As stated by so many of the previous reviewers, we were concerned by the negative comments related to the Legend's age, her crew, her staff, Carnival in general, etc. Like many of you who have truly experienced "travel", we were prepared for the worst but expected much better. Karma was right with us on this trip and we received even better and more (so much more) than we expected. Maybe it was the Holiday Spirit or an overabundance of goodwill brought about by the Season, but for whatever the reason, we appreciated that everything went right.
I believe that there are possibly two reason for the less than honest reviews that appear here; either those with a vested interest in another cruise line are at work on this entirely natural site or, perhaps the more accurate reason is found in the opinions of those who expectations may have been set perhaps a bit unreasonably high (or I am totally wrong and the whole world of cruise reviewers is really honest, unbiased and fair). Of course we can expect that out of 2124 passengers, so many cabins and so many meals there were "bad experiences" and if not handled properly and in a timely manner maybe they have been inflated into the damning reports about this ship and her crew seen in previous reviews; I don't know that one cold dinner should form an overall lower rating (but my steaks were always hot so maybe that is why I'm going to tell you all the good things the Legend had to offer). Hopefully you will find this as intended, a totally honest, unsolicited and unbiased review that will be helpful in your planning (and will calm those fears because if you're looking here, you probably have already booked your cruise on the Legend).
I'll try to keep it short and go with both the pros and cons. First, we had two cabins; one balcony and one interior across the hall for our 18 & 20 year old kids on the Panorama Deck 8 (one floor down from the Lido, aft section and if I may do so, I do recommend this cabin area - very good location since you are a single flight of stairs up to the Serenity Lounge section of the Lido Deck (adults 21 and over)). I could go on all day about what we enjoyed about the cabin location, air conditioning, balcony, service staff, etc. but to summarize, it was excellent for us and I will gladly respond to any questions that you send.
Myth or Fact: Does the balcony door make some "air leaking" noise? Fact, minimal and did not affect the overall quietness of the room, but yes, there was a slight "whistle". On the positive side, there are two lovely lounge chairs and a little table with plenty of room on the balcony for two adults to enjoy (in privacy).
As stated in earlier reviews (of a positive nature), every staff member did a wonderful job; the wait staff in the dining room, the steakhouse, the buffet area, the spa, the Guest Services desk, multiple bars (Serenity and Atrium were my favorites), casino, shops along Rodeo Drive and the photo staff. At no time did we receive sub-standard service.
Myth or Fact: Cheers Beverage Plan, worth it or not? Fact, it was for us. The Cheers Beverage Plan ($342.50/person/cruise) was worth it. For two adults above the age of 21 (the legal drinking age on all Carnival ships, but not necessarily in all ports-of-call) the cost of two cold sodas each poolside in the morning, a couple or three afternoon beers (for me and wine for the lovely lady), a nice glass or two of wine before dinner and a couple night caps or drinks with the show will add up to more than $50.00/day; doing the math 7 days X $50 = $350.00. There may be a possibility that you may go for the more expensive drinks or average more than the estimated amounts above and thus your savings will be even greater. Need more details, I have them.
The ship was extremely clean - everywhere! The deck furniture in the Serenity lounge was immaculate, cleaned daily, and appeared to be brand new (sorry, this was the only outdoor areas we lounged in). The dining room was very nice; didn't see the stained furniture or carpeting. Also, for those of you concerned about the profanities that some deranged group of lunatics have scrolled all over the elevators, they are actively removing all wording and replacing some of the high polish stainless steel doors as I write this.
Myth or Fact: Anytime (Your Time)dinning is best. This may in fact be a myth. Being an engineer I have poured through all of the previous cruise ship reviews and have attempted to trend what makes a good and a bad experience. One of those trends appears to be selecting anytime dinning (your time, etc.) and not expecting to wait to be seated, have the same wait staff every night and expect personalized service at a different table every time you show up. We have always chosen late seating (when given the opportunity); it gives you more time in your day and if you get a bit hungry in between lunch, and that late sitting there's always the Lido Deck and room service can be very convenient around 4:45 PM when you get back from your shore excursion and need a few hours to rest, unwind and get dressed for dinner. Addressing being "dressed" for dinner; the four of us always "dressed" for dinner, every evening (sport coats, tuxedos for us guys and the girls were always knockouts), and the staff never failed to compliment us (lots of compliments and the waitress in the Golden Fleece actually thanked us for "dressing" for dinner); perhaps this could be a reason why the staff appeared to be highly attentive to our every need or maybe they just liked us better, or we're prettier and thus people like to wait on us or whatever; either way, it worked out very well -- give it a try sometime and see what you think.
Myth or Fact: Carnival does not encourage "cash" tipping of staff. Myth; although gratuities are added to prices for drinks and to your Sail & Sign account for your cabin, the service staff does not get this directly. Tip, it's nice for everybody.
The only "Broadway" style show that we attended was the illusionist and he was excellent. They combined the entertainment staff to form a very stylish illusionist show that had four female and four male dancers, the illusionist and his assistant. Missed the comedians but found very entertaining and yes, funny guests who provided hours of entertainment in the lounges and casino nightly. Enjoyed the trivia games in the afternoon; I received no "ship-on-a-stick" and yes, I think people cheat and no, I really don't care, it was fun. The Cruise Director and the entire entertainment staff were excellent.
Someone already said this so yes, it is a cut and paste (kind of) --"The food in the dining room was excellent. Some of the notable dishes included Oysters (Rockefeller), spinach salad, and the lasagna (bolognaise) was superior, they had several eggplant dishes that I also enjoyed." There were also excellent selections that changed nightly; with four very different palettes' to be considered at our table alone, the menu hit the mark every night. From appetizers to desserts (CrÃ¨me Brulee is night one only and you don't want to miss out on this), it was a treat every night.
The Golden Fleece is well worth the extra cost at least one night of the voyage, and since everyone apparently agrees on the food being excellent there let me tell you that the ambiance, it is outstanding as well; the ceiling is actually the front portion of the signature red "Carnival Funnel" (you know, the thing on top of a Carnival ship that the smoke comes out of). None of us there that night had ever seen a Carnival ship like this, let alone had a seat there. Ask for a reservation on the second floor, it is a real treat.
As for the buffet(s)on the Lido Deck; no one under 12 in our group so no chicken nugget report. But the Chinese food was good, well prepared and served hot. Loved the big hot dogs and hamburgers (not for a steady diet, but a nice change of pace in the afternoon or when returning from shore leave). Sweets Bar was very nice with chocolate fondue, ice creams, cakes, pies, you name it and at some point during the cruise they had it. The pizza is different from what most Americans expect; I would say it was more of a traditional Italian style and thus the Papa John's probably won't like it. If one can keep in mind, it's a buffet, watch for the new dishes to come out and your chance at a hot snack is highly possible. They also have a deli that will prepare you a fresh, hot or cold deli sandwich (I loved the Ruben)every afternoon. What did we love here most: fresh made to order omelets in the morning and the iced tea (very good anytime and anywhere on the ship).
Oh yes, and the ship was fully decorated for the holidays, Christmas trees, wreaths, Menorah and on December 21 we all gathered in the Atrium Bar and sang Christmas carols; it was so much fun!
Negative Observations: Probably planning the port of call departure process could be improved upon; still delays in getting massive amounts of people through two portals soon after arrival. Tips: if the line is long at mid-ship, try the forward passage (this doesn't always work). Be patient, take lots of cool beverages along and get to know your fellow passengers or try to wait until the "planned" excursions are out the door and then leave on your own unplanned adventure.
Cozumel has nice snorkeling but if you are only willing to dedicate one day to snorkeling make it the Belize Snorkel and Beach Break (done lots of snorkeling and seen lots of reefs and coral over the past 35 years and this was some of the best). Yes, you will still have time to tender-in to Belize City for some souvenir shopping afterwards.
The Cayman Islands are very nice and also very crowded (normally four to five cruise ships tendering-in on any given day). If you have never done the "swim with the stingray" thing, try it; if you did it years ago, the whole experience has changed with the influx of crowds (more expensive, more guests in the water, shorter time in the water, but all in all, probably still fun for a first-timer). Shops are expensive but this is most definitely not an emerging nation (PC for Third World). Clean, friendly, modern with excellent shops and restaurants in Georgetown, all within easy walking distance to the tender pier. This is a fun place to find a nice second floor lounge to perch on, order some nice Cayman Beer a side of conch fritters and sit back and people watch.
What more can I say, we loved Tampa (easy in and out), the embarkation and debarkation went without a twist or delay, the ship, staff and crew were excellent. We lived, we laughed, we loved! We had such a nice vacation on this ship that two of us are going back in February!