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Family Cruise on the Carnival Magic Review (8 Day Southern)

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On 8/27/2019 at 2:44 PM, dctravel said:

It was about 3:30, although many people started heading down a little earlier because they kept making announcements that it was coming. They scan you in electronically now, so that process was quite fast! Being inside is so much better than standing in the hot sun on deck :).

Thank You glad to hear it's indoors now. That standing outside crammed against the wall was getting old and waiting while they chased down a few guest who might be in the wrong area. Time frame works for sail await as well.

Thanks Matt

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10 hours ago, phoneman69 said:

Thank You glad to hear it's indoors now. That standing outside crammed against the wall was getting old and waiting while they chased down a few guest who might be in the wrong area. Time frame works for sail await as well.

Thanks Matt

It depends on the ship. The Dream class ships were all built for in door muster. Older ships may still be doing outdoor. 

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Nice start to your review.  I do like the cheers package because I can always get a bottle of water without having to pay a ridiculous price for 1.  I like your idea about water on HMC, at least have water stations.

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Thanks for bearing with me! Work has been busier than expected for the end of August and I ended up at all day meetings Thursday and Friday. Learned a lot, but haven't been able to write about the cruise any further!


So, I left off with our day at Half Moon Cay. I was right that the Playlist show that night was 88 Keys. The current cast is quite talented, and the lead male did a good job with all of those piano songs. They also had the guy from the piano bar on stage at the end, so that was fun.


On Monday, we went to Grand Turk. We had been there before on the Magic and had just gone to the pool and beach at Margaritaville. That was okay, but we were looking for something more active after the beach day at Half Moon Cay. Since the kids like snorkeling, we did the two reefs and beach break through Carnival. We choose this one (over snorkeling tours in Aruba or Curacao) because of the reviews and there were other things we wanted to do on those islands. We originally bought tickets (in advance) for the 1 pm tour, but had letters in our cabin the day before that it had been cancelled for low enrollment and that we had been moved to the morning tour (9:30, I think). This ended up being a good thing, as we were able to enjoy the afternoon and not rush back to the ship. We met in the theater at 8:45 and then we were off the ship and meeting up with the tour company. 


The trip was very good. We first went to the "drop off," where the reef drops away from the island. The staff had food for the fish, so they were swimming about (mostly yellow tail snapper). The staff pushed for all kids and less strong swimmers to use pool noodles in addition to the life vests, but my kids are strong swimmers and did not find the swimming hard. Our second stop was a short distance away and a closer in reef. There was supposed to a be an eel on this reef, but we never saw it. We did see some amazing coral and fish, though. Once we were done, they took us to their beach and bar (between Margaitaville and Jack's Shack) and dropped us off right on the beach. We enjoyed their beach chairs, the water, fries from the bar (extra cost, but minimal), and some frosty beverages. It was a good day. The only negative was how croweded it was in the water. Since the guides tried to keep the group together AND they were feeding the fish, it got crowded in the water from time to time. I still found it enjoyable.


After we were done at the beach (about 2:30, we walked through the shops and got back on the ship). Back on board was 5:30, but we needed a break from the sun! After a rest and dinner, we went to Hasbro, the Game Show. This is a family favorite, and my son got lucky enough to be selected as the child for Simon Flash. Unfortunately, his team was awful at getting in the right order (and the other team ended up not having to move for the last round) and he didn't get to go to the final "money" game. He did win a cool scrabble card game that was a lot of fun to play. Someone who lost in the first round also was kind enough to give him their mini-Jenga game. That was also fun to play.


After Hasbro, he hung out at the Red Frog playing our new games until about 10:30, when everyone was yawning and it was time for bed. Ayana in the Red Frog kept coming by and taking our drink order as necessary. She also liked watching the kids play the games, as they were being silly with some of the Scrabble words they were trying to use (basically making stuff up!). With a sea day the next day, we were not in a rush to go anywhere!

