Carnival Magic Cruise Review by llemon1886
- Sail Date: April 2017
- Destination: Eastern Caribbean
- Cabin Type: Balcony
Embarkation: Smooth! We chose the early check-in time (11:30-12:45 I believe) and had no trouble getting on. We arrived early and I don't think the ship was even open just yet so there was a slight wait, but nothing unexpected. We got our first drinks at the Lobby bar (thank you, Cheers program) and headed right up to the Lido for lunch.
Our rooms were ready by 1:30 and luggage came quick so we were able to get unpacked and settled before dinner which was great.
Cabin: We were in a balcony cabin on 9 (9326 to be exact). Our room was great and our Cabin Steward Fauzi was phenomenal. However, there were definitely 2 negatives to our cabin location. 1. we were right below the lido deck. I wasn't overly concerned about this because most activities up there end fairly early. However, the noise from chairs being moved around late at night and early in the morning was terrible. And while the 5th level Lanai is a great feature - I recommend not booking a room right above one of the jacuzzis. Yes, they close at about 9 but anytime you're in your room during the day or on the balcony all you can see/hear is what's going on in the jacuzzi below. The other half of our group was down the hall (between the two jacuzzis) and had no trouble at all. Was it a deal breaker, absolutely not. But definitely a lesson learned.
Dining: For the first time we chose to do Your Time Dining. Having a group (4 adults) it was great to be able to choose the time we wanted to eat. However, the first two nights of having sub-par service was definitely a letdown. On our 3rd night we were put into Nathaniel's section - WIN! From then on we requested only to sit in his section, no matter how long we had to wait. Nathaniel and his team were fantastic! Attentive, friendly, and fun! I'm also not sure if this is something new with Carnival, but the only night we had linens on the tables was for our "cruise elegant: nights. I felt like there was just something missing from having that special dining experience we were used to each night on the ship. Guys Burgers is a MUST! If you're looking for a lighter lunch they have a nice little salad bar on the 5th deck right outside Red Frog. Didn't get a chance to try the BBQ - but it looked fantastic. Few Hints we learned: Go to the itallian restaurant for lunch. There's no extra fee and there is nobody in there! Made to order fresh pastas and be sure you get the BREAD! Also, if you're looking to step it up a bit - make a reservation at the Steakhouse. Not just on the Magic, but any Carnival ship that offers it. The food is just a step above and you get some different options than the dining room. Well worth it!
Entertainment: BEST CRUISE DIRECTOR!! Spending a week with Dr. E is worth the trip itself. From the Good Morning song to just his overall enthusiasm, you can't go wrong. He is so much more involved with guests and entertainment than any other cruise director we've had. His Lobby sing-alongs (or really "Guess That Song", Lido deck line dancing, and the "Magic Moment" shouldn't be missed. The theater would get PACKED for shows - most crowded I have seen on any ship. So if you're looking to see a show - get there early. We dabbled in the casino and enjoyed some movies on the Lido deck (La La Land, Hidden Figures) which was great. The weather held up in the evenings with no rain so we opted to be outside as much as possible! Hint: Serenity Deck jacuzzis are open until Midnight - great after a long day of activity!
Ports: Other than Amber Cove we had some great ports. And added bonus - NO TENDER PORTS! Tenders aren't bad by any means, but it's just so much easier to dock and get on/off the ship whenever you would like.
-Amber Cove: I've never enjoyed the Dominican Republic so we weren't super excited to stop here. Thankfully it was our first port. We got off the ship and wandered around the port for a bit, but it rained most of the time and was incredibly windy. There's a cute bar where we had some drinks, but the staff was really pushy and with the wind there weren't too many comfortable places to sit. We ended up booking some spa services for the afternoon so that ended up being the perfect way to spend the day!
