food at the Prime Steakhouse so much, we ate there twice. The evening begins with an amuse bouche. We sampled the tomato water, the lobster carpaccio, and crab croquettes. The croquettes stood out. Appetizers and sides were also delicious, from the giant shrimp cocktail to the rich, earthy lobster bisque to the excellent tuna tartar to the surprisingly airy escargot puffs with amazing dipping sauce. The crab cake was so good! It’s just a whole head and shoulders above the absolutely fine crab cake appetizer in the MDR. As for salads, I loved my beefsteak tomato and blue cheese salad, but the Caesar salad could have been better. It was served traditional, whole romaine leaf style with a thick dressing. It’s better than the one they serve in the MDR which tended to be small and underdressed, but doesn’t match the finishing and detail of so many of the other menu items in the steakhouse. The spinach salad was ample, competent, and tasty. The first night was rife with beef, and I tried the 5 spice rubbed bone-in 18 oz. hangar steak. The prime meat was grilled perfectly and seriously too big. Dear father in law loved his 9 oz. filet mignon. “One of the best I’ve ever eaten,” he remarked. A more petit filet comes with the surf and turf. The hubby got the lamb chops. This was the biggest serving of lamb chops I’ve ever seen. It also included perfectly succulent lamb loin medallions if the three giant chops aren’t enough. The second time we went back for two only and focused only on fish and shellfish. We were still blown away with quality. Evidently, so was the staff. This Thursday evening, a formal night in the MDR, the restaurant filled with officers of the ship, including the cruise director, the shopping expert, and surprisingly, a table of the captain and his senior crewmen ship in their very fancy black jackets with epaulets and gold braids. Needless to say, I felt like a VIP sitting next to them. Unfortunately, we didn’t chat because their entire conversation was in Italian! On my second visit, entrée choices were sea bass and lobster tail for us. Perfectly cooked. Absolutely delectable. Note that they only have one size of large lobster tail in the steakhouse: 7 oz. It’s split for a surf and turf and three halves are served for the lobster tail entrée. Sides are unremarkable, unfortunately. We tried the large portion of plain steamed broccoli, basic baked potato with nice side dish of bacon, butter, and sour cream, horseradish whipped potatoes which were just a bit too creamy for my taste, and the strange creamed spinach which consisted of steamed spinach leaves with garlic cream poured on top of them. I actually prefer Boston Market on this one! One standout side was the plain sautéed button mushrooms. These are hard to beat. Desserts were gigantic and amazing from the rich, tall cheesecake which easily feeds three to the chocolate sampler in four tasting portions. Two standouts were the decadent, caramelized apples in a puff pastry dome for which my server announced was the best thing on their menu. Don’t underestimate the cheese course, either. It was chock full of very high quality cheeses: French brie, St. Andre (crazy stinky), Roquefort, aged gouda, almonds, water crackers and a perfect little cluster of grapes. This alone would cost $15-$20 at any fine restaurant. I must not forget the bread choices: rosemary focaccia or a delicious little brioche roll. They’re served with a trio of smears including butter, tomato relish and eggplant relish. Bottom line, this place is near perfect. Another couple we met on the ship told us the same story: they were so blown away with the place, they came back twice. I want to share a final note about reservations in the steakhouse. If you use the reservation system, it may seem full and sometimes hard to get a table. My experience, however, was that it was often not full by more than half. My suspicion is that people make the reservations and then forget to cancel, for which there’s no penalty. Because of this, we arrived 45 minutes early the second night expecting to have a cocktail before dinner and we were seated almost right away. We also saw people coming into the restaurant and being seated without reservations. Words to the wiser! The Chef’s Table I was very pleasantly surprised by the sheer artistry of the Chef’s Table. I’m also happy to report that we experienced a new, third menu for this dinner. I reserved well in advance of the cruise by about 6 weeks through the Steakhouse mcsteakhouse@carnival.com. At our seating, there were 16 cruisers participating. I was told that this was the second offering on this ship this cruise and that because of demand they may have expanded to up to four evenings. In other words, Carnival accommodates for this special event. We met early in the evening at 6:15 in the piano lounge for four appetizers. The pre-dinner event was moved from the Vibe nightclub due to a conflict. A tall stem of champagne accompanied what began a culinary journey which lasted almost three hours. The chef de cuisine and three of his white-toqued sous brought us delectable little bites including an unusual mango sphere which resembled an egg yolk made possible by molecular gastronomy techniques on a savory rosemary cracker. The standout amuses were the salmon tartar mini hand roll and the double crusted lamb meat balls. The third beef carpaccio on air pillow was wild. It looked like nothing I’ve ever eaten before. This is a theme for the dinner: presentations are spectacularly adventurous. Chefs and his assistants explain everything and answer any questions. You’ll feel pampered. From the lounge, we marched into the galley. It’s a clean machine of efficiency and volume. About halfway in, we found ourselves at a white table clothed table with fine china and stemware. Our host, the chef de cuisine was warm and animated. I found my place card with a scrolled personalized menu for the evening featuring a ribbon with a star anise closure. The bread presentation then came with savory thin crisps separating brioche curls with caramelized onions and herbs. Three surprises flank the end of the bread board: a roasted garlic clove, and two different cherry tomatoes which were delicious. I’ve never eaten any tomatoes prepared this way. They were unusual in that they looked raw but were somehow cooked. They were like a little bite of magic. Red or white wine flowed freely at the table, a 2013 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio or a McGuigan Bin Series Merlot, both about $10 a bottle in retail stores. We began the seven course journey with a gorgeous, multilayered beet ‘blanket’ served with a grape tea. Many of the courses are served with separate finishing pours and this was the first of them. This course was beautiful! Diners would be served simultaneously. During every course, the assistants or the Chef himself would crouch down to the table to ensure that everything was to our liking. Next was a delectable crab salad served on a polenta cracker with passion fruit caviar, another gastronomy trick. The duck textures, basically duck two-ways, was delicate with the creamy quinoa and parmesan churros. Probably the most spectacular presentation was the Bisque our way, where two separate tomato soups are poured simultaneously into the plate with a ‘log’ of whipped cream and herbs separating them. Wow. We then stopped and took a tour through the service area where we learned some amazing facts about the kitchen and food preparation on the ship from the Chef. He explained that for a one week cruise, he will order $450,000 worth of food to be delivered in Galveston. They prepare 4000 meals for the brunches and dinners in the MDRs per day! He showed us a computer screen which shows a grid of every order to be completed in real time during the dinner with color coding for modifiers like temperature for steaks. We paraded by stations where we learned that for safety, there are no flames at all in the kitchen. All food, even the grilled steaks are made with on water-heated grills. We saw how each entrée on the menu has a picture at the completion station to cue the assistants on presentations. We then stopped by the pastry area of the kitchen where we met the head pastry chef. He gave us the recipe for Carnival’s signature warm melting cake and demonstrated the preparation. Basically a custardy soufflé of eggs, sugar, butter, cocoa and flour, I discovered the real secret to this dessert: Felchlin Lucerne 44% fine Swiss cocoa powder. They prepare 1450 of these every night. We next marched back to the table where we were greeted with a close up magician who entertained the table with two illusions, one at each end. This was just delightful. The sea bass with fried pop corn pudding, savory lemon macaron, and lobster foam was another winner as the next course. The Wagyu beef short rib with bone marrow soufflé and gremolata crisp was finished with a flourish of demi glace. It was rich and succulent. Finally, we ended with a tapestry plate of sea salt praline chocolate, raspberry, key lime cake, another sweet macaron, and apricot vanilla gel. Just amazing. By now, our group photos were ready and each of us got a picture of the Chef’s Table and participants. We got to know some very nice and interesting people at this meal. Attire was evening casual with a mix of jackets and ties, but plenty of polos and collared shirts for the men. Women as a group looked very nice, but there were no gowns nor sequins. These conventions are an artifact of the past. The Chef stood for pictures with people and the end of the event. Before I booked the Chef’s Table, I had read that this multi-course menu may not approach the finest five star restaurants in large cities. That is NOT the case. This food is a tour-de-force of techniques, ingredients, and presentations. The synchronized service is near perfect. With the champagne, unlimited wine, entertainment, intermezzos, and complimentary photograph, the value is unprecedented. If you’re adventurous or a foodie, it’s a must! Cuchina Del Capitano I never had a chance to try this restaurant in the evening when there is a $15 surcharge. I did however, love it for lunch. Even better, you’ll get quasi table service with an excellent, limited food menu. At lunch, I’d walk up the stairs and visit the hostess who’d assign my party a number and individual ordering menus which are filled out and dropped off at the kitchen. You find any open table, fill your order and wait a short time for your food. The ambience was like a little Italian village. Like most of my favorite places on the Magic, it seemed like a hidden gem. The décor is quaint, and it was never crowded. Honestly, the lunch service was a little slow here. There was also a wait to get an alcoholic drink ordered and delivered. If you order a beer with lunch, which is great because they offer Peroni and Moretti in the Cuchina, they have to get a bar waiter from downstairs to come up. A minor gripe. It’s a cruise! Who’s on a timetable? The limited menu consists of salad, bread, made to order pasta and a spectacular lasagna. Salad and bread were just okay, kind of plain. The made to order pasta, for which you could choose your pasta type: penne, linguini, farfalle; sauce: marinara, Bolognese, red clam, or alfredo (fancy patrons were ordering ‘pink’ sauce, which is a mix of the marinara and the alfredo), and then a nice assortment of vegetables, chicken, or shrimp. My farfalle with marinara, vegetables and shrimp was very delicious. The lasagna is in a class by itself. A generous portion of layered pasta sheets, it included layers of spinach, eggplant planks, and whole chunks of braised beef underneath bubble, melted cheese. This should probably be illegal it’s so good. I wanted to try the arancini, but alas! They’re only available at dinner. Even one evening when the Cuchina’s cuisine was featured at the taste bar, there were none to be had. I guess there’s always a next time… The Red Frog Pub On the Lanai deck right next to the Vibe nightclub sits a large Caribbean style l-shaped pub with convenient outdoor seating on deck. This lively, warm venue featured a variety of beers, specialty mixed drinks and island-inspired small plates to share. The servers are mostly from the islands as well; very friendly and, like most of the staff on ship, surprisingly apt to remember my name with a second visit. When it comes to beer, the place features Red Frog Ale made especially for Carnival. You can order a large 20 oz. pint or a 110 ounce beer tube with a spigot at the bottom for communal sharing. I mentioned that I don’t care for mass produced American beer, and in my opinion, the Red Frog Ale is on par with them. Unless you’re going for quantity, just pass on this. They also serve Boddington’s in the can and Guinness here. When it comes to specialty drinks, the Pub offers many of the fruity, tropical, “drink two of these and get a headache from sugar” cocktails as well. You can order most in these giant fishbowl goblets which can throw you for a loop. I liked their specialty “Ting” cocktails made with a grapefruit soda and white liquor like gin or vodka. The gin Ting is very refreshing since they spice it up with a dash of bitters. As for the food, it’s a tasty winner. Presentations are rustic island themed in paper lined wire cones with long plantain chips mixed in with the mostly fried offerings like fish fingers and excellent coconut shrimp with a sweet and spicy dipping sauce. We tried the conch fritters as well and found them to be good, but aren’t what you’d find in Mallory Square in Key West. They unfortunately have a spice in the batter which fries to a shell-like hardness. When I bit into them, I felt like I was going to chip my teeth. The conch ceviche was delicious. The portion big enough, but suffered from a lack of saltines or bread with which to eat it. I also tried the chicken roti and found them to be satisfying. Any food ordered in the Red Frog will run $3.33. They are all certainly big enough to share. Go with a dining mate; and with the ambience, live music in the evenings, and quality, it’s a fun place. The MDR I was happy to reserve a Your Time Dining reservation. We ate in the Northern Lights room always at a separated table for four. The room is large, on two levels. I preferred to eat on the edges of the restaurant rather than in the two-story open center. While the view of the singing and dancing waiters is better in the center since they tend to gather along the crescent stairways to perform, I did not care for the large blue green florescent chandeliers casting and unsavory glow on my food and my family. It’s more intimate under the eaves. We never really waited in long lines to be seated when we’d typically appear between 6:15 and 7:30, maybe three or four parties before us. It was only on our last night that there was a bit of a wait, so we were offered a pager to let us know when our table was ready. It’s completely convenient, since the lobby lounge opens onto the dining room. We just excused ourselves and sat and chatted on the sofas for about 25 minutes while we sipped a drink from the bar. The quality of the food in the MDR is a bit hit or miss. I was never dissatisfied. I loved the variety and didn’t order off of the everyday items menu. I liked more adventurous fare, often trying a ‘Didja’ appetizer which included interesting fare like frog’s legs Provençale and braised Ox tongue. The fish entrees were typically overcooked to my liking. I asked the waiter if they could cook my salmon to more of a medium consistency and he said it would be too difficult for the kitchen with the volume. I thought the Panko breaded shrimp were delectable, as was the rich, sherried seafood Newburg. Soups were consistently good and often interesting with options like strawberry or chilled peach, a hearty navy bean, and a surprisingly spicy Tom Kha with chicken. My in laws thought that their food was often not hot enough for them. I’m not as sensitive to temperature and found mostly everything very good. For dessert, I loved the warm chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream; it’s totally decadent. We had four different dining captains when we ate and each was quite special, but it wasn’t until the last night that we really struck the jackpot and had a waiter who was clearly trained in a five star establishment. From the whisking of the napkins to our lap, the attentive and friendly service, to the use of a crumb catcher, he was spot on! The others had strengths in different ways. One evening, our friendly waiter surprised us all at the table with a solo singing performance to the entire dining room after the wait staff finished their number. Another night, we had a guy who comped us our after-dinner drinks and didn’t charge the corkage fee for the wine we brought to share at the table from the cabin. Yet one other night, when my in-laws were dissatisfied with their food temperature, our waiter tried to buy our satisfaction with extra appetizers, entrees and desserts to the table. It wasn’t like we needed the extra food, but I can (but probably shouldn’t) always eat a few more shrimp or a few forkfuls of cake. If I had to put my finger on the issue with the MDR, it would be that the servers are spread too thin. It doesn’t help that every 45 minutes or so, they all MUST convene in the center of the room to sing a song together. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the live entertainment, waving my napkin above my head with the majority of the diners. However, when your domed entrée sits on a large serving tray cooling with 14 others while you wait for the musical number to end, there’s kind of a disconnect here. Sea days gave us brunches in the Southern Lights dining room. There was always a line for this, but it moved briskly and we were seated within 15 minutes of arriving. As a bonus, as a repeat Carnival cruiser, I was offered coupons for free drinks at brunch. They’ve got a delicious bloody Mary bar right outside the dining room with multiple ingredients and hot sauces all mixed to order with a generous pour of Belvedere vodka. No complaints here whatsoever! Brunches would start with a basket of breads and sweet rolls. Coffee and juices at brunch were included with no surcharge, so that was nice. The special menu had nice savory options like salmon and mildly spicy Cornish hen diavola, which I thought was great, as well as omelets made to order. Standard breakfast options like eggs or sausage or waffles were good as well. A totally delicious and easily overlooked option was the jerked bacon on the Caesar salad. The spice rub on that bacon was amazing. We got four pieces, so I shared them. We all loved it. Not so good was the soupy mac and cheese which suffered from too high a béchamel to cheese ratio. Seating could be communal or at smaller tables. One morning we asked for a window view. They suggested a long 10 top five seats from the window at first. We said we didn’t prefer it, so they moved us immediately to a gorgeous view aft of the ship right at the window with the azure eddies from the engines coloring the ship’s trail in the water. Lido Buffet I avoided this area of the ship almost entirely. I think it’s great for families, but the idea of carrying around an oversized plastic plate on a tray and finding a clean, available booth to sit in seems unnecessarily downscale. One would typically have to stop at multiple stations with multiple lines. In almost no case were these lines very long, about 3 or four people waiting, but it’s like a giant Golden Corral. I don’t eat hamburgers, hot dogs, French fries, or even pizza when there’s a finer dining option just steps away. It always seemed like the line for the Mongolian Wok which wrapped around the area was too long. Skipped it. There were three areas here which did get my attention, however. The first was the deli portside aft of the ship. The in-laws tried the Reuben and were underwhelmed. The meat portion was skimpy as were the sauerkraut, Russian dressing and Swiss cheese. The second buffet area which tended to have my husband suddenly appear with some chocolate delicacy was the chocolate bar. The cakes looked great. The best buffet option was the Tandoor kitchen starboard aft on the ship. The food here was excellent. There were plenty of vegetarian entrée options with rice, entire sauce bar of Indian choices from tamarind to raita to complex chutneys. They had delicious tandoor charred fresh fish and fresh naan coming out of the oven in a stream. We lunched there twice. Room service We regularly used room service for an early breakfast delivery of juice, coffee, bagel, cream cheese and smoked salmon. Options were limited but certainly sufficed. It was great to use the door hangar the night before to get something delivered freshly to the cabin. Timing was always spot on and the portions were really big. Order coffee and they send you a carafe of four cups! The smoked salmon included four large smoked fillets wrapped up to look like roses with a few raw red onion rings and tasty capers sprinkled over them. I wasn’t really happy with the limp wheat toast I got one morning. The next morning, I just marked ‘dark toasted’ on the card and the problem was solved. One day, we made smoked salmon bagels to take with us on our excursion. Nobody looked in our beach bag as we left the ship. We always tipped the room service waiter $2-$5 cash. The Coffee Bar I only went to this place once, which surprised me because I’m a Starbucks-a-holic with daily visits. I like a triple espresso over ice with a touch of soy or almond milk and a Splenda. I got one here twice and I was just a bit underwhelmed. The espresso shots were premade and just poured from little metal pitchers under the machine, which if you know anything about good espresso is a total no-no. No almond or soy milk, either. This is a missed opportunity for Carnival. Service was great, however. Not surprisingly, the second time I visited, I was greeted by name. Drinks I wrestled very hard with whether to purchase the Cheers program for my trip. Three weeks before we cruised, Carnival raised the prices on the package from $37.50 per person per day to $49.95. We opted out. When ships leave out of Galveston, Carnival states that drink packages cannot be purchased until day two because of Texas law. Between the four of us, we each brought on a bottle of wine. We used these bottles at dinner in the MDR three times to offset the costs of buying at dinner, despite the fact that there is a $15 corking fee with a bottle. We also had dinner reservations in the steakhouse on the first night for the free bottle of wine. As repeat cruisers, my in-laws gave us their free drink coupons for Sea Day Brunches which we used with ours as well to save. Since we’d have one or two drinks during the day, a drink before dinner, wine with dinner and one drink after dinner, the Cheers program with the previous price would have saved us about $70 overall in drink fees. We ended up spending $589 on drinks and were never wanting, so the new prices would not have made sense for us. The ones that got away If the cruise had been longer with more sea days, I would have like to have tried the Sea Day Barbecue on the outside Lanai deck. My only other often desired but never tried area was The Taste Bar, which doubles as a breakfast buffet on port days (good-to-know fact!). The taste bar features amuses from the restaurants on the ship, including the premium ones. It was never open when I walked by, except the one night when they featured the Cuchina Del Capitano fare sans the treasured arancini. Entertainment We caught a couple of shows in the theater. Overall quality was good. The cast consisted of a male and female singing lead, four male dancers, eight female dancers, and a five piece band-- all seasoned professionals. We caught two music reviews, both about 40 minutes. My wish was that the reviews were a bit shorter, because I was ready to leave by the end. They were just a little long. Multiple costume changes, great dancing and decent singing was the fare for both, one being Seventies inspired. These would greatly benefit from an overhaul for content. Surprisingly odd was the Destination Unknown magic show with more pyrotechnics than I think is safe on a ship at sea! Sparks fly everywhere. There are large scale illusions with some dancing and a little bit of singing. This show makes no sense at all. It has a futuristic, bondage theme to it. Evidently, someone got hurt during the early performance of the show because of the ship rocking; so we got a modified version. It lasted twenty minutes. I remarked as we left, “Well we just saw something, but I have no idea what it was!” I remember the Love and Marriage show from the previous cruise and I didn’t want to miss this afternoon event hosted by the wry, cheeky, energetic James the Cruise Director. It was very funny, often off-color, and completely spontaneous with three couples playing the Newlywed Game from various stages of their marriage, one just married three days ago, another married for 11 years, and the third for 56 years. What a hoot! Don’t miss this one. I caught three shows in the George Lopez Punchline Lounge. This place was very popular. Towards the end of the cruise, people would line up in the piano bar about thirty minutes before the show in the Piano bar for a seating. They had a total of four comedians performing for the week, two rotating early and two later. These are all performed by professionals, except the lame comedy director who consistently introduced the shows with a very short routine of flat jokes. I was very happy to see that since the previous cruise, the comedians no longer do political humor which I found so offensive eight years ago, I walked out. This time, two of the three had me laughing out loud with their bawdy humor. The third to standing room only was so meek; she made me merely smirk weakly. Mildly amused, I snuck out. Other than that, I played Trivia as often as I could. As I mentioned, these weren’t really interactive, but more like a paper and pencil test given by the administrator. Didn’t matter. These were fun, and I’m happy to say that I won three of four entered! In addition to two ‘solid-gold plastic ships-on-a-stick’, I won a giant fishbowl of a rum drink that was so big, two of us couldn’t finish it. It was, however, very fun to cradle this behemoth across the rocking ship one evening as an ice breaker. They’re available at $19.95 in the Red Frog Pub. The lobby bar had an okay three piece ensemble of singer and two musicians before dinner. They tended to country music, so I never stayed to listen. Summary Carnival is an incredible value for cruising. The service was consistently first rate, the cabin accommodations were spotless, and the food was surprisingly sophisticated if you know where to eat. I loved the spa and found the entertainment to be satisfying. I paid extra for many upgrades on this trip to enhance my experience. Even with the upgrades my cruise on the Magic to the Western Caribbean was much less than it would have cost for a similar experience on other cruise lines, and I still felt like a king being indulged at every step. So many of my friends essentially turned up their nose at the idea of a Carnival cruise, and that’s their loss. I was so impressed with my cruise, I’m looking to book the West Indies out of San Juan as soon as possible.   Read Less
Sail Date November 2014
There will be some that trash the January 15th trip on the Carnival Magic. I know this because I heard people on the ship planning it. So let's get past the 2 big complaints first, since they were really out of Carnival's ... Read More
There will be some that trash the January 15th trip on the Carnival Magic. I know this because I heard people on the ship planning it. So let's get past the 2 big complaints first, since they were really out of Carnival's control. There were two very big problems this week. First, when getting on and off the ship in the Grand Caymans, tendering was outrageous., with those who were not taking excursions having to wait for hours to get off, and then waiting in line again to get back on before the last tender left at 3:30. While this seems a legitimate gripe, and I too stood in line to get back on board (I was on an excursion, so I didn't have problems getting off), there were half a dozen ships in port that day that the local tenders had to balance. Our ship was forced to wait on the others that came in before us or left before us. Trying to get over 20,000 people on and off ship would be an impossible task. Carnival could do nothing about it, and while frustrating, was a small inconvenience for the vacation. As, too, was the fact that fog which closed the port of Galveston on our last day, meaning that we could not get off the ship until 7 hours after our expected arrival. Some got angry. And yet the whole crew of the Magic went way above and beyond to make those hours comfortable by allowing us to stay in our rooms (instead of telling us to go to a common area and wait), keeping bars and restaurants open, providing extra games and entertainment, and in general acting as if the cruise was still going on. It was a bad morning, but the entire staff made it a great time. SO NOW THAT THIS IS OVER, LET'S LOOK AT THE MAGIC... This is a great ship. Definitely the biggest I have cruised on, but when walking around, it didn't seem like that much more walking than others. But what makes the Magic so great is not the size, but the way they utilize the extra space. The promenade deck (deck 5)showed some of the greatest advances over other ships I had been on. Since I am not a big bar goer, I don't normally spend that much time on the Promenade. But on the Magic, this is not simply a bar/shopping deck... In the open atrium (the Ocean Plaza, I believe it's called), there are regular activities going on throughout the day with games, bands playing, dancing, and food (yes, a small contentment breakfast, sandwich lunch, sushi bar dinner, even a barbeque going on sea days). This was the first cruise that this deck was part of my daily plan. The deck space on 5 was also a great change. On the magic, it's not just a space to walk around, maybe sit in the sun. With the promenade having 6 hot tubs on the outer decks of the promenade, deck games (and for smoker like some I travel with, a smoking area away from the Lido deck), this was a great area. No doubt, it was nice. I would say that, since there was free food on this deck, as well as a smoking level, it would be nice to see the free drinks (coffee, tea, lemonade) in the ocean plaza instead of having to go up to the Lido deck... but that's every ship, so I shouldn't be surprised. Just hopefully that will come in time. The Sports deck was also nice. I've played putt putt golf on a number of ships, but the two-tiered level was very cool. But what made the sports deck special to me was something I had not seen anywhere... the ropes course. I am 51 years old, and way out of shape, but I challenged my "inner-macho" to try it, and even though walking the ropes 20 feet up (and some 200 feet above the water) was frightening, the staff was there to give me tips and encouragement. It was an amazing experience. The Serenity Deck was also awesome. This deck, just for adults, gave a great place of quiet away from the 1.000 or so kids on board. With a