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Marauder40

Carnival Magic Review, August 11 - 17, 2019

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Amber Cove & Big 3 Excursion

 

While preparing for the cruise we decided that we would save our actual paid excursion for Amber Cove.  We weren't real excited to just hang out by a big pool for the day and one of my kids was to young for the zip line at the port so we figured we do beach days at the other two ports and do an excursion at Amber Cove.  We had a tough time deciding between the zip line adventures and the water fall adventure.  When we opened the choice up to the kids they picked the zip-line adventure.

 

There were 3 different zip-line adventures and we researched all of them.  It turned out that the "zip-line over the ocean" and the "Big 3: Zip-line with ropes course" were the same exact zip-lines, so that narrowed it down to 2 different adventures.  One had more zip-lines but you mainly saw tree tops and a river.  We waited until the week before the trip to book the adventure and the "zip-line over the ocean" sold out, so we signed up tor the Big 3 adventure.  The main difference between the two is that Big 3 adds in the ropes course.  The 3rd thing in the big 3 is just the ride to the location that ALL the different adventures at this location offers.  It turns out that there are 4 different excursions to the same exact area.  One excursion is just a beach excursion that includes just going to the beach with lunch.  The second option is doing the beach and getting all-inclusive drinks and lunch.  The third option is beach with zip lines and lunch.  The fourth option is beach with zip-lines, ropes course, and lunch.  The 2nd option is the only one that included the alcohol but you could buy it there.

 

We purposely went with a Carnival booked adventure for two reasons.  The first was that this was our first cruise and second because the location of the excursion was so far from the port, didn't want to get stuck.

 

That day we woke up to us pulling into Amber Cove.  We were supposed to dock around 8:00 a.m. and we had to be at our excursion meetup location by 8:30 a.m.

 

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We quickly went to the MDR for breakfast while we were docking, went back to our room, put on our swim suits, shoes, etc. and as soon as the opened up the gangways, we made our way to the pier.  After the long walk on the pier we found the meetup location for the excursion.  It was the same exact meetup location for all four of the different excursions to Coconut Cove.  My wife was all of a sudden concerned because she heard that part of our "Big 3" excursion included a wild ride to the resort.  I had to explain to her that it was the same exact ride that all 3 of the excursions had to the beach.  At the meetup location they gave us colored wristbands that were different from the other 3 groups.  After awhile waiting for everyone to show up they took us to our vehicles.

 

The vehicles were open cabs, my wife's concern about being on a wilder ride then the other excursions was lowered when a couple people from one of the other 3 excursions was placed in the same exact vehicle as us.

 

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Our guide got in and they informed everyone that we had a 45 minute ride ahead of us.  Some people must not research things because some of them were surprised.  They offered everyone bottles of water and we head off.  We quickly made our way through the streets of Puerto Plata and then turned off on a rocky, dirty road for the rest of the trip.  I highly advise making sure you wear sun glasses and bring along a bandanna for the dust.  We had bandannas based on other reviews but didn't need them, but you could tell anyone that wasn't wearing glasses of any type were having issues with the dust.  Even though the Big 3 write-up talks about a guided tour showing the life of the DR, the guide barely spoke.  On the way back he showed us a closed school and we stopped at a couple picture spots, but that was about it.

 

After 45 minutes you make it to their compound/beach area.  They first walk you through their gift shop.  Make sure you wear shorts that come down to your knees and closed-toe shoes if doing the zip-line adventure.  If you don't they will offer to sell you some at their gift shop.  You then need to rent a locker for $5.  ALL your items go into your locker. They let you use the bathroom and change then they put your helmets and harnesses on.  They then give you the safety talk and explain how to zip-line.  They explain that every person has two devices, one stays connected to lines the entire time you are on the zip-lining and ropes courses (except when on land,) the other is only connected when you are zip-lining.   They give suggestions on the best way to zip-line and things like that.

 

They then take you up steps directly to the first zip-line.  Just note that the first tower can be nerve raking for people with height issues.  Not only is it high, but the tower shakes as people climb it.  I did take a few pictures from the beach when we were done, but I couldn't bring by camera with me.  After zip-lining on a couple lines, you come to an island.  On the island you disconnect from the safety lines and those people that have the ropes course wristband are directed to the ropes course.  The ones with just the zip-line wrist-band are directed to the next line.

