Carnival Cruise Lines Carnival Magic Review
While the Magic's cabins may be relatively plain, and its cuisine is far from gourmet, this is a ship that's hard not to enjoy.
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Unveiled in May 2011, the 3,690-passenger (double occupancy; at most it can fit 4,730) Carnival Magic is the second in Carnival’s Dream Class series, but it’s not a carbon copy of its older sister (Carnival Dream, launched in 2009). In addition to two large pool areas and one of Carnival’s trademark WaterWorks aqua parks with multiple water slides, its deck-top areas include such additions as the first ropes course at sea as well as the first outdoor weight-lifting area at sea (think Venice Beach). Dubbed SkyCourse, the ropes course is part of a deck-top area called SportsSquare that also has a basketball court (which supposedly doubles as a soccer playing area), a miniature golf course and ping pong.
On the inside of the Carnival Magic are several showrooms and a wide range of bars and lounges including Carnival’s first-ever pub, the RedFrog (serving Carnival’s own craft beer, ThirstyFrog Red). In addition to two main restaurants, the ship also has a steakhouse (a Carnival trademark) and a new-for-the-line casual Italian eatery. Like other mass-market lines, Carnival offers flexible “dine at your time” seating in one of its two main restaurants (the other offers dinner at fixed seating times). In general, the Carnival Magic is a casual ship, with a “cruise casual” dress code in all of the restaurants (although the ship does have an “elegant” night, where everybody sports their best attire).
In addition to such cruise ship mainstays as a duty-free shop and photo gallery, Carnival Magic’s retail shop line-up includes a first-for-the-line sweet shop. Families, couples, and singles should find plenty to do.
The Carnival Magic is a big, mass-market ship that’s packed with all sorts of fun-focused activities, from the first ropes course at sea to some of the hottest water slides at sea. Like other Carnival vessels, it aims at a wide audience of vacationers looking for a not-too-expensive, not-too-stuffy warm-weather getaway. Families, in particular, will find it appealing, and for travelers on a budget, it’s hard to beat.
Unveiled in May 2011, the Carnival Magic is the newest of Carnival’s 23 ships — a significant plus in a segment of travel where newness counts. It boasts a cleaner, less flashy decor than older Carnival vessels with a number of new venues including Carnival’s first pub (a lively, Caribbean-themed outlet) and a bustling family-style Italian eatery where the waiters sing in between courses. It also offers extensive children’s facilities, multiple pool areas, and multiple show lounges including a comedy club.
Like other Carnival ships, the Carnival Magic isn’t a luxury product. Cabins are relatively plain, though perfectly functional, and the dining isn’t gourmet (though the food in the main dining rooms is if anything a cut above what’s offered on competing mass-market lines). It’s also not a formal ship, if that’s what you crave. Casual is the word on board.
Overall, for its price point, the Carnival Magic is a great ship.
There are six basic room types on the Carnival Magic. We stayed in two.
Nearly half (851) of the 1,845 cabins on the ship are ocean-view cabins with balconies. There also are 221 similar cabins without balconies, 719 “interior” cabins (inward-facing, without a window onto the sea), and 54 larger suites with balconies. The standard balcony cabin offers 185 square feet of interior space plus another 35 square feet of space on its balcony, and it has room for two to four passengers, which is typical for Carnival and other mass-market lines. Among the variations on balcony cabins are a number of rear-facing balcony cabins that feature a 60-square-foot balcony, and premium “Vista” balcony cabins with a 75-square-foot balcony. Suite options include a Junior Suite with 275 square feet of interior space (and a 35 square foot balcony), and the ship’s biggest rooms are its 345-square-foot Grand Suites and 430-square-foot Ocean Suites.
The Carnival Magic’s cabin choices also include two new-for-the-line variations on standard cabins: Spa-themed Spa Balcony Cabins, located on deck 12, and family-friendly Deluxe Ocean View cabins that sleep up to five people and include two bathrooms. The spa cabins feature spa-like decorations, private access to the ship’s spa, unlimited use of the facility, including thalasotherapy pool and thermal suite, and a special package, including bath & beauty products and complimentary fitness classes.
Most of the cabins on the Carnival Magic are on decks zero, one, and six through nine. There also are a few cabins on decks 10, 11, and 12.
Below is a table with details about all the possible cabin types we could find. You may not encounter some of these on Carnival’s website until you start the booking process.
Our Cabin: Interior
Interior cabins on the Carnival Magic are small but efficient. Upon entering the room, there are closets to one side and a bathroom to the other, leaving a narrow but passable walkway to reach the bed area. The king-size bed (which can be split apart to become two twin beds) comes off the back wall of the room and is flanked by two small nightstands (each containing a small storage space). On each side of the bed there is about two feet of space before coming to the wall, just enough room to move around in when getting in and out of bed. The room also has a desk with vanity, a cabinet, and a TV. Note: As is becoming increasingly common with new ships, there is a slot for one's keycard next to the door that activates the electricity in the room. If you forget to put your keycard in it upon entering the room, the lights won't work.
