We just got off an 8-night cruise on the Magic, so I thought I'd share a quick review. As a bit of background, it was me (31) and my girlfriend (33) traveling together. This is our third cruise on Carnival, the previous two being on the Breeze and Liberty. Rather than do a play-by-play, I'm going to just hit the highlights of the things we experienced.
I'll say one thing about Port Everglades: NEVER AGAIN. I used to think LaGuardia Airport was the most inefficient and poorly run transportation hub in the country, until I discovered Port Everglades. It's understaffed, disorganized, and clearly not well-enough equipped to handle the number of passengers that it does. The lines were insane for both embarkation and debarkation. Debarkation was the worse of the two, most likely because they only had half of the customs windows staffed. The only positive shout-out I'll give is to the sheriff's department. They were walking around handing out bottles of water to folks standing outside in the heat in line. Bottom line, if you decide to cruise the Magic while she is at Port Everglades, consider Faster to the Fun a MUST.
Ship in General
Overall I was pleased with the Magic and would definitely cruise her again. That said, she is a little rougher around the edges than her sister ship the Breeze. We noticed minor wear and tear around the public areas; little things like chair cushions that were badly worn, holes in some of the umbrellas, carpets that needed replaced, etc. The crew did a great job keeping everything clean though. I was really impressed with the cleanliness of the public restrooms in particular. Also, any trash that was left on tables in areas like Ocean Plaza was almost immediately cleared away.
One thing I really like about the Magic (and the other dream class ships) is the lanai deck and Ocean Plaza. It's my favorite place on the ship to go to just sit and relax with an adult beverage or cup of coffee. There's almost always some type of activity or music going on near the stage in Ocean Plaza, but there are plenty of quiet spots both indoors and outdoors on that deck that you can go read a book, work the crossword/sodoku (pick up puzzles free by the coffee shop), watch a movie on your iPad, etc. The only drawback to Ocean Plaza is the location of the Alchemy Bar there. Because it is so centrally located, it is always PACKED. I much preferred the setup on the Liberty, where it is a bit more out of the way, and never seemed to be overly crowded.
Since it is talked about so much on here and on FB, I feel that I need to at least mention the topic of smells. I've read many horror stories about awful mildew and sewage odors throughout the ship. I can only speak to my personal experience, but I didn't notice any particularly offensive odors. There were a couple times walking down hallways that I got a whiff of something unpleasant, but it was momentary and wasn't strong enough to bother me. I might not have even given it a second thought but for all of the complaints I had read online before the cruise. I'll also say this: I traveled for a living for many years, and I've smelled way worse things in hotel hallways than anything I smelled on the magic.
The most important part of a cruise for me is the food, and the Magic did not disappoint. Here are my thoughts on the places that we tried:
MDR: Overall it was good. We did your time dining, which we prefer, but I really didn't like the new reservation system. They are basically forcing you to request a table via the mobile app. In theory, that works great, but there's no good way to request specific waitstaff that way. I tried to go up to the hostess stand to check in manually, and one of the crewmembers literally took my phone out of my hands to open the Carnival app and request a table that way. The other issue is that the lines by the hostess stand are not well organized, and it gets very congested because I think they "ping" a lot of people from the app at once. My advice, particularly if you want to sit in a certain section, is to just put your phone in your pocket, tell them you don't have it with you, and go check in manually. When we did that the last night, we were seated immediately, ahead of people who had used the app and were caught in the chaos on the other side of the hostess stand. Once seated, the food and service did not disappoint. The highlight for me was the prime rib. I expect decent prime rib from Carnival, but this time it was absolutely outstanding. Just make sure to ask for extra horseradish if you like that, as theirs is not spicy at all, but still very flavorful. Another thing I recommend doing in the MDR is the wine package. It isn't well advertised, but if you ask your server the first night they will bring you a card with all the details. We did the 5 bottle package, and if you buy the package you save about 20%. versus buying bottles individually.
Steakhouse: Highly recommended. It's a little bit off the beaten path, and features a nice quiet ambiance. The service is professional, but I didn't find the servers to be as friendly or outgoing as the servers in the MDR or the Cucina. The food, though, is incredible. I did the french onion soup, and then the Australian Wagyu beef for my entree. The Wagyu was a flat iron steak, which I ordered rare, and it was delicious. Perfectly cooked, very tender, and incredibly flavorful. My girlfriend had the filet, which was also prepared beautifully.
Italian Cucina: I can't say enough good things about the Cucina! We went twice for dinner and once for lunch. Keep in mind the lunch is free, and is the perfect place to go on embarkation day because nobody will have found it yet and so it'll be EMPTY. As for the food, the spaghetti carbonara that I had for dinner was by far the best meal I had on the entire trip. The service is also second to none. The servers strike the perfect balance of being professional and maintaining a slightly upscale atmosphere, while also being down to earth, very outgoing and personable, and a ton of fun. If you go in the near future, ask for Grozdana as your waitress, she's awesome! For $15/person, dinner here is an absolute steal, so I highly recommend giving it a shot.
Guy's Burgers: As always, they were great. I don't think I can say much more than has been said a million times on here. Staff was really friendly and did a great job of keeping the line moving.
