When Carnival Magic appeared on the scene in 2011, the cruise industry sat up and took notice. Although the 3,690-passenger ship wasn't first in its class -- that honor fell to Carnival Dream -- the vessel boasted several firsts for the Fun Ship line, including Cucina del Capitano Italian specialty restaurant, the RedFrog Pub and its signature Thirsty Frog Red Ale, the SportSquare outdoor recreation area and the first ropes course at sea.
Years later, Carnival Magic may no longer be the fleet's most innovative, yet it holds up as a floating destination that offers something for everyone. A wide range of cabin types, including family "quints" that fit five people, make it perfect for the packs of friends and family we saw onboard (in matching T-shirts, natch). Dining may not be fancy, but you can choose from the key cruise food groups: burgers, burrito, brats and barbecue, as well as Asian, Indian, deli and pizza -- at least at lunch. The number of choices falls significantly at dinner.
Activities, too, are designed for a wide range of interests. If you like games, Carnival Magic has you covered; besides group participation favorites like Hasbro the Game Show and Liars Club, the daily program was packed with options like Yahtzee, Scattergories, Clue and a Jenga-type tower game in the lobby (plus shuffleboard in the RedFrog Pub and pickup pool, Ping-Pong, beanbag and mini-golf options around the ship). Dance lessons, casino tournaments, spa specials, a robust kids club program -- Carnival Magic throws it all at the wall -- and passengers respond with enthusiasm.
All this stuff, though, comes with a price -- and that's lines. On our summer sailing, with the ship at well more than double occupancy, the queues were persistent, to the point where the crush cut into our enjoyment. Thirty minute waits (or more!) for popular eateries, like Guy's Burgers and Mongolian Wok, were the norm, not the exception. Tickets for Punchliner Comedy performances were gone hours before the show. Serenity Deck clamshells were claimed by 8:30 a.m. Getting off in port for excursions felt like a blood sport. Even trivia sessions were jam-packed, with teams of eight monopolizing the tables, forcing smaller groups to stand or even sit on the floor.
So where did we find our Zen? Attending the daily RedFrog Pub trivia quiz -- it's cumulative, so you play with the same people for the entire cruise for a more intimate experience. Sticking to off-hours for dining and getting up early for morning coffee helped, as did making Deck 5, with its four hot tubs and relatively underutilized lounge chairs, our sunning headquarters. Despite the sheer number of people onboard, we found the vast majority spent money on drinks instead of for-fee offerings so opening up the wallet a bit for specialty restaurants and the wonderfully expansive Cloud 9 spa also put the crowds at a distance. The cheer of the crew also kept us going; with a room steward that brought us copious amounts of ice and towel animals, as well as an outgoing entertainment staff, it was hard to stay irritated for too long.
Do we believe in Magic? After a week onboard, we'd answer with a quantified yes. As long as you pack your patience and are prepared to shift your routine slightly -- or conversely, see beating the lines as a game in its own right -- you'll emerge rested and relaxed, with plenty of Fun Ship memories. And really, what else can you ask for?
We wanted to try a larger ship. We had been to these ports before and wanted to back again. The water in Grand Turk and St. John was amazing. Beautiful ship and great staff! Plenty of activities to do on the ship on sea days. This is ... Read More
We wanted to try a larger ship. We had been to these ports before and wanted to back again. The water in Grand Turk and St. John was amazing. Beautiful ship and great staff! Plenty of activities to do on the ship on sea days. This is our third cruise and Carnival Magic was the largest ship we had been on, great ship. Dr. E was an amazing Cruise director and kept everyone entertained nightly. Whether it was singing first thing in the morning to make sure your day started out great or performing Motown in the Atrium after dinner. The staff was great, especially Sawitree, our room steward. She was very friendly and kept our room spotless. We had two great waiter, Devy and BB. Both were entertaining and tons of fun. Formal night had lobster and prime rib on the menu. Love it! Already have another booked for next year. Read Less
We all had a GREAT time. Let me first say that the ages of all us range from 72-13. There is always something to do on this ship. Always someone cleaning. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The food was good. Honestly I was expecting ... Read More
We all had a GREAT time. Let me first say that the ages of all us range from 72-13. There is always something to do on this ship. Always someone cleaning. The staff was very friendly and helpful. The food was good. Honestly I was expecting the food to be fair to bad after reading alot of reviews.... we were all pleasantly surprised. Granted there were things we didn't like but overall it was very good. Dr Dre is great. He is very funny and a lot of fun. Honestly I have not laughed like that in a long time.
We had a Ocean suite. I heard alot of people saying a suite is not worth it. I feel completely different. It was very nice to have a tub to soak in. A extra area to get ready (when the other guest is still sleeping or using the shower) We had so much storage that we didn't even use it all. We had family staying next door so we were able to open up the balcony......which made it huge. Free bottled water and a bag of laundry were also a perk of being in a suite. We also had priority in dinning. Never had to wait, which makes it really nice. Embarkation was also a breeze being in a suite. I think it literally may have taken 10 min to get on the ship from the moment we got off the shuttle. The location of our suite was perfect. It is right by mid ship elevators which means it is really close to the food and coffee shop.
The only complaint I have is the casino with the smoking! It is bad! But we figured out a way that we didn't have to walk through it if we really didn't want to. I feel carnival really needs to make smoking only available outdoors or move the casino to an area that non smokers do not need to smell it.
Over all I am so happy that I went on this cruise with an open mind. It wasn't perfect but I didn't expect perfect. I would go on this ship in a heart beat again! We can't wait to book our next cruise. Read Less
We chose this cruise as it was affordable and was scheduled when all of our schedules would allow. We loved the ship and most of the ports of call. We were supposed to have a Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle but it never happened...don't know ... Read More
We chose this cruise as it was affordable and was scheduled when all of our schedules would allow. We loved the ship and most of the ports of call. We were supposed to have a Cruise Critic Meet and Mingle but it never happened...don't know why, we were not told why it was cancelled or never happened...Our room steward, Nourvi, made our experience very comfortable. He made sure we didn't want for anything. We we slightly disappointed with having to wait in line for dinner (any time seating) and Guy's Pig and Anchor hours were very few. Getting ice seemed to be a problem on Lido deck.. I hadn't cruised since 2009 and am not crazy about a lot of the changes I saw..(.mainly dining room attire) I took a couple of first timers with me and they really had a good time. All of these complaints are minor when you look at the big picture. I still think cruising is the best vacation for the amount of money spent and would cruise on the Magic again. Read Less
Popular Carnival Magic Cruise Itineraries
7 Day Exotic Eastern Caribbean
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