Just off the ship this morning and eager to dispell the negative reviews I've been reading for months leading up to our cruise.
I know that everyone perceives life experiences differently, but because of negative reviews that were posted up to the time of our sailing I was beginning to think that perhaps I'd chosen the wrong ship for our first wedding anniversary cruise. In brief, we woke every day with smiles on our faces, went to bed each night pleased with the day's experiences, and came off the ship this morning with nothing but good things to say and share about the ship, the staff and the whole week. That wasn't due to newlywed bliss. I've cruised many times, we are an older couple, and know what we do and don't like. We like, no we LOVE, this ship!
We flew down and stayed with friends in St. Petersburg, so no pre-cruise hotel events or parking info to share. Many of the people I'd been chatting with before the cruise on a Cruise Critic Roll Call used Capital Parking. Embarkation was a breeze. Tampa really has it's act together for a smooth boarding process. We were dropped off curbside at 11:30am and on the ship by noon. We were in our room at 1:30 and our bags were delivered by 3pm. Awesome!
The room was clean, in good order, and exactly as we expected it to be. We'd sailed the Fascination as part of our honeymoon, a balcony on the Verandah deck, where we were cramped and unable to sit facing the water due to the limited depth of the balcony space. The Legend balcony was a good two feet deeper and furnished with more substantial furniture. We had plenty of space to sit facing the water and move around without having to rearrange the furniture every time we went in and out. That was a lovely surprise as we were expecting a small balcony again.
Our roll call met at 5pm for a meet and greet in the DreamTeam sports Bar. The drinks were well mixed and tasty (Long Islands). There was plenty of space for our group and we were all excited to finally meet each other in person.
The ship was absolutely beautiful! We found the darker colors that many reviewers complain about to be a rich and wonderful difference compared to the glitzy bright colors of many other ships in Carnival's fleet. The decor provided a change in ambiance, and isn't a cruise all about experiencing something different? We loved it! Yes, areas of the ship are a bit worn and need refurbishing, but it certainly didn't have the appearance of a tired old ship or a rundown relic. And yes, THERE ARE URNS EVERYWHERE YOU LOOK! That didn't bother us at all. In fact, we had fun seeing how many different ways they were incorporated into the decor!
We are a fairly private couple so did not attend all the shows, hit all the bars and comedy acts, or participate in the regular cruise activities we've all grown accustomed to. I can say that the bits and pieces we did pass by, through, over or under were running smoothly with many happy participants and attendees present.
Our cabin stewards, Luis, Grace and Lester were attentive to our every need. Nothing was left undone, no request went unanswered. The room was spotless each morning when arriving from breakfast and perfect again upon returning from dinner.
Speaking of dinners, food service was delightful. We enjoyed anytime dining. The hostess sat us each night at a table for two in the server's section we requested, and if a table for two was not available she would seat us at a booth where Joel would promptly clear away the other two place settings. We can't say ENOUGH good things about Joel, Junaeid and Galina as a service team. We only went one night in the main dining room without their service and one other night without them when we went to the steak house. The food was delivered promptly, it was warm and delicious, and if for some reason it didn't suit our palate Joel would instinctively offer or suggest a different item and promptly replace it. We hated to leave the ship this morning and have dinner without him, Junaeid and Galina!
One word about the steak house: GO! We had the filet. Thick, rich, perfect and the service was impeccable.
Buffets were plentiful and the fare was always hot, fresh and delicious. I ordered room service twice to see if the delivery time varied. Both times the items I ordered arrived in less than ten minutes and with a smile.
All staff that we encountered were friendly, smiling, pleasant and helpful.
We visited Cozumel and went to Mr. Sancho's,choosing the all inclusive plan. We had a blast. There were other people from the ship there and it was a very fun day.
In Belize we took the Altun Ha/River Wallace tour. Lynette was our tour guide and was very informative about her country. The tour was long and hot but very enjoyable. We had an emergency happen to one of the attendees and it was handled with professionalism and calm. It did take longer than was advertised but thoroughly enjoyable. The tender there and back was not 20 minutes as some people have reported.
Roatan, Honduras we went to Mahogany Bay and snorkeled. We just enjoyed a down day without planning every moment. The water was clear and it was a good place for my spouse to have his first good encounter with getting a grip on how to snorkel.
George Town, Grand Cayman was awesome snorkeling. We tendered in and went to Eden Rock and snorkeled on our own. We had our own gear so simply rented a locker for $5. Lunch was at Paradise by the Sea and we had Jerk Chicken which was excellent.
Disembarkation was a bit longer than embarkation, but still very well organized. What can you expect when 2,000 people are all leaving at once as opposed to filtering in at different times? That will always be a bit crazier.
The cruise director, John Heald, is fairly new in his position and was upbeat and positive without appearing to try too hard to make a good impression. He was informative without being corny.
There is much more that I'd like to write, and perhaps I'll expand on the ports of call in a different review. We were very, very pleased with this ship, it's crew and the service we received. We'd sail it again in a heartbeat!