Friday, November 25, 2011

Carnival Magic Transatlantic

Carnival Magic Tranatlantic Review 10.28.2011

Just the Facts:
Cruise: Carnival Magic Transatlantic
Dates: October 28--November 13, 2011
Captain: Giovanni Cutugno
Cruise Director: James Charlton
Ports: Barcelona, Spain - Palma De Mallorca, Spain - Malaga, Spain - Las Palmas, Canary Islands - Freeport, Bahama Islands - Galveston, Texas, USA

This was my 26th Carnival cruise, 67th overall, 2nd Transatlantic, and 1st cruise on the NEW Carnival Magic. I’m traveling as a solo on this cruise.

Day 0- Thursday- 10/27/11
When traveling for a cruise holiday it is best to arrive a day before debarkation to acclimate yourself and allow for any potential travel problems; however, as a solo I decided to travel on the day of sailing. I left the ranch by 10:30 am to make a 2:00 pm flight from DFW airport. All went well and the flight arrived early at JFK in New York. The direct flight to Barcelona was scheduled for 9:00 pm but was delayed several times. It finally got away several hours late.

Day 1- Friday- 10/28/11- Embarkation- Barcelona
My overseas flight arrived in Barcelona about 1:00 pm local time, about three hours past the originally scheduled time. Spanish immigration was easy and after retrieving my bag I sought out the Carnival shuttle operators. They were very well organized and easy to find. I purchased a ship transfer ($30) and checked my bag with them that would later be delivered to my cabin. A very simple process. Soon we were on a bus and dropped direct at the Carnival pier. The VIP check in was also very well organized. The line seemed long at first glance, but went very fast as they had several check in windows available for VIP and added more as needed. I was on board about 3:00 pm and now had a chance to catch my breath and start looking at the newest ship in the Carnival fleet. Very impressive so far. (Atrium photo at right) After dropping my bag in the cabin I went to the Lido Marketplace to get a lunch before they closed for boat drill. The roast beef and salad were very good. After lunch I enjoyed some much needed cabin time to refresh from the long flight and travel. Boat drill began about 4:30 pm and seemed to go very smooth. I looked around the ship a bit and visited the excursion desk to make a query about an excursion the next morning, but it was sold out. I took a series of short naps and tried to adjust to the time change as best I could. Dinner time at 8:15 pm came fast so it was off to the Southern Lights dining room. I had a very good table location near the center of the dining room with friends and soon to be new friends. For dinner I ordered the Creme of Sun Dried Tomato Soup, the Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail, the Sweet & Sour Shrimp entree and the Crème Brulee for dessert. After dinner several of us went to the Showtime Comedy Club located in the Spotlight Lounge. I recently saw comedian Chase Elstner on the Carnival Glory and really enjoyed his show so I wanted to catch his act. He was hilarious. All the venues on the ship that featured live music seemed to be well attended. I retired to the cabin late and found a nice surprise: a ticket to the excursion I wanted for the following day.

Day 2- Saturday- 10/29/11- Palma De Mallorca
A nice morning with cloudy skies and occasional light showers. I went early to the dining room for my traditional 1st morning breakfast of Eggs Benedict, bacon, hash browns, grapefruit, milk, and tomato juice. It was very good and a good sign for the rest of the cruise. I had to meet the tour group in the Showtime Theater at 9:00 am and soon we were off for our excursion. The excursion was the Soller and Train Ride ($80), one of the more popular choices. We took a bus into Palma with a short stop then proceeded to the village of Soller. The weather was clearing and we had time to sightsee and visit the local Pablo Picasso museum. We then boarded the Soller Train, an old vintage electric train, for the trip back to Palma. It was a very picturesque excursion with the old village and mountains. We had the option of being dropped off at Palma or back to the pier. I chose to return to the ship. Upon returning I went to the Cucina del Capitano pasta bar where you can select your choices of pastas, sauces, and toppings. I had bow-tie pasta with meat sauce and topped with cherry tomatoes and grilled chicken. It was excellent and I will be returning. I tried the Key Lime pie from the Lido Marketplace for dessert and it was also excellent with a light sprinkle of pistachio on top. Now time for a nap as I’m still not quite acclimated to the time changes. After napping and some ship exploration I went to the Southern Lights for dinner. My choices were Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail, Langoustino Cocktail, a Mixed Green Salad, the Grilled NY Strip Steak, and the White Chocolate Bread Pudding for dessert. It was all very good with the steak cooked to order and the dessert a very nice surprise. Following dinner was the Welcome Show. Usually when these are held so late they are not well attended, but it was standing room only for this show. I guess with it on the 2nd night people were more rested and looking for entertainment. James the Cruise Director did a good job with a skit, the Captain introduced the officers, and the comedians did a short bit. No production singers or dancers, but the live band was very good. Following the Welcome show some friend and new friends went to the Piano Bar to enjoy Ron Pass. With the new non smoking policy I can now really enjoy the piano bar much more than in the past. We stayed for quite a while and Ron was brilliant. After closing the bar I returned to the cabin for a restful sleep.

