We did a back to back Cruise leaving on 4th Aug
If long queues for food, overcrowded swimming pools, woeful organisation, rude staff, and constant sales pitches are you thing, then carnival magic is for you
Let’s start with food.... the minimum amount of time we’ve had to wait in line for the breakfast buffet was 30 minutes. Yes 30 minutes for a lousy piece of bacon and undercooked sausage. This is solely down to the woeful organisation and layout of the food selection. (I.e only one dish of bacon, pancakes out at a time meaning waits every time they are replenished). Other far bigger ships manage the buffet sections with far greater efficiency, and when fed back to the buffet supervisor, the standard carnival ‘we don’t give a crap’ response was given.
The seated restaurants are much better however stop serving breakfast at 10am meaning you have a choice between decent food and a lay in.
When evening food has been served in the restaurants, the quality of service has been average at best. I believe this is largely down to the mandatory gratuity scheme that carnival run ...( in other words passengers tips that are automatically charged to their cabins are used to subsidise their lousy wages) meaning the restaurant staff effectively have no incentive to offer the fantastic service we have experienced with other cruise lines. On three occasions bread was not been served until the main course, and on a further four occasions we had to sent food back due to it arriving at our table cold.
On the ‘formal’ nights, and I use the word formal very loosely the seated restaurants are also chaotic (the restaurants still allow those in beachwear to sit alongside those who followed the dress code). On both occasions we were given a buzzer and informed there was a 40 minute wait .... again this is clearly a ploy to drive people to the bar / casino. When we were finally permitted to enter the restaurant, it was 50% empty with numerous tables sitting empty. We counted 10 tables in our vicinity that were empty for 15 minutes despite the huge queues outside..... again this is down to pure and simple woeful organisation. After flagging this to management a simple nonchalant shrug was given with clearly no desire whatsoever for things to neither change nor improve.
Moving on to the ship.... like most big cruise ships, it is adequately equipped with many facilities and the cabin comfort and size was comparable with other cruise lines. What isn’t compatible however is the sheer volume of passengers carnival have dumped into on place at one time. There are literally queues for everything, not just the food queues mentioned above, but everything.... shows, bingo, toilets, you name it, there’s a queue.
Beyond this, for some inexplicable reason, there are only 2 swimming pools on board. Yes there are hot tubs, and there are the water slides, but if laying by the pool and dipping in to cool down is your thing, then The Carnival Magic is not for you. The pools are both very small and throughout the day are literally standing room only.... in fact that is an understatement, you are more like a tin of sardines standing shoulder to shoulder with other guests due to their being nowhere to move. Other similar sized ships have 4 or 5 pools which are much more adequate
Grand Turk - given the short pier at Grand Turk, only one small gangway was available at the front of the ship... No bright spark at carnival had foreseen that up to 6000 people exiting the boat at the same time down one single staircase might not be the best idea. . cue absolute chaos and downright dangerous activity. For 40 minutes we were wedged in on a staircase from all angles, children were crying, the elderly had no place to rest, and even myself as a fit young male struggled to breath at times. People got very heated at the officers waiting at the gangway, only to once again be greeted by the standard nonchalant carnival shrug.
Escalations - thorough the trip, we raised several bits of feedback with ‘management’, eventually going to the front desk. Lloyd in the northern lights restaurant was useless, the chap in the Lido buffet no better. As for Joseph from Haiti on the front desk, it would’ve been more helpful to have spoken to a dog. Our case eventually got escalated to Joseph Ballesteros a ‘supervisor’ who promised to resolve our issue and update us accordingly. If you count doing precisely nothing as resolution, then he did a tremendous job. 48 hours after being promised a response, we still hadn’t heard a thing meaning we then had to once again chase up the useless front desk.
Eventually we spoke to Ana one of the managers at guest services who was somewhat more helpful. Despite this we were promised a letter with a case number so that we could pick up our issues when we got back home. Naturally in true Carnival fashion this didn’t arrive ... we then had to queue for over 90 minutes to talk to Guest Services (we’d given up calling after spending 60 minutes on hold)
The constant ‘ding ding’ announcements..... these just get incredibly annoying especially given that on most places on the ship you have absolutely no idea what the person is saying. 99% of the time these are just a lame sales pitch.
The casino - several of the ‘grabbing’ machines were not replenished between cruises giving the false impression that prizes had actually been won that voyage. (Ie slots for $2500 were left empty suggesting the prize had been won). At best this is misleading, at worst, downright fraudulent.
Lemonade dispensers - it’s amazing how the ‘pressure keeps going’ on the free dispensers, but there’s no such issues with the paid for drinks.
Tour in Belize - turned up at 9:30 as stated. We were told to be seated until tour was called. We waited 15 minutes and were then told the tour had been already called prior to us arriving. This resulted in us arriving late to the tour and nearly missing the coach.
Smoking - whilst I appreciate the need for certain smoking areas, it is incomprehensible for this to be permitted inside the ship like in the Casino. As an asthmatic, I find this deeply off putting and grossly offensive.
90 minute queue to speak to guest services on the final sea day... but only 3 out of the 5 counters were manned. Was assured a response to the complaint via letter but still not received - so far been stuck in the call queue for over an hour as the queue for the reception desk is still around 90 minutes!
Woken up by hoovering on 3 occasions after midnight
Disembarkation a farce. Guest services had told us coach was at 9:30 to the airport so we organised early disembarkation luggage tags which stated disembarkation between 8:15 and 9am. Got to 9:40 before our tags were even called to disembark, but by this point we had been informed that the airport coaches are ongoing meaning that once again, incorrect info had been given by guest services.
In summary - you’d get better Customer Service in prison than you do on the Carnival Magic. Even when things go wrong there is absolutely 0 appetite to put things right. The fact the queue for Guest Services was 90 minutes throughout the final day absolutely exemplify the apathy in which Carnival treat their customers. Never ever again will I be stepping on a Carnival ship.
And now for the good points;
The Cruise Director Cookie is excellent and an excellent host. Sadly the rest of the ‘fun squad’ are not so excellent. In fact I’ve seen better hosts at McDonalds.
The Shows have been good and some really great talent on show from the theatre productions.
The comedy club was excellent, and Manny oliviera in particular was hilarious. The host on the other hand was woeful and clearly way out of her depth at this level.
The ports of call were excellent and all beautiful in their own unique way.
Comfortable and cosy but walls were paper thin - frequently awoken by noisy guests and hoovering at stupid o’clock