My husband and I sailed the Carnival Legend from July 22 -- 29, 2012. This was our 20th cruise, our 14th on Carnival. We have also previously sailed on Celebrity, Cunard, Holland and Norwegian. This was a seven night sailing out of Tampa, FL. Mr. Cruise Cat has a couple more surgeries coming up, and we thought it would be a good idea to squeeze in another cruise, since it may be quite a while before we can schedule another one.
We drove to Tampa the day prior to sailing, and it was (thankfully) uneventful. Our boarding pass had "VIP" printed on it, as we are Platinum members. We looked for the VIP boarding signs at the terminal, and were all checked in and on board the ship within 10 minutes.
Carnival has made some adjustments to their past passenger perks system. They count the number of days at sea for different levels of priority. It now takes 75 days at sea to reach Platinum status, and there is a new Diamond level at 200 days with Carnival. This didn't affect our status as we already had more than 75 days at sea, and we are looking forward to achieving Diamond status! I do think this change is beneficial to passengers who take longer cruises and spend more money with Carnival. Under the old system it took ten cruises (any length) to make Platinum. That meant someone with ten three-night sailings attained Platinum status, even though they had spent much less money than passengers who had completed several week long cruises and held a lower status.
We booked an interior cabin, and were actually assigned an exterior room with sliding doors that didn't open and had a view of a life boat. The room was a little bigger than most interior rooms, and was plenty big enough for us and our stuff. It also had a sofa, which could have been used to accommodate a third person.
The aft deck has been transformed to a 21 and over only Serenity Deck. The bar staff was politely vigilant to ensure the age minimum was enforced. I noticed a couple of times when a group with children pretended not to notice the "21 and over" signs and proceeded to enter the Serenity area. Within seconds these groups were informed that kids had to use the other pools/decks. They left without incident, but appeared grumpy that the cruise line did not just look the other way.
The chairs on the Serenity Deck have been upgraded, with some loungers-built-for-two and hammocks added. The nicer chairs took up more space which meant there were less chairs overall on that deck. This made Chair Hogs even more of a problem.
The first day at sea Chair Hogs were everywhere. I went out on deck at 7:30 and way too many chairs were occupied with towels and other belongings, without a passenger in sight. My husband and I were able to find chairs, but within a few minutes other passengers were wandering around looking for chairs and finding they all had been 'reserved'. It was very frustrating to see passengers not able to enjoy lounge chairs because someone had claimed them for use later.
I guess the staff must have gotten a lot of complaints about Chair Hogs, because on the last day at sea a more Senior Staff Member was present on the deck and removed the belongings from chairs that had no occupants for quite a while, to make them available for other passengers ready to relax in them. Such belongings were taken to the towel station for safe keeping, where a Security Officer was also stationed.
This was the first time I have ever been on any ship from any cruise line where the rules about not reserving lounge chairs were enforced. We are already Platinum on Carnival, but this is also a huge reason to return. Mr. Cruise Cat and I are generally early birds, and don't usually have a problem getting lounge chairs, although it has happened to us before. We feel for the passengers who also show up relatively early, only to realize they can't find a seat because too many discourteous passengers have made Chair Hogs out of themselves.
It was interesting to see the reactions of the Displaced Chair Hogs, who finally showed up at the loungers where they had placed their belongings. Some sheepishly collected their belongings from the towel station and trekked off to another deck to find empty chairs. Some were absolutely enraged that someone had moved their belongings and insisted they had only been away for a few minutes. (Not!) I guess they got a taste of how the rest of the passengers feel when there are more passengers than chairs and they go on a first come, first served basis.
Anyway, it was the first time in all of our 20 cruises where we have ever seen the 'no deck chair saving' policies enforced, and we commend the Ship and the Cruise Line for doing so. It's a huge incentive to return to Carnival.
We again opted to have all of our dinners in the Supper Club. Mr. Cruise Cat and I wanted to be sure to enjoy some quality time together before his surgeries, and the Supper Club is the perfect place for that. The staff was very attentive without being intrusive and the service and food were outstanding each night! Chef Dey and the Supper Club Hostess stopped by each night to greet us and ensure everything was fine. The Sommelier also did a wonderful job and recommended some of the most delightful wines.
Chef Dey noticed that we were eating in the Supper Club each night of the cruise, and offered to prepare something off the menu for us, since it isn't all that large. I mentioned that Mr. Cruise Cat loves fried chicken, and Chef Dey immediately arranged for us to have a fried chicken appetizer the next night! It was absolutely amazing! They also noticed that the only complementary appetizer Mr. Cruise Cat (who is not an adventurous eater) ate was the Mini Beef Burger. On the final night of our cruise Chef Dey prepared a special appetizer of Mini Beef Burgers for Mr. Cruise Cat. He also prepared extra servings of Peach Ice Cream for me, as that was my absolute favorite! It was such a nice touch!
After this cruise Mr. Cruise Cat and I looked back on our cruise history and realized this was the seventh Carnival Cruise where we had dinner exclusively in the Supper Club. We certainly plan to continue to do so!
The rest of the meals were standard for Carnival... We had breakfast and lunch on the Lido deck each day. Breakfast was pretty much the same each day, and there was the same large assortment of lunch options. We had deli sandwiches, pizza, burgers and all that.
We didn't leave the ship during this cruise. We have sailed this itinerary several times, and have been to all of the ports of call many times. It was wonderful to pretty much have the Serenity Deck to ourselves on those days. We spent too much time in the casino. =) I came out about even, but Mr. Cruise Cat made a donation. Oh, well, that's how it goes.
Debarkation was held up by some non-US Citizens who did not report to Immigration Processing as directed. We took off our own luggage and had priority debarkation, and were hoping to be off the ship by 8:00 or 8:15. A couple of the non-US Citizens had to be tracked down, and delayed debarkation for the whole ship by 30 or 40 minutes. I know that doesn't sound like much, but for passengers with a 14 hour drive ahead, it makes a huge difference. I can't imagine it made anything any less hectic for the Cruise Line, either. I wonder if it would do any good to fine these goof balls? I can understand if someone didn't quite understand the instructions, especially if English isn't their first language. But, really, their names should not have to be passed over the loudspeaker more than once.
Overall, we had yet another wonderful cruise!