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Carnival Magic Review

2017 Best for Shore Excursions
2014 Best for Fitness
2013 Best for Shore Excursions
View More

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Carnival Magic
4.0 / 5.0
1404 reviews

Pros
The best of Carnival's Fun Ship amenities, always served with a smile
Cons
Lines can be long; surprisingly few free dinner options
Bottom Line
With activities for all ages, Carnival Magic is perfect for multigenerational cruising

About

Passengers
3,690

Crew
1,386

Passenger to Crew
2.66:1

Launched
2011

Shore Excursions
513
Sails To
Eastern Caribbean, Western Caribbean, Southern Caribbean, Canada & New England, Bermuda, Bahamas
Carnival Cruise Deals
Chris Gray Faust
Cruise Critic Managing Editor

Carnival Magic Overview

When Carnival Magic appeared on the scene in 2011, the cruise industry sat up and took notice. Although the 3,690-passenger ship wasn't first in its class -- that honor fell to Carnival Dream -- the vessel boasted several firsts for the Fun Ship line, including Cucina del Capitano Italian specialty restaurant, the RedFrog Pub and its signature Thirsty Frog Red Ale, the SportSquare outdoor recreation area and the first ropes course at sea.

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Years later, Carnival Magic may no longer be the fleet's most innovative, yet it holds up as a floating destination that offers something for everyone. A wide range of cabin types, including family "quints" that fit five people, make it perfect for the packs of friends and family we saw onboard (in matching T-shirts, natch). Dining may not be fancy, but you can choose from the key cruise food groups: burgers, burrito, brats and barbecue, as well as Asian, Indian, deli and pizza -- at least at lunch. The number of choices falls significantly at dinner.

Activities, too, are designed for a wide range of interests. If you like games, Carnival Magic has you covered; besides group participation favorites like Hasbro the Game Show and Liars Club, the daily program was packed with options like Yahtzee, Scattergories, Clue and a Jenga-type tower game in the lobby (plus shuffleboard in the RedFrog Pub and pickup pool, Ping-Pong, beanbag and mini-golf options around the ship). Dance lessons, casino tournaments, spa specials, a robust kids club program -- Carnival Magic throws it all at the wall -- and passengers respond with enthusiasm.

All this stuff, though, comes with a price -- and that's lines. On our summer sailing, with the ship at well more than double occupancy, the queues were persistent, to the point where the crush cut into our enjoyment. Thirty minute waits (or more!) for popular eateries, like Guy's Burgers and Mongolian Wok, were the norm, not the exception. Tickets for Punchliner Comedy performances were gone hours before the show. Serenity Deck clamshells were claimed by 8:30 a.m. Getting off in port for excursions felt like a blood sport. Even trivia sessions were jam-packed, with teams of eight monopolizing the tables, forcing smaller groups to stand or even sit on the floor.

So where did we find our Zen? Attending the daily RedFrog Pub trivia quiz -- it's cumulative, so you play with the same people for the entire cruise for a more intimate experience. Sticking to off-hours for dining and getting up early for morning coffee helped, as did making Deck 5, with its four hot tubs and relatively underutilized lounge chairs, our sunning headquarters. Despite the sheer number of people onboard, we found the vast majority spent money on drinks instead of for-fee offerings so opening up the wallet a bit for specialty restaurants and the wonderfully expansive Cloud 9 spa also put the crowds at a distance. The cheer of the crew also kept us going; with a room steward that brought us copious amounts of ice and towel animals, as well as an outgoing entertainment staff, it was hard to stay irritated for too long.

Do we believe in Magic? After a week onboard, we'd answer with a quantified yes. As long as you pack your patience and are prepared to shift your routine slightly -- or conversely, see beating the lines as a game in its own right -- you'll emerge rested and relaxed, with plenty of Fun Ship memories. And really, what else can you ask for?


