Carnival Magic Cruise Review
The Carnival Magic is the line's newest, most amenity-filled ship, and a lively vessel.
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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.
Gene Sloan's Opinion on the Carnival Magic
Say what you will about industry giant Carnival, but it does know its market — a spirited, fun-loving crowd — and it builds its ships accordingly. Prim and proper, the Carnival Magic isn’t. Fun and memorable? You betcha. While the Magic’s cabins may be relatively plain (though completely functional), and its cuisine is far from gourmet, this is a ship that is hard not to enjoy — at least if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind a little deck-top silliness, offbeat humor and flashy interior decor. Would you get up on stage to sing karaoke or at least have fun watching your friends do it? This is the ship for you. Horrified by the idea? Maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.
Keep in mind, the Carnival Magic is a relatively low-cost product. Luxury, it isn’t. But for travelers on a budget, it’s a great choice. Lined with some of the cruise industry’s coolest deck-top amusements (the 312-foot-long Twister water slide is a scream-a-minute, and we love the SkyCourse ropes course), it’s also a great ship for families with children both young and old. That said, adults without kids aren’t forgotten. The adults-only Serenity area atop the ship is one of the nicest adults-only sunning zones at sea (and unlike on some ships with similar areas, it’s open at no extra charge to enter, to boot).
Gene Sloan writes about cruising for USA TODAY, the nation’s top-selling newspaper, and oversees USA TODAY’s online cruise site, The Cruise Log. Sloan’s stories also are distributed by the Gannett News Service to more than 80 other U.S. newspapers with a combined circulation of more than five million, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, The Detroit Free Press, and The Arizona Republic.
The Carnival Magic features six basic types of rooms, with some variation depending on location.
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.
Interior rooms lack windows onto the sea. If you don’t mind that, they’re a good choice for budget travelers, as they’re less pricey. This is the room we stayed in, so we caught lots of photos and details.
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.
Closets & Storage
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 bed area of the cabin is relatively large for a mass-market ship, with a king-size bed, a couch, a coffee table, and a desk. On both sides of the bed are nightstands with storage space. The couch is comfortable enough, if you don’t mind it being a little soft, and can be used as a bed, too. In general, there is enough room to maneuver in the room without having to squeeze past anything. A flat-screen TV is mounted on the wall, and you have a good view of it from both the bed and the couch. Over the desk is a huge vanity.
The bathroom is just as small as in the inside room, but two people could squeeze in. With the big vanity outside the bathroom, three people could feasibly get ready at the same time.
Closets & Storage
The room has three closet compartments, one with shelves and two with hangers. As with other cabins on the Carnival Magic, some closet space is taken up in the storage of life jackets and an extra blanket. A small cabinet by the desk contains a minibar. Another cabinet contains a safe, beside which is a miniature shelf.
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.
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
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.
In-room Entertainment & Services
As is typical on cruise ships, the flat-screen televisions found in Carnival Magic cabins offer just a small number of channels including CNN, BBC, the Cartoon Network and the Discovery Channel. Depending on the itinerary there might also be Mexican, Italian, French, and Spanish channels. In addition, two movie channels show features films every three hours. There also are on-demand movies available on the televisions using an interactive movie system, but they come at a hefty price of $10.99 per movie. As on many ships, there also is a channel on the television showing the view off the bow and a ship/weather information channel. Two other channels showing on board activities.
With the interactive menu you can check your account, order room service, check current events, and explore the restaurants on the ship.
There’s a fair amount of variety on the Magic, with two main restaurants, two specialty restaurants and a large buffet. Still, it’s not quite as restaurant-packed as the ships of some other mass-market lines.
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.
The main dining rooms are the Southern Lights (aft) and the Northern Lights (forward), and passengers are assigned to either one or the other for the duration of their voyage. Both two-level restaurants are located on decks three and four, offering the same menu. The smaller of the two specialty restaurants is Prime Steakhouse, which offers delicious steak and seafood in a quieter ambiance for an extra charge of $30 per person. Italian eatery La Cucina del Capitan, the larger of the two specialty restaurants, serves handmade pasta and other traditional Italian food for a $12-per-person charge. For lunch, La Cucina has a no-extra-charge Pasta Bar where one chooses which kind of pasta and sauce one wants.
