Jump to content
efuzz

Magic Review 2/24-3/3/18

Recommended Posts

This was cruise #8 for us, and #7 on Carnival. We've cruised 6 times in the last 9 years. DW and I are late 40s empty nesters in the Atlanta area.
We booked this one back in April 2017 and it took forever to get here. Work has been super stressful lately and life in general has been a grind so we were glad to get away for some relaxation.
I took Friday as a vacation day so I could get the car loaded and get all the last minute details handled before we left. I picked DW up from her office at 1:30 and we headed south. We drove to Orlando and spent Friday night at the Hilton Garden Inn - UCF East. It was a good stop, clean property and helpful staff. We took our time getting out the door Saturday morning and made the drive to Port Canaveral. We had check in booked for 11:30-12:00. We arrived at Park n Cruise at 11:15, later than I hoped due to traffic, but hopped right on a bus and were underway in just minutes. After getting off the shuttle and unloading we headed to the terminal. Things were moving quickly and we got to the check in line right at noon. Having cruised from 5 ports, PC is easily my favorite. It truly looks like chaos, but somehow it works smoothly. We checked in, applied gift cards to our account (physical cards only - no e-cards at this stop) got our S&S cards, and were told to head straight to boarding.
We hit the line and bypassed the traditional first photo to head for the ship. The line moved quickly and we stepped foot on the Magic at 12:25. Since we shouldn't check out the cabin until 1:30 we went directly to deck 5 and found the Pig and Anchor BBQ. I love barbecue and I also love reading how everyone has the best BBQ where they live so they know BBQ. Maybe that's true, but unless you've tried it all over the US, how can you really say that? I guess it's just a mystery. I've been told we tend to get heated when someone brings up politics or religion. I would add BBQ to that list.

I'll say this. I know what type of BBQ I like. I've eaten it in lots of places. I've had Texas BBQ (and love it!). I've had St Louis, Oklahoma City, Kentucky, both North Carolina styles, South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama white sauce, Georgia, etc. I've had lots of BBQ. I won't call myself an expert, because I don't know what that is, but again, I know what I like. At Pig and Anchor I thought it was solid. The brisket was decent, although some of it was dry. The chicken was tasty. The sausage was not - it tastes like breakfast sausage. The pulled pork was good. As far as sides go, the mac and cheese was decent, as was the slaw. All in all, it was a solid choice and a good addition to the offerings. That was way too much time spent on one food option. My apologies but I can't say it won't happen again.

After lunch we still had a little time before getting into the cabin so we found a shady spot just outside the Red Frog Pub and had something to drink while we relaxed. After relaxing for a bit we grabbed our carry on bags and headed to the cabin. I had gotten an upsell call 2 weeks prior to our sail date and we upgraded from an interior deck 7 room to a spa balcony on deck 11. It was ready to go when we got there so we dropped our bags and spent a little time on the balcony before heading to the spa.

With a spa balcony cabin we got access the the 12 deck spa amenities so we took a tour of the various steam rooms and the thalassotherapy pool. We booked massages for the next morning and returned to our cabin to wait for the muster drill.

It was in the theater, like you may have read, and the Good Reverend Dr. E, the cruise director, delivered the briefing in multiple voices. It definitely made it a bit more entertaining and I listened to catch the voices.
After the drill we headed to Lido to enjoy the sail away party. A good time was had by all, and I had my first burger from Guy's. I was impressed and definitely had a few more of these before the week was out. We had an 8:00 reservation at the Steakhouse and I needed a little snack to keep me going until dinner. The burger did the trick.

Not much else was going on this evening but we got back to the cabin to wait on our bags. Once they arrived we unpacked and got ready for dinner.
Dinner at the steakhouse was a little disappointing. We've dined in the steakhouse on most of our cruises and this was my least favorite. The food was still good, but the atmosphere was different. In the past it always felt like a "nicer" restaurant, but this time didn't. I don't know if it was the set up of the restaurant but it felt different. The couple next to us brought their baby and allowed her to crawl around the restaurant while they took turns chasing after her when she got under another table, I'm sure that had something to do with my experience but overall I was not as satisfied as I have been in the past.

