Carnival Magic: Three Reasons it’s Unlike any other Carnival Cruise

The Carnival Magic is just getting its sea-legs and wrapping up its first few voyages. USA Today’s cruise log says it looks like Carnival Magic is a hit – and we take a look at three reasons why cruising on Magic is different from any other Carnival cruise.

1) RedFrog Pub: Carnival is billing this as the first pub in its fleet and claiming it’s the brainchild of CEO Gerry Cahill (Whether it be Caribbean Pub or Irish Pub – what took so long??). Initial reports are that the new venue is always packed and even ran out of it’s signature beer, ThirstyFrog, on the maiden voyage. Perhaps some of the blame can be assigned to the fact one can order a 101oz tube of the brew for around $25. Appetizers and deserts are also available for a few bucks. Check out the full RedFrog Pub Menu.

2) Cucina del Capitano: The “Captain’s Kitchen” is an relatively informal Italian eatery that serves family style meals. In the evening, the venue has a surcharge of $10 for adults and $5 for kids – not bad considering the Signature Steakhouse option on some Carnival ships is double that. More and more we’re seeing a move away from traditional dining room settings to more niche venues – both more formal (steakhouse) and less formal (Cucina) – depending on what suits you. It’s worth noting that during the day, Cucina del Capitano offers pasta options for no additional fee. Check out the full Cucina del Capitano Menu.

3) Carnival Sports Square Ropes Course: A first for a cruise ship. While it may not be a ‘high ropes’ course, it’s located on one of the highest points of the ship and about 150 feet above sea level. It may not be looking down that gives you a dizzy feeling on this one – it’s looking OUT! Adrenaline junkies need look elsewhere, though – Carnival has designed it to be family friendly and kid friendly which suggests you’ll have to get your fix elsewhere. That said, it should get your heart pounding a lot more than shuffleboard or mini-golf.

Princess Cruises Returning to Galveston, TX in 2012

Princess Crown Princess Cruise Ship

Princess Cruises hasn’t sailed from Galveston, TX since 2007, and today they announced they will resume itineraries from the island just outside of Houston in 2012.

The 3,070-passenger Crown Princess will start a winter series of seven-night itineraries that sail to Costa Maya, Mexico; Roatan, Honduras; Belize City, Belize; and Cozumel, Mexico. Tossing in the Honduras and Belize destinations will be welcome to those looking to see something besides Jamaica, Grand Cayman, and Cozumel – the most common destinations when sailing from Galveston.

“We’ve received a great deal of feedback from cruisers interested in sailing from Galveston again,” Says Princess executive VP Jan Swartz.

This move will make the Port of Galveston more crowded than ever, since Carnival is also set to debut it’s newest ship, the Carnival Magic later this year. The magic will be the largest ship to sail from the port. Carnival will also reposition the Triumph (currently in New Orleans), and move the Conquest and Ecstasy to the Big Easy.

Royal Caribbean is also changing things up in Galveston – next year the Voyager of the Seas will move out of Galveston to make room for the Mariner of the Seas – a ship with the same passenger capacity.

We’re excited to see new ships, bigger ships, and lines returning to our home port of Galveston, TX!

Cruise Ship Safety 101: Don’t Sail through Fog

Cruise Ship FogSome strange weather patterns have been circulating around Texas the last few weeks, and its caused some disruption among those traveling by air, land and sea. Fog in the Port of Galveston has forced several Carnival and Royal Caribbean sailings to be delayed – both departing and arriving. Passengers need to realize that when piloting a floating city, safety is going to come first and convenience second.

Carnival was forced to change it’s 7 day itinerary to accommodate the delay, canceling a stop in Jamaica and substituting a closer option: Progreso, Mexico. Carnival gave cruisers the option to cancel with a full refund, or receive 25% off this cruise AND a future similar sailing.

Some on board thought they should get to go on the adjusted itinerary AND get their money back.

“I would say it was a nightmare. We want the corporate office to either refund our money or take us to Jamaica,” said passenger Thuy Kau. “Progreso (Mexico) is not a consolation.” editorialized the situation best:

Nothing is set in stone where safety of the ship, passengers and crew are concerned.

Carnival made the right move by modifying the existing itinerary to include a total of three ports that they had the time to visit. Had they not substituted Progresso, the same people might very well have moaned that they got shorted a port.

They did have options. They could have taken advantage of Carnival’s unique Vacation Guarantee

To further highlight the dangers of the foggy port – the very same ship was hit by a barge – further delaying it since the Coast Guard was called to inspect the ship. Please – don’t be too unreasonable when it comes to the safety of thousands. We’ve cruised on the Conquest before (happily), and are considering another sailing this year. Carnival should be commended for the way they handled this situation.

Carnival Sending Newest, Largest of Ships to Texas Port

Hurricanes have wreaked havoc on cruise ship ports in the last few years. Hurricane Ike demolished Galveston, TX to the tune of 3 Billion dollars in 2008, and New Orleans is still recovering from Katrina in 2005. However, Carnival Cruise Lines is sending the message that these two ports are back on the map, most notably by announcing Galveston as the new home for the Carnival Magic.

The Carnival Magic is part of the cruise line’s Dream Class of ships and is set to debut in Barcelona next May for a few seven to 12-day Mediterranean cruises before making the 16-day trans-Atlantic voyage to its home port of Galveston, Texas in October.
Carnival Magic will have seven-day itineraries to the western Caribbean (Montego Bay, Grand Cayman, Cozumel) and eastern Caribbean (Nassau, Freeport, and Key west).

For shorter voyages, CCL will move the Carnival Triumph to the port of Galveston as well, making it the largest ship to operate a year-round short cruise program from that port.

The two ships currently calling Galveston home, the Carnival Conquest and Carnival Ecstasy, will reposition to New Orleans – bringing Carnivals pre-Katrina cruise levels back to the embattled city.

This news is exciting for those of us outside of Florida, who are far more likely to take a cruise if the port is just a few hours away driving distance – and to have the ships include one of the newest and largest ships from Carnival – that’s not so bad either!