There’s a lot to share about my family’s recent experience aboard Carnival Magic, but this post is going to focus on one of the main attractions on every cruise line…the food.
Yes, we Americans take our food very seriously and it shows with cruisers. I’ve had cruise employees tell me that the first thing American cruisers do upon embarking is run to the buffet line. After spending a week onboard the Magic, it’s clear to me that cruisers will never go hungry. The various options are impressive. I am curious how cruise lines can serve quality food to thousands of people everyday. I’m labeling this as one of the travel wonders of the world.
Admittedly, my nine-year-old son became buffet-obsessed and wanted to eat at Lido Marketplace Restaurant buffet every breakfast and lunch, whereas I preferred the sit-down style restaurant option of Southern Lights where I didn’t have to battle over a long coffee/water line. In other words, we both had to compromise. Luckily, my husband and daughter were happy either way. The breakfast buffet had all of the basics of cereal, waffles, pancakes, create-your-own omelette, eggs, bacon, sausage and a bounty of fresh fruit (my favorite), cottage cheese and yogurt. Lunch transitions to salads, meat-carvings, a Mongolian stir-fry wok, and burrito bar. Both buffets offer a variety and, really, something for the entire family. The other highlight of this spot, it’s home to the 24-hour ice cream and frozen yogurt. Yes, the kids had way more than their share. Alas, we didn’t eat lunch at the sit-down Southern Lights, but when I “won” the morning battle we enjoyed breakfast options of Eggs Benedict, baked tomatoes, cheese grits and Fruit Loop crusted French toast (which apparently is also included in the new Carnival #SeussAtSea program rolling out next year).
Every evening we dined at the same table in Northern Lights. We had regular servers and really enjoyed our evening routine. By the second night our servers had our preferred drinks on the table, as was my plate of lemons for my water. The meals were always predictably good, as were the desserts. Near the end of our meal it was “show time!” which meant guests would twirl their napkins while the waitstaffentertained guests by singing and dancing. The spirit was always fun and festive. This is after all a Fun Ship!
As for other eating options, the choices are plenty and for every palate. Without argue,Prime Steakhouse offers the best food onboard. In fact, it ranks higher than most steakhouses I’ve tried on land. This dining option is an extra $35 per person but it’s well worth the extra dollars. My husband and I were treated to an evening here and everything from our appetizers to the over-sized cheesecake that my husband attempted but didn’t finish (I had fresh fruit) was delectable. My filet mignon was melt-in-the-mouth perfect and I wondered if would be able to eat anything else on the ship or anywhere after that meal. Of course, I’ve managed.
The other pay-extra evening dining option is the family-friendly Cucina del Capitano. We didn’t opt for an evening here but rather stopped in during lunch (free) and it was very good. Each guest fills out a checklist piece of paper with pasta type, sauce, and protein (shrimp, chicken, clams, etc). There are also bread and salad options. This is a good, classic meal and a nice change after a couple days at the buffet.
As for poolside food…hard-working Carnival employees sling burgers all day to a constantly long line of passengers. Really, there was always a line. On our last day at sea my family was standing in line when a young boy turned to me and said, “This is the best place for breakfast and lunch!” (It’s this same location the breakfast buffet waffles, pancakes and French toast are served.) Other non-breakfast options include hot dogs, nachos, french fries, and classic potato salad. On the other side, also adjacent to the pool, is Pizza Pirate where, again, harding working employees make, bake and serve a variety of pizzas. This option is open 24-hours.
The indoor TasteBar at the Ocean Plaza was a real treat when we remembered to stop by. Appetizers are served from various dining venues around the ship. Just around the corner is the tropical inspired RedFrog Pub. The long beverage menu includes Carnival’s signature private-label brew called ThirstyFrog Red. My husband gave it a thumbs-up while I enjoyed a zero-proof (as they label it) Piña Colada. This bar isn’t free but it’s very reasonably priced. Appetizers like conch fritters and coconut shrimp are under $4.
Not feeling well? Then opt for the free 24-hour free room service; just remember to have cash on hand, as it’s custom to tip.
We didn’t have grand weather most of the cruise so there may have been other food options that we didn’t get to appreciate, for example there is a hot dog stand called SeaDogs near the SportsSquare miniature golf course. Every time I walked by the stand was vacant, likely due to the rain, drizzle, and strong winds we encountered.
As for a treat stop the Cherry on Top candy shop was a favorite with our clan. In fact, to build our children’s independence we let them use their Sign and Sail cards (the card linked to our onboard account; all passengers use this method to pay for onboard purchases) on their own with a max amount. Beware, those Jelly Bellies can add up in weight and price.
Overall, I was very pleased with the meal and snack options onboard Carnival Magic. The quality of food was good, the selections were plentiful and there wasn’t one complaint from my family. I suppose a well-fed family is a happy family.
Thank you, Carnival for hosting my family aboard the Carnival Magic. Stay tuned for more information on this Fun Ship 2.0.
by Beth Blair