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On 8/26/2019 at 11:45 AM, dctravel said:

They offer a shuttle to the cruise port, but we rented a car from Alamo instead. We picked it up at the airport and dropped off at the Eller Drive facility the morning of the cruise. We got a little lost finding the drop of point, but after a course correction, we found the process to be easy and simple.


Hi! I rented a car in Fort Lauderdale in June and returned it to the Alamo on Eller. Did you drive around the building and drive into where they are cleaning the cars? They looked at me like I was crazy, but I was just following the signs. Someone from inside did come out to walk me into the building. I asked if I had done the right thing, because I would be coming back this September with another car rental. They said it varies on how busy they are... as if that was a help to me! 

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On 8/26/2019 at 11:45 AM, dctravel said:

The day after a cruise is always the hardest. I woke up this morning with nobody to greet me but my alarm clock :(. To make myself feel better, I thought I would start a review of our just completed 8 day Southern Caribbean adventure on the Carnival Magic. I like to do these reviews for a few reasons. First, it lets me put down (in writing) our memories, which I then will print and stick in our photobook. Second, I love reading other people's reviews and I hope that I can add something the CC community by providing my thoughts and recollections. You can have a look at my other review linked in my signature below.


To start, we traveled as a party of 5. My wife, my son (B; age 8), my daughter (L; age 11), and my mother-in-law. We had two cabins on the Lido deck. Not next to each other, but just a few doors apart. We divided into a girls room and a boys room (for cost reasons). We love staying on Lido as it give us direct access to so many events and is not far from the water slides and the mini-golf, two of my kids favorite activities on board. This was our second time on the Magic for my wife, the kids, and I. It was also the first time on Carnival for my MIL. She has been a Princess/RCCL cruiser in the past. We flew down on Friday evening from Baltimore and stayed in Dania Beach at the Home2Suites. It was prefect for our needs, with extra space, free breakfast, and free parking. They offer a shuttle to the cruise port, but we rented a car from Alamo instead. We picked it up at the airport and dropped off at the Eller Drive facility the morning of the cruise. We got a little lost finding the drop of point, but after a course correction, we found the process to be easy and simple. It also gave us flexibility to explore on Friday, which included the Disney Character Warehouse at Sawgrass, dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, and ice cream at Jaxsons!


I paid for FTTF for both rooms (booked about 2 months apart, as after I got it for the first room, it was sold out again). We arrived at Alamo about 10 am, dropped the car and got right on a shuttle. The Celebrity Equinox was also in port with us and we shared the shuttle with a family going on that ship. We were the first drop off and we were through the line and on the ship quickly, with only about a 5 minute wait in the waiting area before groups were boarded. I love FTTF because you get immediate access to your cabin, so we dropped off our stuff and started exploring an old friend.


More in a bit, as I have to run to a meeting!



What cabin did you have on the Lido, do you have pictures?

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2 hours ago, crazycruzer68 said:

What cabin did you have on the Lido, do you have pictures?

We were in 10254. It was a good room besides hearing the noise from the crew entrance. It didn’t effect my sleep that much, but I did here it most nights. 


I just checked, and I did not take any pictures. It is a standard inside room for 2 people. We had the beds split since I was staying with my son, which I thought gave us extra floor space. It was more than fine for the two of us!

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9 hours ago, 120Wabash said:

Can you tell me what the other shows were in the main theater?  We were on Magic in 2017, and wanted to plan another in 2020.  Wanted to avoid seeing the same shows.

The main theater shows were 88 Keys, Country Road, Flick, and America Rocks. These were the same shows that we saw on the Magic in 2016. We skipped Country Road because we did not enjoy that as much in 2016 and the kids wanted to go to the PG comedy show. The others, we watched again and enjoyed. America Rocks was the highest energy. It was well done. They also had Hasbro, The Game Show one night (Grand Turk) and a juggler/comedian the night we were in Aruba. He was excellent.

