Carnival Magic's super-sized build, new venues and amped-up activities were a precursor of next-generation Carnival cruising. Comparable in size to Dream, the ship has 22 more passenger cabins-- a total of 1,845, accommodating 3,690 passengers. After a March 2016 dry dock, she shines with refurbished décor and a full complement of Fun Ship 2.0 upgrades.
Like the rest of the fleet, Carnival Magic’s cabins are large and well designed. All cabins have a TV, minibar, hair dryer, small sitting area and bathroom with shower. Junior Suites and a handful of larger Grand and Ocean suites have walk-in closets and whirlpool tubs. The Cove Balcony cabins, on deck 2 near the waterline, are a bit cheaper than balcony cabins on higher decks. Plus sea lovers get a close up view of the ocean here (though you may feel the motion of the ship more than on a mid-level deck). For those willing to pay for it, balconies are super-sized on the stern-facing cabins on decks 6 to 9.
Carnival pulled a surprise out of its back pocket when Magic went into dry dock, with help from friend (and culinary personality) Guy Fieri. Guy’s Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse is a first-in-fleet, celebrity-designed BBQ restaurant that serves authentic slow-smoked and grilled meats, comfort food sides, and a hot sauce bar. Guy's is open from noon to 2:30 on sea days only, but for no surcharge. This is the second Fieri-branded restaurant on Magic—the ship just got its own Guy’s Burger Joint as well.
Cucina del Capitano family-style Italian eatery also expanded, with a new 24-hour Pizzeria del Capitano concept. Sit-down dinner service at Cucina has a surcharge; the pizzeria is in a different venue, and is complimentary.
The main dining rooms on Carnival Magic are Southern Lights (the larger venue located aft) and Northern Lights (the smaller room set in the forward part of the ship). The smaller main dining room has some space dedicated to Your Time Dining, but both restaurants also do two seating times nightly. Sit-down breakfast and lunch are also served in Southern Lights. These meals are when most people visit the buffet-- especially the newly-added Comfort Kitchen but also the deli, stir-fry station, and pasta bar. Savvy lunch-seekers opt for the tandoori station or the salad bar on deck 5.
Carnival’s steakhouse alternative on Magic is called Prime. Like others in the fleet, it’s everybody’s favorite date-night upgrade. The $35 surcharge gets you three courses, with entrees ranging from double-cut lamb chops to filet.
The Chef’s Table over-the-top dinner experience is a galley tour followed by a multi-course gourmet menu with wine pairings, for $75 per person.
Bars & Lounges
RedFrog Pub now has a sister venue on the Lido: RedFrog Rum Bar, which came in during dry dock. Also new in 2016 are the popular BlueIguana Tequila Bar, and Alchemy cocktail bar with a hipster “pharmacy” motif.
The more established venues, like the Library Bar, atrium bar, and Play It Again piano bar, are always ready and waiting to welcome thirsty travelers.
You never really hear people complaining that they lacked stimulation on the Carnival Magic—it’s more that they didn’t get to do everything, or they didn’t get any sleep. Activities start early in the day: the Lido Deck poolside action and Ocean Plaza on deck 5 get busy right after breakfast. The Beach Pool shows Dive-In Movies and concerts on the oversized screen that seems as big as the actual pool. Vibe Nightclub opens when early birds have already called it a night—and stays open till about 2AM.
The main theater on this ship is Showtime; the smaller one called Spotlight Lounge presents Punchline comedy alternating with fan-favorite Superstar Live Karaoke. Ocean Plaza is the indoor-outdoor epicenter of classic cruise ship daytime entertainment, featuring live music, trivia games, hot-tubbing, and socializing. Hat Trick Casino offers table games and hundreds of slots at sea.
Lido is home to the two main pools. Beach Pool is the larger one where most daytime excitement takes place (starting with the Sail Away party). Tides Pool is a bit quieter.
The Serenity area is technically the sophisticated grownup retreat. However, grownups on this ship are prone to move one deck down to WaterWorks water park to cool off under the Power Drencher or ride the 300-foot Twister water slide. Adults also gravitate to SportSquare, which features the exciting (or terrifying, if you get vertigo) SkyCourse elevated ropes course.
Happily, under-18s have 19,000 square feet to themselves. Like all ships, it’s divided into five age-segmented areas, starting with pre-K, and going up to Club O2 for the older teens. Note: Camp Carnival’s Night Owls group program is genius. Little ones (6 months – 11 years old) get movies and snacks. Tweens and teens have their own clubs—so popular that over-18s feel envious they can’t join.
If you dislike long waits for food, lunch will be a challenge—especially in the new venues.
Debarkation can be quite bumpy, especially the luggage retrieval component.