After dinner we were tired from our travels and DW was not feeling great so we called it an early night. Tomorrow was sea day and we had early massages scheduled.

More to come...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
OH! Following along. :)

I do have one question so far (and I am sure I'll have more, since we're on the Magic in 2 months)... You mentioned you parked at 11:15, things went fast yet you weren't on the ship until 12:15, over an hour later. Why is that? Were you zoned and had to wait to board, or where was the hold up at?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I love BBQ no matter what state it’s from, they all have unique flavors. I don’t argue it, just eat it. Nice review, we’ll be on Magic in 2 weeks.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We'll be on Magic in January. Looking forward to hearing more.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Looking forward to hearing more.

Let their baby crawl around the restaurant? Not only is that completely inconsiderate, it's also extremely unsafe. Jeez Louise...

Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='teknoge3k']OH! Following along. :)

I do have one question so far (and I am sure I'll have more, since we're on the Magic in 2 months)... You mentioned you parked at 11:15, things went fast yet you weren't on the ship until 12:15, over an hour later. Why is that? Were you zoned and had to wait to board, or where was the hold up at?[/quote]

???? Lets see...he parked his car at 11:15...waited for the bus, loaded his bags, got to the terminal, unloaded bags and gave to porter, then he went inside to start the boarding process (paper work, security, etc)....sounds to me things moved right along for him!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[COLOR=#333333][FONT="](From your review) "We checked in, applied gift cards to our account (physical cards only - no e-cards at this stop) got our S&S cards, and were told to head straight to boarding." This rather surprised me. I have both physical and E-cards and thought they would be handled the same since they are both Carnival gift cards. Could you give us more detail on this. Once on board, I had planned to give them E-cards to pay for sail and sign expenses. I have done this in the past but don't recall the E-card issue. [/FONT][/COLOR]

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Can't wait to read more! DD and I are considering Magic for mid-August.


Sent from my iPad using Forums

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='teknoge3k']OH! Following along. :)

I do have one question so far (and I am sure I'll have more, since we're on the Magic in 2 months)... You mentioned you parked at 11:15, things went fast yet you weren't on the ship until 12:15, over an hour later. Why is that? Were you zoned and had to wait to board, or where was the hold up at?[/quote]


So yeah. I parked offsite. Had to get on the shuttle while bags were loaded and other passengers also boarded the shuttle. Then we drove to the port and navigated traffic to the drop off. Once bags were unloaded I made sure mine were there. Walked to the terminal and got in line. Multiple steps, but it moved pretty quickly from my experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='richfret'][COLOR=#333333][FONT="](From your review) "We checked in, applied gift cards to our account (physical cards only - no e-cards at this stop) got our S&S cards, and were told to head straight to boarding." This rather surprised me. I have both physical and E-cards and thought they would be handled the same since they are both Carnival gift cards. Could you give us more detail on this. Once on board, I had planned to give them E-cards to pay for sail and sign expenses. I have done this in the past but don't recall the E-card issue. [/FONT][/COLOR][/quote]


I had 4 gift cards - two actual cards and 2 e-cards. When I checked in with my boarding pass and received our S&S cards I asked to apply all of them, but the gentleman in the terminal said he was able to apply the actual cards, which he did, but the e-cards would have to be applied on the ship. I had to take those to Guest Services, which I did later in the week when there was no line and it was done in maybe 3 minutes. YMMV

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='lcpagejr']???? Lets see...he parked his car at 11:15...waited for the bus, loaded his bags, got to the terminal, unloaded bags and gave to porter, then he went inside to start the boarding process (paper work, security, etc)....sounds to me things moved right along for him![/quote]


Yep

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sunday was a sea day. As I mentioned earlier, we booked early massages. Those were set for 8:30 AM. (Not sure what we were thinking...)
I placed an order for coffee and bagels to be delivered between 7:30-8:00 and they showed up at 7:50. This was our wake up call and got a little something in our bellies before hitting the spa. We walked to the spa, 6 cabins forward and take a right (starboard) turn to the elevator that only runs from deck 11 to Serenity stopping at 12 and 14 for the spa. We checked in and went our separate ways for different treatments. DW got some type of detox thing that she thoroughly enjoyed although she said you have to cast all modesty aside as your therapist, treatmenter, or whatever they are called pretty much sees it all. (consider yourself warned). I had a stone massage. We were both offered products at the end (of course). The interesting thing is, I was offered a lower price for the same products. I said no but DW said yes. When learning I was offered a lower price she had second thoughts and decided to return hers the next day. They gave her a full refund without any hassle.