Twice a week, Carnival offers a bit of a culinary adventure with the Chef's Table. This is an extra-charge dinner composed by the ship's head chef that includes a tour through the galley. The dinner is billed as a chance for the chef to show off new and exciting cuisines, and on our voyage, the Magic's chef did exactly that, preparing some unusual dishes. Carnival offers this on several of its ships in different locations. On the Magic, the dinner is held within the galley itself, where photography is not allowed, so we could not take any pictures of the meal to show you.
For more casual nights out, the RedFrog Pub offers some snacks, as well as Carnival's own craft beer, ThirstyFrog Red. A casual breakfast, lunch and dinner also are served in the Lido Marketplace, where the hungry cruiser will find a large buffet with all kinds of fruits, cold cuts, french toast, and pancakes, as well as an egg station, for breakfast. Lunch offers a salad bar, sausages, chicken, and a Mongolian Wok station. Outside the Lido, by the main pool, is a grill station with burgers and hot dogs. On the opposite side is the 24-hour pizza station.
During sea days, Carnival Magic offers a barbecue on the promenade of deck five. The Oceanside Grill serves sliders, hot dogs, quesadillas, and tacos. Inside, the Plaza Bar offers sandwiches and soups. At lunch time, the Sushi Bar transforms into a Salad Bar, from 5 pm till 9 pm you can get sushi, but there are not many choices, as they prepare the same rolls for everybody.
Note: In June 2012, Carnival increased the surcharge on all its steakhouses, to $35 per person.
This is one of two main dining rooms, offering decent food and a little light entertainment from the wait staff.
Southern Lights Restaurant is the main dining room for most passengers who have signed up for traditional fixed seating (those not opting for the line's more flexible Your Time Dining). Traditional fixed-time dinner seating (early at 6 pm, late at 8:15 pm) is available in both dining rooms, but Your Time Dining only is offered in the Northern Lights restaurants. The wait staff is pleasant and speedy, and after being served by the same waiters for seven days you do get to know them a little. Each night the whole staff sings and dances to the tunes of modern and classic music. Though the restaurant offers different main courses every night, a part of the menu stays the same.
Both dining rooms are decorated with big chandeliers, and have the same decor as the main lobby. The tables are covered with white cloth with pink-and-black place settings. On the far end of the restaurant is a big panorama window that looks out over the ocean. Both restaurants have big staircases leading to the upper level.
Breakfast in the main dining room is pretty basic: Eggs Benedict, omelets, french toast, waffles, and pancakes. Side dishes can be ordered too, like turkey or regular bacon, hash-browns, and sausages. Cereals, grits, oatmeal, and fresh fruits are also available, as is a choice of bread and croissants, iced and hot tea, coffee, or chocolate milk.
Lunch / Dinner
This is definitely not gourmet food, but the chefs of the Magic do a pretty good job. On the daily-changing menu, some dishes sound more exotic than others – such as the chicken tenders marinated in Thai spices – but 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.
For appetizers, you can get shrimp cocktail or Caesar salad, or you choose from the daily menu, including some unusual soups: Carnival Magic offered strawberry, peach, and cherry soups. They looked like molten ice cream and tasted like a smoothie, but in a good way, especially if you like sweet appetizers.
On the main menu, which does not change, you can get a burger, a steak, grilled chicken breast, and fried chicken – good old American dishes – and a choice of sides. The choices on the daily menu, range from veal parmigiana to penne frutti di Mare.
We tried several dishes on the daily menu and were surprised at the high quality. The fried shrimp with plum-mustard sauce was delicious, especially the dip. The ahi tuna tartar was also quite good. Still, we would suggest going a little out of the usual and trying the escargot in olive oil and garlic sauce. Compared to the same dish on another ship from a competing line we just visited, the Norwegian Dawn, it was amazing.
For the main courses, we would also suggest the French cuisine, the Chateaubriand with sauce bearnaise, the beef either medium rare or medium well (the only two possibilities with this dish). It tasted great, with tender beef and just the right preparation.
Dessert offerings never change. There's the usual cheese plate with brie, Swiss, gouda, port salut, and Danish blue; a tropical fruit plate; diet-style and regular pies; and sherbet. One of the best desserts on the ship is the warm chocolate melting cake with vanilla ice cream — a Carnival classic. The cake is not baked all the way, so the inside is still a little runny. Bravo.
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.
A sister to the Southern Lights, this is the main dining room for passengers who sign up for flexible Your Time Dining.
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. Other than that, it is the same as the Southern Lights Restaurant. Even the decoration is the same as in the Southern Lights Restaurant, so if you want to know more, click here.
