Growing up, I was neither a big believer of magic (or wearing big red shoes). Sure, it was fun to think some of us possess extraordinary abilities to pull random objects from top hats, levitate, or split a girl in a box in half and put her back together. It was certainly entertaining to watch, but as a child, I never bought into it. However, a year after meeting my significant other, I’m starting to believe I do, in fact, have some kind of magic ability. There is no way I can be this lucky to celebrate my one year anniversary with this person without some sort of extraordinary explanation. It is for that reason that I decided to celebrate one year of magic on the magnificent Carnival Magic.
Our 7-night Western Caribbean itinerary was nothing short of breathtaking. Our three ports of call were Montego Bay, Jamaica, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands, and Cozumel, Mexico. From the very first moment you lay your eyes on this massive 3690 passenger ship, you can’t help but feel a little giddy inside. With 15 total decks and 1004 feet in length, all the onboard experiences you can hope for, and the smell of newness still in the air (maiden voyage in 2011 and as of this writing the second newest ship for Carnival’s fleet), this ship is nothing short of spectacular.
Upon boarding and meeting the various staff, I knew right away I’d be in good hands – everyone greeted us with smiles on their faces and I got the impression everyone genuinely enjoyed being there and showing that Carnival pride. As the cruise went on, my initial impressions were confirmed by the level of service I received: all the staff members I interacted with were the absolute best, due to the fact that they like what they do and want to help.
Fun Day at Sea &
Our itinerary called for two consecutive sea days dubbed by Carnival “Fun Day at Sea” the first two days after embarkation. With all the onboard services this ship has to offer, I’m sure we could have handled two more consecutive days without issues. I spent the first day trying to discover everything the ship had to offer. Starting at the top, the Serenity is an adult only section that provides some peace and quiet and wraps around the front of the ship. Outfitted with contemporary lounge furniture, a couple hammocks, and a hot tub on each side, and a full service bar, this is where you go when you want to hear nothing but the ocean breeze. Below that, spanning two decks from 14 to 12 (no superstitious deck 13), you’ll find the Cloud 9 Spa. Deck 14 is the “members only” deck with amenities available only to those who booked into the spa package or purchased one. You will have access to the large private hot tub, lounge room with 6 heated seats, sauna, and steam room. Deck 12 is where you go for other spa services and also the surprisingly large gym (which I went to twice in 7 days). This deck is also where you’ll find the waterslide. If you have ever cruised with Carnival before, then your favorite deck is probably the Lido deck, which is located on deck 10 on the Magic. The Lido deck is home to the famous buffet room but also the Seaside Theatre/Beach Pool located mid ship, and the Tides Pool and Bar, located aft ship. Needless to say, this is where we spent most of our time (hint: try the pizza). After getting my excessive fix of Vitamin D from the sun or eating more than I should have, I would head to Deck 5, or the Promenade. The Promenade is where you will do your shopping at the Fun Shops, drinking and dancing at one of the many bars or nightclubs, dining at the excellent specialty restaurant Prime Steakhouse, catching a show at the Showtime Theatre, or being entertained at the Spotlight Lounge. Below the Promenade is The Mezzanine, located on Deck 4. The Mezzanine is where the kid friendly areas are, such as Club O2 and Circle C. The two dining rooms, Southern and Northern Lights, are also located on this deck. Lastly, the lobby is located on Deck 3. Guest Services, along with the Shore Excursions desk are located here.
Montego Bay, Jamaica
For our first port, Montego Bay, Jamaica, we purchased the Canopy Adventure excursion through Carnival. It is a zip line based excursion. What better way to kickoff our anniversary celebrations than flying through the jungles in Jamaica? We got the earliest slot and left the ship at 8am. We went through Jamaica’s terminal and lined up at the staging area set up by Carnival. For the most part, it was very easy and convenient. There were signs with the excursion name so you lined up where your excursion is listed with tickets (delivered to your stateroom prior to port) in hand. We took an entertaining 45 minute drive into the hills and jungle ready to zip line from tree to tree. The streets are narrow in Jamaica which adds to the excitement of the drive up. Let me say that we HIGHLY recommend this excursion. The staff, presentation, experience, and overall satisfaction was unanimously positive from everyone we spoke to. The guides were energetic, fun, helpful, knowledgeable and most importantly safe. They never acted reckless and we never felt we were in harm’s way. It was an AMAZING experience. Be sure to ask for Al and Nicholas when you’re there.
Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
From the tree tops in Jamaica to the clouds in the Cayman Islands. For our next stop, we purchased the Parasailing Adventure excursion through Carnival. Our allotted time here was the shortest of all ports so again we picked the earliest slot and left the ship at 7am. Instead of walking right onto port this time, this morning we had to board a ferry that took us to the port. Every 10 minutes or so, a new ferry arrived to bring you back and forth as you pleased. When we got on the pier, it was the same setup: find the sign with your excursion name and have your tickets ready. When it was time for our group to head out, we boarded a small ferry which took us out to the ocean to board the boat that will be pulling us. Our group consisted of about 12 people. Each couple took turns getting strapped into the parachute harness and taking their 6-8 minute flight. The view from above was absolutely beautiful. I had never seen so many different shades of blue in the water before. We were so high that we were able to catch glimpses of all the other islands. After we were done, we rented a jet ski from the same company and dashed around the open ocean for 30 minutes. Regarding the excursion operator, it is worth saying that we felt safe from the moment we met the first guide to the moment we were back on land. Booking excursions through Carnival can be pricey, because it is no secret they need to make a profit too, but you also get the peace of mind that these operators need to meet certain requirements and have been vetted beforehand to be sold through Carnival. I cannot imagine Carnival being so reckless as to sell unsafe and untested excursions to thousands of people and risking major injuries. Paying a little more for that insurance of knowing you have a multimillion dollar company behind you goes a long way.
The only port where we did not purchase any excursions, we decided before hand we wanted to be adventurous here. We already knew we wanted to do something a little more low key and importantly on our own. After debarking, we walked around and took some pictures before finding a place that rents scooters. It cost us $50 USD to rent a scooter for the whole day. Neither I nor my better half has ever driven, much less rode on, a scooter before, but we gave into our adventurous side. We were told it takes about an hour and a half to drive around the whole island. With the wind to our backs, the sun shining through beautiful blue skies, and beautiful beaches running along us, we took to the road. It was such an exhilarating experience. You would think that after zip lining and parasailing, a scooter would be an afterthought – on the contrary, there was this great sense of freedom rarely ever felt before. After some tranquil beach time, stopping at some road side shops along the way and eating fresh, authentic Mexican fish tacos and fajitas, we made it back to port 5 hours later.
The Magic Continues
Our trip coming to an end now, there was only one Fun Day at Sea that separated us from Galveston, Texas, where we sailed out from. We would relish this sea day and take the time to just relax. I am not sure if we could have done a better job at relaxing if it were not for the services of the Cloud 9 Spa and the entire staff of the Carnival Magic.
As our trip comes to an end, the magic I have continues to go on. I am incredibly grateful to have found this person in my life and extremely lucky to have been able to celebrate our one year on the Carnival Magic. We look forward to creating a yearly tradition with Carnival and being able to celebrate the magic that we have together in this special and unique way.