cruises

Carnival Magic Cruise Review

The Carnival Magic is the line's newest, most amenity-filled ship, and a lively vessel.

July 28, 2011

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Introduction

Unveiled in May 2011, the 3,690-passenger (double occupancy; at most it can fit 4,730) Carnival Magic is the second in Carnival's Dream Class series, but it's not a carbon copy of its older sister (Carnival Dream, launched in 2009). In addition to two large pool areas and one of Carnival's trademark WaterWorks aqua parks with multiple water slides, its deck-top areas include such additions as the first ropes course at sea as well as the first outdoor weight-lifting area at sea (think Venice Beach). Dubbed SkyCourse, the ropes course is part of a deck-top area called SportsSquare that also has a basketball court (which supposedly doubles as a soccer playing area), a miniature golf course and ping pong.

On the inside of the Carnival Magic are several showrooms and a wide range of bars and lounges including Carnival's first-ever pub, the RedFrog (serving Carnival's own craft beer, ThirstyFrog Red). In addition to two main restaurants, the ship also has a steakhouse (a Carnival trademark) and a new-for-the-line casual Italian eatery. Like other mass-market lines, Carnival offers flexible "dine at your time" seating in one of its two main restaurants (the other offers dinner at fixed seating times). In general, the Carnival Magic is a casual ship, with a "cruise casual" dress code in all of the restaurants (although the ship does have an "elegant" night, where everybody sports their best attire).

In addition to such cruise ship mainstays as a duty-free shop and photo gallery, Carnival Magic's retail shop line-up includes a first-for-the-line sweet shop. Families, couples, and singles should find plenty to do.

Gene Sloan's Opinion on the Carnival Magic

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Say what you will about industry giant Carnival, but it does know its market — a spirited, fun-loving crowd — and it builds its ships accordingly. Prim and proper, the Carnival Magic isn’t. Fun and memorable? You betcha. While the Magic’s cabins may be relatively plain (though completely functional), and its cuisine is far from gourmet, this is a ship that is hard not to enjoy — at least if you’re the kind of person who doesn’t mind a little deck-top silliness, offbeat humor and flashy interior decor. Would you get up on stage to sing karaoke or at least have fun watching your friends do it? This is the ship for you. Horrified by the idea? Maybe it’s time to look elsewhere.

Keep in mind, the Carnival Magic is a relatively low-cost product. Luxury, it isn’t. But for travelers on a budget, it’s a great choice. Lined with some of the cruise industry’s coolest deck-top amusements (the 312-foot-long Twister water slide is a scream-a-minute, and we love the SkyCourse ropes course), it’s also a great ship for families with children both young and old. That said, adults without kids aren’t forgotten. The adults-only Serenity area atop the ship is one of the nicest adults-only sunning zones at sea (and unlike on some ships with similar areas, it’s open at no extra charge to enter, to boot).

Gene Sloan writes about cruising for USA TODAY, the nation’s top-selling newspaper, and oversees USA TODAY’s online cruise site, The Cruise Log. Sloan’s stories also are distributed by the Gannett News Service to more than 80 other U.S. newspapers with a combined circulation of more than five million, including the Cincinnati Enquirer, The Detroit Free Press, and The Arizona Republic.

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

Sections

  1. Introduction
  2. Cabins
  3. Interior
  4. Balcony
  5. Deluxe Ocean View
  6. Cove Balcony
  7. Grand Suite
  8. Cloud 9 Spa Balcony
  9. Cabin Amenities
  10. Dining
  11. Southern Lights
  12. Northern Lights
  13. La Cucina del Capitano
  14. Prime Steakhouse
  15. Lido Marketplace
  16. Ocean Plaza Cafe and Bar
  17. Sushi Bar
  18. Lido Grill and Pizza
  19. Tide Bar Tandoor & Deli
  20. Chef's Table Dinner
  21. In-Room Dining
  22. Drinks
  23. Pools & Decks
  24. Pool Areas
  25. Sun Decks & Open Areas
  26. Deck Plans
  27. Recreation
  28. Lounges & Public Spaces
  29. Cloud 9 Spa
  30. Fitness
  31. Retail
  32. Other Activities
  33. Nightlife & Shows
  34. Red Frog Pub & Beach Bar
  35. Beaches Bar
  36. Tides Bar
  37. Vibe
  38. Casino
  39. Shows & Other Entertainment
  40. Service & Staff
  41. Staff & Ship Policies
  42. Health & Safety
  43. vs Norwegian Dawn
  44. vs Norwegian Epic
  45. vs Freedom of the Seas
  46. Conclusion

Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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Our editors review and recommend products to help you buy the stuff you need. If you make a purchase by clicking one of our links, we may earn a small share of the revenue. Our picks and opinions are independent from any business incentives.

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