bar, 2 hot tubs, and lots of places for grown ups (as individuals or as couples) to relax, it was a wonderful addition to the ship. the expanded water park on the Magic was also fun, even at my age. The large slides are not just for kids. What a blast. I can't say too much great about the food. In general, it was good, standard cruise fair... though definitely more than you will find on smaller ships. The Prime Steakhouse was great for a premium restaurant, but the lido deck buffets, the pizza, the restaurants, were all standard. As was the room. It was nice, and as I've grown accustom to on Carnival, roomy enough, but nothing beyond the norm... But then again, that's why I normally get an inner stateroom, since I don't stay in that often except to sleep. One small noteworthy, however, was the TV selection. I did enjoy the fact that we had the camera giving views of from the front of the ship on the television. I like seeing us come into port while I am still in the room. On the negative, however, is the fact of the "AudioFunTimes" channel, where they have someone reading what is going on (yes reading, word for word, the FunTimes magazine that came into the room the night before). I thought it would be nice, but since we were at Wednesday, January 18 before they actually recorded a new one (who cares what happened on Saturday, January 14 before we got on the ship), and then they stayed a half a day behind after that). ALSO (on a personal note from every ship I have been on), if a ship is to carry local stations (the magic had three), is it too much to ask that you get local news from the home port? I am not concerned about what is happening in Miami or New York if I am traveling from and to the Texas coast... but that's a personal rant. The Showtime Theater and the Spotlight Lounge were great areas for shows, and no doubt we saw some of the best shows I had ever seen on any ship (I enjoyed "Groove Line" more than any of the standard ship singers and dancer shows on any ship, but that might be because that's my generation. The genre is not usually my cup of tea, but this one was really good. Also, Jason Byrne's magic show was something really cool... I've never seen fireworks in a ship's theater. Marcus Monroe's juggling (who knew a juggler could be amazing) was just that, Amazing. Best and funniest show around. Some will complain about the big ship, but the way the Carnival Magic is set up, it was wonderful. Read Less
Sail Date January 2012
We went on the Carnival Magic in October for a 9 day cruise around the Mediterranean. The ship itself, even being so new, showed some signs of wear and tear but was for the most part very clean. Clientele was generally older and not as ... Read More
We went on the Carnival Magic in October for a 9 day cruise around the Mediterranean. The ship itself, even being so new, showed some signs of wear and tear but was for the most part very clean. Clientele was generally older and not as quite downscale or rowdy as you might find on Carnival ships sailing in the US. The buffet food on the Lido deck, as many have mentioned, is cafeteria quality. It was difficult to find options that we really wanted or liked. It became repetitive, even with different options like the burrito bar. Typically, we think of cruises as a time where we will just eat constantly and come back satisfied (and a few pounds heavier). However, we found as the days went on, and especially with all the walking we were doing in port, we were bound to lose weight. We would look at the menu for the main dining room during the day and at times it was tough to find anything we were really excited about. I was also disappointed to see that there was not a lot of variation with the dessert selections from night to night. Overall, I would say the food that we did order in the MDR was decent, but I wasn't raving about anything. Although, I will say I was surprised how great the lobster was on lobster night. Aside from the food, the service in the main dining room was disappointing. I didn't know that there had been such a trend towards smaller tables lately and I think this changed our service significantly. We were at a table of 4, and our wait staff had to look over about 8-10 other small tables. (I'd say as opposed to having 3-4 large 8 or 10 person tables) Because of this, our waiter had time to hand us menus and take our order, nothing more. No recommendations, no explanation of any dishes. Not sure if this is something we just took for granted on other cruise lines, but I had come to expect a little more interaction and recommendations. Our wine rarely got poured for us and our water sometimes got refilled often, sometimes never. All of the staff were very friendly and really worked their butts off to try and make sure everyone was happy, but it's just impossible to provide good service to that many tables when they all sit down at once. It would typically be about 45 minutes before we would see our appetizer and the whole meal would average about 2 hours. Let's just say we were lucky to have good table mates, otherwise we would have really noticed the huge gaps between courses. We didn't go to all the shows on the ship, partly because we wouldn't make it out of dinner on time but mainly because none of them seemed too appealing. The ones we did go to were just ok - not the same quality that we have seen on other cruise lines. The other activities hosted throughout the days were fun, good variety. The 'shopping' sales were annoying to say the least, and the announcements that went along with them were even more nagging. Many other people have noted the fact that they excessively push merchandise and products on to you throughout the duration of the cruise. I feel like this is just part of being a business, but they could tone it down a bit. I wish there was also a way to access your photos from your stateroom, since the photo stations were always really crowded and congested. We had a balcony stateroom on deck 8. We would have been frustrated to be lower than that since the main deck and jacuzzis would have been closer to us. It's definitely better to be up a few decks to get your privacy. Our stateroom was large enough and very clean. Nothing to complain about there. Overall, I feel like if we had paid a lot more to go on a more upscale cruise line, it wouldn't have been worth it since we spent so much time in the ports. The site seeing was definitely more of the highlight of the trip, rather than the actual cruise. This made it easier to stay off the ship longer or even eat our meals in port and not feel like we were missing out on our cruise experience. Nevertheless, it was always nice and relaxing to come back to our ship everyday. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
It all started on Friday, October 14, 2011. I left home with my packed bags at 9:30 a.m. After a few errands -â€" to the bank for a fistful of dollar bills for room service and other tipping, to the gas station to fill the ... Read More
It all started on Friday, October 14, 2011. I left home with my packed bags at 9:30 a.m. After a few errands -â€" to the bank for a fistful of dollar bills for room service and other tipping, to the gas station to fill the tank, to Dunkin Donuts for coffee and breakfast and finally to the nail salon for a mani/pedi -â€" I was on my way to the airport. The overnight flight to Barcelona via Paris on Air France was uneventful. I tried to sleep but only managed a few hours. The 3+ hours I spend at the Paris airport is something I hope never to repeat. Haven't they heard of heat? I was freezing and the tiny cups of overpriced coffee they sell didn't help. After a short delay, I was on my way to Barcelona, where we arrived about 20 minutes late. At Barcelona airport, I found out that the ATM machines don't work with savings accounts. Good thing I'd picked up some Euros before I left home. When my bags arrived I found that my large bag had some damage -â€" the zipper was separated from the top of the bag from the middle to one end. Luckily, nothing was missing. I adjusted the bag strap to keep everything inside and made a claim with Air France. They offered to repair or replace the bag and was given the name of a shop in Barcelona. Meanwhile, I missed my pick-up with my shuttle service and had to wait until they made their drop-offs and returned to the airport to get me. I didn't get to my hotel until 2:30 and after checking in, I found out that the luggage repair shop was closed for the day. Oh well. Good thing the bags are still under warranty. I'll deal with it when I get home. I spent my first day in Barcelona wandering up and down Las Ramblas and finally meeting all my new friends from the CC Roll Call. I solved the ATM problem by transferring funds from my savings to my checking and got the Euros I wanted. We had dinner -â€" tapas and sangria -â€" at a restaurant across the street from the hotel (Hotel Continental) and then wandered down the street for some amazing gelato. The next morning we took the bus we'd ordered to the pier and boarded our home for the next 12 days. It was a quick and easy boarding at 11:00 -â€" no one else was there. I spent the first day on board meeting and greeting more folks from the Roll Call, having my first DOD and enjoying a lovely lunch at the Cucina. My bags arrived and I unpacked. I was in Cabin 1210 -â€" a 1A with 2 portholes all the way forward. A lovely room, with a terrific room steward, Chris, and his assistants, Dominica and Nysom). No need for a wake up call on port days however. Good thing I'm a morning person and wanted to get up early on those days. Afterwards, I joined the gang for our nightly cocktail hour at the Plaza bar, headed to late seating for dinner and then to whatever nightly entertainment was offered. This evening schedule would be the norm for the entire cruise. Marseilles -â€" I took the CCL tour to Arles and Aix en Provence. Loved Arles, it was just as I had hoped it would be. Had a lovely lunch at a sidewalk café. Didn't much care for Aix -â€" much too modern and the people were not as nice as in Arles. I couldn't believe that the tourist office didn't know where we could find a restroom. Finally, another tourist helped us out. Savona -â€" I took the CCL tour of Genoa in the morning. It was very nice and the tour guide directed us to a wonderful place for lunch that served fresh pasta with pesto -â€" a specialty of the area. I had intended to walk around Savona in the afternoon, but we got back to the ship during siesta time and I decided to stay on the ship instead since I had a full day scheduled the next day. I was hungry in the afternoon so I tried the wings at the Red Frog Pub. Yummy! Rome -â€" I took the CCL Angels and Demons tour. Rome was packed with tourists but our guide and bus driver did a wonderful job getting us to all of the places we needed to see. The tour included lunch at a local restaurant which was very nice. Pasta definitely tastes better in Italy. As it follows the book, this tour does not hit all of the highlights of Rome -â€" it's a good thing I'll be back there next year. Naples -â€" In the morning I did the CCL Pompeii tour. What a fascinating place. The guide was not as upbeat and friendly as the first two, but I have to say she knew her stuff and kept us well informed. In the afternoon I took a cab from the ship to the HOHO bus starting point for the flat rate of €10. I asked for a restaurant recommendation for pizza -â€" of course! They sent me to a tiny restaurant nearby where I had my first real Italian pizza. It was wonderful. Then I spend a couple of hours touring Naples on the bus. Definitely not my most favorite place. If I ever have Naples as a port again, I will be heading for the countryside. After wandering around a bit on my own, I got in a cab for the ride back to the ship where I had a not-so-pleasant adventure. This guy obviously thought he had a sucker in his cab. He pretended not to understand much English nor to know where to go. Instead of a flat rate, this cab had a meter. After driving around for 30 minutes and running up the price, I finally got him to stop near the ship by another cab. I got out of the cab and told the second driver what was going on and that I knew the price should only be €10. The two drivers conversed and I got back in the cab and was at the right place in a couple of minutes. I gave him the €10 and got out. He didn't say a word. First Sea Day -â€" By now, I'm exhausted and fighting off a cold. I'd picked up some head cold medication the day before in Naples at a Farmacia which helped a lot, but now I also had a sore throat and a cough. I didn't want to go to the Medical Center because I didn't want to take the chance of being quarantined. So I went to the gift shop and bought the world's most expensive bottle of cough medicine -â€" 6 ounces of Vick's 44 for $17. I didn't think much of it until someone else told me they went to the Medical Center for a cough and got the same bottle for $5. I went to Guest Services to ask for an adjustment. Had the woman been (or even pretended to be) sympathetic before she said no, I would have just chalked it up as an expensive lesson. There was no need for her to have attitude about it. Now I was angrier at her than anything else. But I'm on vacation and I'm not letting anything get to me -â€" so I turned it into a joke and put it behind me. Other than that, my sea days were basically spent eating, reading, playing trivia and napping, with a little bit of shopping thrown in. Dubrovnik -â€" Having had enough of cities and crowds, I decided to take the CCL countryside tour to the farmhouse for lunch and local entertainment. What a wonderful excursion. The people was friendly and welcoming and lunch was great. The grape brandy they give you to taste literally takes your breath away. Whew! On the way bac, we had about an hour in Dubrovnik before returning to the ship. Just enough time to walk around a bit and do some shopping. Venice -â€" The first afternoon I took the CCL Jewish Ghetto tour. So much history there. It was absolutely fascinating. The second day, a group of us did the Doge's Palace secret tour and wandered around St. Mark's square for a while. It was colder than I had prepared for and I'm now the proud owner of a University of Venice hooded sweatshirt. After another great local lunch near the Rialto Bridge, we walked through the streets to a little local bar to meet up with friends, drink prosecco and eat delicious appetizers. I also did some shopping in the area and found the softest black leather gloves I have ever owned. And yes, I bought the obligatory mask -â€" mine is a cat. Second Sea Day -â€" pretty much the same as the first. The adult serenity area is a great place to spend a few lazy hours. In the evening, it was nice to be able to spend time in a smoke free piano bar. The bartender, Anton, was as entertaining as the piano player. Messina -â€" Eight of us took a private tour to Mt. Etna, a local winery, a local shop that sold honey, olives, olive oil and wine (with lots of tastings), and stops in Castlemola for lunch and finally some time in Taormina. At the winery we saw a local gentleman come in with 2 large empty containers that the winery owner filled with red and white table wine from the large tanks. One of our group had a couple of empty water bottled filled for only € 1 each. We stopped at a field to see the lava that had flowed during the eruption in 1992. Since the weather was iffy and cloudy, we decided not to spend the time driving up to Mt. Etna, but just saw it from a distance and went on to see and do the other things. Final Sea Day -â€" the same lazy day. Port days are so exhausting I didn't want to do much of anything on sea days. Loved the lunch choices on the Plaza Deck. The salad bar is not to be missed. Debarkation and Barcelona -â€" Chris, my wonderful room steward, came by with a roll of duct tape and sealed up my broken bag so I could get it home. Thankfully, it didn't get opened by TSA anywhere along the line. After getting off the ship I joined a small group for a private tour of Barcelona, where we saw the highlights of the city. At the end I was dropped off at my hotel near the airport. Spent a quiet night at the hotel, chatting with other cruisers. Saturday morning I boarded my Delta flight for NYC and then on to Dulles. Or so I thought. Snow in October? Really? Like many others my flight was cancelled and rebooked for the next day, but instead of JFK to Dulles I was now flying La Guardia to Reagan National. I spent the night at a hotel in Chinatown in Queens. Overpriced, but a nice room. Since when does a Best Western in Flushing cost $269? The bonus was the surprisingly good bowl of won ton soup at the tiny corner restaurant. Sunday morning I flew to DC. After I landed, I checked on the status of my bags and was told they were coming in later that day and would be delivered to me by 11:00 p.m. I then took the shuttle to Dulles, got my car and went home. No bags by 11:30 so I went to sleep. At 2:45 a.m. the phone rang. The bag delivery guy was on his way. The doorbell finally rang at 3:45. And so my Magical adventure ends. I'm still unpacking and doing laundry and I haven't downloaded my pictures yet. But I should have them up on my Facebook page this weekend if all goes well. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