We had both downloaded the Carnival Hub app (recommended) and added the $5 per person chat function. I sent her a message that I was done and would be on the balcony sipping coffee when she returned. Her treatment lasted longer and when she returned I was indeed sitting on the balcony sipping coffee. We walked to the elevators and downstairs to the MDR for sea day brunch. She had steak and eggs and I had huevos rancheros. Both were good and we returned to the cabin to relax.

The rest of the day was relaxing in loungers in the shade and reading. We took this trip to relax an unwind and we were off to a good start.

Tonight was the first formal night so soon enough we had to go back to get ready for dinner. We have always done assigned seating and this was going to be our first experience with YTD. While DW showered in the cabin shower I walked to the spa (just around the corner) and used the men's locker room to shower. This has become a habit for me. The showers are much bigger and barely used. It also keeps the room from getting warmer with one less shower in the evening. I like it but your choice may be different.

We eventually got ready and went downstairs to check in for YTD. Being formal night, the lobby was busy with people taking photos and there was a band playing in the lobby bar. There was quite a line to check in for dinner and we waited in that line for 15 minutes to check in and get a pager that lets us know when a table is ready.

We were told it would take 20-25 minutes for a table so we walked around to take a few pictures. Our pager went off after 20 minutes and we walked back to the dining room to be seated. We were given a table for 2 but we were literally sitting right next to another couple.If you want an intimate dinner, it's not happening here. Not a problem for us, as we chatted with the people were were pretty much sitting with, but something to consider.

So this is where we first felt a bit of disappointment. I won't rehash everything we ate all week, but the food quality was definitely the worst we've had on a Carnival ship. I've normally enjoyed dinners on Carnival, but this trip was not the same. The other issue, although it may have been related to YTD, but the service seemed disorganized. We had dinner in the dining room 4 times and it was never really good. The food or service. One night we finished our entrees and after sitting for 15 minutes with no one stopping by to take our plates or offer dessert, we just left. If this is a result of Carnival cut backs, they are working on driving people (or at least us) to other cruise lines.

This brings up the second disappointment. We met our steward on the first day. He introduced himself and asked us to select morning or evening service. We selected morning but he still stopped by to freshen the bed and leave Fun Times each evening. We also asked for ice each day, but had to ask again the next day before we finally got it that evening. He was present, but never seemed attentive, at least not like we've gotten used to. This wasn't terrible by itself, but combined with the reduction in service in the MDR, it had us wondering how this would go.
In a related note, the next morning we had breakfast on Lido. I walked over to get silverware while DW was at the table. She asked one of the employees who are there to clear tables where she could find ketchup and he looked at her for a second and then turned around and began carrying on a conversation with another employee, never responding to her even though he was looking at her when she asked. Thankfully I grabbed ketchup. Later in the same meal, we were done eating and sitting at the table talking over coffee when another employee cleared our dishes and wiped the table. In the process he mostly wiped the crumbs in our laps!
At this point, we were convinced this was our last Carnival cruise. I also noticed the food offerings, while improved with things like Guy's Burgers, Pig and Anchor, and the Blue Iguana ( great breakfast burritos), were significantly less at night. Everything seemed to close down earlier and even when open it seemed all the buffet lines were never open at the same time. It felt like more cutbacks.

A final complaint for this trip, as we walked around the ship during the first sea day, the whole atmosphere of the ship seemed different than previous cruises. Passengers were loud and rude. I'm not one to freak out over dress codes and go with the flow, but I did notice significantly more men in hats, shorts, and sleeveless shirts in the main dining room than I've ever seen. It just felt different but we discussed everything and decided we were here to relax and have a good time together, regardless of what seemed different than before, unless we found something new to do....

Up next - finding our place and our people....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='nicole9s']Looking forward to hearing more.