An extra-charge Italian eatery serving fresh-made pasta and other Italian dishes in a casual setting.
La Cucina Del Capitano is, as the name suggest, an Italian restaurant. The big surprise, perhaps, is that all the pasta is freshly made by the chefs – at least, as fresh as you can make it for hundreds of people. It's a smaller restaurant, more homey than the Northern Lights and Southern Lights. La Cucina is located on deck 11, right above the Lido. Because it's so far up in the ship, it has a beautiful view over the ocean and sunsets -- a perfect place for a romantic dinner.
The menu is not very long, but that doesn't mean the decision making is any easier. Appetizers include antipasti, caprese salad, eggplant Parmesan, calamari, meatballs, minestrone, baby arugula salad, and Caesar's salad. For entrees, La Cucina offers a special dish, Il Baccio del Mare, a pasta dish with little neck clams, that, according to Carnival, is made after the captain's wife's secret recipe. Other than that, there are old favorites on the menu, like linguini with meatballs, spaghetti carbonara, chicken parmesan, grilled salmon or shrimps, braised short ribs, and an Italian version of a New York sirloin steak.
La Cucina has the feel of a small, family-owned restaurant. The tables are lined with red and white checkered table cloths, different looking chairs and a high table. One of the two possible entrances is through the Lido and up a staircase, which is open, and Carnival installed two beautiful glass Tiffany-like chandeliers. The same mosaic is found on all the lamps throughout the restaurant. The open staircase is surrounded by a railing and closed off with iron latticework. Magnum bottles with fake candles are placed around the railing On the railing, and the walls are full of old style photographs of Cunard and Carnival vessels. It is an overall simple, but nice, decoration.
There is no charge for the pasta lunch, but dinner carries a surcharge of $12 per person ($5 for kids).
Lunch / Dinner
For lunch, La Cucina offers a Pasta Bar, and diners have a choice between three types of pastas and several different sauces. Upon arrival, a waiter hands passengers a piece of paper on which one writes which pasta and sauce one wants. You give your choice directly to the Chef, waiting at the Pasta Station, 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 is a little different in La Cucina, with a proper menu and some delicious wine choices. We ordered the insalata caprese one day, with deliciously thick slices of tomato and Mozzarella. Better yet, was "Il Capitano's Signature Arancini". These little risotto balls are filled with Parmesan cheese, and served with some Baby Arugula leaves over tomato sauce. It is a little on the heavier side but delicious.
Of course we also tried the signature dish, "Il Baccio del Mare," with linguini al dente and tasty clams. Only the tomato sauce could have used a little bit more punching up. On the other hand, the spaghetti carbonara was spot-on. The pancetta bacon is not too crispy, the cream sauce perfect, and the fried oregano and parmesan make it even better. 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.
The Magic’s steakhouse is the best restaurant on the ship.
Prime Steakhouse is a small, stylish restaurant with dark wood tables, red covered chairs, white tablecloths, and a more sophisticated ambiance than the other restaurants on the ship. From its location on deck 5, it offers a panoramic view onto the ocean. Families will have just as much fun as a couple on a romantic dinner.
Starters include beef carpaccio, tuna tartar, shrimp cocktail, crab cake, lobster bisque, and several salads. Being a steakhouse, the choices for entrées are meat, meat, and meat. Broiled New York loin steak, prime rib chop, classic porterhouse steak, surf & turf, filet mignon, lamb chops, chicken. You can also get sea bass and lobster ravioli. Sauces are served separately and there are plenty of side dishes to choose from.
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.
Note: In June 2012, Carnival increased the surcharge on all its steakhouses, to $35 per person.
Lunch / Dinner
As an amuse bouche, Prime Steakhouse serves a cold tomato soup with balsamic and a rosemary foccacia with a delicious tomato and rosemary salsa. The mushroom cappuccino with five types of mushrooms and cream, truffle oil and thyme is among the best mushroom soups we've ever had. A refreshing and tasty appetizer is the baby leaf spinach with mushrooms, blue cheese, and parmesan cheese -- a light and healthy appetizer. However, if you like raw fish, the ahi tuna tartar should be the perfect appetizer for you. It has a pleasant and not overpowering acidic taste. The seaweed and the avocado and cream paste compliment the tuna perfectly, as does the fried and crunchy apple ring.