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Ah, our first sea day after two ports in a row. This was our day to relax and hang out. We did a a mixture of activities for the kids and, when my son got bored, he went to the kids club for a couple of hours. My son and I were up on the early side and went for a "first breakfast" on the lido deck before we met the girls for sea day brunch. We got to Lido about 7:30, and it was busy, but not crowded. We were able to find a table, and ample coffee for dad, without a problem. The Lido buffet for breakfast is good. It has a wide variety of both hot and cold food that can meet anyone's needs. My son and I had cereal for our first breakfast, but we could have had a lot more.


After my daughter met us (and she ate her Lido breakfast favorite, a chocolate muffin), we played a round of mini-golf and then met mom and grammy for sea day brunch. As I mentioned, we ate in the dining room each morning. I like the non-brunch menu better, but we still had many choices. My son got his standard (sea day brunch or not) of dry wheat toast, berries and turkey bacon. My daughter rotated all week between waffles and french toast, and my wife and MIL got a variety of egg dishes. After trying eggs the first day, I stuck with my personal favorite the rest of the trip, bagel with cream cheese and lox. All of the dishes were good, except for the scrambled eggs. Those tasted like they were made in large batches, rather than to order.


After brunch, we did a variety of activities starting with Make it With Michaels (made pennants for the cabin door), saw the Dr. Seuss Parade while we were in Ocean Plaza (picture below), did the power hour at the arcade (1/2 price games!), all before lunch. We did lunch on the Lido deck, with everyone getting a variety of stuff. The kids had burritos from Blue Iguana, my MIL and wife had tacos, and I wanted the pasta bar. It had a really lone line, however, so I ended up with salad and rigatoni from the buffet. It was only okay. I should have gotten a burrito too!


After lunch, my son was BORED (how does that happen on a cruise ship), so he agreed to go to the kids club because they were going to do arts and crafts and then games with balls. We dropped him off at about 1:30, and then my wife and I rotated in the gym. She started while my daughter and I found a quite spot in the main lobby to play cards and then we switched before I picked my son up at 3, as we wanted to play giant trivial pursuit in Ocean Plaza at 3:15. He had an okay time (his words) doing the arts and crafts and then playing video games with some other kids. It was unclear if the ball games every happened. 


Trivial Pursuit was a ton of fun. We didn't win, but we held our own, only getting a few questions wrong. Once that was over, it was time to rest and get ready for dinner (remember, we had early seating). After getting cleaned up, we took a few pictures on our walk to dinner. After dinner, we skipped Country Road in the main theater (we saw it in 2017, but are not big country music fans) because they kids wanted to go to the PG comedian. We got there a little late and had to sit on the side, but he was pretty funny. Baby Jayne did a good job introducing him and is probably great with the adults before the R rated shows. After the show, we hung out for a little while in Red Frog and then went to bed. Aruba tomorrow and our visit to a resort for the day!




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Hello Aruba! After a fun sea day, we were back on land. Based on our past experiences, we knew that the kids wanted a pool day, so we chose to go to a resort for a day in Aruba. We were in Aruba from 10:15 to 11:00 pm. This allowed us to have leisurely breakfast in the main dining room before heading ashore. We were lucky that our table was near a window facing out to sea, so we were able to see the reef and other sites on our way in. 


We bought resort passes from resortforaday dot com to the RIU Palace hotel. It was not cheap ($130 per adult and $65 per child), but it was all inclusive and a wonderful facility. We were able to quickly get a cab to the hotel ($16 total) and checked in with the front desk. We then used the facilities all day (they even included towels). The pool was great. It had a swim up bar and they had staff playing games with the kids and leading water aerobics among other activities. The beach was beautiful, with very few waves. The buffet was pretty good with a ton of choices and the drinks were flowing. We were treated like any other guests!


At about 3:30, the kids started to wear out, so we cleaned up and headed back to the port. The cab back was $15. My MIL then got back on the ship while we took the kids shopping on the main street (my son collects rock turtles from each island, so we were on a quest!). Once shopping was done, we got back on the ship and got cleaned up for dinner. Dinner in the Southern Lights was open seating tonight, but we had arranged with the Maitre D's to have the same wait staff as usual because of our allergies. They were holding a table for us (we had told them approximately what time we would be there) and we had a great dinner!


