Can Carnival capture the Magic?

When Carnival Cruise Line’s 130,000 ton Carnival Magic debuts later this year the ship will have some pretty cool new features. Will those features live up to the name of the ship? Will they be Magical? Let’s take a look at what’s coming soon to a Galveston near you.

“What? A new ship in Galveston?” you ask.

Traditionally new cruise ships debut in Florida, older ships go to home-ports line Galveston, New Orleans or Charleston. This is a different direction to be sure.

“The commitment of a new ship outside Florida is pretty significant and is pretty rare,” Carnival spokeswoman Jennifer De la Cruz said. “We have built up our presence in Galveston over many years, and we have been able to do that because the Texas and Southwestern market is so strong for us.”

On board Carnival Magic will be some different features in the line’s newest ship. Let’s take a look at a couple of the really different ones.

The Lanai – In Southern-speak that means “covered porch”. But this is way more than that. Probably one of the most unique features on the ship, the Lanai takes the traditional cruise-ship promenade in a different direction. Outside. It’s a half-mile, open-air promenade encircling Deck 5. Described as an area where “guests can stroll while enjoying spectacular ocean vistas, curl up with a good book, soak up some sun in a comfortable deck chair, or relax in one of four cantilevered whirlpools that extend out over the ship’s sides” It sounds pretty cool.

The SportsSquare is Carnival’s stab at a rock-climbing wall/ fitness-oriented activity with a dose of the line’s trademark “Fun” element included. Adding to an industry-wide focus on fitness and health, this makes perfect sense and should be quite popular. The big draw here is SkyCourse where around 20 guests at a time can strap into a safety harness and choose from beginner or intermediate courses, traversing across rope bridges, swinging steps and beams suspended above the top deck, called the Spa and Sports deck. 20 different elements on the ropes course are each named after a notable bridge in the U.S.

Those two unique features alone would be a big change for Carnival. It appears that the line is looking at every department, leaving no existing space or feature “safe” from innovation and change.

RedFrog Pub – described as “offering a laid-back Caribbean vibe with island-inspired snacks and drinks”, including a private-label draft beer, ThirstyFrog Red, brewed especially for Carnival Magic Will be featured along with tastings of top-rated rums of the Caribbean and a collection of the regional beers

Cucina del Capitano (“The Captain’s Kitchen”) – Free by day, cover charge by night this is an Italian eatery we predict will become a signature venue across the fleet. The idea is that the place honors the Italian heritage of the line’s captains and the fact that all the ships were built in Italy. I’d be they learned a lesson or two from sister-line Princess Cruises Sabatinis’s up-charge restaurant and will apply that know-how here.

Huge Family-Friendly Spaces – more than 19,000 square feet of space catering to kids and families, including dedicated spaces for children (Camp Carnival), ‘tweens (Circle “C”) and teens (Club O2), with organized activities and counselors for each group. This is Carnival’s answer to Disney Dream and upcoming Fantasy’s possible world-domination of the kid market at sea. They made more space for their award-winning existing program as opposed to another partnership with an established cartoon brand.

Huge Adult-Friendly Spaces too called “Serenity” – a popular adults area on existing ships, Serenity offers comfortable chaise lounges and chairs, hammocks, colorful umbrellas and two whirlpools, along with full bar service. Look for this on just about any ship that does not have it in the near future. This wildly popular options for adults wanting to escape the kids fills up fast so get there early.

Cloud 9 Spa – All the traditional body stuff is right here. Fitness center, personal training, soothing thalassotherapy pool, thermal suite or just take in the elegant, serene surroundings.

Stateroom Innovations – Some different accommodation types appear on Magic, including two-bathroom (finally) cabins holding up to five guests along with connecting staterooms, cove balcony cabins closer to the water line (ala sister-line Cunard) and spa staterooms providing special access and benefits plus a hefty fine if guests get caught smoking.

Carnival’s Seaside Theatre – This huge LED outdoor movie screen made popular by Princess Cruises Movies Under The Stars. Once a controversial topic (“If I wanted to watch TV I would have stayed home”), now appearing on more ships as they debut or cycle through dry-dock.

Ocean Plaza – Carnival’s answer to Royal Caribbean’s Aqua Theater, this one looks to be a better solution than Norwegian Epic’s answer to Royal Caribbean’s Aqua Theater adding specialty coffees and sweets, milkshakes (I can see the line right now), and full bar service, specializing in martinis and mojitos.

Fun Hub –It’s a social network and comprehensive shipboard intranet portal that provides access to information on the ship’s services, facilities and daily activities. Carnival Magic will also offer bow-to-stern Wi-Fi and cell phone service. The ship also has an interactive micro-site which features a full-screen virtual tour, exclusive images and videos, construction footage and more.

Currently based in Texas, Carnival Conquest is scheduled to move to New Orleans along with Carnival Ecstasy and be replaced by Carnival Magic and the Carnival Triumph.