The king-size bed is quite comfortable, with big pillows and a thick blanket. Opposite the bed is a desk with vanity and four drawers. In one of these drawers is a hair dryer and laundry tags. Next to the bed are two nightstands with space for small items. The closet area of the room is relatively spacious and definitely big enough for the belongings of two vacationers. The TV is mounted on the side of the closet, facing the bed in a way that makes it easy to watch while laying in bed. Underneath the TV is a cabinet containing a mini bar and safe. If requested, Carnival will lock the mini bar for the duration of the voyage.
The bathroom is small, but you could squeeze two in at the same time. And with the big mirror and vanity located outside the bathroom, nobody has to wait too long to get ready.
There are three floor-to-ceiling closet compartments along the wall of the room, one with shelves and two with space for hanging clothes. One of the closet compartments is partly taken up with life jackets and a spare blanket. The closets have plenty of room for two people's clothes.
A big room with a balcony that sleeps up to three people. We managed to sneak in for a first-hand look, but couldn’t get photos.
Balcony cabins on the Carnival Magic are long and narrow. Upon entering the room, there are closet compartments on one side of the door and a bathroom on the other side, creating a narrow walkway to the main bed area of the room. On one side of this main bed area is a smallish couch that can be used as a bed, along with a coffee table. Opposite is a long, built-in desk area with vanity, drawers, and a little cabinet. There is a flat-screen television mounted to the wall over this cabinet. On the far end of the room, coming off one of the walls, is a king size bed that can be converted into two twin beds. It is flanked on each side by a small nightstand. Overall, the room is efficient and functional.
The balcony is relatively narrow, leaving room for two upright chairs but not longer lounge chairs. The balconies of adjacent cabins are separated by dividers that can be opened like doors. These dividers normally are locked in the closed position but can be unlocked and propped open by a room steward in cases where passengers have booked two adjacent cabins. Note: The dividers between balconies do not provide much soundproofing, so it’s likely you’ll hear whatever your neighbors are saying while on your balcony, and vice versa.
Deluxe Ocean View
We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:
On Carnival Magic, Deluxe Ocean View staterooms are ideal for families. Rooms in this category feature a separate washroom — in addition to the full bathroom — and while stateroom configurations vary, certain Deluxe Ocean View rooms sleep up to five. – Carnival Cruise Lines
We've not yet stayed in this cabin, but here's what the cruise line has to say:
You’ll find a Carnival Magic Cove Balcony stateroom located as close as you can get to the waterline — and still be on the ship! — which means one amazing outdoor, up-close view of the ocean while you cruise. – Carnival Cruise Lines
We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:
For the most spacious room available onboard, try a Grand Suite, which features even more space than a standard suite — they don’t make them any bigger than this! You’ll enjoy all the benefits of a suite, including VIP check-in and a huge balcony, a Grand Suite also includes a convenient dressing area with vanity. – Carnival Cruise Lines
Cloud 9 Spa Balcony
We’ve not yet stayed in this cabin, but here’s what the cruise line has to say:
Whether you’re warming up for your spa-time or winding down afterward, there’s no better place to do it than on your Cloud 9 Spa Balcony. Take in the ocean breeze, then let it out. There you go — breathing is important — you’re already getting the hang of the spa life! – Carnival Cruise Lines
Amenities vary depending on cabin type, but even in a small room we had plenty of electrical outlets and WiFi.
Upon arrival, passengers will find a basketfull of trial-sized toiletries in the bathroom, including shower gel, shampoo, conditioner and razors -- a nice touch not found on most other lines. Additionally, the shower has a shampoo and soap dispenser.
Electricity for the room is turned on with the key card, and the slot for the card is at the entrance. There is one master switch for all of the cabin's lights at the entrance to the room and another at the head of the bed (the latter very handy at bed time). That said, the lamps on the nightstands next to the bed have to be switched off separately. Cabins have individual air conditioning controls that allows passengers to adjust the room's temperature. There are two 110-volt outlets and one 240-volt for European gadgets. In one drawer is a hair dryer.
The mini bar contains soft drinks, beers, spirits and wine, prices for which are the same as in the ship's bars (minus the 15% gratuity that is tacked on in bars). In addition, a big bottle of water is atop the minibar, priced at about $5.
Phone and Internet
A telephone is atop the room's built-in desk area, with important phone numbers like room and guest service pre-programmed into it. There also is WiFi Internet access in the room, for an extra charge.
Carnival Magic offers a number of options when it comes to food. In addition to two main dining rooms that come at no extra charge to passengers, there are two extra-charge specialty restaurants. For those who prefer a casual eatery, the Magic also offers a huge buffet with tons of food, as well as a pool-side grill, deli, pizza station and Indian cuisine station. The Plaza Bar & Cafe offers a Continental breakfast, sandwiches, cakes and very good European-style coffee. New to Carnival on the Carnival Magic is the RedFrog Pub, with snacks and its own brand of beer.
