Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Carnival Magic Cruise - DAY 4 - Monday, Dec 1, 2014 - Seaday 1

You can find the beginning of this review here, DAY 1        


It was 8:00AM when I woke up and looked at the clock.

AHHHHH! Our first seaday!

We had a long way to go to get all the way across the gulf of Mexico and then down to Honduras.
No wonder it was going to take us 2 days to get there.

Here is a general map of where we were headed during our first 2 sea days:

The first thing I did after I was up and around that morning was to go out to the smoking area and have a morning smoke.

I want to take a minute to mention the smoking area on Deck 11. (sorry non-smokers, bear with me for just a minute)
 For one thing, it was a really nice smoking area set up with comfortable couches, tables and chairs, and lounge chairs. I know smokers have recently been banned from smoking on Carnival Cruise Lines' cabin balconies and the smoking areas have become more important to us. For another thing, the smoking areas on this ship became important to me as this cruise went on because I ended up spending A LOT of my time in these areas, as you will see later.

Here are some pictures of the smoking area on Deck 11:

In this picture, it's the middle deck with the comfortable couches along the green wall with the colorful cube tables in front of them:

And here is another view of the couches:

The smoking area goes all along deck 11 on the port (left) side. You can smoke all along this side of the deck to the back of the ship.

When we were sitting in the smoking area, this was our view of the lido deck main pool, and the big screen TV. It was so nice to be able to sit there and watch everything and not be banned to a back corner of the ship.

I had my morning smoke and went back to the cabin to get ready for the day.

My roommate and I were both hungry so we decided to go down to the buffet and see what they had to offer for breakfast.

We ate a nice breakfast. I really love the ships buffet breakfast and the Carnival Magic buffet was perfect.

After we ate, we decided since it was a sunny morning, we would lay out and get some sun.

We went back to the cabin to change into swimsuits and grab our towels. We found some lounge chairs by the railing at the back of the ship on deck 10 on the other side of the hot tub.
It was a good spot to spend the day:

We stayed there most of the morning and early afternoon. We spent quite a bit of time that day talking to a sweet young couple that sat near us.

When we had enough sun, we went back to our cabin to shower and change. We ordered some fruit from room service to hold us over until dinner.

We stopped the gift shop that afternoon to see if they had any good souvenirs:

That night was elegant night in the Main Dining Room (MDR) so we spent the latter part of the afternoon in our cabin getting dressed up for dinner.

When we were ready for dinner, we met up with the neighbors to go down to the 3rd floor. The entrance to our dining room was in the Lobby area of the ship.

We went down to the restaurant around 6:00PM, and we didn't wait long for a table.

We were seated at a table for 4 and we all ordered.

This meal, on the 2nd night of the cruise, was where things really began to go south with my roommate and I.

I already had a bad vibe from the neighbors, and so did my roommate. We had discussed the neighbors in the previous few days and we agreed that it was really stressful to be around them for any length of time. We both felt that our time with them was awkward and strained and we really weren't connecting with them.

It's possible that being around the neighbors that night at dinner got my roommate in a bad mood. Maybe it wasn't related to the neighbors at all. Maybe she was tired? I know that my roommate and I had a nice day, and now at dinner her mood completely changed.

I will admit, my roommate had been a little snappy with me at times during the past few days, but I had been willing to ignore it.

While we were eating our appetizers, I noticed my roommates mood was going from bad to worse. The neighbors were no help, they seemed to be enjoying it and maybe even egging her on.
Without going into details, I'll just say that by the time I got my entree, I was ready to leave the table.

 Of course, I didn't want to miss my prime rib dinner, so when my entree came I ate quickly and then excused myself from the table. I made some excuse about going to have a smoke, and I left the MDR with no intention of going back to that table.

I was pretty irritated at this point with both my roommate and the neighbors. I was beginning to wonder what I had gotten myself into.

I went back up to the cabin and changed into some more comfortable clothes and made my way out to the smoking area to sit for a while.