Day 3- Sunday- 10/30/11- at Sea
The seas are very calm, but it was overcast and rainy in the morning. I slept late and had to hurry to make the 10:00 close of breakfast in the dining room. I had a nice standard breakfast to begin our first sea day. I took my computer up to the Red Frog to begin making notes and ‘people watch’ along the promenade deck. A new feature I took advantage of since I was sitting next to it was the Salad Bar set up where the Sushi station is located on deck 5. That’s a very good use of space to use it for a salad bar at lunch and sushi in the evenings. My salad was very good, you have a choice of several types of lettuce and several choices of add-on vegetables for your salad. Toppings include various dressings, nuts, or cheeses. Very nice. For dessert I went to the Lido Marketplace and had Banana Creme Pie & Tiramisu Cheese Cake. I have been very impressed with the desserts in the Marketplace, better than the dining room so far. I took a very short nap then went to the Magical Pond Hoppers meet. I wasn’t active on the CC boards, but really enjoyed the thread set up on Facebook. The meeting was fun and the Cruise Director and Captain came by for a while as well. After the meeting it was time for Afternoon Tea in the upper Southern Lights dining room. They served the usual cucumber sandwiches, petit fours and tarts. I didn’t see or wasn't served a scone, but they did serve whole large slices of chocolate cake. For a change of pace I listened to a bit of afternoon karaoke, it was the usual pretty bad folks other than one guy singing “Mac the Knife” who was excellent, I bet he will be in the Carnival Legends show at the end of the cruise. Some friends needed something from the spa and we ended up getting a nice tour of the complete Spa facilities. The Thalassotherapy pool (photo left) looks very interesting, but what impressed me is the vast improvement of the steam rooms. With such a busy day I didn’t get a nap and it was soon time for dinner. For dinner this evening I had: Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail, Thai Shrimp Soup (very spicy, but very good), Prime Rib with Baked Potato, and the Variations of Strawberries and Tropical Fruit Lasagne for dessert. A very good dinner. After dinner it was two sets of comedy in the Punchliner Comedy Club. Both Carl Faulkenberry and Chas Elstner were very great.