After dinner, we decided we were just going to stay on the ship, as everyone was tired. We watched a juggler in the main theater (Manny Zuniga, he was really talented and funny) before visiting the Red Frog Pub for a little fooseball before heading to bed. 


On to Curacao tomorrow!

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And I'm back to talk about Curacao. It was probably my favorite island of the trip, mostly because it is so different culturally from the other islands I have been to, which were all influenced by the British or the Spanish. Curacao is distinctly Dutch.


We arrived quite early (off the ship was 8:15) and we had 9:30 tickets for the Atlantis Submarine Adventure. So, we got up, had breakfast in the dining room, and then headed off the trip. We met our tour group on the pier and were put in taxi's to what used to be the Hilton Curacao to get on the submarine. It wasn't a long taxi ride, but for some reason I thought that the "submarine" left from closer to the ship. No biggie!


The submarine dropped off a first wave of passengers and we got on pretty promply after arriving at the hotel. We started by sitting upstairs outside and then then had us go downstairs to look through the windows at the reef. We saw a lot of fish and coral throughout the trip. At one point, the tour guide went into the water to feed the fish and get them to come closer to the boat. Overall, it was a good time. Although, if you are prone to sea sickness, this might not be the tour for you. We were swaying side to side for much of the trip, and being below water, you really felt the movement. At the end of the day, I am glad we did it, but I don't need to do it again. The kids, however, had a blast!


After the tour, we were put back into cabs and dropped off at the port. We got stuck in a bit of traffic on the way back because of a broken down car, but we thankfully were able to back up and go around the issue. After we got back to the ship, my MIL decided to get back on board after shopping a little bit, while we walked through the Renaissance Hotel's shopping area (which is right near the ship), and then over the pontoon bridge into the historic part of Willemstad. I really enjoyed the architecture we saw on the way, and thought the shopping deals were pretty good. My wife bought a really pretty necklace at one shop, and we got t-shirts, a rock turtle for my son, and Delft mugs (which were on sale 2 for $5). We had lunch at the Iguana Cafe on the water (free wifi). The burgers were good and hit the spot (as was the local beer) before heading back to the ship. Back on board time was 3:30, and we were back on board probably about 2:15. 


After we got back, we went up to the water slides before dinner before watching Flick in the theater and then hanging out in the Red Frog Pub. Overall, it was a great day!

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I think I have two more posts in my review, and I am still happy to answer questions if you have any! I will do the last two sea days here, and then talk about disembarkation in my last post.


I want to combine the last two sea days in part because they blend together in my mind. We got so relaxed that it is hard to remember exactly what activities we did which days. Instead of a narrative here, I am going to list the things we did and how we felt about them. They included:


America Rocks - This is highest energy show in the main theater. The playlist staff told us in the Q&A session on the last sea day that they like it the best. The energy they bring to it validates that point. It really looks like they are having fun.


PG Comedy - Saw PG comedy on the second to last sea day. The kids really enjoyed it, but not enough to want to go again the second to last sea day. Overall, we did the comedy club 3 times. First time I have done that in years!


Simon's Q&A - This was on the last sea day. Simon was joined by two members of the playlist cast. I made the kids go, and they thought it was great. There were a lot of good questions about life on board and the process for becoming a performer.


Kids Club - We made the kids go to the kids club on the first of the two sea days. My son thought it was okay (after having fun the first sea day). My daughter hated it. This was partially my fault, as when I signed her up for the kids club way back in May when online check-in opened, I apparently did not give her permission to sign her self in and out of the club. The club did a scavenger hunt that day, and she was not allowed to participate. 


Hasbro Games in Ocean Plaza - We played several games, including Carnival Tower (giant Jenga), trivial pursuit, and Yatzee. All were fun and pretty well run. My daughter got a ship on a medal for being on a winning Carnival Tower team.


