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ArmchairQB

Carnival Magic - 7 day Western Caribbean Cruise from Miami

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We are a family of four (myself, DW, DD, DD) and we were on the Magic from Apr 28 to May 5.  The ship stopped in Cayman, Roatan, Belize and Cozumel.  This was my 3rd cruise and the 2nd cruise for the rest of the family.  We sailed to Bermuda on the Horizon last August.  We are also from Canada and drove to Miami. (NOTE: The Magic has moved to Ft. Lauderdale.)

 

Travel Days

- We have driven from our home in Hamilton to Orlando a few times so we have a routine.  We deviated this time though as we usually leave at 5AM, but we decided to take 2 nights to get there and so we left after work at 5PM.

- We took the I79 route and made it past Pittsburgh on Day 1.  We stayed at a very nice Cambria Hotel in Washington, PA off the interstate on Night 1.

- On Day 2 we drove to St. Augustine and stayed Night 2 just off the interstate at a Comfort Inn.  This gave us a very manageable drive into Miami.  The hotel is decent.  The entrance is hidden; you have to drive between the Chevron and Shell gas stations and the hotel in behind the Shell.

- We arrived in Miami around lunch time and as our hotel had a 4PM check-in we went straight to South Beach and walked around.  We stayed at a Hilton Garden Inn by the airport for Night 3.  On the flight path but still quiet, except for the pool area.

 

Embarkation

- We had a 12:30 checkin time and we arrived at the Port at 11:30.  I always assume that it takes an hour to park, remove baggage, etc...  Carnival in Miami has 2 terminals and we were directed by overhead signs to Terminal E.  We were parking at the Terminal as it seemed that the hotel packages were for 7nights and 2 people and so I figured our 8 nights and 4 people no longer made them worth the hassle of transferring.  The signs will direct you to the right - DO NOT STAY RIGHT.  These point to the Terminal and the parking is across the road on the LEFT.  Traffic will be very heavy and you will have difficulty moving to the correct lane.

- We dropped our bags curbside and got in line.  The line looked long but we were through security in less than 20 minutes.  Our boarding zone was already called when we got to the lounge and we walked right on.

 

Cruising

- The Magic has a very nice Atrium extending from deck 3 to deck 11.  Despite this we noticed that the area was not very popular during the cruise.  So if you want to chill and listen to some live music this is the place to go first.

- We went up to deck 10 and found a table in the shade by the Blue Iguana.  The Magic has a very similar layout to the Horizon and so we felt like experts.  We ate a leisurely lunch had the first of 5000 ice cream cones and then it was after 1:30 and our room was ready.

- Everything was going great up to this point - here we encountered our first (of 2) hiccup.  We had been assigned late dining.  I had chosen Anytime Dining as we had last year.  We found this worked well for us.  After waiting in line at Guest Services for a short while (they had a team member walking the line) I was informed that what I chosen was a 'preference' and that only the Matre D could adjust.  This took some effort as the Maitre D is not easy to reach.  They tried to move us to earlier seating but with a group of other people.  In the end we decided we preferred our own table over early seating.  Note to self: Book a little earlier next time.

- The Dining room food was very good, I would say and our servers were very pleasant and remembered what we liked so we had extra servings the next time they appeared on the menu.  "Showtime" was very fun - the nightly singing and dancing routine the servers do. TIP: Bring an envelope or a card/envelope to tip the waiters - a lot more classy than handing them cash.

- The buffet was also good with a good variety.  Lines are common but with close to 5000 people on board waiting 20 minutes for Mongolian Wok is expected.  We are bothered by how much food is wasted in the buffet area though.

- Pizza, Guys Burgers, Blue Iguana were all great as usual.  I tried Pig An Anchor - really tasty, but ask for several items as the portions are small.

- The 4 Promenade hot tubs (not that hot) were better than the Havana tubs (which we only had access to at night) on the Horizon.  We hung out at the Tides pool most of the time as we like watching the wake.