Prime Steakhouse also serves an excellent macaroni-and-cheese side dish, prepared with five different types of cheese. The surf and turf is a classic, including filet Mignon and two king prawns along with with Yukon gold mashed potatoes and wasabi horseradish. The filet Mignon was perfectly cooked as ordered, medium rare, and the lime on the prawns gave it a nice acidic tinge. However, the mashed potatoes were not spicy at all, despite the wasabi horseradish.
For dessert, you have the choice of cheesecake, caramelized Washington apples, fresh fruits, sherbets, and ice creams, as well as a cheese plate. Chocolate aficionados will be in heaven with the chocolate sampler, which comes with four chocolate desserts including a bittersweet chocolate cake, banana panna cotta, tiramisu, and a chocolate marquise – a dense and rich chocolate mousse-like cake with ice cream. Each one is better than the previous.
This is the ship’s buffet eatery, and it’s huge, with a wide mix of cuisines and choices.
The Lido Marketplace is a huge place with four buffet lines, a large salad bar, a wok station and a carving station. For breakfast, the stations offer eggs, omelets, cold cuts, fresh fruits and cereals. Every night, the buffet offers a different special, like Jamaican jerk chicken and assorted desserts.
Lido Marketplace has the look and feel of a canteen. Small alcoves with benches are divided by glass. Like most of the ship's interior, the Marketplace is all green and blues. The benches are red with blue and green back rests. Though often crowded, it's light and airy inside, and a good place to get a quick bite without dressing up. You can take your food outside to the pool side, 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 huge choice of fruits. On three different egg stations, chefs cook fresh 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.
Lunch / Dinner
The salad bar in the Lido is huge and offers already-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 in the Lido change several times during the week, but are the same as on the rest of the ship. You can get tiramisu, lemon cupcakes, crumble apple pies, fruit salad, jello, and cookies. The best dessert we tried was the apricot crumble cake: a fresh and sweet indulgence.
Plaza Bar has the best coffee on the ship, European-style, just the way we like it.
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 an inside seating area and two outdoor spaces on either side of the ship and a stage. The inside area is decorated with mosaics and blue lights. In the afternoon you can participate in one of the many trivia games, and at night a live band gives it a pleasant lounge-feel.
The breakfast buffet at Ocean Plaza offers croissants, bread, jelly (cherry, apricot, orange), cereals, oatmeal and coffee. It's just 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.
Lunch / Dinner
The Plaza offers lunch only on sea days. It's a small sandwich station, where you can choose your ingredients, and 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 lunch.
The Plaza offers several cakes, like black forest and pound cakes, as well as coffee, cappuccino, latte, espresso, and hot chocolate. All hot beverages cost extra, though the most expensive is only about $2.
The sushi is fresh, but you have to take whatever the chef decides to make. No custom orders.
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.
Lunch / Dinner
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.
With a name like Grill & Pizza, you know what to expect, but they also make a decent breakfast.
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 / Dinner
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 your bun with all your favorite ingredients. If you manage to time your arrival when they're fresh, the burgers are great. Long tenures under the heat lamp don't do them any favors.
An Indian cuisine station and a deli are side-by-side at the back of the ship.
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.
Lunch / Dinner
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
At $80 per person, the Chef’s Table is an expensive, though memorable, culinary experience.
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 chefs putting together these delicious dishes. It's an environment in which the executive chefs 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 dishes are 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. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs in the galley.
Lunch / Dinner
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 include "tomatoes our way" with aerated tomato juice, coated cocoa butter, and poached 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.
Each of these dishes were 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. Magic's executive chef served it with avocado cream and fake caviar. 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. The 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 any ship so far.
In-Room Dining Overview
The options for in-room dining are limited. If you want good food you’ll have to leave the room.
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.
Lunch / Dinner
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.
You can get drink packages for soda and wine. Everything else needs to be purchased individually.
The Magic offers wines and beers from all over the world, including their own variety of beer – ThirstyFrog Red. There are no special drink packages for alcohol (outside of a little discount on the wine), but there is a soda package.
Beer & Wine
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.
Pools & Decks
There are a lot of choices for laying in the sun or cooling off in the pool. Feeling more playful? Check out the waterpark.
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.
There are five areas with pools and hot tubs, ranging from the quiet to the absolutely frantic waterpark.
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.
Seek out the hidden sundecks in the front of the ship for more quiet and privacy.
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.
