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Magic 2012

The Carnival Magic is the newest ship in the Carnival fleet.  It recently came to Galveston to take the place of the Conquest. Marla has our group booked for a trip on the Magic October 14-21 in 2012.  Our destination will be the Bahamas and Key West.

The last time we went to the Bahamas, we took 190 people. Wouldn't it be fun to beat that number?  I'm sure Marla wouldn't mind.  We aren't quite ready to take reservations yet, but you are welcome to email Marla with a question any time you wish.

On Sunday, November 13, Carnival invited travel agents and business people throughout the Southwest region for an Open House party down in Galveston.  Marla and I were privileged to be among those who were invited to the Magic Inaugural Event.

Although I had a few nitpicks, overall Marla and I agreed the Magic is a very impressive ship.  And I must add that Carnival really did go all out to make everyone feel welcome.  

Now, to whet your appetite, here is a preview of the new Magic. 

Rick & Marla's Big Adventure aboard the Magic

The Magic is Carnival's newest ship in the ship.  My first impression was that it is big.  How big?  Almost as big as Texas.

For starters, the Magic holds 3,700 passengers.  Our SSQQ Group probably won't notice much of a difference since the Carnival Conquest, our previous Galveston-based ship, held 3,000.

Starting in 2007, our SSQQ Travel Group took 5 voyages on the Conquest, one trip a year for 5 years.

On our recent Labor Day 2011 Cruise I actually began to feel at home on the Conquest for the first time.  The decision to make Alfred's Lounge, our favorite dance, non-smoking area made all the difference.  Now, just when I get comfortable, the Conquest is gone.  Naturally I was curious to see what this new ship had to offer.

The Port of
Galveston is having a very good year. Galveston has to be proud. The arrival of the Magic marks the third new cruise ship in Galveston this year. Island officials hope the ship will bring the island more tourism dollars. The Magic could have gone to many different ports, but Galveston was the winner.  This marks a real milestone in Galveston's decade-long efforts to market the port city as a cruising destination.

"It shows the major cruise lines understand the appeal of Galveston and are choosing to invest in it over other popular markets," said Leah Cast, a spokeswoman for the Galveston Island Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Leah Cast added, "
As the only cruise port in the State of Texas, the Port of Galveston has worked diligently with the Texas travel industry to maintain our ranking as one of the top ten cruise ports in the United States."

Rick's Note:
"As the only cruise port in the State of Texas..."

Technically speaking, this statement is incorrect.  The Port of Houston also has an excellent cruise terminal.  The only problem is that no cruise lines actually use it.  They always say, "If you build it, they will come."  It turns out this sweet axiom isn't always true.  The Bayport terminal stays idle.

I have never quite figured out what the problem is.  After all, the Port of Houston has the advantage of being 20 miles from Houston Intercontinental Airport while the Port of Galveston is 60 miles away.  You would assume that this proximity to Houston would offer an edge of sorts, but apparently not.

They say life is long and concrete lasts nearly forever.  Maybe someday this convenient, modern Bayport facility will be home to a cruise line. However, as it stands, the existence of Houston's shiny new and completely unoccupied cruise terminal remains a major embarrassment... and those of us who live in Houston probably should get used to driving an hour further.

2008: No ships coming to the new Port of Houston cruise terminal

Shiny new port terminal has everything except ships

BILL HENSEL JR., Copyright 2008 Houston Chronicle
Published May 16, 2008

The new cruise terminal at Bayport was supposed to open this spring, but it will now be later in the summer upon its completion. No cruise line has been signed up yet to dock at new terminal.  The gleaming new $81 million cruise terminal at the Port of Houston will open soon, but don't expect throngs of passengers, streamers or cracking champagne bottles. 
Or a ship, for that matter.

Port officials haven't yet secured a deal with any cruise operators, and officials say ships probably won't start setting sail from the Bayport berth until fall 2009, even though the facility should be finished by the end of this summer.