Inclusions

Included with your cruise fare:

  • All meals in the two main dining rooms, Lido Marketplace buffet and at the pizzeria
  • Select room service items
  • All main theater shows, Punchliner Comedy performances, live music events, Dr. Seuss Storytime shows and interactive shows like the Newlywed Game
  • Use of the water park, ropes course, sports square, sports court and mini-golf
  • Use of the fitness center, excluding classes and training sessions
  • Most daily activities onboard unless noted below or in the daily program
  • Use of the adults-only Serenity area
  • Carnival’s Camp Ocean kids club programming until 10 p.m., for children aged 2 to 17

Not included with your cruise fare:

  • Gratuities ($13.99 per person, per day for regular staterooms; $15.99 per person, per day for those staying in suites)
  • Automatic gratuities of 18 percent on beverages (including packages) and spa and salon treatments
  • Most alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks with the exception of water, tea, standard coffees and select juices in the buffet
  • Meals in Cucina del Capitano and Prime Steakhouse
  • Entry into the Thermal Suite in the Cloud 9 Spa
  • Spa treatments
  • Most fitness classes and all personal training sessions
  • Shore excursions
  • Wi-Fi
  • Selecte activities like wine tasting events, the Build-a-Bear workshop, certain arts and crafts classes, arcade games and bingo
  • Cruise photos or artwork from the art gallery onboard
  • Retail purchases
  • After-hours babysitting in the Camp Ocean Kids Club

Top Carnival Magic Itineraries

View All Carnival Magic Itineraries (35)

Fellow Passengers

Carnival Magic draws a diverse base, with passengers from all over the United States and even a few foreign countries (mostly Canadian, English and German tourists tacking on a cruise to their Florida vacation). You'll see plenty of families and friends traveling together, most wearing matching cruise shirts. English is the sole language onboard.


Carnival Magic Dress Code

Daytime:During the day, beachwear reigns, with most people wearing swimsuits and cover-ups, or T-shirts and shorts.

Evening: Carnival Magic has two styles of dress at night: Cruise Casual and Cruise Elegant. On the latter nights -- usually two per seven-night cruise -- the style can vary greatly, from families dressed in their fanciest get-ups (for the photo ops available throughout the ship) to those who simply put on khakis and a sundress. Essentially, it's anything goes, except shorts in the main dining room: If you decided to downplay the formal wear, you won't be the only one and if you want to put on the Ritz, go ahead and do that too. When the ship's this big, no one style stands out.

Not permitted: Shorts, T-shirts, flip-flops, bathing suits, caps and men's tank tops are not permitted in the main dining room or specialty restaurants during dinner, but few people are turned away for wearing them.

For more information, visit Cruise Line Dress Codes: Carnival.


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Carnival Magic Ratings

CategoryEditorMember
Cabins4.04.2
Dining4.03.7
Entertainment4.53.6
Public Rooms4.04.1
Fitness Recreation4.03.9
Family4.53.9
Enrichment1.03.4
Service5.04.1
Value For Money5.03.9

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More about Carnival Magic

Where does Carnival Magic sail from?

Carnival Magic departs from Port Canaveral, Miami, Barcelona, Manhattan and Norfolk

How much does it cost to go on Carnival Magic?

Cruises on Carnival Magic start from null per person.

Is Carnival Magic a good ship to cruise on?

Carnival Magic won 3 awards over the years.

Awards and Recognition

Cruise Critic Cruisers’ Choice

  • 2017 Best for Shore Excursions
  • 2014 Best for Fitness
  • 2013 Best for Shore Excursions

Carnival Magic Member Reviews

Carnival Magic
WSURFER100
Sail Date: Jan 2020
We booked a cruise on the Carnival Magic, part of a group of twenty-five, including friends and relatives. It was a romantic getaway, considering we were celebrating our recent wedding anniversary.... Read More
Carnival Magic
tasco1023
Sail Date: Feb 2020
As a group of 12 family and friends who have been talking about cruising together for years, we finally got to do it last week on the Carnival Magic.... Read More
Carnival Magic
nicnic96
Sail Date: Jan 2020
We liked the Magic. It felt the same to us as all of the Carnival ships albeit a little larger. The entertainment, the food, everything was similar to our prior Carnival Cruises.... Read More
Carnival Magic
Papa GNJ
Sail Date: Nov 2019
This was our 6th Carnival and was one of the best. The Magic is not a new ship but in good shape.... Read More

Carnival Cruise Line Fleet

Carnival Ecstasy
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

1118 reviews

Fun and friendly with a laid-back vibe; highlights include waterslides, a singalong piano bar, nightly Punchliner Comedy Club and mini-golf; carries some 2,500.

Carnival Ecstasy Cruises to the Bahamas View All Carnival Ecstasy Cruises
Carnival Elation
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Elation is the seventh of Carnival's eight Fantasy-class vessels (debuting in 1998), and went through a significant upgrade in 2009.