We stayed in Barcelona for one night previous to our cruise. On the morning of the 16th October we left the Hotel by bus from the Hotel with several other CC friends who we had met through chatting on the Roll Call. The check in at ... Read More
We stayed in Barcelona for one night previous to our cruise. On the morning of the 16th October we left the Hotel by bus from the Hotel with several other CC friends who we had met through chatting on the Roll Call. The check in at Barcelona is one of the easiest we have ever encountered. Our room was ready and we had booked the same room for this B2B as we had on the Carnival Dream two years ago. A balcony cabin on the port side. We had a fantastic cruise in the Mediterranean. We did a few private tours and the rest we did with some friends on our own. The Transatlantic cruise was equally enjoyable. We both loved the Carnival Magic and cannot believe that we were on the same cruise as some of the reviewers that have written reports. However each to his own and we all have our own opinions. We like to eat late at a table for two. At breakfast and lunch we dine with different people but having run into several grumpy people feel we rather have dinner alone. We like to have fun and Carnival gives us super value for our Dollar which in this day and age is first priority. As long as they continue with this standard that we enjoy we will sail with them. Have to add that all the crew that we met on the B2B were admirable and friendly. We had the same Head Waiter Gaspar and Assistant Gede and same Room Steward Ernesto for 28days and they were amazing. Ken was wonderful as always in the Southern Lights Dining Room and Alina our Hostess was adorable. The later two we had on the Carnival Dream Transatlantic too. Have to admit that I was a little apprehensive when I knew that James was to be our Cruise Director. Our cruise had been booked for 21months and we were looking forward to Mr. John Heald being CD. He was our CD on the Inaugural Carnival Freedom and he was hilarious. Worries were unfounded as we found James and his entertainment crew did their very best to see that we were entertained. The only complaints I personally had during the whole 28days was the saving of seats in the theatre and the wearing of ball caps in the dining room during dinner. Very trivial complaints and nothing that upset me. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
CARNIVAL MAGIC -â€" A MIXED BAG We recently took a 9 night Mediterranean cruise on the Carnival Magic. We are experienced cruisers, but most of our recent cruises have been on Princess or Celebrity, and we had not been on ... Read More
CARNIVAL MAGIC -â€" A MIXED BAG We recently took a 9 night Mediterranean cruise on the Carnival Magic. We are experienced cruisers, but most of our recent cruises have been on Princess or Celebrity, and we had not been on Carnival for many years. We have avoided Carnival for our Caribbean cruises because we do not particularly like all the hyper-activity party environment that we associate with Carnival. However, we booked this cruise mainly because its timing and itinerary fit our schedule, and thought that the downsides of Carnival warm-weather cruises would not be an issue on a European cruise in October, because most people would be off the ship during the daytime and there would not be many children on board. We had a mixed reaction to the our experience on this cruise. We were pleasantly surprised by certain aspects and disappointed in others. All in all, the experience was better than we had expected, but we likely would not select this line or ship over Celebrity or Princess for any future cruise. Because this ship is so new, and Carnival is relatively new at cruising in Europe again, we thought that it might be helpful to detail our reactions to the cruise. EMBARKATION: We were very pleased with the embarcation process. The ship offered boarding very early, at 11:30 a.m. We had filed out all the required paperwork ahead of tme, and the boarding process was a breeze. Maybe because we were so early, it took us only about 20 minutes to check in, go through security, and get on board. Our luggage arrived relatively early, about two hours after boarding, which was really nice. SHIP COMMON AREA DESIGN AND DECOR: The design and décor of the ship, in our opinion, had pluses and minuses. The first thing you see upon boarding is the atrium lobby. No doubt, other people may have found it very attractive, but we found it 1980s tacky. It was laden with light fixtures that change colors. The finishings throughout had a plastic feel. There was nothing really elegant about it. On the other hand, the floors with the cabins were appealing. The entertainment rooms (the theater and other show room) were not particularly attractive, and also had a feeling of economy to us. On the other hand, the dining room was very attractive. In addition, everything was brand-spanking new and in top condition. There were also some flawed design aspects that we observed, but they were not big deals. For example, the ship offered live entertainment in the atrium lobby at night, but that created a lot of noise on the cabin floors because there was nothing to muffle the loud music from the atrium. Similarly, the ship has a wonderful room for the piano bar, but it is right next door to one of the show rooms (the Spotlight Lounge), and the noise from one permeated into the other. In addition, the ship has very good computer availaibility (in fact, I have never seen a ship with more computers and computers located around the ship, such as on the pool deck ), but the main computer area is flush in the middle of the main entertainment floor with all the computers in a row. As a result, there is no privacy when you are working on the computers, which you have with the separate work stations in the separate computer lounge on the Princess ships, and you are subjected to the noise from one of the hallway music lounges which is right next to the computer area. On the plus sign, the main reception desk and the other service areas were well located. CABINS: The cabins are suprisingly nice. We had a stateroom with balcony towards the front of the ship. The cabins have a very nice layout and had a relatively spacious feel. They have a very large desk area, sofa and coffee table, which were very nice touches. There are two separate closets and a larger than average amount of drawer space. The bathrooms were adequate and offered enough shelf and storage space. The showers have separate soap gel and shampoo dispensers, which we thought was an improvement on the little packages that we usually see. The only downside to the cabins were that the walls were paper thin, so we could hear noises of every type from the adjoining rooms, and the balcony was pretty small (but that may have been a product of the location of our fore cabin). FOOD: The food service on this ship was the worst part of the cruise and second rate, which really confirmed our concern that Carnival is not a top-tier line. Again, I am sure that others may disagree, but we were very disappointed overall. The choice of entrees and appetizers in the main dining room was not particularly impressive. They offered three courses (appetizer or soup or salad, entrée and dessert), unlike Princess, which offered four. What made it worse was that the "every day" options that were available when you didn't like the menu were almost laughable. We did not go on a cruise to be offered fried chicken, hamburgers, or flat iron steak (not sirloin). The food itself was mediocre at best and, even when the food itself was acceptable, the portions were really small. As experienced cruisers, we knew would could order more courses or extra food if we wanted to, but most people would not know this. Even worse was the buffet. On the plus side at breakfast was the made-to-order omelets. But the variety was limited, the food was not very well prepared, there was no attention to detail (like making sure that the milk for cereal remained chilled). In addition, the ship offered pre-cooked pancakes, french toast and waffles, but only at the hamburger bar next to the pool and away from the rest of the buffet. As a result, you had to go all the way to the pool to get it and then come back in wait in line for the rest of the selections at breakfast. This is a major conceptual design flaw that proved very inconvenient. The salad bar was almost laughably limited compared to other ships we have been on. At lunch, the burrito bar was a nice touch, as was the option to have made-to-order pasta in the Italian restaurant for free at lunch. The Mongolian wok was also a nice option, but it lost all appeal because there was not enough staff to cook the selections and serve the number of people who wanted to partake, which led to really long lines. The dinner options at the buffet were also pretty limited and the food (some of which included certain of the dining room options) was not particularly good. The desserts were mostly tasteless, but that is not uncommon on ships in our experience. Maybe the best experience we had on the ship was the night we ate in the Prime Steakhouse. We live in a major city and eat at good restaurants regularly, but the dinner we had on ship compared favorably with some of the better steakhouses in our city. The menu was varied and interesting, and the food was beautifully presented on elegant dishware and with imaginative garnishes and other touches. The portions were very generous. We got a meal that would have costed in excess of $100 per person in a restaurant for only $30. I would strongly encourage everyone to try this restaurant at least once. In fact, had we planned better, we would have eaten there at least two or three times because of our dissatisfaction with the dining room food, but it was booked by the time we got around to discovering how good it was. Nice touches were the now routine hamburger grill and pizza bar around the pool area. The food at both was very good. However, a big downside was that the hamburger grill closed around 6 p.m., before many people could go there for a dinner option if they wanted a burger instead of dinner. The pizza was surprisingly good. The ship also offered what it called a "deli", but it looked pretty unappealing. There also was an Indian food option, but we are not into Indian food, and did not try it. My guess is that the ship will shut down both of these and use the space for something more popular because we did not see many people going to either. Another huge disappointment for us was the availability of food in the later evening. We are not gluttons, but we do like on some evenings to have a light snack, such as fresh fruit, or perhaps a light desert or a little salad. The late night options on this ship were virtually non-existant after around 9:30, consisting only of the 24 hour pizza s and, a soft-serve/yougurt machine, and a dessert stand on the entertainment floor, which offered gelato, fancier desserts and coffes (all at an extra charge). In our opinion, this was really inferior to other experiences we have had. OUTDOOR RECREATION AND POOLS: This ship obviously was designed for Caribbean cruises and for families. Once again, the amenities were a mixed bag. On the plus side, this ship offered realy first rate outside seating. There was a lot of very nice seating in the shade around the pool decks, including very nice cushioned love seats and other interesting seating. The lounges around the pools were nice. Perhaps, one of the nicest features on the ship was the adults-only Serenity seating area with large covered bed-like lounges for two or more people to relax in. In addition, the ship offered more whirlpool spas than any ship I had ever seen, and even had spas on the Promenade deck overlooking the ocean, which was a very nice touch. Even nicer were the eating area just outside the enterntainment floor and some really nice outdoor seating areas for a couple of casual dining places on the entertainment floor, including under the Red Frog. Another really nice touch is the outdoor theater around one of the pools and the generous availability of towels by the pools and blankest for the hardy souls who wanted to watch movies outdoors at night, when it is cool on the ocean at this time of year. There also were lounges chairs spread all over the outdoor space on the recreation floors -â€" far more than I anticipated and have seen on other ships. There should be no problem getting a lounge chair in sunny areas on this ship, provided that you are not wedded to being around the pool. All in all, these were really nice features that surprised me. We were less impressed with the pool areas themselves. The main pool was really surprisingly small for a ship that is designed for warm weather sailing. On the other hand, there is a nice pool at the very rear of the ship that has a large enough feel to it. It, too, offered very nice seating options in the sun and shade. Although we did not use any of the outdoor sports options, they seemed to be varied and plentiful (miniature golf, basketball, rope climbing, etc.) One minor downside of the Promenade deck is that it also hosts some of the seating and dining options, so that is not as easy to use just for walking (and believe me, you can get a lot of exercise doing walking laps on this ship) as on other ships, where the Promenade provides unobstructed walking space. But this is just a nit. SERVICE: We generally were pleased with the service. The cabin steward, like most cabin stewards we have met, was really excellent. He cleaned the cabins promptly and well. A nice touch, if you care about these things, is that he made nice little animals out of towels each evening. Our dining room staff, comprised of one waiter and two assistants, could not have been nicer. We had a table for two (thankfully) at the late seating. They were very accomodating in handling any quriky requests we had (like lemon on the tables for the water and iced tea and an extra glass of ice). On the