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The ropes course is in the distance.

 

There are two separate ropes courses a higher one for people 15 and over and a lower one for 14 and under.  My son was upset when he found out he couldn't do the same exact course as everyone else. Even if he wanted to, he wouldn't have been able to, many of the obstacles were set up for people much taller then him.  The course is much more tiring and had a lot more elements then the one on the ship.  My wife was exhausted and dehydrated by the end of the ropes course.  My daughter loved it, she even bragged when she caught up to me (of course I kept stopping to watch all 3 of them.)

 

My son complained that the lower course was "way to easy."  That course is designed for people 8 - 14, so it had to be easier.  After the course you walk up to the next zip-line and this is the big one that they advertise as the zip-line over the ocean.  It was a nice long zip-line and you go fast enough that they have to send a break into your zip-line to slow you down.IMG_1194.jpg.b7d9d8097e05befed5d402150db86732.jpgIMG_1192.jpg.bc5e919b4255494b2de0f6a91d9f14e3.jpg

 

Then one final zip-line and you are at the beach.  The final zip-line actually takes you over the beach itself.  After I got off the course I found out that my son was a little upset  that almost every time he was on a zip-line his light weight didn't carry him to the end of the line so someone had to come to get him off the line.  He was a little embarrassed about that and having to use the lower course, but after he got over that embarrassment he talked about how fun it was.

 

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They then walk you back to your lockers and you can get your stuff and either head to lunch or head to the beach.  Since we finished within 15 minutes of the start of lunch we just waited for lunch.

 

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Lunch was very average, it included a few rice dishes, salads and other things like that.  They also had someone cooking chicken on a grill with two different sauces.  You could also get more bottled water and then a rice pudding dessert.  It was good that we didn't have to pay extra for it, but it was just average. Of course you could also buy mixed drinks or beer.

 

During lunch we had two sets of "entertainment".  The first set was two people from the ship getting into a fight and shouting match with lots of cussing.  The second set was the people from the excursion played some music and had some local dancing.

 

After lunch we went down to the beach and had our choice of chairs and umbrellas.  IMG_1183.jpg.95fd000aba4a5dc206570e4cd2bc2ec4.jpgIMG_1181.jpg.bbeb3e05374b2a91298d1690134ab941.jpg

 

We actually picked some chairs that were under a set of trees.  The had a monkey that you could get a picture with that would climb through the trees.  We went into the water.  The waves were VERY rough, but it was refreshing after the ropes course. The kids did like swimming around in the water.  Between rocks in the water and the rough surf it was hard to stay standing but it was nowhere near as rough as the ocean can get in Maryland.  While on the beach they tried to sell us pictures from the zip-line and they did the soft sell for souvenirs and drinks.

 

Towards the end they did a few official competitions, including a Frisbee competition that my daughter placed second in.  If she had won, she would have loved to tell her friends that she won a bottle of rum (of course she would have to give it to me.)

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Eventually they told everyone that time was up and everyone had to get back in the vehicles to head back to the ship.  One interesting note was that at one point a chicken was crossing the road and someone pointed at it yelling "pollo, pollo, chicken, chicken" while looked at the side of the bus they then said, "Wow, they really made interesting chicken coops for the chicken."  They were pointing at cemetery with above ground internment areas.  She was entirely serious that she thought the graves were chicken coops.  Everyone in the vehicle had a laugh at that.  After the long 45 minute bumpy, dusty, drive back to the port area, we could finally see the ship again.

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After getting out of the vehicle, tipping the guide (he was not only the guide for the ride, he was also one of the zip-lining guides) we decided to look around the port area.  We split up, two of us went shopping, the other two went to the bathrooms and then to the pool area.

