Let me start by telling you a bit about myself and my travelling companion. I am a 40 year old male who lives in Guernsey in the Channel Islands (UK) and has cruised 7 times now with Carnival. I have cruised for the past few Christmas' in the Caribbean and in 2011 when the Carnival Magic was launched and then 2012 when the Carnival Breeze was launched in the Mediterranean. I have never cruised with any other cruise line.
My travelling companion was my girlfriends father (Now known as father in law to makes things easier!). He is 74 years old and lives in Hungerford. He has seen large parts of the world and he has done river cruises and cruised in the Mediterranean. This is his first Carnival cruise.
This is a long review but this was a 12 day cruise. There is lots to get in.
This European cruise itinerary was embarkation in Dover (UK) then a day at Sea. Then Copenhagen (Denmark) then Berlin (Germany) then another day at Sea. Then on to Helsinki (Finland) and then 2 days in St Petersburg (Russia) and the next day Tallinn (Estonia) and then 2 more days at Sea. Then the final land day in Amsterdam (Holland). Then for the last day disembark in Dover.
To start my cruise I had to fly to Southampton and got picked up by my father in law. We stayed the night in Hungerford and then on embarkation day we drove down to Dover. We had a really good drive down and even the M25 was kind to us. The weather was not very good. It was overcast but at least it was not raining.
Even though neither one of us had been to Dover before it was really easy to find with no need for maps or GPS/Sat Nav. When we got to Dover the car park attendant asked for our proof of booking for the car park. He then sent us to the terminal building. Once outside the building the luggage attendants took our luggage from the boot of the car and took them away to put on the ship. We then drove round to the blue car park as directed. We parked the car and then a mini bus took us back to the terminal.
When we first saw the ship my father in laws reaction was wow its huge! Mine was its big but compared to the other Carnival ships I have been on this was the smallest I have ever cruised on, never the less these things are big and you can't deny that.
We walked into the terminal and went straight through security. The people at the check-in desk were quick in checking our details and giving us our sail and sign cards. Got stopped by the photographer and had to take a photograph which we did not want, did not look at and certainly had no intention of buying!
We got on the ship on deck 2. There were loads of people around and we quickly got out of the way and as we were told our stateroom would not be ready until 13:30 we went to Lido on deck 9 for some lunch.
We did consider buying the faster to the fun for this trip but we were glad we did not. We got on to the ship so quickly that FTTF would have been a waste of money. When we finished lunch our bags were outside of our stateroom too!
Lunch on Lido was very busy. With most people not being able to go to their rooms until 13:30 they were on Lido eating and talking. The weather was not that good either so there were not too many people outside on deck.
We left Dover on time and sat on the stern of the ship in the Serenity area and watched the white cliffs of Dover drift off in the distance.
We went to have a look round the ship. As I have never sailed on a Spirit class ship it was new to me as deck 2 and 3 were where everything happened.
I have to say that to start off with BEFORE we got on the ship I was concerned that as Carnival Legend was old and did not have the fun ship 2.0 updates and was soon to get a refit that she would not be in good condition. I have to admit to be completely wrong. There are some very small/minor things that make the ships age come to light but these really are insignificant and not important and definitely would not alter your cruise experience. I was on the Carnival Destiny (Now Carnival Sunshine) at Christmas and that ship was in need of some tender love and care where as Carnival Legend was in my opinion really well maintained and in really good condition. I really like the layout of the ship. We basically only used deck 2, 3, 9 and of course deck 6 as that was where our stateroom was in the aft. The BEST Carnival ship I have been on was last year and that was the Carnival Breeze. I guess I set my hopes high after being on that ship and Carnival Destiny kind of came as a shock to me. I imagined that Carnival Legend would be in the same kind of condition as Carnival Destiny but I was so wrong. In a way Carnival Legend was better than Carnival Breeze due to its layout BUT Carnival Breeze was better due to its fun ship 2.0 updates. In a nut shell I loved the Carnival Legend. It seems that they have a very caring maintenance team that make sure she is looking her best at all times. The décor of the ship is really good too. The theatre is made to look like a castle. Even when you walk up to the theatre the castle effects begin. The upper section the of theatre/balcony's were on different levels too, its difficult to explain what I mean by that! There are kind of different sections to sit in and there are some small number of steps which take you up or down or round a corner etc. So even though the balcony’s are on deck 3 and 4 the layout feels strange but in a good way.
On deck 1 there is a lounge under the theatre called the Firebird lounge. We only went there for the photographic seminar that Mr Radu held but this was where the comics did their acts. Its a really great room.
There is an area round by the Circle C and the amusement arcade that is made to look like your walking through a forest/wood. Its really close to the sea too so looking through the windows was great.