I sat there thinking things over, and calming myself down. I thought back over the past few years, the past few months and the past few days and I wondered if anything I had done was causing my roommate to treat me the way she was. Her behavior toward me was really strange. She was mostly fine, but there were times when she made fun of me, called me names (jokingly, of course), or made comments to me that just weren't nice.
 I came to the conclusion that since day one I had been very patient with her and I had been very kind. I had treated her just as a friend should treat a friend. I honestly couldn't think of anything I had done that would cause her to treat me the way she had.

I was pretty disappointed that I was on a cruise and I should be out and about on the ship doing fun things like going to the comedy club or watching a show in the theater. Instead I was sitting here pondering my friendship with my roommate and wondering what in the heck was going on.

 As far as the neighbors were concerned, I was willing to just let them be. I wasn't really "friends" with them before the cruise, and I was OK with not being friends with them after the cruise. I decided since I was spending the next 6 days with them, we might as well get along as much as possible. I was going to continue being nice to them, and make the best of the cruise. I wasn't sharing a cabin with them, so it wasn't that big of a deal that I didn't click with them.

My roommate was a completely different story. She and I had been friends for 25 years, although we had lost touch for a while. I felt terrible about the way thing were starting to go between us, and I hoped whatever was happening was repairable.

After I calmed myself down I started talking to a woman that happened to be sitting near me. She was an older lady an she was hilarious. I needed a laugh and I enjoyed talking to her for a while.

As we were talking, my roommate happened to walk by.
The three of us got to talking and we all decided to walk down to the piano bar and see what was happening down there.

I was kind of glad the woman was hanging out with us because she was a nice buffer between my roommate and I for a few hours.

The 3 of us stayed at the piano bar for a while

After about 45 minutes to an hour, we moved on to the Vibe Nightclub to listen to 70's and 80's music hour.

These pictures were taken on a day when the club was empty, but I'll add them here so you can see what the club looked like:

The club was packed and none of us wanted to dance so we found a place off to the side of the dance floor. We listened to the music and people watched. They played good music; Michael Jackson, Donna Summer, BeeGee's, etc.....
I had a really good time that night, both at the piano bar and at the night club.

After 70's & 80's hour was over, the 3 of us went down to the Lido deck in search of food. We were all hungry.

We found the cheeseburger place was serving food so filled our plates with burgers and fries and sat down to eat.

After I ate, I couldn't resist going to get an ice cream cone. I love the ice cream on the ships and I got ice cream as much as I could on this cruise.

My roommate and I said goodbye to our friend and went back to our cabin.

By then, the mood between my roommate and I was fine. Neither of us had said anything about dinner.

Back in our cabin, we found this little guy. I have no idea what he is supposed to be, but he's cute:

Again, my bed looked sooooooooo comfortable:

While I'm thinking about it, see the red thermal cup on my nightstand in the picture above? I bought that on Ebay and brought it on the cruise. It was really handy to have. I kept it full of ice water from the spa,and lemonade and iced tea from the lido deck.

We were both tired after a long day and we went to sleep that night around 1:00AM.

I was a little bummed out that I hadn't gone to the spa that day. I told myself I was definitely going to go to the spa at least once a day for the rest of the cruise. I had enjoyed it so much on the first night, and I really wanted to take advantage of it on this cruise.

Tomorrow was another sea day, so I could sleep in and also be sure to make time to visit the spa.

Day 5 is HERE!

Carnival Magic Cruise - DAY 3 - Sunday, Nov 30, 2014 - Boarding Day

You can find the beginning of this review here, DAY 1


I woke up and realized where I was and I immediately thought, "It's today!!! I get to cruise TODAY!"

We were treated to a beautiful sunrise from our balcony.

 We went down to see what the hotel was offering for breakfast. They had a nice spread. It was
the usual hotel breakfast; hot foods and cereal choices. I took a toasted bagel with cream cheese and some orange juice back to our room so I could eat while I got ready for the cruise.