"That is the primary next season we are looking at, although there is a chance of a vessel earlier," said Wade Battles, managing director of the Port of Houston Authority.

Port officials are in talks with Holland America Line, Princess Cruises, Mediterranean Shipping Co.'s MSC Cruises and Norwegian Cruise Line, he said. However, those lines have made no public indication that Houston might be on their maps anytime soon.

One culprit for the delay is the weak dollar. Experts say cruise lines that prefer to be paid in more valuable euros are concentrating on the European market, making life tough for U.S. ports of call.

But Barry Klein, a taxpayer advocate who worked against the bond proposal to fund development of the overall Bayport complex, questioned the push for the cruise terminal.

"The port authority jumped into the market before the market actually sensed a need," said Klein, who is president of the Houston Property Rights Association. "Now I guess they are having sort of a setback before even having one open."

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett said Wednesday that the port authority was in detailed negotiations at one point with one of the lines, but it just didn't work out.

"I'm not worried long term. We will get something," Emmett said. "I have confidence in the folks at the port. They will get a cruise line. I know everybody is a little frustrated at the delay."

(Rick's Note: Emmett made that statement 3 years ago.  Currently Galveston has 7 cruise ships lined up.  Houston has none.  I think the die is cast.  They might want to find another use for that terminal.)


Magical First Impressions

I hope you are not a firm believer in the importance of a good first impression.  If that's the case, you will be disappointed.  The Lobby of the Carnival Magic is without a doubt the least impressive Lobby-Centrum-Atrium whatever you want to call it of any cruise ship I have ever seen. 

The first thing we saw upon entering the ship were some line dancers performing on a dance floor that was narrowly wedged between the back of an elevator array and a bar.

If you like Vegas decor, then you will like the Lobby.  It is very neon.  But I think what looks like Vegas should stay in Vegas.  This Lobby lacks the panache you would expect in the NEWEST cruise ship in the Carnival line.  They say pictures are worth a thousand words, so I will let you decide for yourself.

The pictured dance floor does not feel like a "special area" at all.  It is so narrow, the dance floor seems more like a walkway.  There will be people walking through this area all the time. 

The Lobby does not have an inviting atmosphere.  There is nothing soft or comfortable about it.  Unlike the lobbies on previous ships, it is not a place I would go to relax.

By comparison, here is the identical area on the Conquest.  I liked the Conquest Lobby.  As you can see, the Conquest Lobby conveys a sense of warmth while the Magic Lobby above feels cold by comparison.

The Conquest picture helps to identify something very important what is missing on the Magic - the Conquest had a place for a band and a singer to perform.  In addition, there was at least 20 more feet of space between the bar and the elevators on the Conquest than on the Magic.  Let me add there was lush carpeting to soften things and add warmth.

I guess my biggest objection to the Lobby on the Magic is that the central feature seems to be the bar and little else.  There isn't even that much seating in other parts of the room.  Besides the bar, the only other thing to look at are the elevators.  I might add those elevators are not attractive.

As I said, the decor leans heavily on a Vegas neon feel that borders on garish. There are a couple of windows on this level, but they don't help to brighten the area very much.  The area feels dark.

I can't see our group ever congregating in this particular spot in our tuxes and gowns for a night of elegant Ballroom dancing as we did on the Conquest.  I can't imagine where they would even put a band and a pretty lounge singer if they were determined to.

As this picture reveals, there is no possible way to fit a dance combo in this area unless they put something in on the side.  Instead of a platform for a singer, they substituted a DJ in an elevated booth overlooking the bar and the dance floor. 

(By the way, I just read a passenger's review of the Magic that suggested there was a live band in this area.  Interesting)

As an informal dance area, I am sure this spot will be useful for our late night dancing.  After all, who else would bother being here late at night?  There are plenty of other drinking spots.

