Review of Carnival Legend Cruise Saturday, August 9, 2003 - Sunday, August 17, 2003 Itinerary: New York - San Juan - St. Thomas - Tortola - New York
About us - We are in our very early 50's with a 21 year old son. We've each been on 10 previous cruises. The three of us went on this cruise. The itinerary and the convenience of sailing out of NY really appealed to us. If you were on board - I was the guy wearing the Cruise Critic hat all week.
Getting there and embarkation - We had sailed out of NY 5 times before this cruise and thought we had the routine down pretty well. Figured we would leave the house about 11:30 AM and be on board by around 1:00 PM. Wow, were we wrong! There were 5 ships in port that day and traffic was a nightmare. I was finally able to drop off my wife and son with the luggage around 1:30 PM and go park on the roof of the terminal. The line inside the terminal led first to the "Welcome Aboard Picture" and then snaked around to the actual check-in lines. The lines were long and moving slowly. The Carnival reps were checking paperwork as we got on line, but somehow the ladies who wound up ahead of us on the check-in line got that far without filling out any paperwork. So we had to wait while they stood there filling out the forms. We finally boarded a little after 3:00 PM, and for the first time ever, all our luggage had gotten to our room before us. We were in cabin 5299, which is an aft facing cabin on the upper deck, with an extended balcony. The cabin was very nice, had two twin beds pushed together plus a sofa bed. Closet space was ample for the three of us. We had a bite to eat and went off to explore the ship.
The ship - The Carnival Legend is a beautiful ship! I had read about "the urns" but found that all the dEcor was really nice, including the urns. There are more lounges than I can remember, a nice size casino, a library, a chapel, and the fastest elevators on the seven seas! The layout and design were generally pretty good, but there were a few things I did not care for. In the Follies lounge, where the nightly shows are presented, there are several poles which obstruct the lines of sight; there is very little, if any, slope to the main floor so viewing from the rear of the lounge can be somewhat difficult at times with all the heads in front of you; and there is no bar service on the upper level due to the layout and design of that level.
The Truffles dining room is two levels and the majority of the seating is designed for 2's and 4's. There were not that many large tables and the ones they had were taken by larger groups. We were disappointed by this design because we enjoy sitting at a large table and meeting people. We had a booth which sat just the three of us.
On the outside, there is a lack of lounge chairs in the shade, which is something we have always enjoyed on other ships. But all in all, we really liked this ship!
Service - This is an area where I feel Carnival is lacking. Most of the service we received (purser, cabin steward, dining room, Lido buffet, and bar waiters) I can only describe as adequate but very perfunctory. On other lines (Royal Caribbean and Celebrity in particular) we have always felt pampered. I don't know whether this has anything to do with the automatic tipping, but the attitude of many of the staff was not very caring or hospitable.
Our cabin steward was a complete idiot. Other than cleaning the room and turning down the beds at night she obviously didn't want to be bothered with anything else. We asked her several times to unlock the mini-bar, but she never did. After the second request, I went to the purser and removed all the automatic tips for the cabin steward from our account. We asked the steward why there were no bathrobes in the cabin and after 2 days of stories and excuses we went to the purser to find out why there were no bathrobes in the cabin. It was news to the purser, and after making a few phone calls the purser had room service deliver bathrobes to our cabin. Carnival also provides beach towels each day to take ashore if you are going to the beach. One night she took the used beach towels from our room but didn't replace them. Unfortunately we didn't find out until about 11:30 PM when we came back to the room. The problem was we had to be off the ship and on the pier in Tortola at 8:00 AM the next morning for our excursion. We paged her, but since she was off duty the call was rerouted to room service who told us the laundry was closed and they couldn't help us. So, it was back to the purser who also didn't want to be bothered. At this point I asked for the hotel manager but he was also unavailable, so I left a message. I also asked the purser to inform the cabin steward that if we did not have beach towels when we left the ship then I planned to purchases towels from the gift shop at the beach and the cost was coming off her tip. I went back to the room and not 15 minutes later there was a knock at the door and someone from room service was standing there with 3 beach towels. Finally, on the last night, I had to call to find out where the liquor was that we had purchased and she was supposed to deliver to our room. She gave us some lame excuse about the "do not disturb" sign hanging on the door. I pointed out to her that was the "please make up room" sign which had been hanging there since the morning. I was going to leave her no tip at all, but my wife and son made me feel a little guilty so we agreed to put back some of it on the account.
