This was our first cruise. We didn't book until late January and used an online travel agency to get best price for cabin with 3 people. Initially we got first floor aft cabin but travel agent SWORE he would get us upgraded.
I was dreading embarkation, as I am recovering from foot surgery and having difficulty walking and standing. Surprisingly, this took about 15-20 minutes from the time we arrived until we were in our cabin. Carnival folks seem very efficient and we breezed through everything. GOOD NEWS! We were upgraded to a 7th floor stateroom with a balcony on the right side (port?)The view was great and we used the balcony many times during the 8 day cruise.
We kind of expected a problem in getting our luggage, figuring it went to our original cabin. Sailing time was 4 p.m. and by 5:30 p.m. we had all our bags except one, which we later had to retrieve at the Purser's Desk. We were so happy about the upgrade, we didn't make a fuss. We did the Lifeboat Drill and hurried to get ready for dinner. There were only 2 seating options - 5:45 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. One is too early and the other is too late. We opted for the early seating because of the teenagers. First night we wore skirts and T shirts to dinner and there were many people in shorts, as getting luggage did seem to be slow.
We found the food on the Legend to be great. We ate most nights in the Dining Room and there were always 5-6 choices for each of the courses: appetizer, main course and dessert. We had debated taking the soft drink card, which is $44/pp. As coffee, iced tea, lemonade, milk, fruit punch and juices are all free, we figured we could save the $132 for 3 cards we would save for shopping. We did not miss sodas, but it seemed silly that juice was free and it cost money for Coca-Cola. Our dinning table sat 6 people and 5/8 nights we were the only ones. We had a window view and as the sun was setting as we were arriving for dinner, it was a beautiful view every night. The food was great - we had lobster tails, filet mignon, lots of seafood, prime rib. There were some choices we snickered at - I wonder how many people chose the rabbit entree, which really upset my teenage daughter. There were many gourmet choices from beef to veal to lamb. Portions were small, but they didn't make a fuss if you asked for another. We were 3 women but my husband would have had to have seconds several times if he had come with us. The head waiter did seem much more concerned about the larger tables he was serving than our table of 3. The junior waiter did occupy himself with serving us and at departure, we compensated them according to the level of service. The junior waiter helped us during several buffet lunches on the Lido deck as well, helping us get drinks, a table, silverware, etc.
The maitre d' was obnoxious and sat 2 parties on 2 nights at our table without saying anything or introducing us. He also insisted on telling sexist and racist jokes every night at dinner. We did not tip him, he provided no service and was a deterrent as far as we were concerned. The Gala midnight buffet was truly a sight to see. Many people we encountered who had been on multiple cruises commented on how terrific the food was.
There were talks on shopping which turned out to be a plug for the merchants who must be kicking back to Carnival. Big waste of 60 minutes. The cruise director, Lenny Halliday, was very talented and managed to keep everyone excited with announcements, impromptu shows, etc. We went to a couple of the big shows, did Karaoke, listened to music in a couple of different venues.We took advantage of our balcony and had breakfast from room service delivered 6 out of 8 nights. While room service only delivered cold foods, we had lox, bagels, cream cheese, etc. and it was delicious. This came in handy on early excursion mornings. The kids took advantage of room service as well by ordering snacks in the afternoon (milk, cookies, cold sandwiches).
Our cabin steward did a great job of ensuring our stateroom was kept clean. With teenagers, they wanted to sleep late on mornings we were at sea, yet it always got cleaned. The steward even cleaned our balcony when I complained the plexiglass was filthy on arrival. As first time cruisers, we were not aware of the towel monkeys, rabbits, etc. the staff leave for you in the evening. My 14 yr old daughter returned to the room ahead of us and screamed when she saw a towel monkey (complete with eyes!) hanging from the ceiling. We laughed and laughed. Every night we received turn down service with mints, fresh towels twice a day and fresh beach towels when requested.
Our shore excursions were in St. Maarten, Barbados and Martinique. We did these stops "on our own" rather than thru Carnival and figured we saved about 66%! In St. Maarten we debarked and caught a 9 passenger taxi at the Cruise Terminal to Orient Beach, which I had heard about in travel books and through cruise passenger recommendations. The beach is gorgeous and we would return, however, no one had told me it was clothing optional, which gave my teenage girls a bit of human body education. We also did great shopping in Phillipsburg for alcohol, jewelery, and designer purses and wallets.
In Barbados, we hired a taxi driver for $80 for 4 hours at the Cruise Terminal who took us all over the island (Harrison Caves, Orchid Garden, Salisbury Plantation, St. John's Church). Weren't too impresses with the island, wouldn't necessarily return.
In Martinique, we were at an advantage as I speak fluent French. We took a ferry across the bay and rented beach chairs & umbrellas at the Sofitel Hotel. All told, the ferry & beach excursion was about $50 for all of us vs. %60/pp off the cruise ship.
This is not a reflection on Carnival, but I didn't like the short amount of time we got to spend at each location. In Martinique and St. Maarten, we were only there for 5-6 hours. The 2 1/2 days at sea each way there was plenty to do on the boat, but I wish we had more time on the islands. There were ample pools on the Carnival, you could be as busy or as lazy as you wanted. The shows were geared toward an older crowd (I am in 40's), very 1940's & 1950's and 1960's stuff and I was surprised at how many seniors on board, I had thought Carnival was aimed at a younger demographic. Way too much bingo for my taste. The casino had 1 cent and 5 cent slot machines, which are just my speed, but they didn't pay out a whole out.As first time cruisers, I imagined the interior of the ship to be like a floating Las Vegas hotel or Disney World for adults. Very glitzy and kitsch. There is a 9 story atrium which is disconcerting as first glance as to columns, pillars, etc. The rooms were kind of overdone by our taste, but we got used to it. The stateroom had an enormous amount of space. Embarrassingly, we brought 5 suitcases and we managed to stow all of our stuff, plenty of hanging room and drawers. The bathroom was small but adequate.
Carnival assesses you $10/pp per day for each cruise day. Thus, we had a $240 charge on our credit card. You have the option to adjust, up or down. There was a lot of emphasis toward the last cruise day to "take care of the staff". We gave small cash contributions to staff members we felt went out of their way to give excellent service. Tips on beverages ordered in the lounges automatically carried a 15% tip. We also tipped cash to the room service waiters who brought breakfast.
Debarkation was the down point of the cruise. We docked at 7 a.m. and didn't get off the ship until about 9:30. We had a long wait in the lounge, our assigned waiting location, to be called to debark. Getting our luggage was a mad house and we had to search all over to assemble all of pieces of luggage. Some was placed in the area for our original stateroom, even though we put new tags with our new stateroom number on it.
Overall, we would highly recommend a cruise on Carnival, particularly the Legend. We had a great time and hope future cruises will turn out as well.