The Magic Lobby definitely isn't the same spot it was on the Conquest.  The Magic Lobby has no place for people to go sit and relax.  It is such an unfriendly environment that I almost wonder if it is deliberate.  Since there are many highly attractive areas in other parts of the ship, this drab environment seems to say, "Have a drink while you are waiting in line at the Guest Relations desk, but go somewhere else to have a good time."

Here are some pictures of the Lobby on the Rhapsody, our much-beloved ship from the early 2000s.  The Rhapsody was a much smaller ship, but it had beauty and style in every corner. 

The Rhapsody was a floating jewel.  More than a million dollars was spent on Rhapsody's art collection, an unusually high figure for a ship with fares in the low midrange. 

The Rhapsody greeted its guests with a soaring, seven-deck atrium that was stunningly decorated. 

The Rhapsody Centrum as it was called had floors of stately white marble softened by plentiful organic elements: windows everywhere, bright sunlight, living plants, soft leathers, muted wood tones, tiny waterfalls, and kinetic water sculptures.

Dancing in the Centrum was a real pleasure. 

The Centrum had a very attractive circular wood dance floor.  We danced Ballroom to a band situated just off the dance floor.  It isn't easy to see the piano standing right behind the indoor palm tree, but you should be able to spot the area where the Ballroom trio would set up to play their music.

Adding to the breath-taking beauty of the Centrum was a unique centerpiece called the "Diadem".

This vast flowing sculpture was a six-story construction of curved wood, metal, enamel and composites.

The Diadem was so tall it could be seen from every level of the ship.  Wherever you were on the ship, this sculpture was a pleasure to behold.

The Diadem gave a blend of images from the heavens and the seas. In the center of the wood frame rested an orb of blue and green cloisonné (the turquoise blue sphere at the bottom) surrounded by stars and moons. 

The basic idea behind the Diadem was "Music of the Spheres" which suggested the beauty of the Oceans and the Heavens could be expressed through music... a "Rhapsody" if you please.

The entire ship exuded class and tastefulness. 

That is my friend Betty Richardson sitting contentedly in the Rhapsody Centrum.  Marla and I were married on the Rhapsody in 2004.  After the ceremony, I remember sitting with Marla down in this Lobby feeling about as happy and at peace as is humanly possible. The richness of the colors was so relaxing. It was always a joy to visit this area.

As you have probably concluded, I am quite the "Lobbyist".

Now that you can see what a beautiful Lobby can bring to a cruise ship, I think I have made my point. 

The new Carnival Magic has a lot going for it, but it sure could use a better lobby. 

Considering how much money Carnival invested in this ship, the barren Lobby on the Magic simply made no sense to me.


Cabins and Suites on the Magic

Marla and I didn't get to look at any cabins or suites besides our own.  Here is a picture of the cabin we stayed in.  It was attractive, clean and comfortable.  Other than the flat screen TV, Marla and I failed to notice any unusual new features. 

After all the mean things I said about the Lobby, it might surprise you to learn I have no criticism of our room. 

In fact, I only had two criticisms of the entire ship.  First and foremost was the dreary Lobby.  My other criticism was the lack of any kind of general theme or motif used to decorate the ship.

Considering the ship's name was "Magic", I would have assumed a theme of magicians would have been an easy decor to pull off.  However, I never saw a single thing to suggest such a thing.  Whatever "Magic" this ship professes to have, it isn't the David Copperfield or Harry Houdini type of Magic, that's for sure.

This room, for example, had a nice picture above the bed.  However, the picture was not related to anything "magical".

Most cruise ships decorate around a common theme.  While the Magic lacked any sort of theme, its predecessor the Conquest served as a floating tribute to famous French artists. Pictures of French art could be seen throughout the ship. 

The entire ship was decorated in an Impressionist theme with a little psychedelic Moulin Rouge - lots of crazy colors and patterns and shapes - thrown in for good measure.