other hand, through no fault of their own, the entire dining experience always felt rushed. They came to take orders almost immediately after seating, and the food came flying out of the kitchen. As a result, you could easily go through a three course meal in 45 minutes. In reality, we do not mind eating and leaving reasonably quickly, but this was rushed even by our standards. Again, while some people might disagree with us, we were a little put off by all the "entertainment" that the wait staff is compelled to provide late in the dinners, such as singing, conga lines, etc. In our opinion, there is no place for this in what is supposed to be a relaxing time for meals. We also heard a fair amount of grumbling from people who had chosen the "Your Tiime" dining option. It seems that some people thought it was pretty disorganized, but we have no personal experience on this. Most of the other staff were very friendly and accomdating, including the waiters (who really cleared tables in the buffet room very quickly), the bartenders, the front desk staff, etc.). One exception to this is that I did not find the excursion staff particularly outgoing. One huge negative for us, which distinguished Carnival as a lower-end line, is that when we asked a waiter in the buffet to get us a Diet Coke and gave him our room charge card, he told us that they don't get drinks, but there was a bar by the pool. That do me was very disappointing and a lack of service that I had not experienced before. The ship was generally very clean, which appears to have been a priority. ENTERTAINMENT: This was another mixed bag to us. A couple of the production shows were ok, and others were just tacky. The piano bar was very nice, and the lounge player there was very good. The various bands and combos were adequate to good, in our opinion. The ship rotated comedians, and several of them were pretty funny, particularly at the x-rated late night adult shows. The reliance on magicians seemed a bit low-end to us but, again, reasonable people could easily disagree. The karaoke options are abundant for people into that. These events culminated in a passenger talent show, which sounds cheesey, but really turned out to be among themost fun entertainment options of the whole cruise. The disco was compact and adequate, but might get crowded when the ship is filled with younger people. The cruise staff generally was good. The cruise director, James, generally was very good. The cruise offered a wide variety of activities, enough to keep almost everyone on-board entertained while on ship. The casino was sufficiently large to accommodate most cruisers. (I only wish that they would have more no-smoking tables.) The shops were what you would expect on a cruise ship, although the candy store was a nice touch, but I doubt it will survive, given the lack of traffic. One big negative is the relatively frequent announcements over the public address system of upcoming entertainment events. These got downright annoying. I wish they would dial these back a notch. EXCURSIONS: We found the choice of excursions to be sufficiently varied, with half-day and full day alternatives offered. Our advice, however, is to do some research on your own well before departing for your cruise and try to book the excursions on your own. You no doubt will save a lot of money. While the cruise lines don't guaranty the performance and timing of the independent tour operators, most of the better independent tour operators depend on cruise passengers and are highly reliable. If you can afford it, we strongly recommend trying to put together a small group and hire a private driver/tour guide to take you wherever you want to go. You will see far more with them than you will ever see on a cruise excursion, and the price probably will be a lot less. DISEMBAKCATION: Carnival handled the departure of the ship with military precision. Kudos to them for that and the smooth transfers, which include them carrying luggage directly to the airport, so you never have to touch your luggage. GENERAL OBSERVATIONS: The ambience on this ship clearly is not one of elegance, or even upscale. It clearly is middle-of-the road. I generally like casual dress onboard, and do not even like to dress up for dinner. However, this cruise line welcomes people to come to the dining room in shorts and blue jeans, rather than, for example, khakis or similar wear. Again, I am sure some people enjoy this, but we think that this is a bit lower-end than we would have preferred. But this is Carvinal, not Celebrity. BOTTOM LINE: We love huge ships, and this is huge. There are many nice features to it, particuarly the cabins and outdoor seating, but it has a plastic feel to it overall. The food quality (except for the steakhouse) is really a deal-killer for us. This is probably a good choice for first-time cruisers, those on a tighter budget, those who like a lot of activity and entertainment, and those who tend to be easier to please. It also should appeal to Caribbean travelers who like party ships and people travelling with families. But, on balance, I do not think that this would be a good choice for those who have enjoyed more upscale cruise lines because of the lower-end ambiance, lack of attention to niceities, and second-rate food service. Read Less
Sail Date October 2011
Stateroom: Excellent all around - our room steward was all but invisible, but always there to clean up no matter how little time we were out of the room - bravo! Food/Dining: Fair to Very Good - Dining room team was just OK; ... Read More
Stateroom: Excellent all around - our room steward was all but invisible, but always there to clean up no matter how little time we were out of the room - bravo! Food/Dining: Fair to Very Good - Dining room team was just OK; not real personable, but reasonably efficient except for syncing up coffee/espresso/cappuccino with dessert delivery. Had some trouble getting drinks; if you didn't order a drink the prior day, you didn't get asked the next day (huh?). Food quality was good to excellent (wife liked fish dishes very much); we are not food snobs, but the cuisine on the Magic compared quite well to Celebrity. I am, however, a coffee snob and I found the regular coffee offering virtually undrinkable. I like bold (Sumatra or equivalent) roast coffee and ended up going to the espresso bar to get my morning coffee (@ $1.50 per tall cup) and ordering a double espresso (free with dinner) in the evening (overall, a minor issue). Breakfast at the Lido Marketplace was very good - had a custom-made omelette just about every day; also, whoever was in charge of potatoes did an outstanding job in both taste and variety of offerings. Had morning room service on a few days and while punctual, on multiple occasions the muffins, pastry or toast were stale. Barbecue on Promenade Deck (sea days) had burgers, hot dogs, and (beef & chicken) tacos, but no pulled-pork or barbecue chicken - so, a bit of a misnomer. The burgers were very good, though. Entertainment/Activities: The cruise director (John) was excellent - entertaining and informative; best we've experienced thus far. The entertainment was, overall, the best we have experienced to-date. We went to every evening show (except for the light opera night). We also went to the late-night (uncensored) comedy shows in the Punchline Comedy Club - the ventriloquist was outstanding; the other comics were not quite as good, but funny nonetheless. The live music sprinkled throughout the ship (day and evening) was also of very good quality. Amenities: The Serenity Deck is a great option for just lazing around (sea days and other times); however, it was very popular, resulting in difficulty finding a place (circular lounge w/ canopy, hammock, deck lounge chairs) to land. Kudos to Carnival though - they tried hard to enforce the 45min "unattended" rule, removing towels and other stuff when time ran out. The fitness center was well appointed and I used it almost every other day. Meeting People / Other Cruisers: Best by far for meeting people to become social with. Had great dining table mates and also met very nice people on our (non-Carnival) shore excursions. Significant Concerns/Negatives: While I realize Carnival is updating its smoking policy, we can't stand second-hand smoke; every morning, leaving our stateroom, we had to smell smoke (in the hallway) emanating from those smoking in their staterooms. Additionally, smoking was allowed on the port-side of the pool deck (10) and in (and around) the aft bar (deck 10). This is major negative for us and we will be watching Carnival's smoking policy before booking another cruise with them. The other concern is that, because this was a new ship, Carnival had "stacked the deck" with their A-team. In asking other veteran Carnival cruisers if this was a typical Carnival cruise, we received mixed replies - many said it was the best Carnival cruise they had experience, while (fewer) others said it was typical of a Carnival cruise. All-in-all, we would definitely do another Carnival cruise, based on our experience with this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
I have just returned from the Carnival Magic Western Med tour and to say I am bitterly disappointed is an understatement. I have travelled with Carnival Cruiselines twice before, both times whilst on holiday in America. I found the cruises ... Read More
I have just returned from the Carnival Magic Western Med tour and to say I am bitterly disappointed is an understatement. I have travelled with Carnival Cruiselines twice before, both times whilst on holiday in America. I found the cruises to be great fun the entertainment good and the food was good quality. That was probably about 7 years ago. I feel the standards on Carnival have dropped considerably. This particular cruise is obviously aimed at Americans who want to see several countries in Europe whilst staying in a floating hotel. Myself and my husband are English. We had a cove balcony stateroom which was fine, quite spacious really and I would not fault the accommodation or indeed the ship, but the food (although plentiful on the buffets) was fairly bland and tasteless. We had opted for the formal dining option, but our waiter's understanding of English was pretty limited and the service was poor. Our food was never hot and the quality disappointing. Most of the vegetables were either pureed or undercooked! The buffet on offer at breakfast and lunch was quite good and varied and so we tended to make lunch our main meal of the day if we were not out visiting the various ports of call. As I mentioned previously, this trip is aimed at American visitors who had made long Trans-Atlantic journeys to join the ship in Barcelona, they then were out on exceptionally long shore excursions (sometimes up to 10 hours!) to make sure that they visited as many European destinations whilst on the cruise. Most of the bars close at about 12.00 a.m. with the exception of Vibe nightclub and the Casino bar which closes at around 1.00 a.m. (apparently according the Cruise Director because the American guests had complained if they were awoken after long shore excursions or had gone to bed early because their coaches were leaving the ship at 7.30 a.m. the next morning for a trip). The entertainment was very lacklustre, indeed there was no show at all on the first evening of the cruise because most of the Americans had gone to bed early and on the second night, in the 'Showtime Theatre' the Cruise Director picked 4 members of the audience and gave them each two handbells and they then over the course of the next 30 minutes or so learnt and then performed a song. One other evening's entertainment was on a similar theme - this time recruiting passengers onto the stage and humiliating them by requiring them to pass a spoon tied onto a piece of string through their clothes - what fun.....not! We did have a 'magic' show one night and a 'multi instrument' playing lady another(supposedly a 'favourite' with the British Royal Family) who did a Glen Miller themed act - really cutting edge! Hardly the high end entertainment we had expected from Carnival's promotional advertising. Throughout the week there were 'shows' consisting of karaoke auditions to recruit guests to perform in the 'Living Legends' final night show as 'Elvis Presley' ' Frank Sinatra' 'Tina Turner' etc etc. We felt that there was an over emphasis on audience participation shows and also total lack of consideration for European guests who were not jet-lagged and were looking for a more relaxed cruise and indeed more professional entertainment. The high points for us during the cruise were spent in the Spotlight Lounge which was also known as Punchliners Club when there were late night (10.30 & 11.30) Adult comedians. The Cruise Director was constantly 'plugging' the various expensive shore excursions and in the theatre and this was even repeated on the cabin television channel. I will not be travelling with Carnival Cruises again and would strongly suggest that this particular European Cruise is only ever marketed to Americans, who will all want early nights because of the gruelling shore excursions.   Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We had previously cruised Europe on Celebrity and there was no comparison. I decided to try Carnival for the ports and the fact it was a new ship. The ship was fine- large with plenty of lounges- but it lacked the ambiance of other cruises ... Read More
We had previously cruised Europe on Celebrity and there was no comparison. I decided to try Carnival for the ports and the fact it was a new ship. The ship was fine- large with plenty of lounges- but it lacked the ambiance of other cruises I have been on, the service at some places, and the food was poor. Embarkation was very easy at 11 AM and we were on the ship within 10 minutes after arriving at the port. We immediately headed to the buffet for lunch which was not yet crowded. At 1:30 PM our cabin was ready and our luggage arrived shortly thereafter. We had a balcony room (I guess a mini-suite but not called that) which was fine although it did seem smaller than on other cruises. Our room was always clean but this is the first cruise that the room steward did not come and introduce himself. We never saw him except an occasional wave in the hall. Our main complaints were the rudeness of some of the staff plus the lack of knowledge of the ports. The shore excursion desk was not at all helpful. We were given the wrong information on several times. I do not think they cared about answering questions about the port unless you took their excursions. With the exception of Naples where we took the ferry ourselves to Capri, all of our excursions were booked through the ship. On our first night, we received word after 8 PM that our tour the next day in Monaco was canceled due to not enough people signed up. By then the desk was closed and all tours were filled. If there were on 6 signed up for a tour for 40, they should have contacted us early in the day to say there was a possibility the tour would be canceled and what was our second choice. Then when I did speak to someone the next morning, he led me to believe there would be tours you could take at the port. Other than the 30 minute train ride around Monaco, there were none. Luckily, I guess they had a lot of complaints so they added a bus and made an afternoon tour to the French. They misled us about the shuttle services to town in other ports also. The time was not properly utilized on excursions- we were given 45 minutes in places that had nothing and yet less time in places with a lot of shops and cafes. The staff in the perfume shop were very unfriendly and rude. I saw that a sample of perfume I wanted to try was empty and asked if they had another tester. I was rudely told "not until the next cruise." The staff in the casino was also rude. We asked one attendant how to cash out a few dollars we had won and she acted like she was doing us a favor by showing us and was fresh. The same with the man in the cashier cage. The hours for currency exchange was also limited if you had an excursion booked or dining plans. However, our dining staff in the main dining room were great. Our waiter, Caesar, was wonderful as well as Made and Suraj. We thoroughly enjoyed their attentiveness and service. The comedians were great! I was not impressed at all with any other show. TV in the room just featured showing the cruise director and news. We were not on the cruise to watch tv but when we were getting dressed or relaxing, it would have been nice to have a choice. The food was nothing special - with the exception of a few entrees or desserts in the main dining room. The breakfast buffet was very poor- everything was not presented in a convenient location (pancakes, waffles, and french toast were only by the pool) and the selection was poor. There were no nice fruits like strawberries, pineapples, sliced oranges - only cantaloupe and water melon everyday. It never changed. Most items were cold. The deli was very good as well as the grill by the pool- the pizza didn't compare to that on Princess. Room service was very limited for breakfast if you had an early excursion. I just felt Carnival lacks something major. I doubt if I would cruise it again. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Pools too small very crowded, hot tubs not hot at all,plus chairs by the pool very scarce. The information given by the cruise director was very often conflicting to what was printed in the daily planner in the room. Much of the ... Read More
