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Archive for June, 2011


Carnival’s social Magic

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On June - 2 - 2011

Nobody does fun better than Carnival Cruise Lines from the young in age to the young at heart. Founded in 1972 with just one ship, Carnival is now the world’s largest cruise line, boasting a fleet of 23 ships, with one more on order, and a corporate philosophy that focuses on value, quality, and of course, fun. “We have a clear idea of who and what we are and we offer fun and memorable vacations,” says Carnival Cruise Lines’ CEO Gerry Cahill.

The new 130,000-ton Carnival Magic is the culmination of the best of the line’s 40-years on the high seas. At 3,646 passengers (maximum 4,631 passenger capacity including upper berths) Magic is Carnival’s biggest ship to date and introduces a number of exciting new features for the line.

The social network

Magic-11As the second of three Dream-class ships (Carnival Breeze is scheduled to launch in spring 2012), Carnival Magic offers the same popular areas as its sister ship Carnival Dream. Carnival ships are known to have an outlandish décor, but thankfully Magic like its sister ship Dream has been toned down to a more subdued fun level that passengers seem to prefer. A ‘classier’ Carnival? Maybe. Still, it is a “Fun Ship” and there’s no escaping the fact that everything onboard is geared towards extroverted passenger pursuits.

“We attract a very social type of person on our ships,” adds Cahill. Indeed, the Dream-class ships were designed for seagoing social butterflies. The heart of Carnival Magic is the Ocean Plaza, an indoor/outdoor area that is open day and night and is lined with coffee shops, bars, Internet cafes, shops and other meet-up locations. The Lanai area features a wrap-around promenade and four cantilevered whirlpools suspended over the ship’s side. There’s also a “FunHub” area, the line’s social network area at sea. Guests can use one of 36 onboard computers to post requests looking for like-minded guests wanting to share shore excursions, play backgammon, cards, or simply get together over a beer at the new RedFrog Pub.

The addition of the Caribbean-inspired RedFrog Pub with its own lager proved to be a huge hit right from the first day. So popular is the pub that the entire stockpile of its signature “ThirstyFrog Red” beer was guzzled with gusto by guests on embarkation day. Thankfully, Carnival came to the rescue and had kegs delivered to the ship a few days later in Sicily. Beer clearly has no boundaries.

CarnivalSeaDay10Entertainment is everywhere onboard. Laughs are always assured with the talented onboard comedians who offer nightly shows at the Punchliner in the Spotlight Lounge. The lounge also serves as a karaoke spot where guests can croon with the accompaniment of a live band and backup singer. The Showtime Theater offers great passenger participation shows with cruise director extraordinaire John Heald and at night the theater hosts three new elaborate Vegas-style shows. Poolside the Seaside Theater shows movies day and night on the huge Jumbotron. It’s also home to the infamous “Hairy Chest Contest” and “Cruise Queen Coronation”. The Ocean Plaza atrium area offers excellent musical entertainment throughout the day and night. In the evenings the Vibe Nightclub and Play It Again Piano Bar are always packed with energetic revelers. Those wanting to gamble will have no problem finding their game of chance in the Hat Trick Casino.

Guests wishing to relax have many options among the abundant quiet deck space along the Lanai, and the many outdoor nooks that offer plush wicker furniture and umbrellas. Another escape is the massive Cloud 9 Spa that spans over two decks in the front of the ship and offers an Asian-inspired ambiance. You can relax in the huge thalassotherapy pool or the thermal suite based on a Turkish bath experience. Before and after treatments, guests are encouraged to relax with a cup of tea in a relaxation area with comfy loungers and canopied beds with sea views and soothing music. Additionally after a treatment guests can go al fresco just above the spa to the 11,250-square-foot adults-only Serenity area with plush loungers, beds, and hammocks. Fitness buffs will appreciate the spa’s large fitness center with state-of-the-art Lifecycle machinery along with daily fitness classes with personal trainers. There are also 65 spa staterooms that offer direct access to the spa through a private elevator. Each stateroom has special décor and amenities that make for the ultimate seagoing spa and wellness vacation that’s only steps away from the stateroom.

Family friendly amenities

In addition to the spa staterooms, accommodations include 1,823 well-appointed staterooms, including 12 penthouse suites, 58 suites and the 65 aforementioned spa cabins. The “cove” balcony cabins located close to the waterline are proving to be very popular as are the deluxe ocean view staterooms that feature a configuration with two bathrooms and five berths. Of the ship’s 1,823 staterooms, over 250 will be interconnecting with more than 400 accommodating up to three, four, and four guests – perfect for families.

