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jam19872016

Magic 7 Day Eastern Review

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Hello everybody. I've just gotten back from a 7 day cruise to the Eastern Caribbean on the Carnival Magic sailing 5/26-6/3. I love reading other people's cruise reviews while waiting for my next cruise to begin and I hope that by sharing my trip with others, I can help someone else pass the time as well.

 

A couple disclaimers, I LOVE cruising and always have a good time. But I like to be honest in my review. Everything is not perfect on a cruise and I do intend to include the bad with the good. Just because I complain, does not mean I did not have a great time.

 

Also, I may not hit on everything that interests you as a cruiser. I would say from reading many reviews that my cruise style is different from the norm, and that is okay. Please feel free to ask questions about something I do not cover and I will do my best to answer anything that you would like to know about.

 

About Me:

I am 30 years old and am lucky enough to live in Florida so taking cruises is more affordable and easier to do than for many people. This was my 17th cruise, 14th on Carnival and my first time on the Magic.

 

Cruising with me this time was my mom. She celebrates a birthday on this cruise and she also retired the day before the cruise began.

 

Prior to this cruise we sailed together on the Norwegian Epic which you can read about here. If you just want a quick summary - it was quite a let down.

 

I thought I knew what to expect and was fully aware of the Epic's shortcomings. The bathroom is in the stateroom with you. The ship has no view of the ocean. There were many things I was not prepared for. There was nothing really wrong with the product, but I don't think it is for me.

 

Carnival really brings the fun while NCL gives you a bunch of bells and whistles and leaves it up to you to make your own fun. I also did not like having to make reservations to see a show and by not doing so missed out on many things I wanted to do. I realize this is a large ship problem and expect Carnival to have the same shortcomings when they start building ships that large.

 

I found the food to be terrible and sorta alienated most of my reading audience when I described my meal at the up charge Italian place "the worst meal I've ever eaten on a cruise". A pretty bold statement and I used some pretty colorful negative descriptions, but I meant every word of it. It was absolutely horrid. The meal was free because I had a dining plan, but a la cart for two would have been $64.

 

 

Before that I cruised the Vista - review can be found here. I was also less than impressed with that cruise. Carnival did a lot of things wrong with that ship that I hope they can correct with future builds. The things that stuck out the most was how absolutely miserable all the crew seemed to be. With the exception of the entertainment team, and one lady working at guest services, I did not encounter a single happy face all week. In fact most seemed genuinely bothered that I was there. It was like the entire crew had burnout and was not what I was used to from Carnival.

 

But the lackluster cruise on Vista was not why I ventured out to NCL. No, that was thanks to the Carnival Player's Club - the corporate face of the on board casino. I have been spoiled with really great casino offers for free or very heavily reduced cruises early on. Since late 2016 though, the offers have gotten harder and harder to come by. They are cutting back on offers to everyone, not just me. They have made the business decision to stop providing the level of comps they used to and do not care if they lose our business as a result. Their bookings are strong and there are new gamblers to replace us everyday.

 

Other cruise lines are not following Carnival's lead, almost every major cruise line is expanding their casino comp programs. The problem is why pay full price on another cruise line when even the crappy premier offers are worth something. That was why finding urcomped.com was a godsend. I signed up, took a screen shot of my Carnival offers as well as a picture of my Sail&Sign card and the offers started rolling in. I took them up on an offer for a comped NCL cruise. There is a $20 daily "admin" fee that NCL charges which is a little annoying, but still a much much better deal than anything I have gotten from Carnival lately.

 

But, as I found out the grass is not always greener on the other side. NCL expects a $2500 loss to comp another cruise. I can say with certainty that I have never lost anywhere near that amount on a single Carnival cruise. I am also embarrassed to report that NCL has comped me another cruise.