Pools too small very crowded, hot tubs not hot at all,plus chairs by the pool very scarce. The information given by the cruise director was very often conflicting to what was printed in the daily planner in the room. Much of the information in regards to excursions was inconsistent which caused unnecessary aggravation and lost time trying to explore ports. Shuttle buses told to be available at port and were not, times between shuttle and destinations were also incorrect. The dining room food was great selection sometimes lukewarm. Waitstaff sometimes seemed overwhelmed. My cabin was very roomy and always clean, but never received body soap,good thing we had hand soap. This is the consensus we got from other people at the pool and at our dining table. Entertainment was fair, only one contest at poolside on the first day at sea,other 2 days nothing. Shows at night not Broadway by any means, but I had been told that on European cruises they don't invest the money on shows because of the long day excursions. But having passengers volunteer to karaoke stars and perform for the last night show was a little lame. don't want this to be all negative, I had a great trip of a lifetime, ports of calls were just beautiful and the ship was like coming back home at night after a full day and having everyone wait on you till bedtime. Great way to see Europe! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Booked this cruise for a group of friends for our anniversaries. Carnival has raised the bar with it's new ship Magic. The customer service and cleanliness were the best I have experieced on a ship. Here are a few notes about our ... Read More
Booked this cruise for a group of friends for our anniversaries. Carnival has raised the bar with it's new ship Magic. The customer service and cleanliness were the best I have experieced on a ship. Here are a few notes about our expereince: Embarkation: Was quick and efficient. Received our luggage prior to sailing. Rooms: We booked the back end balconies. Really enjoyed the panoramic views. It was great to be on the back of the ship as we were sailing out of port. My only compaint is that we had a cabin on the side and it was VERY SMALL compared to our friends cabins of equal price. Beaware, if you book an aft end balcony the ship curves on the sides and our cabin was SMALL. Housekeeping was amazing the room was clean and our cabin steward was discreet and did not bother us. We also opened all five balconies in our group and were able to hang out together on the balconies. Food: Carnival has really done a good job with food on this ship. We ate in the dining room every night and had outstanding service and food. We chose to do the Chef's Table on one night (a $75.00 per person up charge) it includes a 12 course meal, champagne and wine included. You meet with the head chef who explains each course, takes you on a galley tour, and shows you how they make the chocolate melting cake. It is for a small group only (12 people) and requires and advanced reservation. You eat at a large table in the kitchen and the food was incredible. We also ate at the Cocina restaurant. Good food and fund atmosphere. Be aware that they only allow you one main course per person. The lido deck food was the best I have inexperienced. They have the typical buffet fare as well as a Mongolian station with stir fry that is individual to you, a burrito station similar to Chiptole again that you customize. The day at sea I also got to see the dessert station. They have taken it to a new level with chocolate fondue with all of the fruit and pastries for dipping. My husband loved the sushi bar. All in all great food! Cleanliness: The ship was always being cleaned. I observed employees cleaning everything. I saw hand rails wiped down multiple times each day. Customer Service: The ship had excellent service. My only complaint is that the bar wait staff and bartenders were slow. Ship: The ship itself was nice. It has many amenities for kids and the Serenity deck would be nice if this was a family cruise. This sailing had very few kids on board so it was not a problem. Enjoyed the Red Frog Pub. Would have like it if there was not an up charge for food here. Itinerary: This was AMAZING! A new port each day with only one day at sea. We booked a private tour in Livorno, Rome and Monaco. This was perfect for our large group of 10 and was about the same price as the excursions. Most of the other ports had taxis that would take you on a tour for a set price. We did this in several ports and we also took the double decker bus it is a good way to see the city for a good price. I would highly recommend it! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Our cruise on the Carnival Magic started off on a bad note. When we checked in we were told that the itinerary was changed. Instead of going to Naples Italy, the ship was diverted to Marseilles,France this was due to a worker strike in ... Read More
Our cruise on the Carnival Magic started off on a bad note. When we checked in we were told that the itinerary was changed. Instead of going to Naples Italy, the ship was diverted to Marseilles,France this was due to a worker strike in Italy. I think we should have been notified prior to the departure date so we had time to change our plans. I do not hold Carnival at fault for this situation, in fact they helped us make the changes we had committed to. Now comes the next problem. My wife and I were put in a cabin that was located above the Steak House Galley. We turned in about 10:30 pm and at 11:45 pm we were woken by load noise coming from the galley. It continued for about an hour or more then quit. Just as we were finally getting back to sleep the noise woke us again about 3 - 3:30am. After the 2nd night we got up up at 3am and went to deck 5, the door to the Steak House was open and went in. We discovered the source of the noise, it was a cleaning crew cleaning a stainless steel galley at 3am. At that time we wnet to guest services and complained. The next day Anna the guest service mgr and my wife and I met and discussed our problem. We asked for a different cabin but there were none since the ship was full. I do believe Anna tried her best to rectify the problem especially since they duplicated the noise in the galley and listened in our cabin. The noise continued for the rest of the cruise although after our complaint it seemed like they were aware of the problem. Although the Magic is a larger and newer ship it was designed to make room for more cabins and everything else was downsized. The entertainment was not great and they had fewer 8 o'clock shows. In the future we will stick to the smaller ships. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We have been on several cruise lines and understand that Carnival is a great value. But when the price is low (as this cruise was), not everything can be outstanding. Here is a tip for anyone sailing from Barcelona - the terminal is ... Read More
We have been on several cruise lines and understand that Carnival is a great value. But when the price is low (as this cruise was), not everything can be outstanding. Here is a tip for anyone sailing from Barcelona - the terminal is too far from town to walk! Take a taxi and have some sympathy for the people you will pass along the way pulling their suitcases up and over the bridge to the terminal. My second tip is about chapels and churches. You will see plenty of them (Vatican, Pisa, etc.). Schedule your excursions accordingly. Embarkation was fairly smooth and quick. It did take a little while for our luggage to show up at the room but that was not really a problem. Even though the ship was pretty new, there was already a little rust showing and the elevators had dents and dings which I assume were from luggage handling. As I mentioned before, the quality of food is one thing that suffers a little bit on all Carnival ships. Breakfast is very repetitive, especially after 12 days. There are many choices for lunch however. There are 4 (I think) options on the Lido deck including a sandwich deli, tandori Indian food, pizza and hamburgers. On sea days, there was a barbeque at the Ocean Plaza on deck 5. Dinner was okay and selections changed daily. We were at a table for 8 but only 6 of us ever showed up. Our waiters had a few tables to take care of but overall, service was excellent. Entertainment in the main showroom was okay. The singers and dancers were very good but I can only remember 2 shows with the full group and one show with about half. The other entertainers in the Piano Bar (James Morris), Red Frog (two different guitar players)and the ship band were all very good. This is one area where Carnival excels over the other cruise lines. Ports - Rome was great but you will only be able to see about half of the attractions. Venice was also great especially since we had a day and a half there. Dubrovnik was surprisingly beautiful as was Taromena. Monaco was okay but Marseilles was a waste of time. Getting off the ship was odd because it started so early. We booked transportation to the airport and were off the ship at 6:30 am. High recommendations for this cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
About us: Australians on a month-long European tour, two teenage daughters along for the ride. The ship: Big, glitzy and new. Reminded me of a gaudy theme park but it still had it's own unique charm. Despite the huge number of ... Read More
About us: Australians on a month-long European tour, two teenage daughters along for the ride. The ship: Big, glitzy and new. Reminded me of a gaudy theme park but it still had it's own unique charm. Despite the huge number of passengers it rarely seemed crowded, at least in the places we frequented. The hideous decor was a bit of a shock for us after spending 4 days in stylish and beautiful Barcelona. The rooms were good but nothing special even though we chose a Spa cabin. Fellow passengers: Mostly Americans, but a mix of other nationalities as well - Spanish, British, Australians, Japanese. Like any American cruise there was a small percentage of passengers who acted like they wished they were still at home - complaining about having to use Euros, scared of using public transport, problems with foreign food, etc - but these were in the minority. Very few children on this cruise (i.e. almost none). Plenty of people got dressed up for the formal night but it wasn't over the top. Most people dressed tidy but casual. Ports: Good selection with plenty of time in each port to cater for those of us whose primary goal was to see as much of Europe as possible. Shore excursions are expensive but we chose to make our own arrangements for every stop except Messina. On a couple of occasions our shore itineraries were virtually identical to the ship's tours, but we paid less than half price to do the same things. The one tour we did do (Mt Etna) was good but not great. Entertainment: Didn't actually attend any shows myself but from the reports I heard they were pretty poor. Daily activities (trivia, etc) were fun but apart from the guy playing electric guitar in the Red Frog Pub the music was pretty woeful. Evening movies on the big screen at the pool were great fun with free popcorn and blankets provided to protect against the chilly evening ocean breeze. Staff: Guest services were OK but seemed to be operating to a script rather than trying to help you. On the other hand the cabin and dining room staff were superb and made our trip (big hello to Michael, George, Jurie and Gede). Entertainment staff were relaxed and friendly and never pushy or over the top. Food: Dinners were very good (chocolate melting cake...mmmm). Breakfast and lunch were OK (but what's with the inedible whipped cream?). Free pizza, ice-cream and frozen yoghurt all day was awesome. Drink prices were horrendous but this is typical for cruise ships. Overall this was a great cruise. It's not an old style, elegant cruise experience. This is a "funship". Relaxed with a few rough edges and you do get the feeling sometimes that Carnival are more interested in making money than anything else, but great fun just the same. When we spotted the Carnival Magic in port in Venice a week or so after our cruise it was like seeing an old friend. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Where to begin....let me first say that these are my own opinions, obviously, and others may disagree with me on some of these points. I don't intend to insult anyone. Our main intent for this cruise was just to get to the ... Read More
