Loved it! What'ss not to like?: Carnival Magic Cruise Review by 2Okies

Carnival Magic 5
Member Since 2007
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Loved it! What'ss not to like?

Sail Date: September 2012
Destination: Western Caribbean
Embarkation: Galveston
I'm one of those people who, before we sailed, camped out on Cruise Critic reading all the reviews of the Magic, the ports of call, things to do, stuff to take, etc., so that I would know everything there was know. I had everything organized, excursions planned, packing done, and ready to go a week ahead of sailing. My husband just rolled his eyes at me and jokingly said I was way TOO organized! :) After we were on the ship - he appreciated some of that pre-planning I did because everything went just as planned with no surprises!

I have to say after cruising on the Magic in September, I was more than a little confused by some of the low Cruise Critic reviews of this wonderful ship! I know you can't please everyone, but....WOW, why the negatives? You're on a cruise, you're not at work, you don't have to clean, wash clothes or fix a meal! I can't imagine why you would complain?! I have cruised two other times with my teenage daughter (while the hubby went deer hunting) on More mother-daughter cruises on Carnival's Ecstasy & Conquest, and we loved it. She married this year, and since my husband & I were celebrating our 35th anniversary, I talked him into cruising with me for the first time. After this Magical cruise - he's hooked. What can I say?

The Magic is a beautiful ship. We loved the decor. It's stylish and easy to maneuver once you get the hang of things. Our room (7th floor, aft, balcony room 7448) was very roomy and had plenty of storage. The balcony makes your room feel even larger. It also seemed pretty quiet down at this end of the ship. We loved the extra space to sit outside and watch the ocean go by. We had a king bed with a couch in the room. Our bathroom was plenty big and the shower was roomy. We didn't take (or need) an over the door shoe-holder as many suggest. We did bring along some clothes pins, because they were handy to clip our wet bathing suits to the clothes line in the shower at night. There were plenty of shelves in the bathroom for two people. There are two closets for hang-up clothes. I brought a few extra hangers with us, but there are quite a few in the closet. Another closet had three shelves we used for fold-up clothes. The dresser area had five drawers. I used one for makeup, and the others for our underwear & bathing suits. (There is a hair dryer in one of the drawers.) Our steward agreed to let us remove their cokes/drinks from the fridge and put in our own cokes we carried on board. The safe was sufficient size for all of our valuables, including my iPad, our 2 Kindles, valuables, passports, extra money, etc., when we were on shore. It is a key-pad safe, meaning you put in your own 4 digit code. (You don't use a card.) The room lights were controlled by our Sail & Sign card, or you could use a business card, etc., in it if you wanted. The S&S card was fine for us.

Speaking of the S&S card -- I brought along my own hole punch in my carry-on bag, and punched holes in our cards right after we got them, and attached them to the lanyards I brought with us. You don't know how many people stopped and asked us where to get a lanyard so they could do the same thing! They do sell them in one of the shops on board, and the casino has the springy kind. They are extremely helpful to keep your S&S card handy. My husband was a little skeptical at first, but even he liked it - mostly because our bathing suits didn't have pockets, which made it so much easier to keep track of our cards.

Our room steward, Merta, and his assistant, Brian, were so quick and efficient; we called them our "Ninja Stewards". They were in and out so fast, (and never seen in action!) keeping our room spotless. We often saw them in the hallway where they were always friendly, smiled, and called us by name. We always put out our "Snoozing or Cruising" sign on our door to let them know if we were in or out of our cabin, so that probably helped them know when we were out. They cleaned our room every morning during our breakfast and left fresh towels, and cleaned our room every night during dinner, left us more fresh towels plus the cute towel animal with candy on our bed. We couldn't have asked for better service. They always kept our ice bucket filled, and we never once had to ask. We did give them an extra tip Saturday night because we felt they did an exceptional job.
We ate in the Southern Lights MDR, table 568. We liked Southern lights because we had a view of the ocean in this dining room. (Northern lights does not.) We shared our table with a very nice lady and her adult daughter. We also enjoyed visiting with two ladies from Los Angeles at the next table whose tablemates never showed up after the first night. Our waiters (we had 3) were EXCELLENT, and always remembered our names, our preferences of drink, the kind of bread we liked, etc. On lobster night (2nd Elegant night) my husband said "keep 'em coming", and they had extras waiting and would pop another in front of him as soon as he finished one (he had a total of 4!).
My husband also loved the crème brule they served the first or second night during dessert, and told the Maitre d' he liked it on our way out of the dining room that night. The Maitre d' asked for our room number, and two nights later, we had SIX of them brought to our table during dessert! How nice of him! We tipped our waiters & the Maitre d' extra for their service & kindness.

