I've cruised once each on on Royal Caribbean, Norwegian, the Disney Big Red Boat, and a few times on Carnival. This was by far the nicest vessel I've experienced. The Magic was deployed in 2011 and is immaculately maintained. I saw maintenance guys painting something and cleaning/polishing every day.
The cruise entertainment staff were very friendly and cheerful. You know these people do the same thing week in and week out and still manage to at least keep up the appearance that each cruise of guests are special to them. The various goofy games and contests they host during the days at sea were fun to watch. The DJs and bands played a great variety of music. One afternoon, the all Filipino band set up to play on the ocean theater (a huge sun deck area with a pool on the Lido deck (ten), I yelled out "FREE BIRD" as they were about to play. The singer put his hand up in a "wait-a minute" gesture and the acoustic guitar player/singer TJ who had helped them set up joined them on the bandstand. They instantly jumped into "Sweet Home Alabama" and lit up the crowd. They were a great band and knew an extreme variety of tunes.
The water slides on the top deck were a hit with kids and adults. I couldn't resist the urge to try both of them. Speaking of kids, we didn't take any, but the Magic must have one heck of a kids program because after the first of our seven days, we saw very few of them. On the last day, they reappeared as if having escaped from the Neuschwanstein castle prison from "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang". If you have kids from 3 to 17, the Magic has an age appropriate program for them.
We used dine-on-our-time dinner seating. I prefer the option of eating dinner whenever I want from 5:30pm to 9:30pm. We enjoyed eating with different people every night. If you have cruised before and prefer to have the same waiter each night, then the scheduled seating might be for you.
The food was excellent. We ate the breakfast and lunch buffets on deck ten, had breakfast and dinner in the Northern Lights Dining Room on deck three, had deli sandwiches from the sandwich shop on the aft Lido deck, and ate countless slices of pizza from the 24-hour pizza kitchen. I ate so much I boarded the Magic as a passenger and departed as cargo. You can order as much of any item as you want from the every day or day-specific menus.
I didn't use any of the Cloud Nine Spa facilities, but I i did use the fitness center each morning. The center is well equipped with machines and free weights and includes an array of elliptical climbers and treadmills all facing the open windows on the forward end of deck twelve. Arrive early if you want to grab an elliptical, especially on the first days of the cruise. I noticed the crowd thinned as days went by and people got into partying at night.
The Serenity Deck (13) is a age 21 and over only deck with hammocks and over sized loungers for couples. The amenities were nice, but I opted to spend my time with the crowds and music at the Seaside Theater on deck ten.
The Magic had a great magic show with a guest illusionist flown in from Las Vegas. The show included the dancers and singers from the Showtime theater and was well produced. I sat on the front row and although I knew they were all illusions, I have no idea how he pulled off most of the tricks he did. I caught the end of the Grooveline show and what I saw was pretty good. The live band was talented and included a great horn section.
The family and adult comedy shows were both very funny. Apparently, they swapped comedians in Grand Cayman because there were two new names on the bill after that stop.
I didn't visit the casino, but it looked well equipped as I passed through it.
The stateroom service is impeccable. You can get up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and your bed will be made when you get back to it. OK, maybe that's an exaggeration, but the service is great. They will bring food to your room 24 hours a day with no charge, but a gratuity is expected. The towel animals as a part of each night's turn down service are a nice, creative touch.
Here are a few tips I'll consider on my next cruise:
Don't be in a hurry. NOTHING happens quickly on a cruise. If you don't like lines, don't arrive for boarding until about an hour before the stated sailing time. Your bags will be among the last to be delivered to your room, but you will likely want to kill time exploring the ship and you can change into your swimsuit if you bring it in your carry on.
If you want to avoid the WORST of lines, carry your own bags down to the gangway to disembark on the last morning. I left my stateroom and headed down from deck six, exited the ship, cleared customs, got to my car on the remote lot, and hit I-45 north in 45 minutes. If you place your bags in the hallway and let Carnival deliver them to the terminal, expect to wait hours with frustrated, hurried passengers and their screaming Neuschwanstein parolees between the time you leave your room (required by 8:30am), clear customs, and get to your car.
My stateroom was great. Other than sleeping, I didn't spend much time there, but the balcony was nice. Next time, I will bring a clock. The sunlight crept in through the thick curtains in the morning, but in the middle of the night, I would wake up and have no idea what time it was. If yours is an inner state room, it's pitch black day or night with the lights off.
There is only one AC outlet (120v/220v) in each cabin; none in the bathroom. Bring an extension cord and multi outlet if you think you need more.
Buy the bottomless bubbles soda card. Tea, lemonade and water are provided at self serve stations in many locations. Apple, orange, and mango juice are also during breakfast hours. At $2 per soda with gratuities automatically added, the card will pay for itself in spades. You can bring a case of sealed can sodas, water, etc (non-alcoholic). They will closely inspect to verify the cans/bottles are sealed.
Book your excursions before you sail or stand in line and book them on the first day. Many sell out quickly.
Bring your own pillows in a suitcase. You'll sleep better and will also have a padded case in which to bring back your souvenirs.
Beware the up sell. Almost EVERYTHING costs extra once on the ship. They will try to sell you photos of you doing almost everything: entering the ship, leaving the ship, eating dinner, standing around, dancing, paying too much for sodas at the bars, you name it. They push pricey drinks in fancy souvenir glasses - a different one for each day at sea.
Finally, sit back and the the trip happen. Once you accept the concept of "cruise time", you will settle into a groove and have a blast.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.