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My daughter was able to get her charm bracelet and free charms from Diamonds International and look around for souvenirs.  My son and I headed for the pool.  We got a virgin mixed drink at the pool and then he did the water slides a couple times.  There wasn't a lot of people at the pool, you could tell a lot had been there but they had already made there way back to the ship.  I camped out underneath a chair and umbrella setup that you could tell someone earlier in the day had rented.  Nobody at the port had an issue with us doing that.  After awhile my wife and daughter met up with us and we made our way back to the ship.  We were honestly happy that we hadn't spent the entire day at the port since my son quickly got bored there.

 

Impression of Amber Cove

* Lots of activity based excursions each a certain distance from the port

* Nice pool with zip-line at port (if your kid is old enough for the zip-line)

* Pretty port with shopping

* Not a big fan, honestly if we didn't have an excursion, probably would have gotten bored pretty quickly or just stayed on the ship. Needs an area with free beach access.

* long pier makes it harder for being able to go back to the ship for lunch and/or changing

 

 

Edited by Marauder40

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Really enjoyed your review!  We are on the same itinerary in a few weeks!  We'll also be trying a cove balcony this time around.  We've sailed Magic before but have been in a Lido deck balcony which we loved but found to be super noisy as it was right near the elevators and across from the laundry room where folks congregated later in the week while waiting for their clothes to wash and dry.  

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Thanks for sharing your thoughts. We won't see the Magic until March so I love reading reviews.

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Today's topic will just be a catch-all for all the remaining items that we did on the ship except for Disembarkation and our Ft. Lauderdale excursion.

 

 Hasbro Game Show

On the final sea-day we attended the Hasbro Game Show.  My daughter is REALLY into game shows.  She loves watching any type of game show she can so we went to this.  Just as a warning, make sure you sit in the main theater area, not on the balconies.  The cruise director was the MC for the event and he specifically said that all people selected for the game would only come from the main floor, but could be ANYWHERE on that level and he did go throughout the theater.  He looked for real enthusiastic people to go up on stage, it didn't surprise me that my daughter tried real hard, but what did surprise me was that my son was jumping up and down to get on stage (that is very unusual for him.) 

 

They ran a few different games, a lot less then I thought they would, but they did the large Connect 4.  That ran a lot longer then I think they expected due to people being real bad shots.  

 

When they got to the game Simon Flash they said that they were going to pick one kid and 4 adults.  My teenage daughter was picked as one of the adults.  The reason they wanted larger people was because the box contraption wouldn't fit on a small kid.  The kid was used to lock in the guess when they thought the group had it.

 

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My daughter's group won the first group outright because they were quickest.  The second time they won because the other team locked in the wrong order and the third time it turned out they didn't even have to change positions so they won.  

 

Everyone that was selected for the show received a small Hasbro game.  My daughter placed second in the final round got a small Jenga set.  The winning kid received a bunch of Hasbro games (that would be mailed to him after the cruise.)

 

Comedy

On the first evening we went to the see the comic.  Since we had two kids we had to go to the PG show.  I can't remember the comic's name but he was pretty funny.  Everything was pretty safe in his bit, things like air travel, cruise ship life.  My kids loved it.  Guess it was fine for a PG rated show.

 

Evening Shows

Due to the fact that we had late dining it wasn't always easy to get to the evening shows.  On the night of 88 keys my family went back to the cabin, but I caught the very end of the show.  Not enough to really get an impression.

 

My family as a whole went to see both America Rocks and Flick.  America Rocks is a rock show with a heavily American theme to it.  Flick was a show based on movies with a pre-show that involved Simon pretending to interview "celebrities" from the ship.  Both shows were pretty good.  The lead male singer wasn't to good.  Not sure how he got to be the lead, he is way overboard in his singing.  Think early Adam Lambert style, before he got the additional training from American Idol in method of singing but not as good, all the strength needed for Broadway style singing but without the tonal control in his voice to really pull it off.  Several of the backup male singers were better and the female lead was very good.

 

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My kids preferred Flick to America Rocks because they recognized more songs in Flick then they did in America Rocks.

