One of my big concerns about taking a cruise was a fear of feeling claustrophobic. While I enjoy an occasional party, I am equally happy lounging in a quiet corner reading a good book. Would I be able to relax on a ship carrying more than 3,500 passengers? My husband and I selected a seven day Western Caribbean cruise departing from Galveston, Texas. The trip included four sea days and three stops: Key West, Freeport, and Nassau. We traveled during late August/early September, which is the “off season” for all three destinations and the best way to avoid the crowds in each port.
Here are our tips for finding the “secret spots” on the Carnival Magic that are far from the maddening crowds.
If you need a view to feel at ease, choose a balcony stateroom. Ours had a 35 square foot balcony that comfortably accommodates three people. We spent many mornings sipping coffee on a our private slice of outdoor space.
GET THE SCOOP
Read the daily activities sheet the night before and plan the next day’s activities. You don’t want to be eating dinner when your favorite comedian is performing. Look over the list of activities and ask Guest Services for their recommendations on things to do that attract a smaller number of participants–like afternoon tea or an art auction.
There’s an abundance of dining choices on the Carnival Magic. For the evening meal, you can chose a restaurant with an assigned seating time or one with open seating. The later seating at 8:15 never felt crowded. If you are traveling with friends or family, the assigned seating time gives everyone a specific place to gather. A three-person wait staff served our table in the Southern Lights restaurant. It wasn’t long before they knew our names and how we took our coffee.
Another option for dinner is the Prime Steakhouse. This small restaurant serves a fantastic meal for $35 per person and reservations are required. Plan for a leisurely meal and bring an appetite. The 18 oz grilled prime cowboy steak covers a dinner plate. Pair the meal with one of their impressive appetizers like lobster bisque or escargots bourguignonne.
A less expensive choice is the Cucina Del Capitano. The Italian restaurant costs $15 per person in the evening and the lunchtime pasta bar is free.
If you want great food without the lines during the day, look for those hidden dining spots. We found the Indian Tandoor on the Lido Deck tucked back in a corner. Open only during lunch, the skewers of grilled meat were delicious. On the Promenade we found a pop-up restaurant serving sliders, tacos and mini-quesadillas. Grab a slice of pizza–available 24 hours a day–and have a picnic
I am a morning person and breakfast on the Carnival Magic is a wonderful way to start the day. To avoid having to wait, arrive at Northern Lights a few minutes before the 8:30 am opening. You can get a table for two, but we always asked to be seated with other passengers. It’s a great way to make new friends. If you’d rather sleep in, use the handy order form in the stateroom and have breakfast delivered by Room Service. I have to confess, we like a pot of coffee as soon as we wake up. Many days we had coffee on our balcony followed by a delicious sit-down restaurant breakfast.
After all that eating, you better burn some calories. My husband found the Fitness Center was the least crowded during traditional lunch hours. When it was time to cool down, he went to the top of the ship to experience Serenity. The adults only area of the ship is perfect for sun bathing and enjoying a libation. Doesn’t he look happy in this picture?
The swimming pools on the ship were packed with passengers. Throughout the day, the busy Lido deck was jammed with sunbathers listening to live bands or watching a movie on the giant outdoor screen. Whenever I tired of the noise, I took a walk on the less conjested Promenade deck.
If you want to guarantee a relaxing escape, book a treatment at the spa. Make your reservation early because they fill up on sea days.
Throughout the cruise, I found myself doing things I never do at home: having afternoon tea, competing in a trivia contest, sitting in a piano bar, learning how to play poker, attending an art auction, and reading for several uninterrupted hours.
If you enjoy the boisterous party atmosphere–that’s easy to find on the Carnival Magic. And, if you need a little time alone, there are plenty of places to quietly escape.
For more information on booking a Carnival cruise, visit www.carnival.com.
Thanks to Carnival for hosting a fabulous trip!