Blue Iguana: Ditto with Guy's Burgers. I'm not even a big fan of Mexican, but I love this place because everything just tastes so fresh. Also, if you like spicy, definitely give the habanero sauce from the toppings bar a try. It's the one with like five of the little pepper icons next to it. I love it when a sauce that's supposed to be spicy is actually SPICY!
Sushi at Sea: This is on deck 5 near the Red Frog Pub. We tried a California Roll and a couple pieces of salmon and yellowtail sushi. To be honest, I wasn't particularly impressed. The roll had a bit of a fishy taste to it, and the consistency just seemed a bit off. The individual pieces tasted fresher and were not at all fishy, but the rice was warm, and so by the time I was served and ate it, the fish sitting on top of it was no longer cold. I'd avoid this place, not necessarily because it was particularly awful, but because there are just so many better options.
Pizza: We tried pizza delivery twice. The first attempt was a bit of an epic failure. We were sitting in the outdoor seating of Red Frog Pub. My girlfriend placed the order and entered the location. Long story short, the pizza never came, and we later found out that he had been wandering around inside the pub, but never looked right outside - and the place wasn't crowded either, we were the only people around. So, moral of the story, make sure you are very specific on your location, and if it says they are there and you don't see them, get up and look around. They did automatically refund the $5 for the missed delivery. The second time we had pizzas delivered to the room, and it showed up on time and was delicious as always.
Sea Day Brunch: Magic is still using the old menu, which made me happy! I had the hen ala diavola, which is amazing, and sadly is being taken away when they roll-out the new menu. My girlfriend had the mac and cheese, which was pretty disappointing. It's not the same they serve at dinner; this was more like glorified Easy Mac. The excellent banana cream pie ended the meal on a high note.
One other food option we really enjoyed was the "light lunch" they served in Ocean Plaza. The soups were delicious. They also do a continental breakfast in the same area that never seems crowded.
Most mornings I did room service breakfast. We tried two of the extra-fee breakfast sandwiches. My girlfriend did the sausage biscuit with hash browns ($3), and it was not very good at all. I tried the salmon bagel ($5), and it was delicious, although very heavy on the cream cheese and therefore very messy to eat. While I enjoyed mine, I probably would stick to the free options going forward.
Also, don't forget about tea time! They only do it for an hour or two in the afternoon on sea days, but it's well worth it! It's peaceful and quiet, and the little sandwiches and treats they have are actually really good!
I spent a LOT of time in the casino this cruise, and really enjoyed myself. For the most part, the dealers are a lot of fun, and the pit bosses do a great job of making you feel welcome. The selection of table games isn't bad. There are 2 roulette wheels and 1 craps table. In my opinion they need another craps table. Card games include blackjack, Fun 21, let it ride, heads up hold-em, and 3 card poker. Minimums for most tables were pretty low, with craps, blackjack, roulette, and 3-card poker all being mostly in the $5 range. They also offered $10 blackjack pretty much all the time, and one $25 table only at night. That was my table of choice, because it was the only 3:2 table in the casino. There's also a ton of slots obviously, and about 12 video poker machines. I pumped some money into the slots, but not much. Everyone is always asking how tight or loose they are...in my opinion they are a little tighter than the Vegas strip, but not by much. I earned the drinks-on-us card the second night, and took full advantage of it. I found the cocktail servers to be very quick, and my glass was rarely empty.
Can't say enough good things about the Magic team. The staff goes out of their way to be helpful, and consistently does so with a smile. Bar service was generally fast and friendly, and as always with Carnival the bartenders and servers made an effort to get to know us and our drink orders. The only bar that really didn't impress me in terms of service was the Red Frog Pub.
Simon the cruise director seemed like a genuinely nice guy, and was very enthusiastic. At times, though, it seemed like he was kind of disorganized and running around like a chicken with its head cut off. Some of his announcements were way behind what was actually happening. It also seemed like a lot of the events on this cruise started late and ran long. I'm not blaming that on him specifically, though. The one exception was muster drill; he did a great job of getting that done efficiently.
Apparently I'm in the minority here, but I really enjoy the Playlist Productions shows. 88 Keys is INCREDIBLE, and the male and female lead both had amazing voices that were really well-suited to the playlist. It's so upbeat, fun, and entertaining I would have gone back and watched it a second time that night, but we were starving and needed to get dinner. Flick was great too. And while I enjoyed America Rocks and the performers were great, the song selections just weren't up my alley. We skipped Country Roads, but we did go to the variety show (comedy juggling), and really enjoyed his show!
We stopped by the piano bar one night, and stayed about 5 minutes. Russell Blues seems like a fun guy, and plays piano well. He's got a decent voice, but he's more into doing voice impersonations and trying to be funny rather than just singing the songs. I know a lot of people like that type of show that includes some comedy and chit-chat, but it's just not my cup of tea.
Due to the time spent in the casino, we didn't make it to any of the other shows or the comedy club this time.
The Magic is a nice ship with an absolutely fantastic crew. While she may not be the crown jewel of the Carnival fleet, I think the wide variety of food/beverage/activity options onboard make this ship an ideal choice, especially if it's your first or second cruise and you want to try out a lot of different things to see what your niche is.
Feel free to ask any questions, I'd be happy to answer what I can!