-St. Tom: Out of all of our stops we thought this would be the best to snorkel, but didn't want to spend a day on a "Cattle"moran with rum punch and getting kicked in the water by the snorkeling masses. So I took to TripAdvisor and found a great company (there's actually a ton of options) for us to charter a boat for the day for the 4 of us. Best decision we could've made! Gus with Sonic Charters took us all around the island and St. John and even gave us some great history info. We had a reef snorkel stop (with 1 other boat there), lunch at The Beach Bar in Cruz bay, and finally snorkeled with sea turtles - no other boats around!! The only downside is that we were only in port for a little over 6 hours and it took us a while to get off the ship so we didn't get as much time on the boat as we would have liked.
-San Jan: We will definitely be back! So much to see and just not enough time. For this stop our group split up - two of us did the Rainforest Horseback Riding and the other 2 did the Historic Food and Drink Tour through Old San Juan. All of us had a great time!!
-Grand Turk: This was my 2nd time back to Grand Turk and they never disappoint. Our original plan was to hang out at the port and enjoy the beach. But once we learned that there was another Carnival ship in port (and after our delay that morning being diverted to help stranded sailors) we knew the beach was going to be packed. So we hit up the Shore Excursion desk and wound up booking "Home Sweet Home," which was a beach house, for the day. Great decision!! Was it worth $90...maybe not. But to end the trip on a high note and really enjoy the only full beach day we had was worth it. Our chefs were super friendly (bar tender and other team member weren't quite as "bubbly" but they were helpful) and the food was fantastic. The price included drinks for the day so we enjoyed some rum on the beach and waded in the water for most of the day. There were only about 40 other people there and it was a large enough beach to where you didn't feel crowded at all. And it seemed everyone was happy to be away from the crowds! We got back to port about an hour and a half early to do some shopping and enjoyed some drinks and snacks at Margaritaville. The pool was still jumpin', and it was fun to be around for a bit, but glad we didn't have to for the full day.
Disembarkation: The process itself was very smooth. We didn't have a flight until later so we opted to enjoy breakfast in the dining room that morning. The line itself to get off the ship was a little long but went pretty fast. The only issue we had was with our Sign and Sail accounts. As a couple, my husband and I had no problem. But the other 2 in our group had 2 different cards on their account. Throughout the trip the Carnival Hub App showed everything correctly. However, at the end of the trip when they got their statement everything was off. Had the amounts been somewhat equal it probably wouldn't have been an issue, but the charges were drastically different and completely flip-flopped. We went to Guest Services before we left and they seemed very helpful. But upon reviewing the statements - where the amounts seemed correct - it was all over the place! The $200 pre-purchased Cruise cash was on the wrong account, both gratuities were on one account - it was a mess. I still don't think it's worked out, but at this point they will work it out among themselves. It was just frustrating because the app had everything correct - why did it come out all messed up?
Overall we had an amazing trip. Most of that is because we had a great group, but Carnival delivered once again. Is it the most luxurious trip you'll go on - no. But that's not why we choose Carnival. We look for the most cost-effective vacation that we know we're going to have fun on - and that's exactly what this was!! Thank you Dr. E and all of the Carnival Magic team for a great cruise!
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Port & Shore Excursion Reviews
BeachWe booked Home Sweet Home through Carnival. It was a great way to escape the crowds for a day. The staff at the house was great, food was delicious, and drinks were included. It would've been nice to know that there isn't much area to swim, but because the water was so rough the reef/rock wall barrier ended up to be the perfect protection and allowed us to really just relax in the water. A little expensive for the money, but worth it for what we neededView All 74 Beach Reviews
Horseback RidingWe booked the Rainforest Horseback Riding tour through Carnival. Overall it was a great excursion. I would've liked the group to be a bit smaller (there were about 24 of us) and been able to do a little more than just walk. But the guides were really fun and the views were incredible. You can also tell the horses are VERY well taken care of, which is always great to see.View All 24 Horseback Riding Reviews
St. ThomasWe opted to through a private company and charter a boat for our snorkeling, and it was well worth it! We didn't have to fight any crowds, had an amazing lunch at a local beach bar, and did some great snorkeling! Saw so many fish on the reef and then hung out with some sea turtles!View All 4,648 St. Thomas Cruise Port Reviews
View Cruise Critic's St. Thomas Cruise Port Review