While I was repacking my suitcase, I couldn't resist walking out onto the balcony every 5 minutes to take pictures of the water. 

I took a shower, packed, and called my Sweetheart to say good morning. 

At one point that morning I wondered if I could actually see our cruise ship parked at the port. I went out on the balcony and YES! I could see it!!!  THERE IT IS!!! (see the ship right above the Waffle House sign?)

I zoomed in:

I was getting SO EXCITED!!! Its always such a thrill to see the huge ships for the first time.

After we showered and got our luggage packed up it was time to put our luggage tags on our suitcases. Putting the luggage tags on is also a big thrill for me. It means that after all of the planning and anticipation, it's finally time to head to the port to board the ship. 

Our Carnival Magic luggage tags will make sure our luggage gets delivered to our cabin on the ship:

My roommate and I met up with the neighbors just after 9:00AM and we all loaded our bags back into our cars. 
When we were loaded, we headed off to the port. 

I didn't know exactly where I was going but I knew the general direction of the port area. We just headed that way and it was easy enough to find. 

We went into the port area first and dropped our bags off with the porter.

Then we drove across the street to the Galveston Park-n- Cruise where we had made arrangements to park our cars in their secured lot for the week.

I took a picture of my truck before we headed off to board the ship. (mine is the white one)

Peeking out through the gates of the parking lot, I could finally see the ship up close. Since I had been driving, I hadn't really had a chance to take an up close look yet. 

She was HUGE, and just beautiful!!!!

As we crossed the street, there were a lot of people helping to direct us to the port. It was very easy to find our way. I have never cruised out of Galveston before, only Miami. It was interesting to see the differences between the two ports. 

And look how blue the sky was that morning!

After we got inside the port building, we went through security. The lines weren't long this early in the morning and we breezed through. 

Because of my special Platinum status for this cruise, my roommate and I were directed to go up an escalator to the Captain's Lounge to get checked in. The neighbors went through general check-in in another area.

Inside the Captains Lounge, there were no lines to get checked in and get our Sail & sign cards.

 By the time we were checked in and waiting to board, it was around 10:30AM

 They served coffee, lemonade and iced tea while we waited to be called to board the ship.

I called my Sweetie while we were waiting, I knew I wouldn't have many more opportunities to talk to him so I wanted to call while I was sitting down for a few minutes. 

We didn't have to wait long, maybe 45 minutes or an hour. It wasn't long before it was time to get on the ship.

We went up the ramps and entered the ship on Deck 3 in the Lobby, and my first thought when we walked on the ship was that it was just gorgeous!!!

We waited in the lobby area for about 30-40 minutes for the neighbors to catch up with us.

The neighbors made it on the ship and joined us in the lobby. We decided to go up to see if our cabin was ready. I had a feeling our cabin would be ready, since I was cruising as a Platinum. The neighbors cabin wasn't going to be ready for them until 1:30 so we all left our carry-on bags in our cabin so we wouldn't have to carry our stuff around. 

Our cabins were on the right (Starboard) side of the ship. We were at the very front of the ship, at the end of the hall on the left:

Our cabin!!!

The door to our cabin:

And inside was cute! I liked our cabin.

I knew the cabin would be small, but in person it was REALLY small. It also had a much smaller bathroom than the other ships I have been on. Although I was surprised at how small the cabin actually was, it was totally do-able and I had no problems at all with the size of the cabin.

This pic was taken on another night after turndown service. I forgot to take pics when we first went in the cabin. My bed is the one on the right with the towel animal on it:

Because we had spa cabins, we had "upgraded" Spa robes to wear throughout the cruise. I don't know what upgraded means, but they were nice robes. I wore my robe at least once every day. 

We also got Spa slippers (we got to keep the slippers, but not the robes). I wore them to the spa one time and they got soaked. I asked for a new pair and from then on I wore my flip flops to the spa.