There is only 1 main restaurant on the Spirit class ships. This is at the aft end of the ship and the galley was below the restaurant so the food tended to be hotter then on other ships.
All in all the Carnival Legend really is a beautiful ship and even though she may be missing some features of newer ships that really did not matter.
We had late sitting dinner at 20:15. We were on a table with 4 other people. Most tables seem to sit up to 6 people maximum. There were of course tables for 2 and for 4.
2 of our dinner friends were from Nassau and the other 2 from the UK.
The dinner service did not get off to a good start, the head waiter never introduced himself as in the past. We seemed to have 3 assistant waiters with no head waiter.
We then found out that our actual head waiter was ill so the next senior waiter was promoted to head waiter. His name was Manuel. His assistant was Ronaldo and the other assistant was Maja.
We seemed to take a couple of nights to bond with our waiters and waitress. Once that had happened they were great.
I have a gluten allergy and told Carnival before hand. The hostess that looked after me for the first few nights was called Ekatrina from Russia. She was really helpful and friendly and was on her last contract going to live on land again as she has decided to stop cruising. Her replacement was Katy from Peru. She was tiny! Katy again was very helpful and friendly.
I think its fair to say just about all the crew we interacted with were friendly and helpful.
The food in the dining room was the usual Carnival standard. We ate breakfast almost every morning in the dining room. We only used Lido when time was short. There were no queues on Lido for breakfast. In fact I never had to queue to get anything on Lido. The only exception was the omelette station but this was because the omelette was cooked from fresh right in front of you so no surprise there was a small delay.
The first night entertainments in the Follies theatre was the Welcome aboard show. ALL of the shows in the Follies theatre were too loud. I don't know why they have to be so loud. Its not just this ship its all the Carnival ships. My father in law is deaf and has to wear hearing aids. He found that removing his hearing aids and using earplugs he could cope in the theatre! Turn the volume down please Carnival!
Anyway the show was hosted by John Heald, the senior cruise director. I have cruised with him 3 times now. The welcome aboard show was OK. It was the usual Carnival welcome aboard. John did his Dick Little joke AGAIN! I have seen this 3 times now! The first time I saw this was on the Carnival Magic and yes I must say that I did think it was quite funny even though the chances were that it was fake. The year after that on Carnival Breeze Dick Little was on the ship again! I did think that its highly possible, as it was the same time of year and it was in the Med so the chances of Dick Little cruising on the same ship as me were realistic. Now on Carnival Legend Dick Little is back again! I suppose that again this could be possible but what let the cat out the bag this time was that Dick Little was Australian where as previously he had been American. The routine was the same, let me see your sail and sign card etc. So I am 99.9% sure that Dick Little is one of John's entertainment tools.
The next day was a sea day and the US independent day. I did not see any obvious signs that it was independents day though. Being from the UK I was not really looking so I can't comment on how much was done for the US guests.
This was our first cruise elegant night in the restaurant. Some unfortunate people did not have their luggage as it was lost by their airlines so they obviously could not wear their finest but they were told by John that they could still come to the restaurant in whatever they had.. I think this is sensible. These people must already have been so angry at not having their luggage and to be turned away from the restaurant for something like this would have been a real shame.
The show tonight was Jazz Hot starring the Carnival Legend dancers. This show was good as were most of the shows. This was the first of our setting our watches forward 1 hour forward.
The following day was our first stop and it was in Copenhagen in Denmark. We decided to do a Carnival excursion. We did a walking tour. We had an excellent guide and walked for quite a while. If you can't walk properly or unaided do not do this tour as there is lots of walking and standing to do. We saw lots of the city and the guide was very knowledgeable. The sun came out and it got very hot. I really liked Copenhagen. A very clean city and the people seemed really nice. There did not seem to be many cars round either, even in the middle of the city.
The show for the night was Siobhan Phillips who did a comedy and vocal act. We did watch most of it and it was OK but the volume got the better of my father in law and we left as his ears were hurting.
The next day we were going to Berlin. We were supposed to dock in Warnemunde but for some reason which was explained to us and I have forgotten we had to dock in Rostock. We again chose a Carnival excursion to the Sachsenhausen concentration camp which included a tour of Berlin. We had an excellent guide called Jorg. The excursion was arranged by European Land Excursion Services (ELS) who arranged the train that took us to Berlin. The guide (Jorg) was also from ELS and all together ELS did an excellent job. Jorg was born and bred in East Berlin and his knowledge and passion for his subject was amazing. He is by far the best guide I have ever had for any excursion. He always knew the answer to any questions we asked him.