Day 4- Monday- 10/31/11- Malaga, Spain
Another great nights sleep and calm seas and nice warm weather. I was around early and in the dining room for a nice Eggs Benedict breakfast. The meet time for my excursion was 8:30 am and soon I was off on the Nerja Caves excursion ($60). We passed through Malaga on the way to Nerja located about 30 miles east. Our first stop was the Balcony of Europe a tourist site for well over 200 years. It’s actually just a small cliff overlooking the Mediterranean Sea with great views. It is now somewhat touristy, but an interesting village here as a part of Nerja. The ice creme here was very good. After recovering a lost passenger we made the short drive to the Nerja Caves. These are very interesting and one of the largest cave systems in Europe with the largest ceiling to floor stalagmite/stalactite column in the world. There were a lot of steps, but it was an enjoyable excursion. I did sample the local Andalusian Beer and it was very good. We returned to Malaga and were able to see much more of the city on the way to the pier. When we arrived back at the ship we could see the ridiculously long lines of passengers trying to check back into the ship, fortunately they knew it as well and by the time we had made our way through the terminal and local security (including x-ray of bags) the lines were gone. In that time the ships staff had stopped the redundancy of a second check in and only required the sail & sign card to be used. It would have been an hour+ wait if they had not done this. They need four entry points not the two they have used so far if they plan on checking every ones bags. For a late lunch I had turkey from the carving station in the Lido Marketplace. Next to it was a bowl of small cranberry sauce and a small bowl of something white. Not having seen this before I ask what was in the bowl. I was told it was “turkey sauce.” Interesting...I had to try this new ‘turkey sauce’ and soon discovered that it was cold white gravy (there were no potatoes-so very odd) BTW- The Turkey was excellent. They had red velvet cupcakes and they were good, but just a bit dry-none of the excellent pies today. I did a little ship exploring this afternoon and visited with friends before an afternoon nap. I love the habit of a nap and the interior cabin is perfect for it. I have made a new friend with Ana the guest services manager. She is working on getting my shareholders OBC (on board credit) that wasn’t on my account. I did have the correspondence on my computer so I’m sure she will get it arranged for me. TIP: always bring your OBC proof with you-just in case. I went up to Promenade early this evening in order to see all the Halloween costumes. The guests and crew really looked great. They did the thriller dance and paraded along the promenade. Dinner was very good, I ordered the Chilled Langoustino Cocktail, Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail, Grilled NY Sirloin Steak, and a special Halloween dessert selection. After dinner I went to the Showtime Theater to see the judging of the Halloween costumes. It was very entertaining and CD James did a good job. The photos are of the Hooters Lady who won the contest and our bar server at dinner (enlarge photos at your own risk). After the Halloween Contest it was 'close down the Piano Bar' again. Ron Pass was again VERY entertaining on the Halloween night. One can see why he has so many fans. It was a late night, but we gained another hour in time tonight so it’s ‘all good’!

Day 5- Tuesday- 11/1/11- at Sea
I slept in this morning and went to the omelet station for a very nice omelet. Friends where also there so we had a nice visit and I noticed that they continued serving breakfast until noon. I could have just stayed for the Mongolian grill as it was then set up, but thought I should save that for another day. I walked about the ship and found the Serenity deck area. It is much improved on the Magic. A large area with a bar, snacks, two hot tubs, and lots of cushioned lounges. I decided to try the two large slides today the Drain Pipe and the Twister. They have two, but only one was open as they are not getting that much use with the ‘older’ crowd aboard. I did the Drain Pipe and it was fantastic. You slide down a traditional tube but end up in a large embanked circular area and spin in circles until you slow down enough to stand up. Very cool. I will do that one again as well as the Twister when it opens. After sliding I met friends for lunch in the Cucina del Capitano pasta bar. I had both a pasta bowl and the lasagna. The pasta bowl was very good and the lasagna was fantastic. In the Lido Marketplace I had Key Lime cheesecake for dessert. After lunch I had my first Thirsty Frog Red ale in the Red Frog pub. Fun afternoon for sure. Now it was time for my new tradition: nap time. Dinner was again very good. I ordered: Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail, Potage American (tomato based lobster soup), the Grilled Filet Mignon over Yukon Gold Mash, and Passion Fruit Creme Brule for dessert. After dinner the primary show was Preston Coe who sang a variety of songs including both Spanish & Italian Opera, Elvis, a few show tunes, and my favorite: a Roy Orbison medley. I retired after the late show as it’s an early day tomorrow.

