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My husband and I and our three year old son went on our first cruise in January. Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and we have already booked the same cruise (ship and ports) for 2015. However, our experience was somewhat challenged by our son, who seemed to be lacking in sleep and in an over-stimulated mode most of the time... something to keep in mind when traveling with small children. Being our first cruise, we had no idea what the embarkation process would be like, and I have to admit I wasn't overly thrilled with the process; however, we were delayed about two hours due to the previous ship returning late (fog), and overall, I believe all was handled well. Thankfully, we checked our bags in (we debated this) as we did not realize the cattle-like waiting process. As our son grew more and more tired and cranky as a three year old can be, I went to the help desk to ask if we could have a lower number due to the three year old child two hours past his nap time. One woman instantly answered "no, we can not do that". But the kind hearted woman next to her asked what number I had and proceeded to swap my card with a lower one. We were so grateful for her kindness. On board, we did not partake of any shows, and we actually did not do the main dining or restaurants either (except for the Red Frog one night for their snack options). We felt it was easier to stick with the Lido buffet, pizza, BBQ, sandwiches, burgers and other non-sit down options. I have seen a lot of mediocre to bad reviews about Magic's food, but honestly, we thought it was good. Certainly, there were no-so-great options, but overall, for our situation, I was very pleased. And our three year old ate more on the cruise than he usually does at home! We did enjoy the water park (though the water bucket was not a favorite for my toddler and others), the pools, and other outdoor activities. While on board, the variety was really nice. The staff on the boat was great! Our room steward was always on top of things and responded promptly to any requests. Staff in other areas were all pleasant as well. We had no issues. In fact, I lost my wallet in Cozumel (not recommended), and the Guest Services woman was so very helpful. I was able to get in touch with my credit card company and get it resolved immediately. The boat itself was amazingly clean. We couldn't believe how much cleaning, painting, and maintenance they did constantly. We were very impressed. For our excursions (Isla Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel), we booked nothing through Carnival, and we had great fun in all locations for much less cost. However, for our 2015 cruise, we have decided to book Belize through Carnival to have the guarantee of getting back on the boat. We were not late (thankfully), but I will admit I was overly stressed about being late with our three year old in Camp Carnival, especially with the tender process. Speaking of, Camp Carnival is a great option for the kids and the adults really (getting that needed break). In fact, that was one of the main reason we decided on a cruise... where else can you get free babysitting!? While my three year old liked Camp Carnival, he liked doing other things just as much, so by no means did he want to be there all day every day. But he enjoyed it, as did we. I had and have since read some really bad reviews about debarkation, so we were prepared for the worst. But we got off early and got through customs in a relatively short time. However, we carried our bags with us, so that may have made a huge difference. I recommend it if you can do it. I was more than pleasantly surprised at how well it went. Overall, the cruise surpassed our expectations, and as mentioned, we are scheduled for the next one!

A great family cruise experience

Carnival Magic Cruise Review by JillL

Trip Details
My husband and I and our three year old son went on our first cruise in January. Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and we have already booked the same cruise (ship and ports) for 2015. However, our experience was somewhat challenged by our son, who seemed to be lacking in sleep and in an over-stimulated mode most of the time... something to keep in mind when traveling with small children.
Being our first cruise, we had no idea what the embarkation process would be like, and I have to admit I wasn't overly thrilled with the process; however, we were delayed about two hours due to the previous ship returning late (fog), and overall, I believe all was handled well. Thankfully, we checked our bags in (we debated this) as we did not realize the cattle-like waiting process. As our son grew more and more tired and cranky as a three year old can be, I went to the help desk to ask if we could have a lower number due to the three year old child two hours past his nap time. One woman instantly answered "no, we can not do that". But the kind hearted woman next to her asked what number I had and proceeded to swap my card with a lower one. We were so grateful for her kindness.
On board, we did not partake of any shows, and we actually did not do the main dining or restaurants either (except for the Red Frog one night for their snack options). We felt it was easier to stick with the Lido buffet, pizza, BBQ, sandwiches, burgers and other non-sit down options. I have seen a lot of mediocre to bad reviews about Magic's food, but honestly, we thought it was good. Certainly, there were no-so-great options, but overall, for our situation, I was very pleased. And our three year old ate more on the cruise than he usually does at home!
We did enjoy the water park (though the water bucket was not a favorite for my toddler and others), the pools, and other outdoor activities. While on board, the variety was really nice.
The staff on the boat was great! Our room steward was always on top of things and responded promptly to any requests. Staff in other areas were all pleasant as well. We had no issues. In fact, I lost my wallet in Cozumel (not recommended), and the Guest Services woman was so very helpful. I was able to get in touch with my credit card company and get it resolved immediately.
The boat itself was amazingly clean. We couldn't believe how much cleaning, painting, and maintenance they did constantly. We were very impressed.
For our excursions (Isla Roatan, Belize, and Cozumel), we booked nothing through Carnival, and we had great fun in all locations for much less cost. However, for our 2015 cruise, we have decided to book Belize through Carnival to have the guarantee of getting back on the boat. We were not late (thankfully), but I will admit I was overly stressed about being late with our three year old in Camp Carnival, especially with the tender process.
Speaking of, Camp Carnival is a great option for the kids and the adults really (getting that needed break). In fact, that was one of the main reason we decided on a cruise... where else can you get free babysitting!? While my three year old liked Camp Carnival, he liked doing other things just as much, so by no means did he want to be there all day every day. But he enjoyed it, as did we.
I had and have since read some really bad reviews about debarkation, so we were prepared for the worst. But we got off early and got through customs in a relatively short time. However, we carried our bags with us, so that may have made a huge difference. I recommend it if you can do it. I was more than pleasantly surprised at how well it went.
Overall, the cruise surpassed our expectations, and as mentioned, we are scheduled for the next one!
JillL’s Full Rating Summary
Enrichment Activities
Value For Money
Embarkation
Dining
Public Rooms
Cabin
Fitness & Recreation
Shore Excursions
Ages 3 to 6
Service
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Cabin Review

Cabin 2356
Our cabin was in the interior. (Being on a tight budget, we wanted to save our funds for the excursions.) It was very clean with a great steward.
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