Carnival Fantasy
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Carnival Fantasy may be the oldest vessel in the Carnival fleet, but it certainly has style, and a warm and friendly atmosphere.

Carnival Fascination
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

The 2,052-passenger Carnival Fascination debuted in 1994 and went through a significant upgrade to public areas, top-deck spaces and cabins in 2010.

Carnival Imagination
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun and friendly with plenty to do from sunup to sundown including high-energy pool deck fun and stage shows, plus waterslides, mini-golf and more.

Carnival Inspiration
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

A smaller ship packed with energetic fun all day long; highlights include nightly comedy, enthusiastic karaoke, waterslides, mini-golf and 10 bars and lounges.

Carnival Paradise
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Smaller ship with a fun and family-friendly atmosphere: highlights include short warm-weather itineraries, a waterslide and mini-golf; carries about 2,500 people.

Carnival Sensation
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun, friendly vibe with a packed lineup of daily activities, nightly comedy, energetic stage shows, silly pool deck fun, and a multi-slide waterpark.

Carnival Victory
3.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fewer attractions than other Carnival ships but only offers short sailings; highlights are the comedy club, four pools and water slide; about 3,000 passengers.

Carnival Spirit
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Family-friendly, 2,100-passenger ship, based full-time in Sydney, has the Green Thunder water slide, great dining, free poolside food, lively entertainment and fun crew.

Carnival Pride

Lively and fun with a dizzying art-through-the-centuries decor, nightly standup comedy, two waterslides, four pools, and lots of bars and lounges; can carry about 2,500.

Carnival Legend
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


More than 2,600 passengers can enjoy the Green Thunder slide, Serenity Retreat for adults, Playlist Production music shows and excellent kids activities.

Carnival Conquest
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Unpretentious vibe with pool-centric fun and water slide, plus Hairy Chest and Mr. and Mrs. Conquest contests; also 11 bars and 9 eateries; carries about 3,500.

Carnival Glory

Lively entertainment and activities include nightly stand-up comedy, high-energy Playlist Production stage shows, twister water slide, and a nonstop schedule of daily activities.

Carnival Miracle
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun, family-friendly ship focused on Carnival signatures like the high-energy Playlist Production shows, nightly comedy, RedFrog Pub and line dancing deck parties.

Carnival Valor
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Silly poolside games, piano bar sing-alongs and PG- and R-rated stand-up comedy give this smallish mega-ship its fun vibe; also features the RedFrog Pub.

Carnival Liberty
4.5 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Fun, friendly vibe focusing on Carnival signatures like the Punchliner Comedy Club, gut-busting Guy's Burger Joint and cocktail-focused Alchemy Bar; holds about 3,500.

Carnival Freedom

Fun, laid-back and friendly; highlights include nightly comedy, high-energy stage shows, twister water slide and the popular RedFrog Pub; holds about 3,500.

Carnival Splendor
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Can hold upward of 4,000 passengers; features indoor/outdoor pool with retractable dome, Twister water slide, mini-golf and just one extra-fee restaurant.

Carnival Dream

Fun, friendly vibe; features Guy Fieri's Pig & Anchor Bar-B-Que Smokehouse, family-friendly and adult stand-up comedy, nightly karaoke, water park and mini-golf.

Carnival Magic
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating

Holds about 4,000; highlights include water slides, the RedFrog Pub, two-bathroom family cabins that hold up to five, a ropes course and Carnival's signature fun.

Carnival Breeze

Nonstop activities and attractions include top deck water park and ropes course, 4D Thrill Theater and nightly standup comedy; can hold up to 4,700 cruisers.

Carnival Sunshine

Fun and friendly with nightly stand-up comedy and short, energetic stage shows, plus a calorie-packed burger joint from celeb chef Guy Fieri; holds about 3,500.

Carnival Vista

Holds a bit more than 4,000 passengers; offers a waterpark, suspended-in-midair recumbent bike thrill ride, ropes course and the first IMAX cinema at sea.

Carnival Horizon
4.0 / 5.0
Editor Rating


Carnival's newest megaship, holding some 4,000 passengers, launches April 2018; highlights include new barbeque/brewery and Teppanyaki restaurants, an IMAX movie theater, waterpark, beer brewery and ropes course.

Carnival Sunrise

A completely reimagined ship, Carnival Sunrise is Carnival Triumph transformed with new venues, entertainment options, and a whole new Fun Ship look.

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