Southern and Northern Lights
Southern Lights and Northern Lights are the main dining rooms onboard the Carnival magic. The Southern Lights serves passengers who opted for traditional fixed-time seating. The Northern Lights Restaurant is the second main dining room and where anyone who opted for Carnival's more flexible Your Time Dining will get their meals. Beyond that, it's the same as Southern Lights. Both dining rooms are decorated with big chandeliers, and have the same decor as the main lobby. Tables are covered with white cloth with pink-and-black place settings. On the far end a big panorama window looks out over the ocean. Both restaurants have big staircases leading to the upper level.
The wait staff is pleasant and speedy, and after seven days we got to know them a little. Each night the whole staff sings and dances to modern and classic tunes. Though main courses change every night, part of the menu stays the same.
This is definitely not gourmet food, but the chefs of the Magic do a pretty good job. The majority of the menu is standard restaurant fare. Most dishes are tasty and well-prepared. If you order a steak medium rare, that's exactly what you get. We tried several dishes on the daily menu and were surprised at the high quality. We'd strongly suggest the escargot in olive oil and garlic. Compared to the same dish on the Norwegian Dawn, it was amazing.
For main courses, we loved the Chateaubriand, either medium rare or medium well (the only two options). It tasted great, with tender beef and just the right preparation.
On sea days, the Carnival Magic offers a tea time in the Southern Lights restaurant. With your tea, you can get a piece of cake, cucumber sandwiches, and salmon crackers.
La Cucina Del Capitano
A smaller restaurant, more homey than the Northern Lights and Southern Lights, La Cucina Del Capitano is, as the name suggests, an Italian venue. The big surprise, perhaps, is that the pasta is made fresh. Located right above the Lido, it has a beautiful view of the ocean -- a perfect place for a romantic dinner. There is no charge for the pasta lunch, but dinner carries a surcharge of $12 per person ($5 for kids).
La Cucina has the feel of a small, family-owned restaurant, with checkered table cloths, different looking chairs and high tables. One of the entrances is through the Lido and up a staircase, and Carnival installed two beautiful glass Tiffany-like chandeliers.
At lunch, La Cucina offers a pasta bar, with a choice of three pastas and several sauces. A waiter hands passengers a piece of paper to select the pasta and sauce. You give your choice directly to the chef, and after just a few minutes, you get your lunch. The pasta is al dente and the sauce well-seasoned, but it's not as good as the dinner you can get here.
Dinner starts with a proper menu and some delicious wine choices. The insalata caprese came with deliciously thick slices of tomato and mozzarella. Better yet were the arancini, little risotto and parmesan balls; a little on the heavier side, but delicious.
We tried the signature dish, "Il Baccio del Mare," with linguini and tasty clams. Only the tomato sauce could have used a bit more punching up. Spaghetti carbonara was spot-on, the pancetta not too crispy, the cream sauce perfect. According to the menu, this is one of Carnival's longest served dishes (starting in the 1940s), and rightly so – it is delicious.
Desserts at La Cucina del Capitano are typical Italian: tiramisu, cannoli, panna cotta.
Prime Steakhouse is a small, stylish restaurant with a more sophisticated ambiance than the other restaurants on the ship, and offers a panoramic view of the sea. Families will have just as much fun as a couple on a romantic dinner. The restaurant is definitely worth a try, even with a $25 cover charge.* The food is definitely one of the best on the ship, and early reservations are highly recommended.
A cold tomato soup with balsamic and a rosemary foccacia with a delicious tomato and rosemary salsa serves as an amuse bouche. The mushroom cappuccino, with five types of mushrooms and cream, truffle oil and thyme is among the best mushroom soups we’ve ever had. The baby leaf spinach with mushrooms, blue cheese and parmesan is a refreshingly light and healthy appetizer. However, if you like raw fish, the ahi tuna tartar should be perfect for you, with a pleasant and not overpowering acidic taste.
Prime Steakhouse also serves an excellent macaroni-and-cheese, prepared with five different types of cheese. The surf and turf is classic, including filet Mignon and two king prawns beside mashed potatoes and wasabi horseradish. The meat was perfectly cooked to order, medium rare, and the lime on the prawns gave a nice acidic tinge. However, the mashed potatoes were not spicy at all, despite the horseradish.
For dessert, chocolate aficionados will be in heaven with the chocolate sampler, which comes with four chocolate desserts, each better than the last.
* Note: In June 2012, Carnival increased the surcharge on all its steakhouses, to $35 per person.
