The Carnival Magic will sail a series of 7, 9, and 12-day Mediterranean cruises from Barcelona through the summer of 2011 before repositioning to her new year-round homeport of Galveston, Texas in November.
The inaugural started with a bit of magical illusion, as the President and CEO of Carnival Cruises, Gerry Cahill, suddenly appeared on the stage at the controls of a bright red helicopter. Mr. Cahill said that in designing new ships, Carnival's goals are to provide space on their ships that promote fun and provide memorable vacations to their guests. Using a helicopter to magically "arrive" was certainly both fun and memorable.
The Carnival Magic is a sister ship to the Carnival Dream that debuted in 2009. However, the new ship has a few differences, including new dining venues, lounges, and an expanded outdoor sports deck. In addition, changes have been made to other existing common areas on the Carnival Magic.
I'm sailing on the inaugural voyage of the lovely new ship and will be providing more details and photos of the Carnival Magic over the next few weeks. My first impressions of the ship (after less than 24 hours) are very good.
After Mr. Cahill finished his overview of the new Carnival Magic, Senior Cruise Director John Heald introduced a priest from the nearby town of Mestre, Italy who provided the traditional blessing of the ship.
Next, Mr. Heald provided some background on the Carnival Magic godmother by showing a video about St. Jude Children's Research Hospital® in Memphis, Tennessee. In March 2010, Carnival launched a partnership with St. Jude's called "Care to Play: Carnival for St. Jude Kids" that provides guests with opportunities to participate in fun, interactive activities designed to raise funds and awareness in the fight against childhood cancer.
To date, Carnival has raised nearly $600,000 to support the children of St. Jude, and the cruise line has committed to raise $3 million for the hospital over the next three years.
In order to highlight the many brave children of the past, present, and future who were treated at St. Jude's, Carnival selected Lindsey Wilkinson to be the Carnival Magic godmother. Once, Mrs. Wilkinson was a 10-year-old cancer patient at St. Jude's; today she is an employee within the organization and ambassador helping to share its message of hope and inspiration. John Heald presented Mrs. Wilkinson with a $50,000 check for St. Jude, and Mrs. Wilkinson thanked Carnival for having a heart as big as their ships.
Mr. Heald next introduced the master of the Carnival Magic, Captain Giovanni Cutugno. Captain Cutugno said this was a very emotional moment for him. His hope is that the ship will live up to her name and provide magical memories for its guests.
A ceremony celebrating the naming of a ship "Carnival Magic" would not be complete without a magician, and Jason Byrne, decked out in a white tuxedo with tails, added some illusions to the show. First, he helped John Heald find the missing champagne bottle in the theater and magically transfer it to a wire suspended over the bow of the ship. Next, Mr. Byrne made the key to the ship magically appear so that Mrs. Wilkinson and Captain Cutugno could perform the christening duties. These whimsical touches added a bit of entertainment to the happy occasion.
The short ceremony came to a quick closing. Mrs. Wilkinson spoke the traditional words to name the new ship, pushed the button, and the bottle broke across the bow of the ship. (We could see the bow from three large video screens in the theater.) Confetti rained down on the theater, and everyone cheered. The new Carnival Magic was officially named and was now ready for her maiden voyage. The fun begins!
Carnival Magic in Venice Courtesy of Andy Newman/Carnival Cruises