Cruising with my DH and 3 sons (20, 17 and 13), this review reflects our family's experience aboard the Carnival Legend, August 12-19, 2012.
Tropical Storm Ernesto pounded through the Caribbean just the week prior to our sailing. This caused the Legend to cancel its port tops to both Belize and Roatan as the ship diverted to Montego Bay, Jamaica instead. On the tail of Ernesto was another storm brewing--Tropical Storm 7. It was this storm that threatened our cruise plans as it was projected to follow the same path as Ernesto. Not knowing if this storm would cause another change to the Legend's itinerary or not, we did not know what surprises would lay ahead for us. Luckily, while waiting in the airport, we discovered that TS 7 had dissipated. This was good--no--this was wonderful news for us! Actually, weather-wise, we were very lucky. We cruised right after Ernesto and before Isaac. We had great weather, calm seas and no changes to the ship's itinerary.
After sailing on two Destiny class ships in the past, this was our first time on a Spirit class ship. We did notice that although the Legend is a large ship, it is smaller than the Victory and Triumph (the two Carnival ships we previously cruised on). However, my first impression on seeing the Legend docked in Tampa was, "wow, does that ship ever look long!" In fact, it is long. The Carnival Legend is 963 feet long, which is 70 feet longer than the Destiny class ships. The Carnival Legend is also one of the fastest cruise liners on the water!
Embarkation was smooth and moved fairly quickly. It took us approx. 20 minutes from the time we passed through security, to waiting in the seemingly long registration line (which continually moved), before we boarded the beautiful Carnival Legend. BTW--we had no trouble bringing cases of soda or bottled water onboard!
We did not have to wait for any zone numbers to be called. After registration, we got our embarkation photo taken, and then with our S & S cards in hand, we stepped onto the Legend before 1:00 pm.
We entered the ship from the Legend Lobby on Deck 2. As soon as we stepped onboard, we could see what a true legend this ship actually is. The ships lobby is uniquely decorated in an ornately neo-classical design--and yes there are urns everywhere. The railings on the stairs are Greek-style urns. Urns are used as pillars, urns are used as a base on lamps and tables and you can even see urns used as stool pedestals.
We had two adjacent ocean view cabins on the Riveria Deck. Our cabins were always kept very clean by our room steward Luis and I did not notice any signs of wear and tear.
Our ocean view staterooms on the Legend where equipped with a small bar fridge. This came in very handy for keeping our bottled water and soft drinks cold. Of course our room steward did a great job filling our collapsible cooler with ice so we could keep our drinks cold whenever we went ashore.
In general, the entire ship was in great shape and so clean, it literally sparkled! It amazes me, how a ship, so large with over 2000 passengers onboard, could always look so clean and stay in such great shape. I noticed one day that a piece of canvas over the drain area by the Camelot pool was coming loose. Well, the next day there was a crew member cutting a brand new piece of this material to replace the worn out one!
When it came to food, it was always good and there was always plenty of it! From the Unicorn Cafe on the Lido Deck, down to the MDR, everything we ate was hot and tasty and we did not notice any "bacon" police at breakfast either! Our MDR waiter, Slavisha, worked hard to please, but with staff cutbacks, we could see he was extra busy running and darting back and forth as he served from table to table. Even so, our soups and dinner were always brought to the table, served the way they should be--hot! Kudos to Slavisha for a job well done!
Unfortunately, I did notice on this cruise that Carnival had made noticeable cutbacks in this area. I was disappointed by the lack of Caribbean atmosphere by the non-existence of Caribbean music and live bands on the Lido Deck. This was so different from our experience on previous Carnival cruises. The music was either played by DJ's or was simply recorded music playing hip hop, pop and rap songs. The music was really not that much different to what we would hear playing on the radio here. The closest Caribbean or island type music played was the occasional Bob Marley song. On top of that, the music played was always very loud.
