Embarkation: Was easy from the time we left the airport via Carnival's transfers (bus) to the Port of Tampa. We only had to wait 1/2 hour once we arrived to the Port. Easiest embarkation we have ever experienced.
Once on Board, we explored the ship and found our cabin which was our usual, an outside cabin with balcony. But this year, we tried something new this year and booked our cabin on the Verandah Deck Forward. We usually stay same in type of cabin (Mid Ship, Mid Level). Honestly, you could not tell the difference as far as motion, etc.
The Ship itself, was typical Carnival ship with all the neon and glitter. One thing we noticed in a lot of public areas, is there was a lot of graffiti/inappropriate language etched into the glass in the elevators and bathroom areas.
Dining, was a whole different experience than it used to be. Gone are the themed dinners (Italian, American, French, etc.), shows by the waiters with the desserts on their heads (Baked Alaska, Cherries Jubilee). Probably because of the new Anytime Dining Option, which we did not know about until the 1st night as our Travel Agent did not inform us of this option. Not to mention the personal service from the dining room staff is non-existent. We were originally scheduled for late sitting, but when we were seated on the first night, the waiters virtually ignored us as our table was set for four (4) people and they concentrated on the larger tables. Our dinner mates never showed up. We went to the Hostess stand and no one was there for us to inquire about switching from our Late Sitting to the Anytime Dining Option, so we had to come back the next morning. This is when we had our first encounter with the Dining Room Hostesses who were not very nice or friendly. They never smiled and acted like you were putting them out when asking a question. When we inquired about switching from our Late Sitting to the Anytime Dining Option the hostess was annoyed that we asked and informed us we would be notified by the end of the day with a confirmation in our cabin. We waited until 3:30 and no confirmation, so we proceeded up to the MDR and spoke to the same hostess and she informed us that we had been switched. From that point on, when we went to dinner, we checked in at the Hostess Stand and greeted with the same demeanor. The good thing about us switching was that we met Clive and his assistants who asked our name and addressed us by name every time we had him (which we requested every night when checking in with the Hostess Stand) for dinner service. As far as eating in the MDR for Breakfast and Lunch the dining staff was rude and inattentive to the passengers. This is probably because they have already got their tips before the cruise ends and did not have to go the "extra mile" to get them. Dress-up night is no longer enforced as people can wear khakis and a polo shirt (no jacket and/or tie), casual dress code at dinner consists of flips flops and in appropriate shorts. Even though Carnival states there is a dress code it is not enforced. According to one of our waiters his comment was that Carnival is cutting corners to save money and accommodate more passengers. The food was mediocre except for the soups, those were good. Dining in the Steakhouse was a 100% turnaround when it came to the food. I could cut my filet with a fork it was so tender. My husband ordered the surf and turf and received two (2) lobster tails with his filet. The price was well worth it.
Entertainment was pretty bad with the exception of the Motown Night and the late night comedian shows (over 18). The live entertainment in the main lobby was horrible, the older gentleman who played a guitar sounded like he was drunk and was an amateur singing karaoke. There was no live band to play Caribbean music on deck, just a Mobile DJ who catered to the teenagers on board.
Ports of Calls: Cozumel was great, no need to leave the shopping plaza when you get off the ship as everything you would want is there for shopping and food. We did however, take a taxi to Carlos and Charlie's Beach Club ($13.00 each way for 2 people) which was 6 miles away and we enjoyed it. There was plenty to do there . Belize....Do Not Bother, it was very dirty, poverty stricken and not safe to venture out on your own. If you take an excursion, plan on spending all day and at least $89.00 per person. We took the tender into Belize City (1/2 hour ride), looked around and went back to the ship within the hour. This port is a great day to spend on the ship by the pool. Mahogany Bay, Rotan was by far the best, but shortest time spent for a port. It was clean, safe and excursions were reasonable. Wish we had more than 6 hours there. Grand Cayman, still nice (we have been here several times), but very expensive. There is a lot of construction going on, so it can be confusing when shopping. Here is an idea of pricing....an order of chicken fingers, 1 cocktail and 2 sodas will cost you $60.00 at Margartiaville.
Shore Excursions were o.k., but expensive with the exception of the Magical Beach Chair Beach Package in Rotan. We paid $40.00 for 2 of us which included unlimited rides on the Magical Beach Chair, 2 beach chairs with a "Clam Shell" cover and 2 rafts. We did a similar package in Grand Cayman that consisted of a bus ride (which broke down on the way to Seven Mile Beach), 2 beach chairs and 2 rum punches for $89.00 per person.
Disembarkation was crazy, you had to be out of your cabin by 8:30 a.m. and by 7:00 a.m. our cabin steward was knocking at our door to hurry us up. We paid $40.00 ($20 a piece) for luggage express (CCL checks your luggage all the way to your final destination) and when it came to disembark, CCL was letting those passengers who choose to carry their luggage off first. This took 1 hour before anyone else could leave. We had to ask 2 different people when we were allowed to leave and finally around 10:00 a.m. we left the ship. You would think that if you paid extra for this service, you would be one of the first ones off. The Cruise Director and his staff were not very organized when it came to communicating instructions on disembarking. Our question was for those individuals who took their luggage off themselves not through CCL (whether they sued Luggage Express or not) is how does custom check their luggage for illegal contents (i.e. dog sniffing). Does not seem safe or secure.
Summary: In 4 years time, Carnival has done away with the Midnight Buffets, Ice Carving demonstrations, welcome aboard cocktail party to meet and greet the Captain on the first dress-up night with pictures, repeat cruisers cocktail party, live music on deck to say the least. The Legend's capacity is to be 2149 (double occupancy) and when we sailed it was at 2679. Yes probably with it being summer, but we have no choice other than to take our vacation during this time as my husband is a school teacher. CCL has "cut" corners, perhaps due to the economy, but when people like us save for a long time to take a vacation that is no cheap by our standard (we spent $3,200) it is very disheartening. I believe with these "cuts" we will be sailing another cruise line who takes care of their passengers as it used to be in the good old days.