 

Bars

We did not get the drink package.  I probably would have if you were allowed to get one in a room, but my wife is not a big enough drinker to warrant paying for her to get it.  She is more of a one drink a day person of specialty coffees and maybe taking a sip or two out of my drinks.  We did bring our two bottles of wine on board and I would either drink some in the room, or pour wine into the water glass in the room and take it elsewhere on the ship with me.  I only got maybe three more drinks the entire cruise.  One was on the final sea day because my son REALLY wanted the whale-tale cup, so I forced myself to get the drink of the day while laying out on deck.  The other two times was just while waiting in the atrium for different things to happen.   I had no problems ordering my drinks.  The waiters and bartenders were very friendly.  One of the drinks served in the atrium came with the new paper straws and they were useless. Within two sips, nothing came through the straw and then they started to crumble.

 

Edited by Marauder40

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Thanks for the review. My granddaughter would like to get one of the bracelets/charms from Diamond International. I remember doing this with y daughter back on our first cruise in 2006...but that was on a royal ship. Do you have to go to one of the shopping talks to get a coupon...or can you just walk into the store and ask for them?

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7 hours ago, Marauder40 said:

  We did bring our two bottles of wine on board and I would either drink some in the room, or pour wine into the water glass in the room and take it elsewhere on the ship with me.

 

Just for future reference, if you want a real wineglass, you can order them for free through room service. We took wine on and ordered room services glasses each evening, poured ourselves a glass, and carried it into the dining room. Easiest way to have wine at dinner without waiting for bar service or paying a corkage fee!

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11 minutes ago, richbum said:

Thanks for the review. My granddaughter would like to get one of the bracelets/charms from Diamond International. I remember doing this with y daughter back on our first cruise in 2006...but that was on a royal ship. Do you have to go to one of the shopping talks to get a coupon...or can you just walk into the store and ask for them?

You can just walk into the store, from what I understand. My daughter has one given to her by her grandmother. I cannot imagine my mom sitting through a shopping talk just to get a bracelet. 

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2 minutes ago, dctravel said:

You can just walk into the store, from what I understand. My daughter has one given to her by her grandmother. I cannot imagine my mom sitting through a shopping talk just to get a bracelet. 

Thank you...If I remember right...we had to go to the shopping talk on the other cruise line...

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28 minutes ago, richbum said:

Thanks for the review. My granddaughter would like to get one of the bracelets/charms from Diamond International. I remember doing this with y daughter back on our first cruise in 2006...but that was on a royal ship. Do you have to go to one of the shopping talks to get a coupon...or can you just walk into the store and ask for them?

 

My wife and daughter did go to the shopping talk.  They even bought the book.  They wanted to get as many deals and free things as they could.  I think you don't have to for the bracelet and the charms, but there are additional things you can get for "free" by picking up the coupon book.  They also gave a couple charms for just attending the talk.

Edited by Marauder40

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Disembarkation and Everglades Excursion

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When we originally booked our airline tickets we were supposed to have a 1:00 p.m. departure from Ft. Lauderdale.  A month before the cruise we were told that due to the 737 Max issues we were bumped to a 4:15 flight.  Due to that we had a tough time figuring out what to do on our final day.  We knew that if we got to the airport to early they wouldn't even accept our bags and we knew we couldn't delay getting off the ship that long.  

 

We found the Everglades experience through Carnival and decided to try that.  They take you to a location in the Everglades for a swamp boat ride and alligator show.  They also hold your luggage in the bus, so you don't have to worry about it.  On our final sea-day we booked the excursion.  When we booked the excursion they said we could either take our luggage with us or we could get a priority luggage tag.  We took the luggage tags and they were for Zone 4.  We were then supposed to meet in the theater by 8:45.  

 

So the next day we got dressed, ate a quick meal in the MDR, and went back to our room to pick up our carry-ons and left the room for the final time.

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We got into the theater at 8:40 and it seems everyone was waiting for us.  They took us right to the gangway and said that there would be people on the other side of customs looking for us based on a sticker they gave us that we were supposed to wear.

 

After scanning off the ship we made our way down the ramps and our luggage was very easy to find in area 4.  The line was about 20 minutes long, but kept moving the entire time.  On the other side of customs someone saw our sticker and just said something like "Go that way, its the last bus."  Of course both the people in front of us were confused but we kept going that way.   Of course they didn't say which section of buses, but we eventually found our bus.  You had to tell the driver what airline you were on because they would put your luggage in the bays of the bus based on what terminal/stop they would have to drop you off at.  We were some of the first people on the bus.  We found four seats together and waited for the rest of the people.  It turned out that EVERY seat in the bus was going to be taken.