Where to begin....let me first say that these are my own opinions, obviously, and others may disagree with me on some of these points. I don't intend to insult anyone. Our main intent for this cruise was just to get to the destinations without having to pack and unpack in each city, on a strict budget. My companions and I are in our late 20s to mid 30s, so this may be an entirely different experience for older folk. CRUISE ITSELF Embarking: we were able to drop our bags off at 10am and explore Barcelona a bit before entering the ship, which was nice. Taxis are aplenty at port, though you may have to wait in a long line to go back into the city depending. Room: we had three girls in an interior room towards the middle of the 7th deck. It was really the perfect location, in the middle of everything. I thought it would bother me not to have a window, but it wound up being fine. I wouldn't have more than three people in a room, though. The bathroom, as you can imagine, is really, really small. The shower is nearly impossible to shave in. But we expected all of this so it wasn't a problem. The TV has very few channels, but if you're not spending a lot of time in your room, this won't come into play much. There are three closets that are a pretty good size and a dresser with three small usable drawers. The beds are high enough to slide a good size suitcase under them. Pool & Pool Deck: the pools are smaller than we had expected. The one in the back of the ship is the quieter one. The front is where they have a live band or loud music. The back has music playing but more in the background. It's difficult to find a lounger by the pool if you don't get up early, but we had no problem finding one on the 11th or 12th decks no matter what time of day it was. Food: Horrible. There's no way around that. We heard some people say that it was terrific, and I feel sorry for those people because they haven't been exposed to truly good food. We tried the buffet, the dining room, and the Italian restaurant that requires a fee for each guest ($10). The buffet: the omelet bar, burrito bar, and wok bar were okay, but everything else was awful. Burgers sit there for hours; buns are stale; hotdogs are boiled until they're mush instead of grilled; meat and seafood are overcooked; somehow the salad bar wasn't even that great and that was just straight up veggies and beans. Southern Lights dining room: We were at the youngest table and were served last every night. As a result, almost every entrEe was served cold. Our app plates would sit in front of us for way too long before being cleared away. Desert was nearly always melted by the time it was served. It took over 2 hours every night, which was not necessary in my opinion. Servers have more than one large table, so they are run ragged by the look of things. And each night dinner ends with a man singing Sinatra and the servers getting up on pedestals to dance a "friendship dance". I know cruises can be cheesy but this was waaaay too much for me. Italian restaurant: not great, not terrible. The pasta was cooked well, but it was served luke warm and wasn't great. I don't think it was worth the extra $10. Entertainment: Danny in the Red Frog is good, but everything else we heard music wise was cheesy to the max. All onboard musicians LOVE Bon Jovi and have a very limited selection of music that they play. We didn't watch any of the comedians or see any of the other shows, so I have no opinion of those. Service: our room porter was great; waiters at the Red Frog are terrific; other service was alright - not great, not horrible. People: Most people on the ship were seniors with very few children since school had just started. We were shocked at how rude the majority of the people on the ship were. Pushing and shoving to get into the buffet. No "please" or "thank you" or common courtesy. No manners at all. It got to be really, really annoying by the end of it. Disembarking: we had no problem. We were allowed to begin disembarking at 5:45am. We left the ship between 7-7:30am and just breezed through. We didn't even have to wait for a taxi. DESTINATIONS Buy this book: Seriously, do yourself a favor and pick up Rick Steves' Mediterranean Cruise Ports. It was our bible throughout the entire trip. When you have only hours in a city the size of Rome, you don't have time to mess around. This book gives directions by walking, transit, highlights of the city to hit up, restaurant recommendations, what to do if you miss your ship, etc. I don't know what we would have done without it. Itinerary: Be prepared for changes in the itinerary. We were told on our first day that Rome was having a transit strike the day we were supposed to be in port, so they had to shuffle things around. As a result, we would no longer be going to Naples, and that Naples was replaced with Marseilles. Many people, including ourselves, were very upset with this. We chose this cruise specifically for the destinations, and they can just change them on a dime. They said they'd notified us the week before, but they had not. The times you think you'll be in port are also likely to change. I believe Florence was initially supposed to be 7:30am to after 7pm and it wound up being 10:00am to 6pm. Excursions: In the interest of saving money, my companions and I opted not to do any excursions through Carnival. They are way too overpriced in my opinion, and I am not a patient person. I am also comfortable with public transit. If you do choose to go on them, be prepared to wait on people and not have any say in how you spend your time in cities. Our tablemates told us that no matter the amount of free time they say you'll have, it never winds up being that much time. Self-transfers into main cities from port: Italian trains are VERY unreliable. Trains get cancelled and break down all the time. Both happened to us in Florence. Do not wait until the last minute to come back, because a cab ride from Rome or Florence back to port is going to run you hundreds of euros. Liverno requires a 1 hour and 20 minute train ride into Florence. We split a cab to the train station. You'll need to make sure that the train you are on is either direct or requires a transfer in Pisa. Be sure to ask this (we almost wound up not transferring, ending up god knows where). Once into Florence you can take a bus to wherever you want to go. Rome requires a 1.5 hour (or less) train ride from Civitavecchia. The train station is within walkable distance from port. Once in Rome, you can take the subway to the Colliseum or Vatican, or wherever you want to go. It's really easy once you figure out what line you need. The book I suggested gives explicit directions that we followed seamlessly. When going back to port, give yourself at least 20 minutes to walk to the platform once in the train station. Taxis: be sure to ask how much it should cost you if you can, because they will try to rip you off. If it winds up that you need to take a cab back from Rome, I know friends of ours talked a cab driver down to 120 Euro. They'll likely aim for 200. Theft: be smart with your belongings. Thieves run rampant and they're not all scary looking men. We had someone tell us that a little old woman attempted to jack his wallet. I hope this helps! Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
We sailed on the magic on sept 4 th from Barcelona, having done the carriibean the year before the first thing my husband and I noticed was---- the food wasn't up to our last cruise,so this time we ate in the dining room, we did find ... Read More
We sailed on the magic on sept 4 th from Barcelona, having done the carriibean the year before the first thing my husband and I noticed was---- the food wasn't up to our last cruise,so this time we ate in the dining room, we did find we got warmer food, as on our last cruise the food was cold every night Our balcony state room was fantastic-- We thought it was us expecting too much with the entertainment, we could not believe John the out standing cruise director ( so HE says) would have those kiddie shows, using the guests as entertainment, wow!! What a insult to our intelligence , and we were told by one of the " props" it was all a setup, Anyway we flew to Venice to do our grease cruise on the norwegian jade, we had been told by bored guests we met on the magic, we would love the entertainment on the jade, we thought yep right! Well we did love it, we could not keep up with the entertainment, and it was nearly as good as broadway. I just had to meet the entertainment officer, to congratulate her, I had the cruise staff in fits of laughter, on our experience with " big fat John,and his entertainment, especially his mornings with Calvin who we loved, and I might add every time Calvin said he was going to leave, because John was insulting him--- we wished he had-- I feel the big wigs-- like the bearded ones as John calls them-- never follow these critic views, if you do reply. Bearded ones We are Aussies, not Americans , so I agree with the London lady Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
Arrived in Barcelona a day early and stayed at the Avenida Palace about 1 block away from Las Ramblas. Able to walk to many of the highlights in the area or take the Metro Bus to Sagrada Familia. Bought our 2 bottles of carry on wine at ... Read More
Arrived in Barcelona a day early and stayed at the Avenida Palace about 1 block away from Las Ramblas. Able to walk to many of the highlights in the area or take the Metro Bus to Sagrada Familia. Bought our 2 bottles of carry on wine at Ingles Dept Store in the basement Mercado Later we walked to El Xampanyet for Cava and anchovies. Embarkation was easy and quick. Had lunch on Lido aft deck very pleasant. Luggage was in cabins by 4:30. Cabin stewards were excellent and accommodating. Dining room waiters and waitress Gordanya were exceptional in service and meeting our needs. Loved the RED FROG PUB-custom beer was great. The upcharge for the appetizers is reasonable $3.33 for the quantity and quality. Found the locker room and Sauna to be small. Ports were very interesting especially if you did your homework on history, art, architecture and etc. So much to see and do that this cruise can be tiring. You need to pace yourself. Shows were average but the naturally show of Stromboli volcanoe erupting was fantastic. Disembarkation was a breeze. Looking forward to next years 12 day cruise. Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
One of the main factors is selecting the cruise was the price and the fact that it was quite port intensive. Our party was made up of 4 adults - none of us having ever cruised before and two in our group not having traveled overseas ... Read More
One of the main factors is selecting the cruise was the price and the fact that it was quite port intensive. Our party was made up of 4 adults - none of us having ever cruised before and two in our group not having traveled overseas before. We hit a slight hiccup when we arrived at the cruise port - but it was sorted out quickly and before we knew it we were on board. We were very impressed with what we saw - many of the reviews etc that we had read said that the decor was garish, cheap and nasty.....Well we obviously don't have a clue. We went up to the Lido and had lunch - which was good. Nice selection - all fresh. We explored a bit and then sat in the Serenity area and just after one got to our cabin. We were more than happy with it. Comfy beds, clean and good quality linen, nice size bathroom, plenty packing space. To be honest we had envisage a smaller room - so were pleasantly surprised by the size. Our first night we ate dinner in the Northern Lights - the food and service were very good. My review is going to be my first so bear with me - Being first time cruisers we were open to anything - the cruise had quite a demanding iteninary but we were up for it!!. To highlight the ports First stop was Marseilles - nothing much to write home about. Second day was Savona - we booked a shore excursion to Monaco - what a trip - we had a wonderful tour guide and the experience was outstanding. The 3rd stop was Rome - again we had booked a shore excursion - however this was horrid. We had selected "Rome at its Best" - first we had to swop buses as the aircon was broken - the young lady that was on the vehicle with us said she was not a guide but a tour assistant. I will not go into detail as we could be here for very long......the tour was terrible. Eventually we picked up a local guide for the Basilica and the Colosseum - and then had a very rushed but good end of the tour. Stop 4 - we did our own thing and went to Sorrento on a Hydrofoil and then caught the train to Pompeii. Stop 5 Dubrovnik - again did our own thing - Walked the old city walls and did the Cable car. Stop 6 Venice - day 1 we did most of venice town and day 2 went to Murano Stop 7 Messina - walked around, did a tour on the local "train" and watched the anatomical clock at 12. The Ship - very nice, plenty to do and see The food - plenty of variety, always good. Sushi - very yummy. The drinks - EXPENSIVE The internet - very slow and then to make it worse - VERY EXPENSIVE The Deck and cabins - we were very happy.Situated on the 7th Deck. Why choose an inside cabin? - We only slept there!!! The staff - on a whole - very helpful and friendly - did however find a couple that really made you feel like they were doing you a massive favor and did it with attitude!! A special shout out to Arnaldo( hope it is right) and B - our room stewards.....nothing was ever to much trouble.Also a special mention to the two South African girls on the front desk!!! The Carnival Shore excursions - Very expensive and very little information or no information given out for if you wanted to do something on your own. The shore excursion staff - we took our complaint for the Rome excursion to the desk. The team member was not really willing to help. Gave lots of reasons for why it was not Carnival's problem!! After 3 days we received a discount for the excursion - this however was a small consolation for the fact that Rome was spoilt for us. The Entertainment - very good - really enjoyed the Adult comedy shows and Blood Power band!! The onboard facilities - used the putt putt, ropes, table tennis, pool - all good. For us there were a couple of negatives - On the 2nd day in Venice there was a transport strike. We had heard from guests the previous night. The cruise director only advise us on the morning of the 2nd day - why were we not notified before this??? Surely the cruise ships are made aware of this well before. The other thing that had nothing to do with the cruise - but actually with fellow passengers was the gluttony and waste. We come from quite a reserved family and to see how people dished up food and then never ate it - this was to much for our family There is so much that one actually could get quite carried away.We had a great time and already planning our next one. Thank you Carnival Magic for a wonderful memorable holiday Read Less
Sail Date September 2011
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
Just came of 12 day sailing of the magic. We had hot weather and very calm waters for the entire stretch. We stayed in a SPA balcony suite, its worth the little bit extra. Food on the ship was excellent, particularly the Cucina and the ... Read More
Just came of 12 day sailing of the magic. We had hot weather and very calm waters for the entire stretch. We stayed in a SPA balcony suite, its worth the little bit extra. Food on the ship was excellent, particularly the Cucina and the MDR. While i will have a lot of positive things to say, The main issue - with a very full ship the LIDO area was a nightmare for breakfast and lunch - never a problem getting the food, just getting a seat. Although its a lot of ship - there was excessive crowding in the LIDO and getting a deck chair after 7am was not possible due to chair hogging. Also, the Prime steakhouse was a disappointment, the staff there were rude and immature. Now for the good - the room staff, and our MDR staff were excellent and we tipped them extra. The Red Frog felt like a second home and the wait staff were always friendly. John and Calvin were hilarious and greeted everyone warmly throughout the cruise. Did not see any of the productions but the uncensored comedy shows were hilarious. Almost everyone dressed up for Elegant night. Kids loved Circle C and Camp Carnival. Did not use Carnival for shore excursions so no comment. Carnival really went the extra mile on this cruise by getting us into Venice 12 hrs earlier than scheduled. Other than the small bothersome things I pointed out above it was a wonderful cruise and anyone thinking of a Europe itinerary with family will not be disappointed in Carnival. It was a lively ship with fun loving passengers and no shortage of activities in port or at sea. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