Ship Tour Overview
Tour the deck plans of the Carnival Magic
Unveiled in the summer of 2011, the Carnival Magic is pretty much brand new and looks it. There's no rust and nothing is broken. Carnival took a more contemporary approach regarding the decoration (as compared to other recently unveiled ships in the fleet), but still offers a fair amount of "Carnival glitz." There are a lot of greens and blues everywhere, tiles instead of carpet, many paintings and even more lights. Some parts feel more like a lounge, others more like a club. The Lido looks a lot like a diner, while the specialty and main restaurants are more polished and elegant.
As with a lot of other modern-day, mass-market cruise ships, the Carnival Magic feels more like a hopping Las Vegas hotel than an old-fashioned ocean liner. Especially with the different colored lights in the Magic Lobby & Atrium. It is a little over the top, but still looks good.
Navigation & Signage
All over the Carnival Magic are signs pointing passengers in the right direction. Overviews of the decks are right by the elevators. However, the first couple of day it is pretty easy to get lost, as the Carnival Magic has so many decks and plenty of room to loose your way.
A mandatorylife boat drill is held on embarkation day, and the crew sometimes will have other drills during voyages that don't involve passengers. Emergency exits are well signposted, as are instructions for reaching life boats and assembly points. Fire extinguishers and hoses are located in all public areas.
With a fitness center, sports deck, spa, bars, and lounges, your recreation needs are covered.
Carnival Magic offers several places where passengers can relax and get pampered. Cloud 9 Spa is one of the biggest spa areas on a ship, with 40,000 square feet over two decks. It features a range of facilities and treatments, including a thermal suite, thalassotherapy pool, beauty salon, fitness center, and VIP treatment suites.
The ship's fitness center offers dozens of free weights, treadmills, and other equipment, for those want to stay in shape. Carnival Magic also has a jogging track on deck 12. The "SportSquare" deck-top area features a nine-hole miniature golf course, pool, and ping pong tables, and the first ropes course ever on a cruise ship.
The Showtime Theater Carnival offers free shows and movies at the Seaside Theater. The vessel also offers plenty of lounges and bars with trivia, karaoke, and life music. Kids have their own clubs, and for the game-loving adults, the Magic has a huge casino, with hundreds of slot machines, as well as several card games and tables. There's something for all ages and tastes.
Lounge & Cafés
The Magic’s 11 lounges range from quiet libraries to the club-like music venues.
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 Cafe
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 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.
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.
Ahh… the relaxing environment of the Cloud 9 Spa is hard to beat.
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.
Massages & Treatments
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).
If you’re looking to keep fit during your stay, Magic’s large fitness area is the place.
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.
The miniiature golf course with nine holes is spread over two levels. The clubs are located right there at the course, not tucked away, so anybody can play whenever they want.
The SkyCourse is the first ropes course at sea, a fact that Carnival loves to tout. It’s located right above the sports court. Donning a safety harness, passengers can work up their courage to get above deck 12 and walk one of two courses with swinging steps and beams. This is probably not an activity for everyone, but if you don’t mind the hits, it’s an interesting challenge.
At the sports court, passengers can play basketball, soccer, and volleyball. There also are tables nearby for ping pong, foosball, and pool (billiards, not swimming). Shuffleboard and chess/checkers are also available.
Sky Fitness has six exercise stations and is part of the jogging track.
Rodeo Drive, this isn’t, but if you’re looking for cheap cigarettes and jewelry, this is the place.
Fun Shops of Carnival
The Fun Shops of Carnival sell perfumes, jewelery, cigarettes, accessories, bags, clothing, knickknacks, and souvenirs. Everything is duty-free when the ship is in international waters. There are a lot of sales (jewelery 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.
There’s always some kind of game going on somewhere, like trivia or bridge. Pop into the video arcade or catch an outdoor movie if you’re so inclined.
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.
Nightlife & Shows
A dull ship, this isn’t. Every evening brings a wide range of shows, live music and dancing.
After dinner, you have the choice between shows in the Showtime Theater or in the Spotlight Lounge. In addition, live bands play at the Play it Again piano bar, the Plaza Bar, the Atrium, and the RedFrog Bar. Most of these locales also have a dance floor, too, for dancing, but those who want to dance until sunrise should try the Vibe, Magic's dance club.