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Since EVERY seat was taken, a few of the last families on board had to split up a little.  They told us that both our carry-ons and our luggage would be safe the entire time so there was no need to worry about them.  They then drove about 20 minutes to Everglades Holiday Park.  During the drive, our guide talked about what to expect at the park and some area sites.

 

When we got to the park they dropped us off in the parking lot and told us where to line up and where to take a bathroom break if needed.  After a short wait they took our pictures (that we received for free) and assigned us to boats.  Each boat was assigned about 10 people (nowhere near full) and we were off.  The boats are all designed and made at the park, they aren't what you think about when you think about a swamp boat.  They are covered and have a plastic windshield.  They probably could hold about 30 people if crammed in but I bet the weight might cause bottoming out in places.

 

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The took us through the park looking for alligators.  The driver of the boat gave lots of information about the Everglades.  Occasionally they would take the boat up to full speed, other times we were just wandering out.  At one point they stopped to feed some birds that ate bread right out of your hands.

 

The swamp tour section is about an hour long and towards the end we didn't think we would ever see an alligator.  They kept on saying "So and So alligator usually hangs out here but they are wild animals and don't always come out on our timing."  Towards the end we finally saw three alligators.

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After the hour was up they took us back to the dock and we could either go to the gift shop, the snack bar or go to a gator show.  It turns out the gator shows are all run by volunteers, so you never know who you will get, but it turned out we got the lead person from the Animal Planet show "Gator Boys" (a show that nobody in our family had seen.)  He talked about the fact that this wasn't your typical gator show where the people show you how dangerous and scary gators are.  That this was a rescue location and even though you have to respect the gators and they are dangerous, that they aren't what TV likes to make them out to be.  Ironic coming from someone that was on a TV show that would do that.

 

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After that we went to the gift shop and snack bar.  I bought some gator bites for my family to try.  I had them before but they never did.  They seemed to like them.  "Tastes like chicken."  At one point we had about 15 minutes until we were supposed to be back at the bus and saw the guide.  We asked him to verify the time to be back on the bus and he said, no problem, just be back in 15 minutes at the bus.  10 minutes later we were the last people back at the bus and people had taken our seats on the bus even though we had left our stuff on the bus.  We were ticked considering part of the stuff we had left was a very expensive medical device that the person doesn't need to wear if it is real hot. 

 

One of the people that was on the bus (who was traveling alone) was upset about their seat so they took it upon them self to move to the front.  Of course that caused a snowball effect that instead of complaining to the guide or driver and them doing anything about it other people that came back on the bus and moved their locations without doing anything, so since we were last on the bus we ended up having to split up and make sure nothing was damaged in our stuff.  I appeared nobody had moved the medical device since they probably didn't know what it was, but my son's bag was being stepped on by the family that took his seat.  Luckily everything was fine but we were still upset that even though they claimed we didn't have to take anything with us our stuff still got messed with because they wouldn't confront the one person that caused the entire issue.

 

They ended up getting us back to the airport by about 1:00.

 

All in all it was an OK excursion.  It was a good first time excursion for my kids who had never done anything like that and a good waste of time that would have just been waiting at the airport otherwise.  But I doubt we would do it a second time.  Sort of a "been there done that" type of thing.

 

On the way to the airport, via text message, we found out they delayed our flight by another 50 minutes but at the airport they let us check our bags in anyway, even though we were over the typical 3 hour limit where they normally let you check your bags.  I guess since it was within the 3 hour limit for when our flight was supposed to take off before the delay.  During our wait the airport was shutdown for flights for about 20 minutes due a storm, but it didn't affect our flight at all beyond the existing delay.  It turned out the delay was caused by a delay in the flight arriving at Fort Lauderdale.  As soon as that flight landed and everyone deplaned they started calling people to board, and by the scheduled/delayed time to take off we were on our way back home to BWI, which was the sunset on our trip.

 

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