- Water slides are fun.  We somehow missed the ropes course - again.  Mini-put is fun but the ship movement makes it interesting at times.

- Entertainment was fun and worth the 30 minutes or so that each show lasts.  We never had to worry about a seat. That could because we went early as we had late dining?

 

Ports

- Cayman was great.  We rented a car as my wife lived here for a few years.  We toured around and went to the Turtle Farm.  The Turtle Farm is a unique place as you can pick up the turtles.  It only takes about 20 minutes to get there and the park I can be walked around in 45 minutes.  My wife showed us her apartment which was a 5 minute walk from Smith's Cove.  (tough childhood. lol). Tendering was quick.  There were 3 ships in port but we arrived first and 6 tenders were queued up.  Note: you can pick up your tender pass anytime and you can specify your time - you don't need to be ready to leave.  There was a bit of a line in the hot sun to get back to the ship.  Shopping is right outside the area where the tenders dock.

- We went to beach near the pier in Roatan for the morning.  The Breeze was also in port and they arrived first.  We didn't get a lounge or chair even though there are hundreds as the beach was crowded.  We brought a beach blanket with us and we just found a spot in front of the chairs.  The beach is so so and the water is relatively clear.  There are areas with heavy seaweed.  We stayed a few hours and then went back for lunch.  Port side docked so we watched the 'runners'. 🙂

- We took an excursion to Altun-ha which was discovered by a Canadian.  Belize is a Commonwealth country and the people there are familiar with Canada.  Our tour guide 's son is in school in Canada.  The drive was rustic but similar to other rural impoverished countries such as Mexico.  The ruins are interesting but other than photos and climbing you will not experience much else.

- Cozumel was the highlight of the trip.  We arranged a snorkelling trip here.  We started with El Cielo which is the starfish sanctuary. Then we went to Columbia reef.  This reef is not to be missed as you drift along it with the current.  Schools of fish will swim around you.  We saw Barracuda, 2 Turtles, sting rays, Conch shells and much more.  We also went to Palancar which deeper and has more coral, but less fish.

 

Disembarkation

- We chose to carry all of our luggage and we went up to the Lido buffet to eat breakfast until our deck was called.  Just before that we decided to move to deck 5 around the Atrium with the theory that we could just take stairs or take advantage of the additional elevators in tat area.  This didn't work very well as even after our floor was called we discovered that the stairs were blocked and he elevators went by full.  So we went UP in order to go down to deck 3.

-  After we left the ship was when we hit our 2nd hiccup.  This was not a good way to end a near perfect experience.  We docked at Terminal D.  Perhaps because the ship was moving to Ft. Lauderdale?  We had parked at Terminal E, remember.  We had to traverse open road to get to a sidewalk and the walk was quite tiring given we had all of luggage.

- We also took some time to realize that the parking kiosk at Terminal E does not work.  Luckily there was an attendant at the exit.  And we were on our way home.

 

Travel

- We took I75 home.  I'll keep this short.  Do NOT take this route this summer (or maybe not ever).  Construction all throughout.  Crossing in Windsor drops you on a Boulevard instead of a highway.  A 3 lane Boulevard down to 1 lane.  Stretches of the 401 between Chatham and London are down to 1 lane as well. 

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Overall, it sounds like you had a nice cruise. We will be taking grandkids on Magic in late August before school starts.

 

 

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The Magic is a great ship.  I'm sure you and your grandkids will enjoy the trip.

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Enjoyed your review. Magic is my favorite Carnival ship. It’s interesting how the lobby/atrium bar can vary so much from cruise to cruise on any ship, not just Magic.  Some cruises the atrium is crowded every night while other cruises the atrium is never crowded like your experience. 

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17 minutes ago, PhillyFan33579 said:

Enjoyed your review. Magic is my favorite Carnival ship. It’s interesting how the lobby/atrium bar can vary so much from cruise to cruise on any ship, not just Magic.  Some cruises the atrium is crowded every night while other cruises the atrium is never crowded like your experience. 

