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Shore Excursions

Age: 23


Number of Cruises: 6

Cruise Line: Carnival

Ship: Carnival Magic

Sailing Date: 2011-08-24

Itinerary: Mediterranean

We had a great time aboard the Carnival Magic. The ship itself is new (as of 2011) and enormous. To be honest there are more than a few decks I never even got around to visiting. The ports of call were all interesting (volcanoes everywhere) and the excursions range from adventurous to relaxing. We elected to do an excursion at every port but that may have not not been best decision. Excursions every day meant the pace was high: get up at 6 am and have a great breakfast, shore excursion for 8 hours, back on the boat to do whatever you want for a few hours, dinner at 815, pass out from exhaustion at 10, repeat. Day(s) (I can't remember if there was more than one) at sea were a fun reprieve from the standard pace. Pretty much everyone was out on the decks enjoying the sunshine and it was one of my favorite days on the cruise. The captain of the ship was nice enough to deviate a little so that we could pass by really close to the erupting volcano, Stromboli. A cruise ship with everyone on deck cheering whenever it erupted was a great experience.

Since most of the days were spent ashore I usually only experienced breakfast on the Lido deck (10th floor buffet) and dinner in the Northern Lights dining room. The Lido deck has everything you could want for breakfast and some things I've never tried before but enjoyed. Omelettes, English breakfast, waffles/pancakes, cereal, really anything in a standard breakfast they have. We tried the sit down breakfast once (Southern Lights) and it was delicious, but felt we had to rush in order to finish before our excursion started and didn't go back again. The one time we had lunch on the Lido deck the food was alright but didn't really compare to the Italian food we'd been having on our excursions. Drinks were always limited: juices/iced tea/lemonade/water/coffee/hot chocolate and that's about it.

Dinner consisted of a 3-course meal and was always enjoyable. If nothing looked appetizing that night you could choose from a "default" menu that had the standard gourmet burger (got it once, amazing), steak, fish, and chicken. Some of the main courses were a bit on the light side, but I always left feeling stuffed.

We ordered room service a few times when the big restaurants weren't open (the non-dinner eating times seemed to change all the time, Lido was only open for specific hours). There are about 10 hot or cold sandwiches you can choose from which are good but small. I would usually get two. Service always came within 20 minutes or so, no matter what the hour, and it was free!

Our stateroom was on the 12th floor (Spa deck) and very conveniently located to everything. The room itself never felt cramped although the bathroom/shower maybe could have been a little more accommodating. This was offset by the great service the staff provided; they never seemed to miss an opportunity to clean our room. Having a balcony was convenient especially with the crowded areas of sunbathers.

There were only one or two days at sea the rest were in the major ports. This meant that time spent on the ship was given to eating/sleeping and a couple hours each night to do whatever you wanted. That said I didn't participate much in the onboard activities aside from using their exercise facilities. It's great getting up really early and running on their top-deck track in a new city every day, then exploring it in the morning/afternoon.

Our first excursion was in Tuscany (I believe it was called "Hidden Treasures") to Grotta del Vento and the town of Lucca. The caves were amazing and Lucca was a nice place to walk around in. The Vesuvius/Pompeii (Naples) and Mt. Etna (Sicily) excursions were fantastic and shouldn't be missed (Etna + Taormino wasn't that amazing except for the Greco/Roman Theater with Mt. Etna in the background). We hiked up to the crater at Mt. Vesuvius (about a mile of quite steep walking) and had a small tour followed by a very in-depth tour of Pompeii. The tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and never seemed to take a breath. We had a guided tour separate from Carnival for Rome (Civitavecchia), but the Rome sights are definitely worth seeing. The more forgettable tours were the city tour of Mallorca/Majorca (they have shuttles you can take to the interesting parts) and Les Baux de Provence (hour+ drive to and from Les Baux for a couple hours to walk around in a small, but nice medieval town). I never felt cheated out of any of the excursions as they were all pretty affordable.

Considering all the amazing sights we saw this trip was definitely worth it. The ship felt a bit crowded at times, but as long as you stay away from the main pool area during peak hours, the environment will be lively and roomy. We had a large group (20+), but everything went smoothly and the staff were fantastic. A nice room, awesome food, an abundance of sights, and lots of interesting people made this trip one of the best cruises I've been on.

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