 

As for Urcomped, well I reached out to them to see what else they could offer me as my offers were not updating. I did not get a response. I emailed them again and still no response. Since then I have gotten new offers for discounted sailings on Royal. At this point I am content enough with Carnival to not accept anything but free to sail on another line. I am not saying that won't change at some point though. The thing that really humbled me was that with losses that doubled what I reported my average bankroll to be (which was already a bit of a stretch of the truth) Urcomped would not respond to me with even a courtesy "at this time all you qualify for blah blah blah" form letter.

 

Higher rollers than me are having much better luck with both offers from NCL and Urcomped, but for me I have tested the waters and realize Carnival is what I prefer.

 

So with the two previous cruises being less than perfect, I had a lot of hopes for this trip on the Magic. I am happy to report that despite a bit of a rough start, this ended up being a fantastic cruise for me. My mom not so much. She is unfortunately one of those people who are perpetually unhappy and simply zero in on any negative or perceived negative and allow it to define their trip. It's a shame because I would like her to enjoy her retirement, whether it be cruising or whatever she chooses to do. There will be some negatives, most minor, that I will highlight along the way but all in all this was one of my best trips to date!

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Day 1: Embarcation

 

The day was finally here - embarkation day. I was very excited for this cruise and really missing Carnival. On my trip on the Epic I was excited to try something different. I had done 12 cruises in a row with Carnival and it had just become too routine for me. That excitement quickly changed to missing the familiarity I had grown accustomed to. That was no doubt part of the reason I did not enjoy NCL even if that is not a very good reason. But now what had become routine was something I was definitely missing and I was very excited that today I would be walking onto a Carnival ship again.

 

I used Country Inn & Suits for parking and shuttle services. I have used them each time I have sailed from Port Canaveral and have had a great experience with them all but one time (they were a man short with 5 ships in port) and highly recommend them to anyone needing a place to park for their cruise.

 

Check-in and boarding was again also a breeze and we headed upstairs to the designated waiting area for platinum and diamond guests. There is also a seperate waiting area for FTTF so that they can call P&D before them while still giving FTTF priority over the zones. We walked up at the exact second they started calling to board Platinum - great timing. I didn't look at a clock, but judging by the time on my first pictures, I would say I boarded around 11:05 to a nearly empty ship.

 

I was greeted by this on the doors outside the room hallway.

 

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The wording is certainly confusing to people who don't follow these boards or JH's page. It used to indicate that Platinum, Diamond, and FTTF guests could come on in. Now it does not which would seem to indicate that our rooms are no longer ready early. I knew that was not the case so I went in anyway. I did not have my room key in the mailbox but the door was propped open.

 

My room was not quite ready, there were a few things out of place and the previous guest's gold pin laying on the floor. My mom who is red now has her first gold pin. While watching the information channel later in the week I saw that my room was to be ready at 11:45 which I do believe it was so all was forgiven that my room was not ready and I feel bad now that I barged in before I was supposed to. I did not mean to be one of those people.

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We set our bags down and headed off in search of food. Knowing that the Guy's barbeque was open today and that I would never find the lines as short as now, that was where we headed for lunch.

 

More guests coming on board. This was at 11:13.

 

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No line yet at Guy's BBQ.

 

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We made our plates and headed inside to eat. The storm door was a bit of a challenge to open one handed and the weight of it closing pushed my mom a little bit causing her BBQ sauce to slide off her plate and onto the floor. We alerted a crew member to the spill and he picked the cup up but left the sauce. Nobody ever did come back for the sauce and eventually it just got ground into the floor leaving a sauce/dirt stain in the floor. I am not sure how this oversight happened but I thought surely it would be cleaned by the overnight cleaning crew. It was still there the next morning, in fact it was not cleaned until day 5.

 

This was a bit alarming given Carnival's recent record of failing their inspections and it made me a little worried about what was going on that I couldn't see. I remember a time when every time you turned around there was crew doing deep cleaning all around the ship and that was just not the case here. It was only on day 5 I noticed all the deep cleaning, which was when it was cleaned. This was one of those things my mom allowed to define her trip. I was mildly concerned, but did not let it effect my enjoyment of the cruise.