Day 6- Wednesday- 11/2/11- Las Palmas, Gran Canaria, Canary Islands
I was up early for a Marketplace buffet and omelet from the omelet station as our dining group was going to tour together today. We rented a very nice van for seven of us and headed south to Maspalomas and the Las Dunas (photo left). These are massive sand dunes located on the far southern tip of the island. We stopped at the beautiful RIU Masapaloma Resort and enjoyed the view of the dunes and also enjoyed some cocktails and free Wi-Fi. We then proceeded north across the center of the island through Fataga, San Bartolome, and Tejeda and enjoyed the spectacular views of the mountains and valleys. One village, Arteara, was covered in huge palms and looked like an oasis in a desert scene. The camels here also added to the illusion. A very scenic drive all around and a bargain as it turned out. We returned to the ship about 3:30 and I was able to score four 2-liter bottles of diet coke for the Atlantic crossing at a grocery while we were out and about. I had a snack and enjoyed the sail away from Las Palmas. It is a very lovely city and Gran Canaria is a lovely island. Before dinner I went to the Red Frog Pub and tried a Ting Mojita. That is the Jamaican version of the mojito and made with grapefruit juice. Dinner was again very good, I ordered a double serving of Steamed Alaskan Snow Crab Legs, the Roasted Strip-loin of aged American Beef, and Marinated Strawberries with warm Marsala Sabayon for dessert. A very interesting dinner with a few items not usually found on a Carnival menu. After dinner I retired early after a long excursion day.

Day 7-Thursday- 11/3/11- at Sea
The sea was really rocking & rolling as we have now started our trip across the Atlantic. I enjoy it some what, but the noises in the cabin woke me very early. I had an early Eggs Benedict breakfast in the dining room and then went to the Prime Steakhouse to meet my excursion for the day. I took the Behind the FUN tour ($95) of the ship this morning. It lasted from 9:30 am to 12:30 pm and was a lot of fun. (Photo of my group at right) We toured the Steakhouse, Main Galley (including cleaning area, cold galley, hot galley, food storage, beverage storage & freezer), Laundry (the bed sheet folding machine was impressive), Engineering Control Room, Theater Dressing Rooms, Crew Mess, Crew Lounge, Crew Training Center, Ships Bell, and the Bridge where the Captain spoke to us. We finished in the cocktail lounge on deck four where we had some champagne and received some gifts: nylon backpack, Behind the Fun baseball hat, and a lanyard. Overall a nice experience. I had lunch in the dining room for the first time and it was very good, I had a Salad and the Mixed Grill (small Lamb Chop, Sausage, Bacon, Pork Chop, & Chicken). Following lunch it was soon Tea Time for some sweets, the scones were especially very good. Late afternoon nap and some movie time in the cabin. This was the first elegant night and the Captain and senior officers were available for photographs. Room service delivered a couple of small trays of goodies during the day today, but still room for a nice dinner. I ordered Baked Stuffed White Mushrooms, West Indian Pumpkin Soup, and the Duet of Broiled Lobster Tail and Grilled Jumbo Black Tiger Shrimp. For dessert I had the Cherries Jubilee. The first production show was to be tonight, but it was cancelled due to rough seas so Karen Granger was the show tonight. She is a female impressionist who sings hits of various artists. I have seen here before and she has a really entertaining show. I retired after the late show.

Day 8- Friday- 11/4/11- at Sea
We have gained another hour this morning and the Atlantic is calmer today than yesterday. A good sign. I had breakfast in the dining room, a 3-egg country breakfast (to order). Later I attended a presentation by Radu, the senior Carnival Cruise line photographer, then a cabin crawl to see one of the new ‘cove’ balcony cabins. The cove’s are located on deck two so very close to the water for a balcony. They are very interesting and exciting due to the high seas. They are cover by the wider deck five above and the life boats directly overhead. A nice option. The weather cleared even more so passengers are back out on deck. This was a good time to try out the slides again. Both were open and they are great FUN even for this old dude. I had a nice late lunch in the dining room, the menus change everyday so there is some nice variety. I enjoyed some cabin time in the afternoon and tried to take a snooze. I did get a Strawberry Cheese Cake for the Lido Marketplace as an afternoon snack. I met friends in the Red Frog Pub this evening and I tried the Red Frog Hurricane served in a ‘fish bowl’, a large and tasty cocktail of rum and tropical fruit. Dinner was very good, I ordered French Onion Soup, Black tiger Shrimp Cocktail, Chopped handpicked Field Greens, and the Jerk Pork Loin as an entree. For desert I had the Warm Figs, Date & Cinnamon Cake. After dinner was the first production show: The Groove Line. (photo left) It was 1970’s music and dance. The costumes and set were great, but to be honest it was too much disco for me. After the show it was off to the Punchliner Comedy Club to catch the last set there. Jerry Goodspeed, a ventriloquist, was funny, but no Marc Rubben. Late night tonight so glad we are getting another hour of time tonight.