The Lido Marketplace is a huge place with four buffet lines, a large salad bar, a wok station and a carving station. It has the look and feel of a canteen, with small alcoves of benches divided by glass. Like most of the ship’s interior, the space is all green and blues. Though often crowded, it’s light and airy inside, and a good place for a quick bite without dressing up. You can take your food out to the poolside, too.
The Lido offers a classic continental breakfast, pancakes, waffles, sweet rolls, french toast, cold cuts, and cereals. For the healthier breakfast, there is a wide array of fruit. At three different egg stations, chefs cook omelets to order, with a choice of mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and cheese. The french toast and the waffles are quite tasty, even though they’re not the freshest after sitting around in the buffet for a while.
The salad bar in the Lido is immense and offers prepared salads, or you can make your own. Hot meals include Jamaican and Asian specialties, paellas, chicken and beef, hamburgers and hot dogs, fruits, cold cuts, and cheese. One of the best spots in the Lido is the wok station. You can choose between different noodles, then add in vegetables, meat (chicken, beef, and calamari) and sauce. Give your full plate to the chef behind the counter and get a freshly prepared, healthy meal back.
Dessert choices change several times during the week, but are the same as the rest of the ship. The best dessert we tried was the apricot crumble cake: a fresh and sweet indulgence.
Ocean Plaza Cafe and Bar
The Plaza Bar & Cafe is located in the middle of deck five, between the two Lanai whirlpools, and offers Viennese-style coffee and cakes. It includes a bar area offering a small buffet for breakfast (croissants, marmalade, cereals), and sandwiches for lunch on sea days.
Ocean Plaza has inside seating, two outdoor spaces on either side of the ship, and a stage. The interior is decorated with mosaics and blue lights. In the afternoon you can participate in trivia games, and at night a live band gives it a pleasant lounge-feel.
The breakfast buffet at Ocean Plaza offers croissants, bread, cereals, oatmeal and coffee. It’s a small buffet, and rarely crowded, as most passengers don’t seem to know it’s there. You can get complimentary coffee or purchase a fancier coffee drink at the Plaza bar.
The Plaza offers lunch (only on sea days) at a sandwich station, where you can choose your ingredients, a cook puts everything together, and heats it up if you wish. There is nothing special about the sandwiches, but it is a good small meal.
The Sushi Bar is a walk-in joint where a sushi chef prepares fresh rolls and hands them out. This is not a real restaurant and does not have any dedicated tables. Located next to the RedFrog Pub in the hallway, there are tables and chairs lining the windows. There’s little decoration, but they managed to scrape together some fake bamboo and grass pots. The sushi rolls are displayed behind glass.
The sushi is quite good, not too thick, the rice tastes pleasantly vinegary and the rolls are good, overall. They have California rolls and vegetarian rolls, but they’re nothing special.
Lido Grill and Pizza
The Lido Grill & Pizza is on both sides of the main pool on deck ten. The grill serves up burgers and hot dogs, as well as salsa and tacos. You can get pizza 24 hours a day, making this just the right place to kill those tiny cravings in the middle of the night.
Being part of the pool area, you can use the bar and its tables to sit down and eat, which are bright rattan chairs and wooden tables.
For breakfast you can get waffles, french toast, and pancakes with maple syrup and honey. The egg station offers freshly prepared omelet with mushrooms, tomatoes, onions, and cheese. It’s done similarly in other parts of the ship. But if you want, you can also get pizza for breakfast.
Lunch at the Grill & Pizza is just what it sounds like – burgers, hot dogs, tacos with cheese or salsa dip, and pizza. There are different kinds of pizza, like pepperoni and cheese pizzas. The pizzas are actually quite good, freshly made and not too thick, with plenty of toppings. The burgers are already cooked, so you just have to fill you bun with all your favorite ingredients. If you manage to time your arrive when they’re fresh, the burgers are great. Long tenures under the heat lamp don’t do them any favors.
Tide Bar Tandoor & Deli
Tandoor offers fresh Indian food, while the deli has sandwiches and paninis. Both stations are located on the back of the ship on deck 11, right by the Tide Bar and the pool. Wooden tables and dark rattan chairs offer respite.
Tandoor offers delicious Indian food. One of the best dishes here is the garlic naan, made fresh at the station. Other dishes include chicken curry, lamb, salads, and yogurt sauces. At the deli you can get freshly-made hot and cold sandwiches.
Chef's Table Dinner
The Chef's Table is an experience that Carnival offers on several vessels in its fleet that blends a behind-the-scenes look at the ship's galley with a high-end dinner. After a galley tour hosted by the ship’s chef de cuisine, passengers sit down to a gourmet meal. It's rather interesting to have a behind-the-scenes look at the staff putting together these delicious dishes. It's an environment in which the executive chef can experiment with new kinds of cuisine and special dishes without worrying about how to scale the portions to feed a whole ship. According to Carnival, the food is a result of years of research and hundreds of tests to perfect the techniques used for their dinners.
