Budget Cuts Noticeable - Still a "Fun" Ship: Carnival Magic Cruise Review by lightbalb2003

Carnival Magic 3
Member Since 2016
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Budget Cuts Noticeable - Still a "Fun" Ship

Sail Date: August 2017
Destination: Southern Caribbean
Embarkation: Port Canaveral (Orlando)
We just returned from our "Quad Cruise to Aruba". Myself and three of my twenty-something friends booked this voyage a few months out after getting a great price on the itinerary (Aruba, Grand Turk, Curacao)

Boarding the Carnival magic was seamless and within a quick look around you can tell that you are on a ship that is a significant departure from the older Carnival ships. The theme and decor is pleasing and reserved compared to the Freedom (tiger print frenzy) and a few of the other Carnival ships I have sailed on. There are a ton of family friendly activities on the Magic. The water park is really cool for kids and has more than one slide for them to enjoy. The recreation area with the mini golf and the ropes course also looked like fun. If a family were considering the magic based on price and value-- hands down this would be a great ship to enjoy. There is a lot of variety for all ages!

While we enjoyed a few of these amenities we mostly enjoyed the More regular hot tub and pool areas. The standout for us was the Lanai off of deck 5. We really enjoyed the Pig and Anchor BBQ and the lower foot traffic compared to Lido. Also the group loved the fishbowls from the Red Frog Rum Bar (Around $24 with gratuity). You get the equivalent of 4-5 drinks for the price of two normal ones. A great tip for couples and friends traveling together! Serenity deck has similar deals if you buy the pitchers. The Tropical Mule is YUM-O!

In general the Lido and daytime dining experience on Carnival offers among the most variety with the least amount of up charge on any of the major cruise lines. It is truly great between the burgers at Guys, the burritos at Blue Iguana, the BBQ, 24/hr pizza, or the make your own pasta bowl. All of these are beyond the standard lido buffet! It's hard to not find something that is enjoyable on the Magic (and most of the Carnival ships with Funship 2.0 Upgrades).

Unfortunately, the night time main dining room experience does not come with the same level of praise. The American Table dining menu is a real disappointment compared to the old carnival menus. The choices are significantly more limited and reduced by about 4-5 options nightly in each category. Dessert options and quality stood out as borderline horrible throughout the voyage. The white table linens are also gone except on formal night. This isn't a huge deal, but I will say it was gross to me that they were wiping the tables with damp rags and going from table to table and then would set your dessert tableware on the damp table. It's just a lower standard of service than the competition and to me is a cost cutting measure that cheapens the experience. I have to say the main dining rooms on NCL, Royal Caribbean, and even MSC offered a better variety and food quality in the main dining room than Carnivals "new" experience.

Our cabin attendant was nice enough and did his job. It was not as personalized as the service I have received on competing lines. Our main dining room attendant was wonderful-- no complaints at all. He couldn't control things like the menu variety and the table linens. These are a Carnival corporate problem.

The main theater entertainment was a step up from the other Carnival ships I have been on but is easily a step below NCL and two steps below Royal Caribbean. The best show was the 88 keys, in our opinion.

Next, the clientele on Carnival has always been diverse on all of my itinerary's. We thought this time due to the slightly more exotic route it would be a bit more of a mature crowd. This was not necessarily the case. Carnival tends to price their cruises as the value leader and it is basically the entry point for a cruise vacation. With that you get a lot of great people who want a fun experience while maintaining a stricter budget. You also get some passengers who appear to lack basic manners and self awareness. We observed some situations and attire that were nothing less than shocking. We initially had early-dining and were seated next to a family that let their kids scream and constantly move around on their chairs. The parenting and behavior was abysmal-- and this is coming from a millennial. (lol!) I think that illustrates the point here-- be prepared for a melting pot of personalities and backgrounds. We switched to late dining and it was a 360 experience.

For these reasons our group of friends decided they would not booked Carnival for next years group trip. We will book NCL as it feels like an upscale Carnival. I personally would cruise Carnival again with the right people and the right expectations. It is truly a value experience, but it is fun, and money goes much further. If you are trying to stretch your vacation dollar, or try cruising for the first time, Carnival is a great option. Just be aware, they they too are maximizing cost savings and you will notice lower caliber service than the competition. If NCL or RCL are within 20% of a price difference, I would recommend paying the extra money as the experience and service is well worth the slight extra in initial costs. Less

Published 09/07/17
3 Helpful Votes

Cabin review: 4H10238 Interior

Cabin was in a great location that was very convenient to the Lido deck and all things that come with it. Room was clean and we were brave and put four adults in one room. The two on the lower beds were happier than those on the upper beds. The upper beds use a firm mattress that isn't particularly comfortable. Bathroom is quite spacious as is the the 3 closets. Two of them have space for hanging garments and the third offers four large shelves.

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Port and Shore Excursions

Catamaran Tour

Did a great catamaran snorkel cruise. We stopped at two different snorkel places and then had complimentary rum punch on the way back. It was excellent!

Island Tour

We did the island highlights and beach day. The highlights were informative but the island was not particularly interesting. The beach, however, was wonderful and VERY pretty. I believe it was called Mambo Beach. Good value for the price.

Stingray Swim

First we stopped for a 30 minute snorkel session. This was really fun and some of the best snorkeling I have done in the Caribbean. I was mildly frightened to see a Barracuda when jumping in the water. The instructors said it was fine and that its always here. I would have appreciated the warning! :) We then made our way to Gibbs Cay. It was a beautiful secluded mini island. The stingrays were super playful and it was a unique experience. Rum punch was the theme here again for the voyage back to the port. We then went to the pool at Margaritaville. The beach and pool is wonderful. The restaurant itself is not worth the cost. The ship is so close to the port you are better off going back on the boat to refuel and then come back out for the remainder of the day.

Beach town that is not particularly fun or unique.

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