Day 9- Saturday- 11/5/11- at Sea
Weather improving and was very nice in the morning. We are now only four hours off of Texas time. I had another very nice breakfast in the dining room then went to the shops to look at merchandise. The T-shirt sale was yesterday (2 for $20) and I should have got some as they had my size. They had polo style today so I’ll wait until they have T’s again. I did get the last bottle of Captain Morgan Rum, that should be delivered on the last night. I met some clients for lunch today and we ate in the Red Frog for lunch. I had the sliders with onion rings (everything on Pub menu is $3.33) and a Red Frog. After lunch I had some casino time while waiting for my slot tournament to begin. No luck here today. I noticed that about half or more of the casino is non smoking and those areas seemed much busier than the smoking areas. I checked out the BBQ that they serve on the Lanai on sea days, it looked good, but I had a salad from the salad area (Sushi Bar) on deck five. There are lot’s of choices for lunch, but they need it to feed all the passengers on this BIG ship. BTW--we are sailing with about 3700 pax. It clouded up today before I could hit the big slide again, but it is still on my to do list for another round. I attended Tea Time again today, but the scones seemed off so no sweets until 5:45. Since my cabin is just below the Lido Marketplace I can pop up when the dinner service starts at 5:45 and sample the desserts for that evening. Sometimes they have good items that are not even on the dining room menu. Dinner was more of a repeat: I ordered: Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail, Cannelloni Piemontese, Roast Prime Rib of American Beef au jus, and Blood Orange Croissant Pudding. After dinner the feature show was Neal Austin with a comedy magic act, he was very entertaining.

Day 10- Sunday- 11/6/11- at Sea
An overcast morning that soon turned into a nice rain. I had another nice breakfast in the dining room and trying to change up my selections. My eggs were overcooked for the first time, but after taking the behind the Fun tour, I would actually be surprised if any egg order is correct. The hot milk continues to be very good, I’m glad I discovered that early in the cruise. Decks are busy due to the rain so movie time in the cabin this morning. We really have not had any live television for several days and the internet is very slow due to location and bad weather. I should have brought some DVD’s to watch on the lap top computer. For lunch I had a Reuben Sandwich from the deli and dessert from the Lido Marketplace. The Reuben’s are very good and used to be one of my favorite items on Carnival ships, but there are so many new lunch options on the Magic that you can’t have them all unless on a longer cruise such as this one. I walked the Promenade deck and visited with some friends this afternoon. I did my new 5:45 ‘deal’ and popped up one deck to the Lido dessert station and got a Tiramisu. It’s better than going to Tea time for a late afternoon sweet. Several met in the Red Frog before dinner and I had another Red Frog Hurricane in the fish bowl glass. Really a value considering the number of shots in the drink (9+). Dinner was interesting, I ordered: Tom Ka Gai, Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail, Assorted Seafood Newburg Style, and Bitter & Blanc. After dinner was the Crew Talent Show in the Showtime Theater. Of course our Matre D’ Ken Byrnes (photo left) was the best & final talent. We have been enjoying his singing most every night in the dining room. We again turn back the clocks tonight before retiring.