Chef's Table has space for 12 people and you have to make a reservation. The cover charge of $80 includes four appetizers, six entrées, a dessert, wine pairing, and a cookbook with recipes from each of Carnival's executive chefs. In our opinion, the food is worth every penny.
All 12 courses at the Chef’s Table dinner are fantastic. Our dinner included olives stuffed with parmesan, dates with chorizo, focaccia, mascarpone cream and prosciutto crudo, langoustine and sun-dried tomato jam fritters for starters. Main dishes included “tomatoes our way” with aerated tomato juice, coated in cocoa butter, and poached in chardonnay. The caramelized cornish hen with butternut squash sofrito, or salmon with herb pesto, cured tomatoes, fava beans, and condensed beets are equally delicious. Magic’s chef also served a kind of bavarios with spinach, green peas, warm turnips, and apple juice. The second-to-last dish, salmon with herb pesto, cured tomatoes, and fava beans, was our least favorite. However, we were compensated with the slow-stewed short ribs with potato pebbles and pumpkin fudge, which was tender and melted on the tongue.
Every dish was great, but we did have our favorites. The best appetizer, the chorizo & dates, was deliciously savory and sweet at the same time. Our favorite main dish was definitely the tuna banh mi, a Vietnamese sandwich with a distinctly French influence. Little balls of avocado cream were on the plate, and because they were made with sugar syrup and a little sweet, they completed the tuna and sesame tacos. Fake caviar was made of balsamic vinegar and cream, and served in an iced bowl made of basil, all together is an explosion of sweet and sour on the tongue.
Sadly, we were not allowed to take pictures in the galley, so we cannot provide any photos of these dishes – but it was the best dinner we had on the ship.
Room service is available 24 hours a day. The menu includes cold sandwiches (tuna sandwich, ham and cheese, or peanut butter), hot sandwiches (grilled cheese, reuben with corned beef, etc.), chicken fajita, mixed greens, and assorted vegetables. It takes about 30 to 45 minutes to get the food delivered to the room. Breakfast is served until 11 am, and has to be ordered in advance by 4 am.
For breakfast you can get different cereals, bread, croissants, jams, honey, yogurt, coffee, milk, and juices. No eggs, sorry.
For lunch and dinner in-room options, Carnival Magic offers cold and hot sandwiches, a wrap, mixed greens, and assorted vegetables with blue cheese dip – the only “healthy” choices on this menu. Based on the limited options, you get the feeling that Carnival doesn’t really want you to eat in your room. It’s understandable; even the buffet is a lot better than anything in the room service menu.
Desserts include a fruit salad, different cakes, like chocolate and apple, cup cakes, and cookies. The cookies are great, but you can get better in any of the restaurants or at the buffet.
There are no alcoholic beverages on the menu, perhaps because the mini bar in your room already has plenty of beers and spirits available.
Carnival Magic has wines from all over the world. There is cabernet from Argentina, pinot noir from the US, Bordeaux from France, and Chianti from Italy. La Cucina offers a special Chianti, which is smooth, not too fruity, and just the perfect pairing for your pasta.
As for beers, Magic offers Budweiser, Stella, Foster, Corona, and other international beers, as well as ThirstyFrog, a beer specially brewed for the ship's RedFrog Pub.
A lot of umbrella drinks are on the menu, including a number of what the line calls "Icy Inventions," like the Kiss on the Lips, the Hurricane Wave or the Mocha Chocolate Getaway. Of course, you also can get the old classics like Long Island iced tea, margaritas, daiquiris, mojitos, and pina coladas. At the pool bar you can get a special pina colada with melon and blue curacao, just the right thing to cool you off.
The Magic offers a soda package and a wine package, wherein you can buy several bottles of wine for a special price.
In addition to soda, water and juices, Carnival Magic offers smoothies. All mixed drinks can also be made virgin.
Red Frog Pub & Beach Bar
The RedFrog Pub is located on deck five, right next to the sushi bar. Inspired by Caribbean pubs, the colors inside are vibrant. Carnival offers a specially brewed beer and Caribbean-inspired snacks. A singer and guitar player performs contemporary music every night. This is one of the few places on the Magic that is always packed. The waiters are totally laid back, an attitude that pervades the whole atmosphere.
RedFrog offers Caribbean-inspired snacks like Jamaican wings and coconut shrimp. If you like your food a little hot, you definitely should try the Kicked-Up Conch Fritters. The fritters come with a tropical-island dipping sauce, not too hot, with a pleasant, acidic aftertaste. Combined with the fritters, the combined tastes just explode in your mouth. If you don't want to stay in the pub, you can get all the snacks to go. All dishes cost $3.33.
The only difference in the drink menu from the rest of the ship is a specially-brewed beer for the pub called ThirstyFrog. This is also the only place on the ship where you can buy enormous beer mugs that can hold a double serving of drink.
