My family (four of us) traveled on the Carnival Legend from August 24th to September 1st. We regret contradicting the majority of reviews on this site, but this was our first cruise and we felt you should know that parts of our cruise were terrible. Quite honestly -- it was the trip from hell at times. Please allow me to explain . . .
The experience on the trip can only be described as "spring break tacky." Our "Fun Ship" was filthy in the common areas. (Our two interior rooms were very clean -- we had a great cabin steward!) The ship is stupidly huge, trying to offer something for everyone. However, Carnival's cruise director, Brett, announced on the last day that there were 2,600 guests on board plus 950 crew. There were so many people that you could not really go anywhere except the library and your room for a few relaxing moments of peace and quiet. The ship was too big (and we know it isn't near the size of the new ones!). It has plenty to offer, but be warned that the onboard golf program is nothing more than a cage and an instructor right near the engine room exhaust (noisy). The video arcade was a rip off and expensive. The children's club was a complete bore for my active 7-year-old. He asked not to go back after the first 2-hour session. My 13-year-old said the teen club was "lame."
The Legend has three restaurants. The poolside one is buffet hell with lines at each of the stations guaranteed. The food was OK, but nothing worth waiting for. The 24-hour pizzeria offered fare a step-up from frozen pizza, barely. The full-service restaurant was OK, but good luck with there wine service. We often received our food before our beverages were delivered. There were just too many people. We ate at the supper club one night -- it was good but cost $30 per person extra (plus the wine was expensive).
There were plenty of bars, so many that you would think it was a boatload of drunks. But actually, most of the bars sat empty most of the time. Bizarre.
We ended up with two interior rooms -- pretty large and only $2,200 for 4 people in two rooms -- a very cheap deal.
The shows were awful -- cheesy, low-talent, has-been stars, etc. The only worthwhile show was a tribute to music starring the guests as the singers. Their talent was better than the paid help.
The Spa was full-serviced and extremely expensive. My wife had a $129 facial. She really enjoyed the splurge, but at the end of it the facial lady tried to hard sell about $400 worth of facial cream to my wife. We were shocked.
The gym was small and crowded, but well-equipped. However, beware the profit centers here and elsewhere on the boat. EVERYTHING ABOVE THE BASICS COSTS EXTRA!
The ship has three tiny saltwater swimming pools that were packed with people -- so much so you could barely move. During the day, a cheesy calypso band played incessantly crackling loud awful music that you could not avoid near the pools. To put it mildly, this band was the worst. Pure torture to listen to. But, if you wanted to be outside, you had only two choices -- suffer and listen to the music, or suffer and sit by the engine exhaust vents (rumbling noise).
The outdoor play area was not as advertised. The mini-basketball hoop was broken, there were no jungle gyms and other playground equipment, the shuffleboard many people came up to play on the top deck had broken equipment stored in a dangerously heavy-lidded bench; corkscrew water slide was sticky and hard to slide on and did not dump out into a pool. And the biggest rip off on the boat is the $50 soda card (you can get all the juice and iced tea you want without the card, but if you want soda, Carnival charges you $50 for the week -- that was outrageous to us, so we drank juice and tea.
You should know that if you go on this ship out of New York, you are going to experience a ship full of middle class New Yorkers. Not that this a bad thing, but if you don't want to spend a week with a lot of wannabe Sopranos and blue collar workers that make a lot of unreasonable demands for service, then this is not the cruise for you.
As far as tipping goes, Carnival does automatically take a few bucks from the guests, but you can increase it or decrease it if you'd like. However, we learned from the staff that they most appreciate getting tipped directly. Who can blame them -- centrally collected tips get distributed across the board to all tipped staff.
Lastly, the excursions. STEER CLEAR OF ALL EXCURSIONS!!!! THEY ARE A RIP OFF!!!! We walked around San Juan on our own; took a cab and ferry to St. John on our own. And took a cab to go snorkeling in the British Virgin Islands on our own. We talked to a lot of folks and they all wished they had done what we had. THE EXCURSIONS ARE OVERPRICED PROFIT CENTERS THAT MAKE CARNIVAL A LOT OF EXTRA CASH. DON'T DO THEM. GO ON YOUR OWN AND YOU WILL HAVE MORE FUN AND SAVE A TONE OF MONEY!
One last thing, at the beginning of the cruise we had a mandatory evacuation drill. My 7-year-old son and I had to stand out in the pouring rain for the entire exercise (spot where the water drained -- cruise personnel would not allow us to move). Since our luggage was lost until many hours later, my son and I spent the first evening in soaking wet clothing in cool temperatures. I told Carnival staff at the Pursers' desk about it. They did nothing -- could have cared less. The desk was staffed by folks from Slavik countries that would not know customer service if it bit them in the rear Terrible.