Day 11- Monday- 11/7/11- at Sea
A good nights sleep overnight, the weather is overcast but warmer, high will be about 80°. I had breakfast from the omelette station on Lido deck. Very easy. We received a letter on the first or second day of the cruise from the Captain stating that we would not be calling at Grand Turk as scheduled but staying overnight in Freeport, Bahamas in order to repair a damaged aft thruster. Not a good trade. I went to the port talk for Freeport this morning and I think the reality of the poor situation with the change of ports began to become a reality with the passengers. There had already been requests by many who requested complementary shuttles since the ship will be docked in a remote location. As of the meeting one would have to take an excursion or taxi to get anywhere. If we had docked at Grand Turk everything would have been within walking distance of the ship. This change of ports was not due to weather but a choice made by Carnival to do repairs on a thruster that was damaged before this cruise so really more should be done IMHO. For lunch I finally made it to the Mongolian Grill (photo right) one of my favorite places to eat on a Carnival Ship, it took this long as there are so many lunch options. It was very good! This afternoon there was a private cocktail party for people who had signed up on Facebook. It was nice to meet some new people. Later this evening there was a Past Guest party, but what made it unique was that this party was for Platinum level guests or higher. There were a lot, the theater was full. There were also a lot of Milestone (25+ cruises) guests. Dinner was good, I ordered Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail, Soup, and American Aged Rib Eye Steak. Again we are experiencing high seas so the production show was cancelled and we had a concert/show by several of the production singers. We actually have two sets of singers and dancers with one set scheduled to leave after Galveston and the new one rehearsing. Between the two groups they actually put together a nice evening. A nice surprise when returning to the cabin for the night: a letter from the Captain stating that Carnival would be providing a shuttle service while in Freeport, also a special lobster dinner, and John Heald would fly in for the day while in Freeport.

Day 12- Tuesday- 11/8/11- at Sea
We are feeling the effects of tropical depression Sean located just north of us so again high seas especially overnight. I was up early to look at the weather and was actually surprised at the large number of passengers up and about at 6:00 am. Later I had an Eggs Benedict breakfast in the dining room and again it was very good. I walked around the ship and visited the Cherry on Top. They have an interesting selection of candy. We now also have network Television so I spent the morning catching up on the news and trying to get a weather report. I had lunch in the Cucina del Capitano, it’s very busy during the noon hour but seems to be fine if you were go after 1:15 pm or so. Pasta with the simple marinara and cherry tomatoes have become my favorite. Again cabin time and a walk on deck this afternoon. Pretty much the same routine on sea days: walk the decks, some cabin time, cocktails in the Red Frog, dinner, then a show. For dinner this evening I ordered the Hawaiian Breeze ( a fruit appetizer), Bigolli Arrabiatta (a pasta), Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail, Grilled Ribeye Steak Tyrolienne, and Butter Pecan ice creme for dessert. Again the production show was cancelled due to high seas, it was to be the Destination: Unknown, the big production magic show, and they said we would have it while docked in Freeport for sure. They previewed a show that was not to start until the Galveston sailings, a burlesque show, called A Kiss Goodnight. It was held in the smaller Spotlight Lounge and it was great with comedy, magic and beautiful dancing girls. It's an adult show and no photos allowed. The photo left shows the opening screen that images were shown on and the dancers could walk through the screen. The show really reminded me of the Crazy Horse Saloon in Paris. The best show of the cruise and I had a seat on the front row.

Day 13- Wednesday- 11/9/11- Freeport, Bahamas
Partly cloudy weather today as we arrived in Freeport for two days. This was to have been our day In Grand Turk, but we were diverted here to make some repairs to the aft thrusters. I started the day with a nice omelette from the Lido Martketplace and waited for the 10:00 am official arrival. It was a real madhouse as everyone wanted to debark, but if they wanted to use the free shuttles they had to go through the excursion process of getting tickets and stickers from the theater. It took 3.5 hours to get all people off with that option. There were many unhappy passengers. I took a paid shuttle ($5) over to Port Lucaya and went to the beach bar located at the Royal Lucayan resort a place I discovered on a previous Freeport cruise. After a nice afternoon I returned by shuttle (again $5) to the ship in time for cocktails and dinner. I ordered: the Green Almond Poached Escargots, Italian Style Tomato & Borlotti Bean Soup, Duet of Broiled Lobster Tail and Grilled Jumbo Black Tiger Shrimp, Filet Mignon Carnival. It was a very good meal. We were finally going to get to see the production show: Destination: Unknown and it was introduced by John Heald. It was a very interesting magic and musical production with lots of props, costumes, the feature singers and dancers, and illusionist Jason Byrne. It’s a BIG production show and not to be missed. John Heald was very busy with his fans, but I did get a chance to have a nice conversation with him very late on Lido deck. It’s good that he made the attempt to greet passengers on this unusual day.