In the passage between RedFrog and Ocean Plaza is an air hockey table.
The Beaches Bar is the bar at the main pool. There are actually two bars, one on each side of the ship. One is a smoking-allowed area, the other is non-smoking.
Most drinks sold at the Beach bar are beers, frozen drinks, and mixed drinks. Of course, you can also get a shot of hard liquor, if you want, or juice and soda.
The Tide bar attends to everybody at the Tide pool, as well as Deli and Tandoor customers.
As in all other bars on the Magic, you can get frozen drinks, beers, soda, and water.
Vibe is for adults over 21 only. It opens at about 9pm every night and has different specials. Later it plays more club music, and gets packed. Smoking is only allowed outside on the deck. It is decorated with leather sofas, barstools and dimmed lights. The club is open until the last guests leave.
Mixed drinks, martinis, soft drinks, beers and wine are on the drink menu of the Vibe.
Spa and Gym Overview
Cloud 9 Spa
Carnival Magic's spa, Cloud 9, is a huge, multi-chambered area. As with passenger cabins, the treatments come in variety of styles, from basic windowless rooms to ocean view rooms and even a VIP suite. The VIP suite is for couples and includes a bath. The standard treatment rooms are more basic. There's a massage bed in the middle, a sink, and one or two tables with creams and lotions. Some of the treatment rooms have showers and a great view. All rooms are quiet and decorated with soft, muted colors.
There's a thermal suite with a sauna and steam room, as well as a thalassotherapy pool (91 degrees warm) that costs $20 per day or $99 for the duration of the cruise.
Cloud 9 offers a full range of massages and other spa treatments. You can get a Swedish massage for $119 and a 50-minute hot stone massage for $149. Facial therapies such as a hydra-lift facial or a skin-specific facial are $119. Other treatments cost up to $169. For whole-body treatments, the spa offers cellulite reduction, cheek lifting treatments, seaweed massage, or a salt and ginger lime glow, priced between $125 and $259.
The full service beauty salon features hair styling, coloring, manicures, and pedicures. Conditioning and a 25-minute scalp massage cost $29. Manicures start at $29, pedicures at $45. You can get your hair styled from $35, or highlighted for $89 (depending on length of hair). The beauty salon also offers waxing, starting at $19 for little mustaches and going up from there. Men's services like beard trimming, hair cuts, shaves, and grooming are also available (starting at $15), as is a tooth whitening service (starting at $199 a session).
Cloud 9 has a thalassotherapy pool with ionized water, warmed to a muscle-relaxing 91 degrees, complete with jets to blast away the pain.
The minimum age to access the pool is 18, and you'll need a daily pass or special voyage pass ($20 or $99).
Cloud 9 offers a fitness center fully equipped with free weights, treadmills, and circuit machines. In a separate area are stationary bikes for spinning classes, as well as aerobics, abdominal classes, yoga, and other classes. Most classes are complimentary, but Pilates, yoga, and personal training have a cover charge ($12 to $85).
The fitness center also offers seminars and nutritional consultations. For all those who love to work out outside, there also is an outdoor Vitality exercise course and outdoor weight lifting equipment at the SportSquare.
Pools, Decks & Sun Areas
Carnival's Magic boasts lots of deck-top areas to lay in the sun and relax. The main pool, called the Beach Pool, is located mid-ship on deck ten. The second big pool, the Tide Pool, is on the same deck, behind the Lido, flanked by two huge whirlpools. Both of the pools are heated to 80 degrees and no deeper than 3 ft 8 in. It's a good depth for cooling off, but not large or deep enough to really swim. All pools are filled with saltwater, but you can rinse off in one of the many freshwater showers.
Around the pools are dozens of sun loungers, as well as access to deck 11, which offers even more space for a sun bath, as well as wicker chairs, tables, and large sunshades. On deck 15 (forward) is the adults-only area, the Serenity, with whirlpools and drinks service. The Lanai, on deck five, is a quiet sun deck with huge whirlpools that wraps around the ship. If you really don't want to see or hear anybody, decks 6, 7, 9, 10, and 11 provide good spots: there are small sun decks at the very front of each deck, only accessible by going through the hallways.
Even though there are hundreds of possibilities to lay in the sun and cool off in one of the pools, sea days are busy and it might be hard to find a quiet spot.
The main pool is called Beach Pool and conveniently located near the Lido Marketplace on deck 10. It's the biggest pool on the ship, filled with saltwater warmed to about 80 degrees, and has two roofed pavilions with benches. No hot tubs, though.
Above the pool is Carnival's Seaside Theater, a 12-foot-high by 22-foot-wide LED screen showing movies, sporting events, concerts, and other special programming. The Beach Bar provides a never-ending, umbrella-covered supply of alcoholic or non alcoholic drinks. Being right next to the Marketplace and the Pizza & Grill, food is also never far.