We felt the food on all the ship was very good. We ate every dinner in the MDR and all of our meals were delicious. We had fun stepping out of our comfort zone and trying the "Didja" appetizers on a few nights. We also ate at the MDR for a couple of our breakfasts because we found we liked the slower pace in there, than the busy buffet area. We ate at the buffet for some breakfasts, and a couple of lunches. We also visited the Midnight Mexican buffet and sampled a few of those choices. We had no complaints about the food at all - except that we ate way too much!

We really enjoyed the waterworks and pool areas. The slides were awesome -- the yellow one is extreme! Most sea days, we grabbed a lounge chair by the waterworks area and whenever we would get hot, we would run and let the bucket dump on us, and then come back to our chair! We also enjoyed the aft pool area because it didn't seem as busy. The Jacuzzis weren't usually as full of people, and the pool was a nice size to cool off. It was relaxing to sit in the loungers & watch the wake behind the ship. We also enjoyed the Panini sandwich bar and the Tandori grill by the aft pool. You didn't have to go as far for a snack! I packed a couple of insulated water bottles (a 16oz & 20oz) and we filled them with tea & ice (or coke from our room) at breakfast every morning, and they would usually last us most of the day sitting by the pool. It was very convenient not having to run back and forth for something to drink (neither of us are big on alcohol, so this was great for us). I also brought along a couple of small backpacks to carry our kindles, sunscreen, chapstick, water bottles, etc., in during the day at the pool. Also, they were handy to have on shore.

We did the sky rope course one day, and found it pretty challenging. We meant to go back and do it again, but never had the chance. If you want to do this, be sure to bring gym shoes, water shoes, or something similar. You're not allowed to do it with sandals or flip-flops. The putt-putt course is right below the sky-ropes, and it was fun also. It's on two decks, which makes it more interesting.

We enjoyed a lot of the shows on the ship. We didn't make it to the show the first night (we were exhausted!), but we did on Monday night. It was a Vegas type show with a lot of 70's & 80's type music and dancing we really enjoyed. The entire audience really seemed to enjoy this show. We also liked the Magic show. It was very well done, lots of laser lights and effects, and very entertaining. We tried the juggler's show, but left after about 30 minutes because it was just boring. This did not seem like a show that should be in the big theater. We went to the family and adult comedy shows the first half of the week. Both kinds were very, very funny. We wanted to go to the ones later in the week, but the lines were usually very long to get into these shows. You have to get in line quickly to see these shows, and sometimes the lines were already long after we got out of our 6PM dining. We went to one karaoke night in one of the lounges. It was fun to watch (but we didn't participate!) One of our favorite places to hang out at night was in the lounge chairs by the atrium and listen to the live singers above the bar in the lobby. They were VERY good singers, and they often sounded like the original artists. Lots of people gathered to dance to their music in the lobby in front of the bar. The music & people watching was great in this area.

My husband tried one of the spa treatments, which shocked me (that is NOT normally something he would consider!) He had been experiencing some pain in his foot and his shoulder for quite some time, and went to the seminar about acupuncture, and then decided to try it for his pain. THIS, from a man who is afraid of needles! However, to his surprise, it was totally painless and really worked! His foot and shoulder did not bother him at all the rest of our cruise, and they had been hurting him for months. He was so impressed, he has found an acupuncturist here at home, and is going for regular maintenance.