The murals copying the works of the art masters were scattered all over the ship, everywhere from elevator ceilings to the atrium. Even the cabins and the hallways were covered with French art.

Many of the public rooms were named for art masters such as Van Gogh, Degas, and Renoir.  There was a Degas Lounge, a Cezanne Dining Room, a Vincent's Smoking Lounge and a Monet Dining Room. 

One of the reasons that the Conquest Lobby was one my favorite places on the ship was this stunning mural with its tapestry of images.  The mural was at least 30 feet wide and 40 feet tall.  It could be seen directly above the dance area in the Lobby.  This picture gives just a hint of the various images. There is much more that is missing.  For example, you can see a hint of Paul Gaugin's Tahitian painting "Joyousness" down at the bottom. 

As I said, this mural was right above our heads. As I sat and watched my friends dancing in the Lobby, I would occasionally look up and admire this stunning vista above.

I freely admit I am no art expert.  For example, I have no idea who the beautiful woman is in the mural or who the artist is (if you know, please tell me!  aha, I found it - Woman w a Pearl Necklace by Mary Cassatt).  But that didn't keep me from appreciating the beauty of the art.

Of course I am hardly an expert on Cruise Ship decor either, but if the Magic had any sort of overall scheme, it escaped me.

With that, I conclude my two main criticisms of the Magic.  Fortunately, these are just aesthetics.  When it came to amenities, the Magic delivered. 

Dining Rooms

I think this buffet-style dining area is titled the Lido.  It serves the same function as the Cezanne Restaurant did on the Conquest.  This is the "eat whenever you feel like it" dining area including pizza and ice cream late at night.

As the picture shows, this area features a sense of privacy with fully enclosed booths.

Please note the stairs.  On the Conquest, these stairs led to a second story eating area that the SSQQ Travel Group would use as our impromptu daily meeting venue.

On the Magic, we will need to find another area to take its place. This particular second level area has been converted into the Cucina del Capitano Italian Restaurant. 

Cucina del Capitano pays homage to Carnival's Italian heritage.  From what I gather, many of its ships were built in Italy.  I might add that the Magic's Captain, Giovanni Cutugno, appears to be from Italy.

In addition to the Cucina del Capitano, there is a fancy steakhouse located on another deck.  You probably already know this, but a growing trend on the new ships is to offer fine dining on board that you pay extra for.

Personally, I dislike the concept.  Once upon a time, cruise ships promised "fine dining" in their main dining rooms. 

So if the "fine dining" experience is starting to move to these fancy private areas where you pay extra, then what does that say about the "fine dining" in the main dining areas?  

It seems to me like they are trying to find a way to make the customer pay extra for something that used to be included in the price tag.  Now don't go faulting just Carnival.  RCCL does it too. I just don't like the trend. 

The Southern Lights and Northern Lights Dining Rooms

There are two "swanky" main dining areas on the Magic.  I wasn't quite sure what the theme was here either, but fortunately it was explained to me.  The icy blue lighting suggests the auroras which lend their name to the two dining rooms.

Hot Tubs

One area that is a definite improvement is the pool area at the back of the ship.  On the Conquest, this was an area I pretty much ignored, but on the Magic I was impressed.

It is a very attractive venue featuring not just one, but two excellent hot tubs.

The split level swimming pool was also interesting.  It looked like the perfect spot for some water volleyball.  So what if the ball landed in the ocean?

In the picture on the right below, you can see the other hot tub.  It didn't have any water in it, but I am sure it worked.

Just one deck above the hot tub was a viewing deck that had wonderful romantic possibilities late at night.  I will share a picture of this area further on.

The Showtime Theater

The theater on the Magic is huge and attractive. 

There are a couple of unusual features. The chairs on the upper levels are straight-backed.  The jury is out on these, but I suppose they have been tested for comfort.

The seats down in front all have their own tables for drinks.  I thought that was unusual since it reduced the seating.  But on the other it increased the leg room.