There are dozens of sun loungers around the pool, but it's almost impossible to get a place here on sea days. Fair warning: it also gets pretty loud. If the pool area is full, there are more sun loungers, tables, and small wicker sofas on deck 11.
Located behind the Lido Marketplace is the Tides Pool & Bar. It's a little smaller than the Beach Pool, but flanked by two large whirlpools. Sun loungers are placed around the pool, overlooking the back of the ship.
The bar at this pool looks a little more polished than the Beach Bar, but offers the same drinks. In addition to the bar, you can get Indian food at the Tandoor or a sandwich at the Deli during lunch time.
Carnival’s newest vessel has one of its biggest ever WaterWorks water parks, with two giant water slides. The Drainpipe swirls around into an enormous funnel; the Twister is shaped like a giant corkscrew. To get into both slides, you’ll have to climb steep steps. This may take a little courage if you're afraid of heights, but they're fun and worth a try.
According to Carnival, the “Splash Park” area of the WaterWorks water park offers the first water dump bucket at sea. It's probably not for everyone, but your kids will love it.
The Lanai is the wrap-around walkway on the promenade on deck five. There are dozens of sun loungers, four hot tubs and showers to get the sea salt off. On sea days, the Lanai turns into the Ocean Grille, where you can get sliders and hot dogs. There is no bar outside, if you want something to drink you have to go inside and get it.
There are sun loungers lined along the ship's walls as well as four whirlpools, freshwater showers, and wind breakers, so you don't get blown off the ship, if the wind picks up.
This adults-only area is located behind the WaterWorks water park on deck 15 (forward). It features two over-sized whirlpools overlooking the sea. In addition to padded shaded sun loungers and chairs, Serenity also offers large hammocks and comfortable, round-roofed wicker beach chairs for up to four people. Naturally, there’s a bar with drink service. Though it’s located in front of the water park, it’s the best place to spend a quiet afternoon in the sun.
Midships, deck 11, offers tables, wicker chairs, and sofas so you can watch the movies shown at the Seaside Theater. This sundeck doesn’t wrap around the whole ship — just from the mid-ships area to the rear area. Sun loungers are placed all around this area. Towards the far end there are stairs going down to the Tides Pool.
Forward Sun Decks
At the very front of the ship, on decks 6, 7, 9, 10, and 11, are hidden sun decks. Most are only accessible through the interior hallways.
Lounges & Public Spaces
The Carnival Magic has 11 bars, lounges, and clubs, all with a different decor, but pretty much the same objective: relaxation and fun. Most of the bars are located on deck five: the Ocean Plaza with bar and stage; the RedFrog pub; Play It Again piano bar; Spotlight Lounge; and Magic's only club, the Vibe. Carnival offers a lot of activities such as trivia, game shows, and karaoke in most bars.
Kids lounges and clubs are all located on deck four, and unlike on some ships adults can gain entry for a look around, provided no children's activities are going on.
The lounges have varying decors, with everything from vibrant to muted colors. Many offer live music in a variety of genres.
Play it Again Piano Lounge
Play it Again is a posh piano bar. The piano is on the far end of the area, surrounded by the bar and a huge, lustrous ball hanging over it.
You can sing along to the live music. It’s a fun, relaxed place to hang out. This is also the place for the “Friends of Dorothy” get-together, and where adult singles meet up. The piano bar has martini specials, along with wine and soft drinks.
The Spotlight Lounge is actually Magic’s second stage. It features comedy, magic, karaoke, live music, art auctions, and the always-entertaining murder mystery. It has a smallish stage and a comfortable interior with benches and padded chairs.
The Escape bar is the smallest of all bars, accommodating maybe 20 people. Several times a week, one of two close-up magicians entertain the passengers.
Magic Lobby / Internet Café
Above the lobby bar is a stage for live music. The bar itself is in front of the entrance to the Northern Lights, one of the main dining rooms. It’s very crowded in the morning on port days.
The internet café has several terminals with which passengers can access the web. It’s located between the Ocean Plaza and the Hat Trick Casino and open 24 hours. Carnival charges 75 cents per minute and packages are available (depending on the length of the cruise). The main internet café is not a separate room, just a few high tables with computers. However, Fun Hubs, as Carnival calls the terminals, are located all over the ship. You can’t miss them, as they’re indicated with a big sign.
There are three conference rooms, located on deck four. These can be combined to form one big room. If it is not used for any conferences and meetings, it's used for auctions and VIP get-togethers.
Deck four is also where Magic's library is located, opposite of the Escape bar and next to the Northern Lights entrance. There are a lot of books and games in here, where families and friends can hang out. The room itself is pretty small, but the couch, a fun hub, and a bigger table for gaming make it all very homey and comfortable.
Carnival's Seaside Theater is a 12 foot by 22 foot LED screen by the poolside on deck 10. Carnival shows sporting events, concerts, and other special programming during the day. At night Carnival shows feature movies like the Gladiator, James Bond movies, or Kurosawa retrospectives. Er, maybe not that last one.