We enjoyed shopping on the ship very much, especially at the sales offered by the jewelry store. We bought quite a few of our Christmas gifts there!
All in all, our cruise was all we hoped for, and more. This ship is amazing, and all of the crew we encountered were very friendly, and courteous. The crew is always cleaning on this ship, and it shows -- it is spotless! We were very impressed. I don't understand how anyone could cruise on this ship, and not enjoy it. Honestly, I think you are going to get what you give. We always made a point to smile and thank anyone that helped us or served us, and they in return were always kind and friendly to us.

We were very fortunate to have good weather, and an almost perfect sea. We did our own excursions at every port of call, and I have written a short review of each you can click on below. Our first port of call was Montego Bay Jamaica, where we spent the day at Sunset Beach Resort through Jamaica-for-a-Day for $65/person.
At Grand Cayman, we did a private snorkel/Stingray City excursion with Moby Dick for $45/person.
At Cozumel we made our own way to Chankanaab Beach for $20 round trip by taxi, and $26/person into the park, which included a t-shirt and a soft drink or water per person, plus all access to the beach, and sea lion show. I

We look forward to our next cruise on the Magic! Less

Published 10/18/12
2 Helpful Votes

Cabin review: 8B7448 Balcony

Our room was aft, on the port side of the ship. We were next to the balcony that starts wrapping around the back of the ship. We could see front & back of the ship pretty good from our balcony. We felt this room was in a quiet area, since there isn't much traffic, other than the ones who have rooms at the end of the hall. We had plenty of storage - 3 closets, and one that had 3 shelves. Plenty of room to unload all of our suitcases. We had 5 suitcases, and the stored under the bed easily. The dresser area is very roomy with 5 drawers. There is a hairdryer in one of the drawers. It's not super-powerful, but was fine for the week, so you don't have to bring your own. We brought a power strip, but I think I remember at least 3 plugs at the dresser area - so we really didn't need it. There is also a plug in the bathroom, but we never used it. The kingsize bed was very comfy. There is also a full size couch and coffee table in the room. The balcony had 2 chairs and a table. We enjoyed the extra outside room the balcony gave us. One whole wall of our cabin was window & balcony door, so we had a beautiful view. The bathroom was very roomy also. The shower had great water pressure. We never had any trouble with our shower curtain sticking too us, so there wasn't any need for the clothes pins at the bottom that some suggest. We did use the clothes pins on the shower's clothes line to dry our bathing suits at night though. There is shower gel and shampoo in the shower. I would suggest bringing your own conditioner, though. There is a refrigerator in the dresser area. We asked our steward the first day if we could stow our own cokes in the fridge, and take out their drinks, which he agreed to. There is also a safe in the dresser area, that has a keypad lock. It was big enough for all of our valuables, iPad, Kindles, money, etc. I don't think it could hold a full size laptop. The room steward kept us supplied with clean towels at all times. He kept our room spotless. There are two very nice robes in the room. We loved the room, and the two of us never felt cramped at all.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Chankanaab National Park Tour

We did not pre-book an excursion at Chankanaab. We just caught a taxi at the pier ($10 one way per taxi, not per person) and went to the park. It was about 10 minutes from the Puerta Maya pier where the Carnival ships port. It was $26pp to get into the park which included a free t-shirt and a soda or water, all access to the beach and sea lion show. Of course, it doesn't include the dolphin experience, but you can watch others doing it. We enjoyed the snorkeling here. Its very rocky along the shore of this beach, which makes for good snorkeling. We brought our own snorkeling equipment, but there is a place to rent it. The access to the water is by stairs that are built all along their beach. There is one area where you can walk into the water, but the bottom of this area is a little rocky (small rocks) so water shoes are good. But it is shallow there, and good for kids to play or learn to snorkel. There are a couple of places to eat. We shared a chicken nachos and got 2 soft drinks for about $12. The sea lion show was cute, and short. We stayed at the park from about 10:30 til 1:30 and caught a taxi back to the pier where we dropped our stuff off at the ship and then went back to shop at the pier. Puerta Maya has some pretty good shops, and its a very outdoor pretty shopping area. We bought some of the bamboo sheets that the ship advertises. They shipped them back to the states for us, and they arrived a few days after we got home. They are very nice sheets! We probably spent more money shopping in Cozumel than any other place. We enjoyed Chankanaab, but may try another beach next time - just for a different experience. Cozumel is a very friendly place, and one that we never feel threatened or unsafe. Any excursion you do on your own here will be fine. Just pay attention to time, and get back to the ship when you should. The island isn't that big - so that should never be a problem. We love to visit Cozumel.