 

My lunch.

 

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I enjoyed everything I ate especially the sausage which I went back for more of. This was a step up from the BBQ served on the Conquest class ships but it will still not live up to your expectations if you are expecting BBQ like you get back home. This is a cruise ship catering to 4000 people. Not your backyard catering to one distinct style of BBQ. I thought for a cruise ship, this was damn good BBQ!

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Next we headed up to Lido for some dessert. I am in the minority who actually enjoys Carnival's lido desserts. I was not aware beforehand, but the Magic now has the new desserts like were showcased on the Horizon!

 

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These cakes were fabulous all week. There was one or two that were a bit dry and I did not care for the German chocolate cake, but overall these were a HUGE improvement over what they had before. The best of the week was the peanut butter cake I got on the last day. Make sure you try that one. Carnival must be getting a very good deal on these or somewhere the bean counters are crying over these cakes because they are very good quality. I hope this gets rolled out fleet wide and quick :).

 

After lunch it was back to the room which was now ready. When I booked, I booked the cheapest room on Deck 1. I was offered an upgrade to a spa room for $70 total. Sold!

 

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The spa was having a tour at 12:30. I don't usually pay attention to these tours as I have no interest in the spa, but since I had the spa room I figured I would check it out so I knew what I had available to me. They ended up using my mom as a "model" and whisked her away. It was past 12:30 and no mention of a tour starting and they said she would be back in a couple hours. So no tour for me I wasn't going to sit and wait on her, apparently there was some tour offered at some point but I missed it by not waiting. It's ok, it was pretty easy to tour on my own later.

 

I spent the rest of the afternoon walking around the ship and the casino to stake out which machines interested me.

 

Muster drill this afternoon was pretty painless. Muster is held inside on the Magic and my station was in the theater.

 

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After muster I waited a few minutes for the crowds to thin out and then I headed up to the observation deck all the way forward on Deck 11 to watch sail away. It was not even 4 yet but we had already set sail so I missed pictures of the Sunshine.

 

We had just passed the Disney Fantasy.

 

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Sail away.

 

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Ummmm, I am pretty sure this guy is not in a designated smoking area.

 

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Sunshine still in port.

 

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The weather was not ideal. It was raining pretty hard every day in Florida but today it was just a slight drizzle. Not enough to keep me inside for sail away but enough that they moved the sail away party into the atrium. It was still going on when I made my way to the premier cocktail party.

 

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Cookie was our CD.

 

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Cookie seems to be a favorite by people here and on the cruise with me. But I was not feeling it. He is very funny and great at shows. But it kinda stops there. I found his routine a bit annoying after a couple days most likely because he was CONSTANTLY making announcements. He was also not visible after a certain time at night while most Carnival CD's seem to go nonstop from AM to late at night. He was overall good, just not on the same level of the really great CD's that many seem to compare him to.

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At 5 was the premier cocktail party for the premier guests. This is always a nice little gathering with some music, some snacks, and free drinks.

 

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It felt a little rushed because the casino was already open since we pushed off so early. There was a lot of money in this room that could already be donated :). More likely, they just needed to be in the casino since it was open for business versus all being at this gathering.

 

After the party we went back to the room to chill out for a bit. NCL's TV selection was pretty bad and I vowed to not complain about Carnival removing network stations. So I won't.

 

I will complain however that the remaining decent channels apparently do not use the same programming that those in the states receive. For example, TBS which was my one hope for decent shows played random off the wall shows that I had never heard of with the occasional decent show thrown in. I don't watch TV at home and I don't use internet on my cruise, so although TV is not important to most on vacation, it is something I enjoy. Or that I used to enjoy.

 

They also used to have a couple free movies, those are also gone. I think next time I will break down and buy one movie a day. At $4.95 I will still be spending less than the daily rate for the social internet plan so I think I can justify the expense to myself. But two thumbs way down here, this was actually a little worse than NCL's TV selection.