I also noticed a change to the main show offerings. On our past cruises we have always enjoyed watching grand Vegas-style magician/illusionist/light shows and spectacular juggling/acrobatic/comedy shows in the main show lounge. On this cruise, this type of entertainment was not to be. My DS's always looked forward to the magician and juggling shows on past cruises and this time around they were disappointed that these shows were no longer part of Carnival's entertainment program. In general, the shows that Carnival did offer were either stand-up comedy acts or singing and dancing performances. We noticed there was not as much variety in the different entertainment venues as there was in the past. My family are not big fans of stand-up comedy (although Tommy Drake was great) and although I do not mind watching singing and dancing shows, this type of entertainment is not engaging to everyone--like my DH and DS's who do not find these types of shows very appealing. Additionally, the day we were in Belize (besides the Marriage Show), there were no other shows that night--that's right, no comedy, no singing and no dancing performances. Although Carnival cruises still offer a good value for the money, we were disappointed how much the cutbacks affected the live music and entertainment department. We really missed the entertainment we grew so much to love and looked forward to from our previous cruises.
New VIFP Program and More Carnival Cutbacks
The new VIFP (Very Important Fun Person) program is another noticeable cutback. Although we were invited to the past guest party on our last cruise, we did not receive the invitation this time. In fact, we will not receive this invite again, until we reach Gold status. The Captains Reception Party, now called "Captain's Celebration" is another victim of cutbacks. No longer are complimentary beverages provided. Instead take $1.00 off any drink you order from the bar.
We received debarkation tags #18 the evening before. This is also the number we attached to our large luggage.
Before debarkation can begin, all non-US citizens are required to meet in the Follies Lounge at 7:30 am for a mandatory customs inspection. Since we are Canadian citizens that meant us!
Once in the Follies Lounge we had to wait until after 8:00 am. before the custom officials came onboard. The officials were set up on stage and once they were ready, the rows were dismissed one by one. The rows filled up the aisles but the officials worked fairly quickly checking passports and custom declaration forms to assure everything was in order. 1 hours later, we had our turn and cleared customs. We were out of the Follies Lounge by 8:45 am.
Debarkation began sometime after 9:30. By 10:30 our number was called. Dragging our carry-on's behind us, we walked through the Atrium Lobby one last time, and exited the Carnival Legend.
Ports of Call
The Carnival Legend's Western Caribbean itinerary took us to new exotic destinations and new exciting adventures. In Roatan, we were able to zipline on the Pirates of the Caribbean, Extreme, Extreme zipline--the highest and longest lines in the Americans. In Belize we experienced the only place in the world where cave tubing can be done. We also handled pre-historic-looking creatures in Grand Cayman and enjoyed the amenities and floating toys at Paradise Beach--a beautiful tropical beach in Cozumel. The Legend's 4 port stops and 2 sea days gave us a nice balance between busy and relaxation. Sure, some of our tour operators, did not live up to our expectations, and we were not able to do everything we liked to have done (I guess this gives us a good reason to come back again someday), but they were there to greet us with a smile, they kept us safe and they brought us back to the ship on time. More importantly, the time we spent together as a family was precious and valuable and contributes to special and lasting memories that we will always share together.
Legendary Decor & Closing Thoughts
The Carnival Legend is a mid-size ship--smaller than the Dream, Conquest and Destiny class, yet larger than the Fantasy class ships. Throughout her 12 decks are creative, custom-made pieces and artwork depicting legendary, historical and mythical characters and stories. I have read that some people think the Legend's decor is "over-the-top", but in all honesty I think this all adds to the Legends charm and uniqueness. Sure, there are neo-classical urns (with a flower basket on top), all over the place, but I think this is what makes the Legend so memorable and contributes to an interesting "legendary" cruising atmosphere.
The Carnival Legend is like a floating museum, waiting for you to discover all the stories and legends she has to offer! Appreciate the Legend and take the Legend Adventure. Explore the ship. Check out the elevators and stairways, the nooks and crannies. What legends and stories can you discover?
You can read my full review with lots of photos on CC here: http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=1704270