Because we were in a spa cabin, we got some little samples of the Elemis products that they sell in the spa. We got lotion, soap, shampoo, body wash, and conditioner (the conditioner is not pictured):

These were tiny little samples and my roommate and I each wanted our own samples to try. I asked our cabin steward for extra samples and he gave us several sets throughout the cruise. I didn't use any of the Elemis products while I was on the ship, I had brought a lot of special stuff with me (soaps, lotions, etc...) that I wanted to use on the cruise so I packed the Elemis samples up and brought them home.

I have used them since I have been home and I really really love them! Its good stuff with a nice mellow smell. I'm sure this stuff is very expensive, but I would consider buying these products the next time I cruise on Carnival.

The spa cabins also gave us pretty yellow beach towels for us to use at the spa, pools, and on the islands for the week. The rest of the ship had dark blue towels to use. Our Cabin Steward would replace these with clean towels whenever we used them:

Speaking of our Cabin Steward, this is Ricardo. He was just AWESOME!!!
I tipped him really well on the first day when he introduced himself to us, and I tipped him every day we were on the ship. He took VERY good care of us for the week:

After dropping off our carry on bags and inspecting the cabin, we went down to the Lido deck and ate lunch at the buffet. 

The buffet on the Carnival Magic was very nice. I was impressed with the decor and the food. 

The way they had the buffet set up was very convenient, and lines went fairly fast. 

(web image)

After lunch I had an ice cream cone from one of the serve yourself ice cream stations. The chocolate/vanilla swirl mix is my favorite. 

After lunch the 4 of us walked around the ship a little bit while we waited for the neighbors cabin to be ready at 1:30. 

We explored a bit and got back up to the cabins around 2:00PM . 

My roommates and my suitcases had already been delivered to our cabin so I took some time to unpack while we waited for Muster drill. 

When we heard the announcement for Muster Drill, we realized our meeting place was in the main theater. That was a nice change. Usually Muster Drill takes place on one of the outer decks. It can get really hot out there on the decks if you are stuck in the sun. 

For this drill, I was thrilled we got to sit in the theater seats and be comfortable throughout the drill and safety announcements. It lasted about 30 minutes and they talked about what to do in an emergency. 

After the drill, we were free to go and the 4 of us headed up to deck 11 to stand by the rail and watch sailaway.

See that ship parked at the port in the middle of the picture below? Our ship had been parked right in front of that ship when we boarded.
Now we were slowly gliding through the channel and heading out into the Gulf of Mexico!!!


I had a drink of the day while we were sailing through the channel. 
I really love their "Funship Special" drinks. 

They are fruity and sweet, and they have like 7 kinds of alcohol in them. 
      (web image)

There were a bazillion freighter ships in the channel and also in the gulf. I had no idea there would be so many.

As we sailed through the channel, I called my Sweetheart to say goodbye. It would be a whole week before I was going to be able to talk to him again (that was the part I didn't like), but after we said goodbye I turned off my phone for the rest of the cruise. 

Sometime after sailaway, we went back to our cabins to get ready for our first dinner in the Main Dining Room.

We had picked "Your Time Dining" and we were to go to the Northern Lights Dining Room anytime between 5:45 and 9:00PM.
We showed up around 6:30 and had to wait for about 20 minutes to get a table.

Dinner was OK. The food was good and the service was good. My travel companions might have been a little tired. I thought the moods of the neighbors was a bit "off" for this being the first night of a cruise.

I had fruit for an appetizer and brisket for my entree. I was too stuffed for dessert.

There was a nice sunset off the deck of the ship that night, but my pic is blurry

After dinner, I suggested we all go see the Welcome Aboard show in the main theater. No one seemed interested (which was fine with me, as I have already seen 4 Welcome Aboard shows) so the four of us decided to walk around and check out the ship a little more. We went down to deck 5 and ended up in the Red Frog Pub.

The pub has a smoking area on the outside, so we sat out there for awhile.

One of the servers came over and entertained us for a while. He was really funny! He had us all laughing (even the neighbors!).

