My wife and I sailed on the Carnival Legend out of Tampa from 8/7/12 to 8/15/12. Overall, we had a great experience, and will undoubtedly cruise again. We are looking at going to Europe in July 2013 for a Mediterranean cruise. We are both in our early 50s and are celebrating our first real vacation as empty-nesters. This cruise served as a belated honeymoon, as we were too broke to honeymoon when we got married! So, we had a lot of expectations.
HOTEL: We did not stay in a hotel. We flew into Tampa the morning of the cruise, taking the 8:15 American Airlines flight out of Chicago. We signed up for the port transfers option, which I highly recommend. A Carnival rep. met us at baggage claim, and the transfer to a bus and then the port was seamless, and no hassle.
SHIP INFO: The Legend is considered a medium-sized ship in the cruise industry. As I boarded the ship into the main lobby area with the Colossus atrium, I looked at the glass elevators going up 9 decks and asked myself "If this is a medium ship, what's a big one look like?" The decor is opulent, and a bit over the top, and reminds me of Vegas. The Legends theme is interesting, with different areas of the ship referring to different types of legends, from Greek and Roman, to the legends of cinema and music (Satchmo's lounge and Billie's (Billie Holliday) lounge). Overall, I liked the decor. It certainly is varied, and in general well-done. At 10 years old, however, it is starting to show some wear and tear. A couple of items that should be fixed immediately are the Colossus Mural in the atrium (The mural panels are starting to shrink with white gaps showing between them) and the chrome panels in the elevators. Every elevator in the midships and forward elevator banks has been vandalized by someone who strongly dislikes someone named Natalia. Come on, Carnival. These things mar the overall effect of the ship and make it look a little seedy. The ship is not too large, though, and by Day 2 I could find everything easily. My wife, who is directionally challenged, had a harder time. I felt that the ship was sized just about right, given the number of passengers on board. Even though I could detect some movement of the ship on the cruise at different times, it was not annoying or disturbing. A Carnival employee shared with me that this was the ideal sized ship. She said that the larger ships have a lot more people, and not that much more public space. The only time I felt overcrowded was at lunch on the day we left. Of course, this was because all 2000+ passengers were at the buffet at the same time. Once the ship got underway, this was not a big issue. Pool areas on the ship seemed crowded, althought there was always plenty of room on the sun deck. Neither my wife nor I are sun worshippers, so this was not a huge problem for us. We had no kids with us, so I can't comment on kids activities.
ACTIVITIES: There are plenty of activities on the boat, ranging from the casino (I actually ended up a bit for the week) to karaoke (many places and times on the boat) to trivia (always fun, run by PEE-TAH) to shopping and the art auctions. I especially liked the art auctions, run my Mr. Mulder, his wife, Rachel, and the Park West staff. I actually ended up buying some artwork, and managed to win the $500 drawing, which helped the costs. I got some great deals on art, especially the Bellet serigraphs and an enhanced serigraph with additional paint work by Bellet himself. I'm eagerly waiting for these artworks to come. Also, lots of great deals on Peter Max and Thomas Kinkaid. I love singing, and got to portray Sinatra in the Carnival Legends show. This was a very professionally run show, with first-rate orchestra, and excellent choreography. Many thanks to Lauren, the dancer from the Gold Coast of Australia, who was my guide. It was great fun!
SERVICE: Overall, service was a plus. Many thanks to the dining room staff. Bojana was very charming. In addition, the wait staff in the Truffles dining room did a first-rate job. Overall, the staff on the boat was very nice. The only weak point was my room steward, who was very friendly, but didn't clean my bathroom for the last 2 days of the cruise. Come on dude, that would have been nice. Dinner in the Golden Fleece Steakhouse was superb, from the wait staff, to the sommelier, to the chef, who personally came out to check on our entrees (mine was prepared perfectly). I especially liked the amuse bouche that preceded the meal.
FOOD: Overall, the food was good. There was an entree (seafood medley with a tomato cream sauce) that was less than impressive. Also, the diet pumpkin pie (which I did not order, but a tablemate did) was gelatinous and pretty awful. Other than those specific things, I enjoyed every meal in the Truffles Dining Room. I got the your time dining, which I recommend, but cannot accommodate very large parties. I liked the dancing waiters. They put on a show every night, which was cute but not too long. The eggs at the morning buffet I believe were powdered eggs. 30 years in the Army has taught me to spot them. A bit undercooked and runny, but edible. I liked the variety in the casual dining room but occasionally lines can get long.
PORT AND SHORE EXCURSIONS: The excursions were fun, but next time I will choose different excursions. I chose the beach party for Cozumel, but would rather have seen the Mayan ruins. Neither my wife or I snorkel or are beach people. Poor choice on my part. I felt the Carnival website didn't show every excursion available, but maybe I didn't look hard enough. Belize was interesting, but is not a real resort experience. The city is very poor. Still, it was nice to see the other side of the Caribbean experience. We went on the air boat ride, which was fun and allowed us to see the local wildlife. Our Airboat guide was great, and was very knowledgeable and articulate. Isla Roatan was nicer, we went on the tour (saw the cameo factory) and the glass bottom boat ride. The boat ride was worth it. Got to see the beautiful reef, which is the second-largest in the world. In Grand Cayman, we had a more upscale experience, and went on the submarine ride. this was cool, but we saw virtually the same things we saw on the boat ride in Isla Roatan. Next time, I will choose the Stingray adventure. I noticed that the shopping is the same in all ports, with many of the same diamond and watch stores, and the Del Sol stores that sell shirts that change color in the sun. Still, you can save some big bucks on luxury items. Next time I buy a luxury watch like a Rolex or IWC, it will be on a cruise. Duty and Tax free!
SUMMARY: Overall, this was a great experience. I would love to cruise the Legend again. We are looking to cruise again next summer, maybe in the Carnival Sunshine, out of Barcelona. See you all onboard!