First the positives: This repositioning itinerary was fabulous from Singapore to Rome by way of Dubai and India and many other countries. This was a unique cruise at a reasonable price with great opportunities to see Asia and the Middle East. The housekeeping department did an outstanding job. We had two great stewards. The public areas, including the ladies' rest rooms, were clean and well-kept. Some of the entertainment was top rate: Australia's Black Tie quartet, UK vocalists Lee Bradley and Stephen Bayliss, and the Supreme Dream Girls were my favorites along with violinist Gary Lovisi. Low level crew was hard working and friendly, doing their individual jobs well. Our waiters and assistant waiters were excellent. The Park Cafe was delightful and the solarium pool enjoyable.
The onboard experience on the Legend was unique but not in a good way. We've cruised a number of ships on four different lines and have never encountered anything like the disorganization on this ship. It seemed as if the different departments did not communicate with each other. For example, on a day that excursions left quite early, the buffet opened less than an hour prior to the reporting time for the excursion. Special meals were served on the pool deck but not mentioned in the daily Compass. On a night when most people were returning late, tired, and dirty from Luxor (9:30 p.m.), someone was at the gangway inviting everyone to the dining room which would remain open late while they closed the buffet at 10 p.m. The food quality improved from the first 14 days to the second 14 days. Apparently the kitchen staff was used to using an Asian specific menu, not the fleet wide menus (which are apparently not really fleet wide). The buffet selection was the most limited of any ship we've sailed. As in the main dining room, the quality improved during the last 14 days.
Another unique experience was not having the ship time the same as local time in Jordan. This resulted in shorter tours as the local providers had been waiting an hour before the ship docked. We've never experienced this with any other ship. When questioned at the roundtable discussion, the hotel director said this happens frequently. Not on any ship I've sailed.
The Legend of the Seas uses only one gangway. Every other ship we've been on, including some no larger than this one, has used two. On port days this caused problems exiting the ship. Staff made every effort to prevent those not on ship's excursions from exiting the ship. On other ships one gangway is for the exclusive use of ship's excursions in the morning while the other is for independent guests.
Another unique thing about the Legend is the water that comes from the tap. The Legend is an older ship and the recent dry dock improvements did not include the water system. The water from the tap in our cabins smelled like a dirty fish bowl. We stopped drinking water except from the sources that were additionally filtered such as at the buffet. The water did not make us sick and the chief engineer said it was safe but recommended drinking from the filtered sources.
On the second 14 day segment, we upgraded to one of the new balconies on deck six. Fortunately we were a good distance from the Centrum where loud music blared each evening. Storage in these newly created balcony rooms is extremely limited compared to our ocean view cabin on deck 3. Half our clothes had to be stored in suitcases under the bed. Our larger suitcase would not fit in the closet or under the bed and had to stand in the room. We had a sofa on Deck 3. On Deck 6 there was only a chair due to the smaller cabin size. Deck six also featured a leak in the hall ceiling which resulted in dripping. The hard working crew constantly cleaned the carpet to get rid of the vile smell that permeated our area of deck six. Although I saw crew members and officers inspecting them daily, the hot tubs in the solarium remained in need of repair for the entire 29 days. The lecturers were without their large screen most of the cruise because the bulb for the projector burned out. It's hard to imagine a spare not being carried onboard but that was the case.
The recent dry dock made changes to the ship. In addition to the new balconies, the ship was freshly painted, new bathroom fixtures were added, and a lot of carpet was replaced. The Viking Lounge on deck 11 was reduced in size to create two specialty restaurants. The library on deck 6 was reduced in size to add a for fee Ben and Jerry's ice cream bar/cupcake shop/specialty coffee shop. There is a severe lack of public space on this ship. Only the theater and deck 5 Anchors Aweigh lounge provide adequate space for larger activities. Bingo was given much of the available time in the Anchors Aweigh lounge. Large group trivia was relegated to the theater, not an acceptable venue. The less popular trivia games were in Schooner Bar along with Name That Tune. Schooner was much better for trivia but Name That Tune was drowned out by the excessively loud music coming from the adjoining Centrum. The door between the two areas was required to be left open. The Centrum is used every night for dancing and music. Despite a number of people asking for the volume to be lowered, this did not happen. I recommend not booking any room that opens close to the Centrum unless you are a night owl.
This was the only cruise we've ever taken that had no shore excursion presentation. Lines were very long at shore excursions, especially during the first 14 days. Twice we turned in forms to order tickets and did not receive them, necessitating additional long waits. We chose the ship's excursion rather than a private one in Luxor, thinking there would be greater security than on a private excursion. Unlike our experience with another line in 2009 before the current unrest, there was no armed guard on our bus. The bus did not stay in an organized caravan as advertised in the shore excursion brochure. We canceled our ship's excursions from Alexandria when the shore excursion department could not say we would have security. (A friend confirmed not all buses headed to Cairo had a guard and again the buses did not stay in a caravan.) The response was that local authorities were in charge of security. We had a private excursion in Sharm el Sheik. There were 12 of us in an old van. In this van were the driver, the guide, and an armed guard from the Tourist Police. I was shocked that Royal Caribbean did not make sure that every bus had proper security in Egypt especially after our December cruise on another line had Egyptian port calls canceled.
This was our second cruise with Royal Caribbean. We spoke with many Royal Loyals. Several told us they stick with Royal due to the Diamond level happy hours. (Drink prices were very high compared to other lines with no happy hour specials for everyone, so a free happy hour is indeed quite a valuable benefit.) Speaking of drink prices, the already high prices were increased "for the European market" during the second segment. We did not reach the EU until debarkation day.
One high level member told us that if this had been his first Royal Caribbean cruise, it would have been his last. A new captain came on board half way through our cruise in Dubai. Hopefully the ship will be better organized in the future. We enjoyed the great itinerary but it would require a special itinerary and price to make a future booking on Legend of the Seas.