Day 14- Thursday- 11/10/11- Freeport, Bahamas
Another party cloudy day in the Bahamas. I met friends in the Lido Marketplace for breakfast and a planned joint excursion day. We planned on a trip back to the Lucayan resort for the day. They announced that departure would be delayed until 8:00 pm so we knew we had a good long day for our excursion. We were able to ride the provided free shuttles as it was not busy I assume due to the troubles the previous morning. A day pass at the Grand Lucayan Resort cost $20pp for use of their resort facilities. I thought a very fair price as they have nice swimming pools, a great sandy beach, showers, beach bar, and good Wifi internet connection. (photo left) We were also able to get a cabana that served as group HQ while on site. The cocktails were resort prices ($6.50-$7.50), but very strong tropical drinks. We returned to the ship about 5:00 again using the complementary shuttles. After cleaning up I wanted to check the progress of the thruster repairs and they were hard at work. Everyone was curious if we actually get away. I went up to deck twelve to see the beautiful view of the moon rise, the ship lights, and the water works area. A beautiful evening. There were quite a few passengers watching The Godfather on the big outdoor screen theater. Several friends dined in the Prime Steakhouse and I was told it was excellent. I dined in the Southern Lights dining room as usual and ordered: Penne Siciliana with Eggplant-Zucchini-Tomato Sauce, Escargots Bourguignonne, Black Tiger Shrimp Cocktail, Chateaubriand, and Baked Alaska for dessert. Ken Byrne did his New York, New York tonight as well as Low,Low Low as the cocktail servers danced. For many this is the highlight of the cruise and I have enjoyed his singing. The final big production show, Win! was the tonight. It was the last show performed by the original singers and dancers, the new group will do it the following cruise. It was a very good show. Several said the hypnotist show of Jac Rene was very entertaining as well.

Day 15- Friday- 11/11/11- at Sea
A cloudy day that became cooler during the day as a cold front has entered the Gulf of Mexico. I had a nice dining room breakfast this morning. It’s always nice to share experiences with other guests at breakfast. At 11:00 am they had a ship wide moment of silence in honor of veterans. They also held several veteran meets in various areas of the ship. Very nice. I am running out of days so I had lunch at the Tandoori today. It was a varied selection and it was very good especially if you like Indian food. Back to the usual sea day routine today for the afternoon. There were quite a few passengers bundled in blankets on the Lido deck, but still enjoying the sea air. I made some preparations for the group sailing on the next cruise and tried to catch up on some work. Since the Red Frog is out of the ‘fish bowl’ glasses I took my mug up for a Hurricane before dinner. Still a good value if your going to have more than one cocktail. For dinner, I ordered: Fried Shrimps (not good-not the ones I thought they were), Duet of Petite Filet Mignon and Short - Rib Confit, and ice creme for dessert. The third set of comedians, John Rathbone & Mutzie are now on board to perform at Punchliners. I saw both late shows and they were both very funny. Very late in the piano bar to listen to Ron Pass who still has his regulars even after 16 days.

Day 15- Saturday- 11/12/11- at Sea
The Weather is much improved for our final sea day. I had an early dining room breakfast, but also had to sample the french toast from the French Toast/Pancake station on Lido deck. A very good and interesting additional choice for breakfast. There was a 10:00 am meeting for those on the B2B (back to back) and it looks like they may have it organized. We’ll see. Everyone seems to have waited until the last day to use the water works, they are very busy today as well as the rope course. The afternoon had the best weather of the cruise so it was a busy deck day. I had lunch at the Grill on the Lanai located on deck 5 out doors. They serve burgers (sliders), chicken quesidillas, and soft meat tacos. I thought the burgers were OK and the really tasted more like Indian food than Tex-Mex. They really need to improve this as the Magic will have a Texas home port. There were last minute sales in the shops and a lot of activity on this the last day of the cruise. A Farewell Party was held in the Showcase Lounge at 5:00 pm, this is the party they really don’t publicize, but has complementary drinks and entertainment. Our final dinner was good, I had a double order of the entree Panko Crusted Jumbo Shrimp (this is the good shrimp). There were the usual good-byes and farewells this evening. A very long cruise has come to an end.