The Warehouse, Magic's video arcade, is on deck four, the same level as the kids clubs. It offers a lot of video games and air hockey tables. It's fun, but loud.
Carnival has a lot of group trivia contests, guess-the-song games, and card games (like bridge) organized throughout the voyage. The price for winning is always a trophy in the shape of the Magic. It's a remarkably coveted prize, as this is the only means of getting one. They don't sell them.
Lectures & Classes
The only classes are seminars, offered by the fitness center.
Magic's casino, the Hat Trick, is quite large and chock-full of slot machines and table games. There's a fresh, Las Vegas feel to it, not the dingy look of some casinos on older cruise ships. The casino offers tournaments and rewards. If you earn more than 1,000 points in the casino Carnival automatically enters you in the Players Club. If you earn enough points, you get free drinks; otherwise, you have to pay for them. Or you try your luck at the MegaCash, a lotto with a huge jackpot. For more information, click here.
Smoking is not allowed in most of the casino. Only some slot machines and half the bar are smoking areas.
There are hundreds of slot machines in the casino. Keep an eye out for slot tournaments if you're feeling lucky. There are several poker, black jack, Texas Hold 'Em, and bingo tables in the casino. The casino has a few craps and roulette tables.
You can get drinks at the Hat Trick bar and food at the nearby Ocean Plaza or the nearby sushi bar.
There are three children areas on the Carnival Magic. Camp Carnival offers all kinds of activities for 2- to 11-year-olds, separated into three age groups (2 to 5, 6 to 8, and 9 to 11). Circle C is a lounge just for teenagers from 12 to 14 with game consoles, trivia, scavenger hunts, and dance parties, just to name a few. Older teens (15-17) can hang out at the Club O2, which also has game consoles, and offers dance and pool parties — there are even teen-only shore excursions. Kids under 15 are supervised by educated staff.
Click here for more information about the childrens areas.
Fun Shops of Carnival
The Fun Shops of Carnival sell perfumes, jewelry, cigarettes, accessories, bags, clothing, knickknacks, and souvenirs. Everything is duty-free when the ship is in international waters. There are a lot of sales (jewelry and accessories, especially) throughout the voyage, like a watch sale up to 40% off.
Cherry on Top
Cherry on Top is primarily a candy store, but it also sells wine, flowers, gifts, and knickknacks. The most distinguishing feature is the oversized gum machines.
At the Photo Gallery, passengers can purchase any pictures taken by the ship’s photographers. All the photos are exhibited on the walls, and may be selected on computer with one’s cabin card.
Staff & Ship Policies
The waiters on the Magic were some of the nicest we've had in a long time. Not only did they recognize us immediately after the first night at dinner, they remembered preferences in food and drinks, like what kind of bread we wanted. Several waiters work in different venues during the day, so you'll likely run into them once in a while.
Our room steward was very nice and attentive. As we did have some problems with the inside room, he immediately called housekeeping and tried to help as much as he could. Given the size of the ship, the only ones who remember you are your waiters and the steward. Even so, Magic's staff didn't just try to be friendly, but seemed genuinely interested in us and our stories.
Most memorable of all is the cruise director, who made the funniest announcements and also hosted both the Welcome On Board and the Last Night on Board shows.
A ten dollar gratuity per day is included in the final bill. Stewarsd and waiters can be tipped on top of the gratuity, but all these tips go into a pot, which is distributed evenly. If you really like one of your service staff, it is better to give the tip personally, with cash.
The Carnival Magic dress code is relaxed, with passengers encouraged to dress as they please in a range from casual to elegant. That said, the dining rooms do not allow flip-flops, open shoes (for men), shorts or swimwear. There are also elegant nights on all Carnival ships (depending on the length of your voyage).
After ten Carnival cruises you earn Silver status, with some decent rewards and priority boarding.
Health & Safety
A mandatory life boat and safety drill is held on embarkation day. There are signs everywhere navigating passengers to emergency exits, life boats, and life vests. Defibrillators, fire hoses, and extinguishers are located all over the ship.
The health clinic is on deck zero. Hours of operation can be found in the daily Fun Times. Treatments cost $90, generally. They also sell aspirin and ibuprofen.
On all Carnival ships smoking is permitted only in dance clubs and designated areas in the casino and the casino bar. All other indoor public venues are smoke free. Smoking is permitted in designated areas on open decks and in the staterooms. All outside smoking areas are starboard.
As a result of a guest surveys, Carnival is changing its smoking policy. Effective Dec.1, 2011 smoking will be prohibited in all rooms, being allowed only on balconies. Spa suites and rooms however, will remain completely smoke free, including the balconies. Passengers who smoke in their cabins will be assessed a $250 cleaning and refreshing fee.
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