The one thing I have to say is that the dance show they put on that night was one of the best shows I have ever seen on a cruise ship.  Too bad they didn't allow pictures.

The show featured dance tunes of the Seventies.  The two vocalists were so talented they danced right alongside the company AS THEY SANG.  Pretty impressive.  I can't sing worth a lick as it is, but I sure can't sing and dance at the same time.

Let me add the dancers were beautiful and very talented.  It was a great show.  I hope I get to see it again in October 2012.

About the Magic Inaugural

Let me say this again: Carnival went all out.  In addition to the wonderful dance show, our dinner was delicious... and free!

As you can see, the bar area in the Lobby was kept busy.  There was complimentary alcohol all day and all night long.  I had two pina coladas in the afternoon and two glasses of wine at dinner. The next day I felt like a truck had hit me.

Considering the amount of drinking I saw, I imagine there were some serious hangovers the next day.  Fortunately we are all given our own cabins, so we were able to take the elevator home.

Free booze and a cabin to sleep it off in was an invitation for some heavy drinking.  The place got pretty wild. I heard the party lasted well into the night. 

By the way, there is an SSQQ Celebrity in this picture.  That is Sorrell Warren in the white shirt sitting on the upper level.  Sorrell is a long-time SSQQ member.  He is also very successful.  Sorrell is now a vice-president at Vacations to Go, the travel agency that helped our travel group get started.

Steakhouse and Piano Bar

This is the Steakhouse on the right.  This venue occupies the same spot that the area known as "Vincent's" holds on the Conquest. 

Below are two pictures of the Piano Bar.  The Piano Bar was located in the exact same location as the Piano Bar on the Conquest, but it was a larger and more open area.

It was empty in the afternoon when I was in a picture-taking mood, but later that night it was definitely packed. 

If you study the picture below, you will notice the piano is located inside the circular bar.  This encourages people to drink while they sing.  Considering the booze was free for the evening, there was a lot of singing when Marla and I passed by.  This was probably the happiest spot on the ship.

The Piano Man was quite outgoing.  He would sing a line, the crowd would sing a line, then they would sing together.  Thanks to his leadership, the energy here was very high.

Spotlight Lounge

The Spotlight Lounge is in the same spot as the Degas Lounge on the Conquest.  This newer version of the same place is a definite upgrade.  The size of the Lounge is about the same, but the dance floor is much larger.  Plus its circular design allow more styles of dancing than the narrow rectangle dance floor in the Degas Lounge.

Unfortunately, unless they let us use it for Late Night Dancing, I don't see us dancing here much.  The brochure said this is where the karaoke will take place.  When we came back that evening, this area was used for comedy.  Between karaoke and comedy, I don't see this as a likely dance venue.  If so, too bad.  The lounge had a very pretty dance floor.

The Vibe Disco

The Vibe Disco appeared to be an upgrade over its Conquest counterpart known as "Henri's". 

When Marla and I first walked by in the afternoon, The Vibe was being used for a sales meeting.  If you look in the picture below, you can at least see the dance floor underneath. 

Not only was the dance floor larger, it didn't have those strange plastic squares that served as a dance floor in Henri's.  Instead it was replaced by what appeared to be linoleum tiles.  No problem.  With dance wax, this is an excellent surface.

By the way, have you ever been in a purple Disco before? 

Well, be careful not to wear purple or you might accidentally become invisible.  This place gave new meaning to the phrase "Purple Haze".

I could have sworn I saw Barney the Dinosaur out on the floor, but it might have been my imagination.

The Red Frog Pub

This area was a new feature on the Magic.  I don't recall a similar venue on the Conquest.

There have always been places to get a drink on a cruise ship, but this is first place that could be called an actual "bar" that I have seen.  This large facility has several different rooms to sit in and all sorts of things to do and look at. 

The Pub is basically exactly as advertised - a place to go to drink with your friends... a floating Cheers so to speak.

