Embarkation Due to tropical storm Isaac, the afternoon prior to the trip we got a text message from Carnival that the ship would be sailing from Port Canaveral rather than Tampa and passengers needed to arrive between 10-3. Buses would pick up passengers at the Tampa Cruise Terminal and transport them to the East coast port. We arrived at the terminal at 9:15 am. Ground agents seemed to be unsure of how the process was working, there was major confusion about how to organize passengers into groups for the bus trip, and utter chaos about the process fro baggage handling (more about this shortly). After getting into the terminal to wait for the buses, we finally departed for PC at 11am. This after the staff insisted that all larger carry-on baggage be stored in the bus hold and told us there would be no problem with getting it in Port Canaveral. Unfortunately we listened to them. Once we arrived at the cruise terminal at 1:15pm they agents on location insisted that all bags in the hold were being treated as checked luggage and would be delivered to our room. The rest of the embarkation process went smoothly and we were aboard the ship in 20 minutes.
Lost Luggage and the WORLDS WORST Customer Service
After spending the afternoon without most of our luggage, we called customer service before our Early Seating Dinner to ask as to its whereabouts and were assured that they were still in the process of distributing and we would have it soon. We went to dinner in our t-shirts, shorts and flip-flops figuring that the bags would be delivered upon our return. Wrong! As we pulled out of port just before 8pm, we realized that three of our party of five had no luggage. A trip to Guest Services revealed a very long line of passengers, almost all missing their luggage. Everyone was given the same illogical story "I'm sure it will show up, it may have been delivered to the wrong room". As I was early in the line, they told me that they could do nothing more than provide a 20% discount to the gift shop and a coupon for free laundry, so I could have my t-shirt and shorts washed (but not overnight it turns out). Later on they started to distribute tooth brushed and hand cream as well as some surplus t-shirts in XL with the slogan "I have a PHD in F-U-N". If you were on the cruise, you saw lots of people wearing them.
It turns out they lost over 100 passengers luggage. The biggest issue is that there was no communication from Carnival about what had happened to the bags, no plan on how to help passengers through it, no stock of anything wearable in the gift shop (no ladies bathing suits above a size 8) and an attitude of really not caring. We spend the better part of the first 24 hours trying to get answers to where our bags were and all we heard was a mantra of "We're so sorry, we don't know at this time", with absolutely no plan to assist customers. The laundry service only operated during the day, so we spent most of day two wandering around clothed in only a bath robe waiting for our clothes to be cleaned. As the second night was Formal night, our plans for a lovely dress-up evening with the kids went out the window. T-shirt and flip flops again, with most other passengers aghast at the sight. One group of nine showed up in their bath robes for dinner. After dinner, we had our first and only communication from Guest Services, a voicemail telling us that they had located some luggage aboard buses in Florida. It appears that a number of buses "forgot" to unload luggage after the trip from Tampa to Port Canaveral. They could not identify whose luggage was found, if it was all of the lost luggage (how difficult would that be, really?), but the luggage would be delivered at some point during our Grand Cayman stop. A phone call to Guest Services suggesting that they have the luggage expedited on the first couple of tenders was met with mild irritation. Luckily, we did get our luggage in Grand Cayman, but we know a number of other people were not so lucky.
Enough of the rant......suffice it to say that the Legend Guest Services staff need some serious retraining or the Carnival manual on guest relations needs to be re-written. Here are a few suggestions:
1. Take responsibility for your mistakes. Everyone makes them, and you'll have a more sympathetic audience if you fess up.
2. Communicate, communicate, communicate. The Guest Service supervisor looked at me in horror when I suggested that she have the Hotel Director gather all affected people in one of their meeting rooms to address the situation.
3. Compensate passengers for their losses and ruined vacation. We spend the first half of our vacation without clothes. Carnival should step up, but do not.
All Other Service
Outside of guest services the staff could not have been more delightful and helpful. Our cabin steward, Greg was amazing. He was friendly, efficient and kind to our kids. The dining room staff were fantastic, Our head waiter Steve was a good sport and we bumped into our bar waitress Anastasia all over the ship. She is a sweet and hard-working lady.
Across the board the food was above average, and better than we've had on recent cruises on Carnival and Royal Caribbean. MDR food was excellent at Lunch and Dinner, less so at breakfast. We used the Buffet sporadically and it was fine, especially at Breakfast for the fresh-made omelets. My kids did not like the pizza on the Legend, but that was about the only gripe I heard.
The shows were a joke. Very amateur. We left most early. The comedy club on the other hand was the best we've seen on a cruise. Valarie Storm and Jason Blanchard were standouts.
Ships decor and ease of navigation
Without a doubt, the most gaudy ship we've traveled on. Having said that, it didn't really bother us, and the ease of navigation on this class of ship far outweighs any aesthetic concerns. Carnival has a great design with the Spirit class, far better than the other two classes we've been on, Conquest and Dream where its just plain confusing. Elevator frequency and occupancy on this ship was the best we've encountered.
Ports of call
Because of the tropical storm, we skipped Belize and spent an extra day at sea. It was a smart choice by the navigators as we were able to chart a course that avoided rough waters. We had to cancel our planned excursion but its a trade-off I'm happy to make for a calm ride.
We spent our day in Grand Cayman (after a late start waiting for aforementioned luggage) at Royal Palm beach club on Seven Mile Beach. It was a relaxing and enjoyable break on a beautiful beach.
Next day was spent in Roatan at Tabyana Beach, definitely the nicest beach on our trip, and possible top three all-time in our books. We went to the Mayan Beach Resort and their $10 day pass charge covers the beach chairs and a fantastic pool. The only caveat for other travelers is that taxi rides to anywhere in Roatan have to be negotiated with the drivers and they start with outrageously high fares. Bring your haggling caps.
The final port of call was Cozumel and we spend the day at Paradise Beach, as we have done in the past. Its was very enjoyable and the kids love the water toys. The water was very murky, but we spent most of the day at the pool in any case.
Debarkation was the easiest we've ever encountered. We used the self assist as we had an early flight. We were off the ship and at a taxi stand within 10 minutes of leaving our cabin.