We booked our own excursion through Moby Dick tours online to reserve a spot and time. We met them at the appointed time at the pier, paid our $45pp, and they bused in an air-conditioned bus to their boat across the island. The driver told us about different points of interest on the island as we traveled. We had about 23 on our excursion, but they said they can take around 40 on an excursion. Mark, the owner, is very nice, professional and he and his staff are always there with you while snorkeling or at Stingray City. We snorkeled first. The reefs were gorgeous! We got some awesome pictures. We also got to see Mark feed a Moray eel that lives under a rock in the area. After about 45 minutes of snorkeling we went to Stingray City. They had told us how to conduct ourselves (shuffle your feet in the sand so as not to step on them, etc), but you have no reason to be afraid of this experience. These animals are just amazing! They are silky soft, and its just very emotional to look into their eyes as you hold them. Its an adventure you won't soon forget. Be sure to kiss one for 7 years good luck! Moby Dick dropped us off in town and recommended a good fish & chips place to eat that was right on the waterfront by the ships. Great food!

Sunset Beach Resort

This was my second time at this resort, and my husband's first. I knew the resort was safe, a short distance from the ship's port, and all inclusive, which meant we had to carry little money with us on shore. We did our own transport, and caught a taxi at the pier for $6pp round trip (which is cheaper than the transportation through the website). It was actually a small bus, and they filled it with more people going to Sunset. It takes about 5 minutes to get to the resort from the pier. The resort is manicured and landscaped nicely. The pools are clean (though they could use a little maintenance (painting, tile work, etc). The slides are a lot of fun, and the walk-in pool is nice to sit and cool off. We found floats for the lazy river easily and made our way around once. The buffet of jerked chicken, hot sides, fruit, salad & sandwiches were served at noon. There was also a grill with hamburgers, nachos, etc. The food was very good. The bar is open when you arrive. The cups they serve the drinks in are only about 6 oz, but you can order more than one at a time if desired. The drinks were good. The beach had a lot of seaweed, so I would suggest watershoes if you walk in it. There wasn't very good snorkeling unless you went around the rocks that defined the beach area. I give this excursion a 3 mostly because of the beach. It's okay, but the water is not as clear and pretty as you think it should be. Maybe its because its so close to where the ships come in. We haven't seen the water in other parts of Jamaica, so we don't know. We took out a kayak (free) and also took a quick sailboat ride (also free - but tips are encouraged for the driver). We enjoyed laying on the beach, listening to the sea and relaxing after lunch. We had arranged for the cab to pick us back up at 3PM, and he was promptly there. Plenty of taxis are coming and going, so you could leave anytime you wanted - if you didn't pay the round trip price that morning. We went back to the pier and shopped around a bit, and was back on the ship way ahead of schedule. We enjoyed Sunset, but next time we might try a resort further away from where the ships dock, or maybe something different altogether. However, its a safe excursion, great for couples or families. We were NEVER hassled by anyone going to the resort, at the resort or when we were shopping at the pier. The security is pretty tight at the pier. No one gets in or out without their S&S card, and they only let in the JUTA cabs. We had a nice day in Jamaica. It wasn't our favorite excursion of the cruise - but it was nice.

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