The decor is described as "Caribbean Meets Key West". 

I got Marla to play a game of foosball with me, but we had to quit because I felt it was my sacred duty to take more pictures and explore more. 

Marla said I quit because she was winning, but we all know that couldn't possibly be the reason. 

The Ocean Plaza

Every cruise ship I have been on has open areas for sitting and chatting with friends.  However the Magic took this concept to a higher level.  I have a feeling the Ocean Plaza was designed to replace the traditional function of the Lobby as a comfortable meeting area or place to sit and relax. 

The Ocean Plaza is very large.  This picture doesn't begin to convey the size of the room.  By the way, you can't see them, but just to the left is a special hot tub area known as the Lanai and just to the right is a major dance venue.

Here is a picture of the fancy fish-shaped hot tub located outside the Ocean Plaza.  It is 30 feet from the dance floor.  I can see our group alternating between the tub and the dance floor during the day.

The large dance floor will likely be our main dance venue.  It is a classy area complete with a stage for a band. It will likely be our after-dinner Ballroom dance area on Formal Night.  Besides the attractive wood floor, there are large stretches of nearby walkway space perfect for us to use as overflow dance areas.

The Library

This very attractive Library also doubles as a Game Room.

Bridge anyone?  Hearts?  Spades?  Blockus?

My only complaint about this room is that it is too bright. 

How can I cheat at cards with this kind of lighting?

The Hat Trick Casino

The Hat Trick Casino on the Magic was the largest casino I have ever seen on a cruise ship.

I must say it is also the most attractive casino I have ever seen.  Although the designers didn't put much thought into the Lobby, they obviously put serious energy into this room.  The Casino is a very elegant place.

One feature I thought was interesting was a congregating area inside the Casino (see picture).

I have never seen this feature before.  Now why people would sit and mingle in a Casino instead of gambling was not explained to me.  That said, since I am not a gambler, I took it for granted that the designers knew what they were doing.


The most spectacular new feature on the Magic has to be the Waterworld complex.  This was the first time I had ever truly grasped the meaning of the phrase "knock your socks off". 

There was water cascading down from above into a wading area that was much too irresistible.  It didn't even occur to me there were no other guests out there.  I was more than ready to go out there and get soaking wet!!  Why not?  I had a change of clothes.

Thanks in large part to what I call the devastating "pina colada effect", I actually began to take off my socks and shoes and roll up my pants.  I honestly did not have the will power to stop myself.  However, once Marla gave me "The Look", I came to my senses and reluctantly began to put my shoes back on.  It had been a very close call.

There were two incredibly long water slides, much longer than any I have ever seen on a cruise ship.  One of the ladies who worked there said there was a side panel on one of the slides that could be opened to let someone shoot far out to sea.  The lady flashed a wicked smile as she pointed out she could get rid of any bratty kid who gave her too much trouble. 

Marla asked what the price was for a husband.

Marooned and Moroned

Another knock your socks off feature was the giant movie screen.  I was still suffering from the Pina Colada effect as I walked by. 

I noticed the crowd was mesmerized by a rock concert.  So I asked a nearby kid which group was playing. 

Maroon 5.  I had vaguely heard of them. Weren't they the band who won for favorite pop-rock band at the recent American Music Awards

The kid looked at me kind of funny.  Yeah, that's them. Smug at my vast knowledge, I kept walking.  I thought it was some video.  Big deal.

It wasn't till I sobered up the next day and read the Chronicle that I realized this group was performing a live concert at that very moment down on the pier below.

It was sort of like walking past the Beatles.  Ho hum.  Oobla di, oobla da.


Sports Square

A new feature on the Magic was their unusual ropes course. 

The elevated ropes course envelopes the entire complex.  There are said to be 20 different rope activities that vary in difficulty. 

