Just off the Magic, so I thought it would be a good time to write my first review! This was my fifth cruise and my girlfriend's third, and the first on the Magic for both of us. It was also our first time sailing out of Fort Lauderdale.
We drove to Fort Lauderdale and used Park N Go as opposed to parking at the port, and we feel like we made a GREAT choice. I think it was a little more than half as expensive as parking at the port, and they have a shuttle that takes you to and from the parking lot. When we got to the lot, the attendants unloaded our bags for us and put them right on the shuttle, we gave them our keys, and were on our way to the port within about 5 minutes.
Our check-in time at the port was 12:30, and there was a long line once we got inside but it moved very fast. I saw a couple boarding passes in front of us for later check-in times, so it doesn't seem like they were enforcing the times at all. It didn't really matter though, because I don't think we ever stopped moving once we got in line, and were on the ship within about 20 minutes of being dropped off at the port.
We had a balcony on deck 7, and were very impressed with the room itself. It seemed bigger than the balcony staterooms we've had on other ships, and it had plenty of storage for all of our stuff. It also had a refrigerator that kept things pretty cool, even without keeping the door to the cabinet open. There was a hairdryer in the cabin as well, and my girlfriend made a note not to bring her own next time because the one in the cabin worked so well. Our steward, David, was incredible the whole week. We're pretty low maintenance, but any time we needed something he was right there for us. I'm always impressed with the quality of the stateroom stewards on Carnival, and this time was no exception.
Now to the negatives with our room. I know there's quite a bit of talk about the sewage smells on the Magic, and we definitely experienced that for ourselves in our stateroom (among other places on the ship). It wasn't there all the time, and it seemed like it was coming through the AC or the vents in the room, but it was definitely noticeable and was quite strong at times. Another problem we had was the noise that our stateroom made during the evening from the rocking of the ship. Now, this trip in general was quite a bit more rocky than others we've been on, so it may have just been more noticeable this time than it has in the past, but every time the ship rocked back and forth, there was a creaking or clanging sound that sounded like the metal from the ceiling clanging against the metal on the walls. It looked like people before us have noticed it before too, because there was paper wedged in between the wall and the ceiling in quite a few places, but it didn't seem to help much and the room was pretty noisy during the night. Also, the stateroom shower was pretty inconsistent in its water temperature. There was one time where we couldn't get the water warm at all, but there was another time where the shower was so hot that I couldn't even get in and just had to wait until later in the day.
All in all though, none of these bothered us enough to ruin our cruise, so please don't take it as that, but these are all issues that we've never had before on previous cruises so they definitely stood out to us this time.
I think we tried just about every food option on the ship, and were never disappointed! We had anytime dining, and it never took more than about 5 minutes from the time we requested a table on the Hub app to the time we got a notification that our table was ready. The food options in the main dining room seemed to be a little more limited on some nights than they had been on past cruises, but everything we had was great.
We ate at Cucina del Capitano for lunch on embarkation day - and liked it so much that we went back for lunch on our last day too. The service was pretty slow in there, but the food was great and worth the wait. My girlfriend also had the sushi from the promenade deck and said that it was amazing, but as somebody who doesn't eat sushi I'll have to just take her word for that. And of course we had our fair share of Guy's Burgers, Blue Iguana Cantina, and pizza from the lido deck.
Guy's Pig and Anchor was also fantastic, but because it's only open on for lunch on sea days, there was almost always a line whenever we tried to go there.
One thing that we really enjoyed on this ship was that they had a late night buffet option available. We hit that up three times, and it was always the same offerings - meatball subs, pasta, macaroni salad, grilled ham and cheese, and a couple other options. So it wasn't a huge selection, but it was great for late-night food options when you didn't want to wait in line for pizza. I don't think this has been available on any of our previous cruises, so we really loved having this as an option.
We also tried the pizza delivery through the Hub App, and both times the pizza was there in probably less than 15 minutes. It's even delivered in a pizza delivery bag so it's hot and fresh when it gets to you! This is definitely a great feature that Carnival has added, and was worth the $5 when we didn't feel like walking up to the Lido deck.
The best meal we had the entire cruise, though, was in the steakhouse. Oh man, was it worth the $38. The steak in the main dining room just doesn't compare to what you get in the steakhouse. I got the cowboy ribeye, and it was as good or better than any steakhouse meal I've ever had at home, including those that cost much, much more. I can't recommend the steakhouse enough if you're on the fence. You won't regret it.