Indeed it’s the focus on families that Carnival excels at. The line is expected to carry an estimated 670,000 children this year, roughly half the total number of kids carried by the entire North American cruise industry. So, it’s no surprise that Magic offers 19,000 total square feet of space catering to kids of all ages. Magic’s youth activities areas are expansive, the largest is the 5,000-square-foot Camp Carnival (ages 2-11) located on Deck 11 that is divided into age-appropriate areas. Located on Deck 4, is the 1,075-square-foot Circle C (ages 12-14) and adjacent is the 2,740-square-foot Club O2 (ages 15-17) that boasts a dance floor, soda bar, game area and more.

For parents who like to party Carnival is rolling out a new fee-based, late-night children’s program on Magic that will debut fleetwide in June. Dubbed Camp Carnival NightOwls the program will offer supervised activities from 10 p.m. up until 3 a.m. for various age groups. For children ages 2-11, the program will operate until midnight and cost $13 per child, plus a 15 percent gratuity. The program will also operate until 1 a.m. for those age 6 to 8 years and cost $20 with a 15 percent gratuity. Additionally, for children ages 9- 11 years old, the program will end at 3 a.m., when children will be delivered back to their staterooms. That program will cost $33 plus the 15 percent gratuity.

CarnivalSeaDayGALLERYLocated on Deck 12 is the largest water park at sea, WaterWorks, with various water-spray apparatus, an industry-first 300-gallon dump bucket, and the 303-foot-long, four decks high “Twister Waterslide”, the longest at sea. The water park complements Magic’s three swimming pools and seven whirlpools. On Deck 12 Aft is the SportSquare outdoor recreation area with the first-ever ropes course at sea, Sky Fitness outdoor fitness area, and two-level mini-golf course. The SkyCourse lets passengers take a walk on the wild side with the assistance of a safety harness. There are two 230-foot courses that offer beginner and intermediate options each course has rope bridges, swinging steps and beams suspended above the ship’s top deck. A Sports Court within the SportsSquare complex offers basketball, volleyball and soccer. Additionally, there are six-station Vita exercise course and ping pong and foosball tables.

Carnival cuisine

Carnival offers by far the best dining value at sea with a vast array of menu options. The majority of meals are served in the ship’s two main dining rooms, Northern Lights and Southern Lights, which offer dinners in the traditional manner, with assigned times and assigned tables (breakfasts and lunches are open seating), along with the line’s “Your Choice” open seat dining that allows guests to eat when they want.

CarnivalSeaDay6Main restaurants aside, Magic offers abundant round-the-clock dining options. The Marketplace on Lido Deck, is the ship’s casual buffet restaurant, is arranged into several serving stations. Two areas that are particularly popular leading to long lines are the burrito Bar and pasta bar. Both areas allow guests to pick what’s in their burrito or choice of pastas, sauces, and meats. Also available is Indian Tandoori, Mongolian wok, a 24-hour pizzeria, deli, hamburger and hot dog grill, and ice-cream machines. The Plaza Café offers breakfast and lunch options as well and for a small fee pub grub is available in the RedFrog Pub. Another dining option is the Sushi Bar on Deck 5 and of course there’s always 24-hour room service.

The Prime Steakhouse is Magic’s supper club restaurant, where for $30 per person you’ll get a magnificent six course gourmet meal. However, it’s the new Cucina Del Capitano restaurant that is getting the highest praise onboard. At lunchtime it’s free and offers a pasta bar; however, at night it turns into an unforgettable trattoria experience. For $10 guests can dine family style from a menu inspired by the favorite family recipes of Carnival’s captains.

It’s clear: Carnival Magic is one big “Fun Ship” full of innovations that can make for a great family vacation.

If you go:

Carnival Magic is sailing a schedule of seven- to 12-day Mediterranean voyages through October 16. Ports of call include Monte Carlo, Rome, Naples, Messina, Palma, Marseilles, Venice and Dubrovnik. Carnival Magic will then sail on a 16-day transatlantic crossing then launch seven-day Caribbean service from Galveston, Texas, becoming the port’s largest year-round ship. Prices for Mediterranean voyages start at $699; Caribbean cruises from $589. Visit Carnival’s Website for more details.

By Anita Dunham-Potter (editor@www.expertcruiser.com)

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