Hope you don't get intimidated by heights.  You can see the ocean calling to you 150 feet below.  If you fall, you hit the water.  There is one particular rope challenge they call "Shark's Feeding Frenzy."  I love a dark sense of humor. 

That said, I saw people getting strapped in, so I assume it is safe to participate.

I think the rope course is Carnival's answer to the rock climbing walls on RCCL ships.  I hate those rock climbing walls because they hurt my hands.  Too much suffering and not enough fun.

But those rope climbs did look interesting.  Although I heard they were harder than they look, I would like to try them.

Best Dance Floor on the Ship

Okay, I will admit I got my nose bent out of shape. 

I discovered this awesome dance floor.  As you can see, the floor was large and very pretty.  In fact, the entire room was very tastefully decorated.  It was definitely one of the most attractive rooms on the entire ship.

And guess what?  This entire lounge is for teenagers.

We get the Lobby and they get this?  Who's paying for this trip, anyway?  It definitely isn't the kids.

Considering there are typically no more than 10 teenagers on the trips we take during the school year, this seems like an incredible waste of an awesome dance venue.  The room is spacious, pretty, and very comfortable.  It is perfect of our needs. 

Maybe we can talk the ship into letting us borrow the area late at night.  Aren't all teenagers expected to be in bed by midnight?

Ocean Plaza Revisited

Here is another look at the dance area reserved for the adults. Although it isn't nearly as pretty as the Teen Lounge dance floor, I do think the area will be very effective for our dancing. 

Not only is the floor large, there are several areas nearby we can use for dancing when this floor gets too crowded.  No matter how good the band is, we can definitely find a place for everyone to dance.  Plus there is plenty of seating.

I imagine we will get a lot of attention when we dance here.  The main walkway between the Red Frog Pub to the Casino goes right past this dance floor.  I suppose many people will stop to watch.

I just like the area the kids get better.  You know me, I like having a private area all to ourselves.

Some Enchanted Evening

The Magic gets very pretty at night, especially outdoors.

This elevated area at the very back of the ship seems perfect for moonlight hugging and smooching.

Considering my romance with Marla started at night on a cruise ship, I can vouch for the power of a starry night embrace.

I suppose a lovely private setting just like this would be perfect for sweeping a pretty girl off her feet. 

In fact, I was considering doing that exact thing to my wife.  I can assure you that the area in the picture was very tempting. 

If I wasn't committed to my sacred mission of taking as many hot tub pictures as humanly possible, I might have lured Marla over to one of those couches for an instant replay of our Magic Moment.

The Cloud Nine Spa

There were a lot of a very attractive new features on the Magic.  To name a few, the Waterworks, the exquisitely designed pool areas, the giant TV screen, the attractive hot tubs, the large gathering areas such as the Ocean Plaza, the Red Frog Pub, and of course the romantic area at the back of the ship.

However, without question, the single most unusual new feature on the Magic had to be their gigantic spa complex. 

My old dance studio on Bissonnet was about 6,000 square feet.  This spa is 22,770 square feet.  That makes the spa on the Magic almost four times larger than SSQQ!!

Everywhere you look, there is something amazing.  For example, these heated stone lounge chairs are exquisite.  Marla absolutely loved laying on one.  The heat from the chair permeated through her body.  For a brief moment in time, all of her aches and pains were relieved.  Marla wasn't alone.  Every woman in the room was moaning and sighing with happiness.  Ooh!  Aah!  Ummm!

Serenity Deck

Above the spa there is an area known as the "Serenity Deck".  I never saw this area so I don't know what it looks like.

The Serenity Deck is said to be adults-only. Although the Sally Fields-lookalike in the picture clearly has her clothes on, the rumor was that this was a 'clothing optional' area. Considering this is the highest point on the ship, privacy is definitely assured.

I may never know what this area looks like.  I don't think I am allowed up there.  Hopefully someone from our SSQQ Travel Group will be brave enough or single enough to confirm this rumor for me on our October 2012 trip. 