There were many positives & negatives about our 9 day Mediterranean cruise on Carnival's Magic. First off let's get the negatives out of the way...The transfers from the airport to the hotel a day before the cruise ... Read More
There were many positives & negatives about our 9 day Mediterranean cruise on Carnival's Magic. First off let's get the negatives out of the way...The transfers from the airport to the hotel a day before the cruise was a nightmare. Everyone was cranky & tired after flying all night. We were made to wait in the very hot airport (haven't they heard of A/C in Barcelona?) standing up against a wall until there were enough of us to put on a bus. They Carnival employees seemed very disorganized & not very knowledgeable. It was not a good start to the cruise. After finally be dropped at our hotel we found that the rooms would not be available until 3:00. This was about 10:30 in the morning. Not great news for tired & cranky travelers. The next day we were picked up at 9:30. I am not sure why we needed to go to the ship quite that early but at least things went more smoothly. Embarkation was pretty painless but we were not able to get in our rooms until 1:30. The ship is huge. I have cruised many times but had alot of trouble navigating this ship. I seemed to get lost on a pretty regular basis. Also the decorating leaves alot to be desired...OMG...Those green lights in the lobby area reminded me of beady eyes staring at me. UGLY!!! The food & service were very inconsistent. Sometimes the food was wonderful & sometimes not so much. Everyone I talked to complained about the service in the dining room. I am not sure if it is because the wait staff is not as motivated as in years past to provide great service because the gratuities are just added to the Sign & Sail card or if the Anytime dining has thrown off their rhythm. It was quite disappointing to say the least. On to the positives and there were many...There was so much to do & people were taking advantage of all the ship had to offer. Because the ship is so huge there are so many different venues for entertainment. Some evenings it was hard to decide which to do...From a comedy club to movies on a huge screen on the Lido deck, to entertainment in all the bar areas, to the Showtime Theater. There just was so much going on & it was all good. I only went to the Showtime Theater one night & I have to say that it was, without a doubt, the best show I have ever seen on a cruise ship (Magician, Las Vegas type dancing & singing & even pyrotechnics. It was awesome!) The deck area outside the Red Frog Pub was wonderful for relaxing after all that entertainment. I chose this cruise because it was a new ship & because of the itinerary. I was not disappointed. The ports were wonderful. Palma de Mallorca was a delightful surprise. What a beautiful city! We did two Carnival excursions & booked the rest with other tour companies. Danny of Tuscan Hearts was wonderful; lots of personality & very accommodating. Rolando of Rome In Limo was wonderful as well. Very courteous & took excellent care of us. He made sure we saw as much of Rome as was possible in just one day. The Carnival excursions were okay. The one to Palma de Mallorca to see the Flamenco dancers would have been better if it were a little later in the day. We were served wonderful tapas & Sangria but it was a bit much so early in the day. Even so the entertainment was superb. All in all it was a magical week even with the glitches. I have not cruised with Carnival for at least a dozen years. During that time I have cruised with several other cruise lines but I have to say this cruise has wooed me back. Carnival definitely are the Fun Ships! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Although the Magic is new this year it is not radical and its layout will be familiar to anyone who has sailed on the Carnival Conquest and subsequent ships. Whilst familiarity is reassuring perhaps the time has come for Carnival to ... Read More
Although the Magic is new this year it is not radical and its layout will be familiar to anyone who has sailed on the Carnival Conquest and subsequent ships. Whilst familiarity is reassuring perhaps the time has come for Carnival to consider something more radical? Changes made from recent ships such as the Freedom are mostly related to increasing cabin capacity with the Lido deck being on level 10 instead of 9. A pub is provided on deck 5 which extends both inside and outside so smokers are accommodated. This was popular and a welcome addition although one thinks its themed to try to compete with the likes of Senor Frogs and Carlos and Charlies. Since the Ship will spend the majority of its life sailing in the Caribbean a contrasting theme might be more appropriate. The Piano Bar has been opened out into the main level 5 corridor and is non-smoking. It was therefore less risque than usual and not well supported. The cigar bar has gone and has been replaced with a teenager facility which I think makes a lot of sense. The steak house is much smaller than on other ships and is provided on the fifth level near the disco. The disco itself seemed quite small and the step down to the dance floor has been eliminated so will save on twisted ankles! An Italian themed eatery is provided above the lido cafe for which a surcharge is payable. This was a very popular alternative dining spot throughout the cruise. The Lido cafe was very busy throughout the day but with the exception of the Mongolian Wok station lines were never an issue. The food served was very familiar but I ate most days at the deli. Evening dinner was in the main dining room late sitting. The menus were also very familiar and followed the general Carnival trend of serving cheaper main dishes i.e. fried chicken and burgers on the menu! The days of filet and chateaubriand now seem past but having said that I always left the dining room full and the food was good. However the service was the worst ever. The Maitre D fancies himself as a Frank Sinatra karoke singer so instead of taking care of service he was more concerned with inflicting his singing on diners so twenty minutes were spent listening to him and the servers prancing around. This meant it was typically a hour and a half before we received our entrees as we had to wait for the Maitre D to indulge his ego. He really is at a career crossroads and needs to decide if his future lies in being a karaoke singer or organising a dining room because right now he is doing both very badly. Incidentally, on the ship dessert had to be ordered at the same time as the appetiser and entree so one would expected this would have speeded dining up but this wasn't the case. Dinner typical took nearly two and a half hours so be prepared to miss the start of the 10-30 show. The cruise was very port intensive so it was hard to assess the capacity for deck chairs etc. On the one sea day there didn't seem to be an issue but there were a lot of kids and teenagers on the Ship that weren't bothered with lounging in the sun. We were supposed to go to Majorca but as a result of a strike this wasn't possible, Carnival were somehow able to reschedule Marseille at less than 24 hours notice a day early and still provide all their tours. This was either an incredible feat of logistics or Carnival knew well in advance that Majorca wasn't going to happen. As a result of this there was controversy should the Ship have a sea day or return a day early to Barcelona. The powers that be decided to return to Barcelona a day early. This must have cost Carnival quite a loss of income from closing the casino a day early and other sales that result from a sea day. Personally I would have preferred another day at sea. Overnight in port always creates an eerie onboard atmosphere. Embarkation and disembarkation was fast and smooth no doubt when the Ship crosses the Atlantic this will deterioate significantly! Generally, the ship is as one would expect very clean, bright and much less gaudy than other Carnival vessels. It will be a good work horse if not memorable for Carnival over the years. The cruise was fantastic value for money vacation and whilst the poor service in the main dining room was disappointing it certainly didn't detract from the overall super cruise experience. Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
Me and my Girlfriend sailed on the 12-night voyage on the Med departing 14th August 2011 from Barcelona. Firstly..... the ports of call. We have visited a number of the ports of call previously so on some days opted to take ... Read More
Me and my Girlfriend sailed on the 12-night voyage on the Med departing 14th August 2011 from Barcelona. Firstly..... the ports of call. We have visited a number of the ports of call previously so on some days opted to take advantage of having the ship to ourselves. Monaco - Did the hop-on-hop-off bus tour for 17EUR pp. This was a great way to see all of the sights in Monaco and leaves from the cruise terminal. Would recommend doing a full tour on the bus (approx. 1 hour) before deciding which sights to see in more detail second time around. Savona - Stayed on the ship, however trips to Portofino looked good and city nice enough to have a little walk around. Rome (Civatavecchia) - Visited Rome before so stayed on the ship and pretty much had the ship top ourselves. Naples - Hydrofoil to Capri (34EUR pp return) and arranged boat trip with Gianni's boat tours (see TripAdvisor). 3 hour boat tour was fantastic and recommended and great value at 30EUR pp. Capri is beautiful and we spent a couple of hours after the boat trip just sitting at the Marina eating the most beautiful ice cream. Messina - Stayed on the ship (as many others seemed to). Dubrovnik - What a beautiful place. Taxi from Port to Old Town cost 10EUR. We opted to go directly to the cable car which takes you to the top of the mountain with the most amazing views of Dubrovnik and the Adriatic Sea. Beware that you must pay for the cable car in local currency or credit card (costs approx 10EUR pp). We then walked through the Old Town which is not physically demanding and is great to do. At the end of the of the Old Town furthest from the Marina, there is a restaurant outside the gate to the town with fantastic views and reasonable prices. Venice - Sailed in to Venice as the sun was setting. Made an early start the following day and used the frequent waterbus (Vaporetto) to get around. This costs 18EUR for a 24hr pass and actually allows you to see most of the sights and get off and on at the major attractions (Rialto Bridge, St Mark's Square etc). If the ship allows for you to visit Venice during the evening, you must go to see St Mark's Square. Secondly...... the Carnival Magic. The ship is fantastic and is very well looked after, despite it still being pretty much brand new. The RedFrog Pub seemed a popular addition to the Carnival ships and boasts a good selection of draught beers. The food was fantastic, particularly in the Main Dining Room. We had an amazing table for two in the Southern Lights dining room (table 764) which had fantastic views out to see. Not only was the quality of the food fantastic, but the service was second-to-none, probably the best I have received on any previous cruise. Our waitress Yolanda Kristianos and her assistant, Aloyssos, were fantastic and made dining each evening a real pleasure; both are truly a credit to Carnival. The pool areas are possibly on the small side and don't get me started on the sun loungers situation. Carnival really needs to do something about reserving sun loungers, some from as early as 5am. Cabins were comfortable and clean, despite only having an inside cabin. Rooms were cleaned twice a day and the laundry was returned quickly and pressed to perfection. Entertainment was varied and mostly of a good quality. Cruise Director John Heald was entertaining and I personally found him to be very funny. We were a bit disappointed with the movies shown on the Seaside Theatre each evening, but I guess that is down to personal preference and when we did go up on to the pool deck, the fresh popcorn smelled great. Initial embarkation and disembarking after the cruise was stress-free, thanks mostly to details being inputted by way of online check-in. Overall, a fantastic holiday on the Carnival Magic and, apart from a few niggles that need sorting, we would most definitely recommend this cruise. 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
We have just completed a 9 night Carnival Magic cruise in the Med and had a fantastic time. As we are new to cruising as a family I found the Cruise Critic Reviews helpful in my own planning for the trip - and so wanted to share some ... Read More
We have just completed a 9 night Carnival Magic cruise in the Med and had a fantastic time. As we are new to cruising as a family I found the Cruise Critic Reviews helpful in my own planning for the trip - and so wanted to share some feedback for fellow travellers to aid your own planning in the future. We embarked from Barcelona and we found the boarding process to be smooth and effortless. Compared to some other Ports we visited I would suggest that Barcelona is well organised and a good place to use for departing on a cruise. Debarkation is of course the time none of us want or like but that worked well too-the cab line was long but the wait was maybe only 30 minutes and cabs were plentiful. Our biggest concern going into the Cruise was that we opted for the Outside "5 berth" family Cabin. Would that work? Well - it did! Yes - we had some "moments" when all of us were in there together but overall it was fine and it allowed us to spend our money in far better ways. It really is a good sized cabin for 5. Our kids are 9, 11 and 15 and it still worked for us - so for younger kids you will be fine. I was also amazed by the cabin sound proofing - for 9 days you would never have known we had people either side of us. Very good! We were at the back of the ship and very low level (deck 1) so we did get some engine noise and also some noise when docking but it was not too bad. Further mid ships may be better though. The ship itself is magnificent and really does have something for everyone. The crew really do look after the ship and there seemed to be almost constant cleaning and touching up - especially in the early mornings you can see the Team hard at work to keep her gleaming. The Sports Square was great for all the family. Much golf was played as a family and the kids got to see both of their parents on the Rope Runners course! Food and beverage choices were plentiful. The "Sweet Spot" in the Lido Marketplace was my only real disappointment as deserts were quite bland -looked good and sounded good but taste was bland. Other than that we enjoyed all our meals and also treated ourselves to the Steak House one night and that was well worth the extra fee. A truly memorable meal. We also very much enjoyed the atmosphere in the Red Frog -a great place for pre dinner drinks. Highly recommended!! The Day at Sea was busy!! We learned over the 9 days that most folks do get off in Port each day and so you have much of the ship only half full or less until maybe 3pm. Then it fills up again. But for the day at sea extra sun beds were laid on but most were taken (or reserved with a towel) before 8 in the morning !! We didn't use the Kids Clubs and the shows were not really to our taste. We did though enjoy the Seaside Theatre and the movies shown under the starlit sky. As I have said - something for all tastes and for everyone to enjoy. Enjoy the Magic - we certainly did!! Read Less
Sail Date August 2011
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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