We walked around Deck 5 some more and we found the piano bar. We stood around in the back for a few minutes and it looked like fun! The piano player was funny and was joking around and playing games with the crowd. My roommate and I both wanted to come back to the piano bar at least once during the week and have a drink.

The spa was open that night until 11:00PM and I was anxious to get up there and see what the spa was all about.

The neighbors went somewhere (I don't remember where), and my roommate and I went up to the spa.

It was very easy to get to the spa from our cabin, and that was one of the reasons why I picked this cabin location.

From our cabin door - on the far left in this picture - we had to walk about 15 steps toward the front of the ship and turn left........

And then about 20 steps to the special spa entrance.............

There was a private elevator to take us up 2 floors and directly into the spa without having to go all the way down the hall and use the regular elevators.

We could also choose to take the winding staircase that wrapped around the elevator.

  I came to realize how nice this private spa elevator was as I walked back and forth in my robe from my cabin to the spa throughout the week. 

I did use the stairs quite often during the week when I didn't feel like waiting for the elevator.  

Our cabin was located on Deck 11, and the main part of the Spa is on Deck 14
The Carnival Magic doesn't have a 13th floor, so it was only two short floors up to the spa.

When we came out of the elevator on the 14th floor, we saw the front desk.

They welcomed us to the spa and gave us a quick tour and an overview of how the spa works.
We got our spa bracelets. We were to wear these when we came to use the spa:

We were also shown a tray with 4 different kinds of body scrub. They told us about each one and let us have a smell of each.
We got to pick one as a gift from the spa.
My roommate and I both picked lavender since its supposed to be calming.

Our lavender body scrub gift from the spa:

Now it was time to use the spa facilities!
We were told to start our spa experience by using one or more of the "herbal steam" rooms.

These rooms were AMAZING!

They were quiet, calm rooms that smelled like eucalyptus (and other smells too) and they played calming music.

I think there were 4 steam rooms (there may have been more, but I saw 4). They all had different degrees of steam filling them. It was kind of like a really big sauna, but with smells and music.

I could only use 2 of the rooms. Too much steam makes me sneeze so I mostly stayed in the two rooms with the lowest steam levels.

This "green" room was comfortable and warm, but not really steamy at all. It had tile lounge beds that were HEATED!

Laying on these tile beds felt so good. It was relaxing, and warm, and very comfortable.  I wish I were there right now.
The bamboo pipe things had a nice stream of cool water to rinse your face if you wanted to.
During the day there was a good view out of those windows:

Through the glass door you can see in the pictures above, there was another room that also had tile beds. These beds were in more of a "sitting up" position. This "red" room had a little more steam and was warmer than the green room. 

There were shower heads on the back wall so you could spray yourself with cool water: 

There were (at least) 2 more rooms, and they were so steamy I couldn't get a picture. I didn't use the other two rooms, but I did walk in both of them so I could see what they looked like. They were more like a real sauna with heat that blasts you as soon as you open the door, and so much steam you can't see across the room.

I was fine with my red and green rooms, and I would spend about 10-15 minutes in each of those rooms every time I went to the spa.

After the herbal steam rooms, it was time to go into the Thalassotherapy pool.

This is like a giant whirlpool that is filled with sea water and kept at body temperature. It wasn't hot and it wasn't cool. It was just perfect. The salt and minerals in the sea water are supposed to be healing.
I don't know if it is really healing, but I can tell you it felt good to be in there.

You are supposed to lay on these metal rack things, but when the bubbles were turned on it was so powerful that I floated a few inches above the rack. I actually had to hold on to the metal bars or I would float away. It was fine to float all over the pool when I was the only one in there, but when other people were there I had to hold on to the metal racks to keep myself from floating around and bumping people. 

Down on the rounded end of the pool, there are 2 spigots that you can turn on. The water feels good and they are in a perfect position (and just powerful enough) to give you a nice water massage on your head, shoulders and back. 

I managed to get a pic while the pool was empty and the bubbles were off. You can see the metal "racks" we were supposed to lay on. I don't know what they were called, but they were like lounge chairs made out of metal tubing.