What I did see was a Meditation Room (pictured directly above).  It was a very attractive, peaceful area indeed.

One very strange feature of the Spa was the presence of 20 or so private massage rooms.  The sheer number of all those rooms was unsettling.  While I am quite sure people enjoy massages and all that, I cannot for the life of me imagine there are 20 people an hour who want massages.

Fitness Center

I did not see the Fitness Center, but I heard it was beautiful, large, and state of the art. I guess I can take their word for it.

On the other hand, maybe I shouldn't take their word for it.

What is wrong with this picture?

First of all, I have never been in an exercise class where all the women are as preposterously thin and well-curved as the models in this picture.

Second, I don't know how you feel about it, but I am suspicious of anyone who smiles and laughs while they are working out.

Whenever I work out, I am screaming in pain because every part of my body aches.

That's why I hate this picture.  Exercise should not look this fun.

The Magic Pool

One thing I did see was the Mother of all Hot Tubs.

The official name for this bubbling, seething cauldron is a "Thalassotherapy Pool".  This term was all Greek to me. 

Oh, what do you know... it actually is a Greek word.  It means 'healing through sea water'. There are said to be special medicinal elements in the water that will make everything in your body feel and work better.  The brochure even hinted that the water's special properties were "Magical" in nature. 

Hmm.  We may have finally found what is Magic on Magic. 

I only have one question.  Are the waters in this tub more magic than Handsome George's cure-all Gatorade? 

The one thing I am certain of is when Phyllis Phrog sees this spa, she will take one look and conclude that all previous SSQQ 'hot tub stuffing records' must fall.

I suppose there is always the chance that the Staff will frown on wasting their valuable Magic Waters on silly hot tub stuffers.  If that's the case, we can always turn our sights to the Lanai Hot Tub, the fish-shaped hot tub I wrote about earlier. This picture gives a great view of the potential value.

As you can see, there is a little party area.  Even better, people will be walking by all the time... the Lanai is advertised as "The Place" to take a stroll.  The recruiting possibilities are endless.  Get a net and snag people as they walk by.  This could easily become the Hot Tub of our Dreams.  

I came away from our scouting mission with the conclusion that the Magic is basically a souped-up version of the Conquest. 

If you liked sailing on the Conquest, you will like this ship even better.  It has everything the Conquest had and much more.

And guess what?  Here is a picture of yet another hot tub I have not yet revealed.  I didn't see this tub personally, but I found a picture of it in the brochure they gave us. 

Assuming some crafty Carnival publicist isn't adding hot tubs that don't really exist, there are at least five different hot tubs on this ship... enough to play a Gatorade-inspired game of musical hot tubs. 

Are you happy yet?

I know some of you will be homesick for the Conquest.  For that matter, I am still homesick for the Rhapsody.  Every ship has different features, some better, some worse.

As for the new Magic, it has plenty of amazing features.  With five hot tubs, the stunning swimming pool, the Texas-sized TV, and the exciting Waterworld, I am sure we will find some way to cope. 

When it comes to cruising, we are tough crowd, yes?  We never complain about anything and we adapt to every new environment effortlessly, don't we?

The one thing I am not worried about is the dancing.  Our group has always found a way to dance to our heart's content on every ship we have ever been on. 

Even ships with limited dance areas are sufficient because no one else on board dares to dance when we take the floor.  Whatever floor there is belongs to us.  But floor space shouldn't be a problem on the Magic.  The ship is full of possible areas for us to dance.

I realize that every one of you (including me) is spoiled rotten and we want everything just the way we want it.  There are bound to be a few changes we aren't happy with, but I think we will survive just fine on our new ship. 

Look at it this way - whenever the changes get to us, you can join me and we will go find in search of inner peace on the Serenity Deck.  Oops, I forgot.  I'm not allowed up there. Well, how about the Meditation Room instead?

Thanks for reading,
Rick Archer

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