Let their baby crawl around the restaurant? Not only is that completely inconsiderate, it's also extremely unsafe. Jeez Louise...

Sent from my SM-G930T using Tapatalk[/quote]

It was a surprise, especially when none of the employees said anything.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='efuzz']I had 4 gift cards - two actual cards and 2 e-cards. When I checked in with my boarding pass and received our S&S cards I asked to apply all of them, but the gentleman in the terminal said he was able to apply the actual cards, which he did, but the e-cards would have to be applied on the ship. I had to take those to Guest Services, which I did later in the week when there was no line and it was done in maybe 3 minutes. YMMV[/quote]

Thanks EFUZZ. I was really concerned since I have considerable dollars in E-cards and thought this might be a major problem. Now that I think of it, I have only used them on the ship or with the TA for the cruise purchase.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='efuzz']So yeah. I parked offsite. Had to get on the shuttle while bags were loaded and other passengers also boarded the shuttle. Then we drove to the port and navigated traffic to the drop off. Once bags were unloaded I made sure mine were there. Walked to the terminal and got in line. Multiple steps, but it moved pretty quickly from my experience.[/quote]

Gotcha! I just thought it took that long to get through the actual terminal. Thanks

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The rest of the story....

We did this same itinerary 2 years ago on the Valor. Going into this one, we knew the ports enough to know what wanted to do and didn't stress over excursions. Here is a quick run down of the ports:
[B]Amber Cove [/B]- we didn't leave the ship. We weren't impressed with the port area before so we chose this day to relax on the ship and enjoy some time on deck with a good book.
[B]St Thomas[/B] - we took a cab to downtown ($4 each) and had lunch at Gladys' Cafe (recommended). After, we looked in a couple of shops before taking a cab back to the ship ($4 each way again) and did a little shopping in the duty free shops for some local sugar cane based products...If you want an excursion here we have done both Magen's Bay and the Catamaran snorkel trip to St John on past trips and thoroughly enjoyed both.
[B]San Juan[/B] - we walked around Old San Juan, one of our favorite stops and had lunch at La Bodega del Viejo (highly recommend). It's next to the fort entrance so you can combine a fort visit with lunch. We walked back to the ship and picked up some cigars for my Dad on the way.
[B]Grand Turk[/B] - maybe our favorite port of all. We walked off the ship and walked left past the zoo of chairs near the pier to a less busy area near Jack's Shack. We paid $15 for two chairs and an umbrella and spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach.

Now back to the ship. I left you with a tale of disappointment. We weren't having as much fun as we had hoped and were beginning to doubt our choice of the Magic when we decided to stop by the Alchemy Bar. I had seen this one before but assumed it was a martini bar and somewhere I didn't want to hang out. I was wrong.
We connected with the mixologists here, particularly Aleksandar and Natalyia, and made friends with a few others who all became regulars. We were here every night with the same 6 -8 people and really connected. It's not the typical ship bar and has a different feel to it. We wound up taking the mixology class on Friday after being invited by Aleksandar on our first night there. It was a blast and if you get a chance to participate it is worth the $15. Honestly, this spot and these folks made all the difference in our cruise. We have a new hang out spot now on future cruises and would consider whatever ship Aleks and Natalyia are on next time.

[U]Odds and Ends[/U]:
The Good Reverend Dr. E is as advertised and is an entertaining Cruise Director.
Get a breakfast burrito from Blue Iguana at least once.
The deli only has pre-made sandwiches so don't expect anything custom.
We ate at Cucina de Capitano and it was the best meal we had on the ship and well worth the $15 charge.
2Shay and Whiskey and Wine were two of the duos playing on various stages and were both good.
We didn't see any production shows but we did take in the Love and Marriage show, which is always funny.
If you've never done Quest, check it out (but know it is an adult scavenger hunt). If you have done it before, you know...
The steam rooms on deck 14 were never really that warm, but there is a properly hot sauna on deck 12 in the men's locker room. I assume there is one in the ladies locker room but I didn't actually go in to check it out.
Debarkation was delayed by customs a bit, but went fairly smoothly once we got started.
When you get to the luggage area - always get a porter, unless you like waiting in terrible lines. We got a porter and were through customs and in the parking lot for our shuttle within 5 minutes of grabbing our luggage. Those who did not get a porter were in a line with more than 100 people, maybe more like 150.
And if you do get a porter, make sure to tip!
We were in debark group 7 and were on the shuttle by 9:15.