Usually I would spend about 20 minutes in the Thalassotherapy pool.

They had plenty of towels to use, and there were hooks to hang your robe, towels, etc....

Just outside of the Thalassotherapy room, was the "relaxing room":

As the name suggests, this is a quiet room with a great view off the front of the ship.
They played calming music and there were comfortable places to sit around the room. When I took this pic, there were people sitting around the room. I tried to take the pic without invading their privacy, so I didn't get a wide shot of the room:

They had coffee and tea, and carafes of flavored cold water.
I always carried my red thermal cup with me and filled it with refreshing cold lemon water every time I was in the spa.

I found the hallway that leads to the women's locker room and went to explore:

Plenty of fresh towels to use:

I found this shower (with a locking door instead of a curtain) to be a perfect place to take a shower. It was much bigger than the shower in our cabin and  it had the cool sprayer things that came out from the side walls. After the first day, I started bringing my shampoo, conditioner and soap with me to the spa so I could shower in here before going back to the cabin.
It worked out really well for me, and there was never anyone in the locker room when I was in there.

They had lockers to use, but I never used one

We left the spa on that first night at 11:00 PM, just as they were closing.
We got back to our cabin to find our first towel animal. I think its a bird, but I'm not really sure.

We also found one of the platinum perk gifts in the cabin.

This is the Chocolate Delight treat that they deliver to Platinum guests:

 We were delighted with our goodies!

As if that wasn't enough, there was another treat waiting in the cabin.

It was a letter and some more goodies sent to me from the cruise director!

Let me first tell you the story about how I happened to get these goodies:

I belong to a few online cruise groups, and over the past several years I have met new online friends that share an interest in cruising.
We all like to follow the Facebook page and blog posts of the Senior Cruise Director for Carnival, John Heald.

 Some people write to John just before their cruise to ask for a treat to be delivered to their cabin. Sometimes it works and John sends something. He gets a lot of requests, so I'm not sure they all get fulfilled.
My online friend Jane seems to have great luck when she asks for treats to be delivered to her friends when they cruise. Since I had never asked for any treats on my other 4 Carnival cruises, and since this was "the perk" cruise for me, I asked Jane to help me to get some goodies sent to my cabin.
I told Jane I REALLY wanted a ship on a stick, but I would be happy with anything at all.

Jane was happy to help, and a few days before my cruise, she sent John a facebook message on my behalf:

After she wrote to John and he replied, I hoped he would send goodies to my cabin AND HE DID!!!

Left on my bed that night was a nice letter from our ship's cruise director, James Dunn.
I especially like the part where it says, "Any friend of John's is a friend of mine"

I got a bottle of champagne

and I also got my SHIP ON A STICK!!!!!!


You all totally made my day!!!!
As you can see, a Ship on a Stick is a ridiculous plastic ship award. It's about 5 inches tall. They are typically given out to cruisers that win contests or games on the ship. 
They are a coveted item by some people that really love Carnival (like me)

I rarely win anything and I don't play many games on the ship  so I really have no chance of ever winning one of these. I'm so happy I got one from the Magic! Even though I didn't really "earn" it, its one of my favorite things I brought back from this cruise. 

I came back from an hour at the really relaxing spa to a towel animal, a nice note, chocolates, champagne, and a ship on a stick!

My roommate and I shared the chocolates and I put the champagne away for later. I don't really like wine or champagne, and neither did my roommate, so I thought I would bring it home and display it on our wine rack in the kitchen.

At some point that night my roommate and I wandered down to the lido deck looking for food. We found the cheeseburger/hotdog place was open and we both had a burger and fries.

Earlier, Ricardo had turned our beds down and I was ready to get in that comfortable looking bed and get some good sleep! It had been a long and exciting few days.

My notes say it was 2:00 AM when we finally went to sleep that night. No wonder I was exhausted.
We had two sea days in a row before we got to our first island, so I was glad I could sleep in a bit the next morning.

DAY 4 is HERE!