Debarkation- Sunday- Galveston, Texas
We arrived in Galveston at 6:00 am. and are the only ship in port so that should help passengers. Crew was able to use the customs facilities in Terminal Two so that helps to keep Terminal One for passengers. The new gangway looks great. They began debark for self assist guests early and the final call for self was by 7:15 a.m. That’s very good. They called zones 1-4 by 7:30 am and mid range (15-16) by 9:00 am. They were completed by 10:50 am. That’s very good for a large ship on it’s first home port visit. The B2B pax met about 10:00 and we went through customs before 11:20 am. Very pleased with the organization.

The Carnival Magic is the newest and largest in the Carnival fleet. The ship is 1002 feet in length and weighs in at 130,000 tons. My three favorites of the much publicized new improvements are the Cucina del Capitano, Red Frog Pub, and the Ocean Plaza area. The Water Works and Cherry on Top are also great. I'll have a special review and comments on just the ship

The staff and crew for the most part are very good at their jobs and very friendly. They have been trained very well. My stateroom attendant was fantastic, the room was always neat and clean, the cooler in ice, notices & messages delivered in timely manner. Our MDR waiter & assistants were very good, I really enjoyed him over the cruise. The Guest Services people were also very helpful when needed.

I had cabin 9445 a 4H interior on Vista deck. I selected this cabin as it is next to the stairs and just below the Lido Marketplace. It is very easy to get to the beverage station and too easy to get to the dessert station. The cabin is very nice and since the ship is new everything looks great. It is a standard configuration and I had the beds split for more floor space. The safe has a button keypad and card swipe, there is a hair dryer, flat screen TV, two electrical plugs on the vanity/desk, robes, three section wardrobe, small stocked refrigerator, but no chair only a vanity stool. Carpets and furniture all very clean. The wake up call service is automated and very simple if you need to get up early for a meeting or shore excursion.

I had second or late seating for dinner and a very nice table in center area of the Southern Lights dining room. A fantastic location to see Ken sing and the waiters dance. We are the last ship in the fleet with the ‘old’ menus, but that means we had the shrimp cocktail every night this cruise as an option. I’m not a big fan of the new ‘Didja’ menus anyway. Overall the food was very good although we had several menu items repeat. The Lido Marketplace buffet food was good to very good, the MDR menu was good to very good. My favorites were the Mongolian Grill and Cocina Del Capitan. The Tandoori, Salad Bar, and Burrito Bar were different and good. There are several ice cream and yogurt machines with vanilla and chocolate flavors. Room Service was good, but sometimes slow. I enjoyed the MDR breakfasts and especially the hot milk (leche caliente).

Social Media
The ship has a lot of computer Hubs throughout the ship and people used them. A vast improvement from when the internet station that was hidden in the cigar bar of Carnival ships. You could check ship schedules and some basic news. They have an on board social thread but it’s not convenient to use until they have hubs in each cabin...good idea, but not practical. There was a large Cruise Critic group and I attended the meeting, but prefer the Cruisemates as a cruise website and interactive threads. I think the Facebook sites are the future for pre-cruise interaction between guests-this cruise had an active site. There was an interesting group within a group, the Guttersnipes. It was basically the same as our Snoozemates group within the Bloggers cruises. People that like to get together and have fun.

Platinum / Milestone Perks
The check-in building at the pier was very nice. I used the laundry several times and it was wash & fold service; fine for undies, socks, T-shirts, denim short, but not cotton shirts, dress clothes, or better items. I did use the dry clean as well ($4-$6 item) and the service was good.

Personal Comments
Dining room waiters and staff have far too many tables. This does not allow time for the interaction between guests that was always such an important part of the cruise experience. Too many tables slows service for many and food temperature and quality suffers. As a foodie the MDR is a very important part of the cruise.

Cruise Highlights
The new friends I met, Cocina Del Capitan, Red Frog Pub, A Kiss Goodnight, Main Dining Room & Ken Bryne, and the island of Gran Canaria.

A long and interesting Cruise--I really enjoyed it!

No comments: