My wife and I decided to book the Legend of the Seas 5-Night Holiday Cruise (over New Year's Eve) as part of a Southeast Asia vacation. Our main reasons were that it seemed like a good way to visit several spots in the area without having to deal with crossing borders, it was port-intensive, and the opportunity to celebrate New Year's on the ocean was pretty appealing. Our only previous cruise was four nights on the Enchantment OTS out of Ft. Lauderdale, over Memorial Day weekend several years ago, so it was quite a party cruise and not our style. This cruise was much more our style.
We left the U.S. on the day after Christmas, arriving on the 28th because of the date line. Because of weather in the States, we were delayed and missed a connection and we were told our bags would arrive the day after our cruise, so we spent most of our time shopping for cruise clothes. I therefore don't have much to say about Singapore. We stayed at the Conrad, which was fabulous and had extremely helpful and generous staff, we helped tremendously with our bag issue. I also recommend Oscar's Buffet for breakfast.
Embarkation was easy for anyone with any kind of priority status: we are Gold C&A and had no wait once our forms were filled out. It was a very painless process. The new cruise terminal has a convenience store (7-11), I think, for any last minute needs. Note that as of December 2012, the new cruise terminal was new enough that our concierge made sure to tell the taxi driver very specifically to go the new terminal. The taxi ride was quick and easy.
Ship was in decent shape considering its age but is currently being refurbished, so my comments aren't crucial.
We went to three ports: Kuala Lumpur, Langkawi (Malaysia), and Phuket. The KL day was the low point of the cruise. We had signed up for the "Kuala Lumpur on Your Own" excursion, which is essentially a bus ride into the city from the port, as the other excursions did not appeal to us and we preferred to pick the sights we saw, rather than the choices on the excursions. Unfortunately, we were placed on the wrong bus by the RC staff and went on the "Kuala Lumpur Light and Easy" excursion. We informed the tour guide but they were not able to fix this until too late in the day for it to matter. I went to the excursions desk to complain and both the staff member at the desk and the excursions manager tried to argue with me and say I should have been happier on the Light and Easy excursion because it was more expensive. I asked for a refund, not expecting one, and I really only wanted a sincere apology and maybe some drink coupons. However, their suggested resolution was to not charge us for the more expensive excursion that their mistake put us on (which I believe would be illegal), so I was now furious. I spoke with the Loyalty Ambassador (the wonderful Hitomi) and she intervened, and I was granted a 50 percent refund in onboard credit.
Lesson learned: double-check your bus assignment.
In Langkawi, we opted to hire a taxi at the pier and we saw the mangroves, the Craft Cultural Complex (which has handicrafts from simply amazing batiks to very inexpensive items), the craft store De Zone, Black Sand Beach, and ate at a small place near the beach. We recommend all of these places. We went to the cable car but it was raining and the top of the mountain (where the cable car stops) was covered in clouds, so we did not go up. I wanted to note that the cruise had a $10 shuttle from the pier to Pantai Cenang (a developed beach resort area) that was not announced in the pre-cruise materials.
In Phuket, we took the Sea Canoe excursion, which stops at a couple of different islands with caves that are only accessible at low tide and later at a small beach. This was a fantastic experience, highly recommended. We also noted that the organization of the excursions was much better this morning, perhaps because of our mishap. Also of note, we apparently were cleared early, so there was an announcement that people not on excursions could tender before the ship excursions (although only until the ship excursions started to tender).
On most occasions where we embarked or disembarked, there was a picture opportunity (often with someone in a panda, tiger, or other costume). They did some very nice collages of the picture with, e.g., the Singapore skyline, which we didn't buy (because we looked terrible) but I wish we had had a good picture to go with one of the collages.
We dined twice in the main dining room for dinner (using My Time Dining) and all other meals were in the Windjammer. We have found that we prefer the Windjammer food (although the food on this cruise was much better than our previous cruise). In my opinion, the main dinner room food tends to be overcooked, although I have had better luck with roasts and racks (that are cooked and then sliced) then single-serve portions such as fish (which I assume sit under a heat lamp). My wife has generally been disappointed with the MDR food. Although many passengers were Asian, the MDR menu was not heavily Asian-influenced and the Chinese menu appeared to be the same (as near as I could tell). As of our sailing, the Legend did not have the new menu. There appeared to be a special menu on New Year's Eve which was quite nice.
The Windjammer has a much more eclectic selection of of western and eastern items. For example, at breakfast there would b: oatmeal, grits, sambal, and a congee station; a selection of pastries; two of pancakes, waffles, or french toast; a carving, fried egg, and omelet station; plain rice and stir fry; bacon and sausage (not American, more like a hot dog similar to other sausage found in Asia); a toast station; and plenty of fresh fruit. Lunch and dinner had a similar assortment. We always enjoyed our meals here.
Older reviews complain that food was often not hot and served on Styrofoam. We experienced neither problem at any time on our cruise.
There was also a late-night buffet and pool party on night 4 (after Phuket, before the Sea Day). The food was fine, probably of lower quality than other meals, but the food wasn't really the point. I love on-deck parties!
All of the staff we dealt with were very nice and helpful (with the exception of the excursions staff, noted above). Special mention goes to the Loyalty Ambassador Hitomi, the Spa Manager Zurica, and one of her staffers, Maria, all of whom really helped get our vacation back on track after our luggage was lost and our KL excursion went awry. Going back to the spa was always a treat because the staff were so delightful, so I would just walk through there so they would say hi. A large number of the line staff are Chinese but language never appeared to be a problem and, in fact, the staff at the Guest Services desk were always very helpful.
While the spa is not a choice to rate below, I would give it a 5+.
We did not see any of the shows. We watched the bellyflop contest (fun), did Walk for Wishes (such a nice thing for RCI to do), and played bingo once (boring and a ripoff, but the drink of the day was 2-for-1).
The Welcome Back party was well-attended and on New Year's Eve, so everyone was dressed up, even though it was the second formal night of the cruise. The free drinks on NYE made waiting until midnight a problem!
The passengers on this cruise were from 49 countries (see a breakdown based on information provided by Hitomi at
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/74281956/Legend%20of%20the%20Seas%20Passenger%20Nationalities%2012-29-2012.xls noting that the original printout I got listed Russia twice, which I have maintained). This list would, I guess, appear to understate the number of ethnic Chinese based on the number of Chinese staff, Chinese language excursions, and the fact that all announcements were in English and Chinese (and often Japanese). There was also a separate "cruise director" channel in Chinese. While other reviews complain about lack of proper queuing, we never experiences any abnormal problems with this (compared to, say, a trip to Disney). A staff member commented that Asian crowds tend to lack sun-worshipers, and we never had a problem getting a chair on deck.
In summary, we had a fantastic time overall on this cruise. If I were ever near Singapore again, I would not hesitate to take another, similar trip and we are much more likely to cruise again then we were after our previous cruise.