We thought the entertainment on this cruise was better than any we've had on our previous cruises. There was a string trio playing in the lobby most evenings and they were fantastic, and we spent quite a bit of time listening to the Sea Monkeys play in the Ocean Plaza area of the ship. The Playlist Production shows on this cruise were 88 Keys, Flick and America Rocks. 88 Keys was absolutely incredible, so we went to both of the others too. Flick was just as good as 88 Keys, but we weren't big fans of America Rocks. Some of the singers just didn't have the voice for the songs they were trying to sing, and it seemed a little more corny than the others. Overall though, the theater shows were absolutely some of the best we've seen.
We went to the comedy club two nights, and both nights it was standing room only about 15 minutes before the show started. One night there was a line that ran all the way from the lounge on the back of the ship to the midship casino waiting to get into the comedy show. It's a little ridiculous that Carnival won't have these shows in the main theater, especially when there's nothing else going on in there at the time.
Our cruise director, Simon London, is one of our favorites, and he didn't disappoint. This is our second time sailing with him, and he's the only cruise director who's ever really made a difference in my cruise one way or the other. Everything that he hosted, from the music trivia to the Love and Marriage Show to the dance parties, was such a blast. I don't know how he manages to be everywhere at once, but his energy and humor really made our cruise that much better. We don't necessarily pick a cruise based on the CD, but if all else were equal and we had a chance to sail with Simon again, we absolutely would choose to go on the ship on which he's the CD.
We were originally scheduled to go to Half Moon Cay, Amber Cove and Grand Turk, but Hurricane Dorian's damage to Half Moon Cay forced us to go to Nassau instead. Because we had been to Nassau before we weren't thrilled with the change, but since it was our first port day we decided to get off the ship to find something to do. We weren't able to book excursions until we got onto the ship due to the last-minute port change, so we decided just to play it by ear once we got off the ship. We ended up doing a "glass bottom boat" tour that we booked at a stand right outside of the port area, and it was...ok. We only paid $35 each so we were fine with it, but the "glass bottom" was really just a hole in the floor that they uncovered for a few minutes, and they never delivered on their promise to drop us off at the beach after the tour so we ended up just going back to the ship once it was over. Like I said, we were fine with it for only $35, but it's definitely not something we would do again.
At Amber Cove, we got off the ship to do a little exploring in the port area, but we were a little late getting off the ship and the pool was so packed that we just did some shopping and got back on to enjoy the empty ship. We ended up spending most of our time in Amber Cove on the Serenity Deck, which was a ghost town. It was pretty much the only time we could get a clamshell, and the hot tubs were empty, so we felt like this was a day well spent.
In Grand Turk we booked an excursion through Carnival called Home Away From Home, and it was the best day of the entire cruise! The shuttle took us to a private home about 10 minutes from the port, where we had an open bar and an amazing buffet lunch of jerk pork, roasted chicken, rice, corn, macaroni salad. They also had a trampoline in the water, kayaks and snorkels that were all free to use, and there were less than 100 people there so it never felt crowded at all. We absolutely loved this excursion, and would do it again in a second. There was a natural rock barrier in the water, so I would recommend water shoes, but I can't think of a single thing to complain about from this entire excursion...although that may be the result of the open bar.
We always do the self-assist debark and just carry our own luggage off. Getting off the ship was no problem at all, and we were off the ship and into the port about 5 minutes after we left our stateroom. Now, getting out of the port was a different story. There were only 4 customs officers at the port checking 4k passports, and the line snaked around the entire port. We were probably inside the port for about 40 minutes waiting in line to go through customs after we actually got off the ship. It was a mess. At one point they even closed the gangway off the ship to let the line for customs clear out. Like I said, this is the first time we've sailed out of Fort Lauderdale so I'm not sure if this is normal or not, but this was by far the worst experience going through customs that I've had in 4 previous cruises.
Getting back to our car, though, was just as easy as getting to the port before the cruise. The shuttle was waiting when we got off the ship, they loaded our bags on, and we were in our car in about 10 minutes. The shuttle driver even dropped us off right beside our car in the lot and unloaded our bags from the bus for us. If we cruise out of FLL again, we'll definitely be using Park N Go.
This was probably the best time that we've ever had on a cruise! Sure, there were little things that we could complain about, but we don't really sweat the small stuff and definitely don't let it ruin our cruise. The Magic seemed to handle the crowds as well or better than any ship we've been on before, with the exception of the usual crowds in the buffet area. I wouldn't hesitate to sail on the Magic again, but would like to try the other Dream-class ships as well.
Hope this is helpful (or at least informative), and if you have any other specific questions please feel free to ask!