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“Carnival Magic Cruise”
Review of Port of Galveston

Port of Galveston
Reviewed March 17, 2013

My husband and I (who are in are late 20s) went on the Carnival Magic Cruise in March 2013. We had a fantastic trip. James Charlton (the Cruise Director) does a wonderful job of getting the passengers into and involved in the different events and keeps everyone well informed of all the of upcoming events throughout the day. You will receive a FunTimes each night for the following day which details out each hour what activities are going on (it is is perferated for you to tear out and carry around). The key to having a great cruise is participating in the events (if you do not participate in the events then you will probably be bored). On top of visiting several different countries, some of our favorite events were the Carribean Beach Party and Mexican Fiesta on the Lido deck (which was for ALL ages), nightly shows (i.e. magic show, Legends show (the last night which involves different cruisers dressing up and singing along with the cast)), The Game of Love Show with James and nightly movies on the big screen over the pool. We had dinner within the Southern Lights Restaurant each night and the Matradee was very welcoming and warm and we throughly enjoyed our waiter (Antonio). On the cruise you have the option of eating at an Itailian Restaurant ($12/person) or a Steak House ($35/person), but we did not see a reason to spend the additional money because we enjoyed the food in the restaurants.

Our only compliant about the cruise is you need to be concise of your bill. Since the drinks (cokes, energy drinks and alcohol) are additional expenses to your bill it easy to lose track of how much you are spending since you just swipe your sign and sail card. You are able to access your account from your TV each day to see how much you have incurred. However, when none of the drinks are less than $4 the bill adds up quickly.

We are definitly planning on taking another cruise and would love to sail with James Charlton and the Carnival Magic again.

3  Thank Lydia R
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed March 17, 2013

We went through the Port of Galveston on the Carnival Magic last week. The staff was friendly and helpful, and it was very clean. I felt they moved the lines as fast as possible and were very nice when we had questions.

2  Thank seallen76
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 17, 2013

Experienced cruisers will find this review elementary and primitive. They probably do not need a cruise review at all. But I am not an experienced cruiser, and other reviews left me unsatisfied. People had divergent opinions. Some reviews left me enthusiastic, while others gave cause for concern? With Carnival making unwanted news lately, I thought I would weigh in because novice cruisers may feel the need for more information.

The ship? Excellent. Much better than I expected. Although I'd worried about some system failing and leaving us adrift in the Gulf, I came away impressed. The vessel is plainly new. Its systems worked very well - hot and cold running water, lights, elevators, tv, water fountains, etc.

Now to summarize the main take-aways before elaborating:

* Very good food and options for eating
* Very good design for the ship itself
* Very good set of options for activities
* Splendid crew members from all over the world
* Prepare to face innumerable opportunities to pay $ (a la carte) for optional extras
* You'd better like being around people, as you are 1 animal out of thousands on the Ark

Would I do it again? You bet. But with some adjusted expectations and a minor change to my wardrobe.

FOOD. The ship has many options for eating, too many to cover here. You can eat all you want for no extra charge at the general restaurants and buffets. Or you can book a table at the Italian place for roughly $12 per head, or a table at the steakhouse at about $35 per head. The steakhouse is small, so it books up quick. Some reviews in the past criticized the general restaurants for slow service and bland or room temperature food. I say, "Wrong." Maybe the company has been reading reviews. Regardless, the service was excellent - i.e., quick and friendly. The food was varied, thoughtful, creative, and very good. Your teenagers can always eat at the eternal pizza place, and there is no shortage of burger or sandwich type options. But if you want sit-down dining, you can have it. Bravo to the kitchen.

DESIGN. You're in a big, floating, hotel-bus. It has over a dozen decks. There are open air areas outside with plenty of lounge chairs, some in the sun and some in the shade. A detailed description would not be as helpful as a quick look on a video site, but the designers deserve credit for morphing the ship into something like a cross between a college dorm and a shopping mall. I don't do casino myself, so I avoided that area, but others seemed to like it, and they were free to spend time in the casino while I hung out in my preferred spots. I like to walk and do some light exercise in a gym: no problem. The Magic has a very high quality gym with modern equipment (ellipticals, treadmills, bikes, free weights, weight machines), and a workout studio for classes.

OPTIONS. You can do excursions if you want when the boat is in port. Or you can skip them. You can dine early or late, with any group you choose. You can hang out on your balcony, or you can play bingo and go to the night shows. You can sit at the piano bar, or you can do karaoke. You can buy internet access (daily, or for the whole trip). You can buy spa and salon services. We got a room on the "spa floor," so we had ready access to steam rooms and a heated indoor pool. I saw young kids in the game room playing Uno with grandparents, and older kids in their own dedicated area playing air hockey. I saw people playing miniature golf, basketball, and soccer (although on a reduced scale). I am sure that there were places I didn't really notice. In short, you can customize your trip as you see fit.