We got back to the ship late after a really early start so we were very tired. We wanted to go to the Bierfest buffet but could not due to going to the restaurant to eat. Seems to us that the Birefest needs to be moved back but then the band can't get off the ship so I am not sure what the answer is but considering that most people went to Berlin on the Carnival organised train then the majority of people not have been able to go to the bierfest. Such a shame.
Tonight we had our second move of out watches 1 hour forward.
The next day was a sea day. Not much happened really. A great chance to catch up on sleep after Berlin and a chance to relax. We had a port adventure talk by John. After dinner the best show on the seas! The magic and dance of Justin Illusion. This is the second or maybe third time I have seen this show and its still amazing! Don't miss this if you get the chance to see it.
The next day was in Helsinki in Denmark. We decided to do our own thing here so went walk about again. We tried to walk lots to help with the calorie intake problem that a cruise brings with it!
We saw lots in Helsinki and it was a really nice place. In hindsight maybe we should have done an organised tour so we knew more about what we were looking at.
Back on the and we set sail at 17:00. After dinner the show was a guy called Phillip Browne from the UK. I had never heard of him and was a little sceptical but he ended up being very good. He sang in the west end and he made an excellent début on Carnival Legend.
We set our watches forward for the third and last time.
The next day was the big one. St Petersburg in Russia. This was an overnight stop so 2 long good days in St Petersburg.
We kept being told by John to remember that we had to have our sail and sign cards, passport and a completed Russian immigration form.
To get off the ship we took the above to one of the many immigration booths inside the terminal and gave the documents to the serious customs officer. They were checked and then we could carry on our way.
St Petersburg port was a huge surprise to me. It was so clean and modern and nice. I THINK the cruise terminal must be quite new as were the surrounding buildings and structures.
We did the Carnival organised 2 day tour of St Petersburg. Yes it costs a bit of money but it was hassle free so well worth the money.
We had a guide who's name was Alexandera. She was born in St Petersburg and was very proud of her city. We had her for both days which was nice.
For some reason I had an image in my head that St Petersburg would be full of people driving Lada's and the buildings would be old and falling down but wow was I wrong! Yes there are some Lada's driving round but the buildings are generally in good order. St Petersburg was a lot more modern then I ever imagined. Their were loads of modern European cars too. This tour was excellent as it took so much in. The main thing I did NOT like about this tour was the visit to the Hermitage museum. Don't get me wrong, the museum is not the problem. The problem was the queue getting into the museum in the first place! We had to wait I think for about 30 minutes. Once inside well my heart sank, the building had quite literally thousands of people visiting. Women actually had to queue to go to the bathroom! Men were OK just about and did not have to queue.
I don't know how many cruises ships were in on that day but in the area where we were had 5 cruise ships. In the more central part of St Petersburg there were at least 2 and maybe 3 more cruise ships. As you can imagine this equals ALOT of people with the Hermitage being the main attraction. We could not move easily inside and it got quite hot. I wish I had never been now as I hate crowds and there was no where to go to get away from them. You could not take a photograph without people being in the way. You could not see the exhibits properly either because of all the people.
I am sure that this would be a very interesting place to visit BUT at a less touristy time.
We had lunch in a restaurant which was really nice. The waiter did not speak English at all (which seemed common for the older generation) but the guide asked him about gluten free food. Apart from the starter everything else was OK. The food was good even though I was not 100% sure what I was eating!
We go back on the ship by late afternoon. We could not get off the ship again due to the customs laws. We had dinner and no show that night.
The next day in St Petersburg was hot again, We visited some more of the sites which again were busy but manageable. Lunch was in a different restaurant and the staff being younger spoke English. We had a shot of vodka waiting for us and a glass of sparking wine as we had the day before. Again the food was good even though we were not too sure what it was. After the tour we had some time to do some shopping. Then back on the ship.
I did like St Petersburg but would probably not be able to go back. Why not? Well simply the language. Many people we interacted with did not speak English. While I can understand and respect that in Russia they speak Russian I do also think that if you are in the tourism business you should be able to speak some English at least. If I was going to St Petersburg to live then of course I would learn to speak Russian but as I was only on holiday that would be a bit excessive! Maybe this is just a time issue. Russia have not been in the tourism business for very long so maybe in some years more people in tourism will learn to speak English and this problem will disappear. As I said earlier the younger generation do seem to be learning English in school so maybe in a few years I will go back.
We left a little early as we had a long trip to Tallinn in Estonia. The show after dinner was Jonathan Stamp who was a juggler. He was very good. Well worth seeing. This was the first of putting our watches back 1 hour.