Shipwide Scavenger Hunt - On the last sea day, there was a shipwide scavenger hunt. We all participated, snapping pictures of all kinds of prompts around the ship (man unrelated to you in a bathrobe, man proposing to a women, etc...). For those that were not as obvious, we just asked random strangers to help us. It was actually a lot of fun. We ended up tying for first and won a ship on a stick (or as Simon called them, a "Dingy on a Thingy"). 


Pixels Photos - We waited until the last sea day to buy pictures. This might have been a mistake because of how busy it was, but oh well. All week, the kids had been taking goofy pictures each evening (surfing on the surfboard background, dressed as pirates), so we bought some of those in addition to the embarkation photo, some more formal shots, and pictures with the towel elephant and Mr. Potato Head. Pixels is now sorta digital. You can look at all of your pictures on ipads on deck 4, but they still print out a TON of them without prompting. This is such a waste of paper. I wish they would go fully digital. We ended up buying a package that gave you 5 digital pictures for about $87 (we actually bought two of these). This was by far our most expensive purchase of the cruise.


Shops and Duty Free - We bought 2 for $20 tshirts for the kids and I got a bottle scotch in the on-board duty free (which was a great deal, better than I paid for the same thing in London a few years ago).


I am sure I am forgetting something, but I cannot think of what it is!

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I am just going to write up debarkation now, since I have a few minutes. I hate the end of cruises. The fact that this one was 8 days just meant I got more relaxed and it was harder to go. In fact, my son cried the last night because he didn't want to go home! I can't blame him.


The last evening, Ketut (our cabin steward) delivered the bottle of scotch I bought and gave us our luggage tags. Since we had FTTF, we were in group 2. We did not self-disembark, as we had too much luggage! We used these tags, but could have gotten higher numbers from the tag rack that was placed in ocean plaza on the last sea day. Being in group 2 meant we could get off early, but we didn't want to. Instead, we decided to be leisurely, since our flight home wasn't until 1:45.


You have to be out of your cabin by 8:30, but announcements of self-disembarkation started at about 6:45. That is by far the earliest that I have ever heard. Needless to say, the announcements woke us up, but we didn't leave the cabins until about 8 am, when we headed straight for the dining room (Southern Lights). We say for the last time with Joseph and Ronnie and had a slow meal. Once we were done, we decided to head to Red Frog for a few last games of Foosball and shuffleboard. We also watched trucks deliver pallets of food for the next cruise from the Promenade on Deck 5. I am always fascinated by how much food it on-boarded!


Finally, at about 9:45, we decided to get off the ship. We were of pretty quickly and into the terminal to collect our luggage. The line for customs and immigration was LONG, but moved quickly and before we knew it we were outside in the hot Florida sun. After making a stop in the shade to move around some stuff (including putting the bottle of duty free liquor in a checked bag), we walked over to the taxi stand to find a minivan cab. A sheriff's deputy helped us find the right spot, and we were in the airport around 11 am. 


The Southwest terminal at FLL is much improved with a few more dining choices. We had burgers in the new section (paled in comparison to Guys!) and they boarded us early to try and beat a storm coming through. It was a decent end to an excellent vacation (minus the fact that one of our suitcases got eaten by some of Southwest's machinery. It looked like something had tried to take a bit out of it. We complained and immediately got a $175 SW voucher).


In fact, this is probably the best cruise I have taken yet. It makes me (and the kids who are already lobbying for another one) want to get back on board sooner or later!


END NOTE: Since we got home I have emailed Carnival, filled out the online survey emailed to me, and posted to John Heald's wall to praise the dining room staff and the chef. I just wish there was some way to make sure they get acknowledged!

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3 hours ago, mommio said:

Enjoyed reading this.  Aruba and Curacao are new ports to us, so it's fun to see what others thought of them.

They were new to us to, and the primary reason why we booked a second time on the Magic as compared to one of the other ships. Now that I have been down there, I want to check out Bonaire! 

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