I'm a little behind getting my 9/23/2012 LEGEND review submitted, but better late than never. We had a great CC roll call and held a Private Cocktail party for a fairly large group during the 1st day at sea n the PIANO BAR. Did a fun gift exchange and met some really good people. Hope to sail with some of you again in the future. The Carnival staff provided Open bar drinks and some snacks and were very courtious. This is a great way to meet a lot of people early in the trip & possibly find others to converse with later in the cruise, Especially if you are a solo cruise or first time cruiser. I'm a people person and like the "social intermingling experement" and always try to pass along money saving tips & "what to do and not do's" to others.
I am PLATINUM on Carnival and I have also cruised NCL and RCL. Although I enjoy Carnival, I do critique what I see and my overall experience in hopes the cruise line and future passengers may benefit. I tend to cover multiple captions in depth and I hope that my experience is helpful to you. I sailed the LEGEND in 2006 out of NY and loved it then so was interested to see what changes have been done. I sailed on the DREAM in Sept 2011 and LOVED it also but IMAGINATION is still among one of my favorite Carnival ships. So this would be a good comparison between the smaller and larger CCL ships.
This was the final sailing that the Future Cruise Certificates were being offered and I took advantage and purchased 4 of them. Sad to see this option go but I managed to get my share in before they fully disappeared. I was vacationing with 9 others that tagged along and we did our own things and a couple group things.
ITINERARY & PORT: Tampa-Day at Sea-Cozumel-Belize-Honduras-Cayman Islands-Day at Sea-Tampa. There are two formal nights. I booked this trip for the Itinerary since I was never at Belize or Honduras. TPA airport is about 15-20 minutes from the port. We flew in the day prior and booked a shuttle service from the Towne Place Suites by Marriott for a great price. We were hoping to locate a Wine and spirits to purchase some bottles of wine for carry on but on Sunday you cannot purchase Wine before 11 in FL. Luckily the Towne Place Suites sold Red & White wine in their lobby and we were able to grab a bottle or two at 11 when the shuttle arrived.
EMBARKATION: We departed the Hotel and arrived at the port quickly by 11:35. It is fairly congested at the port entrance but was handled very well considering everyone leaving and coming. Although I am Platinum I went through the regular check in with my group to make sure everything was good with their process and also so we could do a group embarkation photo. I did notice the area the VIP's were being checked in. There were separate desks. I was amazed how swiftly we all moved up to the desk for regular check in. I have to say this was one of the quickest check-ins I have had with such a large group in 5 separate cabins. Kudos to the Port staff for keeping things moving smoothly. I think we were boarding the ship in Â½ hour from arrival.
CABIN: 8F 8168 Ext Bal. (we also had 4 4K French door cabins in my group and they were worth the inside price as long as you don't mind the lifeboats right outside your window) My 8F stateroom itself is same size and shape as a regular Bal. cabin except with a slightly deeper Balcony. It was nice having the little extra room. This is your typical stateroom; 2 beds, but no pull down bunk. SAFE, 32" flat screen TV, water and soda to purchase in small fridge. Two robes hanging in the closet. Complimentary Bathroom Basket, Shower had the usual Shampoo & Liquid Soap (I brought shampoo w/conditioner, a travel Lysol spray). The room itself appeared in nice condition and we had no problems with it at all. If anything negative, it was that the neighbor's Balcony door did not have a tension bar on it so whenever they went in and out of their room it my entire cabin shook and sounded like a car slammed into the wall. A very polite request when I saw them outside if they can hold their door as it closed resolved that.
ROOM STEWARD: THARARAT WONSHARI greeted us on the 2nd morning as we were out and about all the first day. She was extremely courteous and always took the time to say hello and ask how my day was. She mentioned how wonderful it was to have seasoned cruisers that didn't need something every Â½ hr. but bot to hesitate if anything was needed. I'm sure this is one area where Past Guests are highly welcomed. She and her assistant eliminated ANY worries regarding the cleanliness and status of our stateroom. They are an asset to the Carnival crew and I made sure to let them know that.
PORTS: Cozumel, Belize, Honduras, Cayman Islands
COZUMEL: If you cannot find something to do here then something is wrong. I've been there several times and just love this port.
EXCURSIONS: I chose to explore the AMAZING RIO SECRETO & CAVERN EXPLORE. I've done this excursion in 2010 right after it was first opened and just loved it. This trip I went back with a few more friends and they loved it as well. It is definitely worth every penny and it really AMAZING. I am going to cut/paste my last review of this trip and add a few additional comments on what has changed.
AMAZING SECRET RIVER and CAVERN EXPLORE: I did some upfront research about this one and it seemed intriguing to me. Summary, WOW! A+++ I thought I loved this in 2010 and it was just as adventurous and exciting in 2012. I'm returning to Cozumel in Dec and considering it a 3rd time. It may just be one of the BEST excursions I have ever done as far as adventure and exploring. This excursion will not disappoint. In 2010 we had 9 people in our entire group which was nice and intimate. In 2012 we had about 45 that they broke up into 4 smaller groups. This RIO SECRETO was recently discovered a few years back by a local that was chasing an iguana in the jungle behind his home and it ran into this underground cave system. It is still being surveyed and had only been opened to the public for about 2 years. It surpassed all of my expectations I had even with some pre-research. Do not be discouraged by the long 7 hour duration. It is split up into parts (Ferry ride to the mainland- Playa Del Carmen) Short van ride to the cave system, 1 Â½ cavern exploration, short meal break, 1 hr shopping time and van/ ferry tri back.
FERRY RIDE: First off, what a clean comfortable set up. I sat inside as I read that the locals refer to this as the "BARF-BOAT" for tourists that race to sit on the outside 2nd level LOL. I sat inside on the plush air conditioned seats. A little wavy, but not too bad. They offer water, drinks, and some snacks for sale on the ferry. Polite crew
VAN RIDE to the CAVES. Well once we turned off the paved roads and onto the dirt road you know the adventure was about to begin. It is about a 5 mile trip down a very bumpy raw unpaved road. My suggestion is to just enjoy as much as you can the best is yet to come. OH and most important..... USE THE BATHROOM on the ferry before getting into the van because the bumpy ride may not be for those with week bladders LOL.
CAVERNS/ STAFF and FOOD: We were all greeted by our guide AIDA and each provided with lockers and locks to keep our personals. This trip our guide was RODRIGO and was very informative and a great guide keeping everyone together and not missing out on anything from the first person in line to the last the entire time. I was talking to him on the way to the cavern and when he found out I did the trip in 2010 he re-routed out tour a different way so I can see other new parts of the system that have been discovered.
This is a PHYSICAL TOUR so you do need to be able to bend, crouch, walk, swim/wade, and should have no problems with darkness, water and they say claustrophobia. There is really no tight spaces so do not be too discouraged about this. Water is fresh-water, crystal clear and about 70 degrees. They offer a walking stick. I say take it and even suggested to the guide once in the caves that they just pass them out to everyone instead of offering. You are not allowed to take any cameras or anything into the system. You get a knee length wet suit, swimming vest, water shoes and hard hat with a small light. DEFINITELY check and make sure your light works and is not dying before you start the hike. The sights are amazing inside the cavern and the photographer that tags along takes great photos. They are offered to purchase at the end. I took the entire CD of approx. 30 personal photos and an additional 50 added cave photos along with 3 gifts selections (T-shirts, bottle of Wine etc.) for $99. They are WORTH every penny! Rating 10 A+++ So if you have a small group its worth buying the whole package and you can make copies later.
BELIZE: XUNANTUNICH MAYUN RUINS
I've done the Mayan ruins of Talum before and this excursion also did not disappoint. If you are fascinated by the history of the Mayan culture you will love this tour. The wait of the travel to get there is well worth it. The tour guides from CHUKA TOURS were extremely informative and you received a very detailed build-up of the Belize independence and country history on the way to the site of the ruins. It truly leaves you with a better sense of compassion for the people of the area. There are truly some spectacular photo opportunities at the site. If you have a good camera this is the one to bring it to.
Once arriving at the Ruins via charter bus everyone crosses a small water ferry/taxi across the river where you board vans that take you part way up the mountain where there are bathrooms and 2-3 small souvenir shops. Once everyone has reached this level you start the walk up to the ruin plateau. This is a physical tour and there is a lot of walking and stairs if you choose to climb the temple. If you can manage the trek, it is very much worth it. Coming down the back side of the temple can be a bit scary for those that have a fear of heights as there are no handrails or ropes and the steps along the outside of the temple walls are narrow.
Adventure, history & discovery are all around you and you cannot help to leave the grounds with the utmost respect for what you are witnessing. The guides are there to take questions as well as more history to tell. This is an adventure I highly recommend to add to your once in a lifetime to-do lists. This is the final Mayan Ruin site where you can climb to the top of the temple and will soon be shut down to the public for preservation purposes as all the rest have been.
MOHOGANY BAY -- ROATAN, HONDURAS
This port was my shopping day and I decided to not take an excursion and stay local in the court to get shopping done. There are many reasonable shops and the area is very nice and inviting. There is a separate beach where you can rent canoes, kayaks, swim or just soak up the sun. There is a FAT TUESDAYS in the court area and also a place to have your passports stamped. A small donation is asked with the stamps to assist with upkeep of the area and it appears to be put to good use so far. I enjoyed this stop and if I return will do an excursion as I heard many good things from others.
This was my 2nd time here and really do like this port. This trip I took the opportunity to have a tattoo done to make this cruise more memorable. The BLUE DRAGON TATTOOS 345 is a very nice facility about 2 blocks from the Hard Rock Cafe, walking distance to the right after leaving the ship. Afterwards, some friends and I walked back and past the ship where there was a "live catch of the day" fish stand. You can choose your fish and the outside restaurant will cook it up for you. This was a fantastic way to end the day with a few drinks, good service and a great fresh 'RED SNAPPER" meal. A+ and recommended to try.
ONE LAST FUN DAY AT SEA .
For me it was a GOOD DAY as I won the CASINO SLOT TOURNAMENT and got my first "24K Gold solid plastic ship on a stick" ...... and $500 to sweeten the deal. That will be paying for my next solo cruise in December so I am already ahead for my next vacation. ? The Legend's show on the last day is always a fun one to attend with your fellow passengers as the cast.
FELLOW SHIP PASSENGERS: This is a topic I usually try to cover in my reviews because although Carnival technically has no control on who books a cruise, it reflects the "type" of passenger that chooses certain itineraries as well as what the age-range to help others choose vacations times. I thought it was a nice quiet relaxing vacation shortly after US Labor Day and usually not so many children as they are back to school. Everyone I met had a smile on their face and I personally the complaints I heard were so frivolous they're not worth the mentioning. It was a full sailing, but did not feel overly crowded at any time.
FOOD/DINING: My group had LATE 8:15 dining which I prefer so we are not rushing back to be ready on port days for dinner. Once again I have nothing bad to say about the food on the ship. It was always hot, minimal waiting and delicious. The food & service in the Dining Room was excellent as always and could not have been any better. Our server was great and his assistants just as pleasant. The rest of the cruise I chose to eat at the buffets for breakfast and lunches.
PAST GUEST EXPERIENCE: As a platinum guest I was a little disappointed to hear that the behind the scenes Galley Tour was discontinued fleet wide as one of the Platinum perks. I enjoyed it while it lasted and no I am not one of those CC people that cry Carnival doesn't appreciate the return guests. I happen to like how I'm treated as a return guest and the extras are simply that.... EXTRA. I did manage to attend the STEAKHOUSE tasting session which was very nice and informative. The food was very good and told by several that this steakhouse is rated one of the best fleet wide. It is also the only one located inside the ship's funnel with a panoramic view as it is located on the highest point of the ship.
STAFF: After so many cruises all I have to say is I think overall "Carnival got it right" Most of what comes next here is a cut and paste from prior reviews as it applies no different on this trip.
I split this up into several captions) WORKING STAFF: I can honestly not find anything bad to say about the crew on this ship. Information, Excursion, dining, housekeeping, officers, shops, bar service, casino were all great! I don't know how they keep up the positive attitudes day after day, week after week, month after month! B-R-A-V-O to all of you! The ship was always clean and they take care of their ship, however I will point out some noticeable rust spots as the LEGEND is beginning to show her age and due for her big OVERHALL soon before she is moved to EUROPE. Public areas were always clean and staff is continuously wiping and maintaining their ships.
CRUISE DIRECTOR- JAMES DUNN, I liked this cruise director. He had just enough humor and was not "Over the top" like some are. He was fun and informative, and also all around the ship unlike some that never seem to leave the main lounge. I was very happy to see assistant director, SAM JEWER on this ship. I met her on the Imagination a while back and she is my favorite assistant CD. I had some great conversations with her on my last trip and this one. Sam and James are a good team for this ship. I plan on keeping in contact with Sam and hope our paths cross again somewhere out there on the high seas. Perhaps one day a CD.
ENTERTAINMENT: Usually I try to hit all the shows but did hear that the COMEDY PUNCHLINERS CLUB was the hit on this ship. The lounge shows perhaps are becoming a little old for me so I'm excited as the 2.0 entertainment starts to get implemented throughout the fleet with bigger and different productions.
It's exciting to sit through for the first time cruiser, but after a few sailings it becomes a bit repetitious. I still think they are handled well for what they are worth, but now that other lines are investing money into bringing Broadway known titles like Blue Man group and Chicago, I think this is an area Carnival can look into updating.
I prefer the 2nd floor seating in the lounge and this seating is much better than some other ships I have to say. I wish it was the same on other ships. Makes viewing so much easier. I prefer the upper level on the Left side overlooking the stage and always found seats for all the performances.
I did not use the SPA or CAMP CARNIVAL. Although my name was pulled for the big SPA prize, and unfortunately I had to leave just before the ticket was pulled because of a problem with my luggage. Talk about bad timing!!
DEBARKATION: My group took advantage of self-assist and was off the ship by 900-915am. We grabbed a shuttle available just outside the terminal for all 8 of us for about $10 per person. We were checked in at the Tampa airport for our flights by 10:45am.... Although we booked 11:55 flights in case there were any problems arriving on time and/or getting past the SUNSHINE SKYWAY BRIDGE with fog.
LIKES: PRICE, ITINERARY, FOOD, SERVICE, and CLEANLINESS of the ship. Also want to give a gold star to the Embarkation staff for keeping everything running so smooth and an exceptional expedited boarding process. I very much enjoyed my two excursions in Cozumel and Belize. Also never forget the "WCMC": warm chocolate melting cake. mmmm
DISLIKES: I really cannot think of any on this trip. It turned out to be such a relaxing vacation and met some nice people and I think a friend or two I plan on staying in touch with outside of cruises.
I'm looking forward to my DEC return to the IMAGINATION 2012
If you have any questions feel free to contact me via cruise critic under handle: wiskt