Food - The dining room food was not spectacular but was pretty good. Unfortunately, the dining room service was very inconsistent. Our head waiter and assistant at our assigned table for dinner were superb! However, at the open seating for lunch, the service left a bit to be desired. We had to continually ask to have our water or iced tea refilled, and had to request coffee with the dessert. One afternoon the waiter actually brought coffee for my wife and me and ignored the other 4 people at the table. I'm still waiting for the salad that guy was supposed to bring me.
The Lido buffet was good, but we found it repetitious and it became boring after a few days. The burgers and hot dogs were good and the pizza was very good. It seemed that whenever we went to get lunch there, the lines were long and weren't moving very well, so more often than any cruise before we ate lunch in the dining room.
We did not try the Golden Fleece or the midnight buffets so I can't offer any opinion on those.
Room service had us laughing the whole week. I give them an A+ for promptness and C for accuracy. We ordered room service breakfast five times and some occasional snacks. Breakfast always arrived at the exact time we requested and the snacks came very quickly. The only problem was we never knew exactly what they were going to actually deliver. They would leave out items, add items, forget cups or napkins or silverware. On three mornings they came back a second time (on their own) with the missing cups or food. It became pretty funny. Upon uncovering the dishes one morning we discovered that they delivered enough food to feed a small army. They must have combined our order with 2 or 3 others and delivered it all to us. We had enough fruit to fill an orchard and a platter of Danish and croissants big enough to open our own bakery. They did get the cereal correct. The eight coffee cups should have tipped us off (since there were only 3 of us) but we were still half asleep when it arrived.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Legends cafe where they serve (for a small charge) specialty coffees and some yummy desserts. I particularly liked the black forest cake.
Activities - The assortment of activities on board were fun but I felt there should have been more, especially geared toward adults. Maybe after 10 previous cruises a lot of this stuff is old hat, but at times I was actually a little bored. It felt like they took the activities from a typical 7 day cruise and stretched them into 8 days instead of adding some extras considering all the time we had at sea..
Entertainment - The entertainment was great! From the shows in the Follies lounge to the music in the various other lounges. Whatever your taste in music it seemed there was something for everyone.
Fellow passengers - We had a very diverse group of passengers and everyone we talked to was really nice.
In our section of the dining room, the dress code seemed to be anything goes. On formal night most men wore suits and some tuxes. But there were quite a few wearing dockers and polo shirts and a few with jeans. On nights designated as "casual elegance" quite a few interpreted that to mean clean jeans.
There were a lot of little kids on board, but we hardly noticed them. I wonder where Camp Carnival hid them? Some of the older kids were running around the ship and at times were a bit obnoxious.
On the last night, around 10:00 PM, as we were packing we heard a series of loud banging/crashing noises outside. We went out on our balcony to see what had happened and it turned out that someone had attempted to throw a lounge chair overboard. It hit several balconies on the way down and came to rest hanging over the rail of the balcony next door to us. Thank goodness nobody was hurt! We called security to report it and we later heard that there was a bunch of drunk teens up on the Lido deck creating a ruckus. It's a shame security couldn't throw them overboard.
The ports - We were lazy this time around and booked all our tours through the ship.
San Juan - We arrived in the afternoon which limited what we could do. We took the Bacardi Rum Factory tour since we had never done that before. It was actually pretty interesting and of course we bought a few bottles. After bringing the liquor back to the ship, we walked over to Senor Frogs for a few drinks and appetizers. Then it was back to the ship for dinner.
St. Thomas - We decided on the St. John island tour, which was basically a trip to Trunk Bay. Trunk Bay was beautiful! Wish we would have had a little more time there. Back on St. Thomas we took a taxi downtown for some shopping and got back on board about an hour before sailing.
Tortola - My wife and I took the excursion to Virgin Gorda and the Baths. It was well worth the money! The walk down the path to the beach (and back up) could be an excursion all by itself! The beach is beautiful and the boulders and rock formations are spectacular. We explored "the caves" and also found a nice shady spot on the beach to lay out and relax.
My son did the dolphin swim excursion and loved it. A word of advice - the dolphin swim sells out fast. If you want to do this excursion, book it as soon as you get on board.
Summary - The ship is beautiful, the itinerary was great and we had a truly wonderful time. The only downside is the subtle differences we felt with Carnival compared to other lines we have sailed. Would I sail on the Carnival Legend (or any Carnival ship) again? It wouldn't be my first choice, but if the itinerary and price were right - yes I would!