This was our first time on a cruise. We ended up being a group of 40 to attend a wedding at sea. Reservations were handled by the travel agent. In preparation for the adventure, reviews were read for both the Legend and whatever excursion that we might want to book.
Itinerary: Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, Grand Caymen, Cruise Apr 29-May 6
Embarkation: Painless. We arrived the day before, stayed a night at the Hyatt Regency and took the Trolley train to the pier. Our printed boarding passes indicated a 12:30-2:30 boarding time, so we sat in a court yard listening to live music with a beer and lunch. We headed over to the "Arrivals" door around 1:30 PM and proceeded through the registration with no lineups to slow down the 15 minute process. Our room was ready upon arrival so we able to dump our carry on. The checked baggage arrived some time later so remember to pack items that you might need in your carry on (eg. shorts, swim suit).
Breakfasts: We preferred to eat our breakfast from the buffet. There was plenty of breakfast options and one could always choose the "omelette" bar for a freshly cooked egg. We had breakfast only once in Truffles and we went back to the buffet the next day.
Lunches: It wouldn't be fair to rate the the offerings for lunchtime since we only had lunch 2 times. Again it was buffet style except for the Deli counter. The other days were spent onshore eating the local cuisine.
I shall say that any food should not be served buffet style whether it be at land or at sea, but that is the easiest and most efficient way to serve the masses. I wasn't expecting 5 star buffet food ... and if anyone does you will be disappointed.
Dinner: We had a 6 PM seating every night. No need to line up as I saw with others that chose the "eat when you want" option. We had the same servers each night which was good. The menu options, variety and quality were good and the service was attentive. We did feel rushed at around 7:30 PM as they needed to setup for the next seating. But once we knew that ... The only thing the prime rib had a hint of ham flavour. I can only guess the beef were roasted in the same oven as the ham ... hmm
One thing should be noted. A couple in our group paid a bit extra to do the "Chef's Tour". They learned that all food and drink is brought on board at the beginning of the trip, there are no food drops midway. I took that into consideration when selecting from the menu near the end of the week. BTW: they ran out of the local draught beer (Red Frog) mid week.
We took the opportunity to get off the ship at each port.
Cozumel: Mayan ruins and beach day. Information overload on Mayan history and Mexican traditions. That makes it sound like a bad day but it was actually good if you like that sort of thing. We had a great guide (Cesar) who talked non-stop. What can I remember ... 7 is a lucky number, Dec 21/2012 the world is not going to end, there is 154 types of Tequilla, and Corona is a "crap" beer, that's why they export it to the States and keep the good stuff for themselves. The time at beach was not long enough ... but maybe if lunch was served quicker, there would have more time to swim in the ocean.
Belize: Half-day at the Eco-park with the mountain bike option. A couple of hours on the bike followed by lunch and pool time. Nothing special but it was kinda cool riding though a jungle. Don't expect top of the line mountain bikes or hilly terrain. Our bus guide and eco-park guide were informative. Now is your chance to try fresh termites (sort of crunchy) and other edible jungle eats. Other people in our group chose the horse back riding option and had a good time.
The above excursions were booked through Carnival. There were some benefits since we arrived about an hour late in Cozumel which delayed the start of the excursions and of course the return time as well. Not sure what would have happened if the tours were booked privately. In Belize, I didn't see a whole bunch private tour operators waiting in the port flocking their trips... Of course the local time was 8 am and most of the shops were closed when we arrived.
Although each of the excursions lists a 4-5 hour duration, they were both longer or felt that way.
Roatan: Beach day... You can waste your money on the chair lift or take a 15 minute stroll to the beach. Pack a face mask and snorkel or rent something at the beach. Most people snorkeled at the end of the pier. Here's a lunch tip, have some local fresh fish from the bar/restaurant located at the far end of the beach. We did our gift/souvenir shopping in the port at the local craft market. We were looking for merchandise made locally rather than the "made in China" stuff.
Grand Cayman: Swim with the Stingrays and snorkel by the reef. Privately booked trip through Captain Marvin's. Awesome. Need I say more. We met up with a friend who lives there who made all the necessary reservations. We just needed to get off the ship for the rendezvous time and place, working around the different time zones and the "tendering" process. We made it back in time with 2 minutes to spare for the last tender to the ship.
Several other reviews mentioned the 'tendering" process. Soon discovered that it is a necessary evil in doing the excursions. Not sure how else "herding cats" could be done better or more efficiently.
If we were to do this again, I would look into pre-booking a private trip, but that involves some research and work on my part. Most of the tour operators are good, depend on the tourist dollar and are aware that people are on a cruise. Booking through Carnival, although costing more also has some benefits ... first priority on the morning tender departure and if the excursion runs late, no worries since the ship will wait.
I prefer live entertainment so tried to see every 9 PM Show in the Follies. The Legend dancers and singers were good as were the shows that I saw. The Showtime Band (5 piece plus a sax and horn section) were great and they played various venues, shows, karaoke, and bars during the week . Don't go to the advertised "must see" show on the first night, we could have missed that one. I didn't take in any of the comedy shows as there was always a lineup plus I can go to our local comedy in my home town. We also like to dance, as did others in the wedding party. The Showtime Band seemed to appreciate it as well since there is nothing worse than a party band playing and nobody dancing. They brought in different singers during their sets and played 30 minutes beyond the scheduled stopped time since so much fun was happening on the dance floor.
Most of the bars were in the open or at least one could see through the windows to see if other guests were there. Medusa Lair and the Dream team bar were dead zones. Medusa lair, is the on ship disco catering to the wrong demographics. It is also hidden away. The Dream team bar is advertised as sports bar ... with plenty of TV screens. It's too bad the only sports channel feeds were ESPN2 (spanish feed) and NBC. It would have been nice to watch a period of the NHL playoffs on either TSN, TSN2 ESPN or Fox network.
Small centre with LifeFit treadmills, Ellipticals, and Bicycles and a couple of "no-name: rowing machines. Small free weight section and other weight machines. The centre was packed on the first day at sea ... after that not so much. Various fitness classes were offered during the week, some for an extra fee.
Deck 5 Aft, Port side with a small balcony. Walls don't provide much sound proofing, so respect thy neighbour. Bring earplugs if you are a light sleeper. Room stewards were friendly and kept the rooms clean. We got in the habit of using the "snooze/cruise" sign, especially in the evening so the "turning down of the beds" was done while we were having dinner.
What a stupid process. Being a non-U.S. citizen, they herded us into the Follies theatre for 7:30 am, where we waited 45 minutes for the U.S. immigration officers to appear. Once they arrived waited another 10 minutes until I got my 30 seconds in front of them to answer simple questions. We went back to our room after breakfast and waited until our zone number was called. Exiting the ship took about 15 minutes, only to see mayhem in the port where our luggage was retrieved ... ah the choke point was the U.S. Immigration working the exits.
The vacation was enjoyable with high and low points. I would have liked to see more activities offered in the evening. I really don't consider sitting on your butt playing the slots, playing bingo, drinking at the bar, or watching a comedy act an activity.