CREW. The staff were very, very good. They generally looked like young singles in their 20s or 30s, from all over the world, with many from Slavic countries. They worked hard and cheerfully to make the experience positive for everybody. One of our lot got sick, but the ship doctor got her quickly taken care of. We thought the crew did a fine job.

A LA CARTE. Your base price gets you a lot of things, but not everything. Just get used to it. If you want a cruise where it is ALL-inclusive, this ain't for you. If that's your preference, you will lose your sanity in trying to count all the ways in which your wallet is being invited to open. There is no right or wrong in such a system. Just be honest with yourself. Think of the Magic as a giant Mini-Bar. Want bottled water? Well, get our your $. Alcohol? $. An excursion of any kind? $. Spa treatment? $. Wanna buy the bathrobe in your cabin closet? $. Want photos that the photographers took of you? $. I am going on and on about this because I felt like the guy at the beach who is being followed by three dozen hungry seagulls, all wanting something. But if you go to the beach, you shouldn't gripe about seagulls. Life has costs. I don't begrudge Carnival the right to lower its base price and charge more for optional add-ons. Otherwise, think about it. Do you really want to subsidize the bar tab for those hefty drinkers over there by the window?

THE ARK. You will see and interact with a lot of people. If you are walking, any change of speed or direction may result in a harmless traffic incident with another human being. So breathe calmly and don't be put off. In a moment you will be back at your table or in your preferred area of quiet. I found our room (a/k/a "stateroom") a very pleasant place to sit, as the balcony has ample room and two chairs plus a chaise lounge chair and table. Sometimes I had to wait on an elevator. Sometimes the elevator was full. But is that any different from my office building? No. Being on the Ark was fine. In fact, it was fun. It's just that I had forgotten what it was like to be in a dorm at a large state university. The Magic made those memories come back, and that's just fine.

CLOSING COMMENTS. Our 7-day cruise had 2 dress-up-for-dinner nights. I could have skipped them by dining downscale, but I didn't. I mention it just so that you will think about your wardrobe. I took jackets but not ties, and I wish I had packed a tie in each jacket. Take a pair of sandals, at least two pairs of nice shoes, and some everyday shoes for walking/working out. The ship has laundry service (and sells t-shirts), so you don't need 2 dozen shirts for a one week trip. Tours? We skipped the organized excursions and just walked around the ports of call, and we were very happy. But others in our group did some excursions and enjoyed them.

Overall, the Magic offers a great product. Life on a large ship has a tightrope element to it, because the margin for error is narrow, and that can spell quick displeasure to a lot of people. For example, maybe the weather will turn too rainy (or hot) (or cold) (or windy). That could upset your plans. Those who wanted to parasail during our week couldn't, because the wind was too strong. If you insist on being happy at all times and having everything your way, a large cruise ship may not be for you. Likewise, if you detest gambling, drinking, smoking, and tattoos, you might not want to make the Magic your first choice. But if you have a diverse group, with some young and old, and you're flexible, it's a very good choice. Don't obsess over the varying reviews that you will find on-line. Just pack flexibly and mentally set aside some extra $ before leaving. You will come away thinking that the Magic is great.

60  Thank dmgHouston
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 15, 2013

My first cruise (17 February 2013); doubt would do again. The Stateroom was lovely and I felt very comfortable in it unlike other areas of this ship. The ship is vast and it was a real struggle finding a quiet corner to relax in. The ship was busy every day (4,000 passengers), and you had to queue for just about everything – food at buffet on Deck 10, booking excursions, Customer Service, the Bar at Atrium etc. I chose dining in the Southern Lights Restaurant at 8.15pm. I wish I had chosen an earlier time. I missed out on most of the evening entertainment. However, the staff were brilliant and after dinner, they would put on a floor show – entertaining. I agree with other reviewers that everywhere on board is designed to take your money, (many people I spoke to complained that they spent more money on board than they did for booking the actual cruise). The food however surpassed my expectation and was truly delicious with lots of variety. Staff on board work tirelessly and make a point of addressing you by your first name; – with 4,000 passengers on board, it really was amazing how they remembered everyone’s names! The Ports called at were ok, (Montego Bay, Grand Cayman & Cozumel, Mexico). I would highly recommend the horseback riding in Cayman.
I was surprised that I could feel the motion of the sea in my Stateroom (Deck 7 aft) which made it hard to sleep at first.

3  Thank bmw725
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2013

We have been on several RCCL cruises out of Galveston, and there almost always seems to be delays. Delays boarding, delays disembarking, parking shuttle delays, etc. Our last cruise in December 2012 was the same way. We used Blue Dolphin for parking, which was cheaper and far superior to the Port Parking. Disembarkation was delayed for no apparent reason by about 2 hours. After going on a RCCL cruise out of Port Canaveral, Florida in February we saw how things are supposed to be run. We will continue to use Galveston because it is within driving distance, but wish the Port of Galveston would pick up its game.

2  Thank genelary
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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