Story and photos by Jackie Sheckler Finch
It doesn’t look all that scary. But when you are up there standing on a thin rope with the vast sky overhead and the deep sea beneath, it can be quite exhilarating. And a bit frightening, I must admit.
A first for cruise ships, the ropes course aboard the new Carnival Magic offers outdoor adventure suspended above deck with spectacular views. Hooked to a safety harness, passengers can participate in 20 different rope activities of varying fitness levels – easy, moderate and challenging – while enjoying awesome sights of the sea nearly 150 feet below.
Traverse rope bridges, swinging steps and beams, with each of the 20 different elements on the course named after a famed bridge in the United States. It is worth a trip to the top just to see the ocean scenes.
Although ocean liners have long had exercise options for sports and health enthusiasts, the new Carnival Magic is certainly going an extra mile in offering outdoor recreation. Launched in May, the 3,690-passenger Magic set off in November on her first U.S. inaugural cruise from homeport Galveston, Texas.
If reactions from cruisers on that inaugural trip are an indication, Carnival has created a winner in its 23rd ship. “It is all I had hoped for and more,” said Tom Mitchell of Texas. “Our cabin is really nice but we have hardly had time to be in there. The ship just has so much to do.”
Working Off Cruising Calories
SportsSquare has enough activities that cruisers might burn off those one or two pounds we are said to gain on a cruise. That is one or two pounds a day.
The line’s first two-level miniature golf course was getting plenty of use on our cruise to the Caribbean. The neat outdoor fitness area includes stationary bicycles, elliptical and rowing machines, punching bags and more. A large lighted multi-purpose court is popular for basketball, volleyball and soccer. Strong netting around the court keeps balls from zooming into the ocean. There are also ping-pong and foosball tables, plus the first outdoor weightlifting area.
For a run in the sun or a stroll at sunset, SportsTrack is an 800-foot-long jogging path that surrounds the fitness area and the Lanai is a convenient wraparound walkway on the promenade. Nothing like getting some exercise while watching the ocean roll and stars starting to light the night sky.
For water lovers, the Carnival Magic’s WaterWorks is a popular draw. Hands-on adventures invite cruisers to interact with and drench each other. Spraying cannons, tipping cones, colanders, squirting jets, shower valves, spinning water wheels and slides galore guarantee getting wet. The WaterWorks centerpiece is a gigantic 300-gallon water bucket named the PowerDrencher.
A woman with a wonderful sense of humor – thank goodness – got a huge and unexpected dousing. Standing in the WaterWorks wading pool so her husband could get a photo, she kept smiling while hubby urged her to move back. A little more. A little more. Sure enough, she was right under the PowerDrencher when it upturned and dumped a huge cascade of water. They both laughed when he showed her the resulting picture in his digital camera – she with a surprised wet look on her face.
For daredevils, the Carnival Magic has the longest waterslide yet. At 312 feet, sliders get plenty of time to scream all the way down on the Twister. More liquid fun awaits at the DrainPipe, a giant funnel attached to an enclosed spiral waterslide that promises a thrilling ride. Two side-by-side miniature slides are fun for the younger set.
The central pool deck, the Beach Lido Pool, is always rocking with fun, including the traditional contests – hairy legs, macho chests and other weird competitions. After all, Carnival Cruise Lines prides itself on “fun, fun, fun.”
Above the pool is the massive 270-foot screen for Carnival’s Seaside Theater. The screen shows full-length movies, concerts and on-board programming. On our cruise, the offerings were a strange mix of very old movies – the original “Rocky” (1976) and “Dr. No” (1962), for goodness sakes! – along with some concert clips and the newest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. But mostly the screen was wastefully used to play over and over again the ship’s cruise videos prompting cruisers to buy videos of themselves before the trip ends.
For a mesmerizing view of the ship’s wake, go to the aft-located Tides Pool. Two whirlpools flank the pool. But the real adult whirlpools are situated on either side of Promenade Deck 5. Cantilevered over the side of the ship, the whirlpools offer nifty sea views.
If your idea of a relaxing day is to slip away from the rowdy water fun, head to Serenity. An adults-only, deck-top hideaway, the no-extra-charge Serenity is located at the very front of the vessel so you know the ocean vistas are top notch. Comfy cushion-topped chaise lounges and chairs, as well as large hammocks, are great for snoozing, reading or just taking in the mighty sea. Two jumbo-sized whirlpools and a bar make it a mighty tempting place.
Of course, my main attraction on any ocean cruise is sitting on my private cabin balcony watching the waves with no land in sight. In another life, I must have been a mermaid.
For more information, contact Carnival Cruise Lines at www.carnival.com.