The Vibe is the only real nightclub in the strict sense of the world, though not the only place where you can dance. Almost all bars and lounges have a dance floor, so everybody can have fun with the live music. Other than that, there are Sail Away Parties, a Captain's Party, and Late Night Deck Parties. All events are announced in Carnival's Fun Time, the newsletter that gets delivered to the rooms every night.
The RedFrog Pub is the first pub in the Carnival fleet, offering its own beer, as well as snacks.
If you're not up for bars or clubs, Carnival offers plenty of shows in the Showtime Theater or in the Spotlight Lounge. The latter offers comedy and magic, along with karaoke and murder mysteries. Or try your luck at the casino, where you can join the player's club or participate in tournaments.
Thisis a fun, Caribbean-themed pub with its own brand of beer that you won’t find anywhere else.
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 only 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 bar at the main pool area is a great place to catch some sun while working on your hangover.
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 juices and soda.
This bar is in close proximity to the Indian restaurant and deli as well as the back pool area of the ship.
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 the Magic’s only dedicated dance club, limited to passengers 21 and up.
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.
The Magic has a decently-sized casino with plenty of slot machines and more than a few gaming tables.
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.
Casino Food & Drinks
You can get drinks at the Hat Trick bar and food at the nearby Ocean Plaza or the nearby sushi bar.
Casino Rewards Program
While playing slots, players earn points, as long as you play with your key card inserted in the slots or give it to the supervisor. After earning the first 1,000 Carnival enrolls players in the Players Club. Playing at the slots, members earn points and get money: for every 1,000 points there's a $10 cash reward. More information on the Players Club is on the Carnival website.
Shows & Performances
There are two stages areas that offer complimentary performances.
The main show theater, the Showtime Theater, features performances by singers, musicians, and dancers. The performances are Carnival productions, and just as it would be on Broadway, photography is not allowed. The theater is large, spanning two levels. There's a bar, of course. All shows are complimentary.
Magic's second stage is the Spotlight, where comedians and magicians performs on several nights. There are also close-up magicians performing in all dining rooms, lounges, and bars.
Services & Staff
All the waiters and staff we encountered were friendly, attentive, and possess remarkable memories.
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. The stewards are also attentive. As expected, they fold a little towel animal every night. What surprised us was their seeming obsession with cleanliness – certainly not a fault in stewardship.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Like the Carnival Magic, the Norwegian Dawn is a fairly glitzy, mass-market ship that will appeal to a wide range of travelers, particularly families. That said, the Norwegian Dawn is an older and somewhat smaller vessel without some of the bells-and-whistles of the Carnival Magic, particularly on its outdoor top decks. Carnival Magic offers a more spectacular water slide area and a wide range of other unusual deck-top features such as a ropes course that aren't found on the Norwegian Dawn. Where the Dawn has an edge in its diversity of eateries, with everything from a Japanese teppanyaki restaurant to a Brazilian churrascaria eatery on board (though we found the quality of the food at many outlets better on the Carnival Magic). Both ships have a wide range of bars, clubs and showrooms offering lots of entertainment, but if it's the hottest, newest ship you're after, the Carnival Magic is the better bet.
Like the Carnival Magic, the Norwegian Epic is big, shiny and new, with all of the latest-and-greatest in cruise ship amenities. Both vessels offers a wide range of deck-top fun zones, including some of the hottest water slides at sea, and lots of indoor entertainment and activity that make them great for families. If it's a mega-resort type experience you're after (think Las Vegas or Orlando), neither of these ships will disappoint. Where the Norwegian Epic has an edge is in its diversity of eateries -- a Norwegian Cruise Line trademark. The Norwegian Epic offers more than a dozen different restaurants serving everything from Italian and French to Japanese and Brazilian cuisine. Norwegian Epic also has some of the biggest-name entertainment at sea, including regular performances by the Blue Man Group and Chicago's Second City comedy troupe. The Carnival Magic, meanwhile, offers all sorts of deck-top fun, including the first ropes course at sea (wear a harness to climb above the waves). In some respects, it's a toss up between these two ships.
Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas is roughly the same size as the Carnival Magic, but the experience is a little different. Carnival cruises in general tend to be a little "wackier," for lack of a better word, and the Carnival Magic is no exception. Not that the Freedom of the Seas is staid, but the overall feel is certainly calmer. In diversity of options, the Freedom of the Seas can't compare to its newer, bigger sibling, the 5,400-passenger Allure of the Seas, but it still is a giant vessel offering a wide range of restaurants, bars, showrooms and more from which to choose.
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.
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