When you arrive on board the Carnival Legend the first thing that strikes you is how terrible the decor is. You feel like you are in a cheap, off strip Vegas dive with Black Velvet paintings of Elvis everywhere. (Not really but it feels like it.) The decor is so tacky it is astounding. But it is only decor, I quickly got over it.
When we arrived at our room, it was standard. IT was clean and our steward met us. He was nice. I stepped outside to the balcony, and was quickly driven back inside by all the smoke from the smokers using their balcony to smoke, because no smoking in rooms. (This is becoming a common problem in hotels as well.)
We went up to the top deck to say goodbye to Tampa. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm. It was a great way to start a cruise.
When to dinner in the dinning room the first night. Great service, but only so so food. Through the week, we tried to figure out where was the best place to get decent food. Most of the time the buffet on the top deck was better than the dinning room. Certainly breakfast was 100 times better in the buffet. The dinning room breakfast was worse than eating at a Denny's. I never have turned back Eggs Benedict, but these were the worst I ever tasted in my life. The Dinning room also never seemed to be able to fully cook any potatoes, I gave up. Also the in the dinning room vegetables were always boiled with too much salt. Generally the meat portion in the dinning room was OK, but the Buffet meat was better. Overall teh food was better in the buffet, but the service staff in the dinning room were a treat. So we would do one meal in the buffet and one n the dinning room. Only one Breakfast in the dinning room, the Buffet Omelets were individually prepared by staff who really cared.
You cannot be bored on a cruise ship. any time of day or night there is something going on. You just need to accept the fact you cannot do it all and get some sleep. The shows were great. A little Vegas, but hey the ship felt like Cheap Vegas.
The shore excursions were great. In Belize we did the Ultimate Zip Line, Cave tour with repelling and lunch. Oh my goodness, if in Belize be sure to do this. It is the most expensive, but so well worth it. The Belize staff are fantastic. The lunch was better than any food on the ship. And the bonus is, the pictures they take. So there were 4 of us, they took over 50 different pictures. I pair $50 for all of our pictures plus about 100 bonus pictures of Belize on a CD so all digital to email to friends. Hell one paper picture on teh cruise is $50 so this was a treat. This excursion was expensive but great great value. Another great excursion was at Grand Cayman. We took a trip to Stingray city. I cannot recall the exact name but it is a yellow boat hull with blue and glass cabin. (It was actually made in Canada in Quebec.) It is a fairly fast boat compared to the rest, so we got to Stingray City faster and could stay longer. Which is what it is all about. Again, great value.
Now comes the sad part. When we left Grand Cayman to return to Tampa, we started cruising at 20Kn. for about 3 hours. Then the Captain for some reason slowed down to 17Kn. So what was the big deal, well when we arrived in Tampa, there was fog, which was forecast. The harbor master closed the port about 30 min before we arrived. (The other two ships in port that day, arrived on time, and got it to transfer passengers.) We were held out of port for the entire day, because the Captain wanted to save a bit on fuel.
If that was not bad enough the way they dealt with it was worse. As it was the last day, we requested a wake up call so we would not miss the Immigration, as Canadians we must be screened by Immigration at a US port. That was to be 7:00AM so we set wake up call for 6:00AM. Wake up call came as requested, but no mention, by the way we are not in port. As the ship was silent (Anchored out of port) we got up, got dressed and proceeded to the theater for Immigration. Only to be told then that we were not in port. You would think they would want to let us know, before we got up and dressed etc. The first public announcement of the issue was at 9:00AM a full 4 hours after the port was closed.
On questioning staff etc. there was no information, no guidance, no suggestion as to what to do. Our flight was at 3:00PM, no suggestion if we should re-book or not. Basically we were 2,000 passengers not where we expected and no information as to what to expect. This continued until about 11:00AM when they announced the satellite phones in the rooms would be free so everyone could call to make arrangements. Well everyone did. The phones were quickly jammed and no one could make a call. The only good thing was, I had a US Unlimited SIM from Travelers Mobile and it worked where we were anchored. I was so thankful for Travelers Mobile as if I had to use my Canadian SIM it would have cost me a fortune in roaming. Not only was I simply lucky to make a call, because so many others were just out of luck, my calls were free and I spent so many hours on hold that day. I connected with a great Air Canada agent who was in Tampa so knew the situation and she looked after everything. Eventually, thankful to Travelers Mobile, and Air Canada, not Carnival, I got my flight re-booked before the deadline for re-booking.
Eventually we arrived in port at 7:00PM not only were all the passengers on board ready to get off, there were 2,000 very angry passengers in Tampa who should have been on their way to Cozumel by then. We were frustrated, they were angry.
I feel Carnival should have first taken responsibility and accountability for the choice to slow down, made by their Captain. They claimed it was not their fault, because it was fog, but most of us on the ship knew the ship slowed down, the other ships made it, Carnival was the only cruise ship held out of port. And Second, they need to train their senior staff what to do in these situations. The service staff, stewards and waiters were much more helpful than the Cruise Director or any customer service staff. Situations happen, any you would think senior staff would know what to do. It seemed the junior staff were more competent than the Cruise Director or Captain.
The same comments were made on the news by the passengers from the Cruise from Hell, where the engines went out and the ship was at sea for several days. Stewards and waiters were great, senior staff were just slightly ahead of useless. I recognized the corporate culture from our cruise.
Bottom line I will never set foot on another Carnival Cruise. I rarely fly Air Canada, but this was one of the good experiences. I have just started to use Travelers Mobile, and I will never travel again without them.