The Magic atrium is a great space.  I do feel that these ships have so many areas to hang out in (including your room) and so crowds are not an issue.  Getting a seat in Ocean Plaza during trivia was a bit tricky though.

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The Magic is one ship I'd like to try.  Thanks for your review!

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4 hours ago, ArmchairQB said:

We had been assigned late dining.  I had chosen Anytime Dining as we had last year.

4 hours ago, ArmchairQB said:

Book a little earlier next time.

When did you book? My parents booked a cruise a couple of months ago, and I chose YTD for a cruise in August. Is that too late? They still had all options available/no waitlist.

 

4 hours ago, ArmchairQB said:

Despite this we noticed that the area was not very popular during the cruise.  So if you want to chill and listen to some live music this is the place to go first.

4 hours ago, ArmchairQB said:

TIP: Bring an envelope or a card/envelope to tip the waiters - a lot more classy than handing them cash.

Great tips! I am going to post that in the "Favorite Cruise Hacks" thread. I will give you credit. 

 

4 hours ago, ArmchairQB said:

🙂

🙂

4 hours ago, ArmchairQB said:

This was not a good way to end a near perfect experience.  We docked at Terminal D.  Perhaps because the ship was moving to Ft. Lauderdale?  We had parked at Terminal E, remember.

Yeah, I think I was watching your ships come in via a live cam and noticed that both the Magic and Horizon were in that day!

 

Anyway, great review! 

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I'm confused about the card for tips. Carnival has auto-tips charged to the Sail and Sign account or is that another cruise company we sailed? 

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Posted (edited)
3 minutes ago, AHS123 said:

I'm confused about the card for tips. Carnival has auto-tips charged to the Sail and Sign account or is that another cruise company we sailed? 

No, you are right. There are automatic gratuities, $13.95, applied, but you are free to adjust them at Guest Services. Those tips are not required, it is just something extra for people who you feel deserve it. 

Edited by jbethel11
*deserve not need

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2 minutes ago, jbethel11 said:

No, you are right. There are automatic gratuities, $13.95, applied, but you are free to adjust them at Guest Services. Those tips are not required, it is just something extra for people who you feel deserve it. 

Thanks, I should have said I was asking the OP. 

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14 hours ago, jbethel11 said:

When did you book? My parents booked a cruise a couple of months ago, and I chose YTD for a cruise in August. Is that too late? They still had all options available/no waitlist.

I booked early in March for the Apr 28th sailing.

14 hours ago, jbethel11 said:

Great tips! I am going to post that in the "Favorite Cruise Hacks" thread. I will give you credit. 

Thanks.  There were a number of people doing this on the last night.

14 hours ago, jbethel11 said:

🙂

Yeah, I think I was watching your ships come in via a live cam and noticed that both the Magic and Horizon were in that day!

Yes, they were both there.  That was nice for us because we talked about the Horizon cruise while in line.  A good way to start.

14 hours ago, jbethel11 said:

Anyway, great review! 

Thanks.

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14 hours ago, AHS123 said:

Thanks, I should have said I was asking the OP. 

Yes, the tips are automatically added to your account on the last evening.  They are based on a daily rate per person.  There are entire threads about the concept of tipping and extra tipping.  My personal opinion is that the staff is not well paid and I like to leave an extra tip to the wait staff and the cabin steward.  Now I suppose if I didn't ask anything extra of the cabin steward (we asked for ice once for our cooler and received it every day afterwards without asking) or if we had Anytime dining with different wait staff each night - I may not have tipped extra.  We were quite attached to our dining team and wanted to tip extra.

 

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Something else I just thought of.

 

The first thing I checked when I arrived in the room was the state of the fridge.  The room (8400) one of those thermocouples as its cooling mechanism.  The fridge was not cold.  I decided to not ask for a new fridge (yes you can do this) but rather to just use our cooler.  But, we did put a few things in the fridge and they DID get cold.  Not just cool but cold.  So if you notice that the fridge is not cold, don't panic.  I would add that if you open and close the fridge very often, this type of fridge probably won't work very well.

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