Tallinn was an early start and we chose to do a Jewish tour organised by Carnival. I can absolutely NOT recommend this. The guide we had was not very good and to be honest the whole tour seemed lacking. We drove round Tallinn about as the guide did not have anything else planned to show us!
After speaking to our dinner friends they said they loved Tallinn and said how beautiful it was. Somehow we missed that! Think we went on the wrong tour. Guess that was just unlucky. We left Tallinn at 16:00 as we had 2 long sea days trying to get to Amsterdam. The past guest party was today too. Only 45 minutes long now! It was exactly the same as all previous past guest party' but hey who doesn't go just for the free drinks!
The after dinner show was Philip Hitchcock which according to my girlfriend we have seen in the past and he is very good and very funny. Especially his last bit with a balloon!
Watches back an hour again tonight.
The first of 2 sea days and not much happening really. Had a lie in and relaxing.
The after dinner show was Big Easy. That was with the Carnival Legend dancers. It was also very good.
The next sea day we did the behind the fun tour. That was very good. I have done these tours on previous ships but never on a Spirit class ship. While obviously lots of things were the same there are still some differences. The captain Alessandro Galotto was great. Most of the other captains we have visited on the bridge in the past seemed like they just wanted to get rid of you but this captain was not like that. He seemed to like the fact that we were interest in the ship etc. We had 2 photographs taken with him instead of the usual 1. We relaxed in the afternoon getting ready for Amsterdam. The after dinner show was David Knight the Hypnotist. I saw him on Carnival Breeze and he was very good but you really can't help but think are these people really under his power.
This time round there definitely were some people who were not as you could see them laughing when they were supposed to be under. Not to take anything away from David as he was very good.
We were due to arrive in Amsterdam at 10am but we were told by John that at about 6:30 to 7am we would be in the lock which would be quite a thing to experience. Now obviously when we left Amsterdam we would see the same thing so I decided that as much as I would like to see that I also wanted to sleep so I decided I would see the second “show”.
As it happens when got up at 8am we were still in the lock! John told us that the lock door would not open in the normal fashion so some poor guy had to use an old fashioned handle and manually open the door!
Once we were through it took another 90 minutes (I think) to get to Amsterdam and where we docked.
The 90 minutes of travelling from the lock to the pier were quite amazing. Some of the sites were brilliant. Lots of photo opportunities.
We got to the pier about an hour late so the captain moved the whole schedule back 1 hour and left Amsterdam at 19:00 and not 18:00. We decided to do our own thing again. After 2 days of not doing much we needed exercise! My father in law had been to Amsterdam before so had some idea of where he was going. We visited lots of different places. We had a beer in an Australian pub! Oops. We did want a local pub/café/restaurant but there does not really seem to be such a place. Raw herring seems to be the only local dish! Don't think we missed much by not trying that.
Amsterdam is a beautiful city. Again this really should be visited when you have more time then a cruise allows.
We got back on the ship and went to our balcony to watch the other side of Amsterdam to the one we saw coming in. On leaving Amsterdam there were loads of people waving and there was a small flotilla of boats following us waving. I can only assuming that this is the sort of friendly people the Dutch are.
Sadly we had dinner at 20:15 so missed a bit of scenery. The show was Samantha Jay. She played 4 different instruments very well. We had to leave though as my father in law could not stand the bass from the drum. We were at the top of the theatre at the back to try to get away from the volume but even there the bass hit you in the back like someone had a hammer and they were whacking the back of the seat. From an equipment perspective I suppose that was quite impressive that the Carnival Legend sound system was so good but it was just simply not required to be so loud!
We had breakfast in the truffles dining room for the last time. It was as good as usual.
At about 8.30am we made our way off the ship. We had to queue on deck 2 as loads of other people were trying to get off at the same time too. Once off the ship we had to queue in the terminal! People were getting outside of the terminal and then just standing in the door way to stop anyone else getting out! How frustrating!!!
Once outside we had to take our own bags back to the car.
We got under way back to Gatwick airport and it took nearly 3 hours! The traffic was awful! A word of warning, leave yourself plenty of time to get to Gatwick etc. if you are going anywhere near the M25! On the way to Dover the M25 was fine but going back it was not. You just don't know.
On the whole I really enjoyed the cruise and the Carnival Legend. The one thing that really annoyed me and most of the people we spoke to was Calvin the assistant cruise director. He is so annoying. So scruffy. I can't really explain how annoying he is. He was the brunt of many a joke at the dinner table where our table friends all agreed that the only reason he is still with Carnival is because he brown noses John Heald. Carnival, please get rid of him! Replace him with a towel animal or something, he is useless!
That's all for this cruise. Sorry there have been so many pages but there was a lot to get in!