That's about it but I'll answer any questions. (FWIW. I don't have copies of the Fun Times)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='richfret']Thanks EFUZZ. I was really concerned since I have considerable dollars in E-cards and thought this might be a major problem. Now that I think of it, I have only used them on the ship or with the TA for the cruise purchase.[/quote]

I tried to apply the e-cards using the kiosk on the ship but apparently you can only get them applied by Guest Services. Not sure why, but when the kiosk wouldn't work the young lady at the desk told me the desk was my only option because the kiosk would not process e-cards.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just curious, how did you handle tips? With the sub par service it sounds like you got, I was wondering if they were pre-paid, or if you paid them as you went? I'm really leaning towards just paying them as I go the more stories I hear like this. In my mind, tipping is an incentive & reward for good service. I can absolutely see crew "phoning it in" on those pre-paying & focusing most of their energy on the people they know will actually be tipping them according to their service- not their daily allotment of ~1.95, or whatever they get after Carnival takes their cut.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Uhfolks']Just curious, how did you handle tips? With the sub par service it sounds like you got, I was wondering if they were pre-paid, or if you paid them as you went? I'm really leaning towards just paying them as I go the more stories I hear like this. In my mind, tipping is an incentive & reward for good service. I can absolutely see crew "phoning it in" on those pre-paying & focusing most of their energy on the people they know will actually be tipping them according to their service- not their daily allotment of ~1.95, or whatever they get after Carnival takes their cut.[/quote]

We prepaid. I can't say if that impacted my steward or not. I wouldn't deduct as I assume the gratuity is part of my cruise package, but I usually give extra to the steward at the end of the week and I definitely didn't do that this time. However, the folks at the Alchemy got plenty extra.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks for the review! I'm going on the same cruise in April. Which night was the second formal night?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='TyBaby']Thanks for the review! I'm going on the same cruise in April. Which night was the second formal night?[/quote]

I was on this cruise too and the second elegant night was Wednesday, San Juan.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='TyBaby']Thanks for the review! I'm going on the same cruise in April. Which night was the second formal night?[/quote]

Wednesday. That was the night we visited Cucina del Capitano.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='JaniceB']Thank you for your honest review.[/quote]

You are welcome. Hope it helps!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='efuzz']Wednesday. That was the night we visited Cucina del Capitano.[/quote]

Thanks! I had that night booked too. Think I'll change it. Happy Cruising! :D:D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Nice review. We'll be on Magic in a few weeks -- switched from Breeze, decided to wait for Breeze to move from Galveston to PC which is less than half the distance for us. Now hoping Magic will be at least "mostly" as pleasurable as Breeze was for us 3 years ago.

We also have YTD. I didn't see any mention of [B]which dining room/deck[/B] is YTD... ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Looking forward to reading more of your review, as we are to do the Magic on the 31st of this month.

You mentioned that you like Bar B Que? I noticed it looks like you have eaten it in several places, but not Kansas City, and that is one big thing we are known for.:)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='Moonarino']Nice review. We'll be on Magic in a few weeks -- switched from Breeze, decided to wait for Breeze to move from Galveston to PC which is less than half the distance for us. Now hoping Magic will be at least "mostly" as pleasurable as Breeze was for us 3 years ago.

We also have YTD. I didn't see any mention of [B]which dining room/deck[/B] is YTD... ?[/quote]

YTD was in Northern Lights dining room, midship deck 3.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[quote name='beshears']Looking forward to reading more of your review, as we are to do the Magic on the 31st of this month.

You mentioned that you like Bar B Que? I noticed it looks like you have eaten it in several places, but not Kansas City, and that is one big thing we are known for.:)[/quote]

You are correct. KC is on my list, but I haven't gotten the opportunity to travel there... yet. I will at some point. Work gets me to Texas quite a bit and OKC some, but not KC so far.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×