 

I made the best that I could of the TV selection until it was time for the Welcome Aboard show. CD Cookie was pretty funny and I enjoyed his shows throughout the week. Then the Playlist performers took the stage. Oh boy. There was not a single one in the bunch who could sing. Seriously, these guys were hard to listen to.

 

Next we joined Cookie in the Magic lobby for Rock The Promenade.

 

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I was surprised my mom suggested this. Loud music is not her thing. But there were drawings. When she found out they were giving out free drinks she abandoned the idea and we strolled the shops some before heading to dinner.

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I had the fried calamari and the chilled Vietnamese roll.

 

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The calamari were pretty good. The roll, which is usually a favorite of mine, tasted a bit off tonight.

 

For my main I had the vegetable lasagna.

 

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We both ordered this as this is one of our favorite dishes and we both agreed, this was not very good tonight. I am starting to feel a bit concerned of a bad food week again just like on the Epic.

 

Dessert menu.

 

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I ordered the tiramisu.

 

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This was very good still. I do miss the nutella tiramisu they used to have on the first night though.

 

Overall the food tonight fell a little bit flat. Service was good bordering on rushed as they were getting ready to close for the evening.

 

After dinner my mom went back to the room for the evening while I headed to the casino. My trip on NCL really put a strain on my gambling budget so I had set a pretty strict limit on myself for this trip, with the hopes to come in way under budget. Lets just say I ran through my first day's budget in literally a matter of minutes. Oh boy, its gonna be one of those weeks again.

 

After blowing my budget in near record time, I also turned in for the night.

 

Up next, I will take you on a photo tour of the Carnival Magic.

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Even though my visit is a long way out, looking forward to your thoughts on the Magic.

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Even though my visit is a long way out, looking forward to your thoughts on the Magic.

 

2020? Holy cow that must be torture! Hope my review can help ease that pain :p

 

Following along

 

 

Sent from my iPad using Forums

 

Thanks for following. More soon.

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Enjoying your review! Interesting comments on NCL. I follow a lot of the NCL reviews and noticed there are some people that will defend them to the ridiculous. Since we started cruising with NCL about 15 years ago and then switched to Carnival, I do think about trying them again. But, then again, I do enjoy my Carnival cruises.

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If this was a Premier cruise for you can you share more thoughts, pictures, information, etc. on that part too please. We sail on our first Premier in Sept and are looking forward to seeing what its all about.

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Enjoying this review so much....especially the pics! Thanks for posting. I am on the July 7th sailing.

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Following along. We sail on the Magic in August and also have the Eastern itinerary. Thanks for posting the menus too!

 

You're welcome. I will have all the menus except one night :)

 

Thanks for starting.

 

Thanks for reading along.

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Great review so far. It's making me even more excited - 24 days to go!

 

Almost time now! I leave for my next cruise the day after you :D I love living in Florida!

 

Enjoying your review! Interesting comments on NCL. I follow a lot of the NCL reviews and noticed there are some people that will defend them to the ridiculous. Since we started cruising with NCL about 15 years ago and then switched to Carnival, I do think about trying them again. But, then again, I do enjoy my Carnival cruises.

 

I think Carnival has a much better product and is a much much better value. NCL's approach to dining and upcharges is clearly working for them, nobody batted an eye over there at $64 for two on NCL vs. $30 for two on Carnival.

 

In fact, one suggested they would not eat somewhere that charged prices as low as Carnival. The concept of a lower cost since a meal was already included in the fare is not part of the culture on NCL. They gladly fork over inflated prices and NCL smiles all the way to the bank. Just my opinion of course.

 

I kinda get it, nobody wants to hear criticism from the new guy writing his first NCL review. But yea, they had trouble taking my opinion for what its worth, only my opinion not a statement of fact. I did not get that same resistance with a less than enthusiastic review of the Vista. So I think you are onto something about the defending going a little to far on the NCL board. Also just my opinion :)

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